Disney and the LEGO Group flirted with each other for years, but in 2014 officially tied the knot with a theme that has become an annual staple. With the release of two new castles this year, Brick Fanatics looks back at some of the other successes, and failures from the theme’s run so far
LEGO Disney has been running for four years, starting life as LEGO Disney Princess. Unsurprisingly, the lavish lifestyle of fairy tale royalty has proven inspirating for designers in Billund. 41154 Cinderella’s Dream Castle and 41152 Sleeping Beauty’s Fairytale Castle are the latest releases in what is likely to be a long line of large, Disney inspired palaces for the various princesses who have graced the screen over the many decades of animated flicks.
41154 Cinderella’s Dream Castle & 41152 Sleeping Beauty’s Fairytale Castle
It is nice that 2018 saw the LEGO Group release two proper castles available at the same time – 41154 Cinderella’s Dream Castle and 41152 Sleeping Beauty’s Fairytale Castle. Driven by the modular nature of the year’s range, these two castles have been made available together so that the various components could be combined together into the impressive super castle. They are both excellent sets, great for play and display all on their own with the added benefit of being able to become something greater than the sum of their individual sections. Half a decade of design lessons learned were not wasted on these models, as they are two of the best ever produced.
41062 Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle & 41148 Elsa’s Magical Ice Palace
Frozen is the most recent of the Disney blockbusters that will be added to the classic lineup, with Elsa and Anna forever joining the ranks of the legends like Cinderella and Belle. Due to much of the target audience actually having been alive when the film was released, Frozen has been a consistent centrepiece in the LEGO Group’s line-up, with more sets than any other film. This is also reflected in the fact that it has inspired three different castles, with two based on the exact same subject matter – Elsa’s ice palace built during the singing of the unforgettable Let It Go. The latest version, 41148 Elsa’s Magical Ice Palace, remains the largest of the Disney Princess sets and is far superior to its much less expensive predecessor, 41062 Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle, in every way. With a sequel in the works, and the LEGO Group releasing sets based on the short film Frozen Fever, it is a safe bet that we have not seen the last of products based on these characters.
41068 Arendelle Castle Celebration
Cashing in on Frozen to the extent that the LEGO Group has done so far has required some delicate dancing, as the source material is pretty thin to back up the number of sets released. Frozen Fever, the short film produced to try and keep the fervour up while Disney developed a proper sequel, was therefore a godsend. The LEGO Group took Anna’s birthday party as an excuse to release a large version of the palace as seen in both the film and short, featuring scenes from both. Despite being an obvious cash grab, 41068 Arendelle Castle Celebration was actually quite decent, contained a variety of useful parts and provided a lot of great play opportunities.
If 41068 Arendelle Castle Celebration was a hit, 2016’s other castle was the line’s greatest miss to date. The colours, Beast’s torso being all out of proportion, the fact that animate objects don’t really translate well into LEGO at this scale, the interior being weak all add up to 41067 Belle’s Enchanted Castle being a disappointing offering. Fans seemed to agree as it languished on store shelves for far too long – it may have even had excess parts recycled as those distinctive purple wall elements showed up in this year’s Cinderella’s Castle, potentially re-purposed after having been produced for Belle’s abode. 41067 is widely regarded as the weakest of the Disney Castles released to date.
41063 Ariel’s Undersea Palace
Despite being three decades old, The Little Mermaid is second only to Frozen in terms of the number of LEGO sets produced. This honestly baffles me. The ethics of that movie, specifically around consent are questionable at best, most of the characters make bad decisions, and modern tales like Frozen and Moana are much better. Yet the film persists in the brick with 41063 Ariel’s Undersea Palace being the largest of the sets based around it. Despite being one of the earlier Disney Princess sets, it nevertheless holds up, and includes the important characters of Sebastian and Flounder.
71040 The Disney Castle
Saving the best for last, the finest LEGO set in the entire Disney theme is based on the castle at the heart of Walt Disney World rather than any on-screen location. The Magic Kingdom centrepiece is based on Cinderella’s Castle, but has become its own icon that is used across the Disney company. In fact, the inclusion of Mickey and friends along with Tinker Bell in the LEGO set exemplifies how this fantasy location presents Disney as a whole rather than the hopping princess.
Thanks to a generous piece count and attention to detail, 71040 The Disney Castle is an extremely satisfying build experience. If a LEGO fan intends to buy just one Disney set, and has a shelf low enough to display it on, then this impressive, towering model is undoubtedly the one to go with.
Since it launches, Disney has become the supporting theme to Friends, expanding the lineup of sets targeted at young girls. The immense amount of source material designers have to work with likely means that many more princesses, and their castles, will be added to the fold in years to come. We have yet to see Tiana, Pocahontas or Snow White (outside of the Juniors theme), so let’s hope that some of these characters get a moment to shine.
What this list does show, is that when is comes to Disney castles, the LEGO Group has the right design team in place. Aside from one exception, all of these sets are well put together and one in particular is an absolute stand out, one of the greatest LEGO sets ever released. It seems that the sprinkling of Pixie dust has been enough to give the LEGO theme some of the Disney magic found on the big screen.
<em>41152 Sleeping Beauty’s Fairytale Castle and 41154 Cinderella’s Dream Castle were provided for this feature by the LEGO Group.</em>