The Bricklink Designer program 2021 invitational brought back several amazing fan concepts from LEGO® Ideas. These were 10K sets that did not make it through the final LEGO® Group assessment. However, through crowdfunding, several sets saw the light of day. In round one, the hottest set was Castle in the Forest (910001). 10,000 copies sold out within the first 30 minutes of crowdfunding. Luckily, I was able to score one. Growing up, Castles was one of my favorite themes. Additionally, this set includes Black Falcon Knights, which were one of my favorite factions. Today, we’ll take a closer look at the much sought-after Castle in the Forest.
This review is part of True North Bricks’ Castles Week 2022. For more content, click here!
SUMMARY OF CASTLE IN THE FOREST (910001)
- NAME: Castle in the Forest
- SET #: 910001
- THEME: Bricklink Designer Program (Round 1)
- COST: $229.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 1957
- MINIFIGURES: 6
- RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2021 (pre-order)
QUICK REVIEW FOR CASTLE IN THE FOREST
- VALUE: 94% (At the original price, it was a good cost-per-brick and excellent build time.)
- BUILD: 97% (Wonderful build with only a small number of nitpicky issues.)
- MINIFIGURES: 94% (A solid number of well-designed characters for an 18+ set.)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 95% (Inspiring build with great display and play potential.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 95% (Excellent set.)
CASTLE IN THE FOREST (910001) REVIEW
If you are among the lucky 10,000 to acquire Castle in the Forest, it cost $229.99 CAD. As I write this, the set averages almost $580 CAD on Bricklink. However, at the original price, the cost-per-brick for the set was $0.117 CAD. That is a good value compared to LEGO® sets in general. Based on all the kits reviewed at True North Bricks, the average cost-per-brick is usually around $0.14. While it is unlikely you will ever find the set for the intended price, I still rate the cost-per-brick of Castle in Forest at 87%.
Interestingly, Castle in the Forest also provided a lot of build time. Sets of comparable size usually take me between two to four hours, depending on intricacy of the build. Castle in the Forest occupied me for eight hours and 19 minutes. Consequently, the cost-per-minute of build time was $0.46. That is outright amazing, and among the best I’ve seen. This set earns a solid 100% in terms of assembly time. Taking the average of this and the cost-per-brick score gives an overall value rating of 94%.
Castle in the Forest is a beautifully designed set. It really has the feel of an old keep in the woods that has fallen into some disrepair. It is the perfect hideout for forest people. Both exterior and interior feature intricate detailing. The set really shows the level of care you would expect from an AFOL designer. While details abound, I particularly like the portcullis and the embrasure design. Additionally, the vegetation around the exterior is lush, and the building swings open in three places revealing elaborate interiors.
The keep sits on a rocky outcrop with water around it. Consequently, the cave inside the rock is mostly water filled (i.e., blue plating). To either side of the water, you find solid ground. One side of the cave features a secret bedroom. The other hides a treasure chest. On the bedroom side, a ladder rises out of the cave and leads to the keep wall behind the fireplace. Incidentally, the fireplace doubles as a secret passage out of the castle. This area represents one of my minor issues with the set. The exterior rock face swings open and closed. It joins the main set at an angle. Because of this, the roof of the cave is very open. I wish it was a little more concealed.
Secret passageways provide access to the caves below the castle.
The main floor of the keep is up some stairs from the forest floor. A winch on the roof of the keep opens the portcullis. Structurally, you build a hollow space into the front wall of the building. The door uses the space like a track to raise and lower. Inside the keep, you find the aforementioned fireplace to one side. On the other side, stairs lead up to the upper levels. Next to the stairs, the hall has weapons storage. Of course, the entry hall would not be complete without a trap door. In the center of the room, the floor gives way into the watery cave below. You access this level and the one directly above by swinging open the rear wall of the structure.
The stairs leave the main hall and lead up to a landing before continuing up. The landing doubles as a little room. This section of the tower also hinges open. Interestingly, you also access the hidden treasure chests in the cave below this way. Outside, a tree grows alongside the keep. At its base you find a hollowed-out area concealed by shrubbery. This is another entrance to cave below the castle. Another of my contentious issues arises here. The room on this side of the tower has a nicely designed roof with a worn look. However, above it, the keep wall extends up to the roof. This keep wall is only one brick-width. It juts above the roof with no support. Consequently, opening this side of the building by pulling on that section of wall often causes the wall to break off.
One section of the side wall detaches quite easily.
One aspect I do not fully understand about the side section of the castle is the curious crawl space between the cave and the room above. It could be a secret passage. However, it does not have an opening into either the castle or the cave. It does open to the exterior on both sides though. The passage also contains a bucket.
The top floor features a meeting room with only a central table. Additionally, a side door leads out to a balcony, while a ladder goes up to the roof. The ladder ends in a trapdoor. On the roof, you find the portcullis winch and a rack for spears. Another minor contentious issue arises around the exterior of the roof. The castle as some simulated stonework just under the parapet. It looks wonderful. However, each piece is very loosely held in place and falls off at a touch. The pieces are only held in place by one stud from above, and not fixed to the wall. Again, it looks nice, but it is not sturdy.
Ultimately, Castle in the Forest is a beautiful build and a Castles fan’s dream. If you own one of the limited 10,000 sets, you are in for a treat building this one (if you have not already). My issues with the build are small, and rather nitpicky. To summarize, I wish the cave roof was better sealed on one side. Additionally, the upper keep wall on the other side is a bit weak. Finally, the parapet detailing is not very sturdy. Otherwise, I really love this built. For build, I rate Castle in the Forest at 97%.
Castle in the Forest includes six minifigs. Four are forest people, and two are Black Falcon knights. The Black Falcons have the same printing as in Medieval Blacksmith and Medieval Castle. The forest folk all feature front and back torso printing, but no leg printing. Only one of the knights has a double-sided face. In terms of accessories, the set includes a horse, nine swords, three spears, three bows, three quivers, six shields, a crossbow, an owl, a blue bird, chest plate armor, a treasure chest, two goblets, a bucket, a pot, a barrel, a crate, a mug, a frog, a pitchfork, a backpack, and an extra helmet. The Black Falcon shields have printing, but the forest people shields are stickers on plain grey shields. In terms of design and accessories, these minifigs earn an easy 100%.
Six Minifigures in a 1957-piece kit equates to 326 bricks/fig. Compared to an 18+ or Icons set, that is fairly standard. The True North Bricks average for this theme is 381 bricks/fig. However, in terms of LEGO® sets in general, the minifig offering is quite low. Our average across all themes is around 170 bricks/fig. I am loathe to deduct marks based on the comparison to general LEGO® sets. This is not a general LEGO® set, it is a limited-edition collector’s item. As such, I will rate the brick-to-fig ratio only based on the Icons line of sets. Consequently, I award Castle in the Forest 87% in this category. Averaging this with the design score gives an overall Minifigure rating of 94%.
One of the key factors I consider in the entertainment score is whether or not a set makes a nice display piece. Castle in the Forest undoubtedly earns full marks in that category. Sitting on a shelf, this set looks amazing. However, if you want to build a custom medieval scene, the set poses some challenges. Firstly, it is not on a baseplate, rather three adjoining sections that meet at odd angles. Secondly, the build hinges open in three different places. Consequently, it is not ready to drop into a custom scene. You need to restructure the base and convert side sections into a modular style. It is doable, and a fun challenge, but a modification all the same. I am not very keen on hinge-open designs for that reason.
Castle in the Forest also functions as an excellent playset. However, it is not meant as such. The interior is full of fun play features while remaining easily accessible. The hinging design might not work well for larger custom displays, but it does lend itself well to playing. When I look at Castle in the Forest, I can’t help but imagine all the fun I would have had with this set as a kid. My imagination runs wild even as an adult. I love feeling inspired to create stories with a set. Too bad this one has so many hinged sections opening in different directions and on off angles. I rate the entertainment score at 95%.
OVERALL SCORE: 95%
As soon as the Bricklink Designer Program announced Castle in the Forest (910001), I was in love. The set was a must have, and I was online promptly at launch time to ensure I got one. It took a long time for the set to arrive, and longer still for me to get around to building it. However, the wait was worth it. I love this kit, and I thoroughly enjoyed building it. Additionally, it inspires me to create a whole fantasy world around it. Building this set brought back some of the childlike wonder and imagination I used to have as a kid building Castles sets. Sadly, Castle in the Forest is a limited run product. The LEGO® Group only produced 10,000, so many will not get the same experience. Overall, this is an amazing set and was well worth the purchase.
Until next time,
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