Aanchir

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  1. Aanchir

    LEGO IDEAS - The Medieval Blacksmith

    Fair! And in all honesty, it wouldn't be a bad thing if LEGO introduced a variant of this deer design for female ones at some point. Moreover, if we're being honest — this is the same company that has previously used the same mold for alligators as for crocodiles, the same mold for crows as for parrots, the same mold for Alsatians as for Dalmatians, and the same mold for mice as for rats. So I wouldn't put it past them to reuse this "reindeer" mold for a European red deer even if it WEREN'T accurate.
  2. Aanchir

    LEGO IDEAS - The Medieval Blacksmith

    Sorry! I referred to it as a "deer" because in all honesty, it more closely resembles a European red deer than an actual reindeer. Real-life reindeer tend to have shorter necks (which stick forward like the necks of cattle or oxen, not upward like the necks of gazelles or horses), white or grey coats rather than brown ones, and wide muzzles like moose rather than narrow/pointed ones. The LEGO "reindeer" was most likely modeled off pop-culture portrayals of "Santa's reindeer" which likewise tend be based on European red deer, American white-tailed deer, or other species from temperate climates, not actual reindeer species. As such, I feel like it'd be able to represent those more temperate species fairly accurately. By contrast, Sven from the Frozen sets (24872/59104) is a closer approximation of what actual reindeer look like. Hardly the sleek, nimble woodland creatures a lot of people expect to see on their yearly Christmas cards!
  3. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    Human baddies are still not unheard of even in "action themes", though. The villains in the Agents and Ultra Agents theme were human, as were a lot of Ninjago's antagonists in seasons 4, 6, 8, and 9 (Anacondrai Warriors, Elemental Masters, Sky Pirates, Sons of Garmadon, and Dragon Hunters). That said, you're correct that even many of those factions tend to incorporate fantasy or sci-fi design cues like cybernetic enhancements, colorful glowing eyes, superhuman mutations, or tattoos/war paint. As such, I don't think human baddies would be outside the realm of possibility for a future Castle theme, even one that also includes non-human factions or other fantasy elements. Agreed — especially since a lot of 80s Castle sets were LESS "square" by default than the 2010 and 2013 "King's Castle" since they incorporated hinges (not just pins) as a way to modify their layout or combine multiple sets. If anything, I think the rectangular layout of the more recent LEGO castles probably to allow for a "modular" design that was still sturdy enough to lift up without taking it apart into its component modules, and could be arranged in several different ways without parts becoming misaligned (a very real risk when a model includes "off-grid" angles). That said, I agree that a less squared-off Castle design would be wonderful to see, and there are many parts which can facilitate that sort of building which didn't exist in 2013 or earlier. For instance, the "A-frame" plate (15706) introduced in 2014 can add 45-degree angles in a sturdier, more rigid manner than a typical hinge-based approach. There are also many curved plates, tiles, and wall panels introduced in recent years which allow for towers with less of a square or octagonal look than traditional LEGO castles, while maintaining the stability, playable interiors, and ease of assembly which make LEGO castles so enjoyable even for kids. You could even cap one of those towers with a conical roof using parts like 48310 and 38317, with shallower slopes like 95188 for the overhanging eaves. Honestly, I think raised baseplates are something that's better off left in the past — there are plenty of ways to create varied terrain that are both more affordable to include in sets and less reliant on one massive specialized piece that the rest of the structure has to conform to. For instance, mountain bricks like 23996 and 6082 (together with more basic bricks, plates, and panels) can create a lovely mountainous foundation with much more customization potential AND usable interior space than raised baseplates can offer (plus, with less likelihood of the part physically breaking if stepped on than parts like the old ramp-and-pit baseplate). I say this as a 90s kid whose childhood favorite sets often included raised baseplates — they were certainly awesome for their time, but like a lot of parts back then, their size and specificity weakened both their creative potential and the building experience of sets that included them. LEGO today has evolved beyond the need for parts of that sort.
  4. Aanchir

    LEGO IDEAS - The Medieval Blacksmith

    Keep in mind also that the Winnie the Pooh and Sesame Street sets have a considerably higher price per piece than the Medieval Blacksmith Shop — and while some of that is probably to cover royalties for the use of third-party IPs, the cost of the new molds is likely a factor as well. And honestly, if the designers really felt like the set would sell a lot better with more animals, they probably would have focused on ones that they currently have molds for, like cats, mice, rabbits, hares, chickens, owls, songbirds, or deer. After all, the main reason the AFOL community considers goats so much more desirable than other farm animals is their scarcity. Plus, since nothing else in this set is even farming related, non-livestock animals likely would have been a more fitting choice anyhow. Yeah, it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Winnie the Pooh or Sesame Street "4+" sets in the future, much like the Mickey Mouse ones rumored for later this year.
  5. Honestly, both tridents and sea creature motifs (fins, tentacles, seashells, etc) are pretty intuitive design cues for water-themed characters or factions, regardless of theme. Compare with Turaga Nokama from 2001 (whose trident mold was subsequently reused in Alpha Team: Mission Deep Sea and Aqua Raiders sets), Gali - Master of Water's three-pronged harpoon from 2015, or the three-pronged spears that Nya carries in several 2018 and 2019 sets. If LEGO Elves had ever introduced a story arc with a mermaid faction, or Legends of Chima had introduced a story arc with anthropomorphic sea creature factions, the same sorts of motifs probably would have shown up in those themes as well! In this particular case, I love how the sai piece carried by some of the Maaray Guards complements the trident carried by the figure that I assume is their leader. Additionally, the ornamental hilt pieces which we've previously seen used for a dragon motif on various Ninja weapons work just as well for a sea serpent motif on the Maaray Guards' weapons. All in all, the Maaray end up feeling very authentic to what I'd expect an aquatic enemy faction in the world of Ninjago to look like! I doubt it's the same piece — the proportions are very different (with the side fins protruding high above the head, and a short central ridge instead of a central fin), and the Ninjago TV series generally doesn't tend to stylize minifigure parts that severely. Plus, the leaked set pics seem to feature a white prototype sculpt closely resembling the shape of this figure's head on the poster. So chances are, it's a new mold introduced specifically for this wave of sets. The tentacle piece from the Squid Warrior is definitely what I envisioned back in 2014 or so when I was brainstorming a possible undersea faction of Ninjago baddies (after all, it's one of the coolest specialized leg pieces we had at that time), but I can definitely think of several reasons the designers might've opted for Hades' legs piece instead: Hades' lower body has a smaller footprint (4 studs by 3 studs) than the Squid Warrior lower body (over 5 studs by 6 studs), which makes it a lot easier to fit into a vehicle like the chariot from the Hydro Bounty set, or onto a throne, dais, or podium. Like the snake tail or ghost trail piece, Hades' lower body is taller than regular minifigure legs, which is a good way to give high-ranking baddies like this guy a more imposing stature than their footsoldiers/underlings — whereas the Squid Warrior lower body is the same height as regular minifig legs. Hades' lower body has flat, printable surfaces on the front and back, so the scaly printed textures from the upper body can continue past the figure's waist (as shown in this poster). And of course, the Squid Warrior legs piece hasn't shown up in sets in over a decade — depending on the reason for that, it may not even be available to current set designers. All in all, as sentimental as I am about the Squid Warrior legs piece and the way it echoes the shape of the classic LEGO octopus from the Aquazone sets of my childhood, I'm honestly not bothered by Ninjago using this piece instead. Certainly it seems to suit this particular figure pretty nicely!
  6. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    For my part, I'm reluctant to make any predictions, since my expectation of a new Castle theme in 2019 or 2020 (after Nexo Knights concluded) didn't end up panning out. Truth be told, I wouldn't be surprised if LEGO has been trying to introduce new "play themes" less frequently since 2017 when their previous decade of growth began visibly stalling out, focusing instead on the stability of reliable ongoing themes like City, Friends, Ninjago, Creator, Technic, and Duplo. They still have introduced new themes since then, like Hidden Side, Monkie Kid, and Dots, but even those seem to be designed to last at least two years — a far cry from the parade of shorter-lived product lines introduced during LEGO's growth years. On the plus side, the lack of "one-and-done" themes in recent years (aside from licensed ones) suggests that if Castle, Pirates, or Space DO come back as themes of their own in the near future, there's a strong chance that it'll be with plans for a longer run than just one wave. In fact, it's even possible that the longer-than-usual absence of new Castle or Pirates waves could be due to the extra development time it might take to develop a more sustainable incarnation of these themes than the short-lived versions we saw in 2013 or 2015. Of course, that's pure speculation, and it could just as easily be that LEGO simply doesn't consider these themes a priority at the moment — particularly Pirates, which never really showed as much "staying power" as Castle or Space. But regardless, I would love it if a new Castle theme came out sometime soon, especially if it manages to improve as much on Kingdoms/2013 Castle design standards as other themes have managed to improve in the same span of time.
  7. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    Almost forgot to respond to this question! There are a few other Castle character names I've found in this manner. Some are just straightforward references to public domain characters or historical figures, while others are wholly original character names: UK and German catalogs directly identify the main character of the Forestmen sets as "Robin Hood". They are most likely referring to this minifigure and others with the same torso and hat, since he is entirely clad in Robin Hood's trademark "Lincoln green" without any additional secondary color, appears in all four sets with UK names that refer specifically to Robin Hood, and perhaps most importantly, only appears ONCE in each of these sets — whereas 6077 Forestmen's River Fortress/Robin's Lake Stronghold includes two each of the red-clad and blue-clad Forestmen. Similarly, the wizard from the Dragon Masters/Dragon Knights sets is specifically named as Merlin in UK catalogs, and his dragon is named Ogwen. In German catalogs, he is named Cerlin and his dragon is named Dragomil, and in Dutch catalogs he is named Pokus, (none of the Dutch catalogs I've seen have referred to his dragon by name). In the US, of course, he is named Majisto, which is well documented since so many online LEGO databases like BrickLink and Brickset refer to these sets by their US names. The king from the Royal Knights sets is named King Richard the Lion Heart in the UK, König Richard (King Richard) in Germany, and Koning Leeuwenhart (King Lionheart) in the Netherlands — although notably, the summer 1995 issue of the UK Bricks & Pieces magazine went out of its way to clarify that he WASN'T the same person as the historical King Richard the Lionheart. The main characters of the Fright Knights sets are named Basil the Bat Lord and Willa the Witch in US catalogs and magazines, but in the UK, they were named Count Batlord and Hubble Bubble. In Germany, the Bat Lord was named Graf Fledermaus (Count Bat), and in the Netherlands, he is the Vleermuisridder (Bat Knight) — however, set names from those countries do not refer to the witch by name. Anyway, here's a link to the spreadsheet where I've been tracking this stuff if you're curious to know more!
  8. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    Yeah, this is probably accurate — not to mention a big part of why peasant-focused sets like Medieval Market Village and Mill Village Raid have been so few and far between. In turn, that scarcity helps drive demand for civilian characters among AFOLs. These trends aren't strictly specific to the Castle theme, either — there's also a lot less emphasis on civilian characters and "everyday", non-conflict-driven scenarios in typical Ninjago sets than in more adult-targeted sets like the Ninjago City collection. Another factor in the desirability of civilian characters among AFOLs is specifically the fact that you CAN'T army build them in the same sense that you can with knights. That's not to say there's no incentive for stockpiling civilian figures in large numbers, but when dealing with an actual army, it's generally no big deal if those characters wear similar outfits, and in fact that uniformity helps to more clearly define their allegiance with one another. For a large group of peasants to feel believable, it's usually preferable for them to wear more varied outfits, so builders of civilian-focused medieval scenes are likely to need a wider variety of torso designs than builders of medieval battle scenes, who might be able to make do with just one or two torso designs per faction. For this 3-in-1 castle, though, I suspect the decision about what minifigures to include were more about the needs of the three builds than which figures would be most desirable on a more general level. According to the description on Promobricks, the B-model depicts a castle town/market scene, so it makes sense to include a civilian in that model. In this respect, it's not unlike old-school sets like 6040 Blacksmith Shop, 6041 Armor Shop, or 6067 Guarded Inn, which each included one civilian minifig along with the knight minifigures more typical of the Castle theme. Moreover, at least one of the other models repurposes the civilian minifigure as a robber for the knights to apprehend.
  9. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    Yep! The first Creator 3-in-1 set to have a new torso print was in the Daredevil Stunt Plane set. Besides that and the Pirate Ship set mentioned above, the Space Rover Explorer and Cyber Drone sets have also introduced new minifigure torso or head prints. That said, there are usually very few new printed elements per year in the Creator 3-in-1 theme compared to other themes. So even if this new 3-in-1 castle introduced a torso with new heraldry, it's doubtful it would have been able to introduce a matching shield as well. To be honest, if this set WERE to introduce any entirely new prints, I think perhaps the ideal possibility would be ones that complement the new Black Falcon prints from the Blacksmith Shop to help create a more varied army or kingdom. For instance, a torso with Black Falcon patterned plate armor analogous this Lion Knight torso could could be used to differentiate knights from common soldiers, or cavalry from infantry. Likewise, a more luxurious torso analogous to this Lion Knight king/prince torso could be used for a king, prince, or lord to lead the Black Falcon faction. Slightly tangential, but not too long ago, while researching old-school set and theme names from different countries for my own amusement, I learned that a 1984 Dutch catalog actually named a couple of characters from the Lion Knight and Black Falcon factions (a relative rarity back then due to the lack of tie-in storytelling media for most themes). Set 6080 was labeled as "De Slot «Wittenburg» met ridder Pieter van Blankevoort" (Castle "Wittenburg" with knight Peter Whiteford), and set 6073 was labeled as "Kasteel «Donkervoort» met ridder Jan Swartegeest" (Castle "Darkford" with knight John Blackghost). Although the lack of uniquely-designed minifigs makes it hard to identify for certain which minifigure each of these character names referred to specifically, my best guess based on the color-themed naming and implied high rank of these characters is that this mounted knight with a white plume and blue cape is "Pieter van Blankevoort/Peter Whiteford", and this mounted knight with a black torso, helmet, and cape is "Jan Swartegeest/John Blackghost". Needless to say, this is little more than a historical curiosity in the grand scheme of things, but for people seeking to create modernized Black Falcon or Lion Knight MOCs, it could maybe be useful inspiration for what a leader or commander for each of those factions might look like!
  10. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    Yeah, one way or another, it's reassuring that a torso print as nice as that one was not created for one set and one set only. Plus, it's possible that this might also pave the way for them to appear in other, smaller medieval-themed Creator sets in the future to create continuity/crossover appeal, just as the astronaut torso from https://brickset.com/sets/31107-1/Space-Rover-Explorer went on to appear in the much cheaper https://brickset.com/sets/31111-1/Cyber-Drone.
  11. Aanchir

    Interest in Mars - a new Space theme?

    All this talk of whether near-future stuff counts as sci-fi/futuristic gets me thinking about how much the LEGO Space theme shifted in that respect over the course of its lifespan. In the early days of LEGO Space, even though stuff was certainly futuristic, there was a lot which didn't feel far removed from what people saw as the future of "real" space exploration technology — lots of unmanned rockets/probes, utilitarian-looking lunar rovers and research stations, forklifts, refueling carts, radio antennae, satellite dishes, etc. Even a lot of the play scenarios seemed to focus on very routine sorts of tasks like collecting soil samples, launching probes into space with rockets, monitoring communication channels, etc. And the initial white and red spacesuits vaguely resembled the colors of real-world American and Soviet spacesuits. Set 6970 even included a flag, something that tends to be more of a motif of the "space race" and other early ventures in space colonization than of more fanciful sci-fi stories in which interstellar societies are already flourishing. And although real world spacecraft are not typically blue and yellow, it's worth keeping in mind that only a few years prior, the overtly NASA-inspired Moon Landing set used fairly similar colors! I'd go so far as to say that these early Classic Space sets arguably felt LESS far removed from "real world" space exploration technology than Creator sets like the Space Rover Explorer and Space Mining Mech… which, in the very least, add the prospect of alien encounters to these hypothetical near-future space exploration scenarios! That said, as the Space theme continued, more futuristic "science fiction" elements steadily began to show up. Less real-life-inspired spacesuit colors began to show up, spaceships and rovers started to add "laser cannons" (or at least, their sensors and dishes started to more closely resemble that concept), and robots/mechs began to show up in addition to the existing wheeled ground vehicles. The Futuron and Blacktron factions began to introduce even more heavily armed ships in diametrically opposed color schemes, allowing kids to recreate the sort of good vs. evil space battles which characterize the "Space Opera" genre. LEGO Space society soon developed enough to require its own dedicated law enforcement agency (Space Police) equipped with laser jails and ships with flashing lights/sirens, and its own search-and-rescue/breakdown recovery service (M:Tron) equipped with space cranes, all-terrain tow trucks, and helicopters. The explorers of Ice Planet 2002 pushed the theme beyond the previous rocky, lunar environments, and factions like Spyrius and Roboforce specialized in sci-fi technologies like giant mechs and flying saucers, with considerably less emphasis on shuttles or rockets. Shortly thereafter, Exploriens took the big step of proving the existence of alien life, and in the U.F.O. and Insectoids subthemes those alien species took a starring role. Anyway, my point is that even starting from a "near future" design philosophy, the Space theme's original run developed more and more "soft" sci-fi and fantasy elements developed to a point more on par with, say, Star Trek. So even if at first real-world strides in space exploration only pave the way for "real world" space exploration, that could in turn end up paving the way for further interest in that more far-flung sci-fi stuff a lot of people here are craving. I certainly wouldn't see any interest in space exploration scenarios as a bad sign for the Space theme's future prospects.
  12. Aanchir

    Lego City 2021 Rumours, information and discussion

    IMO, how well newer sets compare to older ones varies a lot depending on which you're looking at… even among emergency vehicles. For instance, 7236 is not a very good police car — like a lot of 4-stud-wide City vehicles, it has that issue where the wheels and tires stick out far beyond the wheel rims, the front and back are extremely boxy, the white wheel rims disrupt the Dark Grey stripe formed by the bumpers and chassis, and the windscreen and roof throw off the proportions even further. Plus, the light bar feels way bulkier than it needs to be. The police cars in 3648, 4436, and 60042 improve on the contours, proportions, and color blocking, but still have those awkward protruding wheels and tires (which, frankly, sort of defeat the purpose of having a 4-stud-wide chassis, since the car as a whole still has a 6-stud-wide wheelbase). City police cars began to feel more authentic when they expanded to a 6-stud-wide chassis in sets like 60128, 60138, 60239, 60242, and 60270. Not only do the proportions feel much more realistic without the tiny chassis with disproportionately large windscreens and wheels protruding from the top and sides, but the larger size also suits this type of vehicle, since comparable models of police car IRL tend to be full-size sedans/large family cars, not compact/subcompact cars. Fire helicopters, on the other hand, have fluctuated in quality/authenticity over the years. 7238 had interesting shaping and decent overall proportions, but its water tanks/deluge guns felt extremely fanciful/cartoonish (as others have pointed out, aside from the Erickson S-64, real-life fire helicopters rarely carry a water cannon or deluge gun, instead dropping water from either a bucket or a built-in water tank with a trapdoor), and it had a very blocky tail. In fairness, a lot of 2005 City sets like this hadn't quite broken free of the chunky, heavily stylized design language of World City sets. Five years later, 7206 introduced a more realistic water bucket instead of deluge guns, and a more streamlined tail design, although it also was also among the first sets to use the still-controversial 6-stud-wide streamlined aircraft nose and tail elements. In 2013, 60010 reverted to using a deluge gun (albeit a smaller one that can be easily removed, while retaining the much more plausible and interesting winch function) and a blocky 2-wide brick for its tail. 60108 used a trapdoor for "water bombing", which is again a more realistic method of aerial firefighting, and a less blocky tail, although it felt fairly thin for a helicopter of that size. 60281 has perhaps the most authentic tail shaping we've seen on a 6-stud-wide fire helicopter, and although its deluge guns (integrated with the landing gear) are among the least realistic methods of water deployment, that issue can be more or less negated by simply removing the ammo pieces and treating the launchers as a structural element. All in all, pretty much all City fire helicopters have been less than ideal in one way or another, but I don't think the newer ones tend to be any worse than older ones in this regard. In general, I think it can be easy to compare our frustrations with modern sets to our positive memories of older ones, and lose sight of how many weaker designs there often were in those earlier years as well. Many early City sets like 7240, 7642, 7737, 7892, 7894, feel cartoonish, gappy, awkwardly proportioned, or otherwise unrealistic compared to many of their newer counterparts, while others like 7244, 7249, 7344, 7685, and 7723 feel way too bloated in size to fit with a typical City layout, even one primarily based around other sets of their time! So even if modern sets are flawed in their own ways, in ten years or so it's plausible that we'll remember recent years of City sets for the good things they had to offer, not the bad ones. After all, we tend to have the most vivid memories of the sets we buy for our own collections, not the ones that we decide aren't worth it — and of the ones that stand out as unique from those that preceded or followed them, not of the ones that felt unoriginal or mundane.
  13. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    I dunno, to me the "team of knights" aspect works fine for me in a medieval fantasy setting, since there are plenty of stories within the scope of that genre which focus on teams of heroes — the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend, the Fellowship of the Ring in The Lord of the Rings, the Pevensie children in The Chronicles of Narnia, etc. Not to mention the "adventuring parties" that typically take center stage in tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons or video game series like Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem, and Golden Sun. That said, this is all from my perspective as a nineties kid whose first LEGO Castle sets were from the Dragon Masters subtheme. So to me, the appeal of the Castle theme was always as a reflection of the medieval fantasy storytelling tradition in all its forms (from the legends and folklore of actual medieval times to modern medieval fantasy stories and films of the 20th century) — not necessarily as a reflection of genuine medieval history. I can't say I'd find it too surprising if kids back in the 70s and 80s were drawn to it for different reasons, since at that time it was a lot lighter on fantasy elements like dragons, wizards, heroic kings, and beautiful princesses, and a lot heavier on more "mundane" elements like knights, soldiers, and horses. And there's nothing wrong with liking those more historical parts of the theme best! I doubt there's any one type of Castle theme LEGO could create that would make all of us equally happy. But for my part, I've always been more of a fan of character-driven fantasy, so that's the approach to a Castle theme that I would expect to enjoy the most, and I won't pretend to speak for anyone other than myself in that regard.
  14. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    In fairness, I suspect that a lot of us who have gone on to become AFOLs were not "typical kids" — I know I certainly wasn't! That's part of why I am reluctant to assume my disinterest in "army building" was necessarily "normal" among other LEGO fans my age. Oh, trust me, I totally get that. I prefer to watch stuff from the beginning when I have the option to do so as well. But I guess when I was a kid that was rarely as viable an option as it might be for kids today. Most cable TV plans didn't offer an "on demand" menu back then, streaming services like Netflix didn't exist, there were very few channels that even aired kids' cartoons most of the time and video/DVD collections of these sorts of shows were almost never comprehensive (in some cases, the episodes that appeared together on a particular cassette weren't even sequential)! Plus, I had even less patience for looking up TV schedules and planning my personal schedule around them back then than I do as an adult today. Honestly, typing this out, I realize I'm probably even less qualified to speak for the habits and interests of today's kids than I am for those of my own generation Guess it's a little tricky for any of us to make sense of what does or doesn't work for the kids who most LEGO sets and themes are designed for, given that pretty much ALL of us are so far removed from that demographic! I suppose this is fair, although I'm not sure that the idea that Castle has no clear-cut good guys or bad guys matters all that much in practice. After all, a lot of Castle factions (especially from the 90s onward) can generally be sorted into opposing "alignments", even if those don't correspond strictly to "good" and "evil". For instance, the Crusaders, Lion Knights, and Royal Knights are effectively the "light side" to the Black Knights', Dragon Masters', and Fright Knights' "dark side", just as the Imperial Soldiers/Guards/Armada are the "light side" to the Pirates' "dark side". It's up to you which side might be the "good guys" in your particular stories and play sessions (after all, in the Pirates theme, official media from pretty much every incarnation tends to favor the lawless Pirates over the lawful Imperials), but regardless, the "dark side" factions still tend towards a darker and a spookier aesthetic than the archetypical heroic imagery and lighter color schemes associated with their "light side" counterparts. I also think that it's a bit of a mistake to assume that whether a theme is media-supported or not plays an especially big role in how much room it leaves for moral ambiguity. After all, in LEGO Legends of Chima, the Crocodile, Wolf, and Raven tribes were "enemy" factions in the theme's first year, but "hero" factions in the second and third years after resolving their differences with the Lion, Eagle, and Gorilla Tribes. In LEGO Ninjago, Season 5's Elemental Masters also initially appear as adversaries of the ninja, but they are never presented as "evil", and later end up joining forces with the Ninja as allies. By comparison, "Fantasy Era" Castle, Kingdoms, and the 2013 Castle wave had no animated series or even named characters, but the designs and play scenarios left it pretty unambiguous which factions were "good" and which were "evil", and even some of the Kingdoms sets' descriptions blatantly referred to the Dragon Knights as "evil". I'm well aware of the Bionicle theme's four animated movies — Bionicle: Mask of Light was a memorable part of my childhood, and I still have a lot of the lines from it committed to memory from all the times I watched it! I actually wrote a sentence mentioning the Bionicle movies as a rare exception for their time (and a forerunner to the animated media that would begin to show up across a wider range of themes from 2010 onward), but cut it out because the paragraph in question was becoming too long and wordy. And no, the Galidor brand was developed in-house by LEGO (although I believe that like the Mixels and Unikitty themes, LEGO shared ownership of the Galidor brand with the studio that they partnered with to produce the TV series). The book Brick by Brick by David C. Robertson describes the development of Galidor from pages 57–59, and its failure from pages 85–87. At least some of the pages can be read for free in the Google Books preview linked above, but if that's not available to you for some reason, here's a short excerpt from pages 58–59:
  15. Aanchir

    Future Castle Sets?

    I mean, LEGO doesn't really rely too heavily on licensed themes — other than LEGO Star Wars, most of their top-selling themes tend to be non-licensed ones like City, Friends, Ninjago, Creator, Technic, and Duplo. Moreover, I think LEGO has pretty effectively become a "trend-setter" with many of their original themes of the past decade. For instance, Ninjago's massive success seems to have been an influence on Ionix's Tenkai Knights brand which launched in 2013. Likewise, shortly after LEGO Friends launched, companies like Mega Bloks, Lite Brix, and Best-Lock began trying to ride that bandwagon by rolling out their own imitations. And of course, the success of The LEGO Movie franchise ended up prompting other companies to roll out their own sub-par imitations of that concept like "The Emoji Movie" or "Playmobil: The Movie". Enlighten Bricks has likewise been playing follow-the-leader with themes like "Creation of the God" and "The War of Glory", which take extensive cues from LEGO themes like Ninjago, Legends of Chima, Elves, and Nexo Knights. And that's without getting into the more direct knock-offs/bootlegs of these sorts of themes! Furrthermore, as cool as new Castle sets stuff could be, I don't see how a revival of a decades-old theme would be any more "trend-setting" than the many new non-licensed themes that LEGO has been investing in as of late. And it's just as confusing to condemn LEGO for "going with what's popular", when old-school themes like Town, Castle, Space, and Pirates came about specifically because LEGO knew these were popular concepts among kids and chose to "go with what's popular" even back then. I mean, Ninjago has had several TFOL/AFOL-oriented sets (Temple of Airjitzu, Ninjago City, Ninjago City Docks, and Ninjago City Gardens), and they've generally earned high praise from AFOLs — even those who otherwise have no interest in Ninjago. Plus, even if they didn't have their own TV cartoons, themes like Fantasy Era Castle, Kingdoms, and Monster Fighters were all still aimed at KFOLs (and often even at younger KFOLs than themes like Ninjago, Nexo Knights, and Monkie Kid which target the preteen/tween demographic). Despite that young target audience, all those themes ended up with their own TFOL/AFOL targeted exclusives, which are remembered fondly even to this day. Personally, I see the trend towards media-supported themes less as a sign that those are the only types of themes that can sell, and more as a sign that LEGO's has become capable of creating tie-in media like apps or animated series for their themes that might've had to rely on more low-tech marketing strategies in years past. Even just looking at "big bang" themes, the evolution of media tie-ins can be traced pretty clearly. LEGO Power Miners had named characters, but its storyline was pretty basic, and the most high-tech its tie-in media got was a slapstick-heavy, three-minute animated short. The following year, LEGO Atlantis took things a bit further, establishing backstory for its characters and presenting the first year's story as a half-hour animated TV special. After that theme's successful launch, LEGO set their sights even higher with LEGO Ninjago, airing an hour-long TV special to coincide with its launch, and releasing various other tie-ins like chapter books, guide books, and a handheld video game over the course of the year. However, even Ninjago wasn't greenlit for a full TV series (focusing on the following year's story)until after that TV special/pilot proved successful. But after Ninjago proved capable of supporting a full series and drawing massive numbers of viewers, it gave LEGO (and presumably, broadcast networks) enough confidence to launch subsequent "big bang" themes like Legends of Chima and Nexo Knights with TV series of their own. I don't think it's implausible to say that if LEGO had this kind of track record for successful animated media and broadcast network/animation studio partnerships decades earlier, themes like Classic Space, Pirates, Adventurers, Alpha Team, Bionicle, Knights' Kingdom, Exo-Force, and Agents could've easily gotten animated TV series or TV specials of their own. And it's not as though LEGO didn't have those sorts of aspirations — in 1986, LEGO and their partners at the ad agency Advance A/S (which later helped manage the Bionicle theme's successful marketing and media strategy) had hopes of creating an animated series, animated movie, and computer game starring Jim Spaceborn (a hero created for the LEGO Space theme's tie-in comic books). However, none of these plans aside from the comics ended up coming to fruition, and the Jim Spaceborn series as a whole came to an abrupt end in 1987 when LEGO shut down their in-house publishing division. In 2002, the failure of the Galidor theme and the TV series created to promote it further discouraged LEGO from investing in TV series for many years. As such, prior to 2010, even a lot of the most story- and character-driven LEGO themes had to rely on tie-in media that LEGO had more confidence investing in — stuff like short comics (either in print or online), picture books, middle-grade chapter books, board games, handheld video games, and Flash-based online games and animations. Even today, LEGO doesn't have a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy for their in-house themes. After all, themes like LEGO Dots, Creator, and Technic would have little to gain from story-driven media tie-ins like comics, chapter books, or animated series. And while in recent years we've seen an increase in sets and themes designed to tie in with app-based play experiences (like Nexo Knights, Boost, Technic Control+, Hidden Side, Super Mario, and Vidiyo), we've also seen considerably fewer new mobile apps for other story-driven/media-supported LEGO themes. For instance, although both LEGO Ninjago and LEGO Friends remain popular media-supported themes with their own animated series (either on TV or online), neither theme has had a new mobile app or video game since 2018. By contrast, from 2011 to 2016, story-driven themes like Ninjago, Legends of Chima, Elves, Hero Factory, and Bionicle got new mobile apps practically every year. So I think it's safe to say that LEGO has become considerably more selective about which themes might actually benefit from those sorts of digital tie-ins, with a particular focus on ones that involve interactions between the mobile app and the physical toys. All in all, I think the scripted story media approach would suit a future Castle theme better than the app/game approach, but that's just my personal feeling (after all, LEGO Elves is still by far the medieval fantasy theme that I've enjoyed the most, and its mobile apps were never really central to its concept or marketing in the way that they tend to be for LEGO's more recent app-supported themes). However, LEGO could always surprise me with some sort of media strategy I'd never have anticipated (and that goes for any new theme, Castle or otherwise). Certainly there have been a wide enough range of media strategies over the past decade to convince me that the current norms for LEGO themes are not set in stone. I think that depends on the kid in question. I know that in my case, I've pretty much never really cared much for spending money for a bunch of different copies of the same thing. That sort of feels like a waste to me, since I get much more enjoyment from a shelf full of different character designs (even if a lot of them are new or upgraded designs for the same characters) than from a shelf full of matching characters. But then, I know that experience isn't universal, even among other fans of the sorts of themes I enjoy like Ninjago or Bionicle. I'm sure there are probably plenty of Bionicle fans around my age who bought multiples of each Bohrok set in 2002 to have a more believable "swarm", or multiples of each Matoran set in 2003 for a more convincing population of villagers. Likewise, there are Ninjago fans who are particularly passionate about collecting figures depicting a particular character or faction — I know at least one popular Ninjago fan artist who specifically focuses on collecting different versions of Lloyd Garmadon, since he's their particular favorite ninja. And obviously, in some gaming-related hobbies, there are further strategic advantages to having multiples of the same wargaming figurine or trading card to use in a single session. It's not unimaginable to think that if LEGO brought the Castle theme back with a tie-in gaming element of some kind (whether a digital app game or a physical play experience), they could find a way to leverage that as a selling point for "army builder" type sets, even among kids who don't normally experience the "army building" itch. After all, if you get some kind of offensive or defensive bonus from having multiples of the same figure/"unit", are you really going to complain about a set or wave of sets having too many duplicates? This is a valid concern, but for what it's worth, it's also one of the reasons LEGO introduced the "Ninjago Legacy" subtheme in 2019. This way, a lot of the most popular or memorable vehicles, creatures, characters, or locations from the early seasons can be made available to kids who weren't able to collect them when those seasons originally aired, and often even with improved designs. For example, last year's Destiny's Bounty set from the Legacy range much more closely resembles its on-screen counterpart than the original set from 2012 (when the show's first season originally aired), and the functions, aesthetics, and play features have also been refined. Also, although the show is very continuity-driven, it's not written in such a way that you're strictly required to watch every episode in order to enjoy it. Like most TV series For comparison's sake, the first episode I ever saw of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" was "The Serpent's Pass" from midway through Season 2, but the episode was written in such a way that I could quickly get the gist of who the characters were and what their abilities, weaknesses, and goals were even without knowing the details of any of their previous adventures. Similarly, even a kid whose first Ninjago episode is from one of the most recent seasons will probably be able to pick up on enough context clues to follow along and develop an emotional connection to the characters as they work to overcome their latest challenges. So it's not as though kids can only enjoy sets based on those newer seasons if they've already been able to catch up on the storyline from the beginning. And anyway, most Ninjago sets are also designed in such a way that they make for an enjoyable building and play experience even if you don't know about their story context. Even in my own case, I actually haven't seen ANY of the "Master of the Mountain" episodes yet, since lately I've been focusing on watching the earlier seasons with my wife (who hadn't seen the series at all before we started dating — we're currently on Season 6, and it's become a favorite pastime on our weekly date nights ), but I was able to enjoy building the Skull Sorcerer's Dungeons and Skull Sorcerer's Dragon sets months ago without any issue. After all, even without knowing stuff like who the Skull Sorcerer is or what sort of evil plan he has that the ninja are trying to stop, it's not hard to enjoy a cool skeleton dragon, evil volcano lair, nifty fantasy creatures, and color-coded ninja heroes with awesome armor and weapons! And given the show's erratic release schedule and my general difficulty in keeping up with live TV premieres, this has been my experience with most new waves of sets — enjoy them for their sheer "coolness", then learn the context that gives a better appreciation for some of their details later on, when I actually get a chance to watch the new episodes. Suffice to say, LEGO generally doesn't design sets in a way that forces you to be an avid follower of the corresponding TV show to properly enjoy them.