There’s a lot of nostalgia amongst the adult LEGO community for the classic themes of the company’s past; particularly Space, Pirates, and Castle.
Whilst it’s unlikely that LEGO will ever produce another theme with a modernised take on the classics, they have released a few sets that clearly take inspiration from their origins, such as 70816 Benny’s Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! from The Lego Movie, and more recently the IDEAS set 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay and Creator’s 31109 Pirate Ship.
After the release of 21325 Medieval Blacksmith, the rumours of a new Castle set did the rounds, and it looks like the result is 31120 Medieval Castle! I’m not sure many of us were expecting it to turn up in the Creator 3-in-1 range, but we’ve ended up with three fantastic-looking Castle-inspired models that really do the theme justice.
As is standard with Creator sets, the focus is on the build rather than minifigures, so only three are included. They are fantastic figures, however!
The updated Black Falcons that made their return in 21325 Medieval Blacksmith are back. An older gentleman archer is accompanied by a female knight with a spear, and both are wearing a different style of helmet to those worn by the knights in 21325.
There are no dual expressions, and I’ve shown the heads rotated in the photos below to better show the face prints behind the helmets. Similarly to 21325, a shield is included with the Black Falcon insignia, and a second adorns the castle entrance, as you’ll see below.
The third minifigure is not a knight, but judging by the tatty clothing and dirty face, he is more of a peasant residing within or around the castle. He’s wearing a torn sleeveless blue-and-white striped vest with a belt, the print of which continues to the rear. This torso has only previously been available in 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay. His face sports a happy expression behind the unkempt beard, and he has scruffy orange hair.
The titular model of the 3-in-1 set is of course the castle itself. It’s constructed in three sections that clip together, and can be displayed in either a long line, or as a fully-enclosed castle.
The first section to be built is the fantastic-looking main entrance; a drawbridge over a small moat, flanked by two towers bearing red-and-white banners.
Built from the ground up across three of the nine numbered bags, it’s very satisfying to watch the castle take shape. The details around the moat include algae-covered walls (using various different shades of green bricks instead of the usual grey) vines and small rocks, mushrooms, and a tree.
Either side of the drawbridge is a pair of flaming torches, and a Black Falcon crest (one of the minifigure shields) takes pride of place above the entrance.
The towers are joined above the entrance by a wattle and daub building in a bright yellow—a reference to the much-loved 375 Castle, perhaps?
The yellow wattle and daub is repeated on the side of one of the towers for a small room that protrudes over the moat. Knowing the kinds of rooms LEGO seemingly must include in every building, and the period this model is set in, I think I can guess at the interior here…
The rear of the castle is kept open, leaving seven small rooms, only two of which include any detailing, unfortunately. The first of these is the toilet, as I surmised above! The medieval “hole in the floor” is represented by a 2×2 round tile with hole, and a white 1×1 round brick is included as a somewhat anachronistic roll of toilet paper.
The room above the entrance houses the drawbridge mechanism; turning an axle on the side of one of the towers raises and lowers it. In its most upright position, it doesn’t quite fit completely snug against the entrance, but is still quite effective.
The mechanism is simple; an axle runs through the centre to which the chains are attached, and as it rotates the chains are coiled around the axle and the drawbridge retracted. The teeth of a small gear in the centre of the axle fit into a bush on a lever, preventing the drawbridge from lowering until the lever is raised.
Completing this section of the build, the two towers are topped with crenellations, which use the pentagonal shields to great effect as architectural detailing on the front. Each tower holds a pole flying a blue flag, and a flaming torch. A large black bird is perched ominously on the corner of one.
A few more bags build up the next section of the castle; a small building atop the wall, with a water wheel attached. The castle walls are once again fairly detailed, with a mixture of dark grey, light grey, and greens, as well as masonry and palisade bricks to provide texture.
The moat continues, and a handful of trans-clear cheese slopes provide the illusion of moving water near the wheel. Around the corner, an archery target is attached to the wall, with a pair of chickens and a rooster clustered around. I hope they move before archery practice!
The building atop the wall is the same bright yellow wattle and daub as the front of the castle, and the chimney snaking up the wall to the roof looks fantastic.
Inside, the ground floor is the blacksmith or armoury, where the top half of a suit of armour is stood next to the furnace, and a sword is held in place on an anvil beneath a hammer. The water wheel is attached to a simple mechanism that raises the hammer and strikes the sword as the wheel is turned.
Steps lead up to the first floor battlements (if you can get past the mouse and his cheese,) and a chest of gold and jewels is hidden beneath them.
The small room above the blacksmith contains a cosy fire and an impressive red chair for the knights to relax in the warmth.
The third and final section of the castle is the tallest; a simple watchtower flying another of the Black Falcon’s blue flags. There’s no moat on this side of the castle; judging the water wheel, the moat is probably in fact the bend of a river into which the castle is nestled. I enjoyed the simple way in which the arrow slot windows are constructed (there are two in the main entrance and another here,) providing a narrow slit on the outer wall to protect against attackers, opening to a wider aperture internally.
Once again, the yellow wattle and daub is used to great effect around the watchtower, although there is very little detailing inside on either floor.
The ground floor beneath the battlements, however, contains a small bread and fruit stall with a colourful awning, and a prison cell is built into the base of the tower. Despite being so close to food, it appears the prison’s occupant may have been forgotten about quite some time ago!
It’s a shame, then, that they never realised they could have escaped simply by pushing on the cell’s side wall! It is only attached by two studs, and easily pops out for access inside. This theme continues into the first alternative build, as you’ll see later.
Connecting the models
Once built, the three models can be connected together with simple clips attaching to bars built into the opposing section. The water wheel section attaches to the left of the entrance:
…and the watchtower attaches to the right:
Although their attachment points are not hinged, the pieces they attach to on the front of the castle are. This allows the two sides to either be spread out (up to 90 degrees, forming one straight fascia) or angled inwards to complete a square courtyard.
When closed, the castle makes for a very dense, impressive looking build. The three sections have been very well-designed to fit together, with a walkway running around the full interior of the castle behind the battlements, and the crenellations line up perfectly where the sections connect.
If displayed horizontally, the model is impressively wide, with the two sections flanking the main entrance and the river running off to the side.
Inside, the walkways only connect when the castle is fully closed, but however it is displayed it looks fantastic.
Once the castle is built, however, we are not yet done! The final model to build is a dragon, a foe for the two Black Falcons to vanquish.
Constructed around a torso made primarily of ball joints, the dragon has two hind legs with clawed feet, two curved and clawed wings, and an articulated tail. It’s quite top heavy, which makes posing it fairly difficult.
As a 3-in-1 set, instructions are provided for two other similarly-themed sets, the first of which is a tall watchtower. Obviously this necessitated dismantling the main castle, which I was slightly loath to do, although it was an enjoyable build, so I will have that to look forward to again in the future.
The watchtower uses around three-quarters of the parts of the main set (at an eyeball; I didn’t count them) and instead of building out, builds up! With the flagpole on top, it reaches a height of 43cm, and has five stories. Constructing the walls is very similar to those of the main build, but it’s interesting to see the innovative use of the included parts to produce variety, such as the shields providing detailing to the roof.
The tower is connected to a bridge across the river, at the end of which are a pair of functioning heavy wooden doors leading inside to the first floor. Again, the mixture of greys and greens used in the walls, as well as the variety of plain and masonry bricks provide good detailing.
The second floor houses a large bird of some kind sitting on a perch, and the third has a telescope looking out of a window as well as a desk and a book. The top floor affords a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside through latticework windows.
The ground floor contains another jail cell, and as mentioned earlier, another escape mechanism is integrated here, by rotating the large mossy rock away and revealing a hole in the wall.
Also included with this alternative build is a fully working trebuchet! The archery target has even been attached to the barrel and repurposed, perched atop a simple stand ready to be knocked off.
The mechanism is a simple reconstruction of exactly what they would have used in medieval times—winding the winch pulls the level down, a 1×1 round brick can be inserted into the bucket, and when the winch is released, the counterweight flings the arm forward, launching the brick into the air. I played for quite a while attempting to knock the target off the stand, but it was surprisingly difficult!
After more dismantling, I put together the second alternative build. Here we have a small section of castle wall that bridges the river, a short turret, and a windmill. This is the smallest of the three builds, and most of the techniques used to construct the previous walls, battlements, and buildings are familiar. There’s a small food stall beneath the walls on the exterior of the castle, and an alternative red-and-white banner hangs from the tower.
The windmill is joined to an axle that passes through the roof of the small room, and can be turned hand with the spindle at the rear. This section of the wall is hinged, although when displayed at any other angle the door to the windmill room opens to a rather steep drop!
Of course there’s another jail cell, although this one doesn’t hide a secret escape mechanism, much to the disappointment of any future occupant, I’m sure. A chest is tucked away under the staircase, although the contents of this are less appealing than that in the primary build—but I’ll leave that as a surprise.
There are two smaller models also included; an armoury stall and a tree. The archery target has moved to the tree trunk, and the weapons and suit of armour previously being worked on in the castle blacksmith are now seemingly for sale.
You’ll need 3 copies of the set!
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that both the watchtower and the windmill builds include a clip and a bar at either end of the walls, in exactly the same place as all three sections of the main castle. They’ve presumably, been very cleverly designed to fit together as one much larger castle compound if multiple sets are purchased. Unfortunately we were only sent one copy to review!
The return of a castle-themed set (or line of sets) has been long awaited by fans of the original theme. I’d also be surprised if children nowadays are not still as enamoured with medieval castles, knights, battles, and dragons, as they were in the 70s when the eponymous 375 Castle was released.
This Creator set is a fantastic modern take on a decades-old theme, using the latest building techniques and available parts to great effect, with nods back to the original inspiration. Not only are there numerous play features involved (as there should be in a set from a theme that’s primarily aimed at children!) the models also look great on display. Although the main castle is the most impressive, all three builds are brilliant and the fact that they could all connect together if built at the same time is a bonus.
A few more knights wouldn’t go amiss, but as minifigures are generally not the selling point of a Creator set, I understand why they haven’t been included.
We’ve had some truly well-designed models in the Creator range recently, and this one is no different. I don’t yet know the price, but I suspect it will be fairly reasonable given the lack of licensed branding. Regardless, I highly recommend it, and if you can afford it, purchase more than one!
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for review. All opinions expressed are my own.