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6027-1: Bat Lord's Catapult
Published 6 months ago
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The build is 99% complete, only missing some weapons and headwear, plus one of the faces. The catapult and the second minifig are exact.

==MISSING PARTS==
https://rebrickable.com/parts/59/weapon-sword-greatsword-round/
https://rebrickable.com/parts/6122/minifig-helmet-castle-dragon-crown-top/
https://rebrickable.com/parts/87694/headwear-accessory-plume-feather-large-with-pin/
https://rebrickable.com/parts/87692/headwear-accessory-plume-feather-triple/
https://rebrickable.com/parts/3626bpx54/minifig-head-knight-bushy-goatee-and-eyebrows

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This set no. 6027 'Bat Lord's Catapult,' also known as 'Hubble Bubble's Balista,' came out in 1997 as part of a newly-launched "Fright Knights" subtheme.

Fright Knights, the latest faction in the "Castle" theme at the time, only lasted for two seasons. After the initial '97 line-up of six models (all with serial numbers ending in a "magic" number seven), Lego only released a couple of tiny sets in 1998, no. 6031 'Fright Force' and no. 6028 'Treasure Cart' (both under 30 parts)—and discontinued "Fright Knights."

Besides the regular retail sets, Lego threw in some weird merch on the side (as always in the nineties)—a deck of playing cards, complete with three Skeleton jokers. Lego also featured "Fright Knights," alongside a few other themes (such as Divers, Extreme Team, Adventurers, and Space's "UFO") in an exclusive promotional series with Shell Oil Company. It was a typical "collect-them-all" series, and three miniature sets (out of ten) were "Fright Knights."

As expected, given such a name, Fright Knights were one of the darkest and spookiest Lego's subthemes at the time. Primary characters were Basil the Bat Lord (or "Count Batlord" in the UK), ruler of the dark nation, and Willa the Witch ("Hubble Bubble" on the British market, also known as Izralda and Hylia). The Witch wore a wizard's hat in exclusive black, had a sloping 2x2 brick for the dress, and occasionally featured a red cloth cape with a black spider print. She also has a genuinely terrifying face (by Lego standards), with a wide-open screaming mouth.

The "Fright Knights" were successors to the 1993-'95 "Dragon Masters" (the first Castle's subtheme to introduce dragons, wizards, and other fantasy elements to a previously fairly realistic medieval Lego world), and leaned heavily towards similar imagery and sinister, gothic style. Their world has creepy castles with trap doors, dark prison cells, skeletons, ghosts, and other witchcraft artifacts.

Dragons returned, black this time and with "fire-colored" (transparent bright orange) wings, plus Lego introduced some new parts in the theme: crystal balls, chains, bats (part #30103, which actually became pretty standard in Lego), and a winged helmet for Basil.

Lego designers also introduced new graphics and artwork: a giant bat emblem (appearing on shields, flags, and cloaks), new torsos, heads, etc. Some of these were re-used in the "Time Cruisers" (decorating the theme's villains, "Time Twisters"—specifically Commodore Schmidt, or "Professor Millennium," an evil twin brother of the main anti-hero.)

The 'Bat Lord's Catapult,' with 54 parts and two minifigures, is one of the smallest "Fright Knights" models (excluding promo items, polybags, and minifig-only sets, such as no. 6007 'Bat Lord').

It's a lightweight and elegant vehicle: a wooden carriage on four wheels harnessed to a black horse, a 2x8 plate with a standard barrel attached for an actual firing mechanism, some torches, flags, a spear held in the back.

Despite a substantial inventory, with plenty of weapons and accessories in minifigs' hands, the model actually had a severe issue: Lego designers forgot to include any spare bricks to fire with the catapult! Typically, "Castle" siege vessels would have 2-3 small round or square bricks as shots. Not with the 'Bat Lord's Catapult,' though... Good luck if that was someone's first-ever Lego model. I suppose one of the helmets could work?

Another shortcoming is an absence of a saddle (part #4491), which limits playability. The horse is fixed in the harness, pretty much, and one can't, for instance, unmount the catapult and send the Bat Lord on cavalry attack, while the second warrior can fire the target! Oh, wait, I forgot—there aren't any shots. This set appears to be a bit more about the "display," not "play," let's put it this way.

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=SEE ALSO=

1843-1: Space/Castle Value Pack (1996)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/79a8nBOKj8w
A tiny bonus pack which includes a 'Royal Knight's Catapult'

6497-1: Twisted Time Train (1997)
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/KbjQrAqRvdG
Particular "Fright Knights" decals re-used in the "Time Twisters" subtheme

2538-1: Fire-Cart (1998) by @LukeSkywalker
https://www.mecabricks.com/en/models/01w2rX8dv8W
One of Shell promotional sets from "Fright Knights"
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