As mentioned in my review of #6972 Polaris-I Space Lab, this was the other set that had been left in built-up condition for far too long and thus was also hit very hard by yellowing. While the white base has cleaned up nicely, with the grey bricks it is more difficult to get a consistent result. Not only that, the minifigures themselves have been worn down completely: blank heads, faded torso prints and loose joints (or even cracked arms and torsos). As if that wasn't enough broken saddle clips, a broken 1 x 1 x 2 shutter holder brick and broken shields meant one castle in a very sorry state... So I just bit the bullet and bought another one in much better condition.
Another A4/letter size booklet, this time amounting to 44 steps on 24 pages (at 674 pieces this works out to an amazing average of 15 pieces each step). The front page shows the castle (as can be seen on the image of this set here), then another page for the minifigures and then just building, building, and more building. I absolutely loved all the alternative ideas presented on the box: the big keep, the great hall, the way a smaller castle and keep (even with opposing armies) could be built, the knight's procession... they all fuelled the imagination tremendously and made me wish for a second or even third copy (as such, I did not throw out my old, worn set and don't plan on doing so, I hope it can still be salvaged).
Well, it's a huge pile of grey with some black thrown in. If you want a colourful castle you've clearly come to check the wrong set, although with all the minifigures and flags in place it's not too bad. At the time, this castle had a huge parts count and they weren't all 1 x 1 plates: 30 2 x 5 x 6 wall panels (more then any other set I know of), 89 grey 1 x 2 bricks (fully a third of all our grey 1 x 2 bricks, in fact more grey bricks than you can shake a stick at), lots of slopes and plates, a black 1 x 4 x 6 (prison) door, a winch with handle and three green baseplates means you can build a lot of castle.
Twelve! Four with plate mail print (knights, fixed grill helmet), four with the lion print (archers, helmet with chin protector) and four with the crossed axes print (guards, helmet with neck protector). Four horses too, this set alone makes a veritable army. And a well-equipped one, at that: four axes, four spears, four bows and quivers, six lances, seven swords, eight shields, and four plastic capes and a dozen (literally) plumes to top it off. True to the times, they all have the standard smiley face so are indistinguishable from one another except for the knights who at least have some individuality: another horse, saddle, plume, flag, torso or shield colour was about everything that was possible. Still, this makes it easy to get a uniformed army, maybe not so realistic but good-looking at least. I never minded the red or blue pants and just took them as part of the coloured tunic over their armour.
Largely symmetrical, but since you're building both parts at the same time it's never boring (you're not repeating the same steps but rather doing all at once). For the children this was rather difficult (I remember I got this for my fifth birthday and my dad had to help me too) as with these old instructions you just have to look at the next step and spot the differences, in this case there can be a lot of bricks added in one step. The stairs in the back, the prison (the door can be locked with a bar), the plate-built portcullis, the gatehouse... Everything is fun to build and they became my de facto standards which were added to or varied upon in further castles.
The completed model
What it lacks in colour it certainly makes up for in playability: since it is built on three baseplates and is hinged it can be set up as a self-contained castle or just a part of a larger whole (as castle sets at the time had the technic brick with hole and pin so they could all be connected, if you found a way around the difference in baseplate and plate thickness). The portcullis and drawbridge can be raised or lowered (the eternal fight between my children: should they remain open or closed?), the prison can be locked (after being filled to the brim with whatever minifigure is lying around, although skeletons, ghosts and the mummies from #7326 Rise of the Sphinx are clear favourites). And as mentioned before, the box even gives inspiration to create two separate factions (each with it's own castle) out of this set. This was very helpful, as there is no opposing force (although usually this force, if included, is hopelessly outclassed anyway) and for a while this was my only castle set. Later on there were enough knights of other factions in our collection to render the point moot but it is nice they thought about it.
Of course, my recollection of this set is heavily coloured by memories so this could be the reason for the high scores I'm giving this set but it would be impossible for me to do otherwise. I don't have experience with castle sets newer then #6081 King's Mountain Fortress anyway so in my lego castle experience this is the castle standard. And so far my boys seem to agree... lower the gate - no, raise the gate - I said lower ah well, throw him into the dungeon (at least there's agreement over that part)!
3 out of 3 people thought this review was helpful.
finally after many years and never having this set as a child I have bought an excellent boxed set from a collector. All I can say is that this is everything a lego set should be,a superb main model,scope for your own ideas,enough lego men for play and good use of standard bricks (not like some modern sets where it seems like you make the main model and struggle to make much else). The build is enjoyable because you have to study the instructions in each phase not like newer ones where they tell you what pieces you need. The finished castle is superb ,big ,grey and imposing like a castle should be. Twelve men four horses and plenty of weapons. I must also mention that mixed in with this set was the 6041 armour shop and 6012 seige crossbow,wich was a nice surprise, then i was looking at ebay and found another set with the same two extras, maybe an offer was on at the time these sets where in the shops. All in all a first class set.
1 out of 1 person thought this review was helpful.
*GOLD BRICK SET*
A present for my 9th birthday if I'm not mistaken. I can remember the excitement and realisation as I opened the wrapping...
- 4 Men-at-arms/ Guards: Blue britches with black belts, brilliant brown and gold crossed axe tops, brown spears, black axes and grey skirted helmets.
- 4 Archers: Red britches with black belts, blue lion shield badge torsos, brown bow & arrow quiver, black helmet.
- 4 Knights: Two each of red britches with black belt and blue britches with black belt. Silver armour prints on two red torsos with black arms and two blue torsos with red arms. Blue cloaks, two red trousers and two blue trousers with black belts, grey swords, 2 grey lances and two brown lances. Plumes are red, white, blue and yellow.
If you have, had or are planning a Castle layout you may wish to make a centrepiece or large feature where much of the action takes place. You may just want a display piece that looks great on a shelf or low counter/table. The old castle sets should provide such a model and here is a remarkable example.
'Castle Lion' as it was known in UK catalogues was large and full of knights, guards and archers. This stone printed, grey walled masterpiece was sat upon 'grassy' bases and featured the defences of one large front gate turret, two further turrets, a drawbridge and chunky portcullis. These were pulled up using a grey turning handle on an eight stud sized block with string attached. Its decorative shields and crossed lances only served to promote strength and warn off enemies.
Inside was a dungeon type cell, some steep steps on to the battlements and a few chambers to set up rooms in for a King etc. A windswept, open plan mediaeval castle, this place could generate some atmosphere if you got down to eye level and looked through windows, down battlements and over towers. Nice features were a grey treasure chest and the rounded one stud brick columned corners on the turrets, absolutely superb. A brilliant space remained within the courtyard for much of your Lion collection to inhabit, be they carts, peasants, traders, questing knights and most importantly of all, buildings...
Thats right, the tavern, blacksmiths shop and other sets were modular and with the peg and hole bricks in all these sets, they could connect on to the castle. all because the castle sides open wide to allow them to join! The only difficulty was completing the defensive wall with these smaller battlement featured sets.
Population wise, the men-at-arms style guards had the brilliant crossed axe tops and all the archers were also uniformed. Guards got spears and large axes and bows and arrows were obviously a weapon of choice for the turret based archers. Knights here were more individualistic. The various 'Sirs' had different coloured helmet feather plumes and saddles on their horses. The 'King was marked out with the reverse colour shield (perhaps unsuitably?) and a double flag on his lance. They all got blue cloaks and to a kid collector looked excellent and near unbeatable unless siblings could match with another castle set.
The build starts from the rear of the base and involves the modular connection and rear central steps, an evocative feature that looks great already. The instructions indicate which print design stone wall panel to place when the isometric graphics show the opposite side. A few stonework designs feature. The cell (you wish was a dungeon) forms next with a long tile across it as a strong bolt for the door, no ones getting out of that. Ornate designs start to evolve and mark future Lego detailed thinking. A pillar holds a sword, its rather random but is pretty cool.
Black upward slants appear including the corner type. On to the second level blocks and slants fill out edges over some plates. The corner columns and towers take off from here. Once their upward slants and plates roof them off with battlements, yet another green base plate is brought in to play. This model is big.
The stonework efforts with slanted bricks is almost a thing of beauty but lets not get carried away! Two more swords and two black axes get clipped in to the front gate walls and black bricks alternate which is helpful for the technical bits. Black tiles adorn the floor underneath the portcullis. The chunky build for the front just goes up and up with upward slants and mini arch brick three studs long at one point, all styling the formation of the model. Finally the high archway is made and a black thread can loop from a sizeable drawbridge up to the front tower with its own special winch block.
The main tower rises with panels, plates and battlement bricks above a portcullis, cleverly made strong to fit in a gap and be drawn on a string and one stud loop plate for clipping after raising or lowering. The lance and shield front decor and finishing pieces are easy after the fiddly string work.
Keep, Castle, Fortress
This review has not even gone in to enough detail to do the set justice. Its a very enjoyable build from stoney start to fortress finish and the potential action within is only limited by imagination. If you're not up for crusading for a new one, try the new castle themed fancy version or await similar in the future. Best feature? Perhaps the chunky portcullis. Drawbridge closed, now stay out!
8 out of 8 people thought this review was helpful.
Lego has done a lot Castles over the years for their Castle theme and I was able to track this down and get it after I'd gotten the King's Mountain Fortress. While the King's Mountain Fortress is newer and featured new elements such as the plate mail armor and crossbows, I've greatly enjoyed this Castle better as it was more the traditional idea and has a grand total of 12 minifigures, 4 of them being Knights on horse back.
It has a draw bridge and gate that comes down to double the defenses of entry into the Castle from an invading army. For function as a Castle, this has been pretty good. I'm still hopeful I'll be able to get around and finally get a hold of the Black Monarch's Castle. But this, this is a good set.
2 out of 3 people thought this review was helpful.
I first got this set when I was very small, and have rebuilt it several times over, and never been disappointed with it. Not as many pieces as some of the more recent castle sets, and it is not particularly technically demanding, but it is always a treat to build, and certainly provides a good play experience, even for an adult. For me, at least, there is a certain nostalgia value - this was one of the first sets I really remember having, and building and rebuilding it brings back all my memories of Lego, but I think that even for someone who did not build it as a child, this set can provide an excellent introduction to Lego castles and the hours of fun they can provide.
5 out of 5 people thought this review was helpful.