Was LEGO 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle a worthy flagship 90th-anniversary set?

Almost eight months out from its original launch, was LEGO Icons 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle a worthy flagship 90th-anniversary set?

The LEGO Group celebrated its 90th birthday in 2022 in plenty of ways, but few were bigger and more triumphant than the launch of 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle. The result of a LEGO Ideas poll to find the community’s favourite retro themes, the comeback of Classic Castle – which was one of four finalists alongside Classic Space, Pirates and BIONICLE – headlined a wave of 90th-anniversary products.

Those also include sets like 11021 90 Years of Play and 10497 Galaxy Explorer, but 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle is far and away the biggest and most expensive of them all, clocking in at 4,514 pieces for £344.99 / $399.99 / €399.99. That makes it not only the most part-intensive LEGO 90th-anniversary set, but also the biggest LEGO Castle set ever released, too.

Much hyped last summer and roundly celebrated at reveal and release, 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle was arguably the flagship LEGO set of 2022. At the time, we called it ‘pure LEGO nostalgia’ and ‘everything awesome about modern LEGO design’. But now – seven months and change on from its August 8 release, and with the entire 2022 portfolio in perspective – does the medieval marvel hold up as worthy of its crown in 2023? To find out, we’ve rebuilt our copy of 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle piece by piece for a second look at what makes this set great, where it perhaps doesn’t live up to its full potential, and whether – on balance – that adds up to a set that deserves its status in the LEGO 90th anniversary range.

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From the moment you crack open the shipping box from LEGO.com – or pluck it from a LEGO Store shelf – you know there’s something special about 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle, and that’s because it hasn’t arrived in a bleak black box. The colourful and wonderfully-retro packaging across the entire 90th-anniversary range distinguishes it from the rest of the LEGO line-up with flair, and the bright yellow box for the castle is no different.

For those fans old enough to remember picking up the original LEGO Castle sets in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it’s the first hint that 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle is designed specifically to pull those nostalgia strings. (It is an anniversary product, after all.) But if you’re sensible like us and recycle your boxes anyway, it’s what’s on the inside that counts – and there’s definitely a lot to love about 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle from a pure product perspective.

For instance: it’s massive. Measuring 45cm wide, 38cm tall and 30cm deep (when closed up), or a sprawling 80cm wide when hinged out, it will dominate your medieval display in either of its configurations. But one of those crucially takes up just a little less space, offering a dense build that won’t cannibalise an entire shelving unit. That kind of choice is important when the increasing size of LEGO sets outpaces our ability to move to bigger homes, which is… basically all the time.

What’s also impressive about those two configurations is how much thought has been put into making each one of them sing: spread out, 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle takes something of a dollhouse approach to its fully-furnished interior, with an ample assortment of varied and detailed rooms. It’s a style that will be familiar to those of us used to LEGO façades, only here it’s deliberately designed to be able to close into a single structure. (Or two – the castle splits in half for ease of transport.)

It’s actually a pretty difficult set to photograph when closed up, if only because there are so many nooks and crannies crammed into the castle’s layout that communicating its floor plan takes real effort. In person, that’s the beauty of 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle: nothing here feels formulaic, and it invites you to dream what else might be possible by adding your own pieces, or – for those with particularly deep pockets – a second copy of the set.

Helpfully, Rebrickable already has some good answers to that question, proving that 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle sits among the very best LEGO sets in encouraging the kind of creativity and imagination that made those original ‘70s and ‘80s castles so great.

What else? Well, it’s also packed with Easter eggs, details and fun things to spot: check out the underground meeting room squirrelled away between the two separating halves of the castle; or the prisoner locked up in the dungeon for just a little too long. (A skeleton. It’s a skeleton.) For younger fans who might get the opportunity to play with their parents’ copy, or are maybe the luckiest kids in town and get their own, it’s also got seemingly endless playability baked in.

From the secret entrance to the dungeons to the working drawbridge and portcullis, there’s a genuinely surprising amount of interactivity built into what is really a hulking structure of a set. Much of that also comes through the enormous roster of minifigures and animals, which act as near-perfect story starters (we can’t talk them all up – that wizard’s torso will forever demand printing), and give even adult fans a reason to tinker with the layout and presentation of 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle long after that last brick goes down.

Throw in a decent selection of animals, one or two civilians and a small army of knights, and there can be few complaints about the set’s character line-up – particularly as a 90th-anniversary set, given the wide number of Classic Castle factions represented in the box. (Lion Knights! Forestmen! Black Falcons! They’re all here!)

Is it perfect from a design perspective? No. Critics might argue that it lacks some of the more complex detail and texture of custom castle builds, which – for the price tag – you might have expected to be possible, let alone included, here. The walls rely heavily on masonry bricks to prevent them from being smooth grey lumps, but other options do exist, and it’s a shame the design team didn’t feel able to lean into them.

The ramp leading up to the castle, meanwhile, feels like something of an afterthought: it’s sloped to a degree that minifigures can’t actually be positioned on it (where are all the studs?), and is just a little too detached from the main structure in appearance. Again, there are solutions to that problem – and we’ll dive into one soon – but for the price the LEGO Group is asking for 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle, it’s a bit galling to have to add your own pieces to bring it up to scratch.

Which brings us neatly on to the price. 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle is very expensive. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good value, but it does mean that it’s not very accessible. And shouldn’t a set designed to celebrate 90 years of LEGO be more readily available to a wider audience?

Well, yes… but that’s what sets like 11021 90 Years of Play and 10497 Galaxy Explorer are for. And if you’re just interested in castles, there’s always 31120 Medieval Castle. 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle doesn’t sit in isolation within the LEGO portfolio, but as the flagship 90th-anniversary set, it deserves to pull out all the stops, going above and beyond the limitations of smaller sets to deliver something truly phenomenal for LEGO Castle fans – even if that means it’s one you really have to save up for. We can’t say that about every LEGO set.

And so on balance, 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle – like Thor holding aloft Mjolnir, or for a more grounded analogy, Arthur pulling the sword from the stone – is indeed very much worthy of its status as the flagship 90th-anniversary set. A true LEGO castle, constructed entirely from traditional elements (there are no big ugly rock pieces or prefabricated walls here), is something we’ve never seen before at this scale, and 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle delivers that while also honouring decades of retro sets.

10305 Lion Knights’ Castle is available now at LEGO.com and in LEGO Stores, and sits high in Brick Fanatics’ Top 20 LEGO Sets List. Check out our initial review of the LEGO Icons set here.

Lion Knights'�Castle(10305)

$399.99

This set was originally provided for review purposes by the LEGO Group.

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Author Profile

Chris Wharfe
I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then.

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