Origins: Breastplates

When you read the word knight, I would be willing to bet that the image which floats through your mind is one of an armour laden warrior brandishing a sword. A childhood friend of mine had a house decorated with all sorts of medieval fare, most prominently a full suit of armour in the front hall. Despite this enduring image, LEGO medieval warriors did not initially come with breastplates like they do today. This week in Origins, we look at when were they first introduced.


Breastplates have become much lot fancier in recent years; the NEXO KNIGHTS have taken armour to a whole new level with their extremely detailed outerwear. Far from being just armour, their outfits sport studs which allow for an incredible amount of customisation as demonstrated by the ultimate versions of the various characters.

Breastplates-1 Breastplates-2

Prior to NEXO KNIGHTS, and also alongside as the theme is still alive and well, NINJAGO carried the breastplate mantle. While not as ubiquitous as in straight Castle theme sets, breastplates can often be found adorning different figures. Many of the original skull warriors from teh first year, for example, sported brand new breastplate moulds. Of course Ninjas appeared in LEGO in the late 1990s, and at that time a new breastplate was included on the Shogun minifigure.

The late 1990s is closer to our Origins target. Going back, the number of themes shrinks to a fraction of the modern number. Opportunities for breastplates drop down to just Castle, and it is there at the dawn of that decade that the breastplate begins.


1990 brought several new Castle sets to shelves, which were the first to include the official breastplate mould that is still in use today, albeit with a lot more detail print. Prior to this date, armour was printed on a standard torso. The new component, along with multi-piece helmets and crests, brought a far greater deal of realism to the sets. I can distinctly remember the first time I saw them, I went home that evening with set 6035 Black Monarch’s Ghost having been absolutely captivated by the realism of the figure.





  1. anacardo

    I might be wrong, but if I remember (kid’s memory) one of the first set with breast plates was in fact the yellow castle 375 from 1978. It contained grey plastic breastplates to place between the main body and the heads and that could be then customized with special adhesive labels in order to match the two factions.

    • Daniel

      Your kid’s memory is not far off! There were indeed breastplates on the first knights in set 375. However, they were a different component that are first and foremost vests. Designated as part 3840 Minifig, Vest, this component was introduced at the same time as the minifigure and most recently saw use in 2011 on the minifgures in the Maersk Train set. The part I referenced was the first component that was designed specifically for use as a breastplate and not re-purposed. Thanks for the catch I should have been more clear!

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