In medieval times, a blacksmith was a vital part of any village or town’s existence (as my kids and I discovered in our home learning while stuck in Lockdown 3). They were among a small group of craftsmen that no civilisation at the time could have done without. Usually working in iron and later steel, they would make all manner of things – nails, horseshoes, hinges, weapons, armour and hand tools, among many other practical and decorative things. A blacksmith would also be called upon to mend those same things too.
The simplistic view of the highly skilled profession of a blacksmith is that it’s heating up metal and hitting it with a hammer. Not so, if you’ve ever tried it. Each of the three ‘H’s – Heating, Holding and Hitting – requires the highest level of proficiency to make anything that doesn’t resemble a chewed-up dog toy. I’m tempted to suggest they would have been the rock-stars of the village!
- Heating: First the metal needs to be heated fairly precisely to the correct temperature; for this you’ll probably need a forge (a hearth or stone-lined furnace).
- Holding: Once hot, if you’re unable to hold it, there’s no way you’ll be able to hit it. To adequately hold the workpiece still, you will need tongs (of which there are a vast array), clamps, vises and jigs.
- Hitting: Accuracy is far more important than force. Something to hit with, and something hard and flat to hit on, would also be essential. Hammers and anvils come in all sorts of shapes and sizes too.
Once you’ve mastered the three Hs, you’re ready to move on to Shaping. There are three basic ways to shape the metal:
- drawing out, as the name suggests, is a process of lengthening the piece of metal
- upsetting is when you are broadening an end, adding mass
- peining is when you want the metal to move in a certain direction, or all directions
"Ferrous enough, thanks for the unrequested lesson," you might say, but what about the LEGO?
It’s a fairly straightforward build throughout, but a really enjoyable journey nonetheless.
I found the yellow outlines in the instructions caused me as much confusion as clarity in where the parts to be added should go. In places, the outlined parts have the illusion of almost floating, and in others I found the line obscured where I was placing something.
It’s not much of an inconvenience to be fair, and may just be me. Something worth noting however is that the instructions are not printed with black pages. This is likely a change in response to fan feedback; TLG are listening, and saving ink!
Throughout the construction, there were many steps where I found myself smiling at a detail or some clever feature. There really is an incredible amount packed into this from the start.
Bag 1 contains the basic floorplan, then Bag 2 adds the next course of bricks and the light brick. I was a little surprised how brightly it lit up the fires of our forge, even shining partially through parts we think of as being generally opaque like the orange 1x1 round tiles.
I particularly like the way that the miniature bellows are used as an actuator. This neatly represents the act of forcing air into the forge to increase the rate of combustion and therefore increase heat.
Bag 3 fills out most of the stonework construction of the Blacksmith’s workshop.
Bag 4 finishes the stone built workshop and forge. It’s convincingly kitted out, with a selection of tools and armour. In its finished state I think I can almost feel the heat building in that forge too.
Bag 5 contains the tree; there’s something of the look of 10281 Bonsai Tree in this gnarled apple tree. Bag 6 is the start of the second floor which comprises mainly the kitchen and dining area.
Bags 7 to 10 finalise the second floor and the framework supporting the ridge beam.
Bag 11 contains one particular build feature I was impressed with; the
construction and the geometry leading to the placement of the rake
fascia on the gable ends:
The rakes drop into place and two Technic holes are immediately lined up with those in the main floor construction. No effort is required to push the “securing pegs” into place. I admire the level of expertise necessary to pull off this kind of seemingly simple construction.
I found the whole roof to be a joy. The perfectly placed roof with almost imperceivable shutlines around the dormer window and chimney stack impressed me on the forge side, while the simplicity of access on the alternate side revealed another reason for the moss covered roof - it enables an extra layer of plates to be added (or more importantly, hidden) that help larger fingers prise that roof off!
There are lots of really great features in the finished model and I’m reluctant to point them all out, because I think it might spoil the experience of building it for yourself. Some highlights for me were: the wood store; my son building the characterful tree, the kitchen chairs, my daughter building that sumptuous bed unaided, the Bearskin rug and those two Black Falcons... if I’ve neglected to convey my excitement about them so far.
The overall footprint just about fits onto a 32 x 32 baseplate, which means anyone that wants to might be able (with a little trial and error) to integrate this into a modular display!
There are a total of 2164 pieces here and for 149.99 USD/ 199.99 CAD/ 146.99 EUR/ 134.99 GBP/ 249.99 AUD, I think that’s astounding value. 21325 Medieval Blacksmith is packed full of good, useful pieces (some in great quantities) and without a vast number of small pieces bumping up the part count, if nothing else this represents a brilliant parts pack.
I’ve a feeling it’ll be a great start for building your own Medieval village too. I anticipate being able to easily make a variety of other buildings from this.
My kids (7 and 9) both loved playing with the set once it was built, and spent an hour after our home learning commitments creating a complex story. Seeing how the set promoted imaginative play in my children was a joy and further welded my opinion that this truly is a great set.
Briefly mentioned in the instructions is 3739 Blacksmith Shop, a model that was also originally conceived by a fan, Daniel Siskind. It was the first fan-designed official LEGO set in fact, and sold as ‘My Own Creation’ way back in 2002.
Although that’s not quite as far back as Medieval times, if we look at what LEGO has done with 21325 in comparison to 3739 we can see just how far the medium has come in the last two decades.
Yes, this is different from Clemens Fielder’s submission, but if you look past the differences and can notice the obvious similarities, I think you will appreciate the love that has been put into this new set.
I can very easily recommend this to you. LEGO has produced something new and yet nostalgic, charming, educational and fun. The Blacksmith was once at the heart of the community, I invite you to put this set at the heart of your LEGO collection, I honestly don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Did I mention there are two Black Falcons?
Hopefully my review will have stoked your fires, my hunch is you’ll love it too. If you have enjoyed this review and intend to buy the Blacksmith please consider following our affiliate link to make your purchase: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'. New Elementary may get a commission.
Massive thanks go to our 'Vibrant Coral' patrons: Megan Lum, Markus Rollbühler, Jorgito Mozo, Mevits Bricks, Font Review Journal, Baixo LMmodels, Andy Price, Anthony Wright, Chris Cook, London AFOLs, Gerald Lasser, Big B Bricks, Dave Schefcik, David and Breda Fennell, Huw Millington, Neil Crosby, Antonio Serra, Beyond the Brick, Sue Ann Barber & Trevor Clark, and Kevin Gascoigne. Vale Iain Adams, a great supporter of New Elementary.
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