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More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

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More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby rogue27 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:08 pm

Today I'd like to talk about the minifigure quantities in LEGO Castle sets.

Example 1: 375 Castle from 1978
701 Parts
14 Minifigures:
4 Knights on brick horses
5 Swordsmen
5 Halberdiers

The original minifig scale Castle includes an amazing number of figures.


Example 2: 6080 King's Castle from 1984
619 Parts
12 Minifigures:
4 Knights on horseback
4 Archers
4 Soldiers

Example 3: 6085 Black Monarch's Castle from 1988
632 Parts
12 Minifigures:
4 Knights on horseback - 2 with barding!
4 Archers
4 Soldiers


Example 4: 6086 Black Knight's Castle from 1992
522 Parts
12 Minifigures:
4 Knights on horseback - 2 have barding and armor!
4 Archers
2 Soldiers
1 Ghost
1 Wolfpack

These next 3 sets still have a large number of figures. Plenty of knights to go on adventures, plenty of archers to watch the towers, and enough soldiers to defend the castle. 6086 mixes things up a little bit by replacing two of the soldiers with a ghost and a spy/prisoner/bandit, but it still provides plenty of things to play with.


Example 5: 6090 Royal Knight's Castle from 1995
708 Parts
11 Minifigures:
1 King on horseback with barding
2 Knights on horseback
2 Archers
2 Spearmen
2 Swordsmen
1 Ghost
1 Skeleton

Slipping a bit here. Dropped one figure, and the Skeleton, while cool, always feels like a cheap substitute for a real figure.


Example 6: 6097 Night Lord's Castle from 1997
563 Parts
8 Minifigures:
1 Witch
1 Bat Lord - I guess their version of a king
1 Knight on horseback
1 Spearman on horseback
1 Archer
1 Halberdier
1 Royal Knights Figure
1 Skeleton

This is where it really drops off. Again, one of them is a skeleton. While including an enemy faction figure like in 6086 adds some play options, there is no longer any army-like feel. No longer are there multiple knights, multiple archers, etc. The variety is interesting, but a few extra common figures to make the special figures feel special would have been nice.

For a while, 8 became the new 12. King Leo's Castle in 2000 had 8 minifigures. Castle of Morcia in 2004 had 8 minifigures. Then, possibly due to fan feedback, the minifigure counts went back up a little bit. Castle of Morcia in 2005 had 9 minifigures. King's Castle Siege in 2007 had 10 minifigures! Troll's Mountain Fortress in 2009 (if you count the Trolls) had 10 minifigures!

Unfortunately, this positive trend was short-lived.


Example 7: 7946 King's Castle from 2010
890 Parts
8 Minifigures:
1 King on horseback with barding
2 Archers
2 Soldiers
1 Enemy Archer
1 Enemy Spearman
1 Enemy Swordsman with Armor

The Castle itself is nice, but we're back to 8 figures. 2 Archers and 2 Soldiers to defend a castle of that size, no Knights to go exploring, and 3 completely pointless enemy figures who have no hopes of taking over the castle by themselves. I mean, the enemies don't even have a siege weapon, a rope, or a ladder! It looks like the result of a company trying to cut corners. If the enemy soldiers can't put up any kind of fight, leave them out and include more good guys like in the older castles. Finally, a castle of this size should never have just one horse.


Example 8: 70404 King's Castle from 2013
963 Parts
7 Minifigures:
1 King
1 Knight on horseback with barding and armor
2 Archers
3 Enemy Soldiers

Here's the third set named King's Castle. Good news: The enemies have a siege weapon this time! There is a Knight! There are two Archers! Bad news, the minifigure count somehow dropped again, there is still only one horse, and there are no melee soldiers at the castle. Honestly, the place is woefully under-manned. The only positive is that the bad guys have an almost fair fight.




Dear Lego,

Currently, the flagship LEGO Castle set has significantly fewer figures than the well-loved classics, and half of what was included in the original castle 36 years ago. There are also far fewer horses. I understand that a lot changes in 36 years. Inflation, the shrinking middle class, new horse design, increased complexity in minifigure manufacturing, design, printed surfaces, etc. However, LEGO was always promoted as a toy that was about quality, no matter what. The old castles had gates bursting with knights and walls covered with defenders. Today, people spend all that money on a big castle and don't even have enough people to put one guy on each tower.

Please find a way to include more figures in your large castle sets. A couple knights, a few more soldiers. Trust me, kids love this stuff.

Sincerely,
Rocco J Carello
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Purple Wolf » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:29 pm

Yes more minifigs. I was VERY disappointing that the most resent castles have had very few minifigs. I would love to see more figures for the castle and no enemy soldiers at all.

It is sad how the number of figs has slowly decreased.

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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Brickninja » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:56 pm

I very much agree. In another thread, I saw some of the old forestmen sets. Those had so many awesome parts, a whole bunch of minifigs, a baseplate, and were just plain awesome. I really think they should bolster the minifig count. Fortunately, when I got the kings castle, I had the gatehouse and forest ambush to bolster the forces.
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Karalora » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:29 pm

Do you think maybe they reduced the number of in-set minifigs in order to get people to buy battle packs?
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby rogue27 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:05 pm

Karalora wrote:Do you think maybe they reduced the number of in-set minifigs in order to get people to buy battle packs?


Not necessarily. Battle packs are a marginal product only sold in LEGO stores with awkwardly excessive packaging, a high cost per figure, and they're rumored to be made primarily to use up excess parts. I don't think these are a major consideration when designing other LEGO sets. I think it's just a way to clear out inventory that happens to be a nice treat for army builders.

If you're talking about army-building sets like Forest Ambush, Castle minifigure packs have been around since 1982. 1979 if you count Knight's Procession. (The same way you could call Forest Ambush a minifigure pack today.) They were able to sell minifigure packs alongside well-populated castles for a long time. Of course, that doesn't mean upselling customers isn't part of the reason for the reduced figure counts; companies are always looking for ways to increase profits. However, if it wasn't necessary to skimp on figures for the first 15 years of LEGO Castle, why is it done now?

I believe selling a product that feels complete by itself will create happier customers. Happier customers are likely to remain loyal to the brand. The long-term benefits of a loyal customer should outweigh the short-term cost savings of a few figures. Think about it: The kids who grew up during the golden age of LEGO (late 70s - early 90s) are the ones buying LEGO for their kids now, and they're buying LEGO because they were left with a great impression.
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby OverLoad » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:59 am

rogue27 wrote:However, if it wasn't necessary to skimp on figures for the first 15 years of LEGO Castle, why is it done now?


The cost of printing and designing minifigures has become much more expensive (or at least, I would assume it has.) The level of detailing on each minifigure (especially in the larger sets, where ornate kings and queens are often present) is much more than it was in the classic era of Castle. I know you addressed this in the opening post, but I think the pricing of minifigures is under emphasized. I read somewhere, and for the life of me I could not remember where, that the majority of a set's cost is due to the minifigures included in the set. While we all want more minifigures, I think we won't be seeing those without the price increase that comes along with them.

That being said, including more "friendly" soldiers in a castle as opposed to 2 or 3 enemy soldiers in a castle is an idea I can get behind.
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Tower of Iron Will » Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:27 am

Before I discovered Bricklink in 2004, this problem used to vex me to no end. The time this hit me really hard was with the Royal Knights that came out in 1996. To build a small army by only buying the sets was too expensive on a limited budget. Bricklink solved the problem for now, but as the number of figures per set continues to decline the price will be increasing on Bricklink as well.

I am old enough to remember well the 375 Castle from 1978, that set got me started on Castle. It would have been disheartening to have the current figure ratio apply to that set as I wouldn't have had enough defenders on the wall nor attackers. Why make a big castle that looks like a ghost town?
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Finn Tegotash » Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:24 pm

The castles do not have enough Minifigs! :cry: this is something I would really like to see changed in future sets!
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Bruce N H » Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:45 pm

This is a good topic and an important issue. To me, part of the issue is this idea of always (almost always) including figs from each faction in every set. I understand that the idea here is that if you get only one set, you will get more play value by being able to pit the two factions against each other, but I agree with the point above that this means you get a big castle set where the whole castle is being defended by three figs who are fighting off two figs. What if instead they had single-faction sets? Ideally what I would suggest is having sets with each faction at each price point. I get that that would mean that there would be twice as many sets per release, which probably goes against their sales model, so my solution would be to plan factions over two-year releases.

Year 1:
Faction A - polybag
Faction B - $12 set
Faction A - $20 set
Faction B - $30 set
Faction A - $50 set
Faction B - $100 set
Then switch it in year 2:
Faction B - polybag
Faction A - $12 set
Faction B - $20 set
Faction A - $30 set
Faction B - $50 set
Faction A - $100 set

Also switch it up so that in year 1, Faction A is the 'attackers' and faction B is the 'defenders', and then in the next year they switch roles. So over a two year run, each of the two factions would get a major castle, a minor fortress, some siege weapons, etc. Also mix in some things like boats or carriages, etc, to give some variety. Also at some point release army-builder packs for each faction to fill out the ranks.

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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby rogue27 » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:57 pm

While I think Bruce's idea is interesting, it only makes the currently low minifigure counts a little more bearable; it does not solve the real problem: not enough minifigs!

Regarding speculation about the increased cost of making minifigures today:

Not all minifigures need back printing, printed legs, printed arms, and intricate custom prints. Save the details for Collectible Minifigures and special figures. Make the king, princess, wizard, and knight commander look awesome. The rest of the soldiers don't need as much detail and printing. They could also save on design costs by rotating factions less frequently.

LEGO is now the world's most profitable toy company. They can afford to give us more minifigures. They might still be behind Mattel if they didn't cut their minifigure counts and convention presence, but maybe being the biggest shouldn't be the goal. Being the best would be preferred.
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Elephant Knight » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:00 am

rogue27 wrote:Not all minifigures need back printing, printed legs, printed arms, and intricate custom prints. Save the details for Collectible Minifigures and special figures. Make the king, princess, wizard, and knight commander look awesome. The rest of the soldiers don't need as much detail and printing. They could also save on design costs by rotating factions less frequently.


I had the exact same thoughts a while back. The classic factions had a whole lot less printing then the new ones, and yet they are still just as awesome. I would gladly take blander minifigs if it meant getting more. And having more generic printing would probably mean they could reuse the printing for more than a faction at a time.

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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Sir Erathor » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:54 am

I, too, would rather have plainer minifig soldiers with more included in sets than some awesomely detailed ones that are few and far between. LEGO is based at kids, and kids only really seem to care about knights and kings - the other figures are expendable, I guess. ;)
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby richardanthonyc » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:18 pm

It is a shame that the prices of castles has gone up but the number of minifigs have reduced. As already mentioned I would favour more defender minfigs being added to castle sets as a 50/50ish split to me always seemed a tad silly as you want a castle with a decent garrison. Last Castle I actually bought was King Leo's castle, the fantasy era stopped me buying sets for years and ever since I have only ever bought parts online. Battle packs were great but in Uk and Ireland the Lego website often shows as out of stock on sets which is frustrating
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Lobberuno » Sun Sep 21, 2014 6:28 am

I always have been agree with the large amount of minifigs in a box, also horses, bardings, weapons and so, because it makes the set more attractive.

Any King's Castle set would look vivid with a ton of minifigs on it, so I hope this become like a goal in the design team.

Also, please, don't forget the archers, because the newest castle sets lack of archers (with bow, they all have crossbow instead).
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Re: More Minifigures in Large LEGO Castle Sets

Postby Kev » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:42 pm

This is a nice time to revisit the issue with the new Hobit sets coming out. Look at the BOT5A set, it is completely lacking in regular soldiers. Add in a regular Iron Hills dwarf, and an armored, helmeted Elf (maybe dropping Legolas), and you have a far more interesting and exciting looking start of a battle.
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