REVIEW: Hogwarts Astronomy Tower

When LEGO revived the Harry Potter theme in 2018, it released the Great Hall set. This was the first of a series of modular Hogwarts sets, that can be combined into a large Hogwarts castle, featuring many of the important rooms within the castle. In 2020, the Astronomy tower was released in this series. Does it meet the standard set by the previous sets? Here are my thoughts…

75969 – Hogwarts Astronomy Tower

Hogwarts is the most important building in Harry Potter, and it was therefore not surprising to see the larger Hogwarts Great Hall set when the theme was brought back in 2018. And using Technic pins, this set could be connected with the smaller Hogwarts Whomping Willow set that also came out that year.

In 2019, the Hogwarts could be expanded further with the Hogwarts Clock Tower set released that year.

In 2020, we once again got two sets in the series. One was the Hogwarts Room of Requirement set, which is the smallest in the series so far, only featuring a single room. The other is the topic of this post, the Hogwarts Astronomy Tower set.

The 2020 sets mostly feature scenes from the fifth and sixth movies, and the Astronomy Tower set in particular focuses on key locations and characters from Harry Potter and the Half-blood prince. Let’s see what we get…

Box and content

The front of the box shows the buildings included in the set – dominated by the Astronomy tower and the two smaller viaduct towers. We also see a greenhouse, which is a nice addition to the castle, as Herbology is one of the classes mentioned a lot throughout the books. Behind the new buildings we see the shadows of the Clock Tower and Great Hall sets as well as snow covered mountains.

As usual, the lower left shows the minifigures included in the set. In this case we get eight figures, which is what you would expect from a set this size. An insert photo shows the set from the back. Turning over the box will show this in much more detail.

The back shows a large photo of the set seen from the back, with the interior of the various rooms visible. A number of insert photos show more detail. They are generally not zoomed in, but merely showing different scenes using the figures in the various rooms.

Opening the box, you will find the instruction booklet (packed in plastic along with a sticker sheet), one 8×16 dark bluish grey plate and six numbered bags with parts.

Let us have a closer look, starting with the minifigures.

Minifigures

Since the theme’s comeback in 2018, the LEGO Harry Potter sets have packed a decent amount of minifigures, typically with them being detailed representations of the characters in specific movie scenes.

In the Astronomy tower set, we get eight minifigures. These generally focus on Professor Horace Slughorn’s Christmas party, and it is great to have set of figures to recreate this scene. The odd ones out are Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown, who were not at the Christmas party. Instead they are included as they looked at the Gryffindor celebration after the Quidditch game, where they started kissing (much to Hermione’s dismay).

Here are four of the figures shown: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown. Harry and Hermione are in their Slughorn party dresses while Ron and Lavender, as mentioned above, are as they appeared in the post Quidditch game celebrations. The torso prints are highly detailed, and I’m pleased to see both Harry and Hermione have printed legs too, as many figures often use plain legs.

All figures have printed torso backs too. Also note that Lavender’s hair allows a Friends type bow to be attached, suiting her appearance from the movies nicely.

Finally, all four figures also comes with alternative face prints, as shown below.

Let us hurry on having a look at the remaining four figures: Professor Horace Slughorn, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood and Draco Malfoy.

Again, all figures have amazingly detailed torsos. While Slughorn and Luna may have the most detail, I do want to point out how pleased I am to see a Slytherin torso with their long robes and not just wearing a sweater. I’ve already ordered a few extra Draco minifigures on Bricklink to be able to create more Slytherin characters. Interestingly, his printed legs are the same as used for Harry Potter.

Again, all four figures have printed torso backs.

And as expected, they also all come with alternative face prints as shown below.

Overall, this gives us Slughorn and three of the invited guests (Harry, Hermione and Luna) and Neville who served at the event. Draco wasn’t actually invited, but was brought in by Mr Filch, who had caught him sulking around. It is also worth mentioning that Ginny Weasley is included in the Harry Potter Collectable Minifigure (CMF) Series 2.

Overall, this is a great set of minifigures. Let us see if the buildings stack up as well.

The build

In many of my reviews, I’ve discussed the builds plastic bag by plastic bag. There is often not a lot to discuss between two bags, so in this case, I will instead focus on the three main parts of the building. These will be discussed in the order they are built: The greenhouse, the viaduct entrance (the building with the two towers) and the Astronomy Tower.

The greenhouse

The greenhouse is built from the first bag and is rather small.

Here is what it looks like from the outside. The dark orange colour makes it stand out from the rest of the tan buildings. There is a bit of greenery on the side to emphasise it is a greenhouse, but I must say, I am not a fan of lime green plants, as they look unnatural (I know magical plants can probably have pretty much any colour, but I may still replace the lime green piece with a normal green).

From the other side, you can see the inside, with a large table with mandrakes ready for replanting. I appreciate providing a decent table with no less than four pots with mandrakes, but otherwise the greenhouse is rather empty and I would have preferred a slightly smaller table and some other plants filling up the room inside.

The greenhouse can be connected to the rest of the castle using the Technic pins on the side.

Overall, it is great to see a greenhouse again – which we haven’t seen since the 2007 Hogwarts castle (third edition). But it is a shame none of the figures included are related to this. You can however source such figures elsewhere, for example:

The Viaduct Entrance

Next up – using bags 2 and 3 – is the viaduct entrance. This is a building with a tower at both ends that stands at the end of the viaduct extending from the courtyard in front of the great hall. It is sometimes referred to as the Durham building as apparently inspired by the facade of Durham Cathedral. Below a photo of how it looked at Hogwarts (left) and the facade at Durham.

Our LEGO version is a very small scale version of this, but easily recognisable. Here is what it looks like from the front. Overall, I think they have captured this section of the castle quite well, considering the scale, and I’m pleased to see it included in the set. It would have looked better if bigger, but all the model designers must meet a specific price point, and I think they have done well in this case. It is interesting to see sand green make a (small) comeback – with some roof parts using that colour. Up until 2018, Hogwarts sets had used sand green as roof colour consistently, but with the modular Hogwarts series introduced in 2018 it shifted to use the more movie accurate dark bluish grey colour.

Turning the building around, you can see the interior. Because of the small size, it is restricted to a single room in one level.

The room represents Professor Slughorn’s Potions classroom, and includes a “Advanced Potion Making” book as well as a couple of student desks. As we had already had a Potions classroom in the Whomping Willow set, it is not a great choice of room, but a reasonable addition nevertheless.

The Astronomy Tower

Finally, the remaining bags allows us to build the Astronomy Tower. While the greenhouse and Viaduct Entrance were both built in rather small scale, the tower is impressive in height, featuring at ground level Slughorn’s Christmas party, followed by Slughorns office above it, continuing with the Ravenclaw common room and at last two levels of Astronomy classrooms at the top.

The photos below show the rooms in more detail (click to enlarge). The Ravenclaw common room includes a library with almost as many books as the main library. Hence the small bookshelf with the book and newspaper. It would have been nice if the while marble statue of Rowena Ravenclaw had been featured as well, but space is limited. What I like the most is the Astronomy equipment, which is very well built with nice part usage (NPU).

What I don’t like as much are the white door frames. I assume they are necessary for the model to be sturdy enough to comply with how solid LEGO models should be when sold as play sets. It is not really that they detract much from the visual appearance, but as they haven’t featured in any other sets, they break the consistency. It would have been less apparent if tan door frames had been used. I may replace them later – or redesign so the door frames are not required at all.

The completed model

This is what it looks like, putting all three parts together.

Now, Professor Slughorn can have his Christmas party…

… and Gryffindor their celebration – though Hermione is not having fun!

Conclusions

This is another strong addition to the modular Hogwarts set, with a great selection of figures, and new rooms added. It is great to see Ravenclaws common room – finally given some more exposure to this house (will we get Hufflepuff next year?) and an impressive Astronomy section.

As it was the case with the Clock Tower, the figures don’t really match the rooms included, so you will have to supplement with other sets to properly populate the various rooms. I think most buyers will have a number of other sets, so it will probably not be an issue for many.

The main negative is the use of the white frames, though I can live with that. Also, I would as mentioned have liked to see more greenery in the greenhouse.

But overall, a great set, which in particular excels when displayed along with some or all the other Hogwarts sets.

Will there be another Hogwarts modular in 2021? I would certainly think so. My guess would be centred around the court yard and viaduct and feature the battle of Hogwarts. Time will tell if my prediction is correct.

Till then, Build the Magic!

The top shelf is taking shape…

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Hogwarts Astronomy Tower

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