The Lion Knights’ Castle (10305) was released as an Icons set in 2022 to celebrate Lego’s 90th anniversary. Fans had the chance to vote for their favourite classic Lego themes and Castle emerged victorious, with the response also prompting the release of the smaller, yet just as classy, Galaxy Explorer (10497).
However, a mix of classic callbacks and an overall modern build makes this one of the best Lego sets ever and an enticing prospect for diehard brick builders and fantasy fanatics alike. If you’re an Elden Ring (opens in new tab) or Witcher (opens in new tab) fan, this might not be Stormveil Castle or Kaer Morhen, but it’s a mighty fine replica of a high fantasy-themed fortress nonetheless.
Lego's Castle theme dates back to 1978’s famed 'Yellow' Castle (375), but according to the instruction booklet intro spiel, its main inspiration was 1984’s King’s Castle (6080). And indeed, lifelong Lego fans will notice plenty of details inspired by various kits throughout the years, as well as the very subtly redesigned Lion Knights’ insignia.
The Lion Knights’ Castle was a hugely important set for Lego to get right. After all, Castle fans might be feeling a little left out, with only the Creator 3 in 1 Medieval Castle (opens in new tab) (31120) and Ideas Medieval Blacksmith (opens in new tab) (21325) to whet their middle-aged appetite. For that reason alone, the Lion Knights’ Castle is an extra-tempting offering, even at its hefty MSRP of $399.99 (opens in new tab) / £344.99 (opens in new tab). But even if Castles was never your thing, it’s not just a throwback to the classics, it’s a modern classic in its own right.
|Price||$399.99 / £344.99|
How easy is it to build?
- 4,514 pieces
- Neat drawbridge mechanism
- Simple yet cleverly-implemented techniques
This mammoth set’s 4,514 pieces are broken down into 26 stages across two instruction booklets and took just over 11 hours to build. It comprises two similarly sized modular sections that take up an instruction booklet each. The first is used to construct the left-hand section, which contains a long section of wall, a couple of turrets, and the cottage.
You begin by putting together the mead keg, market stall and wagon, before tackling the kitchen, hideout, living space, water mill, and banquet hall. The cottage walls are then put together, along with the children’s room and bed chamber, before the slightly tedious, yet visually impressive, thatched roof. The closing stages require you to build a pair of turrets and finish with a few landscape details.
The gatehouse, tree, and turret that take up the second booklet is arguably the more involved build. Once you’ve constructed the foundation you move onto the treasury, dungeon, tree base, and hideout. The focus is then shifted back and forth across multiple tasks as you build up the huge gatehouse, tree, and fathom a trio of clever mechanisms: the draw-bridge, back-door, and portcullis. You then tackle multiple parapets in tandem before finishing with the bridge and a weapons rack.
The Lion Knights’ Castle feels like a very large modular building, since much of your time is spent building up walls and decking out interiors. As such, most of the build is relatively simple, but younger builders may find more tedious sections too much to handle without supervision – hence the 18+ moniker.
While the build techniques themselves are rarely challenging, you’re often required to place a large number of bricks in a single step, particularly towards the end. At one point, you’re asked to lay down a whopping 42 1 x 1 tiles, with only a single diagram for reference. The best Lego Star Wars sets are sometimes playfully mocked for their propensity for big, grey ships, and this is a big, grey castle. As such, you’ll be laying down a lot of grey tiles, meaning it’s easy to miss a brick here and there if you’re not paying attention.
Far and away the most challenging building technique is the drawbridge, which uses Technic axles, gears, and chains to create a neat winching system. However, setting the drawbridge in position took us a few tries, since the diagram could have been a little clearer.
Just because a building technique is simple, doesn’t mean it isn’t clever... and throughout the build we were constantly impressed by clever uses of existing Lego components and a variety of SNOT-brick applications. The stairway that leads up to the back door is one such example. You build it in an upright position before rotating it 90 degrees and attaching it using SNOT bricks. The result is a beautiful staircase that’s completely devoid of visible studs.
- Opens up to reveal a full interior
- 22 Minifigures
- No stickers!
Lego appears to have based the Lion Knights’ Castle on structures from the late medieval period and the gatehouse in particular reminds me of Bodiam Castle’s iconic frontage. The castle walls and turrets really look the part with a plethora of period details including ramparts, arrow slits, a working drawbridge and a portcullis that slams down in an instant, thanks to a clever Technic mechanism.
Lego has offset the masses of grey bricks by adorning the structure with a variety of colourful details and beautifully designed curiosities including a medieval cottage, flowery window boxes, ornate architectural details, climbing plants, and a large tree. The latter’s black trunk is a neat ode to the Forestmen sets released from 1987-1990, which also featured black and green foliage.
A large part of the castle’s charm is its irregular design. Largely symmetrical castles do exist and Lego could have easily replicated this via a couple of large baseplates. But many castles were added to or altered over the years and the Lion Knights' Castle reflects this. The hulking set is built atop a variety of differently shaped tiles, resulting in a build that’s both believable and bursting with character.
While the Lion Knights' Castle comprises thousands of pieces and stands as one of the larger Lego sets ever created, it’s still only a small section of what would be a Minifigure-scale castle. After all, it doesn’t even have a keep. But despite the necessary limitations, the designers have done a marvellous job of hiding the set’s diminutive size (comparative to the real world). It can be hinged open to create a sprawling folly or closed up to create a self-contained castle that can be viewed from any angle. In both instances, it looks suitably sized and the absent keep isn’t missed.
Open the set up and you’ll find a beautifully detailed dollhouse-like interior, with more than ten rooms including a bed chamber, mill, kitchen, armory, and even a medieval toilet – complete with a sponge on a stick…
One glaring omission is the lack of a throne room. This is a missed opportunity and could have been easily added to or swapped out for the living space with a harpsichord.
But that aside, each room is bursting with neat details like the working millstone, dungeon cell occupied with a skeleton, or throwback to the original 1978 Castle (375), via the yellow miniature in the children's playroom. There’s even a secret hideout for the forest people to plot their next raid, hidden behind the rock face next to the tree.
The vast majority of Lego builders will be happy to know that there isn’t a sticker in sight. And while there aren’t lots of printed pieces beyond the Minifigures, we certainly weren't left wanting and this still adds to the premium feel.
The Minifigure selection is just as grand as the castle itself. You get a huge roster of 22 figures: nine Lion Knights, the Lady of the Brave Lion (queen), three Black Falcon knights, two forest people, two children, two peasants, Tavern Keeper, Majisto Wizard, and skeleton. And that’s not including two horses, a cow, bird, lamb, and several frogs.
Since Lego is a toy that can be enjoyed by everyone, it’s nice to see knights of various genders, and while Lego could have supplied nine near-identical Lion Knights, the variety of face prints and gear are fantastic. The herald trumpeter, for example, has puffed out cheeks and the sleeping guard is a hilarious and charming highlight.
Should you buy the Lego Lion Knights' Castle?
Dig out the herald trumpets, because this set deserves much fanfare. While this 90th anniversary set is a not-so-subtle nod to Lego's coveted past, it’s also a shining example of everything it’s accomplished since. It's a modern masterpiece that’s more than capable of capturing the imagination of brick-building newcomers, but it's also infused with enough nostalgia to transport Lego-loving adults right back to the Castle theme's '70s, '80s, and '90s heyday.
It’s a shame there’s no throne room and with a price-per-piece ratio of just 8.9 cents, it’s perhaps slightly pricey for a non-licensed product. But overall, it’s hard to find fault. It’s enormous, it’s detailed, it’s stunning to look at, and perhaps most importantly, it took us right back to our childhood bedroom floor. If this is how Lego celebrates its 90th, 2032 can’t come soon enough.
Buy it if...
You’re a middle ages aficionado
Like visiting castles, The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Dungeons & Dragons, The Witcher, or anything else medieval or high-fantasy themed? This set's for you!
You’re hoping Lego will bring back its Castle theme
If you're of the mindset that Lego’s Castle theme should still be a mainstay, you'll revel in the Lion Knights' Castle's generous dollop of brick-building nostalgia.
Don't buy it if...
You’re running out of room!
The Eiffel Tower (10307) has already taken up the dining room table and you’ve now hired a storage locker to dump all those Star Wars battle packs you never opened. You know who you are!
You've already splashed your cash
Already spent your 2023 Lego allowance on Hogwarts Castle (opens in new tab) (71043) and are now saving for The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell (opens in new tab) (10316)? We get it.
How we tested the Lego Lion Knights' Castle
I built the Lion Knights' Castle during 11 hours and across four evenings. An instruction booklet for each of the two modules would make it an ideal co-operative build and due to the special nature of this 90th anniversary set, I’d recommend putting it together in leisurely increments to savour what is one of the finest Lego sets ever produced.
For more information on our procedure, take a look at how we test products.
This review sample was provided by Lego.
For more brick-based goodness, don't miss our guides to the best Lego Super Mario sets. You can also get some money off with these Lego deals.