05 February 2017

Towering achievement

Posted by Admin
Have you all already decided whether or not to buy 71040 Disney Castle? At £299.99 / US$349.99 / €349.99, the first obstacle is cost. Beyond that, if you are a Disney fan, I imagine it is a must-have. If you crave large, challenging LEGO® builds this is definitely something out of the ordinary. If you love to wow your friends with your latest LEGO display, this is a great choice — aside from being appealing and highly detailed with loads of rooms inside referencing different Disney films, it is a good shape for display in that the model’s footprint is relatively small compared to the overall height. We even have a human being to show you just how big it is...

Marcos Bessa

One of the speakers at the 2016 Skærbæk Fan Weekend was the designer of this set, Marcos Bessa. He works on the LEGO Super Heroes team but instead spoke about the many large “Direct to Consumer” sets he has designed such as 10236 Ewok Village, 75827 Firehouse Headquarters and both of the Simpsons sets. 71040 Disney Castle is his latest.

The fact that I found most interesting was that he was given no price point in the brief. LEGO designers are (almost) always briefed to design a set to a particular retail cost. As you can imagine, this must at first be a challenging restriction on creativity for many designers, especially former AFOLs like Marcos. However this time he was given free rein, with reviews and price point decisions being made along the way of course.

Marcos designed it based on reference images of the original, as there was no budget for travel. He says the greatest challenge was the fact that there were lots of circles and octagons in the plans; the latter in particular proved difficult to make. Having designed the superbly detailed towers of the castle, Marcos anticipated these would need to be simplified. In fact, even he describes them as “over-engineered”! He considered taking them out, but they were “too perfect”. Indeed at one stage of the development process they were changed, but as a cost-saving measure. Happily they were later reinstated.

Thank goodness for that! They make for a challenging and immensely satisfying build. I will speak only briefly about the build later but first let’s talk about what we most love to talk about here at New Elementary: the new and interesting pieces. There are 4080 to sift through yet none are “new” in the sense of ones that we have not mentioned previously on this blog. There are some great recolours of existing parts, however, and beautiful printed pieces created especially for the set.

Parts in 71040 Disney Castle

Let’s start with an unusual helmet, called Crown with 4 Tall Spikes on BrickLink, which has only ever appeared once before, in Silver Metallic [TLG]/Flat Silver [BL] in LEGO The Hobbit set 79015 Witch-king Battle in 2014. For Disney Castle it has been recoloured in Reddish Brown (Element ID 6153584 | Design ID 18165) and the two provided are not used as helmets but upside down as lamps adorning the entrance, which you can see in the first picture in this post (click to enlarge). Marcos has been hanging on to this idea for years, ever since he saw the element being sculpted, indeed at the tie he asked the parts designer to ensure a round 1x1 brick would fit in between the horns if the element were turned upside down. He never found the opportunity to use the idea in a set until, two or three years later, the brief for the Disney Castle arrived. Just in time — having not been used since that Hobbit set, the element was about to be removed from the inventory!

Also new in Reddish Brown, a far more common element: the LEGO tap (6153585 | 4599). Given the original mould of this piece debuted in 1984 I am surprised this has never been produced in this hue before — not even in “old” brown (Earth Orange [TLG]/Brown [BL]). Two are used in the model.

This lovely 33° 3x3 roof slope with an internal angle was originally introduced in Dark Red in 2011 for LEGO Architecture 21010 Robie House and later appeared in Sand Green in 21017 Imperial Hotel and then in White in LEGO Creator Expert 10234 Sydney Opera House. Now it comes in Dark Stone Grey (6153582 | 99301) and there are an even four provided.

There is a wonderful selection of Earth Blue [TLG]/Dark Blue [BL] roof pieces in this set provided in high quantities, but only two are new to this colour, both from the 75° array of slopes. The 2x2x3 corner slope (6144750 | 3685) is unique to this set at time of writing, and the regular 2x2x3 slope (6144751 | 98560 [TLG]/3864c [BL]) now also appears in 10255 Assembly Square - see our two-part review. You get 26 of the former and 25 of the latter! Also, a couple of nice round pieces are new to Earth Blue as well of which you get four of each: the 6x6 dish (6116265 | 44375) and the 4x4x2 cone (6144755 | 3943) which TLG call a ‘Rocket Step’! I like that.

There’s a useful new shade of the incredibly popular ‘brick’ brick, a.k.a. the ‘profile’ or ‘masonry’ brick: Brick Yellow/ Tan (6148262 | 98283). It first appeared a couple of months before the Disney Castle in LEGO Ninjago 70589 Rock Roader which only has two… the castle provides 24. Similarly, there are 25 Brick Yellow 45° corner wedge bricks (6148265 | 87620) of which 70589 Rock Roader only has one. The other offering in this colour are the two 3x3 cross plates (6061575 | 15397) which originally appeared in 10253 Big Ben, but there are only two in here.
Now let’s examine the White pieces. The only new and exclusive recolour is the exotic “Elves fence” (6097236 | 19121) and you get a healthy ten of them. An even newer part, the 2x3 bow, is here in White (6132212 | 24309) already appeared in three Speed Champions sets in 2016 but only one is provided here. Also, nine of the pentagonal 2x3 shield tile (6128991 | 22385) are used in the model and this was previously in 70588 Titanium Ninja Tumbler, as well as now coming in 10255 Assembly Square too.

There are some welcome recolours of elements from the LEGO Minifigures range. The Medium Stone Grey mop head from Series 15 Janitor is now in Brick Yellow (6153596 | 24085), the Reddish Brown pot from Series 6 Leprechaun back in 2012 is Titanium Metallic [TLG]/Pearl Dark Gray [BL] (6153593 | 98374). Also of note is the return of the White horn (6156242 | 89522) which only ever appeared in Series 13 Unicorn Girl: 37 of these are used!

Also worthy of mention are a couple of Bright Green pieces. The 3-long 3.18 bar (6161772 | 17715) first appeared here in Bright Green but has since appeared in Assembly Square, used for the stem of the rose form Beauty and the Beast, plus there is a spare. The 2x2 round plate (6138624 | 4032) returned in 2016 after a 12 year absence. It is in several sets, most notably in a quantity of 12 in 76059 Spider-Man: Doc Ock's Tentacle Trap. There are only two here.

New printed parts in 71040 Disney Castle

There are some beautiful, useful printed pieces in this set. Let’s start with my favourite; this White 1x6x5 panel featuring, as BrickLink suggest, a “Light Bluish Gray Ironwork Pattern” (6157997 | 27357). Only one is required; I would love to have a few dozen of these to line the naves of a huge church or the like. It would have been even more useful if the pattern matched at top and bottom, so you could also stack them. Also in White, one 4x4 radar dish “with Clock Face Light Blue with Roman Numerals Pattern” (6157971 | 27350). New LEGO clock faces are always welcome, although I was surprised to discover BrickLink lists two other 4x4 dishes printed with clock faces, as well as one 2x2 and two 6x6. Both of these White printed pieces take pride of place above the entrance to the castle.

Clock fans rejoice, the set also includes one new 2x2 round tile with clock, again featuring Roman numerals, in Reddish Brown (6157942 | 27347) and this piece has since appeared in Assembly Square. This piece is definitely needed: the original LEGO clock is basic and modern and the other clock faces printed on this piece so far are a pink one and a childish one. This new one is used to create a superb grandfather clock — Marcos has such a talent for interior furniture!

Sticking with Reddish Brown we have yet another version of the Unikitty tail, a piece that TLG gave the vague name “Designing Plate 1X2X2”, with elegant gold swirls (6158006 | 27358). Two are used at the foot of the bed. Given its shape and lack of connection points, I’m amazed how much this piece gets used and how many versions there are! There’s the original Unikitty tail as well as Queasy Kitty and Angry Kitty, then in the unprinted versions we have the Bright Blue [TLG]/Blue [BL] Astro Kitty tail, the Dark Stone Grey architectural decorations used in 10246 Detective's Office and the Brick Yellow version was used in three sets; variously as a elven shop sign, the wooden hair of a wardrobe with a face and as a dragon’s moustache! Hooray for specialised elements.

The LEGO book that premiered in 2016 which can open and shut comes in Reddish Brown with the Disney Castle icon printed in gold on brown on the cover (6157932 | 27346; unprinted version is 24093). Inside goes a very pretty White 1x2 tile with “Once upon a time” printed on it (6157985 | 27356).

Finally, some new food. At least I assume so — it would also make superb eyes for a hideous monster. BrickLink wisely avoid naming its purpose, describing it as a “Brown Ring, White Spots and Dark Red Dot Pattern” printed on a Medium Nougat [TLG]/Medium Dark Flesh [BL] 1x1 round tile (6161541 | 28226). There are three plus a spare.

Minifigures in 71040 Disney Castle

As usual I won’t go into detail on the minifigures; others will have described these in greater and better detail elsewhere. However there were a couple of things I was taken with. 

Firstly, the two fabric clothing items: Mickey has a Black “Swallowtail” coat (6152297 | 26697) and Tinkerbell a Bright Yellowish Green “Leaf Skirt” (6152306 | 26701). Although not much of a fan of this type of LEGO minifigure wear, I’m taken with Mickey's coat tails.

The other piece I like is not new, it came with the LEGO Minifigures Donald and Daisy Duck in 2016, but this was my first chance to play with it. It is a White rubber tail piece (6143607 | 24779) that is sandwiched between a minifigure torso and legs. The bottom edge is semicircular, so I combined it with a 1x4 arch to make a rather Baroque architectural feature. It would be fun to explore this firther, to create a more detailed effect around it.

Techniques in 71040 Disney Castle

Overall, the shape of this model is unusual for a LEGO set, being a sort-of pyramidal structure on a curvy triangular base that resembles the shape of a cloud icon. The base is very satisfying to build, as you can imagine.

Note that lovely floor in the centre, using the pentagonal shield tiles (Design ID 22385). The whole thing has been rotated 45° and Marcos cleverly employs the 1x1 round tile with bar (Design ID 20482) to keep the rotated section in place. The corners are then covered with angled plates.

I’ll mention this step in the build as it is one that sorts the Creator Experts from the Juniors. The instructions indicate to place two of these unusual SNOT pieces (Design ID 4595) together and then, in the next step, to add a 1x2 plate on top. For less experienced builders this is highly confusing as the two SNOT parts do not connect to each other at the initial stage and indeed need a gap between them to connect to the plate. I’m sure, if used in a set that was not age marked 16+, this technique would have been explained more gradually — or not permitted at all.

It’s the simplicity of this chandelier that makes it so neat. At its heart is the ship wheel (Design ID 4709, originally from LEGO Fabuland, by the way) with Fez hats attached to clips for the lights.

The circular towers are full of fascinating geometric arrangements. Given the opportunity, I wonder if Marcos would have used the brand new corner SNOT brick (Design ID 26604) in place of the stud-on-four-sides brick (Design ID 4733). Perhaps not — the extra studs provide a certain look to the windows of the turret.

Now, does this chunk of LEGO pieces remind you of anyone?

No, it’s not a statue of Mickey's head but in fact the bottom section of a protruding turret.

There's simply too much to discuss in the construction of this model! So I will leave it at those few observations, otherwise I will be here for (another) few months.

Products mentioned in this post were kindly supplied by the LEGO Group. All content represents the opinions of New Elementary authors and not the LEGO Group.

Shopping on Amazon? Consider using our affiliate links to buy your LEGO sets (or anything); this helps support New Elementary!
USA: Amazon.com Canada: Amazon.ca UK: Amazon.co.uk Deutschland: Amazon.de


  1. Is that seriously all the instances of the Unikitty tail that have been used in official sets? I could swear I've run across it elsewhere, in sets that I've actually built, but maybe I'm just thinking of all the times I've seen it in MOCs.

    Also, can we go back in time and swap that clock face in with the modern version used in the Monster Fighters ghost w/ grandfather clock polybag? And I believe Mickey's coattails were reused in dark-blue for Alfred Pennyworth in the LEGO Batman Movie Batcave set, but I can't figure out why they designed a new 7-point skirt for Tinkerbell when they already had a very similar 8-point skirt that they've only ever used for CMF S8 Totally-Not-A-Tinkerbell-Knockoff.

  2. The techniques section lacks of Design ID codes (all but one, as far as I can see there is just the ship wheel).

    1. True, I did rush this at the last minute!

  3. "Have you all already decided whether or not to buy 71040 Disney Castle? At £299.99 / US$349.99 / €349.99, the first obstacle is cost"

    The first obstacle for me is that its available in a grand total of one store on this entire continent.

    1. Which continent is that

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Australia. Its only available in the Lego Store which recently opened on the Gold Coast, the only Lego store in the entire southern hemisphere. Other than that its exclusive to Lego's online store.

  4. I bought this castle off the Disney website and was able to use Disney points from my Disney credit card. I think I paid $180 for this. It was hard to get this right before Christmas, because it kept selling out. I feel lucky because I wasn't interested in anything else from the Disney store. It was awesome to build. So many techniques at every level. I substituted regular studs for the studs with holes wherever I could because the studs with holes are so useful.