The Shadow Tower
If I had unlimited funds and unlimited storage space, I would undoubtedly buy every and all Elves sets I could get my hands on. It's such a beautiful theme, both in color and design style, and I very much wish that in between all my regular Superhero programming I could fit in some time for Lego Elves. That said, I have picked up a few Elves sets over the years, but the most notable one is the absolutely gorgeous 41180 Ragana's Magic Shadow Castle. The set used spectacular color selection (especially with the shades of lavender) and had this evil looming presence. Plus it had the awesome Ragana minidoll--and as a huge sucker for Lego Wizards/Witches/Sorcerers/etc. I just had to get a hold of her. An all around great set...if unfortunately a bit too small for my taste.
So for Brickworld Chicago 2017, I made it my fun task build my own version of Ragana's castle, using the official set as inspiration to build a much much larger tower for public display. Here are the results!
When I started the build, there were a number of key features I wanted to include and carry over from the set itself. The lavender rocks were a must, and one of the main reasons I was drawn to the set in the first place. Likewise, I love how evil villains use corporate branding, so I filled the build with the banners of Ragana. Windows were important too, but while the official set only had one main decorated window I incorporated many more than that...which meant I had to Bricklink a huge number of the set's sticker sheets, as there were only one window sticker per sheet. So if anyone is in the market for some forty slightly used sticker sheets...
To expand the character roster, I gave Ragana a number of cloven footed cyclopean guards, and for the defense of the castle (aside from Ragana's powers), I littered the place with swords, spears, and axes. The tower, like the set, also acts as a prison. There's a large hanging cage for special guests (like Elves), as well as a dungeon and torture workshop down below.
Clearly Cyclopes do not like taking pictures...
And of course I even included Jynx...although it looks like she's been put in timeout for some reason.
Now the other part of this build is that, like the set, I included an interior. For the record thought, the idea to include a giant staircase was in no way shaped by how dirt cheap magenta steps are on Bricklink...in no way... Any who, the tower has six levels, with one long--continuous--circular magenta stair case, allowing direct access between four of the levels, and imaginary access between two levels.
Looking at each level shows a different aspect of the tower. The lowest level, which is "below" the tower inside the rocky supports, is that of the dungeon and torture shop. Here, Ragana sends unlucky (or very lucky) minifigures from rival kingdoms to be tortured and jailed by Lashina--who I borrowed from the DC Girls line, because this is clearly why Lego made her.
The next level is the "ground" level and features the drawbridge entrance and the start of the staircase. It is (normally) guarded by a large blue Cyclops, and it has some interesting features such as a chandelier and an area where one can look through the jail-bar floor into the prisoner cell below.
The third level is rather militaristic as it features the interior armory and exterior barricades for defense. There's also a murder-hole which is positioned just in front of the main gates (just behind dragon head gargoyle). This level also features a viewing balcony, where Ragana or her guards can stand watch over prisoners in the cage.
The fourth level is a storehouse for Ragana's magical items such as potions and a telephone to call her friend Sauron so they can gossip about wizard things. This level features another balcony, one allowing access to the prisoner cage.
The fifth and final interior level is that of Ragana's personal chambers. I wanted to include more set styled things here, such as Ragana's bed, but unfortunately space started to become an issue (also timing, I didn't finish this until the day before the convention!) So instead, I added a captured dragon egg to top off the staircase, a mirror, more weapons, more balconies, and a portrait of Ragana. Also gold, precious Lego chrome gold.
The sixth and final level is that of the roof...which I'll be honest about was tough to pin down. I wasn't sure how I wanted the tower to end, as the official set somewhat unceremoniously just cuts off. So, I decided to add a large fire-pit for a cauldron that Ragana would use to create evil potions.
So all in all, the Shadow Tower was a fun build to construct--being both an expansion of a set I love as well as being way outside the realm of my normal builds (this isn't a brick figure!). Additionally of note, the Shadow Tower was nominated for Best Small Building at Brickworld Chicago 2017, which was a big surprise to me as that's always a loaded category--what with all the amazing buildings that show up for display each year. While it didn't win, I'm still very much happy with the building itself, and I'm now hoping to keep it alive for one year so I can display it again with a new companion building I want to construct, my version of 41188: Breakout from the Goblin King's Fortress. So...see you next year!