Over the winter break I had the chance to buy myself a holiday present. Of course I knew I would be buying a LEGO set, but the question was “which one?” The best place to buy a LEGO set in Minnesota is the LEGO store at the Mall of America (MOA), and I bolted toward the south end of the mall the moment I parked. Immediately I was presented with a magnificent replica of Hogwarts Castle, from the acclaimed Harry Potter series, in a glass case at the front of the store. To my surprise, this was not just a promotional piece of art, but an actual set that was able to be purchased.
The set Hogwarts Castle #71043 retails at $399.99 and is 6,020 pieces, making it the second largest LEGO set to date (right behind the Millennium Falcon #75192 at 7,541 pieces) and is built at a microfigure scale. It includes four famous buildings from the front of Hogwarts: the Great Hall, the Grand Staircase Tower, the Quad, and the Viaduct Entrance. There are also some smaller elements added on, such as Hagrid’s Hut, the Hungarian Horntail, the Whomping Willow, and the Boathouse with five boats. The back of the castle reveals open rooms with fun scenes from the books and movies like the Chamber of Secrets, the Gryffindor Common Room, and Dumbledore’s Office. Though the set primarily comes with 27 easily-recognizable microfigures, like Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, and Draco Malfoy), it does also come with four exclusive minifigures, the four Hogwarts founders: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin.
Though the castle does have many amazing elements, I was faced with a few challenges while building. For starters, I was missing a one-by-eight tan plate meant to accentuate the columns of the Great Hall (an interesting situation seeing as the lack of weight from this particular piece should not have allowed the set to pass the weighing stations in the production line). The LEGO company quickly resolved this issue and sent me a replacement, which arrived relatively quickly given I ordered it around the holidays. Another annoyance was the amount of stickers that I had to put on the pieces. Seventy-five in total, and in microscale there was hardly room for mistakes as I not only require my stickers to be centered, but also straight across, adding a lot of time and energy for sitting bent over a tiny piece of plastic with a ruler across the top and a lamp in my face.
Though expensive, this Hogwarts Castle is an impressive piece of art and history. Taking approximately 26 hours to build, I had a lot of fun noticing all the references, appreciating the new one-by-one arch pieces, making the stained glass window patterns, and being shocked at the so-called “illegal” building techniques LEGO is now putting in their directions. The castle is a true challenge for any LEGO lover and truly magical for any Harry Potter fan.