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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Castle : King's Mountain Fortress

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 6081 - King's Mountain Fortress

Rating: 3 Stars
Pros: Standard set premiered the ghost and introduced the ramp and pit plate to castle structures
Cons: Kind of looks wimpy on first look, but has some redeeming values
Contents: 429 pieces including 8 mini-figs and 2 horses
Price: Discontinued
Reviewed: 04-Sep-1996
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

6081 At times the bustling life of the kingdom can be too much for even a king. That's when king Edward packs up his coach and takes time off to be at his Mountaindale castle estate. Equipped with sun patio and plenty of room for him to practice his new game of hitting white painted chestnuts across the meadow gulf onto specially prepared lawns (he's deciding on whether he should call the game "gulf" or not), the king could spend weeks at a time in his lofty fortress getaway, leaving all the nerve-wracking, tax-raising, public-speaking, and rebellion-quashing back home.

This is undoubtedly the smallest of the castle sets (and I believe the first) to use a ramp and pit plate; with this in mind, we should excuse the strange design since it was the first time castle designers had to deal with constructing around this particular piece. The set is a mid-size castle that Lego seems to have come up with in transition between castle phases. As a major castle structure, it fits between 1989's 6077-Forestmen's River Fortress and 1992's 6086-Dungeon Master's Castle. Compared to post-1992 castles, the set is small and skimpy, but in retrospect, I picked it up for its unique design and because I'm unashamedly a fan of the ramp and pit plates. Also, I had just come out of my second dark ages (don't laugh, I was very busy in a foreign land for a couple of years) and was looking for any sets I had missed out on in the interim.
Now on to the castle's design, with ramp descending "East" the castle structure takes up the entire Southern half of the plate with the North (pit) half containing a two-tiered outside court. The East side of the castle houses the main entrance including a working drawbridge and two 9-brick-high wooden doors (my first time for wooden doors this tall).
At the West end of the castle is a 3-level tower. The third level of this tower is an open turret while the second level is a walled room with a booby-trapped floor and an exit to a walkway that extends along the castle's North wall leading to the platform above the main entrance. (I like having a walkway between towers.) The first level of the tower is basically an open foyer beneath the second level with a door that opens to the North court area. The open "court" area has a small walkway and wall that follows the circumference of the rest of the top level of the plate. From the castle's North door, two steps descend to the second tier of the court to about mid-depth of the pit. Here there is a small section of floor and a trap door which covers (but can open to) the rest of the pit. The space under this second-level floor is only about three bricks high and I assume it is for storing treasure or keeping very uncomfortable prisoners. A strange tree construction is implemented with the kit, using the brown palm sections for a trunk and topping it off with four large leafy/foliage sections. Notably, Lego didn't make the same mistake by using this tree with any other sets but it would be kind of neat to see if they could come up with a new trunk design/piece that could use these "leafys" more effectively.
New/unique pieces include the conical (no, not comical) hat princess which I hadn't received with any other sets. (Although I know that a similar princess came with the 6060-Knight's Challenge set.) Where has this damsel gone since then? This set also came with a ghost and I believe it is worth it to note that 1990 was the first year for ghosts. One other unique piece is the North door's two-piece door and frame combination. This duo comprises a one-piece door/gate which snaps into a one-piece frame. The combo is now fairly common with larger castle sets but I don't recall seeing it in earlier models.
I was surprised at the number of 1x1, 1x2, 1x3, 1x4 and 1x6 bricks that came with this set. This must have been the pre-skimping era and having so many standard bricks have allowed me some great alterations to the set without having to dip into my extra bricks box. Despite the name of the set, it is still a pre-crown model, so you only get two knights (maybe the king is hiding under one of those helmets), four guards and the aforementioned princess and ghost.
I give it three stars and shed a tear in looking back at a time when you got a lot of bricks with an average set.

67 readers have rated this set as 4.06 out of 5 stars.
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