28 September 2023

LEGO® Architecture review: 21060 Himeji Castle

Posted by Thomas Jenkins

Over the last 700-or-so years, Himeji Castle has survived numerous wars and natural disasters. It's considered a national treasure in Japan and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This year it gets a new accolade: it's the latest LEGO® Architecture set! We already took a look at one of the elements appearing in 21060 Himeji Castle - the exciting "Pagoda Plate" - but today we take a look at the set in its entirety.

Products in this article were gifted by LEGO; the author's opinions are their own.
LEGO® Architecture 21060 Himeji Castle
US$159.99/ £139.99/ 159.99€/ AU$259.99
2125 parts
1 August 2023
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New moulds

  • 21x Plate Special 2 x 2 with Double Inverted Curve, 1 Stud in Dark Bluish Gray (6447212 | 4109) 
We've been calling this new element the Pagoda Plate as it was introduced specifically for 21060 Himeji Castle, while retaining a universal design for other applications. You can read about part 4190 in-depth, including building techniques, in my earlier review


The LEGO Himeji Castle also provides a varied selection of recoloured elements. First up, some useful parts for creating foliage:

  • 10x Bar 2L with Stop in Center in Reddish Brown (6451002 | 78258)
  • 6x Plant, Flower Stem with Bar and 6 Stems in Dark Brown (6452882 | 19119) 

The surprisingly useful boomerang comes in another neutral colour:

  • 20x Equipment Boomerang in Light Bluish Gray (6446785 | 25892)

One of our favorite new elements of the year - the "baby D-snot" - gets a recolour:

  • 2x Technic Brick Special 1 x 2 with Pin Hole and 1 x 2 Plate in White (6342970 | 73109) 
  • 10x Plate 1 x 1 x 2/3 Half Round with Side Stud in White (4558592 | 3386) 

 At long last the 5-petal flower comes in a useful shade of green:

  • 121x Plant, Flower, Plate Round 1 x 1 with 5 Petals in Dark Green (6446790 | 24866) 

Finally, a useful slope in a colour suitable for rock work:

  • 11x Slope 75° 2 x 2 x 3 Double Convex in Dark Tan (6436361 | 3685) 

New prints

  • 1x Tile 1 x 8 with new print in Black (6454242 | 4162pr0099) 
  • 1x Tile 1 x 8 with new print in Black (6454243 | 4162pr0100) 
The two new prints in 21060 Himeji Castle allow the builder to choose between an English 'Himeji Castle' placard or one written in Japanese kanji (read Himeji-jō) for the model's base.

Rare elements 

LEGO Himeji Castle also supplies a good selection of rare elements.  

  • 3 x 33909 Plate Special 2 x 2 with Only 2 studs in Sand Green (6423384 | 33909) in 3 other sets 
  • 10 x 59900 Cone 1 x 1 [Top Groove] in Earth Green/ Dark Green (6411591 | 59900) in 1 other set 
  • 6 x 3747a Slope Inverted 33° 3 x 2 in Reddish Brown (4508616 | 3747) in 1 other set
  • 1 x 3172 Plate Special 1 x 2 with Pin Hole On Side in Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray (6438836 | 3172) in 1 other set 
The Dark Green cones and LBG special plate (which Tom Loftus recently investigated) have appeared elsewhere very recently, but the Reddish Brown inverted slopes were last seen in 2007's 7662 Trade Federation MTT. It's always nice to see elements reintroduced into circulation after a long hiatus.

Elements in high quantity

LEGO Himeji Castle treats us to a bunch of bricks in unusually big bunches. We love a bit of knolling here at New E., but as I unpacked more and more of the set's inventory, I realized what an endeavour this would be. 

Above are some of the fruits of my labour before I gave up arranging these hundreds of elements...

There are plenty of jumper elements in a few different varieties but I was particularly pleased by the 98 x Plate 1 x 1 x 2/3 with Open Stud in White (6383985|86996). My collection of this quite-new element has suddenly increased tenfold thanks to this set!

Here is a list of the elements that struck me as appearing in unusually large numbers in 21060 Himeji Castle. Most of these are record-breaking quantities:
  • 37x Plate Special 2 x 2 with Only 2 studs in White (6218822 | 33909) 
  • 60x Plate Special 1 x 3 with 2 Studs with Groove and Inside Stud Holder (Jumper) in Dark Bluish Gray (6343852 | 34103) 
  • 38x Slope 75° 2 x 2 x 3 [Solid Studs] in Dark Tan (6000852 | 98560) 
  • 43x Plate Special 2 x 4 with Groove and Two Center Studs (Jumper) in Dark Bluish Gray (6301616 | 65509) 
  • 98x Plate 1 x 1 x 2/3 with Open Stud in White (6383985 | 86996) 
  • 67x Plate Special 1 x 2 with 1 Stud with Groove and Inside Stud Holder (Jumper) in White (6051511 | 15573)
  • 43x Plate Special 2 x 2 with Only 2 studs in Dark Bluish Gray (6309059 | 33909) 
75355 X-wing Starfighter holds the record for the largest number of Plate Special 2 x 2 with Only 2 studs in White at a whopping 75, and 10256 Taj Mahal from 2007 beats Himeji Castle with its 80 White 1 x 2 jumper plates.

Building 21060 Himeji Castle

The completed castle ended up much larger than I had anticipated. I wouldn’t usually call a LEGO set challenging, since the instruction manuals make almost any build pretty straightforward, but the LEGO Himeji Castle did require a decent amount of concentration from me to assemble. Each step requires a fair amount of parts to be laid down and it was easy to miss a few and make mistakes. 

Designer Chris McVeigh uses a handful of key techniques to create all the architectural nuances of this iconic castle. They mostly revolve around using jumper plates and hollow studs to create half-stud offsets. The narrow gaps between the bricks create accurately-scaled windows. The technique is also used to make roofs that appear to slope at this scale. 

The construction is mostly studs-up but it doesn’t feel repetitive: the different applications of the half-stud offset keeps things interesting. During the build, it was hard not to pause after every few steps to admire what I had just created. Some of these details end up getting obscured as we build higher and higher, so it’s best to take them all in when you have the chance! 

The main tower was the most interesting part of the build for me in terms of building techniques. There's a lot to appreciate here: the use of grille tiles to make teeny-weeny windows, masterful use of boomerangs to represent sloping roofs, and it’s also where we are introduced to our brand new Pagoda Plate! 

 I love the combination of colours on this model. The Sand Green complements the Dark Tan wonderfully and the White and Grey contrast really makes the castle pop against the base. However, I was left unsatisfied by the inconsistent tones of my Dark Tan bricks. 
The finished model provides plenty to admire. 

Following the winding path through the castle grounds and into the main keep takes you past manicured lawns, up stone steps, and a myriad of tiny windows and doorways. I kept coming back to my completed castle to repeat this little journey. The amount of detail that can be achieved by just building studs-up is impressive. 

The set includes parts to replace some of the green trees in the castle grounds with pink cherry blossoms. It sounds good in theory, but you can only replace two of the trees - which are quite small relative to the size of the finished model - so the atmosphere of the model doesn’t change significantly. I'm slightly disappointed as I love hanami season, but it's a problem I can easily fix with parts from my own collection.

Although primarily a display piece, there is an element of play in that each floor of the main tower can be removed to reveal the castle's interior. This is a lovely feature that has been present in some LEGO Architecture sets since the theme's inception.
The rooms inside aren't overly detailed, it's more of a floor plan that you see, but it's a nice inclusion nevertheless. I found that there were too many studs holding each tier in place, so I would accidentally detach more LEGO than intended and the floor beneath would require a bit or reassembly. Like the pink foliage above, this would also be an easy fix: simply substitute some of the plates with tiles to decrease the number of studs holding the floor above in place.


The LEGO Himeji Castle impressed me in its size and detail. The finished model is large, much larger than it looked to me from the box art and promotional images, and the weight of more than 2000 pieces plus the time spent to assemble them presents good value for money in my opinion. 

The build was mostly studs up but there are plenty of tricks involving off-setting the plates to create all the little details and nuances of the castle, so it was ultimately a very interesting and engaging experience.

The stunning castle also recycles into a good parts pack (if you can bear to disassemble your beautiful display piece): 2125 pieces is a good quantity for a set of this price. They are all generally useful elements too; lots of small elements that are great for MOC building. The stand-out elements are, of course, the new Pagoda Plates.

READ MORE: Three thrilling new moulds from LEGO® ICONS™ 10318 Concorde explored in detail

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  1. Good review!

    I'll be curious to see what kind of use themes like Monkie Kid and Ninjago make of those new corner roof tiles in the future, given that the summer waves of both themes released before these new parts' debut. Since those two themes are more fantasy-based than the Architecture and Icons line tend to be, I'm hoping that they might make more unique/novel use of those parts than their first two appearance (which mostly stick to the standard sort of application they're made for).

  2. Sheesh, that Dark Tan color matching is awful!! I almost thought the caption about complementary colors was about those two really distinct tones...

    1. While I understand your concern about colour variation, isn't that what gives patina and allows a natural aging effect?

  3. I was also pleased with the set. It was dissapointing, though, that my set was missing one piece (a corner) and two additional pieces were the wrong ones (got two 1x3, when it was supposed to be two 1x4. Fortunately, I happened to have those exact pieces as spare, but still, not a great experience.