REVIEW: Hogwarts Castle – Part 1

We have been accustomed to getting a large so-called direct-to-consumer (D2C) Harry Potter set every year around the “back to Hogwarts” day September 1st. The micro-scale Hogwarts castle started it all in 2018, then we had a break in 2019, but with D2C sets having appeared since then. Here, I’ll (finally) review the set that started it all…

When this set came out in 2018, I was busy building my own even bigger (as minifigure scale) Hogwarts castle, so I didn’t really have the time – nor the space to build it. In the following years, newer sets came out and took priority, but it has been bothering me, that it is the only larger Harry Potter set released since 2018 that I haven’t reviewed.

I’ve seen how impressed most are when building it, so I’m pleased that I now finally have the time and space (well, kind of) to build it myself. As a pretty substantial set, I will break up the review into several smaller posts, with this being the first of (expectedly) four posts, one for each of the instructions booklets basically.

Background

Soon after the release of the set, I was lucky was in Denmark and managed to catch up with the set designer, Justin Ramsden. You can read this post to see read the full story about that.

But part of the discussion was around the feeling they wanted the builder to experience.

Anyone who has seen Hogwarts sitting on the cliff top in Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Orlando or the huge Hogwarts model at Harry Potter Studios tour in London, would have been amazed by the view ahead of them. Imagine being an 11-year old first year Hogwarts student – this is what they would have seen and felt on their way across the lake towards the castle.

‘Yeh’ll get yer firs’ sight o’ Hogwarts in a sec,’ Hagrid called over his shoulder, ‘jus’ round this bend here.’

There was a loud ‘Oooooh!’.

The narrow path had opened suddenly on to the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

egali-intercambio-harry-potter-01
Hogwarts dominate the skyline at Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort

Capturing this feeling of awe was also one of the objectives behind the new LEGO Hogwarts Castle.

Justin followed through with his design – not just the of the Castle, but also the build process, taking the builders of the LEGO set on the same journey. It starts with building the boats that brought the 1 year students across the black lake. Then building the boat-house, the stairs up the hill, and then the Great Hall, ready to sort the students into their Hogwarts houses.

Now it is finally my turn to follow that same journey, so time to get the box on the table!

Box and content

Okay, this is a big one. The box is massive – both in size and weight! The front was the typical 2018 livery with silver coloured Harry Potter logo (since we’ve had gold) and otherwise a big photo of the castle when built standing majestically in a moonlit night. Five boats are heading for the boathouse, bringing the first year students to castle for their first welcome feast, and most importantly the sorting ceremony.

In the lower left corner a banner with the four included minifigures are shown. None of these are the typical Harry Potter main characters we see in all other sets – instead we get minifigures of the four founders of Hogwarts: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin and Rowena Ravenclaw.

Four minifigures is not a lot for such a large set, but that is because they do not fit the scale of the castle. Instead the set provides no less than 32 micro-figures, small statuettes with printing to represent all your favourite characters from the movies, including some bad guys (you know who, Bellatrix and five dementors).

On the back of the box, we get to see the castle from the other side. Here, it is open – so you can see all the familiar rooms from the movies (well, maybe not all, but they have succeeded in including a lot of rooms), and those rooms are very well done, considering the we are working in micro-scale, where adding detail is difficult. The rooms feature in a number of insert photos along the sides, and we also get to see a few micro-models that supplement the castle, such as Hagrid’s hut and the Hungarian Horntail dragon.

Overall, it presents the castle very well, and you seriously can’t wait to get started. So I hurried opening the box…

Often LEGO boxes include a lot of air, rather than actual bricks. Not in this case, it is pretty packed with plastic bags with parts (some were in a separate box within the box) along with the instructions of course.

Taking stock, this set include 37 numbered bags of parts, three unnumbered bags with larger parts and a plastic bag with the four instruction booklets and four sticker sheets.

The instruction books are well printed, with sharp glossy printing, though the pages are rather thin.

And yes, you read correctly – this set includes four sticker sheets, which I know will be annoying for some. Printing so many pieces would really blow out cost, and I know there were included to really bring the castle to life. I think they do succeed in that, and I didn’t really struggle applying them, thought there were a few where I thought whether they really were needed.

I was now ready to build. I decided to do it the slow way – only doing one bag per day. For those who follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the daily posts I did while building it.

The build – Book 1

Bag 1 has been opened, and I’ve officially started.

I would normally start with reviewing the minifigures, but these are provided throughout the build. So instead, I will in this post focus on the Castle parts built from book 1, and summarise the minifigures and microscale figures in the last part, when I have all of them.

So leaving the minifigure from bag 1 aside (and a small bag of microscale figures too), the first part of the build was making five small boats, bringing the first year students to Hogwarts for their first welcome feast – and even more important – the sorting ceremony. The boats are quite simple, but effective – using a curved window frame as the base of the boat – great part usage!

The boats need a destination – and that is the boat house. So naturally, we continue with that.

It need a small tower to finish, but surprisingly, that was one of the last things to be completed in book 1.

We now proceeded building the base on half the castle – the other half comes in book 3. The base is very strong, using a mix of Technic beams, plates and normal bricks.

Then we get to the next “recognisable” room, with the Chamber of Secrets suddenly taking shape.

Next to it comes the entrance with the “snake” locks.

After this, the rocks are built around the base. The cliffs are built using a dark tan colour with light and dark bluish grey, dark green and olive green scattered around to break it up. It works really well. Tan slopes represents the stairs leading up from the boat house.

Here is the castle at the end of book 1.

To be continued…

So far, its been really cool, even though a lot of this is rock work. Next up is book 2, which marks the shift from building the rock base to building the castle on top.

Long overdue, you hopefully wont get to wait long to see this.

Till then, Build the magic!

(Note that the set was kindly provided by LEGO to review – the views expressed in this post are however my own)

4 thoughts on “REVIEW: Hogwarts Castle – Part 1

  1. I received mine just before school started and haven’t had time to start it (I teach). Plus, I’m trying to think of the best way to display so all sides are visible. . . I’m thinking big, creating a lake, etc. Then maybe placing the other buildings-clock tower, astronomy, burrow, Hagrid, etc- at the periphery. Nice work!!! Love your blog!

    Like

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