This made my morning!
I'm going to try to tone down my excitement and rationally discuss the set, but it'll be hard.
First of all, it seems that either TLG has been listening to us or we are on the receiving end of a fortunate coincidence (i.e. TLG wanted to make this set anyway, and it happens to work out for us). Either way, I'm happy!
There is so much more than we had even hoped for here that it's hard to know where to begin.
Most obvious perhaps is the turkey! It makes m a little sad that I paid way to much for mine last year, but I am glad that more people will have access to one of the best accessories for many castle scenes. Also in the food vein are the fish, which ( I believe) are new parts. True to LEGO form, they appear to be holdable by a minifig, which is important for lots of MOC applications (smoked fish hanging from a roof, one minifig smacking another with a trout, etc.).
The next category is a nice transition from food to minifigs, as they are both. That's right, the animals! The brick built chicken and duck are pretty sweet. I'm sure they've picked up a few things from some builders around here in terms of making those! The cow is pretty darn good. It looks a little on the DUPLO side, but still nice to have. I may actually still prefer the Brickforge ones, but I bet they'll look good together.
On to the figs: I count 3 new peasant torsos(one is a repeat from the Advent Calendar, so I didn't count it), more in one set than we've had in probably the last decade (unless you count Star Wars torsos). I can't stress enough how excited about these I am. We finally have peasants to populate our kingdoms with. Some of those faces are priceless, like the poor guy who's staring at his turkey leg in dismay, like he just noticed ants all over it or something.
The buildings are also fantastic. They're just like the ones you used to see all over this website, little shops with living quarters above them. In fact, if someone had posted them here as MOCs, I wouldn't have been surprised at all. It looks like LEGO may even have borrowed some techniques from some of our builders!
There are several other pieces which I'm really excited about:
I think this set may herald the return of the plume to Castle Lego! If you look carefully at the chicken and the fire, these are new plume pieces. Hopefully this means we'll be getting knights with new plumes sometime soon!
This may actually be my favorite part of the new set. Inside the tan building are two portraits of minifigs. I like to decorate the interiors of my MOCs, and have always been frustrated by the lack of art for their walls. Hitherto we have been limited to the carpet piece as a tapestry, but now we have some great new options.
3. The tree.
Not much to say here, except it's nice to see those foliage pieces back and in significant numbers.
New signs for stables and blacksmith's shops are welcome additions to our repertoire. as is the crown sign. The market price sign is perhaps a little less useful for MOCs, but still nice to have.
Well, that's my take. And let me just say that although I largely concentrated on the usefulness of the set for MOCing, in and of itself it's a great set as well. It's large and well balanced, has lots of figs and extras, and looks like a lot of fun to build.
Thanks to Steve Witt and Jan Beyer for the photos. Steve, I feel like I should send you a thank you note or something after these past few weeks!