“Other Lego Castles” by S.M. O’Connor

Although most of the castle sets released by The LEGO® Group have been in the LEGO® Castle theme (product line), there have been other themes with castles and castle-like structures, some of which are compatible with LEGO® Castle sets.  Two of these other themes have been produced under license from Warner Brothers: LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ and LEGO® Harry Potter™.

Released as part of LEGO® Town (later renamed LEGO® City) exclusively in the British market in 1980 and Dutch market in 1983, Town Square (Set #1592) depicted a 20th Century parade through a European town square that included a castle compatible with the LEGOLAND® Castle product line’s original Yellow Castle (Set #375), released in 1978.  The small castle was like a set in a stage play or a movie sound stage.  It had thee arches, only one of which had a set of doors and was also reminiscent of the entrance of a theme park or zoo.  It stood between two more substantial (as in three-dimensional) structures that in the British version of the set had signs identifying them as a take-out food stand) stand and a bookshop with signs that read respectively, “FISH and CHIPS” and “BOOKS.”  In the Dutch version, the shop had a “Kiosk” sign.  The castle itself had two posters, “LEGOLAND CARNIVAL.”  In the British version, the castle flew a British flag, and in the Dutch version, it flew the Dutch flag.  The bookshop was a two-story structure with living quarters for the bookshop owner or an apartment for rent on the second level.  This second level was half-timber.  English-speakers would identify it as representative of Tudor architecture.  An enterprising boy could thus have incorporated the bookshop structure (minus the sign) into a castle of his own design.

Four of the eleven Minifigures that came with the set were undoubtedly supposed to be re-enactors dressed as medieval infantrymen and they were compatible with LEGO® Castle Minifigures. Two of them guarded the castle edifice whilst the other two were parade participants.  They had conical helmets, poleaxes, and triangular shields.  It was unheard of in actual LEGO® Castle sets for an infantryman to wield both a poleaxe and a shield, as it would have been for real medieval infantrymen because while a guard might be seen holding such a weapon in one hand, in combat a poleaxe is a two-handed weapon.  Something else that was unusual is that the coat-of-arms on their shields were stickers, as with the Yellow Castle instead of being printed directly on their shields, which The LEGO Group introduced in 1978 with Castle Mini Figures (Set #15) and Castle Mini-Figures (Set #0016), which were army expansion sets. By contrast, the coat-of-arms was printed directly on the chests of these re-enactors, as with the Castle Minifigures that came after the Yellow Castle.  In retrospect, the lion rampant emblem of the re-enactors seems to have been a precursor of the crowned lion rampant emblem seen on most of the knights and infantrymen of the Crusaders (also known as Lion Crest) faction introduced in 1984.  People are selling sets on ebay for over $1,000.

Another LEGO® Town set that included bricks compatible with the Yellow Castle was Main Street (Set #1589), issued in 1978.  In this case, though, it was only a short stretch of castle or city wall that ran along a street that had been converted into a take-out stand (or a castle-themed ice cream stand) with a sign that read “ICES.”  Either way, this yellow brick structure also stood next to a two-story structure where the second story was half-timber.  In this case, it was a post office.  Without the ‘POST OFFICE” sign, it also could have been incorporated into a castle or medieval city.  Further, the bus stop shelter included yellow bricks that, too, were compatible with the Yellow Castle.  Steve’s LEGO Blog included Town Square and Main Street in an overview of the Classic Castle LEGO® sets.

In 1997, Dacta (now known as LEGO Education), a product line that markets sets of DUPLO® and LEGO® bricks (and other elements) to preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools for educational purposes, released the 321-piece Dacta Castle (Set #9376).  The Minifigures included Dragon Masters, Fright Knights, Royal Knights, a Ghost, a Skeleton, and a dragon.

The LEGO® Group has produced two short-lived themes that were separate from, but complimentary to, LEGO® Castle: LEGO® Ninja (1998-2000) and LEGO® Vikings (2005-2007).  Inspired by samurai and ninja of feudal Japan, LEGO® Ninja introduced samurai armor, ninja masks, and katana swords.  Samurai Gi-Dan, his samurai, and his ally Ito the Gray Ninja, who wanted to protect a trove of mystical rubies from the bandit Chief Kendo and his alley Bonsai the Black Ninja.  In 1999, the story shifted to the White Ninja Princess and Red Ninjas trying to steal back the rubies from the evil Emperor.  The largest sets in the product line were Set #3053 (Emperor’s Stronghold), Set #6089 (Stone Tower Bridge), and Set #6083 (Samurai Stronghold)Red Ninja Master and Bonsai the Black Ninja appeared in the 2009 video games LEGO® Battles.  Some Ninja elements have been recycled in the current Ninjago product line, which began in 2011, but the Ninjago product line setting and narrative has nothing to do with the Ninja setting and narrative.

Set #8683 Minifigures Series 1, issued in 2010, included Ninja, a Minifigure™ that resembled Bonsai.  Ninja’s face was printed with squinting black eyes and white pupils.  He had a hood.  His chest was printed to depict a folded robe and belt.  He was armed with a gold-colored katana (samurai sword).

The Samurai Warrior, a Collectible Minifigure™ released in 2011 with Minifigures Series 3 (Set #8803), has a yellow head, black hands, and red chest, arms, and legs.  His eyes were black with white pupils and his mouth was a black line.  The samurai had black facial hair: eyebrows, mustache, beard, and sideburns.  He was armed with a gray katana and wore a gray samurai helmet and gray cuirass that represented plate armor worn by samurai from the 1500s due to the introduction of primitive firearms.  This Minifigure™ is compatible with sets from LEGO® Ninja and would make a suitable gift for someone who is a fan of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films and the like. Series 3 also included the Sumo Wrestler.

Confusingly, The LEGO® Group also released under the name Samurai a figure that really should have been called “Lady Samurai.”  She was a Collectible Minifigure™ released in January of 2015 with 71008 Minifigures Series 13.  Needless to say, this was quite an unrealistic figure.  She had a yellow head and hands.  Her arms, torso, and legs were gray.  The torso and legs were printed with red body armor.  Her hairpiece with a top knot is a reuse of the hairpiece that came with the Sumo Wrestler from Series 3.  Her printed face had arched eyebrows, black eyes (with black eyelashes) and white pupils, and a mouth that consisted of red lips open somewhere between a sneer and a smile and white teeth.  The red cuirass she wore represents an older style of armor than the Samurai Warrior’s.  It is an example of lamellar armor, which is fashioned from smaller rectangular plates that have been laced together.  She was armed with not one, but two gray katanas.

The discontinued LEGO® Vikings product line (2005-2007) was separate from any of the LEGO® Castle product lines.  It was inspired by both Nordic history and mythology.  It included several dragons, a wyvern, a sea serpent, and a monstrous wolf that appeared to be machines rather than living creatures like something out of Disney’s Adventures of the Gummy Bears (1985-1991).  They were comprised of LEGO® Technic and LEGO® Bionicle elements.

Figure 1 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group Caption: The LEGO® Vikings Set #7019 (Viking Fortress Against the Fafnir Dragon) was modeled on real Danish ring fortresses built around 900 A.D.  It was a palisade that came with six Minifigures™ (a Viking king with red cape and five Viking warriors), Fafnir the dragon, and a smaller dragon. One speculator is trying to sell it for $250 on ebay while another is trying to sell it through Amazon Marketplace for $369.37.

The Viking, a Collectible Minifigure™ released in 2011 with 8804 Minifigures Series 4, had a yellow head, arms, and hands, and brown torso and legs.  He had black eyes and white pupils and a grimace that bared white teeth. His red facial hair included eyebrows, mustache, beard, and sideburns.  He was armed with a two-piece battle-axe and shield.  His horned helmet consisted of light-colored gray piece that represented metal and brown horns.  The torso was printed to indicate he wore a mail hauberk (shirt of chain mail) under a leather vest held together by belts.  In real life, Norse kings and other high-status men may have worn ceremonial horned helmets on very important occasions, but every Viking did not charge into battle with a horned helmet, the way Vikings are depicted in pop culture.  This figure would be compatible with the 2005-2007 LEGO® Vikings sets.

The Viking Woman, a Collectible Minifigure™ released in 2012 with Series 7, had a yellow head and hands, dark brown torso, light brown arms, and dark brown backwards slope that represented her dress.  She had a blonde hairpiece.  Her horned helmet consisted of a gray piece that represented metal and two white horns.  She was (unrealistically) armed with a short sword and shield.  Her chest was printed to represent a belt around her waist and shoulder straps for her dress.  Obviously, this figure was compatible with the Viking from Series 4, as well as the 2005-2007 LEGO® Vikings sets.  She would also make a suitable gift for a fan of Wagnerian opera.

      The Viking, released in Collectible Minifigures Series 20 (#71027), is compatible with the LEGO® Castle theme and LEGO® Vikings subtheme.  He has a red-brown beard piece and red eyebrows printed on his face.  The expression printed on his face is fierce.  His helmet is dark gray aside from gold-yellow around the eyes, suggesting gold chasing.  It is more realistic than previous helmets made for Minfigures from the 2005-2007 LEGO® Vikings™ subtheme and Viking from LEGO® Collectible Minifigures Series 4 and Viking Woman from LEGO® Collectible Minifigures Series 7 because his helmet does not have horns. He wears a blue cape.  In terms of the printing on his torso and legs, he is supposed to be wearing a light gray torso over a dark brown undershirt that is the same shade of brown as his boots.  There is blue on the chest to indicate where his cape is tied around his neck and is held in place by a gold brooch.  He is wearing two belts, a belt along his waist and a second that runs diagonally across his chest.  His hands are yellow, which indicates he is not supposed to be wearing gloves.  He is also wearing a gray pendant which is probably supposed to be iron.  Taken altogether, the signs are he is a leader, perhaps a chief, if not a king.

      The Viking carries a circular shield and is armed with a spear.  This spear has a gray speartip and brown shaft, which indicates it is supposed to be a metal (probably iron) speartip atop a wooden shaft.  The shield has a blue and white color scheme.  The rim is dark gray and there are small circles along it that suggest bolts.  There are cracks in the blue, suggesting a wooden shield on a metal frame.

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Vampyre Castle

      One can see familiar parts in Set #9468 (Vampyre Castle) from the discontinued LEGO® Monster Fighters product line from 2012.  This is a Retired Product that The LEGO Group’s online store lists as “Hard To Find.”  West End Toys and Galorco, Inc. are both selling this set at $148.95 each through Amazon.com.  It included Lord Vampyre, which looked like an angrier version of Vampire from Set #8684 Minifigures™ Series 2; Vampyre Bride; two Manbats (presumably vampires); cyborg monster hunters Doctor Rodney Rathbone and Jack McHammer; and a Skeleton.  Only some of the pieces from Vampyre Castle would be compatible with castles from the LEGO® Castle and related product lines, but virtually all of the castles from those product lines had pieces that would be compatible with Vampyre Castle.  Consequently, if one wanted to expand Vampyre Castle using old pieces from unrelated castles, one could build a large castle (for monsters or otherwise) that was only partially in ruins.  Two structures from Crazy Scientist & His Monster (Set #9466-1) – an obvious depiction of Frankenstein and his monster, Adam – were also compatible with LEGO® Castle.

LEGO® Hogwarts™

      One would have also seen familiar parts, differently colored, in The LEGO® Group’s four Hogwarts™ Castle sets that were part of the first two LEGO® Harry Potter™ product lines.  [The LEGO Group has had a licensed LEGO® Harry Potter™ theme three times.  The first time was from 2001 to 2007, the second time was from 2010 to 2012, and the third time began in 2018.]  The first three were Set #4709 (Hogwarts™ Castle) released in 2001, which was comprised of the Gatehouse, the Great Hall, Gryffindor Tower, and the Owlery Tower; Set #4757 (Hogwarts™ Castle) released in 2004, which was comprised of the Gatehouse, Main Hall, and Gryffindor Tower; and Set #5378 (Hogwarts™ Castle) released in 2007, which was comprised of the Greenhouse and Room of Requirement.  The Minifigures in the first Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #4709) were Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Professor Dumbedore™, Rubeus Hagrid, Professor Snape, Peeves the Poltergeist, and a Knight (an empty suit of armor).  Those in the second Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #4757) were Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Professor Dumbedore™, Professor Trelawney, two Dementors, and a Skeleton.  The third Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #5378) had Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Professor Dumbedore™, Rubeus Hagrid, Professor Snape, Professor Umbridge, and a Death Eater.

The 1,290-piece Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #4842), released in 2010, was The LEGO Group’s fourth version of Hogwarts™ Castle.  It was comprised of the Astronomy Tower, the Great Hall, Common Rooms, and Dumbeldore’s Office.  This castle had hinges but this was not so it could open up like the King’s Castle and Black Monarch’s Castle, but rather so the owner could adjust the spatial relationship of the Great Hall and the towers to each other.  The interiors very much resemble a dollhouse.  For some strange reason, the section labeled Common Rooms was, on the outside, Gryffindor Tower, and, on the inside, Slytherin Common Room (first floor), some miscellaneous room with the Knight and Tom Riddle’s journal (second floor), Gryffindor Common Room (third floor), and the Owlery (fourth floor).  The Knight Minifigures™ from the first and fourth Hogwarts™ Castle sets were compatible with LEGO® Castle and similar product lines.  The same is true of the Skeleton Minifigure™ from the second Hogwarts™ Castle set.  It is a Retired Product.  There were several complimentary LEGO® Harry Potter™ sets.  One was Set #4730 (The Chamber of Secrets)  from 2002.  Set #4867 (Hogwarts™) from 2011 was comprised of the Astronomy Tower, the Defense Against the Dark Arts Tower, and a Viaduct.  Note that these sets from the first two LEGO® Harry Potter™ themes depicted Hogwarts™ with green roofs.

Figure 2 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group Caption: Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #4842) was aimed at children and teenagers ages eight-to-fourteen.  This version of Hogwarts™ Castle included eleven Minifigures: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Lord Voldemort, Professor Dumbledore™, Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, Professor Flitwick, Argus Filch (and his cat Mrs. Norris), two Dementors, and a Knight that represented an empty suit of armor.  Nine of these Minifigure™ models were exclusive to this set.  The set also included the Sorting Hat, Gryffindor’s Sword, a Basilisk fang, Sirius Black’s face in the Gryffindor Common Room fireplace, and Tom Riddle’s journal.

Due to the release of the prequel Fantastic Beasts films, The LEGO® Group is releasing both LEGO® Fantastic Beasts™ sets and new LEGO® Harry Potter™ sets under license from Warmer Brothers.  Note that in these new sets, the rooftops of Hogwarts™ Castle are depicted as gray.  The 6,020-piece LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #71043), released in 2018, is the first such set to depict the whole of Hogwarts™ Castle.  The set consists of a buildable microscale model of Hogwarts™ Castle, the hut of Hagrid™, the Whomping Willow™ tree with Flying Ford Anglia, and five boats.  It features the Great Hall with house banners, benches, tables, torches, and moving staircases; the potions classroom; the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom with potion jars, gramophone, and closet containing a boggart; the Chessboard Chamber with chess piece elements; the Room of Requirement with the Goblet of Fire; the Chamber of Secrets™ with Basilisk and Tom Riddle’s Diary; the Devils Snare room with vine elements; the Gryffindor™ common room with fireplace; Professor Dolores Umbridge’s office with pink furniture; the library; and Professor Dumbledore’s office with the griffin statue and memory cabinet.  The list price is $399.00.

Figure 3 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #71043) comes with twenty-seven Microfigures come with the set: Harry Potter™, Ron Weasley™, Hermione Granger™, Draco Malfoy™, Professor Albus Dumbledore™, Professor Severus Snape™, Professor McGonagall™, Professor Remus Lupin, Professor Dolores Umbridge™, Argus Filch, Lord Voldemort™, Bellatrix Lestrange, three students from each of the four houses, two chess pieces, the Architect of Hogwarts™ statue, and five Dementors.

Figure 4 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #71043) comes with four Minifigures™: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin, and Rowena Ravenclaw.  They come with a buildable display stand.

Figure 5 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: The creatures that come LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Castle (Set #71043) include Aragog the spider, the Basilisk, and a buildable Hungarian Horntail dragon. 

Released in 2018, the 878-piece Hogwarts™ Great Hall (Set #75954) consists of the Great Hall, tower, and the Mirror of Erised™.    The model is 14” high, 11” wide, and 7” deep.  The list price is $99.99.

Figure 6 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: Ten Minifigures™ come with Hogwarts™ Great Hall (Set #75954): Harry Potter™, Ron Weasley™, Hermione Granger™, Draco Malfoy™, Susan Bones, Professor Albus Dumbledore™, Professor McGonagall™, Professor Quirrell with dual Lord Voldemort™ face, Hagrid™, and Nearly Headless Nick. The creatures that come with the set include a buildable Basilisk and Fawkes™, and Hedwig™ and Scabbers™ figures. 

The building that comes with the 753-piece Whomping Willow (Set #75953), released in 2018, can connect with Hogwarts™ Great Hall (Set #75954).  This set includes a building Whomping Willow™ tree, a buildable Flying Ford Anglia, and a section of Hogwarts™ Castle.  The building measures 10” high, 13” wide, and 3” deep.  It includes a gate, a parapet, three turrets, a dormitory with two beds, a potions classroom with worktable, and Professor Severus Snape’s office.  The list price is $69.99

Figure 7 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: Six Minifigures™ come with Whomping Willow (Set #75953): Harry Potter™, Ron Weasley™, Hermione Granger™, Seamus Finnigan, Argus Filch, and Professor Severus Snape™.

LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ Theme

      The most elaborate castle that The LEGO® Group has yet produced was the Hornburg from LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ the 1,368-piece Set #9474 (The Battle of Helm’s Deep™).  It includes an outer wall entirely separate from the citadel and pretty accurately captures the appearance of the Hornburg as depicted in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), adapted from the second volume in J.R.R. Tolkien’s three-volume novel The Lord of the Rings. The Hornburg fortress is 6” (14 centimeters) high, 20” (52 centimeters wide).  The tower with the horn of Helm Hammerhand is 9” (22 centimeters) high and 3” (9 centimeters) wide.  The eight Minifigures included are Aragorn™ (the character played by Viggo Mortensen), Gimli™ (the dwarf character played by John Rhys-Davies), Haldir™ the Elf, King Théoden™ (the character played by Bernard Hill), a Berserker Uruk-hai™, and three other Uruk-hai™.  To allow fans to recreate the Battle of Helm’s Deep, part of the outer wall was designed to explode like in Jackson’s film (and Tolkien’s book).  LEGO Shop At Home lists this as a “Retired Product.”  Speculators are selling it through Amazon Marketplace for $253.95.

Figure 8 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ The Battle of Helm’s Deep (Set #9474)

Figure 9 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: This is part of the curtain wall of the Hornburg castle from The Battle of Helm’s Deep (Set #9474).  Here, we see Haldir™ (rather than Legolas Greenleaf™) defending the wall from the Berserker Uruk-hai.  The latter is making a suicidal charge with a torch at the primitive bomb fashioned by Saruman the White to blow up the part of the curtain wall at its only weak point, a culvert.  This part of the curtain wall is designed to break into two pieces to simulate the explosion described in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and shown on screen in the film of the same name.

Figure 10 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption:  This is the interior of the curtain wall of the Hornburg castle from The Battle of Helm’s Deep (Set #9474).  Gimli™ defends the gatehouse (which has its doors open) from one Uruk-hai while Haldir™ defends the curtain wall on the left from an Uruk-hai climbing up a ladder.  From this perspective, we see the series of ladders in the tower that leads up to the horn of Helm Hammerhand, which Gimli blows in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  We also see the simulated battle damage to the curtain wall in the right corner that could be achieved by removing part of the wall to recreate the moment in the film The Two Towers when the Berserker Uruk-hai™ made a suicidal charge at the culvert in the wall with a torch to ignite the primitive bomb fashion by Saruman the White.

Figure 11 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: This is the Great Hall from the LEGO® version of the Hornburg castle from The Battle of Helm’s Deep (Set #9474).  The semi-circular structure included a drawbridge, a buildable throne of King Théoden™, a banner with a white horse on a green field as described by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and seen in the film of the same name, a table, two stools, a golden plate, two golden goblets, and two stands that hold spears and swords.

Much as one could attach modular walls onto the King’s Castle and Black Monarch’s Castle from LEGO® Castle, one could attach a segment of wall from the Set #8471 (Uruk-hai™ Army).  That set came with Éomer (the character played by Karl Urban who was King Théoden’s nephew and Éowyn’s brother) on a horse, a Rohirrim archer, and four Uruk-hai™.

Figure 12 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: Uruk-hai Army (Set #8471) included a segment of curtain wall that could be attached to the Hornburg castle from The Battle of Helm’s Deep™ (Set #9474), six Minifigures™, a horse, and a siege engine.  One of the Minifigures™ was Éomer (Karl Urban’s character), nephew of King Théoden (Bernard Hill’s character) and brother of Éowyn (Miranda Otto’s character), on horseback.

Figure 13 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: This is a picture of the two sets combined with the section of curtain wall from Uruk-hai Army (Set #8471) attached to the Hornburg castle from The Battle of Helm’s Deep (Set #9474).  The tableau includes a siege of the Hornburg by eight Uruk-hai from both sets, while Aragorn™, Gimli™, King Théoden™, Éomer™, Haldir™, and a Rohirrim archer defend it.

An equally impressive model was the 2,359-piece Set #10237 (The Tower of Orthanc™).  The exterior is an accurate recreation of the Tower of Orthanc™ as it appeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (Special Extended Edition).  The interior has six floors.  The set came with a Great Eagle (to recreate Gandalf’s rescue from the first film), a buildable nine-inch-tall Treebeard the Ent (to recreate the Battle of Isengard from the second film), and six Minifigures: Saruman the White (the evil wizard played by the late Sir Christopher Lee), Gríma Wormtongue (the character played by Brad Dourif), Gandalf™ the Grey (the good wizard played by Sir Ian McKellen), an Uruk-hai™, and an Orc Pitmaster.  The list price was $199.99.  Speculators are selling it through Amazon Marketplace for $253.95.

Figure 14 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ The Tower of Orthanc™ (Set #10237) was a 2,359-piece set for teenagers and adults ages fourteen and up.

Figure 15 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ The Tower of Orthanc™ (Set #10237) came with a 9” buildable Ent, a Great Eagle, and six Mininfigures™. The Tower of Orthanc model measures over 28” (73 centimeters) high, 8” (21 centimeters) wide, and 6” (16 centimeters) deep. 

Set #79007 (The Battle of the Black Gate) is accurate in appearance.  It is out of scale, but to build it to scale would be cost prohibitive.  The structure measures 8” (22 centimeters) high, 11” (30 centimeters) wide, and 2” (7 centimeters) deep.  This set includes a Great Eagle and five Minifigures: Gondor Armor Aragorn, Gandalf™ the White, two Mordor Orcs, and the Mouth of Sauron to recreate the scene from the third film where Sauron’s Black Númemórean spokesman tries to intimidate Aragorn, Gandalf, etc. and Aragorn beheads him).  LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, released in 2012, featured not only animated Minifigures that corresponded with the characters one could purchase as Minifigures with these and other sets, but also characters from the films that were not turned into Minifigure toys and characters who appeared in Tolkien’s three-volume novel, but not the films.[1]

LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ set Attack on Weathertop™ (Set #9472) is a 430-piece set that recreates a set from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. This set included five Minifigures™ – Aragorn™, Frodo™ (the Hobbit character played by Elijah Wood), Merry (the cousin of Frodo played by Dominic Monaghan), and two Ringwraiths™ – as well as two horses, five swords, two torches, and the One Ring.

Figure 16 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ Attack on Weathertop™ (Set #9472) was a 430-piece set for aimed at children and teenagers between the ages of eight and fourteen. The five Minifigures™ that came with the set were Aragorn™, Frodo™, Merry, and two Ringwraiths™.

Figure 17 Credit: Courtesy of The LEGO® Group. Caption: LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ set Attack on Weathertop™ (Set #9472) is a model of a tower that has fallen into ruins.  The set is hinged so it opens up as shown here.  I received one such set as a gift, I enjoyed building it as a model, and my nieces enjoy playing with it now as a toy.

This set is still available through BarnesandNoble.com, which is appropriate given that one can purchase J.R.R. Tolkien’s original books there, as well as his son Christopher’s books on the decades-long process of writing The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings; Tolkien biographies; Jackson’s films; and books about Jackson’s films.  However, this is a matter of using BN.com as a marketplace through which to purchase sets from third parties.  The list price was $62.95.  A speculator is selling it for $89.18.

In January of 2018, The LEGO Group released the 421-piece Sixty Years of LEGO® Brick (Set #40290), with four Micro-scale sets: a replica of the Yellow Castle, a replica of the Black Seas Barracuda pirate ship, the Galaxy Explorer spaceship, and Airport Shuttle monorail.  On the Website Brickset, the price range people are asking for it is $21 to $225.

There are four castle sets in the new LEGO® Disney Princess™ product line.  These sets have mini-dolls like LEGO® Friends instead of LEGO® Minifigures  The mini-dolls are much more detailed than Minifigures but are compatible with LEGO® bricks like Minifigures.  The 299-piece Set #41054 (Rapunzel’s Creativity Tower) from 2014 comes with Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder mini-dolls and Pascal the chameleon; the 646-piece Set #41055 (Cinderella’s Romantic Castle), released last year, comes with Cinderella and Prince Charming mini-dolls, Bruno the dog, and Lucifer the cat; the 292-piece #41062-1 (Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle) comes with Queen Elsa and Princess Anna mini-dolls and Olaf the Snowman; and the 379-piece Set #41063 (Ariel’s Undersea Palace), released this year, comes with Ariel and Alana mini-dolls, Sebastian the crab, Flounder the Fish, and a dolphin.  While Rapunzel’s Creativity Tower is a fairy tale version of a castle keep, Cinderella’s Romantic Castle is more reminiscent of a purpose-built palace or castle that have been converted into palace rather than a true castle.[4]   Elsa’s Sparkling Castle and Ariel’s Undersea Palace do not resemble either real-world castles or real-world palaces and look more like theme park attractions.  All of these LEGO® Disney Princess™ castles are also façades like the smaller LEGO® Basic castles.  They are three-dimensional, but have no depth beyond what is necessary to make them free-standing structures.  As with Vampyre Castle, some elements from Rapunzel’s Creativity Tower and Cinderella’s Romantic Castle, such as wall panels and battlements, are compatible with LEGO® Castle sets, while others, such as roof elements and Cinderella and Prince Charming mini-dolls, are not, and even elements that are compatible in terms of shape are not compatible in terms of color.  However, while a teenager or adult fan of LEGO® trying to build some large-scale castle of his own (or someone else’s) design is unlikely to want to purchase one of these LEGO® Disney Princess™ castles to use the parts, a father, uncle, or big brother with old LEGO® Castle pieces could give them to a daughter, niece, or little sister who wants to expand her fairy tale castle beyond what came in a set or build one of her own design.

Duplo® Castles

      Fathers, uncles, godfathers, grandfathers, and big brothers who want to get preschool-age tots interested in LEGO® castle-building can introduce them to the subject through the medium of LEGO® Duplo® castles. The sets released from 2004 to 2008 pitted Good Knights against Dragon Knights.  The Good Knights had white printed tunics with yellow sleeves.  The coats of arms printed on their tunics and shields featured the crowned head of a lion in front of a blue field.  The Dragon Knights alternatively had red printed tunics with yellow sleeves and yellow printed tunics and red sleeves.  The coat of arms printed on their tunics and shields featured a dragon rampant.  The helmets of the Dragon Knights had wings.

Released in 2004, the 167-piece Knight’s Castle (Set #4777) had two towers in addition to the gatehouse.  The gatehouse featured a portcullis.  The set had two defending Good Knights and two besieging Dragon Knights, one of whom rode a charger.  The Dragon Knights had a catapult.  It is a Retired Product.

Dragon Tower (Set #4776), released in 2004, is a one-story castle keep with a drawbridge.  It came with two Dragon Knights, one of whom rode a dragon.  It is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for up to $159.

The 386-piece Black Castle (Set #4785), released in 2005, which was similar in design to the King’s Castle and Black Monarch’s Castle. It came with five evil knights, one good knight, and a dragon.  The gatehouse features a portcullis.  This was an elaborate castle design that resulted in an impressive toy castle by any measure and not simply a large Duplo castle.  The castle keep at the back is three stories tall.  It is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for up to $490.

Defense Tower (Set #4779), released in 2005, was a sixty-four-piece-set that included one Good Knight who defended a two-story castle keep and one Dragon Knight who rode a siege tower.  Notably, while siege towers of LEGOLAND® Castle sets from the 1980s had been comprised of black bricks that boys had to pretend were made of wood, this siege tower was more realistically brown-colored.  This is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for up to $399.

The 115-piece Castle (Set #4864) came with three Duplo figures: a Dragon Knight and a Good Knight.  The Dragon Knight’s horse had full barding.  The gatehouse had a portcullis.  The set included a canon.  It is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for $89.95.

The 135-piece Big Royal Castle (Set #10577), released in 2014, included a castle with three bridges and something approximating a drawbridge.  It had a prince, three knights, a horse, and a canon that is similar to the one from Set #10514 (Jake’s Pirate Ship Bucky) from the LEGO® DUPLO® Jake and the Neverland Pirates™ product line, but is mobile.  Unlike previous castles in this theme, which were realistically dark, this one had red walls and red battlements.  It is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for between $91.99 and $170.35.

Treasure Attack (Set #10569), released in 2014, had a small castle tower, a horse-drawn cart, a tree, three foot soldiers, and a small catapult.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for up to $94.75.  The later DUPLO® melee weapons – axes and swords – are interesting because they look like costume weapons.

The LEGO® DUPLO® Disney Princess™ product line also had Set #6154 (Cinderella’s Castle) in 2012.  On January 1, 2015, The LEGO® Group released Set #10595 (Sophia the First Royal Castle) in the LEGO® DUPLO® Sophia the First™ product line.  This set had a purple and pink color scheme. It has Sophia and Princess Amber figures, Clover the bunny, and two beds.  The list price was $49.99.  This is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it on eBay for up to $369.86.

LEGO® Juniors Castles

      In 2014, The LEGO Group released Set #10676 (Knight’s Castle) from the LEGO® Juniors product line (formerly LEGO® Bricks and More).  It has a retail price of $49.99.  The crowned lion emblem on the shield above the Knight’s Castle gate is very similar to that of the Royal Knights.  The Minifigures™, horse, battlements, and some of the other pieces are compatible with LEGO® Castle and similar product lines for older children.  However, the wall panels and main arch have child-friendly decorative prints that would fit in with story-book illustrations, appropriate for a boy of about age six.  An older boy may hesitate to incorporate the panels into larger castles from the product lines for older children.  A teenager or adult would definitely feel silly using the panels when building original creations.  This 480-piece set is a good way for parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, godparents, and older siblings who want to get little boys interested in castle-building to introduce them to the idea.  This is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it through Amazon Marketplace for between $197 and $357.19.

LEGO® Juniors also has Set #10668 (The Princess Play Castle), released in 2014.  It is not so much a toy castle as an assortment of things that should suggest to a little girl that the princess Minifigure™ lives in a castle.  The set had a retail price of $14.99.  This is a Retired Product.  Speculators are selling it through Amazon Marketplace for between $89.90 and $129.34.

Even simpler in design were the LEGO® Basic product line’s 137-piece Set #6193-1 (Castle Building Set) from 2009 and 144-piece Set #5929-1 (Knight and Castle Building Set).  The LEGO® Basic product line was aimed at children four and up.  Each of those two sets came with a single Minifigure™ foot soldier that was compatible with LEGO® Castle Minifigures™.  In both cases, the two-story structures were like a façade from a stage production or film set.  The “castle” from the Castle Building Set did feature a working drawbridge but what really made it notable was that it was mostly made of yellow bricks, so it would have been compatible with the Yellow Castle.  The set even included a buildable horse– similar to, but shorter than, the brick chargers from the Yellow Castle and other LEGOLAND® Castle sets released from 1978 to 1983.  Speculators are selling it through ebay for between $.99 and $44.33.  LEGO Shop At Home lists the Knight and Castle Building Set as a Retired Product.  The set included a simple horse-drawn cart as one might find in a LEGO® Castle set.  There were bricks with which to build two animals: a horse to pull that cart and a very small dragon.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for between $19 and $98.34.

In 2015, The LEGO® Group released LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes Avengers The Hydra Fortress Smash (Set #76041), which included a two-story tower with LEGO Castle parts with an artillery piece (seemingly a laser gun) mounted on the roof.  The set was part of the licensed Marvel Super Heroes theme and Avengers: Age of Ultron sub-theme.  The set was a tie-in with the Marvel Studios film Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).   It depicts The Hulk, Captain America, and Quicksilver using an armored car to attack a Hydra fortress defended by Baron Von Strucker and a Hydra Henchman. This tower has a modern security gate and the latter is flanked on its other side by a tree.  The laser gun parts would not need to be re-purposed and the “NO ENTRY” sign would have to be relegated to a model made with LEGO City parts, but the tower could easily be incorporated into a castle made with pieces from old LEGO Castle sets.  This is a Retired Product.

2019 Addendum

Löwenstein Castle was crowdfunded through BrickLink (Set #BL19001-1).  This set was released as part of BrickLink’s AFOL Designer product line to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the LEGO® brick.  [A.F.O.L. is short for Adult Fan of LEGO®.] The 2,015-piece kit was designed by a fan named Martin Geistefeldt with the handle Raziel Regulus.  The model measures 13.4 inches in width, 12 inches in height, and 14.2 inches in depth. It comes with three Minifigures™, a horse, and, for some reason, three chickens.

Credit: BrickLink Caption: This is a short promotional video for Löwenstein Castle.

Credit: BrickLink Caption: This is an unboxing video for Löwenstein Castle.  As explained in this video, Rziel Regeulus also sells plans on Rebrickable explaining how to expand Löwenstein Castle with a 1,626-piece addition that includes a chapel.

Credit: Bricks go Wild Caption: This is an assessment of Löwenstein Castle by an Austrian couple who purchased the kit.  They point out the three Minifigures™ appear to be a modern family visiting the castle, but the Minfiigure™ representing a husband/father, who has a hairpiece with long hair pulled into a ponytail, can also be equipped as a knight.  In addition, they show how the castle can open by separating the gatehouse from the rest of the castle, revealing a small courtyard with a chicken coop and an extremely small stable for the horse.  Löwenstein literally means lion-stone in German and they show there is a gray lion head bas relief brick over the drawbridge.  This video is in German with English subtitles, but some of the subtitles are incorrect.

2020 Addendum

On Thursday, January 2, A.D. 2020, The LEGO® Group released the kit LEGO® Creator 3-in-1 Fire Dragon (Set #31102).  Called the Fire Dragon, it measures over 4 inches (11 centimeters) high, 12 inches (32 centimeters) long, and 9 inches (25 centimeters) wide.  [In reality, the creature is a wyvern, not a dragon, because it has four limbs (a pair of legs and a pair of wings) rather than six limbs (four legs and a pair of wings).]  In any case, the brick-built creature looks sinister with its yellow eyes and fire comes out of its mouth.  The wings, legs, and tail are all posable.  A black treasure chest and a sword come with the kit, so the Fire Dragon can readily be incorporated into a collection of LEGO® Castle or LEGO® Viking sets with a back story of a knight or Viking setting out to slay a dragon.  The Fire Dragon is less realistic in appearance than the Smaug that came with the kit LEGO® The Hobbit™ The Lonely Mountain (Set #79018), released in 2014.[2]  An adult or teen who wanted to create a tableau inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion could also combine Minifigures from LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ or LEGO® The Hobbit™ sets with the Fire Dragon.  The same LEGO® bricks in the kit can also be used to make a saber-tooth tiger or a scorpion, but I do not expect readers of this article to find those options germane.  The 234-piece set is marketed for children ages seven-and-over, so it does make an appropriate gift for a son, grandson, or nephew.  The list price is $19.99


[1] Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, an important character from The Return of the King Jackson left out of the film, is a playable MinifigureBeregond, a Guard of the Citadel, is playable in the game even though he did not appear in Jackson’s adaptation of The Return of the King. A Barrow-wight and Tom Bombadil are likewise playable Minifigures in the game even though they did not appear in Jackson’s adaptation of The Fellow of the RingCírdan the Shipwright, an important character in the books who is reduced to an extra (played by Michael Elsworth) in the films, is in the game, but is not a playable character.  The Witch-king of Angmar, leader of the Ring Wraiths, who was played by Ben Pryce (in flashbacks to when he was a Black Númenórian king), Brent Mcintyre as a Ring Wraith in The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, and Lawrence Makoare as Sauron’s top general in The Return of the King, was a playable character in the video game before one could purchase a Witch-King Minifigure with LEGO® The Hobbit™: The Battle of the Five Armies Set #79015 (Witch-king Battle).  The character’s appearance in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014), and LEGO® The Hobbit: the Video Game (2014) is interesting because Tolkien revealed what the Witch-king was up to for several hundred years before the events of The Lord of the Rings in Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, including the period during which The Hobbit was set, Tolkien did not depict the Witch-king in The Hobbit.

[2] The LEGO® Smaug is also a wyvern rather than a dragon, because that is how Peter Jackson depicted Smaug in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug(2013) and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).  This is not a faithful representation of Smaug as J.R.R. Tolkien depicted the monster in The Hobbit, published in 1937.  George R.R. Martin depicted dragons as wyverns in his A Song of Ice Fire series of high fantasy novels and the showrunners of the H.B.O. adaptation A Game of Thrones (2011-2019) faithfully depicted his description of the creatures (even if they increasingly less faithful in their adaptation of his books with each successive season.  Martin made a conscious decision to depict his “dragons” with four limbs because in nature there are no six-limbed reptiles.

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3 thoughts on ““Other Lego Castles” by S.M. O’Connor

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