email rudy

Lego Knight's Kingdom Six-inch Action Figures Review
by Rudy Panucci

Chivalry is not dead! You just have to assemble it.

Prepare for battle as King Mathias and his brave Knights, Danju, Jayco, Rascus, and Santis, do battle against the evil Vladek and his minions.

A few years ago LEGO had an unexpected hit with their BIONICLE line, a hybrid action figure/building set that was backed by a rich mythology that combined elements of Maori aboriginal culture with Heavy Metal- styled sci fi. BIONICLE is still going strong, and now LEGO is trying to repeat its success with the impressive Knight's Kingdom line of "build it yourself" action figures.

The drawbacks are that this line doesn't have as massive a backstory as BIONICLE, and coming out after MEGA BLOCKS line of Knights and Dragons, it seems like LEGO is following, rather than leading.

However, these figures are cool enough in their own right to stand out as impressive examples of what a major toy company can do when they put the market research aside, and let the creativity take over.

Packaged in distinctive "Rook castle" plastic cases, each figure has nearly fifty pieces, but assembly is a breeze, thanks to some well- illustrated instructions. Once assembled, these figures have surprisingly tight joints and a generous amount of articulation. The hands are not the most functional in the world, but they do a serviceable job of holding the swords and shields that come with them. Even the visors on the helmets raise.

The detail is remarkable, considering that these are also construction toys. LEGO has wisely chosen to go with a large amount of specialized pieces, rather than force customers to deal with clunky, blocky body parts.

There is a storyline behind these figures, with King Mathias leading his mean against a rogue knight, Vladek, but it's tied into a collectible card game, and figuring out those things makes my head hurt. It does add to the collectibility of the figures, but these guys are cool-looking enough without that particular retail hook. Although, it seems that their names were chosen after a long night of looking bleary-eyed at a list of available trademarks.

There is also a line of smaller-scaled playsets, that come with more traditionally-sized LEGO versions of the Knights. These look like a lot of fun, but I could never really get into the whole "Playmobile" sort of blocky, tiny figures. The success of Mini-mates and all those little square-headed dinky dudes indicates an appeal that is beyond my tastes. As LEGO sets, the Knight's Kingdom small-scale playsets look like a load of fun, but with prices pushing the hundred-dollar mark, they're easy to take a pass on.

Back to the six-inch fellas: These are just really cool-looking figures. They have a slightly robotic feel to them, but are still believable as men in suits. The colors are bright and engaging and really bring the team a lot of distinct personality, like a Medieval version of Captain Scarlet.

There was an exclusive version of King Mathias sold at Target stores last year before Christmas. This figure came shrink-wrapped with a bonus cardboard box that contained a cape for the king, a map of the Knight's homeland of Morcia, and bonus stickers. The best thing about this set was that Target, in their typical fashion, drastically marked it down after the holidays, so they were available for as cheap as $2.48.

Kay Bee's online store has a special deal where you can buy a package of the five non-royal knights for around forty bucks, which to be honest, is a bit more than you'd pay buying them separately, elsewhere.

The six-inch Knights sell for around seven or eight dollars, depending on where you find them, and at that price, they are well worth a look. The play value for a kid is tremendous, and the figures are intriguing enough to attract adult collectors, if only this line were more visible. While sales on this line have not been as phenomenal as BIONICLE, I hope that we get to see these guys hang around long enough to establish a fan base.

From the packaging to the design to the sheer "NEAT" factor, LEGO's Knight's Kingdom is an aesthetic winner. Let's hope that sales pick up and we get to see more like this from LEGO. Maybe LEGO will even treat us to a playset geared for the larger figures, and some more bad guys, like Vikings, so we can recreate some of our favorite old Marx Toys storylines.