Saturday, April 25, 2015

Brick Bucket Review: 70412 Soldiers Fort


Appearance - 3/5
Construction - 2/5
Pieces - 3/5
Playability - 4/5 
Minifigs/accessories - 3/5
Value for money - 5/5

70412 Soldiers Fort is the second-largest set of the March 2015 Pirates reboot. Interestingly for the second-largest set in a wave, it costs only $29.99, with a relatively low part count of 234 pieces, for a CPP of 12.82 cents/piece.

Verdict: This set is better than its companion the Outpost and is only $10 more. If you only want one of them, get the Fort. They're okay when combined, but some flaws (which I mention in the review) detract considerably from the combined model. I mostly like the look of this structure, but in some places it seems unfinished or oversimplified. Overall, a pretty average set. 

Last week, I examined the new 2015 Pirates set 70410 Soldiers Outpost. Today I present my review of 70410's companion set, 70412 Soldiers Fort!

In my review of the Outpost I mentioned that this new wave of Pirates sets is rather interesting. There are five sets and four of them are under $30. This is the largest one of those four, and while a $30 soldiers' fort set can only be so interesting, I'm pretty happy that the low-priced, small sets allow you to collect the entire wave for under $200. 

Even with its low price point, this set does come in with less pieces than you'd expect - 234 to be exact. I thought this set looked good from online/catalog images, but I was interested to see whether the physical product would hold up as a suitable fort for the soldier faction. I don't want to conclude the review in the introduction, but I think that the set does pretty well in that regard.

In this review I'll first examine the minifigures (because I didn't spend a ton of time on them in my review of the Outpost), then look at the main model part-by-part (there are three sections to the build). And of course I'll take the time to analyze the set from a MOCer's perspective and look at some new and interesting pieces. 


These new Pirates minifigures look pretty good overall. This set only contains one actual soldier; the other two figs holding down the fort are an Admiral and his daughter. 

As far as pieces on these figs, everything of interest is just a recolor or reprint. The new torsos are nice (it's been a while since we've seen the Bluecoats!), as well as the white epaulettes and blue feather. I believe the head on the Admiral is also a new print. 

I do take issue with the fact that only the admiral's daughter has printed legs - it makes the other figs' legs seem bare and the quality of the figs suffers as a result. 

The pirates look good too (and I appreciate the brown tricorne hat - not seen since the 90s!), but they represent the other big problem I have with this set's minifigs, which is this: This set is designed to be combined with 70410 Soldiers Outpost, and that set contains a minifig whose parts are almost identical to the ones in this set. I have compared the three pirates below, with the one from 70410 on the right. See how similar they are? I would appreciate the minifigs being designed to look more different from each other, and I don't think this would have been hard to do. 

Now onto the build...

Build part 1 - pirates' boat and wharf area
The pirates' boat is a very simple model, just a prefab boat element with a bench and flag stuck in it. (I like the smaller Jolly Roger flag piece and have employed it in some of my recent MOCs.) On the back is one of the new(ish) stud-shooter elements to act as a miniature cannon. There's another one of these on the fort itself, and I'm not sure how I feel about their inclusion in the set. I think the mold is a bit too futuristic-looking for the time period, but they certainly work well.

Also constructed in Part 1 is this little section of the fort that I'll call the wharf, though that's not really correct. If you combine the Fort and Outpost sets this part really just acts as the bridge between the two, hindered somewhat by the cannon unceremoniously stuck in the middle (see photo at left). If I'd designed this set, I would've placed the cannon on the upper tower of the fort rather than here. On the whole there's not a lot going on in this section other than a palm tree and - somewhat curiously - two frogs. 

Build part 2 - base of fort

This is the most straightforward section of the build, just stacking bricks and plates. On the right is a prison cell that can be used to hold one (or both) of the pirates. The wall can be pulled out to have the pirate "escape" the cell, as seen at right. 

Build part 3 - upper levels of fort
This is where most of the "action" of the fort goes on. There's a middle level containing the winch to lift up a treasure chest, and then above that is a tower with a flag and another small stud-shooter cannon.

The video below shows the winch function in action. I think it works as well as you'd expect, but the beam tends to be directed towards the left by the string being pulled through it. 

And here's a video of the stud shooter on the upper tower. I already mentioned my dislike of its inclusion here, but admittedly it does work well:

The upper tower is where I have the only major design issues with this set. LEGO sort of hides it on the box, but the sides are weirdly open and the whole area just feels unprotected and unfinished. Also, the cannon should've been placed here in place of the stud shooter, instead of on the wharf. 

But overall the fort holds together very well and is fantastic for the price tag it has. I can't think of many other $30 sets that seem this, well, big, especially considering that this one doesn't even contain as many pieces as you'd expect. 

Now, as is The Brick Bucket's custom, I'll examine some new and interesting pieces from this set. 

There are three lime-green palm tree leaves (part #10884), which I was very excited about for MOCing purposes. I thought it would be a rare color but Brickset tells me that lime is actually the most common color for this part, appearing in 19 sets to date. The brown boat is a good color to have for that piece (#2551). There's a giant soldier flag (part #19657) which is exclusive to this set (and which I accidentally placed upside-down in this image!), as well as a smaller Jolly Roger flag (part #19523). Some other interesting parts are one tan 2x2 curved slope (part #15068); two brown 45-degree angle plates (part #15706), and - my favorite - six "brick" style profile bricks in "brick red" (part #98283)! I'm glad this part finally appears in this color; combined with the Soldiers Outpost, I now have nine of them and look forward to using them in MOCs. All the other "pieces of interest" parts here are minifig parts, either reprints or new molds. (I mentioned this in my last review but: why the need for the new bandana mold?)

So, overall, I'm not super enthusiastic about this set. Do I regret buying it? No. But I find myself still searching for the perfect set in this year's Pirates remake, and I'm coming to the conclusion that maybe there isn't one. The best adjective to describe this set is "average" - but it's on the good side of average, I'd say. 

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