When I think back to the LEGO sets I loved most as a kid, two come to mind: 6075 Wolfpack Tower and 6048 Majisto’s Magical Workshop. What made them special? Well, perhaps it was the opening functions they both had, so that I could have both a fully-enclosed building and a fully-accessible interior for my characters to live in. That, and I loved both wolves and dragons, so they had cool shields. Some castle builders (myself included) generally just build an interior room or exterior tower or wall from a particular angle, with a rainbow of parts behind the scenes. It saves time and bricks to do so. But when Isaac Snyder constructs a building out of LEGO, 99 times out of 100 it includes a full interior. Every part of the build is playable, accessible, and carefully thought through. It is like the sets of my childhood, only a billion times cooler and more detailed.
I adore roofs made from cheese slopes, and surprisingly for someone as prolific in the castle genre as Isaac, this is his first use of the technique. The chairs on the waterwheel look perfect, and everything has the polished Snyderian look one expects from Isaac; nothing seems out of place. Inside the structure, several things stand out, the first being that every level is accessible via a ladder or stair, with specific holes in the floor to move minifigures around. Kid me would have had a heyday making characters go up and down the stairs, falling through the holes, and so on. Second, there are beds and other practical furniture, which castle sets seldom had. Friends sets do, but not castle. Third, and perhaps most excitingly, the mill really spins! The gears connect to the grindstone, so you can make your very own ABS flour. Play functions and aesthetics. What more could one want?
Is this real life? Or is this just fantasy? How about a fairy tale then? Yeah, that’s what we’ve got here. Letranger-Absurde brings Rapunzel’s Tower to tiny life in this charming microscale build. Filled with innovative part usage, this scene balances whimsy with rock-solid building techniques.
The most eye-catching feature is probably the use of the costume from the LEGO Movie 2’s Crayon girl minifigure. (Some other figure lost their purple leg to fill in the archway, too.) That tower also features the use of a banana and bar holder with clip to make Rapunzel’s tresses.
The rest of the landscape has some cool secrets as well. That’s a dragon arm providing a bit of greenery. Tree tops are from Joker hair and a skater helmet. My favorite detail, though, is the waterfall turbulence that perfectly-repurposes ghostly minifigure legs.
When it comes to medieval buildings, builders sometimes go all out on texture. Pieces end up being used every which way, with studs facing all directions, and random parts thrown in there just to show how clever the builder is. It doesn’t always look good, though, since it can appear too busy. That’s not to say that I think every surface needs to be smooth and flat and all lines need to be clean and straight. Quite the contrary. Ralf Langer is one of the builders out there who manage to balance irregular surfaces, crooked lines, and clever parts usages with cohesive structures and a strong visual presence. The ground in his latest creation is a perfect microcosm of what I mean: he blends smooth bits, heavily studded bits, and interesting parts to create something appealing and delightful, and I haven’t even looked at the buildings yet!
If you are wondering what the part in the ground is that gives it the baked-clay or tiny cobblestone look, it is a Technic drive chain. And by a Technic drive chain, I mean about ten billion And they’re not just in the ground, but also in the walls of the buildings, forming some of the wattle in the classic wattle-and-daub medieval look. Minifig legs create some fun decaying shapes in one of the buildings, and flex tube ends make for some clever windows. But best of all is Ralf’s use of stud shooter triggers. I see at least four different uses for those in this build, showing once again that all pieces have uses in custom-built LEGO models. I’m always a sucker for immersive builds, and Ralf is one of the best at them. Look through the arches and you can see more town beyond, promising a bigger world out there. Just not for the figure on the ground, since the standing one is Death.
Some really great large Game of Thrones LEGO creations have been built in the last few years (if I don’t say so myself). Ekjohnson1 has built a number of amazing smaller Game of Thrones models, including this masterful vignette of Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont sailing through Valyria. The amount of detail jam-packed into this small scene is amazing.
Right off the bat, I have to recognize the parts chosen for the custom minifigs. There is no question which characters are represented. Beyond that, there is so much to be in awe of here, such as the wands and claws as reeds. Two techniques stand out as most impressive to me both being held together by gravity and balance. First, the upside-down green hats being used as a plant – amazing. Second, and fittingly described at the bottom of the paragraph, is the use of 1×1 round tiles at the bottom of the model to represent the water simply but effectively.
Walls can be drab. I don’t know if you have ever had to stare at a wall, but I spent my fair share of time as a kid in time-out, sitting in a chair in the corner, examining the minutiae of the paint texture of the wall. Since then, I have stared at many walls, from cinder block to stylish shiplap, in doctors’ waiting rooms, my old calculus classroom, and many other places. They all look more or less the same. And the same thing can often be said of LEGO castle walls. Seen one castle, seen ’em all. But Marcel V. provides a break from the monotony by spicing up the grey with nice texture, but even more importantly, fun accessories. Because you know what makes a wall worth looking at? Family pictures, or a clock, or a piece of art hanging there.
The art of Marcel’s build is in the clever piece usages. There are paintbrushes and minifigure hands in the roof frame on the small tower. Unikitty tails give a delightful decorative detail on the battlements, and pistols provide support beneath. I also enjoy the wheelbarrow from a catapult and the vulture made from orc ears. All of these fun features make this wall lovely to look at, not drab. Add to that the fact that it is shown under construction, well, that just makes it better and more interesting. I’ve already stared at it for a while, and will continue doing so with pleasure.
Like the build? We covered an earlier part of Marcel’s brick adventure here.
Between 1984 and 1992, the Black Falcons were one of the lead LEGO Castle factions, alongside the Crusaders. The sometimes fractious relationship between these two factions defined an entire era of LEGO Castle. The Crusaders might have had more official sets released during this time, but the Falcons were “outnumbered but never outgunned” — what was never in doubt was the quality of their castles. 1986’s 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress is widely acknowledged as one of the finest LEGO Castle sets to be released, and was honoured with a LEGO Legends release in 2002. In a nod to that fine fortress heritage, Marcus Aspacher has put together an impressive castle of his own for the Falcons to defend…
Single-colour castles can sometimes suffer from “big grey wall syndrome”, but there’s more than enough texture built into the masonry here to prevent that. The fortress is impressive in its scale, and in the level of detail around the crenellations and towers. I particularly like the brick-built banners hanging on either side of the gatehouse.
The rockwork is well done, and the path leading up to the gate is smartly put-together from a good mix of angled plates. The castle is equally impressive from the rear, with a cool little bridge leading to an outlying tower. The rear view also showcases the excellent landscaping, and the attention that’s been paid to foliage and the transition between rock and walls…
When I think of castles, I usually think of a grey structure, especially when the castle is built from LEGO bricks. There are only so many LEGO colors that look like stone, after all. Perhaps something tan would work, or black if the castle is for bad guys. And then comes Anthony Wilson, building a castle out of red and dark red. Those aren’t stone colors! What could he be thinking? It is called outside the box, I believe, and sometimes it even works. Given the Ninjago figures with multi-tailed canines and the transparent blue crystals, the red creates a beautiful fantasy atmosphere.
I’ve always admired builders who can do excellent round towers, and this is no exception. Someday I’ll have enough 1×1 round bricks to play like a big kid, too. The variation in colors is just right, and a 1×2 plate here and there creates a refreshing change in textures from the smooth 1×2 tiles. Don’t miss the stud shooters serving as broken crenelations at the top, or the wheel arch over the window. The slick round black base ties it all together and makes the presentation oh-so-sharp. Almost as sharp as those magical crystals look…Almost.
Bakers were the unsung wizards of medieval times — taking the base material of the fields and transforming it into sustenance by the manipulation of the energies of water and fire. If that wasn’t the advertising campaign of the Bakers’ Guilds then they were missing a trick. Marcel V.‘s LEGO mill is a great example of the Castle building style applied to something other than castles or military scenes. The subtly-textured walls are broken up by some smart wooden trim, and there’s nice parts-usage and building technique on display if you go in for a closer look. Don’t miss the book used for the little roof above the window, the stonework around the door, and the dark brown spears as edge trims. The tiled roof is good too, although it might have benefited from a smattering of some other colour. My favourite touches of detail are easily missed in a casual view — those flour sacks out-front are lovely, and the dark tan axles as straw in the horse’s manger are excellent.
There have been enough medical issues in my extended family that I know you have to take an unexpected growth or bump seriously. Early detection is often an important factor in survival, and ignoring things almost never has a good outcome. LEGO builder Djokson brings us a cautionary tale in this vein with The Husk of Minaurogg. I’m sure that Minaurogg was a happy-go-lucky type of person. You can see that reflected in their cheerful helm (skillfully constructed from a minifigure shield, robot arms and elbow bricks.) and well groomed nails. Sadly, all that mirth has come to a sudden halt as Minaurogg has come down with a bad case of…something. A growth of round tiles in transparent purple have boiled up, and a couple of giant pustules look ready to burst. There’s also severe discoloration of the arm with new spiky outgrowths on the shoulder. And that one red eye seems pretty bloodshot.
Ah, maybe it’s just me being alarmist. I’m sure I few days of bed rest is all that’s required to set things right!
Big isn’t always better, as this small LEGO castle by Carter Witz proves. An outpost for a troop of wolf-riding soldiers, the fortification sits on a ridge of rock, accessed by stairway. The texturing on both castle and stairway is excellent, with a wide variety of bricks creating the feel of weathered stonework. I like the little details like the arch above the door and the fence around what I’m going to call “the wolf enclosure”. I think the rockwork might have benefited from a scattering of a contrasting colour, but other than that the forest scenery is well done. I am, however, concerned for the comfort of the soldiers stationed at this outpost. With five troopers already in residence in the tiny castle, I really hope the two new arrivals are not intending to stay for long.
Because they’re cool. Or at least they are when they’re as well put-together as this floating LEGO castle by Andrew JN. The floating rock, with its foliage and tumbling waterfall, is a nice piece of building, but it’s the fortification which attracts all the attention. The colour scheme is wonderful, tan with patches of light grey, and a smattering of dark blue elements providing a pleasing contrast. The texture in the walls is smartly-done — overall it’s smooth and easy on the eye, but has just enough detail to make it look realistic (although what does “realistic” mean when we’re talking about a fantastical floating castle?!) The tan is a bold choice, unusual in LEGO Castle creations, but it pays off here — giving the model more than a little whiff of madcap Bavarian “fantasy fortress”, undoubtedly a good thing in my book.
How’s your harvest season going? And by “harvest season” I mean your ability to procure pumpkin spice lattes at your local cafe; assuming not many of us know how to harvest pumpkin spice lattes from the Earth anymore. However, if you are among the rototiller and combine harvester set, then you may take interest in this Fortress of the Harvest in order to keep that pumpkin spice goodness protected. In just six hours, Jaap Bijl completed this neat little vignette with more finesse than some of us are capable of all week.
The rough textures, rustic windows and gold elements along the roof and spire are all particularly inspired. The butterscotch colored masonry bricks and the parts comprising the ground add warm autumn hues to this piece, but the purple elements, in this case 1×2 tiles and leaves, are seemingly becoming Jaap’s signature color choice. (You might remember his purple mushroom house we featured back in September.)