Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Lego Black Falcon Sets 1984-1992

The Black Falcons were the second of two original factions release by TLG after the first wave (the second being Crusaders). Like the Crusaders they lasted for eight years though, they were a very small faction in comparison. Indeed over that entire period they only received seven sets of their own, but they did appear as the antagonist in many others.

In both Canada and Australia they were know as the Eagle Crests and a US catalogue from 1989 refers to “Forestmen”, “Black Knights” and “Guardians of the Grey Castle”, during this period no Crusaders Castle were being produced but the Black Falcon’s Fortress was. This can suggest that the faction could possibly be called “Guardians” and Black Falcon was actually a character who led them.

Possibly more warlike than the Crusaders, the Black Falcon’s were seen as the antagonists of both Crusader and Black Knight Sets, although they were never seen challenging the Forestmen or the Wolfpack (who were also present during this time), so possibly the Black Falcon’s were just antiestablishment.

It should be noted that many of the sets featuring Black Flacon’s as antagonists against the Crusaders are present in my Crusaders article here, so if you wish to see them just click on the link.

If only the Falcon’s lived in peace with Crusaders as pictured above; one final piece of Black Falcon info before we view the sets is that occasional a misprint would cause the beak or printing to be backwards, as shown in the picture below (the one on the right is rarest).


Set Name = Catapult 6030
Piece Count = 83
Year Released = 1984

 Here we see the first ever siege weapon released by TLG, oddly enough the set comes with the round shields despite the fact that the Falcon’s printed shield was released this year, and the wheels on the set are technic pieces rather than the wagon design (which was also released this year, 1984) so the set feels a little bit out of place. Overall though the size is very pleasing and quite similar to the historic version, place a couple of these against a castle and you have a nice little scene, plus the number of weapons and two figs make it a nice army builder.

Set Name = Black Knight’s Treasure 6011
Piece Count = 25
Year Released = 1985

This set is special because it was the first set to be released with a chest and oddly enough the chest was a light grey colour (the first and only time) so possibly this is the rarest chest ever. The singular Falcon is sufficient to guard the chest because it comes with nothing in it, the yellow colour scheme on the saddle goes well with a yellow falcon shield, but sadly the set comes with out a shield, so it looks a little odd. Overall the set is a little sparse for this era but a good set to build some Falcon Cavalry with.

Set Name = Castle Guard 6035
Piece Count = 52
Year Released = 1988

This set came rather later in the Falcon’s era and sadly it does not fit very well with much, the white and red is not a scheme used before and hence does not fit well outside any of the castles. Personally I saw it as an add-on pack for the Knight’s Challenge (1584) set (the jousting set with Crusaders and Black Knights). With the inclusion of this set you receive three Knights to joust against each other in the tournament, other than that; the biggest highlight of the set is the Black Feathers (which are quite rare). Is it possible, that with a Black Helm, Black Armour, Black Trousers and a Black Feather, that we are see the actual Black Falcon? I will let you decide.

Set Name = Battle Dragon 6018
Piece Count = 56
Year Released = 1990

 It was never made clear if this set was a Falcon set or not, the figs do not have the Falcon printing (just the regular chainmail) and they wear grey helms but they do have a single shield, so the question remains open, personally I would say no, but feel it's inclusion is important because of the shield. As well as the confusion, the set also receives very little in the way of weapons a single crossbow which sadly comes with no quiver (very cheep of LEGO); the only real highlights are the oars (rather new at the time) and a barrel (for the same reason).


Set Name = Knight’s Castle 6073
Piece Count = 410
Year Released = 1984

 Alongside the King’s Castle for the Crusaders, this set was the first castle to be released after the yellow one from the Classic’s era. Though sparsely furnished the design is rather engaging and has the beautiful ability to be opened, so that it can be one contained castle, or a long front castle wall. The set is built on a number of green plates and features a winch for the drawbridge and a small prison with a brick built black door. The generous number of Minifigs for such a small set and the high number of weapons and shields keep this castle ranked highly in my personal list; it also goes very well with their second fortress (shown below).

Set Name = Battering Ram 6062
Piece Count = 236
Year Released = 1987

 This set is unique because we see the Falcon’s defending an area rather than attacking, again a generous number of figures and the ability to fold the castle wall up (or connect it to another structure) makes this set rank highly. The siege engine is also very nice and gives the crusaders something to use, overall a very good set.


Set Name = Black Falcon’s Fortress 6074 and 10039
Piece Count = 430
Year Released = 1986 and 2002

 The second Falcon castle, this set is a lot more aesthetically pleasing than the first, The small yellow structure at the back (possibly a chapel) is a nice counter to the grey of the walls, the yellow flags on the front also help tie this image together. Unique to this set is the small blue flag with the Falcon’s symbol upon it, whilst the yellow timber frame was first seen here (and only used once after this). The only criticism I would give to this set is the lack of shields, the previous castle was very generous but with this set less so. Overall that is a minor complaint and the set was so popular it was re-released in the Legends series in 2002, proving its high quality (on a minor note, in 1986 both this set and the Guarded Inn were build and then released as Legends sets, 1986 was a good year for castle).

Other Sets to be Viewed Later

These two sets below will be reviewed once I tackle the Black Knights but as they include Falcon’s they need a small mention here two. 

Knight’s Stronghold 6059
 This set includes the only Black Falcon armed with a crossbow (except for the weird Battle Dragon boat set), whilst the second Falcon is the only one ever to receive a vizored helm and chest plate armour piece, so he could possibly be the fabled Black Falcon Leader, we also see the second siege engine for the faction.

Sea Serpent 6057
The Falcon’s in this set are merely antagonists and the only thing to really note here is the unusual grey helm on the archer and the grey trousers on both of them (possibly the uniform was greying with age?). As these were the last Falcon’s to be realised (ever) they could be the final warriors fleeing the land and being harassed as they go by the Black Knights Fleet.

 The Connectivity of the Older Sets
One reason why these sets are looked back on with such fondness by those who remember was the fact that many of the sets connect together; this helped the collector feel like they were building towards a mighty fortress or perfect village. With every purchase you where not just building your collection but your actual structure. Below is an example of a few combined sets.

As you can see the structure is very impressive, which is something you simply could not buy nowadays, if only modern sets would take a look at the past.

Though the Falcon’s never received a maiden to protect, a leader to lead or even the largest of back stories, I personally like them the most out of the six none outlaw factions in the old wave (Crusaders, Black Falcons, Black Knights, Dragon Knights, Lion Knights and Fright Knights). This was possibly due to the fact that I saw them as the underdog, not strong enough to own a huge castle or an array of siege equipment but also not cool enough to live in a forest or wear only soft hoods and steal from others (Forestmen and Wolfpack reference for those who didn’t get that) they were the middle faction one often over looked and mocked by the mighty Cruaders and Black Knights or the truly unique like the Forestmen or Wolfpack. This appeals to me, if I was a Lego figure I would be a weak generic and often over looked Falcon.

Thanks for reading

Here is a hint of what’s next.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Lego Castle Crusaders Sets 1984-1992

The Crusaders were one of the first actual factions (alongside the Black Falcon’s) to be released by TLG, after the discontinuation of the first Castle theme(which stared in 1978); they also lasted for the longest period of time (a rule of eight years) and grew into one of the largest factions ever (rivalled only by the Black Knights and Crown Knights in later years).

During their time, they where most commonly seen competing against their rival faction the Black Falcon’s in both peaceful competition and military warfare (the Jousting set 6021 and the Battering ram set 6062 being an example of each). Later on, in the Crusaders reign, they spent a great deal of their time chasing the lawless Forest men (set 6042 for example) and competing in friendly competitions with the Black Knights (set 6060).

Most famous for their civilian structures, the crusaders faction featured a number of civilian buildings (something sadly not repeated by the other factions for many years), the Blacksmith Shop and Guarded Inn being the most popular.

This faction also underwent a design change during the 80’s, initial troops sported a crossed axe emblem on their torsos, whilst later ones received a lion.

Though a back-story was never fully developed, it is commonly accepted that the crusaders were the “Good Guys” in a war with the Forestmen and Black Falcons. It is believed that with the arrival of the Black Knights that the Crusaders were overthrown and forced to leave the land.

Now you have an idea of who these guys where, let’s look at the sets.


Set Name = King’s Catapult 1480
Piece Count = 32
Year Released = 1991

This set was actually part of a value pack and as such it could not be bought on its own. The catapult is small but effective and comes with a weapon rack for the warrior’s spare flag and spear, a very nice little set. My only problem with it is the fact that the Crusader himself is not wearing the proper uniform (the red arms should be blue otherwise he looks like a Black Knight).

Set Name = Treasure Cart 1463, 1695 and 2889
Piece Count = 21
Year Released = 1992

This cart was the last set to be released in the final days of the Crusaders; it’s a nice simple design and comes with a decent number of weapons, it was released in both a boxed and polybag version. I like to think of it as a lonely Crusader leaving the land and taking his eight years of earning with him, hopefully the Wolfpack left him alone.

Set Name = Supply Wagon 6010
Piece Count = 35
Year Released = 1984

This set, though not actually featuring a Crusader fig, was still part of the Crusader line, due to its civilian style (similar to the blacksmiths set released in the same year). This is a perfect example of a civilian set and is the only actual set ever not to feature any faction soldiers. Designed as a supply wagon, the set comes with a great number of extra equipment, so if this little guy is attacked on this travels he’s not going to have any problems. This set also features one of the rarest shields in the LEGO world (the grey circular one) and the blue harness on the horse is not a common LEGO piece, it should also be noted that at the time the spear and cloth cap were actually both brand new piece’s and this was one of the smallest sets which a collector could get it. Overall great for expanding a weapon collection and the civilian numbers.

Set Name = Jousting Knights 6021
Piece Count = 37
Year Released = 1984

Here we have an example of peace between the Falcon’s and Crusaders, a small set with two knights, their horse’s and their equipment. The helmets they are wearing were brand new for the time (and the style is still used today) and this set also comes with four shields (two being the rare circular kind), four lances and two feather wheels (back in the day feathers came in a wheel of three so this set had six feathers to choose from), so it’s a great supplies pack. As you can see the Knights have become so friendly that they have even swapped shirts (the Falcon should be wearing blue and the Crusader red), it should be noted that the Crusaders shield was only available in this set and the Large Castle set (6080) in 1984, so this set was a nice cheap opportunity to purchase it. 

Set Name = Horse Cart 6022
Piece Count = 42
Year Released = 1984

Another little cart, only this time, it features a couple of Crusaders rather than a civilian. The most exciting element of this set is actually rather mundane by today’s standards, the bow; this item was new out this year and alongside the quiver, spear, horse, flags, wheels, shield and saddle, this year was very exciting with a great number of new elements. It is things like this which made this set so good for its time.

LEGO has entered into a whole new style of warfare, with the archer the ranged attacks can begin.
Set Name = Castle Figures 6103
Piece Count = 25
Year Released = 1984

This is a little figure set showing the new range of figs they had available in 1984. The black helms, bow and circular shields are particular highlights.
Set Name = Castle Mini Figures 6102
Piece Count = 36
Year Released = 1985

Though this set has less variation than the previous minfig pack (the 6103 just above), it is still very nice due to the fact that you receive two extra figures. This is very rare; in most minifig packs you only receive five (or four) minifigs, this is also a good set to pick up a number of the Crusaders printed shields (which were new out this year). 

Set Name = Castle Mini Figures 6103
Piece Count = 42
Year Released = 1988

This set is possibly the best minifigs pack ever released for castle, why? Well we have six figs, three separate factions, a civilian, a pitchfork and even six feathers for the forest man’s hats. The pitchfork has been an extremely rare minifigs accessory until the release of the new “Village Mill Raid”. This set highlights the variation available from LEGO during this period. 

Set Name = Siege Cart 6012
Piece Count = 54
Year Released = 1986

A nice small set, an interesting design but somewhat lacking due to the fact that the set cannot actually fire the spears, as much as I dislike the flick fire weapons we receive in the more modern sets this is mostly due to the missiles themselves, if I could flick fire actual spears I would be much happier. I also like the cape and how the Crusaders can pick up the cart and move it around, but oddly enough the two spears on the side are used to stabilise the Ballista rather than as extra ammo.

Set Name = Maiden’s Cart 6023
Piece Count = 43
Year Released = 1986

This set is special as we see the brown chest included for the first time ever, the cart itself might not be the most interesting design, but the inclusion of a female fig and the very rare white cap she is wearing makes up for that somewhat.

Set Name = King’s Oarsmen
Piece Count = 45
Year Released = 1987

Ahh, back in the day when LEGO did not have an actual oar for their minifigures to use, it was simpler times. This set is a nice army builder because of the two figs and shields; I also like the cape and white flags which are always nice additions, but due to the fact that a small boat is about as useful as a dead dog when it comes to actual siege warfare or integration with other sets (there was no dock available in the theme at this time) it’s an oddity for the theme (to be followed later by an even bigger version/oddity).

Set Name = Knight’s Arsenal 6016
Piece Count = 37
Year Released = 1988

This small set was one of my favourites when I was a child, I loved the little cart and the plethora of weapons it came with, this is a great example of LEGO perfect, one small set but five weapons, a cape, a horse and a shield. The set is not without its flaws (the “space like” tubes are terrible) but a couple of these really give you options when it comes to equipping your warriors. It should also be noted that this is the only set to ever present the smaller axe’s as a choice of weapon rather than a fireman’s tool.

Set Name = Twin Arm Launcher 6039
Piece Count = 77
Year Released = 1988

This is the first set to contain small wagon wheels (rather than the larger variation) and the barrel, round shields, and horse barding are also very welcome additions. The double catapult design is not the most realistic but it is interesting none the less. Overall not a bad little set.


Set Name = Blacksmith Shop 6040
Piece Count = 92
Year Released = 1984

Though this set might not look particularly exciting, if a closer look is taken then the set becomes much more interesting. Here is the first example of a blacksmith (ever) and with him we see black minifigs hands for the first time (in the castle series) and a completely unique brown apron (which can also be a cape). Though the set is called the Blacksmith Shop, a man who fix’s (or creates) wheels was actually called a Cartwright (or Wainwright), it should also be noted that the pitchfork was a very rare piece (though the inclusion of the Village Mill Raid has lessened that somewhat). Overall a nice little civilian set.

Set Name = Siege Tower 6061
Piece Count = 216
Year Released = 1984

One question arises with this set, who exactly is attacking the castle walls? Sure we have four figs but they are all on the same side, and yes we have a castle wall and siege tower but our Crusaders seem in possession of both, odd, very odd. Strong points with this set are the realistic tower (which is a personal favourite of mine) and the cool ladder, this is a very good add-on set, but it needs others to reach its full potential.

Set Name = Prisoner Convoy 6055
Piece Count = 115
Year Released = 1985

I imagine the conversation in that LEGO design office over this one.

What? Five? No surly not five? That’s crazy, five horses in a set, ohh ok if you insist.

Yes as you can see this set has five horses, which I believe is a record for all LEGO sets (if I am wrong please correct me on this), this set came out when the Horse was a very new LEGO piece so I suppose that they were trying to make the most of it. Aside from the ridiculous number of horses the set also include three Crusaders and one civilian, as I have a soft spot for all civilians this set ranks highly in my favourites, but the design is not the best. The carriage itself feels small and narrow and when the horses are pulled along some of them have a tendency to cartwheel over. One nice touch is the flag at the back of the carriage which also locks the jail. Still a great way to get a cavalry division started in any army.

Set Name = Armour Shop 6041
Piece Count = 114
Year Released = 1986

This is one of the classic sets that are looked upon with a nostalgic love that can make the hardest of us feel a small spot of warmth inside. So much is included within this set (helms, a cape, cups, weapons, feathers, flags and a horse) and it has a nice solid feel to it. It should be noted that the lion emblem flag and the much coveted Black Sword are both unique to this set (p.s if you have a black sword, look after it). If I was to give this set one criticism it would be the fact that the actual guy running the shop looks more like a Crusader, change that to a civilian fig and you have the perfect set. I have heard people comment that the armour shop does not have any armour within it (and hence should be chastised for it), but the actual armour piece was not released until 1990 so this is way ahead of that and can be forgiven for not including one.

Set Name = Guarded Inn 6067 and 10000
Piece Count = 253
Year Released = 1986 and 2001

This is possibly one of the most beautiful LEGO sets from this era, it is the only true civilian building and the sign and red structural elements are only included within this model, apparently this was also one of the first sets with flowers. It was seen as such a good set that it was also released as a Legends again in 2001; it was also nice to see the Falcons and Crusaders united in peace over the common good of alcohol. 

Set Name = Viking Voyager 6049
Piece Count = 99
Year Released = 1987

Another vessel to add to the growing Crusaders fleet, I like the way we get spears instead of oars, but overall I have never been a fan of these early vessels, they are just too narrow (the Sea Serpent is the obvious exception to this and as such I love that set).  It’s a good army building set but I see little else beyond that.

Set Name = Dungeon Hunters 6042
Piece Count = 110
Year Released = 1990

Compared to Prison Convoy, this set looks somewhat lacking but personally I prefer the actual structural design of the carriage. It feels bigger and I like the bar design on the side (easy access for your figs). The new Helm and Breast Plate were new this year as is the whip’s colour. Though it should be noted that we are starting to see the decline of minifigs numbers as three in a set this side is something we see in the present day.


Set Name = King’s Castle 6080
Piece Count = 674
Year Released = 1984

The first Castle to replace the old yellow one and guess what, its grey! Yep LEGO realised that a stone castle looks better when it is grey, this set also comes with thirty (yes Thirty!) large grey wall panels (which is a record). The minifigs and horse numbers are nice (though lacking any opponent) and the front gate and design are sound. If compared to some of the more modern designs, then this castle can appear slightly primitive but it was designed to connect with other sets (such as the Guarded Inn and Armour Shop) if we had something similar today (for example the new Blacksmith or Outpost Attack designed to connect with the new King’s Castle) it would be very well received. The forethought with the older sets are amazing.

Set Name = Knight’s Challenge 6060 and 1584
Piece Count = 168
Year Released = 1989

This is the best tournament set to date (yep over twenty years old and not beaten), it features an ample number of spectators, and two knights (each with a squire) and a peasant/barman. It is also a good example of friendly completion between the Black Knights and the Crusaders. The set features a jousting bar, a spectators box, a weapon rack and a drinks space, this set has a lot with it and the potential to become much more, I would hazard a comment of LEGO perfection.

Set Name = King’s Mountain Fortress 6081
Piece Count = 435
Year Released = 1990

After six years of waiting for a new Castle the Crusaders are finally rewarded with a new castle (on a raised base, which was something of a novelty at the time). The Black Raven and Princess are unique to this set but whereas the previous castle featured 30 wall panels this set only featured four, the ghost should also be noted as a nice inclusion at the time. I always saw this as the keep and the previous castle as the outer wall and they go very nicely together, it should also be noted that this was the first moulded castle (many of which were to follow) and as such it was a trendsetter, the green added a great variation to the grey and as such this is one of the nicer looking castles from this era.  

Now we reach the end of our journey, I have shown you most sets with the Crusaders in them and the missing one’s will be tackled when I write about the other factions. Crusaders had some of the most interesting sets available, and a combination of which could create a reasonable village for the other factions too attack. Personally the inclusion of civilians is what makes this faction such a personal favourite.

Here is a little taste of what’s to come soon, though next up is Black Falcon’s.

I hope you enjoyed reading .