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Review: BrickWarriors lute

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Review: BrickWarriors lute

Postby AmperZand » Tue Dec 27, 2016 4:36 pm

Picture a bard, troubadour or medieval/renaissance minstrel and you probably have in mind an entertainer with a lute. It's practically the defining musical instrument of the trope. And yet neither LEGO nor any third party parts makers produce one... until now.

BrickWarriors (BW; http://www.brickwarriors.com/) has started selling them. For the time being, you can only get them in two colours, black and reddish brown (BW's "brown"), as part of the Barbarian Army Builder Pack ( http://www.brickwarriors.com/brickwarriors-2-5-scale-barbarian-army-builder-pack/ ). But in 2017, they will be available individually in at least three colours: black, reddish brown and tan. I have obtained reddish brown and tan lutes and have reviewed them below on 8 criteria.

1. Compatibility. The lute fits perfectly in a minifigure's hand and is scaled appropriately too. If you rotate the neck in the hand to pose the instrument at a different angle, it remains satisfyingly in place which isn't true of all accessories.

As with most BW parts, the sculpt is a bit more detailed than LEGO but less than recent LEGO minifigure printing, so still fits fine with LEGO's aesthetic. In keeping with the stylised look - and adding to its charm - the lute has four pegs but only three strings! The lute is well proportioned and instantly recognisable for what it is. The care that went into the design of this accessory is evident when you see it from behind. The back of the body isn't usually very visible when it's being played, but the sculptor has nonetheless added detail by giving it ribs - a nice touch.

A strap button at the tip of the body would have allowed you to attach string from the lute's base to its pegbox which would have made it easier to sling across a minifigure's back, but it might also have detracted from the look of the instrument.

Link to picture: https://a248.e.akamai.net/secure.meetupstatic.com/photos/event/b/c/3/highres_457083011.jpeg

2. Material. The lute is made of the same plastic, ABS, that LEGO uses. The lustre is the same as LEGO and the reddish brown and tan colours are perfect matches. (I don't have a black one but do have other BW parts in black and they are indistinguishable from LEGO in their hue and shine).

3. Manufacture. The lute is made to a very high standard. There are no mould lines and only a tiny partition burr on the side of the neck which is no worse than that found on LEGO parts and easily removed with a fingernail.

4. Variety. The lute is only available in one style but that should be more than adequate whether you need it as a lute or an oud. It doesn't have any printing but wouldn't benefit from any. It will be available in three colours: black, reddish brown and tan. Additional colours such as dark tan and dark brown would add to the selection but those aren't in BW's palette, so not likely to materialise.

Image

5. Usefulness. Could you depict a bard or troubadour with one of the other minifig-compatible period instruments such as a drum, flute, syrinx, horn, violin or lyre? Of course you could, but it just wouldn't capture the archetype so well and in that sense the BW lute is long overdue.

That said, the usefulness of the lute is bounded by the (lack of) popularity of historical/fantasy minifigure musicians. There will never be as much demand for lutes as there are for swords and spears: lots of people build armies of warriors, but very few collect hordes of musicians.

6. Originality. The BW lute is unique. LEGO don't make one. To the best of my knowledge, apart from BW, no third party company makes one. It will be interesting to see if LEGO ever produce a bard as part of their CMF line and with it an official LEGO lute.

7. Service. BW's service is top class. They ship very promptly with reasonable P&P charges and parts well protected in padded envelopes. Communicating with BW has always been a pleasure: they're fast, super friendly and helpful.

8. Value. I don't know what the lute will retail for, but if other BW parts are any guide, probably in the region of $1 to $1.50. If they come in at the lower end of that estimate, that would be good value for money. Even if they come in at the upper end, that's still not bad.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the BW lute. They have done a great job of capturing this classic medieval/renaissance instrument.

Disclosure: The lutes were provided by BrickWarriors. The views above are entirely my own.

Group photograph by AmperZand. Black and brown lutes photograph by BrickWarriors; edited by BrickWarriors and AmperZand.
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From Family Guy:
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Peter: "No, it isn't."
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AmperZand
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