Lego’s new $400 Lion Knights’ Citadel is a love letter to my childhood

Lego’s new $400 Lion Knights’ Castle is a love letter to my childhood

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Final January, Lego promised its ninetieth anniversary can be one to recollect: the corporate agreed to revive certainly one of its traditional Lego themes (like Area, Citadel, and Pirates) with a brand new, adult-grade Lego set.

But it surely seems we’re not simply getting one nostalgia bomb at the moment — the corporate has determined to deliver again traditional Area and traditional Citadel on the similar time. First, Lego is revealing the Galaxy Explorer, an upsized model of the unique iconic Lego spaceship that can go up for pre-order at the moment. And second, it’s asserting the Lion Knights’ Citadel, which — at $400 and 4,514 items — is definitely essentially the most intricate and spectacular fort playset the corporate’s ever produced.

To see extra in regards to the Lego Galaxy Explorer as a substitute, faucet right here.

For days now, I’ve been pouring over the high-resolution pictures of every set you’ll discover under, marveling over the main points and hidden play options. However I didn’t need to do it on my own: I additionally received to talk to their lead designers Mike Psiaki (additionally see: Titanic, Saturn V, Aston Martin DB5) and Milan Madge (Area Shuttle Discovery, Pirates of Barracuda Bay, Central Perk). I even received to talk to Niels Milan Pedersen, a 44-year veteran who co-created Lego Pirates and Forestmen, labored on many traditional Area themes, and designed most of the most iconic forts, castles, and ships together with the Black Knight’s Citadel, the Royal Knight’s Citadel I used to be fortunate sufficient to personal as a child, and the legendary Black Seas Barracuda.

And I’ll be damned if the brand new fort doesn’t outdo all of them.

Lots of rooms in the castle, including a royal bedchamber, banquet hall, granary, stables, dungeon, armory, and more.

You’re going to need to faucet and zoom and in any other case blow this as much as see every room.

Trapdoors and secret passages. Elevate-and-lower drawbridge and portcullis, now with hidden chains and counterweights constructed proper into the set, as a substitute of the uncovered strings I had as a child. Essentially the most fortified-looking towers from a Lego fort but, full with arrow slits. A waterwheel geared to a grindstone so the baker can grind flour for his bread. A royal bedchamber and an armory bristling with weaponry and a dungeon and a tiny banquet corridor and sufficient ladders and staircases to truly join a lot of the ranges. Lion Knights and Black Knights and Forestmen and mini-stables and an ox-and-cart and an out of doors meals stand.

“We actually needed to evoke the sensation you bought whenever you opened the catalog as a child and also you noticed this monumental panorama with the market village and the peasants,” says Madge. Consequently, the set has 20 minifigures, greater than all however the greatest Star Wars, Marvel, and sports activities units.

Oh, and did I point out a woman with a crown is ruling the entire thing and many of those minifigs are girls?!

Closed, the fort is 17.5 inches / 44.5cm large.
Picture: Lego

The drawbridge is hooked up to a counterweight that swings right into a hidden pit beneath.
Picture: Lego

However maybe essentially the most unimaginable half to me is how the entire set transforms. I want I had a video to point out you, as a result of it took a sec to wrap my thoughts round it with nonetheless pictures alone — from the skin, it appears to be like like an enclosed fort even when the set is swung open, and doubly so when it’s closed. As a thought train, check out the waterwheel within the photos above. Does the river circulate subsequent to the fort, or does the river run by it? The reply is each.

Inspirations embrace hinges from the unique Lego fort…
Picture: Lego by way of Brickset

…asymmetrical hilltop design and the half-timber lodge from Black Knight’s Citadel…
Picture: Lego by way of Brickset

…and the intelligent tree hideout from Camouflaged Outpost.
Picture: Lego by way of Brickset

One room inside the brand new set appears to pay homage to Daniel Krentz’ unique yellow fort.
Picture: Lego

Designer Milan Madge says the enclosed/open design was the aim from the beginning. His staff’s major influences have been the unique yellow Lego fort from 1978, which equally swung open on hinges, and the 6086 Black Knight’s Citadel with its asymmetrical, castle-on-a-hill design. “We would like this to be one thing you possibly can play 360 levels round it, we needed to make it absolutely enclosed so that you had partitions on each single facet.”

However Madge and Psiaki additionally shared a love of 6066 Camouflaged Outpost, the Forestmen’s hideout, and determined to cover the merry women and men inside the brand new fort too. And after I say “inside,” I imply it actually:

It took me a number of minutes to determine the place this room exists. It’s contained in the wall.

“If you happen to’re on the drawbridge on the mistaken time, you get thrown into the dungeon, however the forest males have a sneaky little system of caves to interrupt you out — there’s a hidden community beneath the fort which you’ll be able to solely discover by type of taking the mannequin aside,” explains Madge.

“We figured on the market’s just one spot in the entire mannequin that isn’t occupied by some form of story,” he provides. “Yeah, there’s little or no empty area beneath, every thing is getting used for one thing,” chimes in Psiaki.

Talking to Niels Milan Petersen, who designed most of the units that impressed the brand new fort (together with the Black Knight’s Citadel and Camouflaged Outpost), I get the sense the longest-tenured Lego designer is sort of proud — however possibly additionally a teensy bit jealous of what his fellows can do on a funds designed for grownup followers of Lego?

“We might at all times put a lot into them that we needed to take out once more,” says Pedersen. “The value factors weren’t so excessive as a result of folks didn’t spend a lot on toys in these days and that was at all times the priority for us.”

“It was rather more regarded as only for youngsters as a result of in these days, , grownups wouldn’t admit in the event that they performed with Lego, that’s fairly a brand new factor.”

The designers say you possibly can join as much as 100 of those units into a large fort (possibly at a con?) That’s most likely what the Technic holes on the perimeters are for.
Picture: Lego

He remembers how certainly one of his unique fort fashions had a blacksmith and a bit kitchen earlier than he needed to take away them. One other had staircases main as much as the towers that have been deemed too sophisticated and costly — and he thought youngsters would certainly care! “No, they didn’t, however they observed there was a chimney on one of many buildings and there was no fire related to the chimney. That was what they really observed! Children are typically humorous that means — the figures may simply fly as much as the towers.”

The opposite issues he needed to forgo in these days have been catapults and trebuchets “as a result of they have been thought of weapons,” however Lego designers slowly received the battle there. By 1989, he and the late Jens Nygaard Knudsen, creator of the Lego minifigure and Lego Area, had satisfied the higher-ups to permit not solely a pirate captain along with his personal distinct face (as a substitute of the smiley), however projectile capturing cannons (although not within the USA), pistols and muskets, and a cranium and bones pirate flag. All of these have been battles with then-owner Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, he says.

“The Jolly Roger… he actually didn’t need me to place a cranium on that, that was the restrict, he didn’t need to see that.” They tried numerous variations with out, nevertheless it didn’t look proper. “So Jens and I went over one night to his personal house, we went in for a cup of espresso and we talked an extended, very long time. Lastly, he gave in and mentioned yeah, okay, make your cranium on that flag however it’s a must to make it smile in some way.”

6090 Royal Knight’s Citadel. Discover the trebuchet just under the tower at higher proper.
Picture: Lego by way of Brickset

And so they did. In 1995, they let him depart a trebuchet in, too: my childhood Royal Knight’s Citadel, designed by Petersen, has a tiny rock flinger on the battlements you possibly can flick with one finger.

Lately, the previous fisherman largely sculpts new components for Lego for different designers’ units. He’s designed minifigures like the unique skeleton and extra just lately Muppet Present figures like Kermit the Frog, in addition to multipurpose components just like the feathers within the Forestmen’s hats and knight helmets — which he says have been initially conceived as quills for minifigs to carry, too. “Within the outdated days, whenever you have been going to make a component, it was demanded you must foresee that aspect might be used for at the least 10 years.”

The brand new Lion Knight’s Citadel goes on sale August third for Lego VIPs (it’s a free signup) and August eighth for everybody else. Which, unusually, means you most likely received’t get the brand new Forest Hideout set (a remake of Petersen’s Forestmen’s Hideout) totally free along with your buy because it’s accessible by June twenty second. For now, right here’s one final picture of the brand new fort.

Picture: Lego

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