ʀᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ: #71043 Hogwarts Castle

“Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” With 6020 pieces, you might need help if you try to build #71043 Hogwarts Castle—it is the second largest LEGO set to date! Let’s find out if the LEGO model lives up to the wonders of its cinematic counterpart.

With LEGO Harry Potter sets returning in 2018, there was no better way to celebrate the return than a massive model of the iconic Hogwarts Castle. This is the set that fans of LEGO and Harry Potter have been asking for since the cinematic universe began in 2001. This is a massive set that is ready to blow fans away.

#71043 Hogwarts Castle. (Photo: The LEGO Group)

#71043 Hogwarts Castle. (Photo: The LEGO Group)

LEGO’s second biggest set to date

Despite being an expensive set, you are getting a lot of value for the money. This is a very large set, so make sure you have enough space before deciding to purchase the set. The completed model measures over 22” (58cm) high, 27” (69cm) wide and 16” (43cm) deep. This set is packed to the brim with details of the movies, from the towers and classrooms of Hogwarts Castle, to Hagrid’s hut and the Whomping Willow, making this set the perfect Harry Potter gift for fans of LEGO and the movies.

18 years of LEGO Harry Potter

We are getting close to the 20th anniversary of the Harry Potter cinematic franchise, so let’s cast our nostalgic minds back to where LEGO Harry Potter all began. I remember back to Christmas of 2001; opening up #4709 Hogwarts Castle and marveling at how great that set was. I had the same experience 17 years later with #71043 Hogwarts Castle, a much bigger set boasting nearly ten times as many parts.

4709

#4709 Hogwarts Castle. (Photo: The LEGO Group)

The LEGO Harry Potter line began in 2001 with the cinematic release of the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, with annual LEGO set releases through the cinematic conclusion in 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. One of the last sets released in that wave was #10217 Diagon Alley, an intricately detailed set that is popular with adult fans that was only available from LEGO brand stores. While the series was on it’s way out, it set a higher bar for LEGO sets based on the Harry Potter world.

Four previous LEGO sets based on Hogwarts Castle. (Photos: The LEGO Group)

Four previous LEGO sets based on Hogwarts Castle. (Photos: The LEGO Group)

This set is not the first time in history where Hogwarts Castle has been presented to us in LEGO form, as evident from my Christmas many years ago—it’s actually the fifth LEGO set named “Hogwarts Castle.” My #4709 Hogwarts Castle set from 2001 contained 682 pieces, #4757 in 2004 with 944 pieces, followed by #5378 in 2007 with 943 pieces. The last version prior to this new set was in 2010, with #4842 Hogwarts Castle which contained 1290 pieces. That version included a lot more detail by replacing the large French Tower (part 30246) pieces with towers assembled using individual bricks.

Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end.

As the Wizarding World returned to the silver screen with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in 2016, and The Crimes of Grindelwald in 2018, there was no better time to revive the LEGO line than now. With 5 sets, a promotional gift, a polybag, a 20-figure collectible minifigure series and a direct to consumer set in the form of Hogwarts Castle the revival of the line started strong. In the first batch of renewals we explored the first three movies and with a successful release can expect to see more sets coming in 2019 to revamp the sets we grew so fond of years ago. To new fans of LEGO or the Harry Potter universe, there is no better time to get started and collect sets than now. #71043 Hogwarts Castle provides a wonderful centerpiece to your LEGO collection.

Is Hogwarts really a castle? An architectural analysis

Before we break into #71043 Hogwarts Castle and explore the way the designers have creatively built this set, we should explore the architecture behind the castle. In fantasy cinema, castles are often used as a wonderful backdrop for the characters and storytelling—the Harry Potter universe definitely follows this pattern. In this section, I will explore whether Hogwarts Castle really is a castle in a traditional sense, and explore the influences that went into it’s architectural design. In addition to better understanding the source material, this informs the deisgn of the LEGO model, and the parts you will encounter when building this set.

At first glance, the grand architecture of Hogwarts Castle stands out. Hogwarts is based on a foundation of traditional gothic architecture, a style that arose during the medieval period. The castle also has elements of French Renaissance built onto it to provide a more elegant flair to the design. Despite being influenced by existing historic castles, Hogwarts Castle is not a real castle, unless we count the model built in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood.

Hogwarts Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood

Hogwarts Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood. (Photo: Breakfast221, CC-BY-SA-4.0)

Gothic influences

Gothic architecture was an architectural style that was popularized in Europe during the mid 12th to 16th century. This style emphasizes large open internal spaces with external walls littered with a variety of decorative windows, arches or reliefs. This technique is known as tracery. During this period large windows were erected to brighten up the interior of gothic cathedrals; the use of stained-glass panels dazzled the interior with colors, adding to a more ornate feel, something that can be seen in cathedrals such as the cathedral of Saint Peter in York. Gothic architecture made use of pointed arches that provided varied designs and also acted as structural support to the tall walls. The use of a flying buttress was used as an extension of the pillars to add stability to the structure as Gothic architecture favored high ceilings. In Hogwarts castle we can see this being used to create a grand church feel in places such as the Great Hall.

Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York

Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, England. (Photo: Max Pixel, CC0-1.0.)

Renaissance influences

As we look at the Renaissance influence in Hogwarts Castle the first stand out structure that comes to mind is Château de Pierrefonds in Pierrefonds Oise France. The use of wide pillars, pointed roofs and spires in Hogwarts castles stem from designs of buildings in the early renaissance period. This architectural period, sometimes named the rebirth of Classical architecture was first used in Florence Italy. Known for its use of columns, arches and most notably domes with this influence is seen in Hogwarts castle. Hogwarts Castle was built in 993AD and designs evolved over the ages. The architectural styles evolved too, with Renaissance designs built upon Gothic foundations.

Château de Pierrefonds

Château de Pierrefonds in Pierrefonds, Oise, France. (Photo: Pxhere, CC0-1.0.)

The closest real castle to Hogwarts Castle is Malbork Castle, a 13th century Teutonic castle and fortress located in Malbork Poland. This UNESCO World Heritage site uses expansive courtyards and employs the same Gothic structures that Hogwarts has. From an aerial view the resemblance is uncanny. Through comparisons we see how Malbork Castle, Château de Pierrefonds and Gothic cathedrals were references for Hogwarts Castle’s architecture.

Malbork Castle in Malbork, Poland. (Photo: DerHexer, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Malbork Castle in Malbork, Poland. (Photo: DerHexer, CC BY-SA 3.0)

What makes a castle a castle?

To clearly explore whether Hogwarts Castle is really a castle, we need to look at the definition of a castle. A castle is a fortified structure built during the Middle Ages, predominantly by those of royal blood and acted as a source of residence for the noble. Unlike a palace or cathedral, the important distinction of a castle is its fortification requirement. We can see from the movies during the Battle of Hogwarts Castle that it did not act as a strong line of defense. This weaknesses were caused by is position in the landscape, and the building’s structure. Despite water offering a good line of defense, if an enemy breaches the shores, Hogwarts Castle lacks secondary defenses. Albeit failing as a fortified structure in a historic context, it matches the looser expectations of a fantasy castle (which are much larger than historic counterparts and puts emphasis on design over practicality.) It is also important to remember that despite being named Hogwarts Castle this building was designed as a school. Due to this, more emphasis was placed on designing a building that practically worked for students.

It’s a fantasy castle.

It is important to look at the role magic plays in the design of this castle. The scale and structural weight distribution in Hogwarts Castle would be impossible for a castle built of stone. Most notably, the comically large tower should not be able to support its weight, with a great weight resting on small corbels at the top of the tower. The turreted towers attached to the side of the tower and roof lack sufficient support, and would not hold under its own weight without magic. Likewise, the pointed towers of Hogwarts Castle are appelaing to the eye, but this too lacks support—the roof would cave in under the weight. This hazard not ideal for a building, let alone one that houses students.

Strictly by definition, Hogwarts is not a conventional castle. That said, this architectural wonder does meet the requirements of a fantasy castle, with a thoughtful design based on histric styles. It is great to see all the different architectural styles employed in the design on this castle. This variety shows that as the castle expanded it drew inspiration from what was relevant at the time.

First impressions – Packaging and instructions

71043 Packaging

All the bags of LEGO laid out.

On first impressions, there is no other word to describe this set than Wow! I was blown away before I even opened it; it comes in a heavy box weighing in at 16.5 lbs (7.5 kg). The real magic is revealed when you open the box and laying all the bags on your building space. The sturdy box that LEGO provides in this set is filled to the brim with bags of parts. To aid with structure and prevent damage the first 13 bags along with instructions are placed in a smaller unmarked box within the main box. The sheer number of bags is staggering, with bags numbered from 1 all the way to 37! It’s clear that you are about to embark on a serious LEGO adventure!

71043 Instructions

Four thick instruction manuals.

When looking at past sets in the Ultimate Collection Series, it is common to have one large spirally bound instruction manual. LEGO chose to instead print four separate instruction manuals, each having between 106 and 194 vibrant pages. To keep the instructions and sticker sheet safe, the instructions and sticker sheet are all placed in their own packaging. The instruction manual begins by covering the design process behind the set along with background about the team behind this set. At the beginning of each manual, we get a detailed image of what we are about to build showing us what is to come.

71043 Instructions 3/8

Details about the set. (Photo: The LEGO Group)

About the LEGO design team

Not often are we given the privilege to learn about the build and design process behind the sets we are building. The instructions in this set however are very different, giving us two pages of quotes from the team at LEGO who designed the set. It took a team of 10 LEGO employees (ranging from designers to marketing) to bring this set to life. They clearly put a lot of care into this set.

With architecture at the forefront of LEGO Designer Justin Ramsden’s mind, a variety of new building parts were designed. Justin addresses this by saying “I can’t wait to see the new building opportunities that they bring to the LEGO building system”. The part count, 6020, is significant to Justin as it pays homage to set #6020 Magic Shop that inspired him to become a LEGO designer.

I can’t wait to see the new building opportunities that they bring to the LEGO building system.

These rare glimpses into the LEGO design process shed light into how things are done. This allows builders to learn about the design process while highlighting the hard work that goes into each set. Fun and interesting facts that will not spoil can be found in these first few pages in the instructions, however for those who chose to not pick up this set, the pages below will allow you to read about the Design Team and learn how design choices here also applies to other LEGO sets for you to enjoy.

About the LEGO Design Team. (Photo: The LEGO Group)

About the LEGO Design Team. (Photo: The LEGO Group)

Unique new parts

As this set comes with a momentous 6020 parts it should come as no surprise that a variety of unique new parts were made. The LEGO Group has a rule where at least 90% of the parts in a set need to be made with parts currently in production. Despite this limitation, it is great to see how designers stretched past this hurdle to create what we have today. The most unique parts created are the new window arch parts. This part allows us to add granular details to our sets, as seen in this set with the stained-glass windows. A new transparent printed glass part also unique to this set allows for greater detailed window creations to be built at a nano scale. (We will talk about the 24 nanofigures and four unique minifigures later in this review.)

71043 new pieces

New arch and window parts.

Parts unique to #71043:

  1. 20551 Collar, 18X31.5, in  26.  Black
  2. 3676 Roof Tile Corn, Invert 2X2/45°, in  5.  Brick Yellow (Tan)
  3. 15533 Profile Brickm 1X4 Single Gro, in  5.  Brick Yellow (Tan)
  4. 38583 Window Arch, in  5.  Brick Yellow (Tan)
  5. 38585 Window Arch Corner, in  5.  Brick Yellow (Tan)
  6. 33461 Girl Wig, Long Curly, in  308.  Dark Brown
  7. 40680 Mini Lower Part, No.1587, in  308.  Dark Brown
  8. 20458 Cape, in  308.  Dark Brown
  9. 21269 Mini Wig, No.103, in  38.  Dark Orange
  10. 27507 Tile 4X4, W/Bow, in  199.  Dark Stone Grey (Dark Bluish Gray)
  11. 3043 Ridged Tile 2X2/45°, in  199.  Dark Stone Grey (Dark Bluish Gray)
  12. 28588, Snake W/3.2 Shaft No.1, in  199.  Dark Stone Grey (Dark Bluish Gray)
  13. 76382, Mini Upper Part, No.4481, in  140.  Earth Blue (Dark Blue)
  14. 41810, Mini Skirt, No.3, No.2, in  140.  Earth Blue (Dark Blue)
  15. 40681, Mini Lower Part, No.1588, in  141.  Earth Green (Dark Green)
  16. 76382, Mini Upper Part, No.4480, in  141.  Earth Green (Dark Green)
  17. 40676, Mini Head, No.2723, in  283.  Light Nougat (Light Flesh)
  18. 40677, Mini Head, No.2722, in  283.  Light Nougat (Light Flesh)
  19. 40678, Mini Head, No.2720, in  283.  Light Nougat (Light Flesh)
  20. 40679, Mini Head, No.2721, in  283.  Light Nougat (Light Flesh)
  21. 76382, Mini Upper Part, No.4482, in  312.  Medium Nougat (Medium Dark Flesh)
  22. 41809, Mini Skirt, No.3, No.1, in  312.  Medium Nougat (Medium Dark Flesh)
  23. 76382, Mini Upper Part, No.4479, in  154.  Dark Red
  24. 64807, Mini Wig, No.3, in  192.  Reddish Brown
  25. 38801, Snake, No.1, in  151.  Sand Green
  26. 50950, Brick W/Bow 1/3, in  138.  Sand Yellow (Dark Tan)
  27. 35399, Flat Tile 1X1, 1/2 Circle, in
  28. 41268, Glass For Frame 1X2X2, No.6, in Transparent

Build Process

71043 build process

#71043 Hogwarts Castle in its full glory.

To fully capture the build experience you have to get your hands on this set and build it for yourself. As many have done so before me and I am sure many will after me I decided to build this set while watching the Harry Potter movies. The entire build process took over 20 hours allowing me to cover the entire Harry Potter cinematic experience. What stood out the most about this set was that its appeal to non LEGO fans. Over weeks I spent building this set I had non Lego fan friends decide to join in on the experience with me. This experience made this a memorable and fun build and hopefully I created some new adult LEGO fans.

In this set you will come across many movie moments that really makes the set what it is. The set explores various mini builds which highlight moments from the first four Harry Potter movies. Each of the builds in this set are different and allows for a varied and unique building experience. On top of unique scenes new building techniques and parts used for this set show the care and detail placed into the design of this set. This variety improved the build experience as not once did I feel a sense of monotony or repetition.

“As 2018 is the 60th anniversary of the LEGO brick, I hid the iconic 2×4 red brick in as many places I could” – Justin Ramsden

The set is split into two independent halves, each being covered by two instruction manuals. This allows you to split up the build between multiple people without impeding each other. Due to variety I would recommend you to build sequentially rather than split this set to enjoy the entire experience.

Instruction Manuals 1 & 2

71043 1/2

The first half of Hogwarts Castle is complete.

Technic and Big Ugly Rock Pieces (BURP)

To create structure and support this set uses both LEGO bricks and technic, however no technic parts are visually exposed. By having an unorthodox shape to its design, the designers had to be creative with how parts connect. Due to this parts are sometimes placed at odd angles yet designed to still be structurally sound. At times when building you rest parts on tiles wondering how it stays in place only to later securing them in. Should you wish to pick this set up you can see how sturdy the base is and how it was designed to keep moving the set in mind.

71043 BURP

A mix of technic and LEGO bricks build the foundation.

Adding detailing to external structures

The foundation of the castles takes up the largest part of this set. To keep the part count low rather than building up the foundation using small bricks the designers used big ugly rock pieces. To get details slopes in a variety of colors and sizes are then added. This design gives off the impression that it is entirely built up when it isn’t. This simple yet complex design allows lots of detail to adorn the façade of the rock face while also being sturdy. Due to the repeated look and lots of similar parts being used when building this up it is easy to make mistakes. As the instructions do aren’t always clear while building you may struggle to see where to add wedges. This is all part of the fun though.

Large plates are placed on top of the rock face to finalize the structural soundness of the build. These plates hold everything together with internal support being built underneath of view. In addition miniature trees that are built along the side of the rocky base. By inverting 2018’s Plant Flower Stem part the designers give a pine tree aesthetic to this miniature tree.

71043 Rock face

Wedges and slopes litter the side of the façade.

First step into Hogwarts Castle

The first build excluding external structure is the boat house and the boats. Despite being a small build lots of detail is placed in this structure. Even though they are difficult to see the designers including stickers at the back inside the boathouse. Due to the scale limitation a degree of imagination should be applied to build. Due to the difficulty of getting scale right the boats are the boathouse are not perfectly scaled with figures. To make the boats look like boats the designers used arched window parts which when put together resembles a boat. A simple design yet an effective one.

71043 Boat

The boats bring the students to Hogwarts Castle.

Chamber of Secrets

The final build in the first manual is the Chamber of Secrets. In the basement we build both the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets and the chamber itself. Unfortunately due to limited working space both are not placed where they should in the castle. As alluded to by the designer sometimes stickers are necessarily. The user of stickers is seen here with small yet detailed stickers. These stickers add needed story telling elements to both the entrance and Salazar Slytherin’s rock face. Despite both being small and simple it is obvious to see the scenes being depicted. Other details include the Basilisk and snakes adorning the side of the Chamber both adding nice detail to the scene. If you look very closely at the Chamber of Secrets you can even see Tom Riddle’s diary placed on the floor.

71043 Chamber of Secrets

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir… beware. The Chamber of Secrets (left) and the entrance to the Chamber (right).

The beauty of stained glass

A stand out detail of the castle is the stained glass windows of the Great Hall. Care is taken with this build keep this nanofigure scale and movie accurate. On the inside we see how all the students can easily fit at the tables to listen to the teachers. At the front the teachers of Hogwarts are seated depicting iconic movie scenes like the arrival of the students. Transparent parts are used throughout this to support the magically floating elements. Through this technique the house banners and torches are suspended in the air as they would due to magic.

71043 Great Hall

Let the sorting ceremony begin.

On the outside, we see the designers’ choice to avoid having studs being exposed, something common throughout the set. Rather than stacking 1×1 bricks the designers creatively opted to use modified studs to hold plates. They then placed both smooth tiles on plates on top of this to add depth and smoothness. The most unique and exciting new parts in this set are the half arch parts used to create miniature arches. To create the stained-glass effect a variety of 1×1 and 1×2 plates and studs are attached to a dark gray grill. This is held in place by both a trans-clear headlight part and the new arch parts. A neck bracket part is placed on a stud to make chairs, perfectly fitting to nanofigure scale. The only frustration with the chairs is the difficulty to place the chair in the confined space.

A decorative roof is made using teeth and tiles to close off the Great Hall. At the center of the roof a tower rises, something that despite not being architecturally sound is passed off as magical. Round bricks with an holes litter the towers to simulate small windows adding more discreet detail to the external structure.

71043 Great Hall

New techniques are used to add depth to surfaces (left) and the stained glass windows (right).

Dumbledore’s tower, a beauty from the inside and outside

An immediately noticable structure is Dumbledore’s tower. This wide tower houses the second-floor girl’s bathroom, Dumbledore’s office and the Grand Staircase. All of these are brick built with supporting stickers to add detail. The exterior of the tower adopts similar techniques used in #21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V to provide structure and texture to the cylindrical tower. The designers built up the many levels of the tower using Wall Element 4X4X6 Round. To make it sturdy yet aesthetically appeasing the designers use brackets to add brick-built details to adorn the outside wall.

71043 Dumbledore's tower

Dumbledore’s tower is packed to the brim with details.

When looking at the levels we immediately notice the grand staircase. Despite not being to scale nor mirroring the design in the movies it is recognizable. These movable stairs allow you to position them however you desire giving access to a variety of rooms. The most notable room being the Gryffindor common room whose entrance adorns the painting of the Fat Lady. In this set we see a creative technique adopted to add a small yet impactful detail along the base. Rather than leaving parts of the technic structure exposed the designers used pins to attach plates to cover the holes. Then slopes and wedges are placed to add granularity and texture to a part that would normally just be flat.

71043 Dumbledore's Office

Dumbledore’s office filled with details (left) and the modular roof of the tower (right).

At the top of the tower we see Dumbledore’s office, the centerpiece of the tower. Rhis office is a relatively straightforward build but stickers that need to be carefully placed to added to show details. To make the roof smooth a new technique making use of wedge and regular plates is used. The independently built roof slates, albeit simple can be difficult to fully build. Each part of the roof needs sequentially, with parts getting in the way of other parts.

71043 Technic

All technic from the foundation is hidden behind bricks, plates or tiles.

Hungarian Horntail

A small yet detailed build of the Hungarian Horntail is built and placed on the the roof. Using a mix of parts from droids, horns and modified 1×1 plates an advent calendar style mini build very shows the details of the Hungarian Horntail. Small builds like this makes me desire an advent calendar version of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find. This advent calendar would add festive fun and would give us a variety of beasts from the wizarding world.

71043 Hungarian Horntail

This dragon is immediately recognizable as the iconic Hungarian Horntail.

Courtyard

At the base of the tower we have the courtyard. This simple build consists mostly of a large open space adding to Hogwart’s size. The majority of the details in the courtyard are placed at the entrance to the Great Hall. By using a mixture of stickers and bricks the entrance is built up, filled with arches and stained glass windows. Right up front we see a large clock, a sight that is very familiar from the movies. I wish however that the clock was a printed part rather than a sticker as the clock tower already has other stickers. The courtyard is adorned with awnings to provide cover which is nicely done. Immediately noticable are the new windows surrounding the courtyard, these being a new part. To date this part is unique to this set and adds detail at a nanofigure scale.

71043 Courtyard

Simplistic yet full of detail. The entrance to the Great Hall (left) and the windows of the courtyard (right).

Instruction Manuals 3 & 4

71043 3/4

The second half of the castle adds more iconic scenes.

The latter of the four manuals focus on the second half of the castle. This half provides us with a large number of scenes from the movies to build. Just like the first half, this build starts by using the same techniques to build structure to the base. For sake of avoiding repetition, with no notable differences the base, bar the Chamber of Secrets is built using the same techniques. Despite this repetition the second half is filled with spectacular level of detail and just as impressive as the first. In terms of sheer size, this second half is larger than the first. A lot of this is due to open space that is unoccupied due to the shape of the castle.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

While the first half adorns the base with details from the second movie, the second takes a step back and looks at the first movie that shaped the Harry Potter universe. Each of the scenes depicts the trials that Harry has to go through, whether it be the winged keys, the chess set or the Mirror of Erised. There are a few small parts that I wish had been printed parts rather than stickers, but reasons for this were explained by the designer. Fortunately with the ease of placing these stickers they are not too bothersome. Small details including a Philosophers Stone can be seen showing the attention to detail that was placed here.

My favorite scene is the chess set. This nanofigure scale board is something that I could see LEGO easily building into a set of its own. A part of the movie that is missing here is Fluffy, the three headed dog that guards the entrance. The lack of entrance to the various hidden rooms were also omitted. The placement of these rooms unfortunately do not line up with the movie as it is not as close to the library as it should be. With limitations in space and design I applaud what was done with the space available though. Another missing element is a nanofigure version of Professor Quirrel. Without him there is a key part missing from the final battle at the Mirror of Erised. With decisions needing to be made over which 24 characters to include it makes sense that he was overlooked.

71043 Sorcerers stone

So many iconic movie moments in one small section. Winged Keys (left), Wizard’s Chess (center) aand the Mirror of Erised (right).

Rooms in the basement of the castle

The final details that are added to the base are the Room of Requirement along with Snape’s potions classroom. None of these two rooms are situated where they should be in the real castle unfortunately. The first of the two rooms is designed to mirror the view of the room of requirements in the Half-Blood Prince movie. If you look at the room it seems to be filled with a large assortment of boxes and furniture. Should you have a keen eye you can see the vanishing cabinet located at the back-right hand corner.

Snape’s potion room on the other hand is designed very meticulously and shows the importance of stickers in this set. This room is also a perfect example where getting scale correct is difficult. Along the back wall we see a vibrant array of colors representing flasks and potions, making for a pretty view. Despite the beauty none of these are at nanofigure scale, something that is accentuated by the potions on the stickers at the back wall. This room is tightly packed with chairs, a cauldron and a flask dotted, making it difficult to place a large number of characters into it.

71043 Classrooms

Dark rooms in the basement. Room of Requirement (left) and Snape’s Potions Classroom (right).

Scaling the side walls of Hogwarts Castle

At first glance the hallway above the basement may look like a plain hallway but there are details hidden in Hogwarts’ hallways. The majority of details are done through use of stickers just in other portions in this set. The hallway makes good use of stickers for the entrance to the Room of Requirement and the words scrawled in blood on the wall. Something that would have been difficult to do with printed parts. Unfortunately there are also small brick stickers that I deem unnecessary, especially as 1×2 bricks with brick wall texture existing.

71043 Hallway

Mystery is lurking just around the corner.

Moving up the side wall of the castle, we see the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Unlike the previous rooms, rather than brick-built details the strength in detail for room comes mostly from the stickers. On the walls we see the pixies released in the second movie and at the front we see equipment to practice against a boggart along. Just like any classroom there is also a projector so that students can view slides. Despite wanting more brick-built elements here, at the scale we have available the designers incorporate just enough stickers to not overwhelm the build.

71043 Dark Arts

In Defense of the Dark Arts class wizards and witches learn to defend themselves.

Throughout this set we see a brick yellow color scheme being used. When we turn the set around a notable stand out room is Dolores Umbridge’s pink office. This small room is easily recognizable due to its colors and details. I am glad bricks are used rather than stickers to get details, with 1×1 plates depicting Umbridge’s cat plates on her wall.

71043 Umbridge

“I WILL have order!” – Dolores Umbridge.

The Great Library

The lower levels of the Great Library seems reminiscent of the Great Hall we built earlier. Looks can be deceiving however as the library is packed to the brim with details and hidden secrets. By using varied roofing and pillar techniques you have to pay very close attention to the instructions otherwise mistakes can be made. Something that I have admittedly done. The entire set uses brightly colored hidden parts to act as guidance markers to help you build. While building keep an eye out for the 2×4 red bricks used in this set, something added to celebrate LEGO’s 60th anniversary.

The designers opted to use the same stained-glass technique that was used in the Great Hall too add details. I welcomed building the windows again as this technique is unique and fun to build with. Inside the Great Library we see two rooms, the first of which fitting in the space while the other being out of place. Looking to the left we see the library area. This comfortable looking room is filled to the brim with books, a few which overflows onto the floor space. Seats and reading space also exist to allow the students of Hogwarts to quietly sit and read.

To the right of the space is the Gryffindor common room. This space is cozy and well-built however seems out of place in the Great Library. As we saw earlier, the entrance to the Gryffindor common room was built by the moving stairs making this space out of place here. This cozy space does however have a small yet creatively built fireplace along with seats that can make any student glad to be a Gryffindor.

71043 Library

The Great Library uses many techniques used in the Great Hall. Colored pieces act as guidance markers (left) and the interior of the library (right).

The Stone Bridge

The final build in this set, despite being very simple is a satisfying close to the build. This conclusion being the Stone Bridge connecting the first-floor corridor to the courtyard. This bridge should not be confused with the Wooden Bridge, another iconic bridge in the movies. The design of this bridge mirrors that of a roman aqueduct and acts as a centerpiece to the castle. The bridge is placed in a way that creates a lot of empty space in the center of the castle making the castle large. As the set is not designed as a uniform square the designers had to use creative techniques to allow the bridge to be placed at an angle. This has spurred debate in the community as some have questioned this as an illegal building technique, however upon closer inspection it is not. With the bridge placed you really get a sense of scale of this set; allowing you to marvel upon the adventure that you have just embarked on.

71043 Stone Bridge

The Stone Bridge connects the castle together.

Whomping Willow and Hagrid’s Hut

In order to complement Hogwarts Castle the designers built two nanofigure builds to add scenery to the school grounds. Hagrid’s Hut is a built-up using a round base with modified plates with clips attached to them to create a wall to the house. To complement the hut a new spider part is used to represent Aragog, Hagrid’s pet. We also build a small pumpkin patch that growing in front of the hut to add detail. The only thing missing would be a miniature model of Buckbeak the Hippogriff, but at this scale this would be very difficult. Most glaringly we are missing Hagrid himself in nanofigure form, something that I feel was overlooked.

The next stand-alone build is the Whomping Willow. Making use of robot arms and new stalk parts the branches are built up. To show the tree being able to move and thrash the designers kept motion in mind. The tree can turn and the branches positioned to whatever angle you desire. A very small detail albeit an appreciated one is the tiny blue Ford Anglia that can be placed on the branches depicting the dramatic arrival of Harry and Ron in the second movie. As with a few other builds this is not to scale with nanofigures but getting everything perfect is a challenge.

71043 extra

Small builds to add details to the grounds. Whomping Willow (left) and Hagrid’s Hut (right).

Minifigures & Nanofigures

As with Ultimate Collector Series sets in the past the main draw of these sets isn’t the number of minifigures available. Despite this set only having 4 classic minifigures, LEGO does not skimp out on quality of the four figures included in this set—each of the four minifigures have unique leg, torso and face prints. These minifigures will likely remaining exclusive to this set, as we have seen with collector minifigures in the past.

71043 Minifigures

The four founders of Hogwarts Castle.

The figures included in this are the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. These being Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin and Rowena Ravenclaw. To make the figures presentable a display platform is built to display the figures nicely alongside your set. In the first page of the instruction manual we are treated with details about each of the four founders and their role in Hogwarts, along with the values they represent.

71043 Founders

The Four Founders information guide.

Nanofigures

As this set is built at a much smaller nanofigure scale, in addition to four minifigures are 24 nanofigures of characters and dementors from the Harry Potter universe. You can place the 24 unique nanofigure characters around the castle to help show scale and re-create scenes from the movies. The included figures are Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, Albus Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, Remus Lupin, Professor Dolores Umbridge, Argus Filch, Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange and 3 students from each of the four houses. In addition to these familiar characters, 3 other types of nanofigure are included: two chess parts, the statue for the Architect of Hogwarts, and 5 Dementors.

24 unique nanofigures included in this set.

24 unique nanofigures included in this set.

An additional brick built Hungarian Horntail dragon, along with Aragog the spider, and Basilisk are also included. Both of these creatures make use of the new spider and snake mold. There are a few key nanofigures omitted from the assortment provided which would have made a nice addition. Most notably Hagrid is missing. Of those available the printing is done clearly and we can clearly determine who the characters are.

Sticker Sheet

For a set of this size, it is no surprise that there are a large number of stickers. The set includes 4 sheets of stickers totaling up to 63 unique stickers. One may assume that due to there being 4 sticker sheets they would be broken down by manua. This is not the case however, with the stickers being used across the manuals.

Some LEGO fans are vocally not a big fan of stickers. Wth the scale of this set and the level of detail required a large number of stickers are included. While also keeping cost in mind LEGO opted to put minute details into stickers rather than new parts. LEGO limits the number of new parts they can produce for each set. As a result if a part is not already in production they have to make strict design choices. For this set it was important to put budget towards new parts that aided with architectural design rather than detailing. A couple of the stickers we have in this set could have been great as printed tiles however, most notably stickers 56 through 63.

When reading about the team behind this set we can see the reasoning for using the stickers they did. Despite less being more, it is critical to use stickers to bring a layer of storytelling to the set. With LEGO being able to get small details done easier with stickers compare to printed parts it makes economical sense. This is especially being noticable with the desire to keep costs low. Knowing that some of the details would have been unachievable without stickers I welcome the stickers that were used.

71043 stickers

Stickers add the must needed story telling elements to this set.

Nanofigure scale structures

Should you have enjoyed this set and want to look for complementary sets at nanofigure scale you should check out #40289 Diagon Alley. This set was offered as a free gift with purchase, so is unfortunately not currently available for direct purchase from LEGO. To learn more about the set, be sure to check out my earlier review of that set.

#40289 Diagon Alley (Microscale). (Photo: Tom Alphin)

Hogwarts Extension by /u/ryankroboth

71043 extension

Hogwarts Castle extension by Reddit user Ryan Kroboth. (Photo: /u/ryankroboth)

When looking at this set we can see that despite it being a phenomenal behemoth there is still a lot missing. Of the parts missing, most notably are the quad, clocktower, hospital wing and greenhouses. Fortunately for enthusiasts reddit user /u/ryankroboth has created an incredible extension to #71043 that allows us to see Hogwarts in its entirety. If you thought that the original Hogwarts came at a hefty price then you will be in for a surprise as this extension totals at 25,000 parts. With most of the parts for this extension coming from Hogwarts Castle you can purchase multiple of this set to help build their extension. This will definately make a costly dent in your wallet though. To not take any description away from the talented designer of this set I highly recommend you check out his reddit post and read about his wonderful build.

Conclusion

Normally you should never judge a book by its cover, however here you can. #71043 Hogwarts Castle is wonderfully crafted set and if you can get hold of this set is a must have for Harry Potter fans.
Unless otherwise noted, photos in this article by Koen Van Der Hoeven, Tom Alphin, /u/ryankroboth, under a creative commons license and those officially provided by LEGO.

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