NEXO Knights has been a theme with a mixed reception amongst the AFOL community: its a fantastic mashup of castle and space elements, but at the same time it is not quite either in the purist form. The geometry is fascinating, as I have previously discussed. However, due to so many different things happening throughout the year to distract a LEGO Fan, I have not really spent much time with the theme until now.
There are a couple of stand out changes that I have seen this year. One is a change in the primary aesthetic of the models: The Knights’ vehicles released in 2016 were had a palette which was primarily bright blue, stone grey, transparent bright orange with a few earth(dark) blue elements as well as a couple of trim elements, colour matched to the knight whose vehicle it was. In 2017, the transparent orange is still there, but there is a much larger amount of earth blue and bright orange compared to the stone grey and bright blue. We have also seen more prominent trim in the colours of the knights, demonstrating the new tile designs quite nicely. In fact, you may almost be forgiven for thinking “There is a lime green, bright red, azure, white or bright yellowish orange vehicle.” The Classic space vibe which might have been felt with 2016’s models been reduced this year, in return for the ‘Knight Motif.’ There there is the obligatory change in the villainous team, moving from the Lava monsters to non so molten Rock Monsters.
I should also mention the stickers, because while there are plenty of stickers to apply, those designed to be applied to transparent orange elements have a transparent clear background, making them useful on all surfaces.
Here is a quick ‘Face to face’ of this year’s $AU30 Lance’s Twin Jouster 70348 (212 parts) with the 2016’s Macy’s Thunder Mace 70319(200 parts). I would consider them both occupying equivalent places in the range, both priced at $AUD29.99.
As well as the colour scheme, the play features have also developed on this year’s set. I personally found the Thunder Mace a relatively mundane build. The cockpit felt a little incomplete and the windscreen did not feel properly supported underneath. The only feature I found particularly inspiring was the mechanism that rotated the mudguards, to reveal the hidden weaponry beneath! Admittedly, this is pretty addictive.
But are the changes just cosmetic?
Back in January, I looked at Battle Suit Lance. At the time, I was a little baffled by the clip on his back. The latest round of vehicles have been designed to pin onto the Battle Suits. Here we can see the way in which Robin’s Battle Suit (from the DK ‘Build Your Own Adventure’ Book) attaches to the rear section of Lance’s Twin Jouster, leaving a cycle free to move off, with another driver. I am not a big fan of the wheels used at the rear, as I find they do not reliably turn when pushing the model on a smooth, hard, slippery surface, and I probably like the use of the turbine element as a wheel slightly less. However, I might also blame this on the fact that I grew up on Classic Space in 1979, where all the ‘space’ wheels were made of rubber. The ‘turbine wheel’ element used for wheels on the bike does however hold the bike steady, and rolls freely – more on that shortly…
Whilst this is a neat vehicle in it’s own right, this additional playability is great. Both the large vehicle and the cycle roll smoothly, and have great ‘swooshability’ in their own rights
This set also comes with a Lance figure, with a trans neon arrange visor; the Lance Bot and Rogul, who has the most amazing base in the place of legs. The base gives the impression of a body being conjured up out of the firmament, and helps Rogul to have a taller, more imposing presence. The scannable NEXO Shield gives us ‘Goose Bumps’
Today I would like to focus on a novel building technique that I encountered while putting these sets together. It is new to me. You may have seen or used it elsewhere, and I’d love you to let me know if you have seen it before:
Bearing with it – What I learned from Lance’s twin Jouster
The front wheel of the ‘Jouster’ is attached to the forks simply enough with a short (2L) red axle running through the centre. Simple enough: this sort of connection is not uncommon for a LEGO Motorcycle. The rear wheel was a bit more complicated: after placing a 1 1/2M connecting bush in the centre, it is inserted in the middle of the 4×6 frame, with technic holes around it. A Connector bush with peg on each side then provides a narrow channel into which a 4L rod is threaded. The tan connector bush rotates around this rod, and the wheel spins freely around the bush as well. As such, it tends to spin for freely than the wheel with the regular technic axle threaded through it!
The final effect here is similar to that of a ball bearing mechanism in facilitating movement – potentially halving the friction on either given surface, allowing the wheel to run s more smoothly, and for longer, for a similar amount of energy input.
Despite my initial misgivings about using this element as a wheel, they are wide enough to provide a stable wheel base for the bike, without additional support. The bike also glides smoothly across the floor.
In conclusion, Lance’s Twin Jouster is a great vehicle, also coming with Lance Bot and Rogul. There are some great elements, some of which are quite new. The orange and white trim is quite striking against the dark blue base colour. The wheel mount with the additional bearing is quite novel, and is the first time that I recall seeing such a technique used in a set. It is one of those sets that is so easy to pick up and play with. I give this set 4 out of 5 Arbitrary Praise Units.
As I mentioned earlier, Macy’s Thunder Mace did not appeal to me as much, despite sharing a similar price point. The exposed beams as well as the cockpit design look unfinished. the play feature redeems its value somewhat, but overall I was disappointed with the experience of this set. I give the Thunder Mace 2 out of 5 APUs.
The NEXO Knights designers have made an interesting contribution to the pantheon of LEGO Building Techniques seen in regular sets with this wheel bearing as well. As a $30AUD set, it has a good mix of new elements, interesting techniques and swooshability. What do you think of the current wave of NEXO Knight sets? Yay or Nay? Why not leave your comments below, and subscribe for further updates to the blog.
Until next time