We are days away from the official release of LEGO DREAMZzz. One of the great things about the theme is the appearance of the villains. We have discussed the appearance of the Grimspawn and Night Hunter previously, but with this set, we finally meet the Big Bad of the series: The Nightmare King. This is one of my favourite minifigures of the theme. This set also brings us Zoey and Nova minifigures and the ‘advanced grimspawn’ Susan. But is this striking Black and Pink horse enticing for shoppers? Or will they overlook it in favour of the major set: Nightmare Shark Ship, which also comes with the Nightmare King, Nova and Susan? Read on to find out.
The Manual and Build
I was putting this set together during the public expo days at BRIXPO in Adelaide a couple of weekends ago, and as such, the Knoller-in-Chief did not have the opportunity to ply her craft on it – so let’s go straight to the instruction manual, which like every DREAMZzz set exceeds the expectations that the LEGO Group have set for us over the last 12 months. The story becomes apparent very quickly – although these images are scattered throughout the book.
Starting out: Cage and throne
We start work building up the Flying cage, as well as the wings that carry the throne for the Nightmare King. I am grateful that all of the Eye elements are printed, rather than requiring stickers.
The cage is made up of a frame that has a number of vertical bars attached, with 3 of those bars replaced by teeth. There are many clip elements present, as well as the transparent purple wings, which allow the cage to fly under its own steam while carrying its helpless cargo. (room for just one minifigure)
The wings feature the same mould that was introduced back in 2005’s Vikings Theme, but with a new sinister makeover, with the bright reddish violet fading to black as you move forward. They are attached to a technic ball joint, allowing a variety of poses. We will discover shortly that the Nightmare King wears a semi-rigid cloak. The base of the throne’s backrest is hinged to accommodate it.
From here, we get to construct the steed: starting out initially with the torso and neck. From here, we set to work building the legs – connected using Technic click-joints, and including some curved 2×2 macaroni bricks to give the horse’s legs a dreamy, organically curved shape. The hips and shoulders are covered using titanium metallic curved 4×4 plates, more traditionally associated with car bonnets, yet bringing us the sculpted musculature over the hips and shoulders of the beast. The legs wind done to the coral hoofs, adorned with spring green and violet details.
The horse’s tail is built up of a clump of Bionicle claws attached to a variety of hinges, allowing some elements to be moved in alternate directions.
The breast of the horse is masterfully shaped using opposing small vehicle mudguard elements, linked using 2×2 curved slopes. Curved bricks and arch elements shape the neck, while bright reddish violet claws form the mane of this nightmarish creature. The head is built using a SNOT core, allowing curved tiles to be used to form the lines of its face. Again the eyes of the horse are printed, while other details added around the legs and chest are stickered. Unfortunately, the Vibrant coral stickers do not fluoresce under UV in the same way as ABS elements of the same colour. I am amazed at the way the parts palette for the head reminds me of a typical Speed Champions build, before being refashioned into a horse! Does a pegasus typically have a horn? I am uncertain. But if nothing else, this also brings us into unicorn territory, which is truly magical.
The wing unit attaches to the back of the horse via a 2×2 plate with 2 studs, while the attached ribs wrap around the horse’s chest. Unfortunately, the 2×2 plate has a relatively weak connection, and I found it relatively difficult to ensure that the throne and wings stayed in place without slipping off.
Choices: Bird or butterfly?
Choice. Around this point in any DREAMZzz build, there is the scope to continue the build in one of two different ways. This is no different. However, rather than extend or modify the horse and wings, we choose Zoey’s animal of choice to exploit and fly in to save the day: either a bird to ride on or the primitive makings of a butterfly.
The bird uses up virtually all of the elements in the final bag and gives us a sleek lilac and teal bird with light green markings.
The bird has adjustable wings and neck, with room for Zoey to stand on the back. It has no legs to land or pose on so if left on the ground, the bird is stuck on its belly.
The butterfly form leaves many leftover parts but grants Zoey butterfly wings, allowing her to swoop in and rescue Nova. It took me less than 20 minutes to transform from one form to the other. Of the two, I found the bird more satisfying. This is a little disappointing, as these alternate builds are one of the highlights of the theme for me.
I do feel that this set would be truly complete with a selection of transparent elements to allow us to elevate the flying creatures of Zoey, as well as the flying cage and throne.
There are 3 normal minifigures, as well as one of the Grimspawn, Susan. The Nightmare King and Zoey both feature highly detailed printing front and back, and the printing extends seamlessly from torso to legs.
Susan is one of the small figures introduced in DREAMZzz. I looked into the geometry of these figures more in my Spacebus Review. She has a silver-printed body, as well as a minifigure head covered in eyes of different sizes. A neck bracket attached to her body gives us room to attach her wings. In the series, Susan’s head is surrounded by light purple flame, and I can see this helmet emulates that concept admirably. In this set, she is armed with a dining fork rather than a spear.
Zoey’s purple dreadlocks, as well as her detailed leg and torso prints, are not new to us – having appeared in the 71459 Stable of Magical Creatures. She features the same dual-sided head prints, with a smirk on one side and a smile on the other. There are intricate feather and arrow markings, as well as straps to hold her quiver and cape, on her navy singlet and trousers. As with all our heroes, the Night Bureau’s hourglass sigil is prominent on her torso. The printing between the torso and legs is seamless. The colour matching of dark blue ink over the titanium metallic legs is great. That metallic sheen is just the thing for creating intimidating footwear. HOWEVER, this is the only time that her character comes with a teal cape. Technically, this is an exclusive figure.
I love Nova’s Sloth Pajama print. It is a great nod to popular culture, especially in those young adolescents, where sloths appear to be emblematic (at least they were in our house.). It must be somehow related to the ability of kids of a certain age to sleep for longer than I ever felt was humanly possible (through my middle-aged eyes). Her dual-sided head shows a sleeping face, as well as one with a gentle smile. this figure also appears in 71469 Nightmare Shark Ship.
The Nightmare King
Finally, we come to the Nightmare King.
One of my favourite aspects of the villains and heroes of LEGO DREAMZzz is the way they feel fresh, despite being a pastiche of many heroes and villains that have come before.
The Nightmare King is part Sauron, part Wizard, part Emporer Palpatine, part Mummy, part living skeleton and more. Every fantasy monster and villain you can imagine rolled into one.
There is so much to love about this figure! Let’s start with the head printing. On one side, this head looks particularly aggressive, aged and battle worn, with eyes full of fire. On the other, it is swathed in bandages. This helm fits easily with the onscreen appearance in the series: perhaps I presume it is white hair with a black crown. There is certainly more than a passing reference to Sauron here.
His torso reveals partially stripped flesh, with viscera on view, while around the back, ribs are visible. I am intrigued by the eye appearing on his chest. Is this merely an obsession with personal branding, or is it something more? Could this be another creature from some hellish outer dimension acting as the puppet master for his plans, similar to the Overlord in Ninjago? Is there a reason the Nightmare King shares a voice actor with Mr Oswald?
Bandages are wrapped around his lower abdomen, the printing extending in a seamless fashion to the legs. Finally, his feet reveal 3 claw-like toes. And let’s not forget the sword – again with the eye, but this evil weapon features a transparent purple outline, giving the feeling of a nether worldly glow to the weapon.
Things that lurk in the shadows
I especially love his cape: it is made of black rubber, similar to the Batman 89 capes. The shape is somewhat disturbing: there are shapes cut into it: dragon head, vulture and more. It provides great opportunities to see what sort of menacing shadows you can create. I was impressed at the challenge of the exercise, but we eventually got some acceptable results. Perhaps it is time to invest in some proper lights?
These shapes in the cape (also seen in the claws of Night Hunter’s scarf) are pure nightmare fuel and fit in with the idea of nightmare creatures living in the shadows while they extend into the real world.
As we approach their formal release on August 1st, the LEGO DREAMZzz sets continue to impress. While the pose-ability of the horse’s legs is a little limited, and despite some initial clumsiness with attaching the throne to the horse, the whole package is pretty fun. The butterfly build for Zoey is cute but feels a little insubstantial compared to her bird. I continue to feel uneasy about all of these nightmarish creatures capturing children, who are subsequently unable to wake up in the real world until they are freed. I wonder if the overall storyline might end up too dark for some kids. Or at least their parents who strive to protect their offspring from harm where they can; this is one area where we might be helpless. That said, if it is something that facilitates families talking about their hopes and fears, it is a commendable thing. None of this changes the fact that the sets are a lot of fun.
I love the Nightmare King’s minifigure: he is everything I might want from an arch-villain: A mash-up of every fantasy villain from every era of my life. The details are perfect, from his decaying body, the bandage wraps, the comedically oversized crown to offset the terror, and the ragged cape with the dramatic shadows within.
The villain’s colour palette across all sets of Black/White/ Bright reddish violet/Vibrant coral and transparent purple demonstrates a consistent controlling force over the Nightmare King’s forces, while the sets relating to specific heroes have a palette based around their individual dreamworld outfits, demonstrating the independent creativity they bring to the battle. It’s a shame that the villainous palette is just so cool! Similar techniques are used with the colouring of sets in Ninjago, but the individual colour palettes feel more sophisticated here.
The Legendary Pegasus is a favourite of many. As such, I think this nightmare steed will be highly sought after. The build is sufficiently simple that you might like to pull the whole thing apart, bring some new nightmarish apparition to the Nightmare King’s aid, and experiment with various creature-building techniques.
The set is priced at $AUD 84.99; €52.99; $USD49.99; £46.99 and will go on sale on August 1st, 2023. That said, all DREAMZzz sets are available to preorder NOW. Consider using our affiliate link to purchase this set.
You can keep up to date with the Rambling Brick on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr (or just sign up for our mailing list) and find some extra content on Instagram and TikTok. And feel free to share this post with your friends who might be interested… Until Next Time,