Last January, Lego promised that its 90th anniversary would be one to remember: The company revived one of its classic Lego themes (like Space, Castle and Pirates) with a new, adult-grade Lego set. agreed to do.
But it turns out we’re not getting just a nostalgia bomb today—the company has decided to bring back the classic space and the classic castle at the same time. First, Lego is revealing the Galaxy Explorer, a $100 upgraded version of the original iconic Lego spaceship that’s up for pre-order today. And second, it’s announcing the Lion Knights Castle, which — at $400 and 4,514 pieces — is the company’s most complex and impressive castle play to date.
For the past few days, I’ve been putting together high-resolution photos of each set, which you’ll find below, marveling at the details and hidden play features. But I didn’t need to do it myself: I got to talk to their lead designers Mike Sciaki (see also: Titanic, Saturn V, Aston Martin DB5) and Milan Madge (Space Shuttle Discovery, Pirates of Barracuda Bay, Central) . perk). I also got to talk to Niels Milne Pedersen, a 44-year veteran who co-created Lego Pirates and Forestman, worked on several classic space themes, and designed many of the most iconic forts, castles, and ships, including the Black Knight’s Castle. Royal Knights Castle I was lucky enough to have as a kid, and the legendary Black Seas Barracuda.
And I’ll be at a great loss if the new castle doesn’t outrun them all.
Trapdoor and Secret Passage. Rise-and-lower drawbridges and portcullis, now with hidden chains and counterweights, are built right into the set, rather than the exposed wires I had as a kid. The tower, the strongest looking yet from a Lego castle, is filled with arrow slits. A water wheel is designed for a grindstone so that the baker can grind the dough for his bread. a royal bedroom And arsenal full of armor And a dungeon And A small banquet hall and enough stairs and stairs to actually connect most of the levels. Lion Knights & Black Knights & Forestman & Mini-stable & an Ox & Cart & an outdoor food stand.
“We really wanted to evoke that feeling when you opened the catalog as a kid and you saw this vast landscape with a market village and farmers,” says Madge. As a result, the set has more than 20 minifigures, more than the largest Star Wars, Marvel, and sports sets.
oh and did I mention a crowned lady who is ruling the whole thing and Many Among these minifigs are females?!
But perhaps the most incredible part to me is how the whole set turns out. I wish I had a video to show you, because it took a second to wrap my mind with the still images around it – from the outside, it looks like an enclosed castle, even when the set is open, And when it’s off it doubles. As a thought exercise, take a look at the water cycle in the pictures above. Does the river flow next to the castle, or does the river flow through it? the answer is Both,
Designer Milan Madge says the enclosed/open design was the goal from the start. His team’s primary influences were the original yellow Lego castle from 1978, which similarly opened on hinges, and the 6086 Black Knights Castle with its asymmetrical, castle-on-a-hill design. “We wanted it to be something that you could play 360 degrees around it, we wanted it to be completely enclosed so you had walls on all sides.”
But Madge and Sayaki share a love of the 6066 camouflage outpost, the foresters’ hideout, and decide to hide inside the new castle as well as the delightful men and women. And when I say “inside”, I literally mean:
“If you’re on the drawbridge at the wrong time, you’re thrown into the dungeon, but the people of the jungle have a small system of caves to break you through—there’s a hidden network beneath the castle that you can only sort through.” to differentiate the models,” explains Madge.
“We discovered that there is only one place in the entire model that is not occupied by any sort of story,” he says. “Yeah, there’s very little free space down there, everything is being used for something,” Psiaki chimes in.
Speaking to Niels Milne Petersen, who designed many of the sets that inspired the new castle (including the Black Knight’s Castle and the Camouflage Outpost), I feel quite proud of the longest-lived LEGO designer—but perhaps a Teenage Jealousy is also designed for adult fans of Lego. What can its peers do on a budget?
“We always put so much in them that we had to take them out again,” says Pedersen. “The price points weren’t that high because people didn’t spend that much on toys in those days and that was always a concern for us.”
“It was just too much thought for kids because in those days, you know, grown-ups wouldn’t accept that they play with Lego, it’s a fairly new thing.”
He remembers how his original palace model had a blacksmith and a small kitchen before he had to remove them. Another had stairs leading up to the towers that were deemed too complicated and expensive – and they thought the kids would definitely care! “No, they didn’t, but they saw a building had a chimney and no chimney attached to the chimney. That’s exactly what they saw! Kids are funny like this sometimes – figures can just fly up to towers.” ”
Other things they had to go through in those days were catapults and trebuchets “because they were considered weapons,” but Lego designers slowly won the battle there. By 1989, he and the late Jens Nygaard Knudsen, creator of the Lego minifigure and Lego Space, had convinced higher-ups to allow a pirate captain with not only his distinctive face (instead of a smiley), but projectile shooting cannons. (though not in the United States), pistols and muskets, and a Skull and Bones pirate flag. They were all feuding with then-owner Godfried Kirk Christiansen, he says.
“The Jolly Roger…he really didn’t want me to put a skull on him, that was the limit, he didn’t want to see him.” He tried countless versions without, but it just didn’t seem right. “So Jens and I went to his private house one evening, we went for a cup of coffee and we had a long, long talk. In the end, he gave up and said yes, okay, make your skull on that flag but you It has to smile somehow.”
And he did. In 1995, they even let him drop a trebuchet: The Royal Knights Castle of my childhood, designed by Peterson, has a small rock flinger that you can flick with a finger.
These days, the former fisherman mostly makes new parts for Lego for sets from other designers. They have designed minifigures like the original skeleton and more recently Muppet Show Figures such as Kermit the Frog, as well as multipurpose elements such as the forestmen’s hat and feathers in the knight’s helmet – which they say were originally conceived as quills to catch minifigs. “In the old days, when you were going to make an element, it was demanded that you should anticipate that that element could be used for at least 10 years.”
The new Lion Knights Castle goes on sale on August 3rd for LEGO VIPs (it’s a free signup) and August 8th for everyone else. Which, oddly enough, means you won’t get the new One Hideaway set (a remake of Peterson Forestman’s Hideaway) for free with your purchase because it’s available until June 22. For now, here is one final image of the new palace.