Coming in at 4,514 pieces for £344.99 / $399.99 / €399.99, it’s fair to say the latest LEGO castle is already pushing the limits of what’s genuinely attainable for the vast majority of fans. It’s a price tag that goes beyond the pale for many, and means you’ll need to sink a good proportion of your LEGO budget into a single set to fully enjoy what is, admittedly, the most impressive LEGO Castle model to date.
But while you do, you can at least take solace in knowing that this is the cheaper and smaller version of 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle – because at one stage, the 90th-anniversary set was even more ambitious in scope and size, in an effort to properly reflect the scale of real-world fortresses.
“We looked at a lot of real castles but as soon as we started to look closely, we were like, ‘Okay, these things are enormous!’” LEGO designer Mike Psiaki told Metro. “The proportions of the courtyards and the tunnels, the staircases, and all of that. We built some bits, like some cool spiral staircases and other bits from real castles where we were like, ‘Oh, this would be so cool to put in.’
“And then we realised this would be 90% of the model, if we wanted to include this. Real castles are just way too big. So I think that’s where we focus much more on the details of real castles that we like, and then try to figure out how do we combine those all into something that’s actually a realistic size for a LEGO model?”
Aiming for that blend of LEGO realism and actual realism ultimately meant abandoning a couple of concepts the team had previously experimented with, including additional sections of the castle.
“We had a version originally where we had the curtain wall and outer bailey and stuff to kind of expand it,” designer Milan Madge added. “It was enormous. And [we were] like, ‘Where’s anyone [going to] put this?’”
“A lot of those old castle designs, especially in England and France, they really weren’t thinking about how it would be played with as a toy,” Mike said. “We wanted to do one of those entrances where you have multiple portcullises, and you can drop them down, and we built it but were like, ‘There’s no way to play with any of this!’
“And it’s also so long and deep that the model needs to become enormous. So there’s a lot of different factors, like just how big you make it, [and] we also wanted it to fit nicely on a shelf. Things like [that] forced our hand on a lot of decisions.”
As you may have already seen from our detailed review of 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle, the final model does still include much more than any other LEGO castle to date – from its functional portcullis and drawbridge to its 22 minifigures – and is very much worthy of headlining the LEGO Group’s 90th-anniversary celebrations.
You’ll be able to buy 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle from August 3 if you’re a VIP member, or August 8 if not. Signing up to the VIP program is totally free, though, and includes a whole host of benefits – such as early access to LEGO sets – so it’s absolutely worth joining if you haven’t already.