REVIEW: Hogwarts Wizard’s Chess

Harry Potter LEGO used to be all playsets. But in recent years we have seen a number of sets that are more for display. The 2021 set Hogwarts Wizard Chess is a bit of a hybrid, both suitable for display and for play while also being a fully functional chess game too. It was therefore one of the more interesting sets in this year’s lineup. But how does it stack up in reality? Read on for my full review…

Set 76392 – Hogwarts Wizard Chess – 876 pieces

Price: US$59.99 / €69.99 / £64.99 / AU$109.99 / 649 DKK

In recent years, LEGO has tested the market for Harry Potter themed display sets, starting with the huge micro-scale Hogwarts Castle in 2018, and since followed up with Brickheadz figures, the buildable Hedwig and Fawkes sets, the Hogwarts Crests wall art set, and not least the magnificent Hogwarts Icons set.

In 2021, we got kind of a hybrid; set 76392 – Hogwarts Wizard Chess. It can simply be displayed as a chess game (and be used as a chess came), but with the included minifigures, it can also be used as playset, recreating the scene from the first movie, where the trio had to overcome a number of challenges, each made by a different Hogwarts professor, to prevent Voldemort to get the Philosopher’s stone.

After making their way past the first three challenges, they got to a large room.

They were standing on the edge of a huge chessboard, behind the black chessmen, which were all taller than they were and carved from what looked like black stone. Facing them, way across the chamber, were white pieces — the towering white chessmen had no faces.” 

This is the scene to be recreated. No passing – you have to win first!

Trying to pass, they were blocked by the white side. Realising, they had to be part of the Wizard Chess game, Ron took command of the black pieces. Together with Harry and Hermione, he replaced missing pieces on the board, and played the game to a win, in order to be allowed to pass. 

Curious to see if it would work well, I set out to build it one Saturday morning.

Saturday morning fun

Box and content

Starting with a good look at the box, the front of it shows the chessboard with Harry, Hermione and Ron standing in the middle, realising they have to play to proceed. The chess pieces are all brick built. Three black pieces are lying next to the board. Those are the pieces the trio must replace in the game.

In the lower left corner we see the three minifigure listed – but also that the includes a golden anniversary version of Professor Snape.

The back of the box shows the game in progress, with the trio now active in the game. Hopefully, they will win. Insert photos show the dimensions of the chessboard (it measures over 3 in. (8 cm) high, 10.5 in. (27 cm) wide and 10.5 in. (27 cm) deep) and the full lineup of chess pieces included in the game. We also learn that three collectable wizard card tiles are included in the set.

Inside the box are six numbered bags with parts (two have the number 1), two unnumbered bags with larger parts and the instructions. No stickers in this one, which is nice for a change.

Let’s start building.

Minifigures

As previously noted, the set comes with three minifigures: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. It also includes an exclusive golden anniversary Severus Snape minifigure

The photo below shows the three main characters. All torso’s are nicely printed, and together with the (unprinted) legs, they nicely represent how they looked in the movie (see photo further up for comparison).

As it is pretty much standard these days, the back of torsos are printed too, and the heads come with two different facial expressions – happy faces, as per above, and scared faces as per below.

The set also includes an exclusive golden anniversary minifigure, as most of the other mid-2021 sets. In this set, the included figure is Severus Snape. Being an anniversary set, it also includes three random collectable wizard card tiles (there are 16 to collect).

The huge Hogwarts Icons – Collector’s Edition set came with a display stand for all the anniversary golden minifigures. If you are looking for a variant of that, you can check my version of the stand here.

For the wizard card tiles, the recent Hogwarts Gryffindor Dorms set included an 8×8 plate you can use to display all sixteen tiles (should you have them all). Alternatively, you can build a display stand as mine below (instructions are available here).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pxl_20210606_050943072.jpg

The build

The minifigures are surely nice, but what about the rest of the set?

I quickly proceeded with building the board. It is built from the two bags numbered 1 and the unlabelled bags with larger pieces. It is quite substantial in size – basically as big as you would expect a real chessboard to be, with each square being 4×4 studs in size.

The board sits on a black base, with small oil lamps bordering the play area.

Looking at it from beneath, you see how it has been build to keep it light, yet sturdy enough for play. The two rubber tyres have been added to prevent the board from sliding on the table during play. It works really well.

Having built the board, the remaining four bags of parts are for building the chess pieces: two bags for each side.

The chess pieces generally look nice. They are approximately minifigure scale, but brick built, and you can easily see what piece they represent. But being a full chess game, you do need a lot of pieces – and in particular you need multiple of all (two kings, two queens, …, sixteen pawns), so it does become repetitive. Some may like it – like they may like sorting. It is not for me though, so the build experience is somewhat lower than what I would expect for a set of that price.

But once you’re done, you now also have a chess game, and a quite nice looking one too. Let’s have a closer look at the different pieces (apologising in advance, it is really hard to photograph black LEGO, in particular next to white).

Pawn

As in the movie, the pawns are equipped with two swords each. They are built to be smaller than the other pieces and don’t use normal minifigure head pieces are result. They also use the flat “mining” helmets, which look nice enough from the front, but the stud pointing backwards (for the lamp when used on miners) does look a bit weird when seen from the side or back.

Rook

The rook pieces are taller than the pawns and equipped with shields and a more pointy helmet with nose guard. I would normally have expected something more tower like, but to keep it more figure like, I think it works well.

Horse

The horse does kind of look like a horse, but is probably the weakest of the pieces. I do like the angle making it look like the horse is galloping, but the horse itself kind of looks unfinished. But it is probably hard to do much better in this scale. As seen, grey 1×1 round plates have been used in this build. They are probably not available this year in black or white, but have previously been – so I may try to source some to make the figures all black or white.

Bishop

The bishops look really nice. I like the use of the whip pieces for the staffs. Again, grey pieces are used, which I will replace, once I have sourced some in black and white from Bricklink.

Queen

The queen piece is okay. You can see what it represents, but it doesn’t wow me either.

King

The king is probably my favourite piece, looking strong and majestic. The helmet, the pointy shoulder armour and the large sword really make it stand out.

With the figures all done, the trio is now ready for some serious wizard chess.

It can be violent, as we saw in the movie…

Hermione:
Ron, you don’t suppose this is going to be like . . real wizard’s chess, do you?

(watching pawn being blown into pieces by an opposing pawn)

Ron:
Yes Hermione, I think this is going to be exactly like wizard’s chess.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Conclusion

At end of year feast, Professor Dumbledore awarded some last minute points to Gryffindor, including fifty house point to Ron for “the best played game of chess that Hogwarts has seen these many years”.

Will I be equally generous in my rating of this set?

It has some really good minifigures, all unique to this set. You may say why yet another Harry, Ron or Hermione, but it didn’t really make sense to include any other figures.

The set itself looks nice when complete, but as I noted, the build experience wasn’t fantastic. The board itself is pretty basic (and lots of tiles to add), and while the figures themselves are quite interesting, building four bishops or 16 pawns was something I just wanted to get over with in the end rather than enjoying it.

But there is no way around it if you are to build a chess game – and you do get a pretty neat and fully functional chess game with this set. The size is perfect for playing chess, and as noted the rubber tyres underneath work well in preventing the board sliding around on the table. Unfortunately, the figures easily slide on the board itself, so you need to be careful if playing.

Being less a play set, and more for display (or playing chess) is probably the reason the set is recommended for age 10 and up rather than the more usual 8+ years. I think that makes sense and should be considered if you consider this as gift for someone.

I had originally planned to look into options for integrating this with the castle sets, but I must admit that with its size, it is going to look out of scale with the various Hogwarts modules. It could still be part of a MOC though. I have a few ideas, I will try when time permits.

Next up is my review of the Harry Potter and Hermione Granger maxi-figures. Look out for this in the coming weeks.

Till then, Build the Magic!

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