One of my vividest childhood memories is annually visiting out-of-state relatives and watching my Aunt haul a box of 1980s Lego pieces out of the basement to eager nephews and grandchildren. Though the collection was dusty and worn, it inspired endless creativity.
Accompanying the box were several instruction manuals, catalogs, and idea books which hinted at the potential of the pieces. Given my once-a-year access, I vigilantly studied these materials to remember and attempt to recreate the scenes at home. Through this effort that I came to love the Legoland castle theme of the 80s and 90s. There was something magical about the cute “smiley” faces and the implication that Legoland was largely happy and peaceful.
In recent years as I have taken a closer look at these nostalgic sets, a few questions have sprung to mind:
- What are the distinct factions in the Lego Castle theme?
- There are common definitions used by Lego fans today and even Lego themselves in a recent ideas poll but these do not match the original names
- What are the relationships between the different factions?
- What is the evolution of factions in Legoland, i.e. which factions transform or are wiped out?
This will the first in a series of posts addressing these questions.
Part I: The Factions of Lego Castle
My first inclination was to examine the original boxes and catalogs to see whether the factions were specified. Unfortunately, in most cases the sets are listed under unhelpfully broad themes such as LEGOLAND or System.
Another compelling option is to rely on Lego’s 2021 anniversary poll1 which listed several castle subthemes:
- Classic Castle
- Lion Knights
- Black Knights
- Dragon Knights
- Black Falcons
However, consider that this poll’s audience was primarily adult fans of Lego who rely on fan-made categorizations popularized by sites like Bricklink and Brickset. So the question remains - what were Lego’s true intentions for the names of these factions?
Based on evidence from set names, catalogs, and magazines, I have compiled my own list of what I believe to be the distinct factions in Lego Castle. I will provide as much evidence as I can for these faction names and call out where this deviates from popular naming conventions.
Most fans assume the Black Knights faction is named Black Falcons instead as there is a set named “Black Falcon’s Fortress”. However, I suspect this set was meant to be named after an individual leader within the Black Knights rather than the faction itself. Had it been named after the entire faction, it should have been spelled “Black Falcons’ Fortress”.
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