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

In 2000, The LEGO Group introduced the LEGO® Knights’ Kingdom product line, which pitted the Lions led by King Leo against bandits called the Bulls led by Cedric the Bull.  King Leo’s headquarters was a castle whilst the Bulls inhabited the Dark Forest.  His emblem was very much like that of the Royal Knights, but the crowned lion’s head was larger, taking up a greater proportion of shields than the crowned lion’s head with the Royal Knights. This was the first LEGO® castle product line to feature a complete royal family: King Leo, Queen Leonora, Prince Edward, and Princess Storm.  Unrealistically, Princess Storm was a knight.

Classic-Castle.com has an archive of Custom Castles Sets, which fans designed and built without the endorsement of The LEGO Group between 2000 and 2003, one example of which is Daniel Siskind’s Blacksmith Shop from 2000, a two-story structure that could open up, of which he produced just twenty-three sets.  The next year, The LEGO Group negotiated a licensing deal with Siskind and released it as Set #3739 Blacksmith Shop in 2002 as the first set in the fan-designed My Own Creation product line.

18Figure 1 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 2000, King Leo’s Castle (Set #6091/6098) had 5 turrets with sloping blue rooftops.  The Bulls besieging the castle had a canon.  The Turks breaching the walls of Byzantium with canons in 1453 A.D. was the death knell of castles.

 

 

Set #6091/6098 (King Leo’s Castle) from 2000 was a small, hilltop gray castle.  It had five turrets with sloping blue rooftops.  The two Bulls who besieged the castle had a canon, the first LEGO® castle to reflect the fact the invention of gunpowder was the death knell for castles after the Ottoman Turks breached the famous city walls of Byzantium with canons.

 

Two knights who served King Leo had names: John of Mayne, who wore a kettle hat-type helmet, and Richard the Strong, who alternated between one of the three-piece helmets and a kettle hat.  Just as Minifigures became more elaborate with King Leo, John, and Richard having facial hair and Princess Storm having hair visible under her helmet, the buildings were becoming simpler to build.

19Figure 2 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: In addition to the regular Minifigures, Knights’ Kingdom II characters also came in action figure form. Sold in canisters, these action figures dwarfed Minifigures.  This is Set #8770 (Jayko).  One of the Hero Knights, he had a hawk emblem.

 

 

In 2004, The LEGO Group replaced Knights’ Kingdom with Knights’ Kingdom II.  It featured knights with individual names in colorful armor who wielded colorful swords.  King Mathias ruled Morcia (undoubtedly named after the real Kingdom of Mercia, one of the Anglo-Saxon realms that merged to form the Kingdom of England).  His four Hero Knights – Sir Danju, Sir Santis, Sir Rascus, and Jayko (King Jayko in 2006) – fought the evil Lord Vladek.

King Mathias had a crowned lion emblem, Sir Danju had a wolf emblem, Sir Santis had a bear emblem, Sir Rascus had a monkey emblem, Jayko had a hawk emblem, and Lord Vladek had a scorpion emblem.  In addition to the regular Minifigures™ Knights’ Kingdom II characters also came in action figure form similar to LEGO® TECHNIC action figures introduced in 2000.  These action figures were sold in canisters such as Set #8795 (Lord Vladek).  This Lord Vladek action figure stood seven-and-a-half inches (or nineteen centimeters) tall, which would have dwarfed Lord Vladek (and other) Minifugures™.  Much more so than other LEGO® Castles product lines, Knights’ Kingdom II had a narrative. In 2004 and ‘05, Lord Vladek had an army of Shadow Knights whom he had magically enslaved.  The LEGO Group introduced a new kind of streamlined helmet (Part x1196) with Lord Valdek’s Shadow Knights.

At the start of the story, Lord Vladek, who had been an advisor to King Mathias, imprisoned his liege lord and told everyone Mathias had simply disappeared. The four Hero Knights strove to restore him to his throne. In 2005, after Lord Vladek escaped the dungeon, the Hero Knights had to travel from the Kingdom of Morcia to the neighboring Lost Kingdom of Ankoria, where Vladek had taken refuge and built a new army.  While King Mathias had the Heart of the Shield of Ages, Lord Vladek had the other pieces, which he intended to forge into a weapon called the Vlad-Mask.  The third and final year, Jayko – the youngest of the four Hero Knights from the first two years – had succeeded Mathias as King of Morcia.  He had to destroy the Vlad-Mask and re-forge the Shield of Ages.  In 2006, Lord Vladek relied on Rogue Knights led by Dracus.

Set # 8780 (Citadel of Orlan) from 2004 included the Guardian Minifigure™, who protected the Shield of Ages.  Set #8781 (Castle of Morcia) from 2004 recycled the base plate from King Leo’s Castle.  Set #8877 (Vladek’s Dark Fortress) from 2005 was also a small, hilltop castle, but it was black.  Set #8813 (Battle at the Pass) from 2006 was a castle gate.  It included Sir Kentis and four Valiant Knights loyal to King Jayko, Dracus and four Rogue Knights loyal to Lord Vladek, and a Skeleton Minifigures™.  Set #8823 (Mistlands Tower) from 2006 was a castle keep that included King Jayko, Lord Vladek, Sir Adric, Karzon, Blacksmith, and Skeleton Minifigures™.  Sir Adric was loyal to King Jayko.  Karzon was Lord Vladek’s weapons master and one of the Rogue Knights.  The Blacksmith was supposed to re-forge the Shield of Ages.

Despite the fact The LEGO Group had replaced the Knights’ Kingdom product line with the Knight’s Kingdom II product line in 2004, two years later, The LEGO Group released Set #10176.  According to Classic-Castle.com, this was a Shop At Home (The LEGO Group’s online store)[1] exclusive, and it was called “Royal King’s Castle” in the U.S. and “Classic Castle” in the U.K.  Both Brickset and Brickipedia call it “King’s Castle,” but Brickset noted it was also called “Royal King’s Castle.”  Brickset stated it was a recreation of Set #6090 from the Royal Knights product line and Set #6091/6098 from the Kinights’ Kingdom product line. According to Brickipedia, the version sold in LEGO Stores and LEGO Shop At Home had the Knights’ Kingdom II emblem on the box, yet that box contained figures and shields from Knights’ Kingdom.  It was as if some LEGO® Master Model Builder working in isolation designing castles had not gotten a memo about there being a new product line or some executive had discovered an old Knights’ Kingdom design that had not been used and decided to put it in limited production.  The castle defenders have lion shields.  The attackers are Bulls.  The set contains three kinds of swords, two of which are from Knight’s Kingdom II.  To further muddy the waters, the king has a wizard on site who looks like Majisto, the Dragon Masters leader from the 1990s.  One of the things that makes this castle notable architecturally speaking is that it has multiple turrets, which is unusual for a LEGO® castle design.  Whatever the cause of the confusion, the set was sold at Costco in 2008 (and possibly some other retailers around the world) as a “Special Edition,” according to Brickipedia. This phrase appeared on both on the box and the instructions, as one can see with sets speculators are selling on ebay.  In the case of the box, “Special Edition” appeared in place of the Knights’ Kingdom II emblem.  Brickset noted the re-packed version had an extra Minifigure™.  There are people trying to sell sets on ebay in new condition for between $250 and $470.

In 2007, The LEGO Group re-introduced the LEGO® Castle product line, only to replace it in 2010 with the LEGO® Kingdoms product line.  Both product lines were meant to be more realistic in depictions of Medieval Europe, yet retained features of high fantasy that included wizard Minifigures™ and dragons.  Further, The LEGO Group added Skeleton Warriors – probably inspired by Ray Harryhausen’s Dynamation skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts (1963) – and trolls and dwarves – probably inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), as well as Norse mythology, Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883), Tolkien’s friend C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), and Dungeons and Dragons (which was created by people who wanted to fantasize about living in Tolkien’s Middle-earth).[2]  A new kind of helmet with visor fixed in the close position was released with the Royal Lion Knight in the Kingdoms Set #7949 (Prison Carriage Rescue).  This is Part #89520, and like the helmets with moving visors it resembles a close helm.

The second iteration of LEGO® Castle had many high fantasy aspects.  LEGO® Kingdoms was a bit more rooted in reality as it pitted two human kingdoms against each other – the Lion Kingdom and the Dragon Kingdom – but whereas the Lion Kingdom was ruled by the Lion King, the Dragon Kingdom’s ruler was either a wizard or was un-depicted and a wizard served as his right hand.  The Crown King led the Crown Knights in the second version of LEGO® Castle, which fans sometimes call Fantasy Castle.  Like their king, the Crown Knights had crowns on their breastplates and shields.  A new kind of helmet with visor fixed in the close position was released with the Royal Lion Knight in the Kingdoms Set #7949 (Prison Carriage Rescue).  This is Part #89520, and like the helmets with moving visors it resembles a close helm.

The Dwarf King was the ally of the Crown King.   The biggest set of the Dwarves set was #7036 (Dwarves’ Mine). Lofar the Dwarf appeared in the direct-to-DVD movie LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers (2010).  The Crown King and Queen, Crown Knights, Dwarf King, and Dwarf appear in the video game LEGO Battles.  The enemies of the Crown King are the Evil Wizard and the Troll King.  The Evil Wizard, who rules the Barren Wastelands, is exclusive to the 2007 Set #7093 (Skeleton Tower), where he holds the Crown Princess prisoner.  He has a dragon and an army of skeletons.  The Troll King, an ally of the Evil Wizard, is exclusive to the 2009 Set #7097 (Trolls Mountain Fortress).  Both the Evil Wizard and the Troll King both appear in the video game LEGO Battles, as do a Troll Warrior, a Giant Troll, one of the Evil Wizard’s Skeleton Warriors, and an Armored Skeleton.  The Evil Wizard also appears as Mallock the Magician in Clutch Powers.

20Figure 3 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 2009, Medieval Market Village (Set #10193), was the most elaborate civilian set in the LEGO® Castle theme.  It featured an inn, stables, a blacksmith’s home and workshop with a waterwheel-driven hammer, and a marketplace with a food stall.

 

Set #10193 (Medieval Market Village) from 2009 was the most elaborate civilian set from any of the LEGO® Castle product lines.  It featured an inn, stables, a blacksmith’s home and workshop with a waterwheel-driven hammer, and a marketplace with a food stall.  The Minifigures™ were the Blacksmith, two Female Peasants, an Elderly Peasant, a Young Peasant, a Boy, and two Crown Knights (really foot soldiers).

Set #7094 (King’s Castle Siege) from 2007 had a large gray castle besieged by a horned evil Dragon that dwarfed dragons from the ‘90s, two Skeleton Warriors, a Black Skeleton Warrior, and a Skeleton Knight.  The defenders were the Crown King, Lead General, and four Crown Knights.  The Lead General was a knight who wore a three-piece helmet, but without plumage or any other object projecting from his helmet.  [The Gold Knight that came with Set #7079 (Drawbridge Defense) was the only other Crown Knight to have a helmet with a moving visor.]  In the King’s Castle Siege, the White Knight’s horse wore a kind of helmet that combined real-world chanfron (to protect a horse’s face) and criniere (segmented neck armor) as well as a caparison.  The four other supposed Crown Knights that came with the King’s Castle Siege set were really foot soldiers, two of whom wore kettle hats.  This castle’s gatehouse had a single-piece portcullis behind the drawbridge and a realistic chain for the drawbridge.  The main tower had a throne room and a treasury.

The 933-piece Set #7946-1 (King’s Castle) from 2010 was a large gray castle that belonged to the Lion Kingdom from the Kingdoms product line.  It had three tall towers and two short towers.  One of the tall corner towers had a catapult on top.  Four of the towers had familiar roofline with battlements, but one had a rare sloping roof.  The two-story gatehouse had a portcullis behind the drawbridge.  In addition, there was a two-story tower (with a small catapult) and a three-story tower in the back and two one-story towers in front that flanked the gatehouse.  This castle could open up.  It came with eight Minifigures™: the Lion King, two Glaive Lion Knights (really guardsmen) who wore kettle hats and were armed with halberd-type polearms; two Crossbow Lions Knights (really guards); one Spear Lion Knight (really a foot soldier) with a kettle hat; and one Crossbow Lion Knight (really a foot soldier).  The Lion King’s emblem was a lion without a crown.  One of the antagonists, the Elite Dragon Knight (the only one of three “Dragon Knights” to clearly be a knight) wore a great helm instead of the three-piece helmets of the late ‘90s.  The original list price was $99.  Speculators are now selling this through eBay for up to $275.

Set #7189 (Village Mill Raid), issued in 2011 as part pf the Kingdoms product line, was another detailed civilian set.  It included a barn and windmill and three peasants – Farmer, Milk Maid, and Stable Boy – who come under attack by three Dragon Knights (all three of whom are really foot soldiers).  The farm animals are a horse, two goats, a pig, and three chickens.  The gray horse is the first and so far only LEGO® horse to not be black, white, or brown.

21Figure 4 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: The most elaborate jousting set to date, Kingdoms Joust (Set #10223) from 2011 was an Exclusives set, aimed at children 12+ and adults, and likely would have been available only through LEGO Shop, LEGO Stores, and LEGOLAND shops.

 

 

Set #10223 (Kingdoms Joust) from 2011 was the most elaborate jousting set to date. This was an Exclusives set, meaning it was aimed at children twelve and above and adults, and would likely have been available first-hand only through the online LEGO Shop, LEGO Stores, and LEGOLAND shops.  It remained on shelves past the point when The LEGO Group phased out the LEGO® Kingdoms product line, but it is now a Retired Product.  Some retailers may still have it on shelves.  This set included the Lion King, Lion Queen, the Green Princess, a Lion Kingdom Nobleman, a Royal Lion Knight (wearing one of the stupid bowl-shaped helmets from the 1980s), a Falcon Knight (wearing a great helm), a Young Squire (really a peasant farmer with a pitchfork), and two Spear Lion Knights (really guardsmen).  The Falcon Knight notably carried a Black Falcons shield, harkening back to the 1980s.

22

Figure 5 Credits: Courtesy of The LEGO Group Caption: Issued in 2013, Set #70404 (King’s Castle) is a throwback.  One could attach the Gatehouse from Set #70402.  This set has The King, a White Knight, an archer, a crossbowman, and three Dragon Soldiers (one of which was actually a knight in a great helm).

 

 

In 2013, The LEGO Group replaced LEGO® Kingdoms with the re-introduction (for a third time) of the LEGO® Castle product line.  It drew on both real history and high fantasy.  The third iteration of LEGO ® Castle pitted Lion Knights against Dragon Soldiers.  The emblem of the Lions Knights was a head-on view of a crowned lion while the emblem of the Dragon Soldiers was a head-on view of a dragon’s head.  Some of the Dragon Soldiers wore the same streamlined helmets as those worn by the Shadow Knights in Kingdoms II. Lions Knights appeared in Middle Zealand and as Gallant Guards in Cloud Cuckoo Land in The LEGO Movie.[3]  Set #70404 (King’s Castle) from 2013 is a Retired product.  This is a large gray castle.  It features three towers, two of which are octagonal.  One of the four towers has a very small throne room.  One of the octagonal corner towers has a catapult on top.  The gatehouse has a portcullis behind the drawbridge.  This set has seven Minifigures™ – The King, a White Knight, a Lion Knight (really a guard archer) with a kettle hat, a Lion Knight (really a guard crossbowman),  and three Dragon Soldiers (one of which was actually a knight in a great helm).  The White Knight’s horse wore chanfron-criniere helmet as well as a caparison.  This castle does open up.  The Gatehouse from Set #70402 (The Gatehouse Raid) will attach to it if one wants to add a second gatehouse.

Set #70403 (Dragon Mountain) was a small black castle keep.  It included five Minifigures™ – the Princess, a Lion Knight, a Lion Knight guard (mislabeled a knight as well), the Dragon Wizard, and a Dragon Knight – as well as a Dragon.  The Dragon Wizard looked like a younger version of the Evil Wizard / Mallock the Magician from the second iteration of LEGO® Castle, with a black (rather than a white) beard to match his black hat, cape, and clothes.  The Dragon from Dragon Mountain was different in design from the dragons of the 1990s and considerably larger.  He was 4” (11 centimeters) high, 13” (35 centimeters) long, and 13” (33 centimeters) wide.  This makes it almost as big as Smaug the Dragon from LEGO® The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies™ Set #79018 (The Lonely Mountain) or LEGO® The Hobbit™ Set #5004261 (Ultimate Kit).[4]  Dragon Mountain came with a narrative.  The goal of the Lion Knight and foot soldier was to use a catapult and hand weapons to defeat the Dragon, Dragon Wizard, and Dragon Knight; rescue the Princess being held in the dungeon; seize the gold; and retrieve a potion from the Dragon Wizard’s lab.  The LEGO Group’s online store lists this set as a “Retired product.”

Until a few years ago, LEGO® Stores, LEGOLAND® gift shops, and other retailers still had two similar LEGO® Castles accessory packs on the shelves that were part of the 2013 Castle subtheme of LEGO® Castle.  The thirty-two-piece Set #850888 (LEGO® Castle Knights Accessory Set) and the forty-two-piece Set #850889 (LEGO® Castle Dragons Accessory Set), both released in 2014, which each had a retail list price of $14.99, are Retired Products.  Lego Wickia refers to them, respectively as the Lion Knight Battlepack and the Dragon Knight Battlepack.  The Lion Knight Battlepack consisted of a knight, an archer, two soldiers with polearms, and a treasure chest, while the Dragon Knight Battelpack consisted of a knight, three soldiers with polearms, and a small catapult. These sets were similar to the thirty-six piece Red Lion Knights Battlepack (Set #852921) and thirty-seven-piece Green Dragon Knight Battlepack (Set #852922), both released in 2010 as part of the 2010-2012 Kingdoms subtheme.  The Red Lion Knight Battlepack consisted of two knights, an archer, and two foot soldiers, one of whom was armed with a spear and one of whom was armed with a flail.  The Green Dragon Knight Battlepack consisted of two knights, an archer, and two foot soldiers, one of whom was armed with a polearm and one of whom was armed with a flail.

Set #70806 (Castle Cavalry) from The LEGO Movie product line, released in 2014, included three Minifigures™: Sir Starbrick, a Gallant Guard, and actress Sharon Shoehorn from the TV Show-within-a movie Where Are My Pants? The LEGO Group’s online store lists it as a “Retired product.”

Vintage Minifigures™

      A number of Castle Minifigures were re-issued as Vintage Minifigures.  As mentioned above, a Black Falcons foot soldier appeared in Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 3 (Set #852697) in 2009. The most recent appearance of the red-peach checkered shield emblem from 1978 was in 2009 on a foot soldier who came with Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 4 (Set #852752).  He had a black torso with red arms, black legs, and gray helmet with nose guard.  A Forestman was in Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 4 (Set #852752) from 2009. He had green torso with green arms and the coin purse on his belt printed on his chest first seen in 1989, green legs, and a brown hat with a red feather.  The Forestwoman Minifigure appeared in 2010 with Vintage Minifigure Collection, Volume 5 (Set #852769).

 

 

ENDNOTES

 

[1] The LEGO’s Group’s LEGO Shop At Home Service began as a catalogue retailer.  It is now known as LEGO Shop on http://www.Lego.com and offers digital catalogues.

[2] The LEGO Group would later use skeletal villains to comical effect.  The four-armed Samukai, his minion Nuckal, and the Skulkins  were villainous skeletons who served archvillain Lord Garmadon in the Ninjago product line The LEGO Group issued in 2011.  They appeared in the pilot and sporadic episodes of the ongoing Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, which began airing in 2011, and the video game LEGO Battles: Ninjago (2011).

[3] The name Middle Zealand is a mashup of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and New Zealand, where Peter Jackson filmed adaptations of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

[4] One critical difference is that the Dragon from Dragon Mountain was an authentic dragon design in that the creature has four legs and a pair of wings.  By comparison, the LEGO® designers who designed licensed toys based on Peter Jackson’s six The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films adapting Tolkien’s novels had to rely on costume and set designs from those films and Jackson’s Weta Digital people depicted Smaug not as a dragon, but a wyvern, which, as explained above, is a dragon-like creature that has wings instead of forelegs.

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