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Rufus's 375 Yellow Castle Restoration Project


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#1 Rufus

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 08:29 PM

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Rufus's 375 Yellow Castle Restoration Project


I think I was six when I was delighted to receive this awesome set for my birthday.  Widely acknowledged as one of THE classic sets, the Yellow Castle was released in 1978 and signified the start of a long and glorious relationship between LEGO and all things Castle, bringing with it a whole range of new tools and accessories for another of that year's innovations, the minifigure.  By today's standards, the set is very basic: the horses are brick-built; the figures have generic smiley faces, and their torsos uniformly coloured and unprinted; the castle itself contains no large pre-fabricated parts and is, well, yellow :look: .   Why the designers chose yellow is unclear - grey bricks also started to appear in quantity in 1978, with the advent of Classic Space - but there's something strangely appealing about this huge bright yellow edifice that might have been lost had it been a uniform dull grey.

I have no idea how much this set cost back in 1980, or whenever I received it, but I seem to remember that larger sets (such as the 497/928 Galaxy Explorer/Space Cruiser) were in the region of £20, which might also apply to this set.  For 767 pieces and fourteen minifigures that price seems such a bargain by today's standards.   What I do remember clearly is that I had such fun with this little set, fighting battles and jousting tournaments, or rebuilding the castle into various other castle designs, that whatever the original price certainly made this set excellent value for money.

When I finally rescued my childhood LEGO from my sister's house, I was over the moon to discover that I'd kept the box, though the parts were all jumbled with the rest of my collection.  I vowed one day to resurrect the set, and try to get back to a respectable condition.  Now that journey will finally begin.


Goals and self-imposed rules

With this set containing mostly 'basic' parts, it would be all to easy simply to replace most of the pieces with new ones.  I don't want to do that, so I've decided that, as far as possible, I will use the original pieces from the set, where they could be identified from others in my old collection.   However, I do want to replace the stickers, if possible, as they haven't aged well.

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Here's the plan of action:

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We'll begin very soon with the box.  Feel free to comment as I go!

#2 K-Nut

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 09:21 PM

This is very interesting, as this set is one of few in mystery to me. I'll be watching this closely. Good luck!
My Collection

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#3 1974

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 09:58 PM

Rufus said:

.. the castle itself contains no large pre-fabricated parts and is, well, yellow. Why the designers chose yellow is unclear - grey bricks also started to appear in quantity in 1978, with the advent of Classic Space

Classic Space hit Europe in 1979 I think? And the (old light)grey bricks were in limited numbers anyway. The hinges appeared in 1979 with set #894 .. still no large number of grey bricks. I'm quite sure the castle was designed earlier than than. TLC had to make new molds for swords, helmets and what not

Good luck with the restoration!  :classic:

It's a classic piece which I tried to make many times .. but then 1984 came  :wink:

Also, it's easy to see this became the blueprint for many future castles .. you can almost see the 2X5X6 with window pieces (#4444) in that castle!

I'd do it again in grey but keeping the arches and the slopes (#3684 & #3685) in yellow and the bridge in brown. That would look awesome!

(Note to self : Don't go to Bricklink looking for #345  :sick: )

Bummer .. I did

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1700USD!

(Note to self : Must find new hobby)

Edited by 1974, 16 October 2011 - 09:58 PM.

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#4 Rufus

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:11 PM

Thanks for the early responses!

 1974, on 16 October 2011 - 09:58 PM, said:

Classic Space hit Europe in 1979 I think? And the (old light)grey bricks were in limited numbers anyway. The hinges appeared in 1979 with set #894 .. still no large number of grey bricks. I'm quite sure the castle was designed earlier than than. TLC had to make new molds for swords, helmets and what not
There were a few Classic Space sets available in 1978, most of which had a whole bunch of grey parts.  And if they went to the trouble of making a load of new minifig accessories in grey, you'd think they could have made some grey bricks.  My guess is they built the prototype in Yellow and stuck with it, and I'm kinda glad they did :classic:

 1974, on 16 October 2011 - 09:58 PM, said:

(Note to self : Don't go to Bricklink looking for #345  :sick: )
1700USD!
Yeah, I can't imagine there are many MISB copies of this set doing the rounds, so I'm not surprised at the price!

#5 1974

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Posted 16 October 2011 - 10:16 PM

Hmm, I can't find any Classic Space before 1979 in (euro) catalogues on peeron? I was only five at the time so my memory may be a little fuzzy  :tongue:

Anyway, it's easy to make any standard brick in a new colour but making a new mold takes time. The #345 hat many new molds, probably predating Classic Space?

(Edit : What you say makes sense. I do not. I still think #345 seems very 'old' .. like it's an ancient idea that came to life along, but not with, Classic Space)

Has anyone done an exact replica in (whatever)grey?

Edited by 1974, 16 October 2011 - 10:19 PM.

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#6 fyrmedhatt

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 12:05 AM

Great project, I think it's an admirable goal to take the most classic of all castle sets and restore it back to its former glory, this was the template for all castle sets, so it's easily one of the most important sets in Lego's history.

The yellow color might not be as out of place as many seem to think, covering the walls medieval stone masonry with chalk was quite common, and would normally make the buildings white, and I would not be surprised if additives/paint could make the buildings yellow/tan as well. If not maintained, the chalk would peal off, leaving the grey color of stone that we see in most medieval buildings today. A famous monastery on a small island outside my hometown in Norway (Utstein Kloster) was restored from it's grey stone walls to a more authentic white chalk surface finish (Old look and new look). Many other old buildings in Europe that are a little newer than from the medieval still sport a tan/white color, just look at the various royal palaces.

I really like that you are using the authentic pieces from the time period, I find that Lego bricks from different time periods has a distinct feel to them, something which I assume can be attributed to modifications in clutch as well as aging. I'll advise you to go look on Bricklink, I know there are sellers there that sell yellow pieces sourced straight from the yellow castle, at a slight premium, but at least you'll know they are the real deal.

#7 Rick

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 07:26 AM

 Rufus, on 16 October 2011 - 10:11 PM, said:

There were a few Classic Space sets available in 1978, most of which had a whole bunch of grey parts.  And if they went to the trouble of making a load of new minifig accessories in grey, you'd think they could have made some grey bricks.  My guess is they built the prototype in Yellow and stuck with it, and I'm kinda glad they did :classic:
There may have been another reason. LEGO may have wanted to stick to the use of primary colours as their main colours. I always thought that was the reason they used a limited amount of grey and even brown or green in sets, including town. Green was mainly used for base plates and vegetation throughout the 1980s town sets and the only brown I remember are minifig brooms. You could ask the same question for those colours: why not make bricks and plates in those colours if you use the colours nonetheless? You still see mainly primary colours being used in today's City sets, with dark-tones only very recently being introduced and used rather sparsely so far. When they finally decided to release a full-swing castle line they must have realised it looked unrealistic to use only primary colours for castles.

But, I like the idea for this project and I will certainly be following along. :sweet:

#8 Rufus

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Posted 17 October 2011 - 08:26 PM

Chapter One:  The Box

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You've got to love this box art.  The front cover contains nothing but the set number, the LEGO Logo and a beautiful picture of the castle with a stream of knights arriving.  Even the blurred background looks great, in these pre-Photoshop days.  I'm especially pleased that the colours of this fantastic box cover have retained their vibrance, despite thirty years in a leaky attic.  Photography has been kind to my box, but really the years haven't: there is some water-staining, most apparent at the bottom right, and the whole box cover is quite badly warped in places; prior to taking this photograph I removed a think layer of dust and grime from the front.

I remember that for many years this box was used to store random LEGO pieces from my childhood collection; at some point, possibly whilst moving from the old family home in the 1990s, I put all the yellow pieces in here, which has made my task here a little easier, at least.  The trouble is, I didn't really care enough about the box itself, and it has suffered extremes of temperature in the attic, whilst heavy items were dumped unceremoniously on top of it.  Still, it's surprisingly sturdy, and for all the lack of care it hasn't come off too badly.


The back, protected somewhat from the worst atrocities that have befallen the box, has come through relatively unscathed:  

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The large picture at the bottom looks almost as good as new, whilst the top edge shows considerable water damage.  Those were the days of multiple alternative builds festooned around the box, and you have to admire the variety of castle structures on display - I particularly like the multi-tiered, opening keep design at the top right, which includes a cellar, a main hall and even stairs (sadly lacking in the primary model).

Note also the design of the five primary colours of LEGO at the top right hand corner, which lends credibility to Rick's theory about why the castle is yellow; nowadays, LEGO's colour palette is considerably larger than this, but those five colours live on today in the logo for Chicago's Brickworld event (albeit in a different order).


The wonderful pictures continue around the sides of the box.  The bottom contains, alongside the once-familiar language lesson, a parade of the fourteen figures:

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This view betrays the worst of the damage suffered by my poor box - a large crease, caused possibly by something heavy placed atop, possibly by an Adult Foot (the usual scourge of little Rufus's LEGO - many a now rare piece was broken irrepairably by being crushed mercilessly this way :sadnew: ).


Much water damage is evident on the right-hand side, causing a nasty rippling ...

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... but still this alternatively-angled shot of the principal model has retained its colours amazingly well :wub:


One sorry loss to the world of LEGO in recent years is their packaging.  Back in the day, there was such magic in being able to lift the lid of the box and espy all the glorious parts in their MISB nirvana, and I'm sure this helped to shift a great number of sets off the shelf.  Also a traditional feature on lifting the lid was the 'kid playing with the set' picture, now an amusing barometer for the fashions of the time:

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Here we have late-70s kid, sporting a wide-collared shirt (with epaulettes!  :laugh: ) and nascent Luke Skywalker hairdo, who appears to be enacting the talking down of a suicidal squire by his knight.  Clearly the drama was important enough to have interrupted the construction of the castle (and, indeed, the placement of the stickers).  Other insets depict further additions to the range of castle designs, all intriguing but impossible for your average six-year-old to replicate without instructions (even at a young age I, ever the purist, was uncomfortable about the use of a baseplate as a ramp in the bottom picture :blush: ).

Once, a transparent plastic sheet - stuck down to the squarish markings around the tray - protected the sealed polybags from spilling out into the shop.  Mine has long-since gone.  I've spared you the horror of chewed and dirty LEGO which greeted me when I lifted the lid of the box this time round.  Instead, I've amassed all the possible castle-pieces I could find, prior to a thorough sort:

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Some parts from 383 Knights' Tournament have crept in here.  The box is constructed from a printed cardboard surround glued onto a polystyrene base, in which sits a thin grey plastic insert with four compartments; ideal for storage of LEGO but a disadvantage for those who like to flatpack their boxes for longevity.  

As you can see, I've already made a start on sorting the pieces; the horses were built temporarily to ensure I had the right parts.   I'll go through the inventory in detail in the next instalment.


The Instructions

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My instruction manual was stored separately and has fared rather better than the box.  For such a large set, its manual is small and surprisingly thin - whilst LEGO's early packaging might be admired, instructions from the 70s and 80s were comparatively basic.  Here the box front picture is repeated, but you might notice  that the backdrop here hasn't been tampered with.  A large, well-defined crease down the centre betrays that this booklet was supplied folded in half, presumably in order to fit inside one of the compartments of the box.


There was no attempt to make life easy for 70s KFOLs - each step requires placement of many bricks.  Piece call-outs began to appear around this time in Technic sets, and in 1979's 497/928 Galaxy Explorer, but it's back to basics for the Yellow Castle.

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In the left-hand frame, you can see that we're only at step 9 but already most of the main castle structure is complete, with only sub-builds for the towers and drawbridge to complete the building.  Oh, and there's a little arrow to indicate the direction in which to read a book :laugh: .


Further images adorn the rear:

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Yet another castle design!  :cry_happy:  Actually, no, this one also appeared on the box lid, albeit from a different angle, and in front of a backdrop that bears a suspicious resemblance to Jabba the Hutt.  At least we can study it from up close if we decide to build it!  The alternative castle, that is, not Jabba :snicker: .



Thanks for reading along; I hope you're enjoying it!  Once more, feel free to comment :sweet: .  Larger pictures on flickr :drool:  Next up: Inventory, Inspection and Quality Control :look:

#9 Mudpuppy

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 03:03 PM

This is such an iconic set. I bought one and restored another from my collection and tucked it away. Definately a piece of Lego history.

#10 Big Cam

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 03:47 PM

Rufus, I am insanely jealous, and I love that it's you doing this review/restoration.



Thread subscribed :blush:

#11 Rufus

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 06:46 PM

 fyrmedhatt, on 17 October 2011 - 12:05 AM, said:

I really like that you are using the authentic pieces from the time period, I find that Lego bricks from different time periods has a distinct feel to them, something which I assume can be attributed to modifications in clutch as well as aging. I'll advise you to go look on Bricklink, I know there are sellers there that sell yellow pieces sourced straight from the yellow castle, at a slight premium, but at least you'll know they are the real deal.
The yellow pieces probably aren't going to be the problem, as we shall see.  But I agree, there's a 'squeak' that you get with 80s pieces that doesn't seem to occur nowadays, as I mentioned in my review of the Classic Space 6928 Crawler from 1984 ... whether that's a difference in the manufacturing, or just an indicator of the age of the bricks, remains to be seen.

 fyrmedhatt, on 17 October 2011 - 12:05 AM, said:

The yellow color might not be as out of place as many seem to think, covering the walls medieval stone masonry with chalk was quite common, and would normally make the buildings white, and I would not be surprised if additives/paint could make the buildings yellow/tan as well. If not maintained, the chalk would peal off, leaving the grey color of stone that we see in most medieval buildings today.
As a fan of mediaeval castles myself, I can confirm this.  Often the outer masonry was coated in a layer of plaster, giving a smooth, whitish finish.  The set would, I imaging, look stunning in white.

Personally, I think Rick is on the money with his theory:

 Rick, on 17 October 2011 - 07:26 AM, said:

There may have been another reason. LEGO may have wanted to stick to the use of primary colours as their main colours. I always thought that was the reason they used a limited amount of grey and even brown or green in sets, including town. Green was mainly used for base plates and vegetation throughout the 1980s town sets and the only brown I remember are minifig brooms. You could ask the same question for those colours: why not make bricks and plates in those colours if you use the colours nonetheless? You still see mainly primary colours being used in today's City sets, with dark-tones only very recently being introduced and used rather sparsely so far. When they finally decided to release a full-swing castle line they must have realised it looked unrealistic to use only primary colours for castles.
The fact is that whatever the original colour of castles generally, most people nowadays associate castles with grey, as that is generally the colour of the exposed masonry.  There are exceptions, however; Caernarvon Castle in North Wales has a some tan highlights and stripes; Warwickshires two contrasting beauties Warwick and Kenilworth are tan and sand-red respectively (in terms of LEGO colours :grin: ), the latter due to its construction from local sandstone.

 Mudpuppy, on 19 October 2011 - 03:03 PM, said:

This is such an iconic set. I bought one and restored another from my collection and tucked it away. Definately a piece of Lego history.
Hear, hear!  

 Big Cam, on 19 October 2011 - 03:47 PM, said:

Rufus, I am insanely jealous, and I love that it's you doing this review/restoration.

Thread subscribed :blush:
Thanks Cam!  I'll do my best to make your subscription worthwhile :wink:

Next instalment coming soon!

#12 Churchill

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 07:57 PM

Rufus,
I'm really enjoying this thread, and it's hitting home, because I've been able to piece together my classic space 487- my first set with the new minifigs.  (The hospital set with the no arms and no faces minifigs just isn't the same).  Just the other day, while cleaning out the basement (and its high time to start throwing stuff away), I found the instructions, which I figured after 30+ years had been long ago thrown away.  Perhaps the box survived as well... somewhere in the dark recesses of my parents attic....  :cry_happy:
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#13 Lord Derfel Cadarn

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 08:46 PM

Great thread Rufus! This is of course, THE classic castle set, but one that a lot of castle fans don't own, mainly due to the price. The closest I got to this set was the town set that had a parade and a section of yellow castle, which I used to used to pretend was this set. Its interesting seeing how different the boxes where back then, with just a nice shot of the model on the front and nothing else. I don't remember the old white box colour like these, I just missed that era, my memories are of the classic yellow boxes with light blue 'Legoland' written across them. Growing up, I went off this set, as I didn't like the colour and much prefered the new gray look that came along in the eighties. Of course, now that Im older, things have changed and its a set that I've come back to love and want in my collection. Unfortunatly for me, its also a set that falls into that catagory of sets that I had the chance to buy ages ago brand new for a cheap price but didn't bother! I hate having those regrets!!!
I shall be following this thread closely.

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#14 Rufus

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 09:57 PM

Chapter Two:  Inventory, Inspection and Quality Control

My childhood collection consists mainly of Classic Space, which I looked after in its original boxes, and a mixture of Town, Castle and (very old) Trains which unfortunately had been thrown together with my elder siblings' chewed and dirty hand-me-downs in a variety of shoe-boxes and other random containers.  I was pleased to find, after a lot of rummaging around amongst chewed and dirty LEGO, that I had for the most part looked after the Castle stuff, and I was able to assemble the majority of 375's parts with relative ease.

Happily, most of the important bricks that make the structure of the castle have been retained.  We'll start with the five baseplates:

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They're filthy, but intact.  Baseplates have a tendency to warp and crack, but these remain perfectly flat :wub:  I'll have to do some work to get rid of all that grime, though :sick:


The bulk of the yellow is displayed here:

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I was worried about having lost the large yellow slopes that form the bastions of the castle walls, but they are all present and in excellent condition; likewise, the yellow arches have survived intact (I even found a few extras, also in great condition, but I do not recall owning any of the few other sets that they were available in :wacko: ).  Also of great importance are the eight yellow hinge-bricks, and the two red doors and their attachments (the latter prone to breaking, so I'm very relieved that to have found them in working order).  

I wasn't too worried about the grey plates, as I knew I'd have plenty from the Classic Space collection, but I had to work to find the correct numbers that weren't overly chewed.  You may be able to make out in the photograph some significant colour variation in the grey parts; some of this is clearly dirt, but the 4x6 plates in particular have taken on a brownish tint that I presume is due to sun exposure.  We'll have to see if I can ameliorate that.

I have omitted from this picture the seventy-one 1x1 and one hundred and eighty-three 1x2 yellow bricks; many of the 1x1s were coated in a gummy sticker residue to which had adhered years of fluff and grime - I've spared you that horror.  I suspect this was where I had needed 1x1s in another colour, and improvised with coloured stickers!  


Interestingly, there is evidence of evolution in the parts within the set.  Compare the 2x2 and 1x2 inverted slopes:

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The former have thicker open studs; today's newer type of open stud is present in the 1x2s.  As I don't have any other types in my collection, I can only assume this is how they came with the set (the explanation may be that the 1x2 inverted slope is a newer part, albeit only by one year).


Bricklink lists the 1x1 round bricks as having a closed stud in 375, but an open stud in the identical - but later - 6075.  This one came with open studs:

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The right-hand frame shows an example of the grimy residue that covered many of the bricks.  I was missing two of these 1x3 bricks; easily replaced!


The winch is intact, and, believe it or not, I suspect that is the original string!  The red 2x2 with hole through which the string is threaded is badly chewed, but I found two others in excellent condition.  The hook doesn't come with the set :tongue:

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Also shown are further examples of the grime of decades!  I was missing two 2x2 yellow plates; further rummaging produced the above collection of other 2x2s, but they are all far too chewed and I'll have to replace the missing ones.


This rare part forms a vital feature of the castle:

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Sadly despite hours of searching, I could only find five of the necessary six.   Bricklink will be needed for the last!


As I mentioned previously, I had built the horses temporarily to ensure I had the right parts.  This showed up the age, particularly of the white pieces, which are dirty and some discoloured:

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Spotting is present on the yellow 1x8; the stickers here, whilst mercifully intact, are horribly dirty and will be impossible to clean (and one of the yellow banners, I now notice, has been applied upside down :facepalm: )


The Figures

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The 'home team' of blue soldiers wearing the crown emblem report for duty.  They all have the correct headgear, and vests; even the crown stickers are all present, but a bit tatty and many applied wonkily.  The knight even has has facepiece, although it is dirty and a little scuffed.  Ideally, that should be replaced.

Edit:  I've only just realised there should be eight of these dudes :facepalm:


The 'away team' haven't fared quite so well:

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Both the black and white knights have lost their faceplates; the red knight is fully dressed but his squire is legless :laugh: .   All the vests are accounted for, with stickers intact but tatty and sloppily applied.  If I'm going to restore this properly, those stickers will need to be replaced, somehow :sceptic: .


Most of the classic smiley heads are acceptable, though some are a little worn.  They'll have to do.

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The black-suited dude's torso has a sticker decal applied; that will have to come off.  Note that in those days minifigure heads came with a closed stud.


The swords and lances are all present and correct:

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Of the nine shields in the set, the two yellow/green chevrons are missing; of the rest, the stickers again are dirty, tatty and poorly applied.


The halberds are a little chewed, and there's some colour variability in the greys:

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I might have to put up with this, but if necessary, some could be replaced.


All in all, most of the set has survived!  The following replacements will be needed:

From my own contemporary collection:

  • 2 x 1x3 yellow brick :thumbup:
  • 2 x 2x3 yellow plate :thumbup:
  • 2 x frictionless Technic pin (bley will have to do for these - I do apologise to the purists!) :thumbup:
  • 1 x blue minifigure, 1 x light grey helmet :thumbup:
From Bricklink:

  • 1 x red 1x1 window :thumbup:
  • 2 x grey shield :thumbup:
  • 1 x white knight facepiece :thumbup:
  • 1 x black knight facepiece :thumbup:
  • 1 x red minifigure legs assembly (not one collectable minifigure comes with red legs!! :hmpf: ) :thumbup:
  • 1 x light grey vest piece
  • 1 x grey knight facepiece :thumbup:
  • To consider: 4 x grey halberds
From somewhere:
  • Medium-thickness black cord (at least 50cm)

Bricklink here we come!  :grin:  Then I have to work out what to do about the stickers :sceptic:
Whew, those knight face-shields are pricey!  Approximately US $10 each :sceptic:


Larger pictures on Flickr.  Next up - the Big Clean-Up!  :cry_happy:

#15 Rick

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 06:45 AM

 Rufus, on 19 October 2011 - 09:57 PM, said:

I was worried about having lost the large yellow slopes that form the bastions of the castle walls, but they are all present and in excellent condition; likewise, the yellow arches have survived intact (I even found a few extras, also in great condition, but I do not recall owning any of the few other sets that they were available in :wacko: ).
I remember the Black Falcons' Fortress having extra arches for some of the alternative models. Could that be the case here as well? Looks like you'll have to have a go at the alternative models as well. :wink:

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Both the black and white knights have lost their faceplates; the red knight is fully dressed but his squire is legless :laugh: .
You would have expected the black night to be missing some limbs. :laugh:

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  • 2 x frictionless Technic pin (bley will have to do for these - I do apologise to the purists!)
I'm sure they're not that expensive on Bricklink. :wink:

#16 Artanis I

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 07:21 AM

Shame that things like boxes, stickers etc aren't so easily repaired or replaced.

I'd just like to point out that your castle bricks appear to have suffered from the worst case I've ever seen of yellowing... you have a lot of work to do there! :laugh:  :wink:
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#17 legomonk

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 11:40 PM

I actually really love the old night face plates
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the answer to your question is yes I have a Lego tattoo. Minifig count is at 768!

#18 Rufus

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 10:26 PM

 Churchill, on 19 October 2011 - 07:57 PM, said:

Rufus,
I'm really enjoying this thread, and it's hitting home, because I've been able to piece together my classic space 487- my first set with the new minifigs.  (The hospital set with the no arms and no faces minifigs just isn't the same).  Just the other day, while cleaning out the basement (and its high time to start throwing stuff away), I found the instructions, which I figured after 30+ years had been long ago thrown away.  Perhaps the box survived as well... somewhere in the dark recesses of my parents attic....  :cry_happy:
Churchill
I'd love to see 487/924 restored.  That was a set I wanted but never owned :cry_sad: .  I had the glorious 497/928 (still have it, but it's not in tip-top condition) but I loved 924 so much I worked out how to build it from 928 :laugh: .

I also had the hospital set you mentioned - actually, I think it was my sister's - for its time, that was a great set :cry_happy: .

 Derfel Cardarn, on 19 October 2011 - 08:46 PM, said:

Great thread Rufus! This is of course, THE classic castle set, but one that a lot of castle fans don't own, mainly due to the price. The closest I got to this set was the town set that had a parade and a section of yellow castle, which I used to used to pretend was this set. Its interesting seeing how different the boxes where back then, with just a nice shot of the model on the front and nothing else. I don't remember the old white box colour like these, I just missed that era, my memories are of the classic yellow boxes with light blue 'Legoland' written across them. Growing up, I went off this set, as I didn't like the colour and much prefered the new gray look that came along in the eighties. Of course, now that Im older, things have changed and its a set that I've come back to love and want in my collection. Unfortunatly for me, its also a set that falls into that catagory of sets that I had the chance to buy ages ago brand new for a cheap price but didn't bother! I hate having those regrets!!!
I shall be following this thread closely.
Thanks, Derfel!  Strangely, I really wanted that town & castle set - I presume you mean this one - what a great way to link your town and castle displays together!  I love the mock-tudor house in that set.  :wub:

 Rick, on 20 October 2011 - 06:45 AM, said:

I remember the Black Falcons' Fortress having extra arches for some of the alternative models. Could that be the case here as well? Looks like you'll have to have a go at the alternative models as well. :wink:
I guess that's possible.  Neither Bricklink or Peeron list them as extras, but I guess no-ones going to crack a MISB 375 just to make an inventory!  I'll have to follow your suggestion and try to build the alternates :laugh:

 Rick, on 20 October 2011 - 06:45 AM, said:

You would have expected the black night to be missing some limbs. :laugh:
:laugh:

 Rick, on 20 October 2011 - 06:45 AM, said:

I'm sure they're not that expensive on Bricklink. :wink:
Yeah, but then I have to buy a load of other stuff I don't need just to get to the minimum purchase amount.  :sad:

 Artanis I, on 20 October 2011 - 07:21 AM, said:

Shame that things like boxes, stickers etc aren't so easily repaired or replaced.

I'd just like to point out that your castle bricks appear to have suffered from the worst case I've ever seen of yellowing... you have a lot of work to do there! :laugh:  :wink:
:laugh:

 legomonk, on 20 October 2011 - 11:40 PM, said:

I actually really love the old night face plates
Yeah, they are nice.  Trouble is, they don't clutch well onto the old helmets (which is probably why most of mine are missing) - plus I understand they were prone to cracking.

#19 Hiawatha

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 10:42 PM

It is good to see you do this for a nice classic set! :classic:

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View Postefullner, on 06 October 2011 - 12:28 AM, said:

I can figure what Dey will say when he meets with Hiawatha.

Hiya, Watha!

#20 Rufus

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 08:52 PM

Chapter Three:  Cleaning the LEGO


Most of my bricks, once sorted, were in good shape, but many were grimy with sticker residue and the plates had some ground-in dust and dirt.  The white and grey pieces had suffered varying amounts of discolouration.  So I took a bit of advice on cleaning from this thread, and tried some Oxy stain remover.  Actually, I suspect it's the hydrogen peroxide that did the trick there; not having ready access to my own chemistry laboratory I tried the Oxy alone.  The results weren't entirely successful.  In the end, I found that a good soak in biological washing powder was the best way of removing the grime and sticker residue, while the Oxy helped a little with the discolouration; for the whites I had to resort to a domestic sterilising agent.

Here are the baseplates:

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And before, for reference:

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They've cleaned up nicely.  There's a little wear now visible, but on the whole I'm pleased with them.  I had tried the Oxy first, but I found it left a salty residue which survived even a thorough rinse; the washing powder did the trick.


The yellow bricks did well with the washing powder:

Posted Image

I did find that soaking in the washing powder made the bricks feel strangely tacky to the touch, as if the plastic had softened a little.  The water wasn't especially hot, so I think I might have imagined this, but it was a little disconcerting :look: .


Here's what 190-odd clean 1x2s look like (I've kept a few extra as spares):

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:grin:


Black bricks age well anyway, in general:  these look great :wub:

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If you click through to the full-sized picture, you might be able to make out that a few of the 1x2 bricks are a little scratched, and not quite up to the standard I'd hoped for.  This wasn't really obvious until I cleaned them.  I have since found some better ones (still original 80s bricks) to replace those.


The grey bricks have cleaned up nicely, but despite a good soak in both Oxy and washing powder, I haven't been entirely successful in removing the discolouration:

Posted Image

I suspect that the different colours are from different original sources, but my grey plates were mostly used in Space MOCs and got pretty mixed up.  I'm just going to have to live with this - I'm sure it won't be too noticeable on the finished set, and I'd rather have slightly mismatched colours than dirty or chewed bricks.


My biggest struggle was with the white parts.  Prior to cleaning, the white horse was both dirty and discolured, and not uniformly:

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Washing powder, followed by Oxy, achieved this:

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But, as you can see, the result is far from perfect.  In the end, a loooong soak in mild domestic sodium hypochlorite solution achieved a reasonble result:

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The red parts have come along nicely!  Those yellow tiles are a little scratched, but tolerable.


To see the effect of washing powder followed by Oxy on the white bricks, and for a little teaser for the next section, take a look at the flags:

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On the left is the original flag, which I've left as it is.  The one on the right was another flag from my old collection; I had several, one with an Australian flag sticker, another with the LEGO logo, and this one which did have the Austrian flag on it.  Sorry, Austria, but you had to be the guinea pig for my little experiment :blush: .  I've removed the sticker, cleaned the flag piece, and applied a new custom decal.  More on the decals in the next instalment; this is just to show how the cleaning has improved the white.


Cleaning is now complete; I'm waiting on a few Bricklink orders, then I'll be ready to build.  These have already arrived:

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:excited:  


I've searched all over, but I haven't been able to find cord of the same thickness as the original.  In the end, I've obtained a few different thickness and styles of cord:

Posted Image

I'll try each but would be quite happy with a thicker cord provided the windlass will take it.


That's all for now!  Next up: Rufus makes decals for the first time  :oh:

#21 legocanuck

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:04 PM

Very cool thread, thanks for doing this!

One thing I found works great is the Magic Eraser ( http://media.mrclean...od01_img_01.jpg )
Obviously you can't use it for every brick, but for very noticeable bricks or larger pieces it works great. I used it on the horses and wall pieces I have and they look almost brand new!

#22 Pandora

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:14 PM

 Rufus, on 23 October 2011 - 08:52 PM, said:

and tried some Oxy stain remover.  Actually, I suspect it's the hydrogen peroxide that did the trick there; not having ready access to my own chemistry laboratory I tried the Oxy alone.  

while the Oxy helped a little with the discolouration.

I had tried the Oxy first, but I found it left a salty residue which survived even a thorough rinse; the washing powder did the trick.

but despite a good soak in both Oxy and washing powder, I haven't been entirely successful in removing the discolouration:
In the end, a loooong soak in Oxy achieved a reasonble result:

To see the effect of washing powder followed by Oxy on the white bricks

What Oxy stain remover??? *huh*
We don't have any Oxy stain remover!!!

That's soda crystals in that tub! :hmpf:

I suggest you go and buy some real Oxy stain remover stuff tomorrow.....  :look:

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#23 Rufus

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:25 PM

 Pandora, on 23 October 2011 - 09:14 PM, said:

We don't have any Oxy stain remover!!!

That's soda crystals in that tub! :hmpf:
What???!   :oh3:

*oh2*

:facepalm:

:wall:

<ahem>  Let that be a lesson to all.  Always consult the lady of the house before attempting any cleaning.  Things may not do exactly what they say on the tin.  :blush:

Anyhoo, a day or two soaking in - apparently - sodium carbonate has certainly helped, and now I know where the salty residue came from :hmpf: .

Maybe OxyClean is better that I gave it credit for, and it's worth trying again with the grey plates.  

:hmpf_bad:

:laugh:

#24 Skipper

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:33 PM

Soda crystals. :laugh:

Good luck with the project, I did something similar with my Black Seas Baraccuda, it feels great when you're done.  :cry_happy:

Looking good, quite fun to read this topic.

#25 K-Nut

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 01:54 AM

 Pandora, on 23 October 2011 - 09:14 PM, said:

What Oxy stain remover??? *huh*
We don't have any Oxy stain remover!!!

 Rufus, on 23 October 2011 - 09:25 PM, said:

What???!   :oh3:

For a moment I thought you had engaged youself in a conversation, with yourself.  :laugh: These double personalities are getting to my head!  :tongue:

The color clean-ups have gone well I see. I can't tell you how many things I've made with horribly discolored gray.  :hmpf:  But that flag on the right looks great!  :wub:
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