Author Topic: 70220 – Grand Castle of Novelmore – with Extensions 9839 and 9840  (Read 863 times)

Offline Raven

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Important Note:  I took lots of photographs to illustrate this review, and they do not do justice to the castle.  Novelmore Castle walls are GREY.  Light grey.  Uniform light grey.  All over.  No lighter or darker grey walls – and certainly no white walls – anywhere.  But the flash on my camera has made many walls look different shades of grey, and sometimes pure white.  They are not really that colour.  Please bear that in mind! 

This was delivered mid-afternoon.  A big full box:

Plus the extensions too.

But I had an hour free before I needed to do something, so I thought I could make a start on it.

Step one:  Find four tiny hinge clips somewhere in that big box.  Step two:  Apply a sticker.

I decided to wait until the next day before tackling this.

So, the next day, I began by opening the bags of small parts, and sorting them into little trays and containers.  I would have liked to organise the larger parts too, but I realised that if I did that, I’d have no room left on the table to actually build the castle.

So only 15 minutes sorting, and then on with the building!

45 minutes later, all I’d achieved was this:

And that bottom right-hand wall is not correctly attached!

I did not find this easy to put together.  It is not a problem with the instructions; they are clear and easy to follow.  It is the stiffness with the tabs and slots; they require a good bit of strength to click together, and also can easily get out of line in one place while one is using one’s muscles in another place – as in the above photo.  It would be easier to do this with another person helping, I think.

Also, just a mention of those hinge clips (part number 30 07 7040).

There are lots of them to slot into place.  When I first met them, ages ago, I struggled mightily with them, and got very sore fingers trying to insert them.  Since then, I’ve done loads of them (horse stable doors, mostly), and can now fix them in easily – but a first-time Playmobil builder may have the same trouble I used to have.  The solution is quite simple: Note well in the instructions which way up the little ridge (hook) at one end should go, then place loosely in the hole the correct way round, slightly lower (or higher) at the end without the ridge.  Place your finger or thumb on it and press upwards (or downwards, as appropriate) towards the ridge-end, as if you are also trying to push it through the wall.  A ‘swipe’ sort of movement.  It might take a few practice attempts, but once you get it, they click into place easily, with no pain to the hands.

Another hour’s building, and I got this far:

My table isn’t even, and I thought that was the reason for the gap under the brown doors to the left.  Wrong!  I’d overlooked the base for that section.  So I had to take apart all the left side (and persuading it to come apart was tougher than forcing it together in the first place), insert the base, and then rebuild it again.  At which point I though my arms needed a rest, so I took a break!

When I returned to building, I was pleased to see that I was now up to a place using system-x connectors, instead of tabs and slots.  I’ve done extensive system-x building, so that is almost like second nature to me.

Hahahahaha.  30 minutes later, I still hadn’t connected that wall.

The wall is slanted at an angle to where it connects, and there is nowhere to correctly apply direct pressure.  I tried changing the yellow connectors to the other wall, in the hope that somehow that would help.

It didn’t help.  I could get my hands more-or-less in the right position to press the top and bottom connections together, but the middle ones would not connect.  In the end, I removed the middle ones, and connected it at the top and bottom only.  It still fits together snugly that way, and seems perfectly stable.  In fact, I did this (connectors in the top and bottom holes only) with nearly all the system-x walls.  And that also made it easier to take apart later when I added the extensions.

The next part combined system-x with slots.

20 minutes later:

A helper really would have been useful at this point.

Though I got there in the end:

And the next part went together quite quickly (in comparison).  Though, by now, building had taken so long that a Burnham Raider turned up very prematurely.

I took another break, then returned to continue.  The correct way to assemble the cogs for the drawbridge may seem obvious to some people, but it wasn’t to me.  It was more interesting than frustrating, though, and I was pleased when I got them right.

I completed the Grand Castle within another hour.

Total time taken to build: 4 hours and 15 minutes.  Requirements: Reasonably strong hands, and patience.  Recommended: At least one helper and, at one point, maybe two!

(Review continues below.)
Have a good time, make life cheerful and bright, dance if you want to, sing if you can, play as long as you live and leave the world with a smile - Lemuel K. Washburn

Offline Raven

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To the right of the drawbridge, there is a breakaway wall, so that raiders can smash their way in.  Unfortunately, it falls in at the slightest touch to anywhere on the castle, the smallest vibration, and even when my dog barked!

One can’t stand something against it on the other side of the wall, due to a lip (ledge) at the bottom of the wall.  So it will endlessly fall in.  That doesn’t matter too much to me, as I can just replace it as the last thing I do – but it might matter to a child who doesn’t want the castle wall continuously and invisibly breached during times of peace.  Sticky tape?

Round the back of the castle, there is another breakaway wall, this time for a prison outbreak.  This wall has not fallen out once, not even when I was building, or later taking apart in order to add the extensions.

There is one little part that I don’t like.  The wall next to the steps leading to the trapdoor has a little gap underneath it.  It’s not much, as you can see:

But when the sun is shining behind it, the light shines through that slight gap, making the gap look much bigger.  I can see myself always placing something at this spot, to hide this….

There are four klickies with this set, a horse, a wolf (carrying a letter), and a few accessories.  Not many accessories.  And, sadly, none of Dario’s inventions.

The klickies are (left to right) King John, Prince Arwynn, the inventor Dario, and Francis the knight.

No Gwynn!!!!

I guess that Playmobil needed to put in at least one (confirmed) knight (Gwynn is a wannabe).  And Gwynn is in another set (70225 Novelmore Wolf Team).  But I still think that Gwynn should have been included here as well.  She is a star of the Novelmore story.  Prince Arwynn is included in two sets (he is also in 70223 Temple of Time) as is the Burnham Raiders’ Warlord’s son Brody), so Gwynn’s inclusion elsewhere is no reason to exclude her here.  Even if it had added €5 or something to the price of the set.

Actually, I would have liked Scribble too, but as he is not listed in the introductions in the instruction booklets, I guess he may never be available.

I prefer the Prince Arwynn from the Temple of Time to the one in this set.  The Temple of Time version is on the right here:

(No, he’s not swaying because he’s drunk.  He is standing on an uneven piece of table.)

The next day, I added the extensions.  The tower from 9840 includes only yellow things to shoot (sweetcorn?), not a (plastic) water alternative.  The Grand Castle has two water shots, however, so I can exchange the sweetcorn for water here.

It took me an hour to assemble and place the extensions.  I now have a second breakaway wall to endlessly fall in.

(Review continues below.)
Have a good time, make life cheerful and bright, dance if you want to, sing if you can, play as long as you live and leave the world with a smile - Lemuel K. Washburn

Offline Raven

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It’s big.  One can add the extensions in various ways, but the way I have set it up, it measures – at its maximum – approximately 95 cm (37 inches) wide and 70 cm (27 inches) deep.

There is a lot of space in the castle courtyard.

I would have loved this castle as a child!  As well as all the things that fire water (or sweetcorn), the catapults, and the tumbling rocks, there’s so much to do, and places to put things.

The wonderful drawbridge:

Traps and hatches:

Various rooms:

Including a prison:


And doors:

The Captain of the Knights of Novelmore (9835) joined the lone knight Francis in the castle courtyard, but they do seem a bit lonely in the big space.

There does seem to be too few klickies and too few accessories for such a large sized castle.

I opened up a few more sets containing Novelmore knights in order to populate the castle.

I think that this castle does need some other sets added to it to be realistically playable. 

As far as I am concerned, however, this is the last sighting of the Grand Castle of Novelmore:

It will keep its colours.  But it will nevermore be Novelmore.

Its first reincarnation will be as a Princess Castle….
Have a good time, make life cheerful and bright, dance if you want to, sing if you can, play as long as you live and leave the world with a smile - Lemuel K. Washburn

Offline Indianna

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Thanks for this very enjoyable review, Raven!  Your narrative is amusing yet very informative and the photos are great. 

When I returned to building, I was pleased to see that I was now up to a place using system-x connectors, instead of tabs and slots.  I’ve done extensive system-x building, so that is almost like second nature to me . . . .

 . . . . Hahahahaha.  30 minutes later, I still hadn’t connected that wall.

I literally LOLed when I read that comment!   :lol:  How many times has each of us thought, "This shouldn't take very long to put together?"  I've had many late nights before birthdays, Christmases, etc. because I seriously underestimated the amount of time I would need.   ::)
U.S.A.      Massachusetts

Offline Tiermann

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Great review! I really like that drawbridge and the hole for the big bucket.

A hint for those little clips they use for attaching doors etc, is to use the flat end of the yellow system x connector tool to press down the clip. I find this much easier on my hand and there's always one of those tools laying around.

Offline tahra

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Thank you for the wonderful review :wow:

I had some fits of laughter, of course.. and I can relate to the difficulties (except I have no real system X experience, so it would take me longer, I guess :-[ )

I think the problem with the newer system x parts is that the connectors are located in flimsy "supports", and those bend when pushed together, instead of actually CONNECTING.. For example with those beautiful zoo walkways, and the big HTTYD thing. It's annoying, especially cause it didn't use to happen.

Offline drbatesy

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Thanks for the review Raven!

It's funny how my immediate thought was, 'where would I put it', as though, if I could answer that question, getting it would be a given!  ;D  In truth, I would want something more generic - we want to create our own world, not buy into 'Novelmore'.

It's annoying, especially cause it didn't use to happen.

I suppose there are two trade offs - price and the environment - for using less plastic. Interestingly, as someone who has only been collecting for about 18 months, what I think of as system-x feels far more robust than the latest buildings, which is what I reckon I'm looking at here just with system-x connectors. The former is a solid piece of wall half a centimetre thick. This stuff is a single sheet of pliable plastic. I'd never had the pleasure of steck until I bought the red house.

Offline PlaymoGuardian

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Thank you for taking the time to review this set. It is certainly very interesting to see all of the unique views and angles of this creation. Honestly, I think Drbatesy said it best, and I share his view of Novelmore- something I couldn’t quite put into words myself. I haven’t bought any Novelmore buildings because I do indeed want something more generic- again as Drbatesy has mentioned, something to blend into my playmobil world. Novelmore feels very specific to a new age and mechanical world and not one easily meshed into what I like to create…Thanks once more for showing everything. I’d very much enjoy seeing how you turn this set into your princess castle!

Offline GrahamB

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Thanks for a great review, Raven. Some stages sounded quite challenging if not downright frustrating. Those knock-out walls are anything but 'knockout.'
At that moment the ship suddenly stopped rocking and swaying, the engine pitch settled down to a gentle hum. 'Hey Ford.' said Zaphod, 'that sounds good. Have you worked out the controls on this boat?' 'No,' said Ford, 'I just stopped fiddling with them.' (With thanks to Douglas Adams)