Keys to the Kingdom: Will Lego Bring Back The Castle Theme?

My first big Lego set, Camouflaged Outpost, 1988

I have been a huge fan of Lego castle since I was a child. Some of the earliest sets I remember were castle, and castle remains the single largest theme in my collection. However, over the years, the availability of Lego castle has fluctuated and lacked any real consistency since the late 80s/early 90s. Even its most recent iteration, Nexo Knights, blends swords and sorcery with high tech vehicles and computerized castles, as if Lego castle and space themes had a baby together. Now that Nexo Knights have been officially retired, Lego castle fans look expectantly to the future, hoping their knights in shining, plastic armor will appear on horseback over the horizon, ready to save the day. Here are my best guesses on what Lego will devise for its next castle theme.

World of Warcraft

Blizzard entertainment recently partnered with Lego for a series of Overwatch sets, no doubt cluing in on the popularity of video game-themed merchandise, given Mega Construx’s popular Halo and Call of Duty themes, as well as their own Minecraft theme.

But this partnership has given rise to speculation over whether or not the two companies will develop Lego World of Warcraft sets. Fans may remember Mega Bloks’ WoW sets that were discontinued before Mega Brands were purchased by Mattel; it wouldn’t be the first time a license has changed hands. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars, and Thomas and Friends have all jumped from one construction toy company to the other, some multiple times. Who is given access to the IP license is the IP owner’s discretion, and Blizzard has already stated that they would be willing to work with Lego, so long as it seems mutually advantageous for both companies.

Unfortunately, the Mega Bloks’ WoW line had diminished in popularity prior to its cancellation, while Halo and CoD remain popular as ever. Even with Lego’s brand recognition alone, would WoW be viable enough to entice Lego into developing it into a theme? That’s the question Lego and Blizzard will have to answer amongst themselves.

The Lord of the Rings

Warner Bros. had already developed a good relationship with Lego, licensing Harry Potter and DC superheroes, by the time The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out in 2012. Along with that, Lego was granted rights to The Lord of the Rings, and while I think most fans agreed that it was at least 10 years overdue, it was well received and even inspired a video game.

But as the Hobbit trilogy unfolded and fans became jaded by the movies’ glutted adaptation, Lego The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings quietly faded into obscurity.

Now, Amazon Prime has been working on a new TV series based within the world of Middle-Earth, and there exists a chance that there will be a renewed interest in the franchise. Even without Amazon’s TV series, fans of LOTR felt that the theme ended way too soon, and that a number of great sets and Minifigures were left on the table.

Will Amazon create new licensing headaches for Lego? Will the new show be kid-friendly enough to merit a toy line? Will Simon Tolkien, grandson of the Late J.R.R. Tolkien be open to licensing his grandfather’s work back to Lego? Unfortunately, these larger questions make another LOTR run look less likely than WoW, due in part to Lego’s current relationship with Blizzard Ent.

Lego Friends Elves

While Lego’s main line has been bereft of a good castle theme since The Hobbit/LOTR was retired a few years ago, the girl-targeted Friends line has been producing Elves, a fantasy adventure line centered around a group of elemental elves who befriend a human teen girl who accidentally wanders into their hidden world. While it doesn’t have the same look or feel as classic castle, it does make use of some classic elements and had no shortage of castles.

Unfortunately, most fans view these sets as being too tailored to preteen girls, and aren’t as willing to spend the money on them. At the moment, it seems like Elves may be slowing down. The remaining sets are retiring soon and the congruent Netflix animated TV series appears to be out of production, making it altogether improbable that this will be Lego’s torchbearer for castle or fantasy.

The Return of Lego Castle/Knights’ Kingdom

Licensing fees can be expensive, so it may be more fiscal to simply revamp and refresh the old Castle or Knights’ Kingdom lines. Whether it panders to the nostalgia market (although some claim nostalgia is on its way out) by reimagining old sets and factions; or finds some fresh footing, taking advantage of the many new collectible Minifigure elements at their disposal (elf ears and satyr legs leap to mind), this may be the most likely successor to Nexo Knights.

But the unanswered questions to this concept actually leave us with the most unsettling prospect…..

Nothing. Just, Nothing.

The sad, terrible truth is that Lego may just leave sleeping dogs lie and opt to not offer any castle or fantasy sets for the time being. Star Wars, Super heroes, Harry Potter, and Ninjago, along with the Lego movies, are all doing well enough, and city has never really lost popularity. If Lego has studied the market, crunched the numbers, and concluded that no one wants to buy Lego castle, that is their prerogative. They’d be completely wrong, but that is also their prerogative. I would wager that at some time in the future, Lego will find some way to offer some kind of castle/historical or fantasy theme, just as it has resurrected pirates, monsters, Dinosaurs, and wild west in the past.

Of course, this is all speculation. What Lego may already be doing with their castle theme could be something beyond my wildest imaginings. Or they may decide to retire it for good. I simply don’t know. I do hope that this is not the end of my beloved castle theme, as I believe there are many out there who feel the same.