The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has cast its spell on us this year with the LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle (71043). This for me is one of the highlights of 2018 for me as I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter world.
So you can imagine my glee when I got my hands on the set for this review. It has been revealed that this was designed in micro-scale which is smaller than regular minifigure scale models like the Disney Castle.
And it is because of that crucial design choice that the model is able to include a lot more details which resulted in one of the best build experience for me to date.
The box is massive and it is the same size as the one which contained the LEGO Creator Taj Mahal (10256). It is quite apt since Hogwarts Castle is now the second largest LEGO set ever released clocking in at 6020 pieces.
There is a secondary box within which contains the majority of the bags and the instruction booklets. There are 37 numbered bags and three un-numbered bags for the larger cone and rock facade pieces.
Four instruction booklets will take you on your journey through the construction of Hogwarts Castle and included in the prelude are some interesting insights on the design process and some history on the four founders of the school.
We have already established early on that this set would rely heavily on stickers and there are four sticker sheets worth of adhesives to apply. For those who have fat fingers (like me) I would strongly recommend having a pair of tweezers handy.
The stickers are so beautifully designed and even with that many to apply, it really does bring out the features and details of the castle that would otherwise be impossible at this scale and price point.
The build experience of Hogwarts Castle is something the designers have put in a lot of thought as they tailored the building process to mirror Harry Potter’s own journey through the school.
The first thing you build are the boats that carry you to Hogwarts for the first time and then it guides you to construct the boathouse. It goes to the great hall next and then to the chamber of secrets and so forth.
It was a really nice touch which has an added layer of enjoyment for the builder and if you are a Harry Potter fan like me, this would have you grinning to yourself throughout the whole process.
The castle took close to 15 man hours to complete from start to finish but I would actually recommend one to take their time with this build. The experience is something that unfolds itself like chapters of a book with each section dedicated to an iconic scene from the movie. This is definitely something that is meant to be enjoyed and not rushed.
As this is essentially a micro-scale architectural set and there will be some repetition involved so be prepared for some repeated building. Also a lot of cheese slopes as well as regular slopes are used to create the rock facade which can be challenging to figure out which slope goes where.
There are also some intermediate building techniques that are pretty interesting like the way the stained glass windows are constructed in the Great Hall. The use of grills and transparent headlight bricks is something that I have not encountered in a set before which is really refreshing.
There are four exclusive minifigures to this set which are the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each of them are intricately designed and their torso and leg prints are exquisite although the hairpieces are not new.
Godric Gryffindor comes with his special sword forged by Ragnuk the First, the finest goblin silversmith.
Helga Hufflepuff has two printed expressions for her headpiece and she comes with a goblet accessory which would later become one of Voldermort’s Horcuxes.
Salazar Slytherin comes with his up-turned cape and his torso design also incorporates his locket which eventually would become another of Voldermort’s Horcuxes.
Rowena Ravenclaw also has two expressions printed on her head piece along with her diadem which granted her wisdom.
On top of these four exclusive minifigures are the slew of trophy figures in which to populate your castle with. There are the likes of Harry and the gang plus figures for Dumbledore, Snape, Lupin, Umbridge just to name a few.
The designs on these figures is actually quite representative of the different characters even at such a small scale which is a testament to graphic designer’s work.
The Dementors trophy figures are appearing for this time in black as it was first introduced as Emperor Palpatine’s hologram in the LEGO Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer (75055) set.
They do not have any detailing or graphics but they are moulded with a hood and cape which could pave the way for more trophy figures of other characters in the future? *hint*
Now this is where things start to get interesting. There is a new ‘arch’ element that now allows us to string a one stud arch in a series while retaining a one stud pillar throughout.
And there is also a ‘corner’ arch element that allows us to change the direction of the arch as well. This is quite a game changer as previously we only had the 1×3 arch pieces and if you put them side by side, you would end up with pillars that were 2 studs in width.
There is a new colour variant for the snake element which was first seen in the LEGO Harry Potter minifigure series. The snake used in the Chamber of Secrets is the same one that comes with Voldermort except that it is sand green instead of olive green.
Another new colour variant would be the the snake head piece which if I remember correctly was only available in red and green. The set comes with four in dark bluish grey for the first time.
This is one aspect of the build that I am truly amazed by. As mentioned earlier, LEGO Designer Justin Ramsden was able to infuse a lot more detail into the model because of its scale and it really shows in the end product.
It is almost as if you are building Harry’s cinematic journey right here in this LEGO set.
And what they couldn’t build out of bricks, they had to resort to stickers. I understand that stickers are required at this scale and they really do enhance the build tremendously with details like moaning Myrtle in the bathroom and the warning to the chamber of secrets.
As much as I do agree that the stickers were a necessity, I cannot help but wish that they would actually make printed tiles for the house crests.
The tower that leads up to Dumbledore’s office was built using a technique that was developed on the LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V (21309).
The spire required that the internal structure be empty so that it could incorporate the moving staircases and it was at the same time that the NASA rocket project was being developed. The different sections of the rocket was hollow in the middle which was perfect for the Hogwarts tower.
As you can see, the inside of the tower is lined with curved panels which are reinforced by the facade when it locks into the different sections, just like the NASA Apollo rocket.
The real highlight for me would have to be the stain glass windows of the Great Hall and the Entrance Hall. The design to achieve this have been used by moccers before but this would be the first time I’m encountering it in an official LEGO set.
As LEGO’s second largest LEGO set ever made, along with the fact that this is also in collaboration with Warner Bros, the price point could have been quite high.
It is retailing here in Singapore at SGD$649.90 which works out to be about 11¢ a piece which is already pretty good for a set this size. It gets even lower if you apply the 10% discount that LEGO Certified Store members enjoy.
I would agree that it is quite a high amount to pay but the true worth is really lies in the build experience. You can have an inordinate amount of parts thrown in but the fun and reminiscence of all the Harry Potter scenes while building it, is priceless (or at least worth SGD$649.90).
This would have to be one of the best building experiences that I have ever encountered in a large model and it is doubly rewarding if you are a Harry Potter fan.
I would definitely recommend this even if you are a HP fan as you would have so much fun building this with your fellow Potterheads. One word of caution is that this is primarily a display piece so it is quite fragile.
I shall leave you with the gallery of shots taken over the course of this build. I haven’t really cleaned up the multiples so my apologies in advance. If you like to use any of my photos please go ahead but do link it back to me or drop a credit. Thanks!
A sincere thank you to LEGO AFOL Relations & Programs (ARP) team and LEGO Ideas for sending me this set to review. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in this review do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the LEGO Group. Review sets sent in does not guarantee a positive review.
Also a big thank you to LEGO designers Justin Ramsden and graphic designer Crystal Fontan and LEGO Designers Carl Thomas Meeriam for his insight. Special thanks to Tebius and the Platform 1094 cafe for the use of their premises.