The LEGO® Group Releases LEGO® Ideas® Kit Medieval Blacksmith (Set #21325)
Scheduled to be released worldwide on Monday, February 1, A.D. 2021, the LEGO® Ideas® kit Medieval Blacksmith (Set #21325), will be compatible with old kits from the LEGO® Castle theme (product line) for which The LEGO® Group released kits from 1978 to 2014. [I previously profiled the LEGO® Castle theme in “LEGO® Castle Product Lines, Part I,” “LEGO® Castle Product Lines, Part II,” and “LEGO® Castle Product Lines, Part III.”] Several bloggers around the world have reported that images of the kit were accidentally leaked by the British branch of Amazon.com earlier this month. Lego System A/S (doing business as The LEGO® Group) sent the kit early to a select few bloggers who reviewed the experience of building the model (the way book publishing houses will send advance copies of books to literary critics or scholars for review or movie studios will screen movies early for film critics) and as far as I can tell they have all had positive things to say. The set consists of 2,164 pieces. This is a complex structure, and the set is clearly intended for adult builders (ages eighteen-and-over) as the box is marked “18+.” The list price will be $149.99 in the United States of America (U.S.A.) and €149.99 in the European Union (E.U.).
The way LEGO® Ideas® works is that a fan (1) designs a plan for a set, either (2) physically builds the set or virtually builds it with a computer program, (3) submits the plan submits the plan via https://ideas.LEGO.com with a fun description and pictures, and then promotes the plan both online and in the real world. If a plan gets 10,000 votes, LEGO® master builders evaluate the plan and determine if it is feasible to bring the set to market. If so, they begin to collaborate with the fan-designer.
Until 2014, LEGO® Ideas® was known as LEGO® Cuusoo. It is a partner of The LEGO® Group. The partnership began as the Cuusoo Community in Japan in 2008. The host was the Japanese company Elephant Design. It became a worldwide platform in 2011. Today, the LEGO® Ideas® Website is operated by The LEGO® Group and Chaordix, Inc.
LEGO® Ideas® succeeded LEGO Design byMe (originally known as LEGO® Factory), which allowed customers to design sets with the program Lego Digital Designer (which The LEGO® Group no longer supports) to create custom-made kits. By its nature, most people found this process to be cost prohibitive. The LEGO® Factory theme also included a few sets that were fan-designed. This included Market Street (Set #10190), the second Modular Building kit released by The LEGO® Group.
LEGO Design byMe and LEGO® Ideas are The LEGO® Group’s way of capitalizing on the phenomena of the M.O.C. (My Own Creation). A.F.O.L.s (adult fans of LEGO®) and T.F.O.L.s (teen fans of LEGO®) return to building with LEGO® bricks as they had as children – not unlike adult model railroad builders – and while they may enjoy buying new kits and building the sets as the instruction manuals lay out, many turn to building sets of their own design, called M.O.C.s. To this end, they purchase kits just for the parts as well as whole kits (in new or used condition) or Minifigures™ or individual pieces from Bricklink, eBay, or Amazon Marketplace, as well as garage sales, creating a tableau or tableaux. Several small companies have sprung up to cater to these customers, making after-market alterations to LEGO® pieces to create kits that depict World War I, World War II, or more recent wars, or steampunk science fiction, or Prohibition era gangsters, for which The LEGO® Group never produced themes or fabricate detailed accessories for old themes, including LEGO® Castle or LEGO® Pirates.
In this case, the final product is based on the “Medieval Blacksmith” proposal submitted via the LEGO® Website by Clemens Fiedler, an A.F.O.L. user with the handle “Namirob.” On July 1, 2019, The LEGO® Group congratulated Namriob on the proposal reaching 10,000 subscribers on the platform and announced the review phase would come next. There was also a nice comment, “You’re quite the wizard when it comes to creating charming buildings filled with little details and interesting building techniques.” In an update on February 12, 2020, The LEGO® Group announced the “Medieval Blacksmith” proposal had been approved for release, but the final design, price, and release date had yet to be worked out. LEGO® designers Wes Talbot and Austin Carlson designed the final product, The LEGO® Group revealed in a press release issued on Sunday, January 17, A.D. 2021 (for transmission the next day). Other LEGO® Ideas® kits that have been recently released were 123 Sesame Street, Grand Piano, Pirates of Barracuda Bay, Dinosaur Fossils, and Central Perk.
Mr. Fiedler joins the ranks of Pablo Sánchez Jiménez from Madrid, Spain, who designed the Pirates of Barracuda Bay (Set #21322); Christoph Ruge, who designed the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station (Set #21321), released in 2020; Leandro Tayag, who designed the LEGO® Ideas Voltron set, released in 2018; Kevin Feeser from Nancy, France, who designed the Tree House (Set #21318), released in 2019; Andrew Clark, who designed the LEGO® Ideas The Flinstones set, released in 2019; and Máté Szabó, who designed the LEGO® Ideas Disney Mickey Mouse Steamboat Wlllie set, also released in 2019. This process can take several years. The LEGO® Group stated, “LEGO Ideas offers fans the opportunity to submit their own brick creations with the chance to have their concept brought to life with the help of LEGO master designers and a share of the profits.”
The model structure is a combination of a blacksmith’s workshop and home, which is realistic. An English-speaking architect would refer to it as an example of timber-framing. [In a framed building, the framework, rather than load-baring walls, carries the weight of the structure.] It is more popularly known as the “Tudor style” in the English-speaking world, but this is misleading for two reasons. Firstly, because this style of architecture predated the Tudor era in England & Wales between the coronation of the usurper Henry VII in 1485 and the death of his granddaughter Elizabeth I in 1605. Secondly, because while the buildings (other than churches) built for the lower classes tended to be half-timber structures, the stone or brick palaces and other structures built at the behest of the royal family, aristocracy, and gentry, such as St. James Palace, Corsham Court, and Longford Castle belonged to another style of architecture. Nevertheless, the public knows it as the Tudor style. Buildings erected in England in this style from the 19th Century onwards are said to be “Tudor Revival.” In the U.S.A., Tudor Revival-style houses are invariably described as “Tudor style” by real estate developers and real estate agents. This style of architecture is known as Fachwerk in German and a house in this style is said to be a Fachwerkhaus. In French, this style of architecture is known as colombage. The white and tan bricks visible between the brown pieces that represent the structure’s timber frame represents infill. In a real building, the infill would be either wattle and daub or brick. This half-timbered style of architecture first appeared in LEGO® sets in 1986.
There was a single half-timbered wall panel in Black Falcon’s Fortress (Set #6074). That panel had yellow infill, so it almost certainly represented wattle and daub. There were two panels in the Guarded Inn (Set #6067). They had red infill. [These were two of the many sets designed by the late Daniel August Krentz (1937-2016), whose designs included the Yellow Castle (Set #375), the Knight’s Castle (Set #6073), and the King’s Mountain Fortress (Set #6081), as well as the Knight’s Joust (Set #383), and the Siege Tower (Set #6061).] The Guarded Inn was re-released in 2001 as Guarded Inn (Set #1000) in the LEGO® Legends theme.
This model from the LEGO® IDEAS® Medieval Blacksmith kit is a three-story rectangular building with a pitched roof. In both the original proposal designed by Clemens Fiedler and the final product designed by Wes Talbot, the ground floor is supposed to have gray stone walls and the upper two floors are half-timbered. Fiedler called for the stone walls of the first floor and the chimney to have texture, and Talbot was faithful to that aspect of the design, at least in spirit. As in the proposal, the final product has lattice windows on all three floors.
In one corner, stairs lead up from the ground level to a front porch. The grounds around the building include the apple tree, a squash garden, and a small well.
The front porch is tucked in on the second floor under the third-floor gable. The second floor is a larger rectangle than the first floor and is supported on one end – specifically, the back end of the house opposite the front porch – by a set of four corbels. These corbels are half-arch LEGO® bricks. Essentially, the third floor/attic is a larger rectangle stacked on top of the smaller rectangle of the second floor, which is stacked atop the still smaller rectangle of the ground floor. The third floor has a cathedral ceiling.
The back end of the house is notable not only because the corbels on that side allow the second floor to have a larger footprint than the first floor but also on the back end on the third floor an oriel window projects out of the gable. This oriel window also has a pitched roof and has a smaller gable of its own. On the third floor, there is also a dormer window next to the smokestack.
The chimney has an outdoor fireplace at its base. for the blacksmith’s forge is nearby. The kit includes a pair of hand-bellows the blacksmith (Minifigure™) can use at the corner of the building, on one side of the smokestack for the forge. The kit includes a lightbrick so the coals glow for the forge. Push the hand-bellows to make the lightbrick glow. Wes Talbot pointed out in the promotional video that there is an alcove tucked into the façade to hold a log pile.
While the smithy and workshop are on the first floor, the kitchen/dining room occupies the second floor. On the third floor, the bedroom includes a bearskin rug, a double bed, and a side desk for reading a book or writing. [The double bed with patchwork quilt replaced a four-post bed from the proposal.] The roof and top floors can be removed so the owner can view (or show off) the interior. The model measures ten-and-a-half inches (twenty-seven centimeters) in height, ten-and-a-half inches (twenty-seven centimeters) in width, and eight inches (twenty-one centimeters) in depth.
The design of the final model has much cleaner lines than the original design, which very much captured the look of a house comprised of handmade materials and built by men who were not necessarily professional builders. This is especially true of the shingles. This is especially true of the shingles. In the original design, the roof shingles had texture that is missing in the final product, but I think most people would prefer the smoother look on the final product. The color scheme of the final product is also much brighter than in the proposal. This extends to the roof shingles, which in the original design were a uniform dark shade of blue. With the final product, the shingles are a lighter shade of blue and there are also some green shingles near the top to suggest moss, as with the spots of green on the stone walls of the ground floor. In the proposal, the house has a gloomy aspect and looks like a house from a fairy tale illustration.
The lean-to that gives shade near the chimney in the proposal is missing from the final product. It has been replaced with a small bit of roof projecting out from the chimney supported by two corbels that flank the chimney. This overhanging roof gives shade to the outdoor fireplace. Another interesting difference between the proposal and the final product is that in the proposal the tree outside the house was behind the building, it was straight, and it had brown leaves (as if seen in the late autumn) and in the final product the tree is in front of the building, it curves, and has green leaves as well as apples.
The crossed hammer and tongs sign above the forge is a pre-literate way of communicating the house is also a smithy. In the promotional video The LEGO® Group posted on YouTube, LEGO® Designer Wes Talbot explained the mountains flanking the hammer and tongs reference the fan who submitted the original design, Clemens Fiedler, who likes to travel.
“The LEGO® Ideas® Medieval Blacksmith set harks back to a time when cottage industries and artisans were the cornerstone of society,” The LEGO® Group stated in the press release. “When thinking of medieval times, the focus is normally on the kings and queens, knights and ladies, their castles and the battles between good and evil, but this new medieval set has an unexpected twist showing the unsung hero of those epic battles and adventures – the humble Blacksmith.”
Clemens Fiedler stated, “I love building classical house designs and honouring all the great attention to detail you can recreate with LEGO elements – especially medieval architecture styles, colours, and design. I hope fellow LEGO fans will enjoy traveling back in time; sense the heat, sounds and smells from the forge and anvil and soak up the atmosphere of this classical creative craft as they build the set.”
“Designing the LEGO® Ideas Medieval Blacksmith set has been an exciting journey, taking us back hundreds of years to celebrate one of the true heroes of the Middle Ages. Telling the story of the blacksmith caught out imagination, and the rest was history,” stated Samuel Thomas Liltorp Johnson, Design Manager at The LEGO® Group. “We loved the idea of creating a small blacksmith’s house on the outskirts of the medieval world, where every knight goes for a set of shining armour. Without doubt, fans will be fascinated by the workings of the forge, the architectural details and the characters they find there when they build this set.”
Four Minifigures™ come with the kit, two men and two women. The two men are the blacksmith and a Black Falcon knight. This marks the return of the Black Falcon faction. The Black Falcon knights were a faction in Castle theme sets released from 1984 to 1992. Originally, The LEGO® Group called this faction “Eagle Crest” in English. Fans referred to this faction as the Black Falcons because the second castle The LEGO® Group released for the faction was the aforementioned “Black Falcon’s Fortress.” [That set was so popular that it was re-released in 2002 as Black Falcon Fortress (Set #10039).] The Black Falcon faction were released in sets alongside the Crusaders faction in 1984. [The Crusaders were a faction in the Castle theme in sets released from 1984 to 1992. They were originally known as the Lion Crest knights.] Any doubt they were enemies was removed when were clearly depicted as resisting a siege by the Crusaders in the cover art for the box of the kit Battering Ram (Set # 6062), released in 1987.
A Black Falcon foot soldier appeared in Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 3 (Set #852697) in 2009. A Black Falcon Minifigure™ has not appeared in a set since one of the tournament knights in the kit Kingdoms Joust (Set #10223), released in 2011. In that case, the Black Falcon Knight was a visitor to or outsider at the court of the Lion King, who ruled the Lion Kingdom and headed the Royal Lion Knights faction, in the Kingdoms subtheme (2010-2012) of Castle. Although the Black Falcon faction would be represented by shields that appeared in subsequent sets, those shields were accessories unassociated with any particular Minifigure™. Those shields were the equivalent of the so-called “Easter Eggs” hardcore fans spot in the background of film and television adaptations of novels and comic books such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and point out to others.
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The LEGO® Ideas® Medieval Blacksmith kit includes a horse-drawn brick-built cart for the Black Falcon knights. As with many, if not all, of the old LEGO® Castle sets that had horses, this horse can also be displayed without the harness by filling in the hole in its back with two bricks.
In addition to the horse, the kit includes two other animals: a pet dog and a tree frog. The dog has its own accessory in the form of a bone.
The LEGO® Idea® Medieval Blacksmith (Set #21325) kit is similar to the fan-designed kit Blacksmith Shop (Set #3739), which The LEGO® Group released in 2002. The kit was also called the Schmiedewerkstatt (“Forge Workshop”) and on the packaging had that German name under the Blacksmith Shop name. It was part of the My Own Design theme, which was a forerunner of LEGO® Ideas. The designer of that set was Daniel Siskind, who was identified on the front of the packaging.
That model building was a two-story structure with a pitched roof. It was a hinged square structure that could be opened up along the chimney axis. It was an example of half-timber architecture. The ground floor was devoted to the smithy, whilst the second floor was devoted to the blacksmith’s residence, and there was a little storage space above the second floor in the rafters. The second-floor window in the gable had shutters. At least one side of the building had a dormer window. The ground floor featured two large windows with flaps, one at the front of the building and the second on the sider with the dormer. There were two Minifigures® with the kit, the Blacksmith and his wife. One interesting thing about this blacksmith Minifigure™ was that he had a hairpiece instead of a hood and did not wear a backwards cape as an apron, as had been the case with previous blacksmith Minifigures™. He also had a printed face that included a mustache. The kit had 622 pieces. The original list price was $40 or £29.99.
Blacksmith Shop (Set #6040), known in the U.K. as the Blacksmith’s Forge, released in 1984 included a blacksmith Minifigure™, a Crusaders infantryman Minifigure™, and a horse at a smithy. This was another set designed by the late Daniel August Krentz. The original list price was $9.25.
Another small kit designed by Mr. Krentz, the Supply Wagon (Set #6010) seemed to depict a blacksmith in a horse-drawn wagon to deliver weapons to a castle or outpost, and was also released in 1984. The single Minifigure™ was hooded like the Blacksmith from the Blacksmith Shop and the cart had a hammer as well as a sword, spear, axe, and shield, so it is reasonable to assume the Minifigure™ was another blacksmith, but in the U.K. the kit was called the Knight’s Squire.
There was a blacksmith Minifigure™ and a smithy occupied the ground floor of one of the two buildings in the Medieval Market Village (Set #10193) released in 2007. That kit was part of what fans call the “Fantasy Castle” or “Fantasy Era Castle” subtheme (2007-2010) of the LEGO® Castle theme (product line). Both of those buildings were examples of half-timber architecture. The yellowish and brown building had the smithy on the ground floor and a residence on the second floor whilst the blue building was an inn with a tavern on the ground floor and rooms for rent on the second floor. The original list price was $99.99.
Blacksmith Attack (Set #6918) featured a blacksmith Minifigure™ at work in a smithy. That set was released in 2011 as part of the aforementioned Kingdoms subtheme (2010-2012). A Dragon Knight was there to attack the smithy, evidently continuing a storyline that started with Mill Village Raid (Set #7189), which depicted Dragon Knight infantrymen attacking a windmill and barn. The civilians owed their allegiance to the aforementioned Lion King. The original list price was $9.99.
Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is a promotional video for the LEGO® Ideas® kit Medieval Blacksmith (Set #21325). It features LEGO® Designer Wes Talbot and LEGO® Graphic Designer Austin Carlson, who designed the final product. Jacob McQuillan, billed as the “LEGO Ideas Wizard,” explains how LEGO® Ideas® works. Mr. Carlson takes credit for designing the blacksmith and the Black Falcon knights and says he unintentionally modeled the blacksmith on a college friend.
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 Cuusoo means “I wish” in Japanese.
 The Chaordix Community Platform enables companies to create a branded social network that is combination of public forum and insight panel.
 The LEGO Group now releases a Modular Building kit about once a year and the most complex kits are released under the LEGO® Creator Expert subtheme for adults and teens, such as Bookshop (Set #10270), which I wrote about in “Lego® will Release Bookshop in 2020.”
 The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture. John Fleming, Hugh Honour, and Nikolaus Pevsner, editors. London: Penguin Group (1966, 1972, 1980, 1991), p. 160
 A wattle and daub wall consists, as the name suggests, of two parts. The builder uses branches or thin laths (wattles) of wood to construct a wall and then plasters it with mud or clay mixed with straw (daub). See The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, p. 476
 The words honouring and colours are not misspelled in the statement. Either Clemens Fiedler wrote it himself with the British spelling of those words or an employee of The LEGO® Group who transcribed his comment used the British spelling of those words.
 The Witcher is a Netflix streaming series starring Henry Cavill that is adapted from a series of novels and short stories written by the Polish fantasy novelist Andrzeg Sapkowski. His books had already been adapted into a movie known in English as The Hexer (2001),one television series also known in English as The Hexer (2002), as well as three video games and graphic novels.
 It would be more realistic to have the two knights on two horses accompanying the cart and for the cart to be manned by two infantrymen. Knights would have seen it as being beneath them to drive a cart.