The return to classic castle

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I've taken Joe's photo of the castle from the previous post and straightened it out (using DxO Viewpoint, if you're interested) so we can get a better view of it. As you can see it's a decent size, and decent design. The good guys are light grey and blue with lions on their sheilds, whilst the bag guys are black and red, with dragons on their shields. As I said after seeing it at London, I don't think there are any new helmet, weapon or armour designs.

It bears more than a passing resemblance to the very first minifig castle, 375, doesn't it!

70404

90 comments on this article

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By in Germany,

^Indeed, it looks like Kingdoms I (which had quite ugly sets). At least the minifigs are great in this one :)
BTW: Where is the dragon, the skeletons and -the most important thing- can anyone see dwarves, orcs and elves?...

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By in United Kingdom,

I think it's slightly disappointing. Quite blocky and rather kiddie focused, which in fairness might be on purpose. I didn't even think the last Kings Castle was that great.

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By in United States,

Neo-primitive LEGO? As much as I wish it were the 80s again on most fronts, not so much with LEGO... I didn't even like Helms Deep enough to buy it on sale, but it knocks this retrocastle into a cocked hat. The catapult thingy is especialy appalling. Playability looks good though, so maybe it is going for that really junior market.

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By in Norway,

Maybe I am coservetice, but I considered the last Kings Castle 7946 as a return of the more classical design as you can see here: http://www.brickset.com/brickLists/?2560.

This new one seems to me really somewhat juniorised blocky. However, it obviously offers a lot of pieces and playability. Looking forward to see more sets.

Notice the DRAGON tower of the evil guys in the background ;-)

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By in Finland,

I think Kingdoms was the return to classic castle, this looks like... well, return to the late 90's or something. At least the shield design for lion knights is a bit better than the original Royal Knights shield, but I think the dark blue arms on the regular soldiers look awful. Just too much contrast compared to the grey. The castle itself looks decent. Interested to see the bad guys in more detail.

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By in United Kingdom,

I think it's an interesting move on TLG's part. They're testing the water to see whether part of their Castle/Fantasy market can be met with a generic approach or whether handling this market effectively needs to be supported by a third party brand.

In doing this, I think it needs to be kiddie-focused.

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By in Japan,

Glad to see that the minifigs have dark hands, i.e. that they are wearing gloves/gauntlets. I can see why archers might have bare hands, but not knights.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Goldfish: "I think it's slightly disappointing. Quite blocky and rather kiddie focused, which in fairness might be on purpose."

This is the intent with new Castle theme. LoTR hasn't sold as well as TLG expected, with Hobbit only doing slightly better perhaps due to the more interesting designs and fig's. The company is well aware now that it can support greater playability and value from making it's own non-licensed castle themed products. Parents regularly ask if we make 'just' castle Lego sets in my store, so I can see this going down very well.

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By in United States,

I think it looks great

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By in United Kingdom,

This looks really disappointing to me, very basic compared to the last Castle Set Range. No purchases in this line for me.

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By in United Kingdom,

It looks terrible... I don't like those dragon knights.. This set looks like another one of Knights Kingdoms Theme. Still waiting for something like Fantasy Era Castles with more dwarves sets, wizards and maybe elves in the future...

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By in Denmark,


Is it just me or does this remind you too of a DUBLO CASTLE?

It's kindof devolution!

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By in Australia,

I'm a little underwhelmed with this castle, but happy to see a return to the basics of Castle that I grew up with!

I'm fairly sure the orcs, trolls, wizards and dwarves started to creep into the Castle theme after the success of the Lord of the Rings movies. Now that LotR has its own theme, Castle can go back to being good knight vs. bad knight Castle again...

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By in United States,

Not quite sure how the Friends Dolphin Cruiser can be classified as an "eyesore" (three deep aqua, not even pastel, which probably would have looked better!, stripes) and this a "decent design." (Okay, I do understand that it's all opinions, mine and yours.) But look at this facade. It quite reminds me of a clown pool slide exit porthole at Cooney Island or the Boardwalk from their hey-days. I am far from expecting this to look like a modular building facade, as some seem to be suggesting, because I like some of my LEGO to be for and from the target audience's world, but this is really a weak castle. I'm glad I own enough castle sets from the 80s and there are enough Creator, Friends, and Chima sets to spend my money on. With the City sets really coming into form this year, it just makes this castle even sadder.

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By in United States,

I don't see what the problem with it looking blocky. IMO, the beefiness of the columns that make up either side of the gatehouse give it a phenomenally sturdy look quite unlike the gatehouses on any previous LEGO castles. I also like the geometry of the corners, using those 2x2x3 corner slopes to great effect.

The only parts of the castle where I'd say the use of larger parts is a major detriment are the two towers on the front and back corners, which seem a bit plain. But perhaps the interior makes up for that. I wonder if this has any really unique interior details. One thing that's always bothered me about LEGO castles is that they rarely seem "livable". The throne room looks nice, and while not completely enclosed it's not out in the open like in some recent castles. The color scheme as a whole is also great, and I love that siege engine.

Incidentally, also take a look at the new blue slope pieces in front of either side of the gatehouse. That's a nice piece right there.

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By in Canada,

I was never really into the castle theme until the Fantasy Era; due to the fact that the good factions (for the most part) were humans and the bad guys were monsters. I was disappointed with the move from Fantasy Era to Kingdoms, but Kingdoms grew on me; however, with this set I am back to not buying castle and will stick with LotR/Hobbit. I'll see what the images of the other sets are like but if this is suppose to be the flagship set of this theme it does not bode well.

Like others, this just seems retro to Knight's Kingdom Era I & II.

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By in United States,

Let's hide our treasure behind an outside wall.
Good idea.

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By in Spain,

Looks very blocky to me. Though its not as bad as the castle of morcia (typically the only ego castle I own other than two hog warts) but not near the standard of the 2010 model.

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By in Sweden,

It's definitely no 7946, and the theme as a whole definitely won't be as beloved as Kingdoms (among AFOLs, but it's quite obvious they're targeting younger than usual with this), but I think it's a pretty decent castle still. I particularly like the front gate section.

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By in United States,

I think most AFOLs will agree that if you want a good castle you'll have to build it yourself. LEGO will never release a large enough set to satisfy our tastes for a big and highly detailed castle - it would just be to expensive!

As for this new set, I really like the minifigs and I see some great pieces for MOCs.

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By in United States,

Is this the first ever dog in a castle set? Sweet.

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By in Netherlands,

is this a joke? The detail is awful, so many big pieces...yuck. And the emblems feel like a huge step backwards. This is seriously disappointing

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By in United States,

I like it......And hate it.
The minifigures are GREAT!
But it bears a resemblance to knight's kingdoms 1 and 2.
But then again it sort of looks like the castle from 2007 "The fantasy Era." and I thought that castle was great.

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By in Denmark,

I can see five new pieces. The banner, the 2x2 sloped facet brick (as seen next to the draw bridge), the cross bow and the caparison and head armour for the new horse.

I liked the Kingdoms castle better. When I saw that one for the first time, I thought it looked so classic.

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By in United States,

@Jverweij: I don't have much of a problem with the emblems. They're not as detailed as the lion from the old Royal Knights emblem, but as a result they feel a little bit more geometric, like what a real LEGO lion might resemble. The emblem of the villains is a bit harder for me to interpret at this scale, but it looks like it also has a nice, iconic look. It's funny how when LEGO molds are extremely detailed, AFOLs tend to decry them as overspecialized or even juniorized, whereas AFOLs have come to expect and even demand a huge amount of detail and complexity when it comes to printing.

By the way, I see some lovely new pieces here-- not just the blue wedge-slopes in front of the gatehouse, but also a 4x4 facet brick to accompany 2462, 6107, and 87620. Not to mention the new caparison and champron on the horse.

Overall, those towers on the corners are still all that really bother me. The windows are too high, sitting right beneath the inverse slopes, and their small size coupled with the very plain angled wall panels makes the towers feel very stark and plain.

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By in United Kingdom,

The Minifigures looks awesome, as for the castle, the parts will be welcome to my collection.

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By in Canada,

I like it. It's simple appears to have great playability (catapult, breakaway walls etc). It's on baseplates, it probably folds out like 6080, 6074, 6073. I like the blockiness, it actually looks like something built of lego for a change.

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By in United States,

Looks a bit like Kingdoms, I'll just have to see all the sets.

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By in United States,

I really wish they would come up with a new castle design. Most of their castles look identical: square wall layout, 4 towers, drawbridge (or gate), couple mini catapults on the walls, etc... The original grey castle sets were great because you could buy additional sets to add to the castle: armorshop, inn, blacksmith, and other wall sections. If they really want a cool castle I think they should make smaller modular castle pieces that you can collect and design your own castle how you like.

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By in United States,

Has anyone noticed that the horses are the new design, and the horse's head covering and the barding are new designs. The barding for the horse shows it rearing back, so it's a redesign. Pretty neat. Also, while the castle seems to be somewhat simplified, I still think it's a neat looking castle.

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By in United States,

Good point. A barding for a new style horse will be a welcome new piece! As for the castle design, I like it. But I am a sucker for all things castle.

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By in United States,

I think it looks dated. I am all for bringing back some of the old sets and making them new but I thought when i first saw this pic that it was just an old set Huw found from another country. Yes lego is made for kids so those are the ones they have to keep in mind with play ability. But why cant they have different factions like elves and dwarves. I think they were limited with the LOTR sets to make them like scenes from the movies. But they could really build something different with their own set. And I would also like to see more bricks in the set and not the pre done wall sections. It looks like most of it is made of those and the corner sections. And can they not make a cool siege tower or larger scale catapult? I like the comment about make a modular style castle. Similar to the army builder LOTR set with extra wall. But make towers and wall sections. I am a HUGE castle fan but i want to see something new and exciting not the same thing redone over and over.

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By in United States,

I'm actually really excited about this theme. I can find so many things to love about it, however I just noticed what frighteningly appears to be a sticker that covers 2 pieces on the 'dragon head' of the catapult. Please let me be wrong. They wouldn't really still do that, would they?

Oy.

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By in United States,

behemothjosh, I'm not sure what you mean by that. Of course, all Lego pieces are modular in nature. But I guess you mean something like the use of castle panels? This set appears to make extensive use of those rectangular panels.

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By in United States,

I have to agree with a lot of the comments here - this castle looks like a step backwards from the Kingdoms one, which I have and I really love. I guess maybe this is for attracting a younger crowd into LEGO? Guess it's one theme less I have to buy!

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By in United States,

It looks closer to the Kingdoms I castle. Shield designs look like the original.

It look a bit like a more simpler design, which isn't too bad. But I've got a few castles already, I will pass on this one.

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By in United States,

I really like it! I think my boys (ages 4 & 6) will think it is great. Tons of pieces, great playability, they will be able to build it themselves. I think this really hits the target for them. They are too young for the Hobbit or LOTR sets really, since they are too young for the movie. Great figures, new horses = win win!

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By in United Kingdom,

I think it's really good, like a Lego castle rather than a fantasy castle rendered in Lego. With Helm's Deep available of course Lego should go for the younger market, I hope it's a success.
And I don't think it looks anything like 375 myself, more of a 6080 - but then that was my childhood castle so maybe I'm biased. :)

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By in United Kingdom,

It's interesting how opinion is divided. On the one hand it returns to classic good vs. bad knights, rather than vs. dragons or the undead, but on the other, it does look quite dated which I guess some people will think is good, but others might not.

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By in United States,

@Crownie: No, that's a sticker across one piece (a 2x4 curved slope, a piece that has been around for a couple years and which started to show up prominently in the Cars sets).

Anyway, the reason I think LEGO doesn't introduce a modular castle system is just that on the whole, kids want a COMPLETE play experience with any purchase. It's the same reason sets with just one faction are pretty much a thing of the past except at the smallest price points. You give kids a castle wall, it'll be harder to enjoy than a complete castle (which isn't to say it can't be done; LotR did a good job with its Uruk-Hai Army set presenting it as a potential "expansion" to Helm's Deep).

One strategy I remember one visionary AFOL presented back when we knew very little about the LotR theme besides rumors was to make Creator-style castles, with multiple models. So you could buy a set that could built into one castle, or it could be built into a variety of different modules that could become a larger castle if you combined multiples of the same set. The question, then, becomes how many parents will be willing to buy kids a set they ostensibly already own-- if they can't see the value of buying multiple sets this way, then the modularity stops being a strong selling point for LEGO's core audience.

And as for why LEGO castles tend to be so formulaic, it's because kids have a very archetypical idea of what defines a castle. If a young kid were to draw a castle, it would probably be very square in shape,made of stone, with towers on the corners and maybe a tower in the center. Historical accuracy and uniqueness are no more essential to the Castle theme than real-world accuracy and uniqueness are to the City theme. Rather, there are certain iconic qualities kids associate with certain things. A LEGO castle is square for the same reason that a LEGO fire station is red with opening garage doors-- because that's the image kids are inclined to associate with those things.

I remember when Astrid Graabaek and Fenella Holden, two designers for the Friends theme, came to Brickfair, they mentioned that during play testing, some kids would actually start crying if the set didn't fit their preconceived notions about the subject. To them, a fire engine or fire station that wasn't red was "wrong".

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By in Netherlands,

after looking at some close-ups, I have to admit that the emblem-design is not that bad. I still think the castle is quite bland, and I don't like the dragon knights, but the lion knights are actually quite nice.

I'm too much of a realist to enjoy a black castle, and I really liked the emphasis on peasants and other civilians from the Kingdoms series, but who knows where this goes. I'll probably be getting it anyways :)

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By in United States,

I'd love it if LEGO released a "Landscaping Bucket" that builds a bunch of trees like the ones with which they decorated their Toy Fair display. Would be more convenient than parts drafts and bulk orders at least :)

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By in United States,

It's interesting that Gatehouse Raid has connection points on the end. That's not visible on any of the other sets, that I can see, but perhaps the main castle opens up at the back.

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By in United States,

I really like this discussion and the fact people are just making things up.

How does anyone know how well LotR is selling? LEGO hasn't released their annual report yet. But I agree with the other 90% of the people here, it's a big ugly set. There is nothing exciting here.

And Huw, Kingdoms was the return of humans vs humans.

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By in Canada,

I think it looks very nice - lots of good parts, a variety of colours, and a bunch of play features. To me it looks like a classic castle updated with contemporary elements such as the 1x2 Profile Bricks (the 'real brick' bricks) and 1x2 'cheese slopes'. There's catapults, a throne, a drawbridge -and- a portcullis, treasure, ladder, flame, flags, and gold elements. In 10 years' time (and even today) I'd rather have this timeless Castle set for myself and my children which can be built into a bunch of things over the more restrictive LoTR sets.

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By in United States,

What's w/all the Kingdoms haters? The line was more traditional, more medieval, more... RenFaire imho and what the line should be. Despite them looking awesome Lego could have done so much more w/the baddies than the prison tower and the prison gate. And a green dragon would have been the icing on the castle considering they were, hulloh, the "Dragon" Knights. What-the-Brick Lego? Now we have red/black bad guys w/the ASTRO helmets and TURBO catapults. Me thinks I'll pass this time.

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By in United States,

I actually like this set. I've never been a fan of the Castle sets that bear little resemblance to castles in the real world. I agree that the color scheme and lack of 'embellishments' makes it look a little dated, but the playability more than compensates for that minor quibble.

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By in United Kingdom,

I think this set is looking rather fantastic personally, although the design is a bit too basic in my opinion. However the Minifigures look brilliant! Kingdoms really needed a few more waves however, much more potential there.

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By in Netherlands,

Interesting how opinions vary on this new Castle theme!

@BigHobbit
Thanks for the additional flickr pics you posted on this thread!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/61839591@N08/8431768421/lightbox/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/61839591@N08/8431768247/lightbox/

I am actually quite curious about this new theme, and probably will buy all sets from this castle theme. However I am not so fond of the new emblem / coat of arms for the Lion-knight faction. It looks very Duplo-ish to me, with this cartoony full front lion head portrait. Not iconic at all! Why not another animal or creature for a change, such as an eagle or unicorn. Or like set #375 (the Yellow Castle) emblems with V shaped stripes, or French lilies. A rose and a key, or a griffin for a change would also be nice. I love the Kingdoms Lion and Dragon emblem, the classic 1983 Black Falcon and Lion Knight emblems, as well as all the four emblems from the fantasy era castle theme. This new castle theme Lion emblem however, looks too much like the Knights' Kingdom I & II design, way too toddlerish. I wonder whether boys in the age group of seven up to twelve, the actual target audience, will actually like the emblems, especially since this theme needs to compete with Ninjago and Chima? Which might for various reasons be considered by them as 'much cooler' (or whatever lingo is fashionable among kids of that age nowadays).

The new Dragon knights appeal much more to me though. I like the reintroduction of those two different black helmets for the soldiers (the helmet with neck and nose protector, and especially that other helmet, which also came with the CMF evil knight). The red dragon (in another set) is also really nice nice.

The inclusion of the new long sword (one in pearl gold) is very nice, the redesigned barding, as well as the headgear for the new horse is really nice.

The gatehouse with the portcullis, looks nice. In terms of big wall elements, this castle is not any different from the previous Kingdoms King's Castle #7946. As others have commented, if you want a castle with more detail, that resembles an actual historic castle, comprised mainly of small bricks, which includes 'proper' medieval living quarters, dungeons, water well, etcetera, then you have to build it yourself.

Maybe I will design some stickers with a different coat of arms for these Lion knights, if the appreciation for it won't grow on me. I can then apply these to their shields and horse barding, and create my own custom knight minifigs.

The blue, light grey, and gold are the same colours as those for the Crown knights, so for MOC'ing a crown knight castle, the bricks will be very useful.

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By in United States,

@The Big Legoski--you're welcome! I very much like the dragon set, too. Between these Castle sets and future Hobbit sets that will, I assume, include Smaug--2013 might be the year of the dragon!

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By in United States,

I'm with the general consensus here, it's not the most spectacular castle we've seen. It's lacking tons of detail and personality. I'll always be a huge fan of the epic Fantasy Era and at this point I doubt the same designers are involved with this Castle rehash. I'm also thinking that TLG isn't 'backing' this up as fiercely as they did with the 2007-09 sets. Remember that a lot of their design decisions and marketing are aimed toward this generation of kids and what they find "appealing" and "entertaining", with that said, this is what we get. At this point we'll have to see how the rest of the sets add up and if a second wave comes our way. *crosses fingers*

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By in Canada,

^
Well that explains why the castle is so mediocre.

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By in United States,

^^That one reminds me a lot more of 7946, actually. The pyramid-shaped tower, the windows around the sides of each corner tower with slopes underneath them, the crossed weapons above the gate... Overall I think it's ludicrous that someone can point to an obvious Kingdoms knock-off and suggest it has more in common with this new castle than with 7946. The color scheme and enemy catapult are practically the only similarities.

I also am still baffled by the criticisms of the lion emblem, since some of them (such as it seeming "duplo-ish") seem like the OPPOSITE of the real differences between this and past lion emblems. This is very simplified and geometric, much like a real System lion might look, whereas I associate Duplo with complex sculpted figures and animals with detailed eyes.

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By in United States,

Hmmm....
Dislikes:
As expected alot of BURPs in King's Castle
The new Barding
The new horse head armor
The use of dark bley rather than bley on the Lion Knights
Likes:
Minus King's Castle the sets actually look pretty good
Slotted black helmet used
The baddies look like they might turn out pretty epic and compatible with Shadow Knights
Pointy long sword used for the baddies
Archer(?) torso for the Lions looks great

So to sum it up I will probably end up buying everything but King's Castle and depending on the figs possibly multiples of the Ambush set. Bah LEGO you like my money all to much....

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By in United States,

Hmmm....
Dislikes:
As expected alot of BURPs in King's Castle
The new Barding
The new horse head armor
The use of dark bley rather than bley on the Lion Knights
Likes:
Minus King's Castle the sets actually look pretty good
Slotted black helmet used
The baddies look like they might turn out pretty epic and compatible with Shadow Knights
Pointy long sword used for the baddies
Archer(?) torso for the Lions looks great

So to sum it up I will probably end up buying everything but King's Castle and depending on the figs possibly multiples of the Ambush set. Bah LEGO you like my money all to much....

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By in United Kingdom,

At the end of the day, this theme is targeted at 7-12 year olds and is, in many respects, the anti-LoTR/Hobbit. They are better value, they appear to have far greater playability and they are open to the users imagination since they are not bound to movie narratives. It's all very well to sit and criticise these products just because they are not up to the standards of detail found in licensed sets, or indeed following up 'perfectly' from the individuals nostalgia of older Castle products (of which, there have been countless), but this situation is not new. Each generation has an opportunity to enjoy this theme, and it is there to satisfy a much younger audience than we are. I remember even in the late 90's viewing what were then 'new' Castle products, and being surprised at the changes in emblems and designs.

I think TLG have pulled off a brilliant move by producing these products, as they are so straightforward to look at (and what looks like to build too) that they're practically inviting you to play with them, like a big sandbox. Even the colours of the two factions are made very distinct, and that's important for children when there is a 'good' team and 'bad' team.

So please, let's try and be positive. And the products were to satisfy everyone, they would look like one giant mess!

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By in Australia,

I like it. At the moment I collect primarily City stuff, but my plan when I move out is to move to start collecting Castle stuff instead, and this looks like a great new Castle theme. I was worried that LotR was going to be replacing Castle, similar to how Star Wars replaced Space back in the day, but it's great to see them running side by side.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Starik20X7 - Rumours are that LoTR will be retired by end of this year, Hobbit stays on. There are a few new products coming out (can't remember off hand sorry), but the originals haven't sold well at all.

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By in United States,

I look for story line and world development in a theme. I really enjoyed the story line with the Knight's Kingdom theme. Perhaps this is why I like the licensed themes so much. LEGO will have a hard time beating the perfect balance of sets and storyline in BIONICLE. Maybe they'll surprise us with Legends of Chima.

All in all, this new Castle theme will not be on my list. I will ditch it in favor of Star Wars, Chima, and Friends sets this year. Perhaps a Hobbit set towards the release of the second movie.

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By in United States,

I actually think this castle is a rather good-looking castle, although it may be too expensive at the moment and would might be too big for my "nearly-full" collection...

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By in United States,

@Nesquik: On what are you basing your claim that LoTR hasn't sold well? I'm curious because I've heard this suggested before, but there seems to be no official information available.

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By in United States,

@binaryeye, Ah, I get it now. I meant to poke fun of their (very specific) observation--in that the dragon and castle should come together (doesn't really matter to me). That is one cool-a$$ dragon though!

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By in Germany,

One huge step BACKWARDS. I am almost lost for disparaging words, even though being a castle fan most my life, I am trying to look for positives......maybe that new baddie shield? The lion on the goodies shield is a cross between the Jolly Lions of red and white fame and the Kingdoms 1 blue design.

Such a pity that this year sees a complete lack of any imagination whatsoever, let alone invention.

I am one sad disappointed puppy.

The last 2 years were so good too........Sigh!

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By in Australia,

The comments about "juniorization" and "kiddy-looking" elements and stuff are really baffling to me. You guys realize that Lego is a toy, and it's intended for children primarily, right? What exactly do you expect?

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By in United States,

@Nesquik: Thanks for the info. I find it interesting that you say it wasn't "even" in the top five, though, as if that were a surprise. Given LEGO's core market, I'd expect it to be near the bottom of the top ten lines, behind Ninjago and Super Heroes for sure, and possibly Technic and Duplo, along with the other lines you mentioned. If LEGO expected it to be a top five line, and is discontinuing it because it hasn't performed to that level, it saddens me a bit. Even so, I've got the fellowship in minigure form, so I'm pretty happy.

But this is all pretty off-topic, so I'll quiet down, now. :)

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By in Canada,

I'm a little disappointed that there are no "civilian" based sets in this year's castle. I was really hoping I would be able to add to my castle town. I loved the Kingdoms Mill Villiage Raid, but I guess TLG have decided to move back to knights vs. knights. I understand why, but even when I was a kid I wanted peasants.

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By in United States,

Year one of Kingdoms didn't have a single peasant, they all came from the second year, so there is always 2014.

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By in United States,

Well personally I have always liked old castle sets better than the new ones, but I'm not too crazy about the design. Definitely not the worse we have seen however. And I am overjoyed that it isn't fantasy themed, with the skeleton stuff, I couldn't stand that.

However I think it's somewhat understandable from Lego's perspective to "recycle" old sets, and also somewhat judgmental on our part to criticize them so much. The majority of people who buy Lego's are kids who never had the chance to buy the older sets when they came out, and with the outrageous prices they now for go online, there's no way they will be able to buy them now. So Lego releases sets that are similar and a throwback to the old sets. Because if kids liked them back then, chances are they will like them now. Of course, from a long term collector's viewpoint this is terrible, because if someone keeps buying sets year after year, you are going to end up with lots of sets that look similar. But hardcore collectors make up a small percentage of Lego buyers. Spending time and money investing in fabulous new designs for Lego sets doesn't make sense for the company if they won't profit much from it. I'd love to see some revolutionary new castle designs, but I'm not surprised when I don't end up with them.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^^^
I could not have put it better myself mars4life

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By in United Kingdom,

@waylander - "Such a pity that this year sees a complete lack of any imagination whatsoever, let alone invention."

That depends entirely on what you consider 'improved' imagination and invention. What TLG have done is smart because, just as they did up until the mid 1990's, they're encouraging children to user their own imagination and invention to develop a narrative. This is important with a historical theme like Castle, as one of the things the company has learnt from LoTR is that strict/linear narratives compromise the product design and value.

When you look at the new Castle, the factors that contribute to the focus on playability are the closed-wall design (to define a clear boundary and defence), open space within the castle walls to arrange an army, an almost completely two-toned colour scheme (which allows the Blue elements to stand out, so the children know what faction controls the castle. These elements, if you look closely, are also incredibly basic, so the Blue can be swapped for any other colour), the simple drawbridge mechanism and, of course, the large amount of figures in the product itself.

From my own experiences, parents ask every week whether we do "just castle sets", and the figures on their own. This Castle theme is a perfect introduction to a historic product line, and from what I gather, Hobbit will be with us for some time now.

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By in United Kingdom,

The split in opinions is intriguing. Clearly there are older AFOLs and TFOLs who would like to see much more detailed non-Licence Castle sets from LEGO. Absolutely; I bitterly regret that I couldn't manage to catch the Medieval Village, the Blacksmith and so on when they were around -- not least because they were excellent MOC-fodder for working on things like Hobbiton and Bree which are on likely to turn up in a big way in the licensed LotR and Hobbit series. I'd also like to have them just to create some realistic expansion for my own Castle collection.

Having said all of that, the Mediaeval Village was aimed squarely at the older collectors and had been around for one time. I wonder just how well sets like the Blacksmith, the Barn and so on from the last round of Castle actually sold compared to those sets that were straight Castle "knights"...?

LEGO clearly seem to have decided that the AFOL / TFOL market is largely covered by LotR and the Hobbit and have made a very conscious decision to re-introduce their generic, non-licence Castle sets in a way that is aimed squarely at the younger end of their target market and which really does broadly match the 7-12 years age range as stated on the box! It may not be what many of *US* would have liked to see but I think it's pretty obvious what their objective was and, in that respect, I have to applaud them and say that I think what they have produced are absolutely classic LEGO Castle sets that remind me very much of the Castle series from the late '80s into the mid-'90s — and I don't think that's a bad thing! As others have noted above, they have clearly established two well-delineated opposing factions with distinctive colour-schemes to both the minifigs and the buildings; they have, for now, largely stuck to just "knights" and have avoided the "non-core" things like civilian buildings and wizards, witches and gouls. The one main exception being the rather nice red dragon which essentially stars in its own set. In that respect it would seem that they have set themselves a very specific objective (which may not meet OUR expectations), that has a very specific target market, and they have done a sound job of meeting that objective. The designs, particularly the minifigs, are at least sufficiently similar to previous incarnations of the Castle series that they can be mixed up and played with together without appearing too jarringly different.

What we must remember is that LEGO will want to distance this series from LotR/Hobbit and will not want to release Castle sets that could potentially overlap and cannibalise sales from those series or even their own Monster Fighters. They are also pitching them onto the general toy market at a time when international economies remain relatively flat and there is simply less disposable income sloshing about so it makes a lot of sense to aim these at the simpler and cheaper end of their range. If, however, the current series does well then maybe, in time, we will see things like a Blacksmith's Forge and other village buildings begin to re-appear. Eventually, we may even see things like a generic Ghost Tower or a Wizard's tower but it seems obvious that it won't be any time soon. I would also anticipate that the current Dragon set may well disappear once we see a Smaug set appear in the Hobbit series. Having said that, Smaug in the movies will be huge and, even at an adapted LEGO minifig scale, that will probably make for a rather large and expensive set compared to the much more modest Castle dragon so if the Castle dragon sells well, it might not retire, unless of course there are specific contractual agreements in the licence for the Hobbit that would require this.

Overall, yeah, these new Castle sets are very much "kids" LEGO — but I like them and I don't think they are any the worse for it.

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By in Canada,

I was very excited when I heard new castle sets were being launched later this year, but what I am seeing is not was I was expecting. The castle looks bad. Everything about it. The colours look cheesy the evil knights catapult looks like something pulled out of Legends of Chima, The minifigures are bland, And the box art is awful. This looks like a game of creationary gone terribly wrong. If the other sets are just as bad as this one, I will be VERY disappointed.

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By in United States,

As a parent who would be buying this for kids, I must admit I am dumbfounded by my reaction. I'm not thrilled, but not appalled either. Mostly I'm glad to see they are bringing back castles for a new squab of kiddos, like mine. Having had to pay through the nose on used Duplo Castles, I had the forethought to store a series of the last Kingdoms sets. I definitely would buy this, and may also buy one or two to augment the Kingdoms, but if I had a choice side by side of the new Castle versus the last Kingdoms, hmm, I'd have to say I would go for the Kingdoms. Ultimately, I believe I get this feeling from the color scheme which, though excellent, is the same as their Duplo castles, but also something else. I think it's the lack of peasants, future sets may change that, but I feel they add a great element of play, and that I like the color scheme of the Green Dragon Knights.

On a side note I happen to have had four little eyes peeking over my shoulder while comparing Castle 70404 to Kingdoms 7946, much to my chagrin. The elder pipes in "Ooh, can we get that lego castle" (70404), I was courious how they would compare Kingdoms (7946), the younger's response, "Wow, can we get that castle too!" Either way Lego hits their demographic and my pocket book is smaller.

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By in Netherlands,

Anyone notice when magnifying the flickr pics that the baddies (the dragon knights) have white heads with 'creepy' vampire-like monster faces, instead of regular 'human' yellow Lego minifig people 'skin' colour.

Maybe this new castle theme won't turn out to be so bad after all ;)

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By in Italy,

It is clearly the return of the Knights Kingdoms series, revisited.
I hope they will maintain good thing of that series (not much to say the true, but this castle seems to be a good stride in this direction) and avoid

Good:
- The castle has a more "classic" shape, no invasive and ugly raise baseplates.
- They replaced "Power Ranger" colourful knight minifigs with more appreciable ones.
- The "Vladek" stile foes are good minifigures, good to se that again. I hope to see "Bulls" too, my favourites in that series.

Bad:
- Surely it is a recall for nostalgics that will not attract many lego fans (KK series match with LEGO "dark age")
- I don't like the "baroque" siege machines of the KK series, and it seems they will repropose that again.

I hope to see other sets soon.

PS: With the LOTR theme in office, I hoped a little pause with non licensed castle themes... I need time to store money! ^___^

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By in United States,

Re: Big Legoski, concerning the white, possibly undead faces:

In this pic, yes, zoomed in, I can see what you're talking about, and it looks pretty good: http://www.flickr.com/photos/61839591@N08/8431768421/sizes/o/in/set-72157632653581259/

(The leader of my Boar faction actually sports the CMF Ser. 2 vampire head, and it looks very much like this, fwiw)

But if you look in this pic, behind the figure display on the King's Castle box art, the dragon man-at-arms is clearly sporting a yellow, and very human head: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92090133@N04/8431307525/in/set-72157632649266021/

I'm inclined to think that what seems white in the first pic is the result of the lighting. In terms of final appearance, nothing trumps product box art.

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By in Canada,

Does anyone know if they are using big base plates or a few smaller ones. I'm tired of the smaller ones. I wish Lego would go back to big base plates.

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By in United States,

^Most of the sets clearly use regular plates, which would mean no bigger than 16x16. Personally, I've got no problem with this trend. They're less specialized than traditional baseplates by far, and they make it a lot easier to build terrain without the use of "juniorized" raised baseplates. They also meet up a lot more nicely in the corners than traditional baseplates. A bigger (16x32, for example) standard plate could be cool, but I don't see any real need for it when multiple 16x16s work just as well.

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By in Australia,

Rearing Horse with a saddle? im in.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm fairly disgusted by all the criticism - its obvious this site carries some weight whereby Lego probably peek at what folks say here. The last Castle theme was practically non existent in the Reading area, never could find it and stores like TRU, John Lewis and The Entertainer - the main 3 with toy departments were lazy and stupid in not ordering in that range..A generic line is hard enough to find in stores and the overblown online prices via private sellers on ebay and the like really annoyed me - eventually I bought a few sets at decent prices online finally.

Now Lego have brought back a generic Castle theme and what do the AFOL's do? On the whole - COMPLAIN.

As an AFOL I actually like the kiddie factor to sets - Lego is afterall a toy first and foremost. Castle theme was always directed towards kids so quit complaining. Its all this sort of negativity that probably leads the LEGO GROUP to then reconsider reintroducing generic lines like Castle back onto the market and simply continue to obtain licences and shill out set after set based on them and then lo, AFOL's then will complain 'there's no generic line' i.e. when LOTR's Legos came along AFOL's were 'wishing for 'generic Castle' - that pic, or pics from the German Toy Fair indicate its clearly generic, playful and aimed squarely at kids - with all the negativity here its a wonder the new line will last even a year, especially when sales won't make the cut and Lego will once again shrug their shoulders and stop making generic Castle for a while...which is a shame as if a line like this sold well, then you would be getting more sets with all the stupid 'detailing' your complaining for...I give up, Lego's fundamentally for children, so quit complaining.

I actually quite like the new range simply because it IS 'GENERIC CASTLE'.

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By in United States,

I don't mind the return to generic Castle, but I'm hoping they bring back the old idea of making interconnecting sets to allow for larger, more varied fortresses if people own multiple sets.

Also, it looks like there's now armor for the new horses.

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