Tuesday, 26 March 2019

“Castle Woodstock" – Lego Medieval Castle MOC

Last year I completed my second effort at a Lego Castle MOC and no sooner had I posted the pictures online I began picking away at its many imperfections. Yes it was big and impressive but in trying to make the thing tick the many boxes on my list I had essentially ensured that it didn’t really do anything REALLY well. 

Firstly, the overall engineering was flawed. The base was a single set of plates which were never stable enough with the weight of either of the section and then the hinge connecting the two parts in the rock was insufficient to keep the two parts together. Every time I took it from the shelf it broke apart and I ended up removing the hinge and simply pushing the two sections together. Then there was the overall style. On the one hand it looked like it wanted to be a medieval concentric castle from the front with its gatehouse but then there wasn’t enough room for the adjoining walls which mean it ended up a weird hybrid of a part keep, part Scottish tower house with all sorts of contradictory elements poking out! This in a sense was partly deliberate in order to satisfy my interest in different types of architecture, but in the end just watered down the overall effect. I think the triumph of the castle was the interior with the stable block, courtroom and chapel being really nice additions – though ultimately the exterior dimensions were compromised in order to fit all those bits in. 


“Castle Woodstock" – Lego Medieval Castle MOC

So with that in mind I ended up dismantling the entire thing and going back to the drawing board with a new Lego Castle MOC. I realized that I needed a far larger set of dimensions and in order to achieve this I would build the new castle in three separate parts, focusing initially on the dimensions for these to ensure that I could store them on my shelves separately but that they would piece together to form something that had enough scope to breathe a little more. I then set to work on the base sections and came up with the idea for using a “Lego brick sandwich” which essentially involves using a series of large plates with 2-berth bricks joining them together and then another layer of plates on top. This creates a nice solid base upon which the build can commence – the edges of these sections were then laced with Technic hole bricks to allow them to be connected together using pins (I also used these on the exterior so that future sections could easily be added at a later date). So let’s look at the three sections of Woodstock Castle in turn.



Woodstock Castle Gatehouse and Moat

The gatehouse itself is very similar to my previous Lego build. Having decided I wanted to stock with the medieval theme it made little sense to change a winning formula so I used the same style, but reduced the height for a number a reasons (combination of storage height on my shelves plus trying to create a better balance with the rest of the castle). The main difference in the new build is that I allowed for a proper moat and section of landscape at the forefront to give it a sense of setting and context. The greenery takes the form of a flowery meadow (it SUCKED up flower heads and green plates in the process!) with a winding cobbled path leading to the drawbridge. The moat itself has a blue plate base with clear tiles and round plates on top to give the impression of a babbling stream – this was pinched as an idea from countless browsing through images of Lego water features and I’ll come back to this shortly when discussing the waterfall.


Woodstock Castle Lego Gatehouse

The gatehouse itself is very similar to my previous Lego build. Having decided I wanted to stock with the medieval theme it made little sense to change a winning formula so I used the same style, but reduced the height for a number a reasons (combination of storage height on my shelves plus trying to create a better balance with the rest of the castle). The main difference in the new build is that I allowed for a proper moat and section of landscape at the forefront to give it a sense of setting and context. The greenery takes the form of a flowery meadow (it SUCKED up flower heads and green plates in the process!) with a winding cobbled path leading to the drawbridge. The moat itself has a blue plate base with clear tiles and round plates on top to give the impression of a babbling stream – this was pinched as an idea from countless browsing through images of Lego water features and I’ll come back to this shortly when discussing the waterfall.



Woodstock Castle Lego Gatehouse Rear View

The rear of the gatehouse is very simple as I wanted it to simply fix onto the town square without any fuss so the only feature is an overhanging blue and brown wooden room in the Tudor style which combines nicely with the other jetty-style timber-framed buildings.



Woodstock Castle Side Section and Waterfall

The side section was the first to be completed in its entirety and was also the most fun to build. I was keen to develop the rocky outcrop style on my previous build, but take this to the next level and this combined with the idea for a waterfall that would flow down into the moat. The key to this was planning – everything was about levels and I had to repeatedly disassemble bits to ensure that I could go back to the other two sections and ensure that the whole thing would work from every angle. Once the tiers were established, it was a case of building up the rock using sloped sections until the base of the rear tower was completed and the brickwork that joined the rock was all in place. The waterfall used a combination of the same clear tiles and clear round plates that the moat is built from, with the added extra of some 1x1 clear slopes to form the actually “fall.” I’m quite pleased with the finished effect!


Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Side Section with Waterfall

On the interior there is the clock tower, barrel stores then some steps to the rear tower in which I have once again employed a scribe inside the Lego Library with a chapel above. One feature of this new Lego castle MOC is that I have closed some of the rooms off as it was more or less impossible to open these up without a significant compromise tot eh build quality. That said, both the top of the black sloping clock tower and the top section of the rear tower are both removable to ensure it slid into my shelf! This involved adding flat tiles to the level at which space dictated I could build and then constructing the remaining parts with a protrusion so that they would slot in securely once the section was removed from the shelf. 


Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Side Section with Clockface




Woodstock Castle Main Section and Town Square

And so to the largest section. This in theory should have been the easiest because two sides essentially comprised of a town square (i.e. low-level, no building work required). However, in practice there were a few things that made this the toughest section. Firstly, I started to run out of bricks (thanks Bricklink for being there during times of crisis!). Secondly, the differential between the gatehouse and the entrance to the great hall was such that the levels really had to be manipulated to avoid a single step or unconvincing drop. Thirdly, I discovered that building the timber-framed overhangs was quite difficult whilst maintain the exterior stonework of the walls. 


Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Medieval Town Square with Timbered Buildings

On numerous occasions I had to take bits apart and work things backwards to try and accommodate the slope and the roofline which culminated in reaching the tricky final tower and great hall. The final effect was worthwhile however and I added the finishing touch of the jester entertaining the crowds in the square, overlooked by the Lego Edward of Woodstock (not sure if Edward the Black Prince has been depicted as a Lego minifigure before) and lion soldier standing guard on the steps flanked by two burning torches and an array of shields featuring various coat-of-arms.


Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Medieval Battlements Section

I also managed to get hold of an owl and a rat to add a dash of nature to proceedings (though the blacksmith doesn’t seem too happy about that).


Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Blacksmith and Armoury

Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Mounted Knight on Drawbridge

Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Jester in the Medieval Marketplace

Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Great Hall with Shields & Burning Torches

Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Overhanging Timbered Buildings

Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Edward the Black Prince Minifigure

Woodstock Castle Lego MOC Cobbled path through the meadow


So that’s Castle Woodstock, my Lego Medieval castle MOC for 2019, featuring Edward of Woostock and a garrison of soldiers and medieval marketplace. I think I’m generally happier with this one!


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