Monday, January 13, 2014

LEGO 6036: Skeleton Surprise - REVIEW

I've been happily rebuilding a bunch of my own LEGO sets from my childhood.  Today's review features another such set.  Much like last week, this set belongs to the Castle theme - but now we move on to the Royal Knights rather than the Black Knights of last week.

This set was released in 1995 and contains 74 pieces along with two minifigures (one Royal Knight guard and one Skeleton).  You also get a small green base plate (8x16) and one printed castle wall (along with three other non-printed large castle wall pieces).  As a kid, I liked getting so many large castle wall pieces because I enjoyed creating my own castles for play!

As with most of my childhood sets, I do own the original instructions but I don't have the original box.

In the grand scheme of things, 1995 was one of the final years that I was buying LEGO sets so it makes sense that I'd have these instructions.  In fact, I also own two other Royal Knight sets that will eventually be showcased on this blog too.  Brickset claims there are nine different sets in the Royal Knight's line, however it appears that there are really only seven unique sets (one small set was apparently released three different times for reasons that are unknown to me).

As I mentioned above, you get 74 pieces - almost all of which are grey.  In terms of interesting pieces, you do get three 1x1 bricks with a technic pin hole in them.  You also get a single large black arch which is nice for castle building!

Building the set is a rather quick exercise thanks to the all the large pieces (in addition to the four wall sections you also get a tall 2-stud wide black wall piece and a 1-stud wide gray wall piece).  Most of the initial set construction involves making specific set-ups for the four large wall pieces!

When I was little, I enjoyed the action mechanism in the set.  It's simple, but effective.  If you pull out the lance on the right side of the building, the skeleton swings down from its hiding position.  The idea is that some would be thief sees the yellow goblet in the back of the base and then gets a "skeleton surprise" when he tries to steal the valuable piece of glassware (which gets placed on that L-shaped brick in the back right corner of the above photo).

The final build is compact, but quite nice.  In fact, this is a great seller for the (original) cost since it contains so many tremendous castle building pieces (not to mention the (at that time) new skeleton figure for a low cost).  You also get a single guard which any castle can use more of!

The one downside to the play value is that the skeleton is attached by LEGO bricks to the pole that it swings.  That means if you want to play with the Skeleton, you have to carefully remove it from the swing contraption (though that isn't too difficult if you have small enough hands)!

It should be clear from my review thus far that I like this set a lot.  In fact, I have exactly one complaint of any significance and that is that LEGO left a space in the roof of the set.  As a kid, that open gap always bugged me - and that feeling has changed now that I've rebuilt the set all these years later!

Other than that one minor gripe (which a single plate could have fixed), this is pretty much a perfect little set.  It looks like a fort - and if you happen to be lucky enough to own the castle, you could use this a guard house instead.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  8
Play Value:  9
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  5
Overall:  9

This is as close to a "must buy" castle set as there is - at least for 1995!  The fun value could have been slightly increased with a "bad guy" as I always assumed the skeleton was on the Royal Knight's team.  The adult value is a five - but that's mostly because this is a great parts pack if you are into castle MOCs.  For kids, this set is almost as good as you'll find and I highly recommend it!


  1. You amaze me with every review. Nice again! And castle again :)

  2. I love this set - although I totally agree with you about the roof! It's a really small and cheap set, but it offered a full playset in one little bundle.
    Funny how much it now reminds me of the Minecraft Lego!