I came out of a ten year Dark Age in the fall of 2007. I really wanted to collect
castle so I bought just about everything (except the ninjas) I missed in the ten years before. I am only missing a few small impulse type sets for the whole line now. This means I got everything Viking, the latter sets of KK1, and all of KK2 at the same time. It was very interesting building all of the sets from many years over just a months time. It is also nice that I have them all side by side and can compare them too.
I would also like to note that it was very easy for me to find and buy at cost or below cost all of the sets from the Viking and KK2 lines for the years 2004 thru 2006 in the fall of 2007. I didn't even have to resort to ebay. There were plenty of these sets available on amazon.com, toysrus.com, etc. I didn't even know about bricklink at the time. I probably could have saved some money! The ready availability of these sets some of which were over 3 years old at the time told me they didn't sell very well.
The article is very spot on in my opinion and I would just add a few things.
The royal kings castle while an improvement on 6098 still suffered from the same problems castles have had since the fright knight line. They were indefensable from all sides and had ways an enemy could just walk right in. This set only had a couple of small flaws like that but they are still there. The minifigs were very different from any past line, but I didn't like them as they didn't seem to belong to any faction at all. I used them all for parts and made my own figs to fit in with other factions. The stickers in this set are nonsense IMHO.
Although I don't really like action figs the 2006 versions were actually pretty nice looking. The armor, weapons, and shield are nicely done. I don't own any so I can't comment on playability. I am also glad to see them gone.
The viking chess set is sweet and is a great compliment to the other viking sets. It is a nice army builder for a group of royal guard types for the vikings with matching armor and all. The viking army catapult is a great army building set. I personally believe that the siege engines from both 7020 & 7021 are just way too big. Why even bash down the walls when you build catapults and trebuchets that are taller than the enemy towers? Heck just roll them into the enemy walls and climb over... I suppose they are proper sized for the huge castle MOCs that people build?!
I suppose I don't even have to mention mechagodzilla!
The KK2 sets from this year are actually not all that bad. Many of the figs had great color patterns and awesome shields. It is too bad the whole line didn't adopt color patterns like this instead of the Rainbow bright and her knights theme. I still hate the nondescript minifigs with the pearl gold armor. I just can't find any helmets that look good with it.
The 8821 ship is very attractive and has nice figs, a very nice set. What is with those axes on the 8822 bridge anyway? Are they to destroy the battering ram that doesn't fit onto the bridge? Maybe they are to break the gate open because the attackers built the battering ram too big. (how convenient
) My real guess is they needed to use up all those giant action figure parts somehow. The battle at the pass is a godsend for army building and weaponry. It also has some neat little attacking siege engines. Add in the unique parts (like the doors) you get in it and it is a very nice buy. Mistlands tower also has some unique parts. The figures alone are worth getting this set for. Several unique figures and shields for the generals/leaders of your factions. I love the vladek figure in this set!
This year definately confused me a bit as it had no large sets at all. It is obvious that the past lines were winding down in 2006. Whether the cause was slow sales or Lego wanting to go in another direction, I don't know. As has been mentioned the greatest accomplishment for the 2006 sets was to get out of the way for 2007... which saw a return to better castle and minifig design. Castle is again doing things great!
I hope sales continue to go well for this line as it bodes well for all of us that castle continues for the years to come! It also reinforces the lesson to TLC that quality castle stuff does sell well and maybe we will continue to get sets many of us like.