LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle (plus a working trebuchet) [Review]

Every LEGO theme has a specific goal. Ninjago and Star Wars promise action and cool vehicles and characters. Creator Expert brings complex builds and classy display models. Technic offers working functions and interesting machinery. The Creator line’s niche is in providing an old-school build experience, for people who want sets with a load of potential but not a lot of exclusive or specialized elements. And in that vein, 31120 Medieval Castle is a rousing success. Sitting at the top of the new lineup of Creator sets available June 1, this 3-in-1 set comes with instructions and parts for three unique medieval-themed models (one at a time), including a large castle, and yes, a trebuchet. The set has 1,500 pieces, making it the largest Creator set to date, not counting bulk brick buckets that don’t include instructions. It will retail for US $99.99 | CAN $TBD | UK £TBD. It will be available June 1 in Europe and elsewhere, while North America will have to wait until August 1.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

1,500 pieces is massive for a standard Creator set, and more in line with what we’d see from a Creator Expert set. The previous record-holder for the theme was 6753 Highway Transport. Released in 2009, that set had 1,294 pieces. Of course, that’s not counting the bulk brick buckets such as those carried by retailers like Costco or Walmart around the holidays, which also get the Creator branding. But those sets primarily contain only the most basic bricks, plates, and slopes in a wide variety of colors, and they don’t include the instructions to build any specific models. So it’s easy to justify calling the Medieval Castle the largest traditional Creator set to date. The front contains the primary castle model that uses all 1,500 elements, while the back shows the alternate builds, which are a castle wall with a windmill, and a tower with a trebuchet.

Inside the box you’ll find nine bags numbered across seven steps, plus a large tan 8×16 plate loose. As with most Creator sets, there are no stickers.

The two instruction manuals are bagged together in sealed bag. The first manual contains the instructions for the main castle model, while the second booklet builds the alternates.

Most of the elements in Creator sets are common and relatively non-specialized, and that’s certainly the case here. However, there are still a few interesting bits. There aren’t any new molds, but several pieces appear here in new colors. The 4×6 plate surprisingly hasn’t been available in dark azure before now, while the 2x2x3 and 3×1 slopes arrive for the first time in olive green. The new 3x3x2 corner window frame made its debut in a couple of Friend sets earlier this year in white, but here it picks up a second color with brown. It will also be in brown in some of the new Harry Potter sets.

The build

The castle is modular, made up of three primary sections that rest on large plates. The first and largest section is the castle gate with the drawbridge. The front of the castle sits on a little hilly mass of bricks and slopes that’s made of a variety of greens (dark, olive, and sand). It’s a nice nod to the classic LEGO castles of the past that were usually built on a big molded baseplate with the entrance between two hills. There’s a little bit of landscaping with some vines, and scraggly tree, and some mushrooms.

The drawbridge raises and lowers with a very simple mechanism, winding the chains around a central axle. In this stage I also encountered an error in the instructions. Starting on step 89, two yellow 1×1 bricks appear, though the instructions don’t call for them to be placed until step 91. It’s a minor thing that thankfully doesn’t interfere with the build, but I build a lot of sets, and instructions errors seem to be getting more common.

Most of the build is simple studs-up construction, but there are some nice details sprinkled throughout, such as these narrow loop holes on the front towers. The medium nougat clips are where the hanging banners will attach later.

With the front gate segment completed, it’s already starting to look like a castle. Even at this stage, this is a better castle than many traditional castle sets have included.

Around back, there are two small hinged sections that contain clips to attach to the other segments. The inside of the castle is pretty sparse, with only a few details.

The next section is the castle’s left (if you’re looking at the front). On the outside it has a water wheel, but the inside is the blacksmith’s shop. And despite having just gotten a full blacksmith shop set from LEGO, this one is pretty nicely equipped with the tools of the trade such as a forge, hammer, and anvil. In fact, the anvil is powered by that water wheel; spin it and the hammer bangs up and down.

On top of the blacksmith shop is a small tudor-style building in yellow and brown. We’ll take a look at the interior later.

The third and final section of the castle starts off as a simple corner wall. There’s also a small well that’s a standalone build and can be placed wherever you like, though the instructions show it goes inside the castle walls.

The castle wall gets topped with a tall tower that continues the Tudor style constructions with yellow walls. Here the Tudor walls are actually made with vertical tiles and plates held on with brackets, rather than stacked bricks.

With the castle complete, that leaves just one more thing to build. Every castle needs someone to lay siege to it, and in this case that’s a spry green dragon—or more accurately, a wyvern, since it lacks front legs.

The completed model

I’ve built a lot of LEGO castles from the many castle themes LEGO has produced over the last 30 years. Whether or not this is the largest depends a lot on how you count. There’s no question that this one contains the most pieces of any medieval castle that LEGO has ever made (unless you count Löwenstein Castle), but I think it’s unlikely it has the largest footprint.


However, if you compare it to previous LEGO castles it’s immediately apparent that this one is more detailed on just about every front. I have a lot of nostalgia for classic castles like 6086 Black Knight’s Castle from 1992, 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress from 1986, or even a relatively modern one like 7946 King’s Castle from 2010. But if you can set aside your nostalgia for a moment, it’s clear the Medieval Castle is better in just about every way.

However, no need to set your nostalgia too far to the side. LEGO may be improving the design of the castle, but that doesn’t mean the classic themes are tossed to the street. This castle bears the emblem of the Black Falcons, that fan-favorite theme that debuted in 1984 and has been popping up here and there ever since.

As I mentioned during the build section, the castle comes apart into three segments: the gatehouse, the blacksmith shop, and the tower wall. While the three base pieces can’t really be arranged differently in a way that makes sense, it would be easy to devise your own segments that extend this castle out further.

What they can do, however, is open up while connected, letting you have full access to the interior by simply disconnecting the blacksmith shop and tower wall segments from each other and swinging the walls around flat.

Once opened up, you get full access to the interior. However, while few expenses were spared in giving the outside a wonderful amount of detail, not so for the interior. There are details to be sure, and they’re fairly good. But the main gatehouse is almost entirely empty, and apart from a throne, you won’t see any of the detailed furniture like you might get in a Creator Expert set. That is an exercise left to the builder.

Let’s take a look at the details that are here, though. On the left, the tower wall contains a small market stand with some fresh fruit and veggies. No doubt the prisoner could have benefitted from them, because in the cell next door he’s passed away and only his white skeleton remains. The tower itself doesn’t have any interior details.

There’s a small table and chalice in the cell, along with a weak section of the wall that can be pulled out for a daring escape that—alas—comes too late to save the poor prisoner.

Over on the opposite side, the blacksmith shop is open for business. Above it in the Tudor-style house is the throne room with a nice-looking brown-and-red throne and a fireplace with a mantle and candle.

The main gatehouse is empty except for the second-story room on the right, which has a small Tudor-style structure jutting out from the exterior wall. That room is a primitive toilet that opens straight to the moat below, so watch where you swim outside the walls. The center room above the drawbridge contains only the drawbridge mechanism, including a locking mechanism to keep the drawbridge up. I do feel like the gatehouse is missing a portcullis, and it seems like there’s room enough for LEGO to have included one with only a slightly modified design.

As I mentioned before, the drawbridge is activated with a crank on the side of the gatehouse.

Around back, there’s the waterwheel and a small archery range, along with a few chickens and a rooster. Bonus: if you miss the target, you just might end up with roast chicken for dinner.

The animals

If the Creator theme is about old-school building experiences like I mentioned at the outset, there’s no better example of this than with its animals. Although LEGO produces a huge variety of molded animals that are often key selling points for sets, the Creator theme goes out of its way to show you that you don’t need to have specific molded elements to enjoy a whole menagerie. Almost every animal included in a Creator set, from dog to dragon, is brick-built. This set includes seven such creatures: two chickens, a rooster, a black bird for the weathervane, a hawk, a wyvern, and a mouse. They’re all delightful, even the tiny mouse which consists of only four elements.

The wyvern is the true standout, though. Here again I have a lot of nostalgia for the classic LEGO dragon and even the newer dragons from the early 2010s, but this little green monster charmed me. Not only is it highly poseable, but the face reminds me of Olli the dragon or the LEGOLAND sea serpent.

The minifigures

Creator sets are not known for their minifigures, so it’s with some delight that I found these minifigures actually quite nice. The two soldiers are kitted out in Black Falcon livery, and they share designs with the soldiers from 21325 Medieval Blacksmith. I think it’s not a stretch to assume a headcanon that these are the younger versions of the figs from that set, as there’s a grey-bearded male soldier, a female soldier, and a red-haired blacksmith.

None of them get quite as many accouterments as they did in the Blacksmith set, with the soldiers not having pauldrons and the smith missing his big beard (perhaps he hasn’t grown it yet). If you pull the shield off the gatehouse, you can equip both soldiers with falcon shields. The smith’s torso is a more generic one, too, and all of the heads are single-sided and have appeared in other sets. Nevertheless, it’s quite nice to get more Black Falcons, as many fans feared their revival in the Medieval Blacksmith was a one-off easter egg.

The alternate models

The two alternate models didn’t call out to me as much as the main castle did, and I decided to forego building them. They look excellent, but I didn’t relish the thought of disassembling and hunting through 1,500 unsorted pieces twice to build two more models. However, I made one exception. I can’t have a LEGO set that includes a trebuchet and not build the trebuchet. Even though the trebuchet is relatively small, it stole pieces from all over the castle and even the wyvern, so there’s no having both built at once. However, it also uses readily available or easily substituted parts, so if you want to build both you could probably cobble the trebuchet together from your existing collection.

The key to a trebuchet is, of course, the large counterweight. This is accomplished with a dense pack of bricks, mostly 1x1s, to add as much weight as possible.

The completed trebuchet definitely isn’t as polished feeling as the castle is. It has a distinct feeling of being a “B model” made with leftover parts, rather than a clever design. However, the most important thing about a trebuchet isn’t what it looks like, it’s how well it functions.

And it functions wonderfully. Wind up the winch, load in a 1×1 round brick, and release it. It’s tricky to aim, but that just makes it more fun. It fires three to four feet, which isn’t bad for a build this small. All LEGO castles should include a trebuchet instead of the flinger-flick catapults they’ve so often included.

Conclusion and recommendation

The Creator line takes us back to our roots with a simple build that’s simply excellent. There aren’t many fancy techniques here, and there aren’t many specialized pieces, but that doesn’t mean too many compromises on quality. It’s true the interior could use more detailing, but $100 seems like a sweet spot for a LEGO castle. I would have also loved to see more minifigures and animals, but that’s not really the point of the Creator line. Adding more detail or figs would have increased the price on this set that’s a bargain at less than $0.07 per piece.

And if you’re a castle fan who’s been waiting on your favorite theme to be revived, don’t be put off by the label Creator on the box. This is a phenomenal castle, one of the best LEGO has ever produced. Plus it’s a Black Falcon castle.

31120 Medieval Castle contains 1,500 pieces and three minifigures. Starting June 1 in Europe and elsewhere, and August 1 in North America, it will be available from LEGO and other retailers for US $99.99 | CAN $TBD | UK £TBD. It may also be available on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

4 comments on “LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle (plus a working trebuchet) [Review]

  1. JBB

    Creator sets are pretty much my favorites to buy to my kids now. City has been stale for a while. Fantasy sets (Ninjago, the new Monkey King or something) are ok but they don’t watch the show so not much interest. But between that, the pirate ship, and the modular houses, it’s a lot of beautiful, flexible Lego sets. Will buy for them day one, now I just need to find an excuse to give it to them.

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