In this post I’m going to post some pictures. There are 16 photos of my Castle collection, and 10 Pirate. Enjoy. This is about all the Pirate photos I could post, but I could post plenty more closeups of castle sets.
I apologize for the bad photography. I am not a photographer, as anyone who sees these pictures will immediately be able to tell. Ah well, hopefully the intent comes across.
King’s Mountain Fortress
I decided to start this photo-article with a bunch of pictures focusing on one set, King’s Mountain Fortress. I got this set last year and reviewed it previously. It’s a set that has major design problems but I love anyway, something about it is just great to look at. I could fit this set onto the castle Lego table but for now I don’t want to, I like having it here by my computer to look at. Also seen in these pictures: Viking Voyager (the long ship head on in the first picture), King’s Oarsmen (the smaller blue-bottomed boat), and the Town Wall Tavern / Guarded Inn (my favorite midsize Lego set ever and my only other set with a Crusaders wall segment).
Even though I only got this set last year, and I fully acknowledge its many design flaws, this set has quickly become one of my favorites in my collection. It does not quite get into my top three because of its design problems, but if you try to ignore them and just look at it as a model I love the way this set looks. It’s a small castle on top of a mountain, with a gatehouse and guarded tower up a slope from the gate. This set reminds me in some ways of the great castle on the poster above, Hochosterwitz. Hochosterwitz is probably my favorite castle that I have been to myself, and I’ve had this poster up ever since. It is a castle with a long series of gates and a palace-ish fortress on top of the hill. The building on top of the hill is not the most impressive thing, but the long path and the many gates is just amazing. King’s Mountain Fortress, with its gate, hill, and tower, has some superficial similarities to Hochosterwitz. I put the set in this location before realizing this, but one I saw it I knew I had to keep this set here, and not over with the rest of the castle collection. Despite its problems I love this set. Also seen in this image are the Viking Voyager and King’s Oarsmen boats.
King’s Mountain Fortress is photogenic when viewed from the front, but from the back it is not very good looking at all. You have that bizarre giant jail door like door on the back of the tower, the extremely low wall along the side of the ramp, large openings on all four sides of the lower part of the tower, no ramparts along the insides of the gatehouse and the wall connecting the tower to the gatehouse, and more… I know some of this was done for play value so you can reach into the set and such, but still it’s very much a set that looks dramatically better from the front than from the back. That jail-style door on the tower is particularly strange, I really wonder what they were thinking when they chose to put that on the set… I don’t think the lady is supposed to be locked in that tower, it has a trap door and such implying it’s a noble’s chamber with a trap door to drop an offending visitor down to the ground below, so … why?
This is a closeup of the front of the set. Yes, I have six Crusader horse bardings. I only had one before last year, from Twin Arm Launcher (that knight is not in this shot, he’s on the Castle Lego table), but then the King’s Mountain Fortress set I got came with five, four seen here on horses plus the loose one in the tower. I should bring up the other big “why?” about this set, though: why are the flags blue and red? Crusaders colors are YELLOW and red, not blue! I have no idea what Lego was thinking, but this is an issue I will eventually correct. Lastly, in case anyone was wondering, the wooden things in the background are reproduction beehive covers from Slovenia.
King’s Mountain Fortress has a pin on the middle of the ramp side to attach it to the then-standard Lego Castle system of pins which attach wall sections. This set’s release year of 1990 would end up being the last year this design system was used, but it is a nice inclusion for attaching it to the many ’80s to ’90 sets which can attach… Except that, as you see here, the results are quite silly looking. The wall of the Town Wall Tavern (Guarded Inn) is actually ABOVE the wall of the side of the castle along the ramp! That’s just comically out of scale, the town wall should be far below that of the mountain castle…
Here you can more clearly see how much taller the regular town/castle wall is than the wall of this great castle. Things would look a little better if there was a regular wall for a while then the tavern farther down the wall, but any wall would have the same wall height issue.
The Main Castle Lego Table & Shelf
I quite recently re-organized this area by adding the shelf above the table. The four modern ’21-’22 Castle sets are on the shelf, and the classic ’84-’10 sets are on the table below, apart from the King’s Mountain Fortress and the two Crusaders boats of course.
There are a lot of sets in this image so I’m not going to list them all, but they are almost all sets I reviewed in my Castle Lego review series, so go see that. There are only a few sets not reviewed in that series, most notably my most recent purchase, the Dragon Masters castle on the center right.
Here is a closer view of the table, showing most of the castle. Yeah, it’s a lot of stuff for this medium-sized wooden desk.
In the back corner we have I’ve got my two Dark Forest sets, my two Wolfpack sets (their cart is behind the Town Wall Tavern), the one Castle 2010 set I have with its huge dragon, some Crusaders stuff in the center with the Town Wall Cavern and a few carts plus the Twin Arm Launcher just off shot on the bottom, and my Black Knights sets on the left. I attached Black Knights’ Ghost to the side of the Knights’ Stronghold even though the connection is not straight because they have the attachment points so why not, right? What else would you attach either of these sets to? The only other Black Knights set with attachment pins is their first castle, which I don’t have and if I did would keep as a closed circuit anyway.
Here you can see the front of the Dungeon Master’s Castle up close. I could do a series of images of that set sometime, it is one of Lego’s greatest design accomplishments. In front of it are two of the Crusader carts, the Twin Arm Launcher, the back of the Black Falcon’s Fortress, and something you could not see from the full shot, the Black Falcons’ guardhouse. I’ve always liked that set for some reason, probably because of how long I’ve had it for… but of course, like a lot of people I was definitely a Black Falcons fan. And yes, I do wish that I had taped the Black Falcon flag to a black flagpole, but too late now, that old tape would probably ruin the flag if I tried to take it off.
Here in the middle front of the table is my Dragon Masters collection, now significantly expanded with their castle, Fire Breathing Fortress, that I just got last month. It’s a set I had never seen in person before buying, but based on looking at it have always had mixed feelings for; it’s an okay fortress but there is almost no internal space in the castle other than that in the dragon’s den, there is no wall walk over the front door, there’s no wall at all along the hillside, that giant dragon head over the hill is silly looking, and more. On the other hand though, it has a staircase going to the upper level! That’s rare in Lego and is fantastic to see. I will write my thoughts out about this set in more detail in a separate review but as much as I like the Dragon Masters as a theme, and I do — I’ve always liked the Dark Dragon’s Den (left front) and their other sets I got back then — but their main castle… it’s okay but is certainly not one of Lego’s best. Otherwise, yes, I have two Dragon Wagons and two of their crossbow cart sets as well.
This closeup shows the two Crossbow Carts, along with some of the Dragon Masters knights in their cool capes and horses with the neat dragon headpieces.
In this corner you find my Royal Knights collection. This is every single Royal Knights set, excepting only the Royal Knights carriage from Dark Forest Fortress, a set I sadly do not have ($$$!). I’ve always liked the Royal Knights, I think the theme deserved more sets. They have a great aesthetic and mostly good designs too; the Royal Drawbridge particularly gets way too much hate! In the upper right you will also see my one Knights Kingdom I set, with the two little towers. I’m sorry for the dust but the Royal Knights Castle is a set I got new and have left assembled ever since, it is far too great to take apart…
My two classic Forestmen sets are in the opposite corner of the table from their later Wolfpack and Dark Forest followups. The tower is the one Forestmen set I got as a kid, and it’s great to see it assembled again after decades of being in pieces. The River Fortress is another one of those sets that is one part amazing and one part deeply flawed, with a fantastic looking exterior and literally no interior of any note. That’s the kind of mistake modern Lego would never make. It still looks great on the outside, though.
This currently available Creator set is my only Vikings set, since I do not have any sets from the original Vikings line; I was not buying Lego sets anymore at that point. It’s a nice set, though huge compared to the little Viking Voyager or medium-sized Sea Serpent… heh. It’s on top of an Odyssey 2 with an old computer cover on top of it. It’s a nice location because the uneven surface gives it a somewhat ocean wave-like feel. I like the set. My main issue with it is that I like more realistic theming better, and that giant sea dragon is not realistic. Similarly, I don’t like the dragon that comes with the [Black Falcons’] Creator Castle that is also still on the market, that’s not like the ’80s sets at all! If you look at the first picture of this section you will see where I put it, it’s not by the castle. Ah well.
I got a few Lego Elves sets over the past year, most notably Ragana’s castle, and put them here, on top of a dresser full of cartridge games, along with a bunch of my Atari 2600 and Intellivision games. The Elves line is from the ’10s and was aimed at girls, so I was definitely not in the target audience and didn’t know about the line while it was available, but looking back at them they have some pretty interesting set design ideas in some of them. I like how Ragana’s fortress has some classic Lego design elements, such as the flipping bridge, the exploding prison, and the catapult that the good elves have to besiege the fortress with. The catapult is sadly just out of frame to the right. The fortress is mostly good looking, too. It is just a facade and not a full castle, but still it looks nice. As a castle fan I don’t know that I like what I have seen of any of the other Elves sets as much as this fortress, since I don’t think that most of the rest are nearly as Classic Castle-like as this one…
And last, here are my Pirates sets. As I said in my Pirate set review article, I’ve got a bunch of the first wave sets, though sadly still not El Dorado Fortress, two Islanders sets, and that’s it; I do not have any of the Imperial Guards sets or their pirate counterparts, any of the last classic wave, or any of the reboot pirate sets Lego has made here and there. There are some good ones I perhaps should have gotten, but I’ve always thought that while the Black Seas Barracuda is an absolutely exceptional set, when I’ve already got one this amazing do I really need some almost-certainly-inferior other ships alongside it? I’d rather spend my money on other things; Lego ships are expensive, after all.
With that said, I know it’s discontinued now but I really should get Pirates of Barracuda Bay, along with El Dorado Fortress and more sets from the first wave. As for the sets of ’92 to ’97 or the other two Pirate reboots, though … eh, maybe someday if I had more space to display Legos in, but I really do like the first wave of Pirate set designs the best.
Until last year, this was my Pirates collection, pretty much. This shipwreck-like construction was the result of my first attempt at re-constructing the Black Seas Barracuda; I got the base of the set fixed up, though a lot of this always was assembled, but failed to find the pieces for the rest of it. I would try again in ’22 with much greater success.
This is all of my Pirates sets now. It’s not a large collection but they are all sets I like a lot and got back when they were new.
Forbidden Island is the set of these in the worst shape, it’s missing a lot of pieces… but considering how long I’ve had this set for and that it has been disassembled for a long time, when I built it again I was more surprised that I actually found as many of the parts as I did. The middle section of the mast is the big thing missing, along with non-broken palm leaves.
Here is a closer shot of the Imperial and Islanders sets. I really like the Islanders catamaran and the Broadside’s Brig set. The rotating cannon platform on the small boat is also a fun design. I wish I had one more cannon
Here is where I keep these sets. Yes, it’s the same spot where the “shipwreck” Black Seas Barracuda used to be. This shows closer-up imagery of the Islanders sets. As I said in my Pirates set review article, thematically the Islanders make absolutely no sense whatsoever since they are clearly South Pacific islander-themed in a series mostly about Caribbean Pirates, but at least they are reasonably accurate-ish south seas islanders, as far as costuming and such goes. Is this Lego’s only ever shirtless female minifigure torso? There are definitely ‘are these designs made by Europeans accurate representations of Oceanic people? Probably not?’ questions to be asked for sure.
And to conclude, a series of images of the main event as far as pirates go, the two pirate ships of the first wave. They look great after all these years. The Imperial ship is missing some parts, such as its string that goes over the top, and the Pirate ship’s front mast is probably permanently crumpled and its back hinge does not stay up anymore, but otherwise they look great.
Here is a closer-up view of the other ship, the Caribbean Clipper. It’s an okay ship but is a much simpler design than its larger sibling. I think they cut back a bit too much here. I know a good number of parts are missing from this set, but most of the set is here.
Here you can see the interior of the ship, or lack thereof. There isn’t even a deck in this ship, just the base of the hull inside! It’s pretty cheap looking compared to the Black Seas Barracuda. There isn’t a door on the back cabin either.
In comparison, the spectacular Black Seas Barracuda has decks around the sides of the gunwell and a cabin in the back. There isn’t much in the cabin but at least it’s there, with a floor and a pair of nice double doors. Access into the cabin is easy too, as the back and top of the cabin both are hinged, along with those two double doors into the middle of the ship as well. The cargo hoist on a hook, hanging in the center, is yet another of the many nice touches this ship has. Oh, I do have a couple of extra pirate figures on this ship, you have a few on top of the eight that came with the set originally.
And lastly, a full shot of the Black Seas Barracuda’s sails. It looks awesome. I wish that front sail could be un-crimpled, but otherwise it looks great and the cloth sails have held up very well. This is one of the only pirate ships with double-side-printed cloth sails, too; pretty much any modern one has printing on the sail on only one side.