As I mentioned in previous reviews, my second favorite construction toy brand after LEGO is Oxford from South Korea. It is the only brand that truly meets LEGO’s quality in almost every way. The look, feel, clutch-power, and precision of Oxford pieces are the same as LEGO’s, and the color-palette is pretty much the same as well. Oxford makes some really beautiful and imaginative sets, particularly in the Asian history and fantasy themes, and their modern military sets are also popular. 🙂
In the last review, we discussed the Oxford Code Name Cobra modern military collection, which caught my attention because of the unique articulated minifigures with bending knees and swiveling hips. You can read the review here: Extra Posable Minifigures by Oxford. Since then, I purchased another Oxford set, this time from their historic military collection.
As I mentioned previously, Oxford sets are difficult to acquire in North America, and even just getting information on what sets and themes are available is not easy. Oxford has their own website, oxfordtoy.co.kr, but it’s mostly in Korean and slow to load, so navigating is a challenge. The only reliable source of Oxford sets is South Korean sellers via eBay. Shipping is usually free or reasonable, however the sets themselves are on the expensive side, similar to LEGO’s prices. Due to this, I can’t indulge in buying Oxford sets too often, but I do check regularly what’s available, and when I really like something I try to get it.
My favorite sets from Oxford cover Asian history and fantasy themes. They usually include castles with Asian style hip-and-gable roofs, wooden war machines, armored horses, and minifigs equipped with ornate Asian style armor and weapons. Oxford has a similar selection of sets within a particular theme as LEGO; there are small sets with one or two minifigs and a small model, medium sets with a decent size model and maybe a couple of more minifigs, and big sets with a large model and the most minifigs.
As I’m mostly interested in the unique pieces and accessories in Oxford sets, like the Asian style roof sections and minifig armor and weapons, I tend to stay with the small to medium sets. However, I do wish sometimes that I could afford the big sets just because they always have the most desirable minifigs and accessories. So, I was exceedingly happy when I discovered the #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack with nothing more than five armored horses, five fully armed minifigures, and a bunch of weapons. As far as I know, this is the first army-builder battle-pack Oxford ever released!
I’m actually not sure what the real name of the set is, as on the box it is only in Korean, but most eBay sellers will call it #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack, or something similar. The important part is the set number, in case you want to find it. The set is part of a large theme that is heavily based on real history from the Ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) under the rule of Gwanggaeto the Great. The minifigs in the #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack accurately depict the armored cavalry from that era. So, let’s take a closer look at what’s in the set.
The box of the #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack is similar to LEGO packaging; cardboard box with beautiful images of the content at both the front and back. The box is shinier than LEGO boxes though, similar to the finish of Mega Construx boxes. This particular set has no included instruction booklet, as you can put together all the minifigs, horses, and weapons just by looking at the box. While I agree that there was no need for building steps, a little booklet would have been nice with pictures of the other sets in the collection.
The horses are very similar to LEGO horses, although not the same. They have fixed hips, like the old LEGO horses, but the legs step the opposite way (right front leg and left back leg to the front). The neck is more graceful and the head narrower than either version of the LEGO horse. Interestingly, Oxford did have a previous horse design that you can find in their older sets, but the new version is closer to the LEGO horses. Below is a picture of the old Oxford horse, the new Oxford Horse, the old LEGO horse and the new LEGO horse. The Oxford horse comes in white, brown, black, and the best… dark-red! (Picture below: old Oxford black horse, new Oxford brown horse, old LEGO brown horse, new LEGO brown horse with movable hips.)
LEGO’s old horse armor fits the Oxford horse perfectly. I can’t test the new version of the LEGO horse armor as I don’t have one – sorry. However, because of the slight differences between the horse designs, the Oxford horse armor doesn’t fit either version of the LEGO horse (almost fits the old LEGO horse, but the new one not at all). Due to the differently shaped heads, the head armor for the LEGO and Oxford horses are not interchangeable. Even with the differences, the Oxford horses are aesthetically very similar to the LEGO horses and would look perfectly fine together in a group.
Oxford minifigs are similar to, but also different from LEGO minifigures. And it seems that Oxford continues to tinker with their minifig design because so far I encountered three different versions. The oldest Oxford minifig I have is very similar to a LEGO minifig (in fact, most of the body parts are interchangeable with LEGO). We talked about the new extra posable minifigures in a previous review, so you can check that out for a detailed comparison. (Picture above: old Oxford minifig, extra posable Oxford minifig, new Oxford minifig, LEGO Ninjago minifig.)
The minifigs in the #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack are closer to the old Oxford minifig design, but there are some differences as well. The head is the same (slightly smaller than LEGO minifig heads), the hands are the same (and the same as LEGO hands), but the arms are strangely straight instead of the usual slight bent at the elbow (characteristic of both LEGO minifigs and other Oxford minifigs). I have to say I don’t like this change, and I hope they will go back to bent elbows.
Oxford always used more rounded legs for their minifigs, but the connection between the torso and legs used to be the same as with LEGO minifigs; two long studs. The minifigs in the #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack had their torso and legs connection redesigned, and now the hips connect via one wide stud. It works nicely, although I’m not sure what was the point of the change. Oxford minifigs are always plain with no body printing, so they are really not that exciting. What really is exciting though are their accessories. (Picture below: LEGO minifigs with LEGO Ninjago and Oxford Asian armor, and Oxford heads.)
In the case of the #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack, all of the minifigures get a beautiful Asian style armor piece and helmet. For two of the five minifigs, both the armor and the helmet are a pearly silver color, and for the other three minifigs, the accessories are dark-bluish-gray. (The same armor and helmet pieces are also available in pearl-gold and black in other sets in the collection.) The armor pieces fit LEGO minifigs just fine, but the helmets are a little small for LEGO minifig heads. However, the Oxford minifig heads have the same yellow color and same style print as LEGO minifig heads, so you can just use those on LEGO torsos to accommodate the helmets. The helmet plumes look very similar to LEGO plumes, but the connecting peg (and thus the hole on the helmet) is larger, so you can’t switch out the plumes with the ones made by LEGO (or LEGO customizers). This is kind of a bummer.
You get tons of weapons in this set! There are five brown bows with twelve brown arrows. The arrows are shaped like stubby flick-fire missiles to shoot out of the bows. I like the idea, but the feature doesn’t work too well, as the arrows snap into the bows too tightly (and thus too hard to flick). You also get three sets of pearl-silver weapons on sprues (they are also available in pearl-gold in other sets in the collection). Each sprue includes a sword, a quiver (it be attached to the horse’s armor via a standard clip), a double-headed axe, and two ends of a polearm (or, you could use these as heads of two different polearms). The set also includes two short rods and four long rods with stoppers in brown for attaching the weapon heads. Thankfully, the rods are the same size as LEGO’s own, so you can make lots of pole weapons!
You also get three colorful flags and three black flag-poles in the set. The flags are made of a durable thin plastic. I like the flag-poles. They are a nine-brick tall version of the standard LEGO antenna. Very useful.
All in all, I really like this battle-pack. I’m particularly happy with the armored horses, and the pearl-silver weapons. The armor pieces and helmets are very nice too, and a few years ago they would have been a huge deal with LEGO fans. For a long time, LEGO had a very limited selection of Asian style armor pieces, so these would have been an excellent option. With the LEGO Ninjago line, LEGO released some very nice Asian inspired armors, helmets, and weapons that most LEGO fans are satisfied with. However, if you want to make historically accurate minifigures, Oxford are still better options.
Now that I had the chance to play with the #JK34617 Oxford Asian Heavy Cavalry battle-pack, I’m thinking about getting a second one to build up a larger army. I would also like to get the other sets within the theme, as there are some other armor and helmet pieces that I like, but they are a lot more expensive. At least, I will try to get the smallest set with Gwanggaeto the Great himself (see above), because of his super cool black armor and gold weapons. And I hope Oxford will continue releasing battle-packs in the future, as they are great army-builders for a reasonable price. If you want to try them out yourself, check on eBay: FIND OXFORD SETS ON EBAY
I hope this review gave you something a bit unique and interesting outside of our regular LEGO news and reviews. What do you think? How do you like this historic Oxford set? Feel free to share your thought and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
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