Set Number: 4842
Name: Hogwarts Castle
Theme: Harry Potter
Year of Release: 2011
Price: $129.99 USD
S@H Brickset Bricklink Brickshelf
Greetings, muggles! In celebration of the release of the last installment in the Harry Potter movie franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I would like to review this set which Lego calls "the essential Harry Potter set". Does it live up to this title? Read on to find out! As in every review, I shall start with...
The box has the same design as all of the other 2010/2011 sets with the crimson tapestry pattern, the trio in the upper right corner, and a minifig line-up at the bottom. The background shows some mountains under a gloomy night sky which fits well with the dark tone of the current Deathly Hallows films and gives a nice contrast to the castle in the foreground. That's good because there is lots going on in the foreground: Harry is fighting Voldemort; Filch and Flitwick are patrolling the school grounds; and Dumbledore, Snape, and Hermoine are fighting off Dementors. Looks pretty cool, but I find it kinda creepy how McGonagall looks over Hermione's shoulder.
At the top of the box there is a line-up of all the minifigs with their respective names. The minifigs are supposedly in their actual size, but if you look closely you'll see that the Dementor and Prof. McGonagall have been photoshopped to be the same size as the other figs even though they are actually taller. A bit misleading, but at least it makes for a unified looking line-up.
The back features a large picture of the back side of the castle with little windows all around it that demonstrate the play features of the set. It also points out that there is an invisibility cloak included. It's not the most exciting feature of the set, but it's pretty fancy looking, so I guess TLG went through a bit of trouble to include it and wanted to make sure people know about it.
Inside the box there are three instruction booklets, a pretty dreadful sticker sheet, and ten numbered bags. That's right, TEN! So if you're one of those people who like to challenge themselves, you can go ahead and just empty them on one big pile. I for one am going to go through them as they are meant to be. The instructions and stickers in my copy of the set were pretty bent, but aside from a dog-ear on one of the booklets there was no real damage.
Here is a random instructions page. The steps are pretty easy to follow as they usually don't call for more than 1-3 different pieces per step, and there are only one or two steps per page. At the end of booklet 3, there is a two-page depiction of the back of the castle, just like the one on the back of the box, but without the little windows showing the play features, which are on the next two pages after the parts inventory.
Even though most of the parts in this set are stickered, there are still some that are printed. One of them is the Sorting Hat which has a cool face printed on it. The others are printed 2x2 tiles. One of them has the Hogwarts crest, one is the Marauders Map which we already got in the Prisoner of Azkaban sets, one is a copy of the Daily Prophet with the Azkaban mass breakout featured on the frontpage (as seen in The Order of the Phoenix), one is the Quibbler with the article about Harry on the cover (also from Order of the Phoenix), and one is the piece of paper from the Kingdoms theme which has a dragon on it and reads "You are far more powerfull than you would ever imagine..." That line seems as cheesy as it does in the Kingdoms theme and it still has the typo with the extra "L".
And while it's technically not a printed item, it's worth mentioning that there is also a chrome sword in this set. Chromed pieces such as this are hard to come by these days.
The face of the Sorting hat is pretty accurate.
This set also comes with a large variety of animals. There are three printed owls - a white one (presumably Hedwig), a dark gray one, and a brown one. All of them have a different, lovely print. You also get Mrs. Norris, who is a regular printed dark flesh cat. The other animals that are included are a bat, a spider, a rat, and two snakes. There's also a green frog which I forgot to include in the picture. The tail of my rat is bent upwards, which I think is a miss-mold.
Hedwig is pretty spot-on; Mrs. Norris not so much. The general resemblance is there, but the cat you get looks too orange and too young. To me, this cat looks more like Hermione's cat Crookshanks.
This set comes with a lot of the most important Harry Potter characters which is probably one of the main reasons for most people to buy this set. Let's start with The Boy Who Lived himself and his smart (and attractive) friend Hermione Granger. Both of them have their Gryffindor sweaters on and they look pretty good at first glance. Unfortunately their wands are still too long. I wouldn't expect TLG to produce a new mold for it, but the 3L-bar from the Collectable Minifigures series would work just fine, so I don't know why they didn't at least use that. Oh well.
Both of them have back printing which is nice. Unfortunately not even printing can save Hermione from looking hardly like herself from the back. Click here to see a back view.
They both have an angry face printed on the back of their heads as you can see in this pic. These faces make them both instantly look much older and are very useful in battle scenes.
They look more or less close to their movie counterparts. Harry's big hairpiece and innocent smile reminds of his young self from the first two films, but he doesn't look much like what he looks like in the recent movies. Hermione looks more like her current self thanks to the choice of the smooth, long princess hair. I personally don't like that hair on her, though, as it is a bit too smooth to be Hermione's. Also, her face looks a bit too generic, but to be fair, I don't know how they could have made it look more like Hermione without straying too far away from the usual Lego style, so I guess it could have been worse. The following reference image is from The Order of the Phoenix.
As the the box art points out, Harry also comes with his invisibility cloak, one of the three Deathly Hallows. It's a neat, shiny piece of cloth that is sewed to stay in a dome-like shape. It's not terribly large, but big enough to cover one or two minifigs, and it's way better than the purple cape from the first Hogwarts Castle, even though it's not as versatile. It doesn't actually make minifigs invisible though. I want my money back!
Harry also has a broom in this set, a black one with a metalic silver cone on it. It looks kinda weird with that cone, and I'm not even sure which broomstick it's supposed to be as Harry never had a black and silver broom.
It doesn't look like a Nimbus 2000, so it must be the Firebolt that Harry got from Sirius in The Prisoner of Azkaban which also has a somewhat dark color scheme. This is what it looks like:
Sadly, TLG decided not to include Ron in this set for some reason. Considering that this is the flagship set of this wave, you would have thought they would include the complete trio. But at least it sets you up for the first conflict between the characters:
Anyway, next up we have the two headmasters of the school, Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall. These two look much better than the last two minifigs, especially McGonagall with her all-dark-green outfit! The only problem is that she is so tall compared to the other minifigs. Hopefully Snape has a Shrinking Potion for her. Also, she's the only wizard in this set who doesn't get a rod, er, I mean wand. Dumbledore has the Elder Wand, the second of the three Deathly Hallows. The only Hallow missing now is the Resurrection Stone. Too bad that there will probably never be a minifig ring, so we may never get the full set of Deathly Hallows.
It's hard to say how accurate Dumbledore is since he looks different in pretty much every movie, but the general resemblance is definitely there. McGonagall looks very McGonagalish and her dress is very accurate.
Dumbledore has some great back printing, while McGonagall has none, but she doesn't need it anyway.
Dumbledore also comes with a double-sided head with a friendly face without glasses which is a great addition. I gave him a shave for the following picture so that you can see his mouth and the beautiful printing on his torso.
And here's the rest of the Hogwarts staff: Professor Flitwick, the Charms Master and Head of Ravenclaw, and Argus Filch, the Squib caretaker of Hogwarts. Unfortunately, neither of them has back printing or a double-sided head as you can see here.
They both are pretty spot-on, except maybe for their hair pieces, but Flitwick looks so damn cute that it doesn't matter, and who really cares about Filch's hair anyway.
Now we're getting to the evil ones. First we have You-Know-Who. For those of you who don't know who, it's Lord Voldemort (shudder!). Next to him is Professor Snape, the potions master and head of Slytherin. He's Voldemort's spy inside Hogwarts - Or is he? They look good at first glance, but for some reason they remind me of Potter Puppet Pals. These two don't have any back printing or double-sided heads either as you can see here.
Voldemort looks great, much better than all the weird earlier versions. Knowing how lazy TLG can be, it's nice to see that they went through the trouble of printing some wrinkles on his robe instead of just giving him a plain black torso. He has a nice and creepy smile, but I would have preferred a more serious face like this. Snape looks pretty good with that Dastan hair in black, but I liked his face on the '07 version better. This one looks too generic.
Last but not least, there are the two Dementors. They are identical and have double-sided heads with an open mouth on one side and a closed one on the other. Very creepy looking! Note how each Dementor comes with a trans-clear stand so that they can hover over the ground. Their backside isn't too exciting though.
It's hard to find a good reference for a Dementor since they always cause everything around them to go dark, but here's the best one I could find. TLG did a nice job on their frayed cloaks.
Oky Wan Kenobi
Review of Hogwarts Castle
The first of the ten bags includes the parts for the minifigs, their accessories, and the castle wall pieces which connect the larger segments of the castle. Inside, there are two smaller bags with the minifig heads and other smaller bits, and two white card board packages, one with the invisibility cloak and one with the capes. I find it odd that they put the minifig heads into two different bags, but I digress.
The build of the connector wall segments is very quick, faster than it could have been thanks to the extensive use of juniorized 2x1x2 bricks. There are two identical pieces which are basically just pointy columns and one big piece that has a window, and all of them have hinges. They look nice on their own, and it's good that you build these first so that you can put the castle together as you build all the other larger segments.
The next bag contains the parts for the first floor of what TLG calls the Astronomy Tower.
Here's an in-build shot of it. The thick columns make the outer wall quite sturdy.
The next step is it to build the Vanishing Cabinet. It looks very nice with those silver studs and has an interesting pointy shape.
Compared to this reference pic, it's fairly accurate, although it's missing some of the details, but I guess it's close enough.
Then you add some columns to the front, put on a roof, and the first floor is done. The torches at the front are a nice touch.
Now Voldemort and his Death Eaters can use it to infiltrate Hogwarts! Now you see him...
... and now you don't! Well, that's because I took him out of the scene. The cabinet doesn't actually make minifigs vanish. It would have been nice if the designer(s) would have come up with a simple mechanism to make the minifig disappear, like they did with the fireplace in the Burrow set.
Bag 3 contains the rest of the parts for the second floor of this tower which represents the restricted section of the library.
First you build the outer wall again, then you start building the bookcase. Aside from the interior, this floor is constructed nearly the same way as the first floor, so the build is kind of repetitive.
Once the bookcase is done, you put on the roof with the telescope and a rat and you're done with this tower. It looks very good. The crossed axes at the front are a nice touch, as are those little brown bars, even though I have no idea what they are supposed to be.
The only problem with it is that it doesn't look anything like the Astronomy Tower in the movie. Considering that we got a much more accurate Astronomy Tower in this year's 4867 Hogwarts, I wouldn't call this the Astronomy Tower, but rather just a random tower with a telescope on top.
Let's take a closer look at the bookcase. It has two sliding doors which are held shut by handcuffs.
There are holes to stick one of Filch's keys into, and when you turn it, it pushes off the
Inside the bookcase you will find three unprinted brown books. They look pretty boring, but I guess they're more realistic than those multicolored books from previous Potter sets.
Next up is the Grand Staircase Tower. Bag 4 includes the parts for the first two floors. Are those minifig parts I spy? Who might this be?
The first floor of this tower is the Slytherin common room. Usually this room is in the basement of the castle, but since it's hard to include a basement in a set like this, I guess it's OK that they put it on the ground floor. The room consists of a small table with a goblet and the Quibbler (for Malfoy and his gang to make fun of, no doubt), two chairs, a Slytherin crest, and a candle in the center of the room. There are also a snake on each side of the room as decoration, which is a nice touch in my opinion and reminds of the first Slytherin set. Even though the chairs are mounted on turntables, they can't swivel unfortunately, and there isn't really anything else you can do in this room. I find it quite ironic that the first time that Lego includes a Slytherin common room is also the first time they decide not to include a Malfoy minifig, or any Slytherin for that matter, which would have been useful.
There is only little resemblance to the common room from the movies, though, which doesn't have any candleholders or any snakes or Slytherin crests on the walls. But at least the colors seem to be right.
The second floor consists of a suit of armor on a pedestal and a spider. So that's what the minifig parts were for!
It's not incredibly detailed, but since there are many different kinds of suits of armor in Hogwarts, there is no telling how accurate it is. In any case, it provides people who are not into the Kingdoms line one of those neat new bucket helmets.
The pedestal of the armor is a turntable, and if you turn it, you can reveal the hidden diary of Tom Riddle! Kind of a strange place to hide the diary since it was never seen in such a place, but who is to say that Ginny didn't hide the book in random places every once in a while during the time that she was in the possession of the diary (or the diary was in possession of her, as it were).
The diary is just a plain black book, just like in the Freeing Dobby set, which is good because that's exactly what it was in the movie, except that it's way too big to be a diary.
The rest of the tower is inside bag 5.
The next step is the Gryffindor common room. It includes the big fireplace, two chairs for Harry and Hermione to sit on (maybe they didn't include Ron because he has nowhere to sit?), and a small table with the Marauders Map which Harry apparently left lying around open for anyone to find. What was he thinking!?
While it's small and doesn't give much room for any minifig to stand, it's pretty accurate, except that there is no table in front of the fireplace, but that's OK.
When you push in a tab on the outside of the tower, Sirius Black's face appears in the fireplace and subsequently turns the two chairs more towards it. A pretty neat feature if you ask me. It makes me want a new Sirius Black minifig even more now though. Perhaps in a future set...
"But why is there a face in the fireplace?" will some of you be wondering who aren't too familiar with the Potter franchise. Well, Sirius, Harry's godfather, used these means to communicate with Harry in The Goblet of Fire and The Order of the Phoenix.
At the top of the tower there is the owlery. It has two arches for the owls to sit on and it even has owl droppings! This is the kind of humorous details that I like to see in a set.
Poor Filch is gonna have to clean this place up.
Once you put both halves of the tower together, this is what you get. It looks very nice from afar, but if you don't want Sirius' face to be visible all the time, you'll have to leave the tab under the window sticking out which doesn't look so great, but not terrible either, I suppose. The way they made the second floor narrower than the others gives it a nice irregularity, and while they were a pain to apply, the stickers give the walls a nice weathered look. The interior looks good too, but if this is the Grand Staircase Tower, then where the heck are all the staircases, and what is the Gryffindor common room doing in there? Shouldn't it be in the Gryffindor Tower?
It looks much better with the tab pushed in, as you can see below. They did a nice job with the three smaller towers that come off of the large one and represent the Headmaster's office. Aside from the fact that the windows are far too big and few, the tower looks pretty accurate to the one in the movies.
It's a good thing they put Dumbledore's office in a different part of the castle because this tower would be far too small for him.
We're halfway through the build! Now we're getting to the large buildings. The first part of the build of the Great Hall requires the contents of both bags 6 and bag 7. The pile on the left is from bag 6, the one on the right from 7.
The build is fairly easy since most of the time you're just building walls of bricks. However, it's also a bit repetitive as you have to build five identical rows of tall windows and twin chairs and tables. Here's an in-build shot.
Once you're done with bags 6 and 7, you get this, a roof-less Great Hall. At this point, the structure is a bit unstable since there is nothing holding the many columns together.
The parts for the roof are inside bag 8, but you probably already figured that out if you have had some experience with building Lego sets.
This step of the build is also a bit tedious as there are lots of small parts involved, such as cheese slopes and 1x1 bricks and tiles. It's not too bad though, and before you know it, the Great Hall is finally done!
Here's a look at it from the front. Quite a beauty, isn't it?
Despite its small scale, it's pretty accurate to the real thing. There are some nice details like the battlement or the cheese-slopes used as the little windows on the roof.
The following pictures show the right and left side of the building. The stained glass windows on both sides look very good. On the right there is the entrance door while on the other side there is a little protruding window. You have to be a little careful when playing around the door because the lower two slopes of the awning above it are only attached by the studs on top of them. I have never seen TLG utilize such a fragile building technique. Note how this building has the Technic holes both in front and in the back, allowing for more combination possibilities.
However, there might be situations where you want those slopes to fall off, for instance when, say, your least favorite teacher is walking through that door.
Lets take a look at the interior. There are two rows of tables - one for Slytherin and one for Gryffindor - with various foods on them and long flags for each of those two houses hanging above them, a chandelier which has a simple yet effective construction, a podium for the headmaster to make a speech, and chairs for two of the teachers. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff don't get any tables. Those two houses are seriously underrepresented in the Lego HP universe! Why does TLG hate them so? Sure, aside from a handful of individuals like Luna, Cho, and Cedric they are mostly just background fillers, but they are as much part of Hogwarts as Slytherin and Gryffindor!
The interior looks fairly close the the movie set, except that there are two rows of tables and a bumch of teachers' chairs missing, and the whole room is laid out wrong. The teachers' table is supposed to be at the right end of the hall and the rows of tables should be along the tall windows, but I guess it works like this too.
The main problem with the teachers' chairs is that none of the teachers can sit on them. Dumbledore has his hair in the back, Snape has a stiff cape, Flitwick can't bend his legs, and McGonagall doesn't even have any legs. Standing on the chairs is about the best they can do. That's probably the reason why they included only two of them and no teachers table. A shame really. Harry and Hermione can sit on the benches just fine though.
One thing those chairs are good for, though, is for recreating the Sorting Ceremony scene.
"Hm... Difficult... very difficult..."
The last building that you build is... well, quite frankly I have no idea what part of the castle it's supposed to represent. It doesn't really match anything from the movies, and the rooms that are inside should be in other parts of the castle. With its big entrance with the Hogwarts crest above it, it seems to be some kind of main entrance, so that's what I'll just call it. These are the contents of Bag 9:
Here's an in-build shot of it. The clip next to the door helps in keeping it shut which is a nice technique that I haven't seen before.
Another in-build shot. As you can see, the furniture has been added which consists of a trophy cabinet and a chest.
The trophy cabinet has two golden cubs and the seeker plaque of Harry's dad, except it's more of a shield than a plaque. It looks pretty neat; it's just too bad it's a sticker and not printed. Also, I think the cabinet should have a window pane.
It looks pretty much like the one in the movie adaption of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, right down to the little bolts in each corner, but since it's a shield it's way oversized. It probably would have made more sense as a printed 1x1 tile like this, but then it would have been impossible to read.
The chest contains the questionable manuscript and a red diamond. Is that supposed to be the Philosopher's Stone? Probably not, but you can pretend that it is of course.
Then you add some columns and a staircase. Wait, a staircase? So let me get this straight: the Grand Staircase Tower doesn't get any, but this random building gets one??
Pop on a roof and two stickers and you're done with the first floor. The portraits next to the staircase look good, but the staircase really obstructs the view on the interior, making it hard to play inside.
We're up to the last bag! These are its contents.
The next step is to build the back wall of Dumbledore's office.
Then you furnish it with a desk, a chair, and and two shelves. The room looks very good now! The shelves are filled with various potions and a frog, and on the desk he has a magnifying glass, The Daily Prophet, and a candle in an orb.
It looks pretty close to the one in the movies, right down to the magnifying glass and the candle orb! The only big difference is that the shelves are filled with potions instead of books, but it look much more interesting that way. It also doesn't have a chandelier or those stairs and the balcony in the back, but they aren't necessary I guess.
You complete the build by adding the roof and the battlement on top. This is what it looks like once it's finished.
Under the roof there is a small stand for the Sorting Hat and the Sword of Gryffindor.
The shelves not only look good, but they have a cool feature too: they can be taken off to reveal the inside of the drawers. The one on the left contains a letter. But it doesn't have the Hogwarts seal on it, it's one with a heart. Could this be an old love letter to Grindelwald that Dumbledore never sent off?
The drawer on the right contains the basilisk fang which was used to destroy Tom Riddle's diary in Chamber of Secrets.
Unlike the chairs in the Great Hall, the chair in this office does fit Dumbledore. The only problem is that its seat is the same height as the desk, so the desk is too low for Dumbledore.
It is here that he can talk to Harry about Tom Riddle a.k.a. Lord Voldemort and his horcruxes.
The stairs that lead up to the office can slide open like this:
The building looks pretty nice from the outside too. It may not be based on anything from the movies, but it certainly looks like it could be part of Hogwarts. I think it would have looked better though if there were torches on both sides of the door.
It's time to put it all together! Here's the assembled castle. Looks pretty impressive, even though it represents only part of Hogwarts.
Here's a look at it from the back. Since the connector pieces have two Technic pins on each side, all the individual towers and buildings hold together very well, and thanks to the hinges, the layout remains flexible. However, the castle is hard to move around this way, and because the Technic pieces hold together so tightly, it's hard to take it apart without breaking a few bricks off.
Finally, here's a picture of the castle with all the minifigs.
There are lots of little pieces that are left over after the build. Most of them are flames, studs, cheese slopes, and 1x1 tiles, but there is also an extra basilisk fang, a lever, a claw, cherries, handcuffs, and a Technic pin. A pretty nice and useful bunch of pieces, I'd say.
Design: 8/10 - It's a beautiful looking castle, and even though they almost completely screwed up the locations of the rooms and some of the details, it's looks pretty accurate for the most part.
Minifigs: 7/10 - All the figs are very detailed and more or less accurate, and half of them are exclusive to this set. But it's really a bummer that Ron isn't included, considering they call this "the essential HP set". Some students from other houses would have been nice to get too.
Build: 4/10 - As I mentioned before, the build is pretty easy and somewhat tedious at times, but it's still a satisfying and lengthy building experience.
Playability: 7/10 - There are several play features, and with all the minifigs included you can play out countless adventures in and around Hogwarts, but there are some rooms where you can hardly do anything, so there's some wasted playability potential. But hey, at least there aren't any silly flick-fire missiles or catapults!
Parts: 5/10 - This is a tan, dark gray, and sand green parts pack. If you need bricks in those colors, this is your set. Aside from that, there isn't anything too exciting except the animals and accessories. And there are too many stickered parts.
Price: 6/10 - The price is OK considering how many pieces and minifgs you get. Still, it's a pretty hefty price tag for a regular-release set, even for a licensed one.
Overall: 7/10 - Is it a good set? Yes. Is it a perfect representation of Hogwarts Castle? Heavens no, but you can't honestly expect that. Hogwarts is a huge, complex place, so even a UCS Hogwarts would still be way underscaled. But for a playset, it's pretty good. Better than any of the previous three castles in my opinion. There are lots of scenes from many of the Harry Potter movies and you get very nice minifig renditions of many of the main characters, 5 of which are exclusive to this set, so in a way it is indeed an essential Harry Potter set, especially if you don't have any of the other Hogwarts castles. Again, there are some inaccuracies, but no set is perfect, especially such large ones. There are several other characters that they could have included, but I guess we should be grateful for the ones we do get. Kids should love it, and I can recommend it to HP fans and Castle fans alike, since it makes for a great castle even outside the Potter universe! It's a pleasant build thanks to the lack of juniorization. The colors work really well and thanks to the modular system, there is plenty of potential to expand on the castle.
You can find all of the pictures and more in this brickshelf folder. I hope you liked this review as I spent a lot of time on it and it is my ninth Academy Review.
As a parting shot, here's a little piece of epicness that I threw together: a Lego version of the movie poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2!
So what are you waiting for? Go see the movie!