LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle review – a modern slice of nostalgia

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle combines nostalgia for a classic theme with modern parts and techniques – with practically perfect results.

Ask any LEGO fan of a certain age what some of their favourite childhood LEGO memories were, and you can bet the LEGO Castle theme is mentioned. LEGO Castle has been a long-running favourite since the first ‘Yellow Castle’ (375 Castle) was introduced in 1978.

The theme’s popularity exploded during the mid-1980s, when castles began to look more realistic, more varied knights were introduced (such as archers and mounted knights), different factions like the Black Falcons and Forestmen came on to the scene, and the theme expanded beyond fortress walls to create an entire medieval world. 

While we shouldn’t expect a return to LEGO Castle on a larger scale any time soon, the Creator 3-in-1 theme has become a spiritual home for retro themes, offering both old fans a healthy slice of nostalgia and new fans an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about. Last year’s 31109 Pirate Ship proved to be an incredibly popular way of revisiting a classic theme, so will 31120 Medieval Castle be able to tap into the same magic formula?

— Set details —

Theme: Creator 3-in-1 Set name: 31120 Medieval Castle Release: June 1, 2021

Price: £89.99 / $99.99 / €99.99 Pieces: 1,426 Minifigures: 4

LEGO: Available now

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— Build —

If you’re unfamiliar with the Creator 3-in-1 subtheme (and with all those tempting licensed sets vying for your attention, nobody could blame you), these are sets that offer up three models, all built using the same bricks – but only one model can be built at a time. In 31120 Medieval Castle, the main model is an impressive fortress, complete with a waterwheel, throne, prison cell, towers and drawbridge (what castle would be complete without one?). The second model is a tower with working trebuchet, and the final model is a medieval marketplace with working windmill. 

Building LEGO castles is a memory that LEGO fans of a certain vintage will look back on fondly. They were always a joy to construct, while the final model looked imposing and – for the time – was always one of the largest models in a collection. Feelings of nostalgia are never far away during this build, from the moment the updated Black Falcon knight drops out of the first bag armed with a classic bow and arrow, to the way the castle hinges out on either side.

Looking back on those classic Castle sets now – and with 31120 Medieval Castle in hand – it’s clear how much the LEGO Group has progressed in terms of parts available, techniques and expectations, and that’s one of the reasons this set really shines. It has all the makings of a classic Castle set, but one that is so very clearly modern.

For those with a keen sense of LEGO history, it’s evident early on that the inspiration for 31120 Medieval Castle has come from 1986’s classic 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress. The vintage fortress featured two large towers at the front, with a yellow and black building towards the back. Using that design as a template, everything here has been added to and enhanced.

The designers have mixed up the colour palette and moved away from a castle that is predominantly a single shade of grey, which creates a lot more interest and authenticity. The way the dark and sand coloured greens are mixed amongst the lower layers of the castle is excellent, creating a sense of moss and algae growing up the sides. It really enhances the look of the finished castle and is a very welcome update. Brick-built mushrooms and a small tree help to add even more detail.

The sides of the castle, windows, battlements, drawbridge and towers have also all been massively improved thanks to new techniques and parts. Castles of old would have used a single wall piece with a moulded gap for the arrowslit, but here the same design is achieved using a number of bricks, with the arrowslit built from 1×2 tiles that slant inwards. It’s not only a clever design, but looks incredibly accurate, too.

The two towers at the front that make up the castle barbican are wonderful sub-assemblies, using pentagonal tiles for the battlements along the ramparts, and the technique employed for the drawbridge is very smart. Two long chains are connected to the lower ends of the drawbridge and a Technic axle that sits at the top of the entranceway.

This is then connected to a Technic axle with four bars that sits on the side of the wall. Turning the axle raises and lowers the drawbridge. It’s a neat little play feature that again represents a significant update on castles of old, which used string and were quite fiddly to operate and construct.

What is quite amazing is that within fewer than half the bags, the whole thing has already taken shape – so much so that if the build were to finish there, you’d be left with a very decent representation of an updated 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress. It really shouldn’t be taken for granted the size and level of detail that has gone into the final model.

Each side of the castle is equally as enjoyable to construct. One side features a throne room, blacksmith’s workshop and a water wheel. The water wheel is connected to the blacksmith’s hammer, and when turned it strikes the anvil – it’s a neat touch, and an unexpected play feature that works perfectly.

The interior sections are where the set really starts to feel like it’s been designed in the modern era. The various rooms themselves aren’t that large, but are still crammed with detail. A very decent brick-built chair can be found above the blacksmith’s workshop, and below in the workshop itself there’s the hammer and anvil, a fireplace, suit of armour on display and even a hidden treasure chest.

The other side of the castle comprises a small marketplace, a dungeon and a wooden tower. The small marketplace is very evocative with a red and dark red awning (made from 1×4 curved slopes), while the dungeon houses a skeleton and has a detachable wall for access. Again, the tower looks incredibly authentic and successfully captures the look of a medieval period. 

As is quite common within the Creator 3-in-1 theme, brick-built animals are included rather than specific moulds. The raven that sits on the top of the castle is by far the weakest, looking oversized and a little messy. The mouse in the blacksmith’s workshop is excellent, though – it’s incredibly simple, but is a really neat little representation.

The chickens and rooster are also brilliant little builds, and the same technique is used for the weather vane that sits atop the watermill. The dragon, however, is an utter joy to construct. Built in sections that connect with ball and socket joints, the beast looks incredible and has so much articulation that options for poses are almost limitless. It really is a fantastic design.

When all the parts are placed together, it makes for a very impressive and highly-detailed castle, and a real modern update of a vintage classic. It’s packed full of details, has plenty going on both inside and out, and has a wealth of brilliantly-designed and well-executed play features. The sides and front clip together via hinges, so the castle can fold out to make one long structure or be folded in to form one large building.

It’s such an entertaining build and wonderful model that it is difficult to take apart to see what the other two models in 31120 Medieval Castle have to offer. But that really is one of the selling points of a Creator 3-in-1 set: learning what can be achieved using just the same set of bricks.

The tower retains a lot of the architectural features of the period, and as a result feels like a similar build to the castle in places, such as the windows and turrets. Other areas employ new techniques, though, including the excellent dragon head gargoyles that decorate the walls, the small alchemist’s desk that sits in the third floor, and the telescope that’s at the top of the tower.

The standout feature is the prison cell wall that is constructed as an angular sub-assembly, which then connects to the tower through a ball and socket joint. This allows it to ‘break free’ from the tower, exposing a large, gaping hole from which prisoners can presumably escape.

The shaping in places is excellent. The arches used for the water wheels are transformed into a curved window, high up in the tower, and are very effective, while the dark blue slopes used across the top of the tower look great. The small steps and bridge that cross a small body of water leading up to the tower’s entrance are also brilliant, and really add to the overall look of the finished model.

Where the main castle feels like a well-kept building, with its marketplace and water wheel and blacksmith’s workshop, the tower feels conversely dilapidated in places, with broken windows, smashed walls and growing foliage around the outsides. It’s very evocative of an old wizard or crazy alchemist’s hideaway – no doubt sparking the imagination of younger builders eager to play out their medieval fantasies.

The final model in 31120 Medieval Castle feels like an amalgamation of the previous two. There’s a medieval market setting with an armoury stall and small bakery, a small tower (sharing the same design as the previous two models), a working windmill and a small tree with a target – presumably for archery practice, in a nod to a similar feature in this year’s 21325 Medieval Blacksmith.

The tower, market stall and windmill are all hinged separately, which allows for a number of different configurations, and with the accompanying tree and armoury even more options of display and play are possible. It’s actually the most versatile build of the three. It creates a wonderful little scene, very reminiscent of an old-world medieval town, and uses the fewest bricks – so there’s scope to add even more side builds.

As with most Creator sets, the main model is definitely the most impressive and most enjoyable to put together, but the other two are still worth putting together. That said, the builds in this set aren’t the most varied – especially compared to something like 31109 Pirate Ship, where the three models felt very different from one another. In 31120 Medieval Castle, all three builds feel more like they all belong within the same larger complex.

Indeed, if you were to purchase three copies, you could make a very impressive castle with towers, catapults, markets and windmills ,all within the same area. But if you’re not inclined to buy three of the same set (let’s face it, not all of us are made of money), there’s still a lot of joy to be had from this – especially if you’re looking for a nostalgia fix.

— Characters —

There are three minifigures included in 31120 Medieval Castle, or four if you count the skeleton. Defending the castle (or attacking the tower) are two wonderfully updated Black Falcon knights, one male and one female (not entirely accurate to the time, but a whole lot more inclusive, so we’re not complaining). 

While they share the same shield motif on their torso as their vintage counterparts, the printing – as expected – features a lot more detail, with chain mail around the neck and creases around the front and back. The blue tunic design continues on to the legs, with more chainmail detail also included. They blend vintage and modern designs superbly, mirroring the minifigures included in 21325 Medieval Blacksmith.

The other minifigure also has shades of a vintage theme about him, but rather than coming from the Castle theme, this figure feels like he’s stepped out of a classic Pirates set, dressed in a tattered vest with plain black trousers. The face is a common piece seen most frequently in LEGO CITY sets (usually representing a firefighter or garbage man).

It’s a decent enough minifigure, and there are a number of different configurations suggested for him, but when the rest of the set is so authentic this minifigure really stands out and feels completely out of place. Perhaps a representation of a king or wizard or maiden would have been more suitable. 

— Price —

Creator 3-in-1 sets are probably the best value LEGO that’s currently on the market, and this set is no exception. The main castle is such an enjoyable build and magnificent model that it’s worth the full price alone, but the other two builds are impressive too. The tower is interesting with plenty of hidden secrets, and the medieval marketplace offers up a tonne of play possibilities. Each build would make a decent set in its own right, so with that in consideration this is simply incredible value for money.

— Pictures —

— Summary —

Castle is one of the LEGO Group’s most enduring themes – even if it has taken extended leaves of absence over the years – and lifelong LEGO fans will no doubt own at least one vintage castle set. 31120 Medieval Castle not only offers a fabulous way to update those retro builds, but with the additional models it also presents an opportunity to add more modern buildings to any beloved vintage collection, and gives newer fans a chance to add even more era-appropriate buildings next to 21325 Medieval Blacksmith.

It’s rare that all three models in a Creator 3-in-1 set are of such a high quality, making it difficult to choose which to keep constructed, and with so many possibilities 31120 Medieval Castle is one of the most versatile Creator sets yet. Older fans will love the nostalgia this set offers, and new fans will just enjoy the process, as it’s a highly pleasurable building experience. The value proposition is also quite extraordinary, and those looking for a set that offers longevity will find it here in spades.

In short, 31120 Medieval Castle is an absolutely brilliant set, so stop reading this review and go buy it. You won’t regret it.

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This set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.

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— FAQs —

How long does it take to build LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle?

Completing the main build for 31120 Medieval Castle will probably take around four hours. If you’re interested in building the other two models, it’ll take roughly half an hour to part out the castle, and two hours each for either alternate build (plus the additional time needed to take apart the models again).

How many pieces are in LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle?

31120 Medieval Castle contains 1,436 pieces. All the elements are needed for the main castle build, whereas the tower and market scene require only a portion of those pieces, with the marketplace using the fewest parts out of all three builds. 

How big is LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle?

The main build for 31120 Medieval Castle measures 26cm high, 31cm wide and 28cm deep. The tower is taller than the castle, but not as wide. The marketplace is the smallest of the three. 

How much does LEGO Creator 3-in-1 31120 Medieval Castle cost?

31120 Medieval Castle costs £89.99 in the UK, $99.99 in the US and from €99.99 across Europe. Considering all three models are excellent, both in terms of the build and the play and display options offered, it really is fantastic value for money.

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