Recently I have been posting some progress photos of my current build – a large scale castle/landscape build which I hope to show at Brickvention 2022 – and this has drawn some great feedback as well as a few questions, so I thought I might go into detail on a few of the choices I have made and the reasons behind them.

First and foremost the aim of this build is to showcase what I love about those classic mid-80s Castle sets and specifically my two favourite factions, the Black Falcons and the Forestmen. I am drawing inspiration from the original sets featuring each faction, specifically what I loved about them as a child and aim to contrast that with what appeals to me as an adult builder.

I started the process as I always do when looking to revisit a classic theme, by looking at all the original sets in as much detail as I could find.

There are several specific sets that I paid close attention to, either because I had them as a child – and vividly remember building and playing with them – or because I can remember studying them longingly in the LEGO catalogue as a child.

I have already talked a little bit about 6066 Camouflaged Outpost here, but the main castle set that I wanted to concentrate on is the one that gave the faction their name, 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress.

There are a few design elements from this castle that I believe are must-haves for a Black Falcons castle, not many, but I wanted to make sure my new castle carried them through from the original sets.

Angular/polygonal tower designs

To me, nothing says LEGO castle like those angular/polygonal towers with the 45 degree corners. There is no way my castle was going to have square (or indeed round) gatehouse towers.

Light grey walls

I know there are later sets with predominately black and dark grey castles but in the 1986, when I was six years old, LEGO castles were light grey. Light grey says castle as far as I am concerned and I did not even think once about using another colour.

Tudor-y elements

Whilst I never had this castle as a child I always coverted the tudor panel, it was such an interesting detail. I decided that this little piece of style information had to be referenced in my castle build and it would bring an added benefit in that there would be several materials to work with in my castle, not just stone, making it more visually dynamic and interesting to look at.

Black tiled roof

As with the light grey stone work, it is clear that Black Falcons castles have black tiled roofs. I did think about using another colour like dark grey or dark brown, but decided to stick with black.

Okay so once we get past looking at the sets for inspiration, the next step was to look at all the castle builds ever (or as many as I could find online).

By looking at builds that have come before I am doing two things – firstly – I don’t know all possible building techniques and styles, so looking at where others have gone before gives me a good idea of what techniques I like the look of – as well as what I don’t believe is successful and would want to avoid in my build – and secondly, I want to make sure that my castle is different from what others have built in the past.

Half and half

My castle will be half of the finished display, with a large underground cave network as the other half comprising of the Forestmen’s hideout. My aim is to have two similarly weighted strongholds side by side.

Once the terrain elements were largely completed I roughed in the footprint of the castle, using duplo to build up height as required (this will be completely hidden from view when the build is displayed).

Varied ground level

I knew that I wanted to have several levels in the castle including underground dungeon like spaces, but also that the ground level in the castle would vary as if it was built to fit the landscape rather than the other way around. A lot of castle builds are built on one level, and I reckon they are missing an opportunity to create a more visual interesting – and dare I say it, more realistic – castle.


I decided pretty early on that my castle would have wooden elements to break up all the grey, these would take the form of walkways at the top of the curtain walls, lean-to like structures inside the walls, the internal floor structures of each building as well as the ‘Tudor-y’ bits mentioned above.

Cross sections

Another element of my castle that I am trying to make as realistic as possible is the cross sections, where a building is cut in half I am showing the interior rubble between the stone inner and outer wall as well as the beams holding up the wooden structures and floors cantilevered into the walls.

Texture, texture everywhere

As you have hopefully noticed, I am aiming to use texture as much as possible in walls, ground and floors, my preference is for single colour texture, where each colour represents a particular material eg: light grey for stone, reddish brown for wood etc. I know that it can look great to mix several colours together to suggest graduation of tone and texture, however I aim to do this through contrasting textures.

A note about contrast

I have had a couple of people comment and tell me that I should be using dark grey for the stone around my castle, or for contrasting details like corbels and lintels, and I have seen that there are a lot of castle builds out there that follow this convention however in the real world castles are built from stone quarried as close as possible to where they are built. If the surrounding stone is light grey the castle is also going to be predominately light grey. I understand completely why other builders might want to use a contrasting colour for stone around their castle to make the castle itself stand out better against the landscaping or to make certain architectural details stand out from the walls but I am aiming instead to use different textures to signify cut stone versus natural stone.

Anyway, so here is a photo showing where I am up to as of today. I am still a fair way from completing my castle build, but a lot of the design decisions and techniques have been nailed down now, I would love to know how you think it is coming along!