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Are the New Castle bad?

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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby architect » Sun Oct 18, 2009 9:14 pm

I did indeed suggest that the King's Castle Siege be designed on plates instead of a raised baseplate. With the exception of 6097 Night Lord's Castle in 1997, the theme had not seen a main good guy castle set on flat plates or baseplates since 1988's 6085 Black Monarch's Castle. Building on plates allows the addition of modular sections such as walls and towers. You can connect multiple copies of the KCS or add in sets such as 7029 Skeleton Ship Attack. Unfortunately hinged walls were not included in the main castle set or any subsequent smaller wall sets. This does limit the geometry of custom castles.

Raised baseplate castles do have certain advantages such as increased set size, playability, and easy of transport. However, I felt that the last few raised castle designs were uninspiring due to design repetitiveness. Compare the following three castles and you will see that by reusing the same base, the castles are extremely similar:

http://www.classic-castle.com/sets/archives/6091.html
http://www.classic-castle.com/sets/archives/8781.html
http://www.classic-castle.com/sets/archives/10176.html

One may argue that 8877 Vladek's Dark Fortress was built on plates. This fortress is usually shown as a long wall and with the use of burps replicates the "one a hill" design of a raised baseplate castle. The Viking Fortress also features a nice octagonal design on plates. Both of these sets do not have the level of modularity of KCS. In my opinion, the plate design and modularity were a nice change for Castle. I would not be opposed to a well designed raised baseplate castle in the future. Hopefully a better raised baseplate with a ramp would be used.

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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby Blueandwhite » Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:51 am

I miss the modular system of the 1980s. I had hoped that someday we would see an evolved version of this. Vladek's Fortress actually aluded to the possibility of a larger modular wall system with interior features; something that was also missing from the 1980s sets however nothing really developed from that. With the Castle line we've seen some interesting designs, but each set is very stand-alone. I would like to see a more conventional castle built in the style of Vladek's fortress with the option of extending or enclosing the wall via a technic pin system much like the one used in the 80s sets. Specific rooms or features could then be added in (dungeons, halls, and chambers). The new Castle sets aren't bad, but I find them to be a bit lackluster. In fact, this line is one where I am focused on the figures simply because I find most of the sets outside of the Market Village to be too bland.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby DaleDVM » Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:16 pm

I am glad for the plates and thank Ben for recommending them. Baseplates are easily obtained and you can MOC on those if needed.

I also agree with Handar. Lego has had a few quality issues but grand statements like its all bad or its all good seem to be made in the emotion of the moment and not well thought out.

Even though I love all of my classic castles. I have absolutely no desire for castles like those from the 1980's. Raised baseplates have limited reusability. The cut baseplates have more uses but seemed to be of odd sizes back then. I rarely use them today because of their odd dimensions. The lone exception is the Black Monarch's castle which is made on a 32x32 baseplate cut into a half and two quarter plates. Another reason it is personally my favorite of all the classic castles.

Lego's designs and construction techniques have come a long way in the last few years and I like the current castle builds very much. I believe both structurally and aesthetically the current designs are as good as the classic builds. Unfortunately due to cost constraints Lego has skimped on a gatehouse or a more solid tower. However, the size of the KCS is impressive for its price and a second set gives you plenty of opportunity to build a bigger and better castle.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby Lord Lego 436 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 11:33 pm

Handar wrote:
Lord Lego 436 wrote:You're right, I was refferring to part quality. Don't get me wrong, I love the new Cafe Corner, MMV and the Imperial Flagship, but the smaller sets, like the new Atlantis ones seem sort of detrimental in design. If Lego made sets like the MMV all the time, then they would make a whole lot more money, trust me. The Troll Heads are annoying. It would be cool if one didn't have an eye, like the king, and another had a huge scar, and a third would have a big eyepatch....


Originally I said that making blanket statements like ‘NOTHING is reaching the quality we would expect from TLC’ is unhelpful to the process of fixing problems. I think this is still true even if this claim was only meant to apply to quality control issues for two reasons. First of all, the way it is phrased makes it seem like everything Lego does is substandard, and this doesn’t convey the point that quality control is the issue. Secondly, if this statement is meant to apply only to quality control then it implies that no parts, i.e. nothing, is of the quality we would expect from Lego. This is a gross overstatement of the problem, and I still worry that claims like this are unhelpful in getting the problem fixed. Yes, there are quality control issues, but this is a far cry from saying that no parts are the quality we would expect from Lego. For example, I’ve spent over a thousand dollars in the past couple of years on bricks, and I’ve purchased bricks in a wide variety of ways (sets both large and small, pick-a-brick cups, and Bricklink). Out of all the Lego purchased, I have a couple dozen bricks that are opaque or translucent (some dark red slopes and some golden flags). The rest is of excellent quality. Because I expect everything I purchase from Lego to be of the highest quality, I’m not satisfied with those bricks I’ve purchased which are of lower quality, but I still worry that implying that all bricks are of inferior quality is going to be unhelpful in fixing the problem.

I’m curious if Lego would indeed make more money if they made sets like MMV all the time. Do you mean that they would make more money if they always had sets like that available, or do you mean that they would make more money if the only sets they sold were like MMV? I don’t think the latter is true. With their complicated builds, sets like MMV are geared towards older children and adults. I don’t know about older children, but adults are only a small percentage of Lego’s total sales (perhaps up to 20%; see here for a German article on this or for a translation.) I think it’s a good thing that Lego has simple, even simplistic, sets like those from the new Atlantis line, because it allows them to generate revenue from sets designed for smaller children. If the only sets sold were very detailed like the MMV, I suspect that Lego would ultimately sell far fewer sets because of the demographics of its consumers.

So, I don’t think that the recent Lego sets are ‘bad’ because of quality control issues, since the vast majority of the sets that I’ve purchased have had no issues. I also don’t think that the recent sets are ‘bad’ because of their designs, since many of them are designed to be played with by children as young as six or seven.

To return to the original question asked in this thread, I also don’t think that the new sets are ‘bad’ because they don’t contain baseplates. I don’t even think that they’re worse because of it. One of the great benefits of having the various parts built on plates is that this allows for the castle to be rearranged in various ways, thereby increasing playability. It seems like a desire for modularity is what prompted this round of sets to be built on plates. As it turns out, this suggestion was made by one of Classic-Castle’s founders, and if you’re interested you can read more about that here.


Yep, I suppose that blanket statements are bad. Sorry... :(
On the topic of "TLC should make sets like MMv ALL the time" I meant the former, not the latter. I agree that some sets are better designed for children, but they COULD put a bit more thought into their designs. For example, one of the new Atlantis Sets is simply a gate, nothing around it. Couldn't the evil-fish-people simply swim around it?

architect wrote:I did indeed suggest that the King's Castle Siege be designed on plates instead of a raised baseplate. With the exception of 6097 Night Lord's Castle in 1997, the theme had not seen a main good guy castle set on flat plates or baseplates since 1988's 6085 Black Monarch's Castle. Building on plates allows the addition of modular sections such as walls and towers. You can connect multiple copies of the KCS or add in sets such as 7029 Skeleton Ship Attack. Unfortunately hinged walls were not included in the main castle set or any subsequent smaller wall sets. This does limit the geometry of custom castles.

Raised baseplate castles do have certain advantages such as increased set size, playability, and easy of transport. However, I felt that the last few raised castle designs were uninspiring due to design repetitiveness. Compare the following three castles and you will see that by reusing the same base, the castles are extremely similar:

http://www.classic-castle.com/sets/archives/6091.html
http://www.classic-castle.com/sets/archives/8781.html
http://www.classic-castle.com/sets/archives/10176.html

One may argue that 8877 Vladek's Dark Fortress was built on plates. This fortress is usually shown as a long wall and with the use of burps replicates the "one a hill" design of a raised baseplate castle. The Viking Fortress also features a nice octagonal design on plates. Both of these sets do not have the level of modularity of KCS. In my opinion, the plate design and modularity were a nice change for Castle. I would not be opposed to a well designed raised baseplate castle in the future. Hopefully a better raised baseplate with a ramp would be used.

Ben


And while the latest Castle's are similair, I bet that TLC could make better designs if they weren't lazy and used a different baseplate. For example, some of the older castle's are better with different baseplates.
And I agree, Vladeks Dark Fortress was one heck of a set. Probably better than the whole KK2 line combined. Probably better than ANY castle TLC has released in recent years.
The Viking Fortress was cool too, but the Technic Dragons irked me with that line.
Overall, TLC should focus on making both, because ALL baseplate Castles are boring, but so are ALL modular non-baseplate castles.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby nanuck95 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:35 am

Lord Lego 436 wrote: I bet that TLC could make better designs if they weren't lazy and used a different baseplate.


No offense, but you are yet again making blanket statements that aren't necessarily true or rationally based. I don't see how not using different baseplates makes someone lazy. There's nothing wrong with posting your thoughts, advice, or criticism, as long as it's constructive. Indiscriminately calling people lazy is not constructive and honestly pretty ignorant, especially when Ben posted above that one of the reasons the KCS didn't use a one-piece baseplate was because of fan input.

As people have mentioned many times in this thread, Lego is a company that is interested in making money. In order to make money, I am willing to bet they are also interested in keeping fans happy and giving them what they want (ie, the reason why we get sets like MMV). Unfortunately, in the real world, the reality is you cannot have everything, and you will never make everyone happy. Most of us here (except maybe the ambassadors) are not privy to what goes on behind the doors at Lego, but just judging on the caliber of the sets that have been released in the last year, I think they're doing a pretty good job balancing between giving fans what they want and remaining a profitable company.

Edit: fixed a typo
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby davee123 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:14 pm

Lord Lego 436 wrote:And while the latest Castle's are similair, I bet that TLC could make better designs if they weren't lazy and used a different baseplate.


I wouldn't blame LEGO for being "lazy"-- although perhaps "safe" might work. We know that LEGO is expressly NOT lazy when it comes to set design. Many AFOLs and others have told us that the models that the set designers come up with are AMAZING, but unreleased. The problem is more that LEGO's marketing department isn't interested in "long-term" variety. If a castle set in 2000 is nearly identical in design to one in 2004, no problem. By that time, most of the kids who were buying LEGO in 2000 have moved on to something else, and most of the ones who ARE buying LEGO in 2004 don't own any castles yet, and are perfectly happy getting one that's similar to one in 2000. So offering one that's different is low on LEGO's priority queue. In fact, the opposite is true. Marketing is more likely to say "well, this worked before, let's do it again!"

For example, take 4886. The set did really well, and so was followed up a couple years later by 4956, another creator house in the same white-with-red-roof color scheme:
Image Image
Thankfully, we got some AFOLs on the set design team now (starting around 2006/2007), who were able to stress to LEGO that there's an AFOL contingent that expressly DOES NOT WANT extremely similar sets. I believe that helped LEGO to release 4954 (tan Creator house) and 4996 (yellow Creator beach house).

On the same note, I can't speak to what Ben and others may have seen with the development of the Castle 2007 line, but I'm thankful that Ben suggested something like a plate-bottomed castle to encourage variety. It would be interesting to know (although I'm not sure if we're allowed to be told) whether or not they were considering yet-another raised-up-baseplate castle (a RUB castle?) with the same basic design as 6091, 8781, and 10176.

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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby Lord Lego 436 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:49 pm

davee123 wrote:
Lord Lego 436 wrote:And while the latest Castle's are similair, I bet that TLC could make better designs if they weren't lazy and used a different baseplate.


I wouldn't blame LEGO for being "lazy"-- although perhaps "safe" might work. We know that LEGO is expressly NOT lazy when it comes to set design. Many AFOLs and others have told us that the models that the set designers come up with are AMAZING, but unreleased. The problem is more that LEGO's marketing department isn't interested in "long-term" variety. If a castle set in 2000 is nearly identical in design to one in 2004, no problem. By that time, most of the kids who were buying LEGO in 2000 have moved on to something else, and most of the ones who ARE buying LEGO in 2004 don't own any castles yet, and are perfectly happy getting one that's similar to one in 2000. So offering one that's different is low on LEGO's priority queue. In fact, the opposite is true. Marketing is more likely to say "well, this worked before, let's do it again!"

DaveE


And there, you just made an assumption, and one of those dreaded blanket statements.
A. I meant that LEGO should make their baseplates more creative for the baseplate castles. Also, how can you know that
LEGO's marketing department isn't interested in "long-term" variety
? Considering that they've made Atlantis and such, it seems like there is quite a bit more variety.
B. Also, you just insulted kids everywhere by saying that if they are buying LEGO in 2000, then they probably don't have the attention span to buy it for 4 more years, right? I'll tell you, I AM one of those "kids", and I've been collecting Lego for 10 years now.
Also, It would be smarter for Lego to make better set designs, because mom's may say that "the new castle looks like the Castle you bought just 4 years ago. Why have another one?" I know that my mom would.
Oh, and don't tell me that you are DEFENDING poorer set designs. At least the non-baseplate castles are more creative than the 3 that were exactly the same.
And so, I'll say one more thing. I've decided that the new castles aren't bad, but if TLC made a baseplate castle on year, and then a modular castle the next, then that would be the most fun.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby Lord Lego 436 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:52 pm

One more thing...

Jojo wrote:Everything you said is true. But then again it’s not our task nor our hobby to applaud them for making money. It’s fine if they do, my hobby, though, is not to watch Lego making well thought of business decisions, but my hobby is building with the bricks, playing with the figs. We as their customers are those who spend our money on their product, so we are totally entitled to judge them by that product. If we don’t like the product we say so.
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That's absolutely true. It's exactly how I feel.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby domboy » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:46 pm

New Castle bad? I think not, as it's what drew me back into Lego (though I have to give the new pirates some of the credit). I grew up with castle sets from around the Black Falcons/Crusaders until the Dragon Masters time frame, and the 2007+ castle line really reminded me of the old castle sets my siblings and I had... especially the KCS that was NOT on a raised baseplate. So for me it was a bit of "good old" design (plus nostalgia) with an awesome new fantasy twist!

Touching on the comment on reusing baseplates being lazy - look at 6081, 6082, and 6086, three castles/fortresses on the same base plate design:
http://www.peeron.com/inv/sets/6081-1
http://www.peeron.com/inv/sets/6086-1
http://www.peeron.com/inv/sets/6082-1

Very different castles, I'd say (and not to mention the pirate sets that also use this same base plates design). Sure the coloring is different on one, but still. Maybe that baseplate is a better design in itself or something... I dunno...
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby Lord Lego 436 » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:35 am

Yes, I admit that the Older Castles were awesome. But lately they have been all the same design.
Oh, and I'm sorry about that dreadful spelling mistake in the title. :oops:
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby DarkTemplar » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:55 pm

domboy wrote:New Castle bad? I think not, as it's what drew me back into Lego (though I have to give the new pirates some of the credit). I grew up with castle sets from around the Black Falcons/Crusaders until the Dragon Masters time frame, and the 2007+ castle line really reminded me of the old castle sets my siblings and I had... especially the KCS that was NOT on a raised baseplate. So for me it was a bit of "good old" design (plus nostalgia) with an awesome new fantasy twist!


I agree with domboy that it's the new sets that are drawing people back in. I think the designs over the last couple of years have been awful, with the exception few gems in the midst. The designs are going back to the older templates which we all know and love, like how castles are starting to have Gatehouses again and not the Great hall/Gatehouse combo which has prevailed over the last few years. Although I have to say, I didn't get back in through renewed admiration but intensified discontent. It was actually 10176 that lead to my very first mock, because I was actually insulted that it could be released as a set. But sets are getting much better, and I find myself gradually starting to admire lego once again.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby Lord Lego 436 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:10 pm

DarkTemplar wrote:
domboy wrote:New Castle bad? I think not, as it's what drew me back into Lego (though I have to give the new pirates some of the credit). I grew up with castle sets from around the Black Falcons/Crusaders until the Dragon Masters time frame, and the 2007+ castle line really reminded me of the old castle sets my siblings and I had... especially the KCS that was NOT on a raised baseplate. So for me it was a bit of "good old" design (plus nostalgia) with an awesome new fantasy twist!


I agree with domboy that it's the new sets that are drawing people back in. I think the designs over the last couple of years have been awful, with the exception few gems in the midst. The designs are going back to the older templates which we all know and love, like how castles are starting to have Gatehouses again and not the Great hall/Gatehouse combo which has prevailed over the last few years. Although I have to say, I didn't get back in through renewed admiration but intensified discontent. It was actually 10176 that lead to my very first mock, because I was actually insulted that it could be released as a set. But sets are getting much better, and I find myself gradually starting to admire lego once again.


I actually loved 10176! It was one of the sets that got me back into building Castle! The Castel of Morcia was an affront to everything good about LEGO. :cry:
I think that overall I don't mind the Castle designs, as long as they have new and different pieces or baseplates. And if they're fun to build.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby DarkTemplar » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:23 am

Lord Lego 436 wrote:I actually loved 10176! It was one of the sets that got me back into building Castle! The Castel of Morcia was an affront to everything good about LEGO. :cry:
I think that overall I don't mind the Castle designs, as long as they have new and different pieces or baseplates. And if they're fun to build.


Hmm really? Well I guess everyone has their own dislikes and likes :) and it's all about what you value in the set. I suppose it wasn't as much the castle as it was the people, they just seemed so plain to me and also as said before the castle was pretty much a rehash of KLC.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby Lord Lego 436 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:37 am

DarkTemplar wrote:
Lord Lego 436 wrote:I actually loved 10176! It was one of the sets that got me back into building Castle! The Castel of Morcia was an affront to everything good about LEGO. :cry:
I think that overall I don't mind the Castle designs, as long as they have new and different pieces or baseplates. And if they're fun to build.


Hmm really? Well I guess everyone has their own dislikes and likes :) and it's all about what you value in the set. I suppose it wasn't as much the castle as it was the people, they just seemed so plain to me and also as said before the castle was pretty much a rehash of KLC.


For me, It was mainly that the Castle was really fun ot build, and the Ghost was an immediate win.
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Re: Are the New Castle bad?

Postby DarkTemplar » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:57 am

Lord Lego 436 wrote:For me, It was mainly that the Castle was really fun ot build, and the Ghost was an immediate win.


Yea ghosts seem to be disappearing from the line, but why did it have to have yellow hands in this set :cry: I guess it was those kind of details that I was annoyed by.
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