“Lego Castle Product Lines, Part II” by S.M. O’Connor

In 1984, The LEGO Group released new LEGO® Castle sets with more realistic castles.  They were largely made up of panels (reminiscent of prefabricated walls), each of which had a narrow window at the center.  The two largest factions were the Crusaders, also known as Lion Knights or Lion Crest Knights, with a lion rampant as their emblem (undoubtedly a reference to King Richard I the Lion-hearted) and Black Falcons, also known as Eagle Crests in Canada and Australia, with a black-and-white raptor as their emblem.  Sometimes, it was a gold lion rampant on a blue field and sometimes it was a blue lion rampant on a yellow field. A few of the Crusaders infantrymen had crossed axes on their chests instead of lions.  Knight helmets were less realistic because each one was a single piece with an immovable visor.  This is Part #x167 .  Feather plume elements would pop into helmets.  Purpose-built, one-piece horse elements had gaps in their backs to be filled with saddle elements.  A standing knight would fit in the saddle.  For the first time, knights had cape elements.  These capes were made of plastic and slipped over the necks of the knights, fitting between torso and head elements.  Knights and some foot soldiers carried triangular shields that bore coats of arms.  In addition to the original weapon elements that represented metal swords, lances, and axes, and wooden lances, the Castle product line now also included wooden axes and wooden spears.  For the first time there were archer Minifigures™.  An archer with a conical helmet wore a one-piece quiver of arrows element that would fit around the neck (between the head and torso elements) and hold a one-piece bow and arrow element.  The sets that appeared on store shelves in 1984 introduced new factions of knights unrelated to the factions from the Classic Castle sets.

5Figure 1 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 1984, Jousting Knights (Set #6021) included one Crusaders knight and one Black Falcons knight.  Knight helmets in the new factions were fixed in the closed position.  The new horses were one-piece elements.

6Figure 2 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 1985, Set #6102 (Castle Mini Figures) consisted of infantrymen from two new factions: Crusaders and Black Falcons. Some of the Crusaders guards had crossed axes on their chests instead of the crowned lion rampant emblem.

 

The 664-piece Set #6080 from 1984, known in the U.S.A. as the King’s Castle (also known as the large gray castle), was the larger of two new castles.  According to Classic-Castle.com, it was known in the U.K. as Lion Castle, in Quebec as Château du roi (Castle Royale), in France as Château-fort du roi (Castle-Fort Royale), and in Germany as Große Burg (Grand Castle), and by other names in yet other countries.  It belonged to the Crusaders faction.  This was the first castle to have a portcullis behind its drawbridge.  Between 1984 and 1988, starting with the King’s Castle, some of the Crusaders guards had crossed axes on their chests instead of lions.  The King’s Castle could open up from a small, square-shaped castle keep into the main gate of a larger castle or fortress-city.  This set included twelve Minifigures™, of which four were knights, four archers, two spearmen, and two foot soldiers (or guards) armed with poleaxes, as well as four horses.  All twelve of these soldiers belonged to the Crusaders faction.  Speculators are now selling this through eBay for up to $219.  The smaller buildings that were designed to be attached to the ends of the King’s Castle were the hinged wall that came under siege tower attack in Set #6061 (Siege Tower), issued in 1984; the smithy from Set #6040 (Blacksmith Shop) issued in 1984, a stretch of wall behind the inn from Set #6067 (Guarded Inn), issued in 1986; and the armory in Set #6041 (Armor Shop), issued in 1986; or a second King’s Castle set.

7Figure 3 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Released in 1984, King’s Castle (Set #6080) belonged to the Crusaders faction.  The King’s Castle was the first to have a portcullis behind its drawbridge.  One could expand it through the attachment of modular walls thanks to TECHNIC bricks and pins.

 

That same year, 1984, Set #6073 (Knight’s Castle), also known as the small gray castle, was the first of two small gray castles that belonged to the new Black Falcons faction of knights.  According to Classic-Castles.com., it was called Eagle Fortress in the U.K. The Knight’s Castle could also open.  The Black Falcons were enemies of the Crusaders, because Crusaders with a battering ram besieged a wall manned by Black Falcons guards in Set #6062 (Battering Ram).  They were also enemies of the Black Knights because the Set #6090 (Knight’s Stronghold) depicted a siege of a small Black Knights fortress by a Black Falcons knight, crossbowman, and catapult.

Set #6074 (Black Falcon’s Fortress) from 1986, was the second gray castle that belonged to the Black Falcons faction.  According to Classic-Castle.com, it was called Castle Draco and the Black Knight in the U.K. and Eagle Crest Castle in Canada or Château Eagle Crest in Canada.  This castle was the first to come with a colored panel, this one a yellow and black half-timber-frame panel that would evoke Tudor architecture for English-speakers.  The Black Falcon’s Fortress could open and could attach to the Knight’s Castle.  In 2002, The LEGO Group re-issued the Black Falcon’s Fortress as part of the LEGO® Legends product line as Set #10039. One could attach the hinged wall section with tower that came with Set #6062 (Battering Ram), released in 1987, to either the Knight’s Castle or the Black Falcon’s Fortress.

Peasant Minifigures™ also appeared in 1984.  There was the peasant riding a horse-pulled Supply Wagon (Set #6010) and the blacksmith with Set #6040 (Blacksmith Shop).  The horse elements that came with these sets showed that the new LEGO® horses did not have to carry cavalrymen.  The gap in the back of the horse that pulled the cart in Set #6010 was filled with a two-piece harness.  By contrast, the gap in the back of the horse from Set #6040 was filled with two bricks that matched the color of the horse element, with the result that the horse (undoubtedly in the smithy shop to have to have its hoofs shod) was unburdened by saddle or harness.  The smithy came with a one-story section of a gray castle or city wall with a Crusader soldier standing at the battlements.  This set could be attached to the King’s Castle.

9

Figure 4 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Peasant Minifigures™ also appeared in 1984.  There was the peasant riding a horse-pulled Supply Wagon (Set #6010).

 

10Figure 5 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 1984, Blacksmith Shop (Set #6040) came with another civilian peasant, a blacksmith.  The smithy came with a horse to be shod and a one-story section of a gray castle or city wall that could be attached to the King’s Castle.

 

 

In 1986, The LEGO Group produced two sets that could also be attached to a castle or city wall.  Set #6067 (Guarded Inn), was a two-story inn inside a one-story section of a gray castle or city wall with an archer standing on the battlements.  It also included a lady, a knight, and a foot soldier.  The knight and foot soldiers were all Crusaders.  According to Classic-Castle.com, it was called The Town Wall Tavern in the U.K. This set was re-issued in 2001 as part of the LEGO® Legends product line as Set #10000.  Set #6041 (Armor Shop) was incorporated into a one-story section of gray castle or city wall.  It came with a peddler and a Crusaders knight, but the peddler had a Black Falcons shield for sale as well as a Crusaders shield and generic helmets and weapons either side might use.  The Crusaders flag attached to the knight’s lance was unique to this set, as was the black-colored sword.  According to Classic-Castle.com, this was called the Armoury in the U.K.

 

11Figure 6 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 1986, Guarded Inn (Set #6067) was a two-story inn inside a one-story section of wall that could be attached to the King’s Castle. It included a lady and three Crusaders.  The Guarded Inn was re-issued in the LEGO® Legends product line.

12cFigure 7 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 1986, Armor Shop (Set #6041) could also be attached to the King’s Castle.  It came with a peddler and a Crusaders knight.  The peddler sold shields, armor, and weapons to both Crusaders and Black Falcons.

The 429-piece Set #6081 (King’s Mountain Fortress), released in 1990, was a large gray castle of the Crusaders faction that was the first castle to have doors in front of its drawbridge, the first to feature a turret, and the first to sit on a base plate that incorporated a hill.  [Many real castle keeps occupy hilltops because in Medieval Europe kings had limited resources and needed to have garrisons guard strategic peeks.]   This rare baseplate with a hill had debuted the previous year with the Eldorado Fortress (Set #6276) from the LEGOLAND® Pirates theme.  Eight Minifigures™ came with the set: two Crusader Knights, two Crusader archers, two Crusader foot soldiers, a maiden, and a ghost.  The two knights had helmets with visors.  The maiden or princess was the first female Minifigure™ to have a backwards-facing slope brick (instead of having a pair of legs) in order to represent her dress.  The ghost Minifigure™ glowed in the dark.  One of the two knights rode a horse that wore a red-and-yellow caparison, which in the real world would have covered barding (armor for horses).  On one end, King’s Mountain Fortress could be attached to the King’s Castle.  This was the last fortress built for the Crusaders faction.  The original list price was $57.99.  In this case, it does not appear the people selling it through eBay are speculators.  Rather, it seems they are simply people selling old toys.  Two people are selling it for $50.

The 695-piece Set #6085 (Black Monarch’s Castle), released in 1988, was the first black-colored castle.  This castle had the same basic shape as the King’s Castle, but everything was more detailed. It had two octagonal back corner towers, which were the first octagonal towers to appear on a LEGO® castle.   This was the first castle for a new faction, the Black Knights.  Twelve Minifigures™ came with the set: four knights, four archers, and four foot soldiers or guards armed with poleaxes.  Their emblem was a wyvern, which is a dragon-like creature with two hind legs and wings in place of forelegs.  Two of four knights rode chargers that wore blue-and-black caparisons.  The Black Monarch’s Castle could open.  Notably, the instruction manual had a picture of a structure the owner of the set could alternatively build: a castle keep with two three-story towers connected by a third-floor footbridge. The original list price was $68.  Speculators are selling it through eBay for up to $284.21.

 

8Figure 8 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 1988, Black Monarch’s Castle (Set #6085), was the 1st black-colored LEGO® castle, the 1st to have octagonal towers, and the 1st for the Black Knights.  One could attach the gate from Knight’s Stronghold (Set #6090), released in 1990.

 

 

One could attach the black gate flanked by two short hinged walls from Set #6090 (Knight’s Stronghold), released in 1990.  Notably, one of them wore a conical helmet like the archers previously had, but was armed with a crossbow instead of a bow-and-arrow element.  These guards were besieged by a Black Falcons knight and crossbowman with a small catapult.

The Knight’s Stronghold set depicted a siege of a small Black Knights fortress by the Black Falcons.  The Black Falcons crossbowman had plate armor printed on blue tunic and hose.  The Black Falcons knight had a gray breastplate and three-piece helmet that consisted of (1) a black helm with (2) gray visor that could flip open and (3) a feather plume.  This marked the return of both breastplates and helmets with moving visors. Both were more detailed than their predecessors had been back in the days of the Yellow Castle.  The type of real-world Medieval European helmets that LEGO® two-piece helmets and three-piece helmets with moving visors resembled was called a close helm.  The LEGO Group’s introduction of the three-piece helmet with moving visor did not lead to the company phasing out of helmets with fixed visors.  The company would manufacture both kinds of helmet for several years.

Introduced in 1990 in Black Monarch’s Ghost (Set #6034) and the King’s Mountain Fortress, the Ghost Minifigure™ had a black head, white torso, and glow-in-the-dark cowl.  Originally, Ghost Minifigures had white brick instead of legs, but starting in 1997, Ghosts had white legs.

Black Knight’s Castle (Set #6086) from 1992 was a black-and-gray, hilltop castle keep that belonged to the Black Knights faction.  In the United Kingdom, it was known as the Black Knight’s Castle, but in the U.S.A. and Canada it was known as the Dungeon Master’s Castle, according to Classic-Castle.com.  In 1994, it was renamed Black Knight’s Castle in the U.S. and Canada, too, according to Brickipedia. The castle had a tower with two half-timber panels and a sloping roof.  It was only the second castle to have a portcullis behind the drawbridge.  The Black Knight’s Castle was the first to have a one-piece portcullis rather than a portcullis made of bricks. On one side, it could be attached to the Black Monarch’s Castle.  This set included four Black Knights.  All four of them carried kite shields.[1]  Hitherto this point, knights and foot soldiers in this product line carried either triangular or circular shields.  Two of them had the familiar one-piece, helmets with fixed visors, while the other two had the newer three-piece helmets with visors that flipped open.  Of these four knights, two rode horses that wore blue-and-black caparisons.  Each of the two knights with closed helmets had a dragon projecting upward out of his helmet in place of a feather plume.  The more realistic helmets of the other knights also sported dragons on top.  Further, they had dragon wings projecting from the sides of their helmets.

 

13cFigure 9 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Introduced in 1987, LEGO® Forestmen were a band of archers who lived in hollowed-out trees and boulders.  The first hideout was Camouflaged Outpost (Set #6066).  They dressed like Errol Flynn (1909-1959) in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).

 

The LEGO® Group had added another faction, the LEGO® Forestmen, in 1987.  These Minifigures™ were clearly inspired by Robin Hood and his Merry Men, especially as seen in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938).  The LEGO® Forestmen were a band of archers who lived in hollowed-out trees and boulders.  These hideouts were the 211-piece Set #6066 (Camouflaged Outpost) from 1987; 198-piece Set #6054 (Forestmen’s Hideout), from 1988; 348-piece Set #6077 (Forestmen’s River Fortress) from 1989; and 203-piece Set #6071 (Forestmen’s Crossing) from 1990.  The symbol of the Forestmen, as in Forestmen’s River Fortress and Forestmen’s Crossing, seen on a triangular shield was a stag head in profile.  The largest Forestmen set, the Forestmen’s River Fortress, was the first set to come with a blue baseplate – 32 studs by 32 studs (Part #3811) – in order to suggest a large, hollowed-out tree rising up out of a river.  A Forestwoman came with the set Forestmen’s Crossing.  This Minifigure™ had a head with bangs and lipstick as part of her printed face, green pirate hat,[2] a torso with printed bodice, and green legs.  She wore a quiver of arrows, which indicated she was a fighter.  The Forestmen were enemies of the Crusaders, as a Crusader foot soldier appeared in the Forestmen’s River Fortress and was depicted in a swordfight with one of the Forestmen on the cover of the box.

Introduced in 1992, the enemies of the LEGO® Forestmen were the LEGO® Wolfpack Renegades. These were bands of bandits with a wolf’s head emblem.  Their hideout was Set #6075 (Wolfpack Tower) from 1992.  It included a glow-in-the-dark ghost Minifigure™.  That same year, 1992, The LEGO Group diversified the printed faces on the LEGO® Castles Minifigures™.  Two of the three Wolfpack bandits who came with the Wolfpack Tower had mustaches and the third had an eyepatch.

The Dark Forest product line consisted of three sets, all released in 1996: the 58-piece Set #6024 (Bandit Ambush), the 216-piece Set #6046 (Hemlock Stronghold), and the 461-piece Set #6079 (Dark Forest Fortress).  Four of the Dark Forest Minifigures were dressed very much like the Forestmen, and the same triangular shield with a stag’s head in profile appeared in all three Dark Forest sets, but two Dark Forest Minifigures were indistinguishable from the Wolfpack Renegades, and another two Dark Forest Minifigures were dressed in a manner that combined elements from the Forestmen and the Wolfpack Renegades.  Four of the eight Dark Forest warriors were archers like the Forestmen.  In the Hemlock Stronghold set, the Dark Forest warriors fought Royal Knights foot soldiers, and in the Dark Forest Fortress set, the Dark Forest warriors fought Dragon Masters foot soldiers.  The Dark Forest Minifigure with mustache and goatee that appeared in both Dark Forest Fortress (Set #6079) and Hemlock Stronghold (Set #6046) appeared as Rob-N-Hood in the LEGO® video game LEGO Racers.  The Dark Forest Fortress (Set #6079) was the first Castle set to include a Skeleton Minifigure.

The Forestman from Set 8183 Minifigures Series 1, issued in 2010, looked very much like Rob-N-Hood, but the face and chest were more detailed.  The printed face had a mustache and goatee, but the mustache was thinner.  Instead of the face being a line depicting a closed-mouth smile, a white line suggested teeth visible in an open-mouthed smile.  The eyes, instead of being black dots were white dots inside of black dots.  There were also eyebrows.   Instead of an open collar, there was a cravat.  Both the belt running horizontally across the waist and diagonally across the chest had gold-colored buckles.  The waist belt had two rows of studs instead of one.  The chest belt was wider.  In The LEGO Movie (2014), Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman) addresses him as Robin Hood at the gathering of Master Builders in Cloud Cuckcoo Land.

In 1993, The LEGO Group moved LEGO® Castles into the realm of high fantasy or fairy tales with the addition of dragons and wizards.  The dragons were slightly larger than horses.  Majisto, one of the first Minifigures™ to have a name, led the Dragon Masters army.  Majisto had a blue pointed hat to match his torso and legs, glow-in-the-dark magic wand, and white beard, all of which were new elements.  The beard element slipped down the neck, fitting between the torso and head elements.[3]  The LEGO Group introduced the Dragon Masters product line in 1993, phased it out after 1995, and considered it a LEGO® Castle subtheme.

On their chests, the Dragon Masters had a distinctive emblem with a head-on view of a dragon’s head, but their shields were kite shields with the Black Knights wyvern emblem.  It was green instead of blue, but this still likely caused some parents and children to think the Dragon Masters were a sub-faction of the Black Knights.  The Dragon Masters had a new fantasy helmet that featured a dragon on top instead of a feather plume, visors fixed in the up position exposing the Minifigure’s face, and two dragon wings projecting out from the sides.  This is Part #x43.  The horses of the Dragon Masters wore a kind of helmet that combined real-world chanfron (to protect a horse’s face) and criniere (segmented neck armor). These horse helmets were fancifully designed to evoke dragons.

The Minifigures in Set #6076 (Dark Dragon’s Den) from 1993 were Majisto, the Red Dragon Master, a Red Dragon Knight, and a Dragon Soldier.  The set also included a green dragon with red wings.  In the case of the Red Dragon Master and the Red Dragon Knight, the dragons on their helmets were red-colored.

In addition to the Dark Dragon’s Den, the Dragon Masters had the Fire Breathing Fortress (Set #6082) in 1993.  This small, hilltop castle keep had a facsimile of a fire-breathing dragon’s head projecting out from a wall.  The Minifigures™ were Majisto, a Yellow Dragon Master, two Dragon Soldiers, a Dragon Archer, and a Wolfpack Bandit.  The set also came with a green dragon with red wings.  The Yellow Dragon Master had a helmet that looked exactly like the Red Dragon Master and the Red Dragon Knight, but sported a yellow dragon.  Both the Red Dragon Master and the Yellow Dragon Master wore fabric capes.[4]  Each cape of the Dragon Masters had a dragon in profile, similar in appearance to the wyvern of the Black Knights, but without doubt a dragon because it had four legs and wings.

The first lord Minifigure™ to obviously be a king because he had a crown was in 1995.  The Lego Group introduced great swords with the Royal King.  He led the Royal Knights.  This was another faction or subtheme of LEGO® Castle. Their emblem was a crowned lion, like with the Crusaders, but it was a head-on view of a lion’s head instead of a whole lion in profile.  The lion’s mouth is open with bared fangs.  Set #6090-1 (Royal Knight’s Castle) from 1995 was a large black castle included the King, two Royal Knights, six Royal Knights guards, and one Skeleton.  The gatehouse had a one-piece portcullis behind the drawbridge.  This was the first castle to have a throne.  The king’s horse was the only one to wear a caparison.  This was only the second castle after the Yellow Castle to have a second gate.  Set #6078 (Royal Drawbridge) from 1995 was a fragment of a black castle keep.  It included one of the Black Knights, three Royal Knights guards, and a Skeleton.  The Black Knight wore the new kind of helmet worn by Dragon Masters and carried a kite shield with the blue wyvern of the Black Knights.

The LEGO® Castle product line moved further into the realm of fantasy in 1997 with LEGO® Fright Knights Set #6007 (Bat Lord) had Basil, the Bat Lord: a caped Minifigure™ with a helmet with batwings and carried a sword and a scepter topped with a bat.  He stood on He stood on Draco, a black dragon with red wings.  Set #6037 (Witch’s Windship) from 1997 had the first witch in the product line.  It included Willa the Witch on a platform born aloft by a green dragon with black wings, the only such example of this dragon color scheme for LEGO® Castle.  Set #6067 (Witch’s Magic Manor) from 1997 suggested villains living in the ruins of a small castle keep or fortified manor.  It included Willa the Witch in a small (magical helicopter?), Willa’s dragon, an archer, a Bat knight, a Bat foot soldier, a Wolfpack bandit, and a Skeleton.  Set #6097 (The Night Lord’s Castle) from 1997 was a tall black castle keep. It featured a black dragon with red wings and seven Minifigures™: Basil the Bat Lord, Willa the Witch, four Fright Knights (really one knight and three foot soldiers), and one Royal Knight.

 

17Figure 10 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Willa the Witch’s champion, Basil the Bat Lord, came with Set #6007 (Bat Lord) from 1997.  A caped Minifigure™ who wore a helmet with batwings, he carried a great sword and a scepter topped with a bat.  He stood on Draco, a black dragon with red wings.

 

 

 

 

ENDNOTES

[1] This was the type of shield Norman knights were depicted as carrying in the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 in the Bayeux Tapestry.

[2] This is Minifig Hat Rag (Part X70).

[3] These hats and beards would reappear later in LEGO® Harry Potter™ and LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™ sets.

[4] Fabric capes replaced plastic capes and have appeared in LEGO® Monster Hunters, LEGO Harry Potter™, LEGO Star Wars™, LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™, LEGO® The Hobbit™, and, undoubtedly, other product lines, as well.

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