Daily Archives: December 28, 2010

Hogwarts Castle – Brick by Brick

  • 3+ hours
  • 3 instruction booklets
  • 10 bags of parts which added up to 1290+ pieces
  • a 6 foot long table
  • my daughter and myself
  • iTunes and YouTube

These were the ingredients for a Boxing Day afternoon of LEGO building.

(I am reliably informed that the 26th was, in fact, Christmas Sunday and that Monday was Boxing Day for anybody who cares a whit for tradition.  I’ll claim that is why I took today off work, even though I live in California.)

My daughter has not been much on LEGOs over the last year.  She still likes them and will pour over the catalogs when they show up, but other priorities seem to get in the way of actually playing with them.  So it looked like we might skip LEGOs for Christmas this year.

But then there was LEGO Harry Potter on the Wii and the latest Harry Potter movie, which put her in the right mindset when the Fall LEGO catalog showed up in the mail.  Inside was a variety of Harry Potter sets to go with the movie release, including Hogwarts Castle.

That was what she said she wanted.  A big set, the castle, and on the expensive side.

But I help create the Christmas wish list that gets doled out to family and friends, and especially to grandparents.  (Due to divorce and remarriage, my daughter has more grandparents than are biologically possible.)  And from that list, I know to whom to hand the big ticket items.

And so on Christmas day, one of the (too) many gifts my daughter got was LEGO set 4842, Hogwarts Castle.

She also got set 4736, Freeing Dobby, which was good because assembling a big LEGO set is often a set of serial operations, so it is hard to divide the labor… which meant that I build most of the castle while she did one of the castle sections and the Dobby set.

Listed at 1290 pieces (not counting the copious extras, since the LEGO people tend to throw in an extra or two of any tiny piece you might lose, which in a set like this with many, many tiny pieces probably boost the actual part count to 1400) this was easily the biggest LEGO set we have attempted.  Jabba’s Sail Barge, though intricate, was a mere 781 pieces, while the Castle we build was 973 pieces.

So we set up a six foot folding table in the room we call “the bowling alley” (it is 33 feet long and 11 feet wide) and went to work.

To keep our spirits up, my daughter played a continuous stream of Potter Puppet Pals videos from YouTube and then, when that ran dry, selections from my seemingly endless supply of “Weird Al” Yankovic songs on iTunes.  All of this drove my wife to the other end of the house.

And only three or so hours later, the castle was complete.

Looks Just Like The Box!

The set came out very nice.  I am always surprised/delighted at how the LEGO designers can create some very set-specific effects without creating a huge number of one-off parts.  There were very few special parts in this set, outside of the minifigures and the tops of the towers. (I am also amused when I recognize something that was used in another set for something different… like some of the items in the fruit bowl were used to make Gary the snail in the original Spongebob Squarepants sets.)

The cast of minifigures out front include the three from from Freeing Dobby.  They were another Harry Potter (whom you cannot see because he is under the invisibility cloak!), Lucious Malfoy, and of course, Dobby.  Dobby may be the creepiest minifigure I’ve seen, though that is because it is so well done it captures how creepy he was in the movies.

A Closer Look at the Minifigs

And then there is the inside of Hogwarts.

Towers and the Dining Hall

Dumbledore's Quarters

My daughter is now enjoying the castle.  We will have to see how long that lasts.

You see, our cats really like LEGOs as well.  However, what they really like is to knock LEGO sets off of tables and shelves so they hit the floor and shatter.  Then they bat the pieces around or carry them off to hide them.  Our cat Fred was very interested in the whole building process and had to be lifted off of the table and out of the middle of things a few times.

Fred waiting for his opportunity

We’ll see what Hogwarts looks like in the morning.  We might have to rename Fred and Trixie to Voldemort and Bellatrix.