jan kusters

Old School Lego Castle (lego designed and MOC)

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My pleasure is building old Lego designs and sets, and perhaps trying to improve them a little with modern insight and bricks. Most of my inspiration comes from old leaflets and store display books I find online or (half)remember from way back when. I have been dabbling in the cars and boats and trains, and a few buildings. But looking online, the castles sets (that are from way past my first Lego age) hold a thriving community of lovers, and inspired some very impressive moc-builders. It started to get to me. But I am an old school builder...

(Humming as I plod on:

We're knights of the round table,

we dance whenever able,

we do routines in all the scenes...

https://youtu.be/q4tWBILtrSU)

TfBS7ILh.jpg

Now most people would probably think of this as an old school Lego Castle; the 375 set from 1978. Sadly, by then I was deeply involved in drivers licence, girls and all other kinds of rubbish, generally known to Afols as 'the dark ages'. It has mini figures, horsies, hinges... Nah, to modern for me.

 

Y52p0gJh.jpg.

Some of the old timers might even remember this one from 1970 or there about: the Weetabix promotional castle. I must admit, this is much more old school Lego, and had I known of this castle in 1970, I might actually have tried to build it. I mean, multicoloured, studs galore and all; this is old school Lego indeed. But this was from the UK or America, in the Netherlands, I never saw this one.

When I grew up, there was only one true Lego castle I had even seen, and only in picture:

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Now this is what I'm talking about. The oldest Lego Castles were not sold as sets, and they were not to play with. They were about the joy of building. This is, as far as I know, the oldest example. This castle was not available as a set, to buy and build, it was available for retailers, as promotion and display material for their shop window. This one is from a retailers-catalogue from 1959. One sees where the Weetabix castle came from...

I like it. It has the simplicity and directness many designs from the fifties had. It kept things small, cheap and available to aspiring castle building kids. I saw castles like this as backgrounds in plays and parades as a kid. While simple, it ticks most boxes for a castle. Yes, this is a castle!

Only one complaint about this castle: We have walls. We have towers. We have battlements and we have a gate. We have everything to protect... What? Why is there a castle? What is there to protect? I am missing a main building, a Great Hall, a Keep, a Donjon. Anything...

Luckily, the good people of Lego seemed to notice this too, and their 1960 catalogue castle sported a fifth tower and some other improvements...

rmP0lLwh.jpg

Better, much better. I also like the different heights of the towers, and the fact that the draw bridge now actually crosses something. But sadly the Castle also grew, and while not even that much bigger, it already demands so many more bricks that I can not build this one. Bummer.

Side note. I have a lot more Lego bricks now than I ever had as a kid. And yet, even slightly bigger models from these old folders turn out to be far out of reach. It is amazing how much you need, and how fast you run out of certain specific bricks once you start working on something bigger. For larger projects, test building bits and calculating how much of what is needed is always necessary, unless you actually have a room filled with bricks. I must admit, that is a bit of a disappointment. Luckily, ordering specific and well planned numbers of bricks from BrickLink is even within my limited means (and a lot cheaper than buying huge sets).

Here we go;

iSaPL0ih.jpg

Based on 2 10x20 base bricks, build all in white, here's the original design from 1959. I didn't have enough alphabet bricks to follow the original design, but this works rather well. In real life, the towers are a bit thin and high, and like I wrote before, I am missing a central point in the castle.

But yes, it has that early Lego feel to it, and I would like to see if I can improve on it...

jPm5AZch.jpg

I added a simple rectangular Keep with a small round look out tower in the back. And while crude and no where near finished, already the castle looks a lot better to me. Now it makes some sense (Montey Python still singing and dancing in the background though).

But now the height of the corner towers really starts to stand out as a problem as they loom over the Keep. They need to be shorter, the Keep should be bigger and I need to loose those weird windows half way up the corner towers. They are too square to be arrow slits anyway. And a door in the keep would not be on ground level...

Fetch the Master Mason, we need work done...

CFQAN4qh.jpg

Lower the corner towers, heighten the Keep, add a square watch tower to the keep as highest point...

Yep, it starts to look like a castle. Despite it small size it looks busy, complicated, alive. Two things I am not completely happy with; the battlements along the walls, on the towers and on the roofs are so similar, it looks almost like a standard design castle. This feeling is strengthened by the square and symmetric design. It looks like a catalogue-ordered castle by some king: 'And I want six number 3 castles along that border, a number 2 castle near that river crossing, and can you throw in a few extra battlements?'

And it is very white... Now I have none of those modern tan, or grey or brown bricks that Lego castles are made from these days, and I have no where near enough bricks in any other colour to build something like this is. But old school Lego is working with what you have... Time for a way deeper renovation of the old stones...

HiJ3Tdkh.jpg

Where I live, castles grew over time, with consecutive owners adding, removing and changing stuff... They are not one fully completed and coherent design. They usually look more like a few very different buildings that crashed into each other by accident, with a few hap-hazard walls to close the remaining gaps, and with a different Master Mason for each tower.

I ripped the whole castle apart and started anew. Yay for lego!

Once upon a time there was a small building, the first farmer in that area than actually build a house from stone instead of muck and mud. His children build a bigger house against it. And finally, a few generations later, the 'great hall' was started. Throw in a few walls for an enclosed bailey, and rise a few towers to guard those walls, and Bob's your uncle...

Some roof bricks to add some colour. Be gone, Disney Castle! No more Mad Ludwich! On with the stone lanes, Mr Flay... I was torn between red or blue slopes. Black would have been best, but uhm, you guessed it; I don't have enough of those... Should I have blue and red for the roofs?  I now decided to go with just one colour.

CIKbSakh.jpg

A view on the inner court shows the layout and the history I had in mind.

At the the back the first stone house, the lowest roofed building. To the right the 'bigger' house' and to the left the Great Hall. Entrances elevated for safety, defensibility and against rising damp.

All in all, with reading up on castles in general and the Lego Castles especially, and building, rebuilding and more rebuilding, I have been at this one for 3 weeks. Fun weeks, I enjoyed this little project a lot again. In fact, I am desperately trying to fight the urge to buy a second hand Lego Castle, or a lot of bricks I could use for a castle. No more castles! But I am only half way Gormenghast...

(I hope this is the right place for something like this, there does not seem to be a discussions on sixties Lego as such).

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Very cool; thanks for posting this.  I really enjoyed reading it.

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This is super cool. I especially love your step-by-step process of modifying the original, and the result you came to is simple but beautiful. Thanks for posting this. Will there be more?

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19 minutes ago, Ailhbe said:

This is super cool. I especially love your step-by-step process of modifying the original, and the result you came to is simple but beautiful. Thanks for posting this. Will there be more?

Sadly, not on the castle front I think, at least not for a long time. I think I should wait until I am done with my leaflet/ideabooks rebuilds/modifications (right now working on some trains and wagons). At some point in the future, when I want to go in one direction, I might start investing in grey and tan bricks though...

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Very nice design, i really like it. The final result is so lively thanks to the blue roofs, and it's amazing how this simple colour combination and the oldschool design feels.
I hope that we'll see more of your castles in the future. Do you plan to inhabit them with someone, or are you satisfied with the lone building?

 

Edited by Aine

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3 hours ago, Aine said:

Very nice design, i really like it. The final result is so lively thanks to the blue roofs, and it's amazing how this simple colour combination and the oldschool design feels.
I hope that we'll see more of your castles in the future. Do you plan to inhabit them with someone, or are you satisfied with the lone building?

 

Thank you!

Back in those days. Lego was more 'construction-toy' than 'play-toy', and after building there was little actual play, just showing it to others and at some point taking it apart again for another project. No play except running or crawling through the room going 'Vrroooaaaaammmm' in case of aircraft or car that is. This was long before anything like mini-figures.

If there was any scale to Lego builds back then, it was usually defined by doors and windows, and those were H0 scale, 1:87! A door was 3 bricks high... Perhaps I should try micro-figures, I have never seen them for real, but I think they are too small.

In another project (train station) I tried H0 figures like sold by train model companies. They are way to detailed to work well with Lego:

MF5z8fgh.jpg

 

So for now I use the brick build figures I was pretty satisfied with as a kid:

3MNzQ39h.jpg

I know this is rather abstract, but in a weird way it seesm to work... I need to get myself more 1x1 plates for faces and headgear...

L1X7dmjh.jpg

But all in all I rather like them...

 

Edited by jan kusters

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Really pretty castle builds! 

I am a fan of the sixties design, simple and pleasing for the eyes, also great colour combination.

The older white bricks make for good looking castle walls with the different shades of white.

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I really enjoyed reading this text. It is impressive that you have so much old bricks and still use them. This 12V Train is pretty nice! Never got one.
I love your castle modifications and the colour combination.

It's actually funny that you say that the yellow castle is to modern for you. :grin:

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I also have a good time reading it. It is a nice castle to look at. I can even play with it. I Just need to populate it with minifigs

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Thanks to all for the kind words!

On 9/15/2018 at 9:13 AM, one79 said:

I also have a good time reading it. It is a nice castle to look at. I can even play with it. I Just need to populate it with minifigs

Castle is one of the few things where I would really enjoy using the minifigs, especially since I found so many extra's online for them (armour, jester and so much other stuff). Sadly, to use a minifigs in my castle, I would really need to build it at least twice or 3 times as big, and I do not have enough bricks for that (yet?).

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14 hours ago, jan kusters said:

Thanks to all for the kind words!

Castle is one of the few things where I would really enjoy using the minifigs, especially since I found so many extra's online for them (armour, jester and so much other stuff). Sadly, to use a minifigs in my castle, I would really need to build it at least twice or 3 times as big, and I do not have enough bricks for that (yet?).

Well, you can place several of the minifigs outside guarding the main gate. Maybe a few of it in the battlement or rampart (but I think the minifigs scale larger than the battlement/rampart. But again, the set 375 is also not really scale good enough (in term of castle with minifigs)

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Jan, very nice.  All of your models and rebuilds.

I produced a very large castle myself back 20 years ago.  it was one that was used as a glued display model, as well as an image in a 1960-64 #238 Building Idea Book 1.

Here is the idea book version.... (shown in the 238 idea book in all countries)....

large-14

 

I decided to build it as a 4 tower castle with a courtyard.... and use windows instead of clear bricks....  Now this one could be considered minifig scale...

LEGO 1960-64 #238 Idea Book No.1 - Renaissance Castle

The inside courtyard was the perfect size for this rare 1970 #078 Samsonite LEGO 50x50 road plate, which I used to allow access to the courtyard entrance, and the 2 castle entrances on 2 side wings.

078 1970-71 Samsonite 50x50 Road Plate

 

It wasn't until many years later that I found the 1958 continental European retailer glued display model catalog, and found the original glued castle (but in white and red) that was restored by a Dutch LEGO friend of mine...

My 'Dutch castle' finally restored with a new old base, according to the 1958 dealer model ordel brochure 034. The only thing I can't get right are the 2 water decals with tyhe logo on the front. Tried to get the labels of of two white Lego flags, but tha

 

These are just some of the buildings that I have included in my Unofficial LEGO Sets/Parts Collectors Guide (computer desktop 2800 page download).  I am in the process of upgrading my guide to over 4000 pages, but current owners get the upgrades, when they are finished in mid 2019.  Among the 73 chapters are a few on LEGO display models.  Here we have the Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) in London.  This is a USA Samsonite 1963 glued display model, the largest ever producedby Samsonite LEGO.

Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster)

 

Here is a glued display model of Johannisburg Castle (in Aschaffenburg Germany).... another restoral project by my Dutch collector friend Henk.

Johannisburg Castle, 1965, Lego toyshop display model, vintage

 

And here is another glued display model of the facade of a half-timbered house in Hildesheim Germany.... also restored by Henk.  This one is almost minifig scale.  I love the look of this model (also shown in the 238 LEGO Idea Book #1

Knochenhauer Amtshaus Hildesheim, 1958

 

For those of you who have my collectors guide, many of these models are yet to be added to the Retailer Model chapters.  But those updates will be sent to you.

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Ha, fantastic builds Sir! I remember the 'Blue Castle' from old idea books, and love how you turned a simple front into a full castle with inner court!

I have been studying your (and Jeroen and Henk's and several others) pages over on Flickr, I love what you guys are doing!

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