Medieval Black Smith
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When LEGO 21325 Medieval Blacksmith was officially announced a few months ago, I, as a LEGO Castle fan, was inexplicably hyped for the set. I was also one of the 10,000 votes on LEGO Ideas that originally caused the project to hit the review stage.
So why on earth am I doing a review now? Why didn’t I charge out and get it on day one? Well, I do tend to give myself tunnel vision with sets that excite me as much as Castle sets do. It’s caused me to go blind into Bionicle Generation 2 and Nexo Knights series 1. Which are not as a bad as they are made out to be, but definitely not as good as naive me thought they would be.
So with months for the excitement to peter out, and having plenty of time to build it and display it, does it still hold up to the fantastic set I thought it would be on the announcement? Read on!
So the first thing to mention is that this is drastically different to the original LEGO Ideas submission, and it doesn’t take long to find out why. The original submission is more of a MOC than a standard LEGO-line set. Using quite a lot of finicky (but beautiful) building techniques. Unfortunately, LEGO can’t slap a “This is going to be really hard to build” tag on the box, and they had to work retroactively.
What LEGO did stay true to the original submission is the general layout of the building, the number of floors, and the colour scheme. LEGO’s only real addition to the original colours is swapping out the autumn colours. Splashing in the newer lime green tones to inject some colour, as well as using some of the sand-green on the roof to indicate age. They also add a horse-drawn carriage to the mix and few more figures, but otherwise, compared to the exterior, LEGO stayed pretty true to the source material.
The Blacksmith is a three-story business and home for our titular blacksmith and his wife. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t quite sure to call her his wife, as she would also pass as a daughter or sister, but the one bed existing on the top floor tells me that these two are a thing.
The Blacksmith house is a beautiful build to behold on the exterior, showcasing detailed stoneworks around the arches and doorways. As well as using an intermix of stone-grey and sand green to convey age and character. The timber slats detailing the upper two floors being a sense of depth to the building that continues all the way around the model to really set that older vibe. Even the walls are intermixes of white and tan much akin to buildings of that time having parts of the wall fall off or take on moisture. It’s classic Castle MOC’ing 101, but I haven’t seen this sort of detail since Lord of the Rings sets.
To the left side of the model is probably my favourite bit of detailing across the model. There is an apple tree, different from the proposed Autumnal Maple that was in the original project submission. An undercroft with timber logs for the fireplaces, and a small little well with a bucket.
I like that LEGO went with an apple tree with bright colours, as it complements the model more and brings more life to the build. During the time of biding and waiting to get this set, I heard that some people really didn’t like putting together the tree because of how finicky it was. I did not have that experience and don’t know what everyone is talking about. The tree also sneaks in a little target on the rear side for our Blacksmith’s wife to lob shots at all day.
The well is a nice little touch to the set, but I can’t help but think that something is off about it. If you look at the top of the well from one side, it looks great with black and dark blue tiling, but from the other side, it doesn’t have any form of detailing at all. It’s not the part that people will see often, but I’m probably going to tweak this little part of the build on my own for my own peace of mind.
Moving alongside the side of the house is a bit of detailing that deserves way more credit than people realise. And no, I’m not talking about the small pumpkin and squash patch. I’m talking about the small support struts lining the edge of the building.
These little support struts could have easily been turned in solid bricks, or simple tiles, but LEGO use a combination of the ingot pieces and cheese slopes. Have them so microscopically close together to pull off an aesthetic that wasn’t necessary but I 150% love. They didn’t need to, but they did. Love. Love. LOVE.
Our Blacksmith also overextends his workshop to both the interior of the house and the exterior. With himself having the forge accessible from both sides. LEGO even showed a tiny bit of decorative flair by having the translucent coals towards the exterior and unlit coals towards the interior. By doing this, you can see where the active coals are and where the newly loaded coals get thrown on. Our Smithy can simply head the metal on the forge, bring across to the anvil out front, and then turn back around and dip it into the water trough to cool off. Don’t worry if the coals get cold, there are some bellows on the side attached to a light brick to reignite the flame!
The whole forging process is documented here in full swing, but I do wish the water trough was a little more defined, just because it is hard to see.
So we know how I feel about the exterior, how about the interior?
Our first floor is our workshop, complete with hot iron ingot, crafting tools, whetstone and coal. The wall is adorned in the Praetorian Guard shoulder amour from Star Wars in silver, and the heavy load door is brick-built with printed wood detailing. The entire area is set up to really tell the story of making something from nothing, including steel rods, ingots in the corner, and bright orange ingot to work on all the tools to sharpen the weapon to fit fighting shape.
The door is also characteristically shorted than the other doors on the build. Just like the normal undercrofts that existed back in the day, and the forge even has the opening for the heat to transcend up and out of the chimney. LEGO doesn’t even shortcut the far wall where the timber storage would be, still squeezing in a window to the outside world. There is nothing I can fault about what is here in this room at all. It’s great.
The second floor is our interior living, complete with a kitchen preparation station (with black cleaver and pan on the wall) and a firepit stovetop. I’ve been really on the fence about how I feel about the chairs in this space. They do look quite oversized for a Minifigure, but somehow they kinda work? I’ve not seen LEGO make a chair using axes for the backrests, so that’s also a first for me too. Dinner is laid out on the table with a turkey leg and salad, as well as soup boiling away in a cauldron over the stove (the small logs make a reappearance here, fuelling the fire – nice touch!)
Underneath our staircase is a water barrel, or at least I would so assume, and we even have a milk churner in the corner. If you don’t know what this is, this is what was used in older times to make milk into butter.
Our third and final floor is the attic, which has probably the most amount of character in it of the whole set. Not only is our top floor equipped with a fireplace to keeps things warm, it has a small lectern for writing stories, a chest with explorer’s gear, a beautifully carved bed, and a BEAR RUG.
I’ll get to the other things in a second, but BEAR RUG YES. This is great. Such a creative used of tiles to freshen up the space. High praise here! But is this where the bear motif ends? That’s up for debate. The bed that our loving couple share (that definitely won’t fit both of them on it) has a carved wooden detailing at the foot end of the bed, and where I see a bear’s head, my wife Dannii does not. We need people to weigh in here on this because I think it’s the work of that fancy bear woodcarver from Brave still keeping herself in business.
Our chest at the back houses a compass and a backpack, reminiscent of the original LEGO Ideas submission creator who enjoys exploring the outdoors. This also doubles up a cool little narrative for the building owners, as the wife strikes me as someone who wants to go out and explore the world a little bit. Maybe they’re planning a trip away sometime soon?
I’m also going to take a quick moment to talk about the pointed roof technique. Unless you actually do it yourself, it’s hard to describe how satisfying it was to put all those parts into place and have it sit flush with the triangle clip. It’s quite intricate how it all goes together, combining technic pins, clips and good ol’ gravity. Our rooftop to the building also uses a quite parts-intensive overlapping technique, but LEGO dabbles in a few little details here and there to break the mould, such as actual mould and wooden slats to imply a damaged roof. It’s a nice little touch.
The set review sounds like this set is almost perfect and nothing could be wrong with it my eyes, but you’d be wrong. There’s still one last bit to go; the Knights Carriage.
The Carriage our knights are trekking out on is a classic horse-drawn carriage with lantern and carry space for their weapons and the insert for the back of the horse. Yes, LEGO didn’t forget to include the parts so that the horse could be removed from the carriage.
I have… issues with the carriage. Take the figures off, empty the back of whatever is in there, and it's quite… cartoony. It’s so boxy and doesn’t marry up to the aesthetic of the rest of the build. We have an incredibly intricately detailed building and a quite blocky (no pun intended) carriage.
There is a small bit of detail in having the main seats lean back, but I can’t help but feel that this could have been done a bit different. I look back to Gandalf’s cart in 9469 – Gandalf Arrives, which was a two-wheeled cart. But, had angled carriage sides and managed to store almost the same amount of storage that this cart has. I just don’t like this, but maybe I’m too blind sighted. I’m going to make something myself and get back to you all on this.
This set comes with four figures and one husky dog mould. The figures in this set are somewhat basic for an Ideas set, but I’m weirdly not against it. The draw for me was the set, not so much the figures.
The husky is straight forward and nothing new. I hear people were disappointed there were no goats with this set which the original submission had. But, I think that’s just desperation for goats. The original had owls and squirrels too. I like the dog though, implies it might be used for hunting.
Our titular Blacksmith uses very rare hairpieces and colours in a manner not seen before. His face isn’t new but does show two expressions, happy and determined. The brown overalls as standard garb immediately set the tone as to who he is, and the printing continues around on to the back as well. I’m big fan of this guy.
Our fair maiden could almost be mistaken to belong in a different era, with her torso also being suited to the Wild West. I do like that she is given a bow and a quirky one-eye-closed facial expression, setting her up to be more than a traditional housewife. I do also like her dual-moulded legs in dark tan and brown.
Our two Knights are from the new version of the Black Falcons. Yes, this is not the first time we have gotten a Black Falcons revamp, as it was originally done in 10223 Kingdoms Joust. Either way, our new Minifigures bare their emblem on their chests with a nice bold blue to contrast the gunmetal arms and legs. I’m a huge fan of the leg printing on these guys, as well as their new shield printings for the classic piece.
LEGO differentiates the two Knight well, equipping one with the new moulded sword and an older face and hairstyle kind of reminiscent of… someone. I think I’ll nickname this guy ‘Shaun Canary’. He also gets the 2020 Ninjago shoulder element in silver to boot.
Our other knight sports a large halberd/pike, using the Monkie kid handle and silver axe head, this imposing weapon definitely lets you know that she’s the hot-headed newbie on the block ready to kick some butt. She sports the same bucket helmet but newer shoulder mould of this year.
Overall, this set still earns a lot of high praise from me. I would 100% recommend it to anyone thinking about getting it, but the only thing that is negative for me is the carriage itself, which both I and my wife disagree on. I would like to hear other’s thoughts, but I might be displaying this one with the carriage up on my shelf. Oh, and someone tell me if I’m mad about the Bear carved bed!
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All opinions are my own.