G’day Everyone, Matt Elder of Family Bricks here and in this video we are going to look at this London AFOLs collobarative white castle build that I was apart of. The castle is otherwise known AFOLbwick Castle, London and was shown at the STEAM Great Western Brick LEGO Show 7th-8th October 2023. We will chat with the main designer and a handful of the 20 odd builders involved, highlighting various features.
We will show you where you can get some free instructions from if you’d like to build. We will have a time-lapse build of the main tower and a wall piece, and some tips on building. We will finish off with some footage of the various details of the castle.
Time codes to the Video:
1:00 Jon Gale: Design Overview & Coordination
6:36 Matt: Keep Building, Lights & Cooking Pig
9:45 John: Gatehouse, App Controlled
12:15 Matt: Kids Cave & Soldiers Sarcophagus
12:43 Tower Timelapse & Commentary
13:55 Tower Building Tips
14:23 Wall Timelapse & Commentary
15:35 FREE Instructions Location
16:56 Footage of Castle Details
Free instructions to the tower can be found here:
Newspaper Write Up
The local Swindon newspaper featured Afolbwick castle as the lead image in its news write up:
Steam 2023 – Show Overview
Here is a video that goes through the whole show and I’ve started the video at the section on our castle. Was great to hear that the kids section with the cave and lights was a highlight
Transcript from the Show
Good everyone, Matt Elder of Family Bricks here, and in this video, we’re going to look at this London AFOLS collaborative White Castle build that I was part of. The castle is otherwise known as Afolbwick Castle London and was shown at the Steam Great Western Brick Lego Show 7-8th October 20123.
We’ll chat with the main designer and a handful of the 20-odd builders involved, highlighting various features. We’ll show you where you can get some free instructions if you’d like to build this. We will also have a time-lapse Speed Build of the main tower and a wall piece and some tips on building. We’ll finish off with some footage of the various details of the castle.
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Jon Gale – Main Designer
I’m here with Jon Gale, and he sort of designed and organized this. So you just wanted to go through what your involvement has been?
Hi Matt, yes, thank you. I came up with the idea for building a large castle for London AFOLs about a decade ago when I saw the Tower Bridge set included a little London city of London Shield. I quite liked the idea of getting that. So about ten years ago, I bought about 500 of those shields in anticipation of eventually building a castle.
In the last couple of years, I’ve taken over as a project coordinator for London AFOLs and decided that now was about the time to build a castle. We went through several rounds of voting and discussion and eventually settled on building a White Castle. A lot of people don’t know that castles back in medieval periods quite often were whitewashed, so that was a good excuse to have something that wasn’t just your typical gray castle. Most castles you see are going to be gray in the Lego world. It’s easy; the pieces are there, and they’re easy to reuse for space and other things later. But we decided white was the way to go.
I then set about building with some actual physical bricks and built one of the towers. It took about four or five weeks, I think, to build one of the towers for the first time. That includes a full spiral staircase on the inside. You can see one of our partially constructed towers here.
And then the walls actually hang off of the central core. Part of the castle was made possible by the Titanic set because down the center of here is a 47 stud long rigid hose, which is then covered in Technic pins, and the stairs kind of hang off of that. So that dictates the height of the castle, but it is possible to make it taller, but it just adds complexity. So, that’s the core of the castle. As you can see, it’s all entirely studless.
All of the bits that you would see as a minifigure using this castle, if you were to watch around as a tiny figure, all of those bits are actually scaled to a minifig and both studless and anti-studless. So that was probably more of a challenge. Without a broken open section like this, it’s impossible for the public to see most of it, so it’s probably pointless. But I kind of did it as well for the experience of myself and for my fellow builders.
Then I decided that I needed to make Studio instructions for it so that my associates in London AFOLs would be able to build it rather than trying to build it from just a teardown video. So, I ended up videoing myself dismantling the tower. It took about 45 minutes to dismantle it, and then I used that video on a trip to Portugal for a Lego show on the plane, turning that video into instructions that I could then share and tweak. Back to the castle, I did the same thing again for the walls.
The walls have got quite a lot more complexity to them than you might realize because there are sections here that I can just show where there’s a lot of building upside down in quite small spaces to get the crenels and the merlons on the walls, the machicolations, the little gaps down between them. So there’s a lot of bits where these walls are actually upside down. More detail and technical kind of challenges were included by adding a little red stripe around it. We thought that was quite good because it kind of worked with the Red Cross, which is on the City of London Shield. Adding a little bit more detail than just a plain White Castle, but again, making a one-brick thick, wide strip in an otherwise vertically oriented wall added a bit of a challenge.
Then we could carry it on around the towers as well. Overall, designing the instructions, the walls, and the towers took about 100 hours. In total, the build time between all of the builders for this is around about 750 hours, and it’s about a quarter of a million bricks. The actual setup at the show took us 6 or 7 hours one evening and then another couple of hours the next morning to get things ready for the public.
And the nice thing about having round Towers is as more people were turning up with Towers, it’s quite easy to adjust the design, change the shape of it. You can take out a little section of the wall, close the walls in a bit, and then once it’s in its final position, you’re then able to add the walkway to access the upper door and join it into a continuous Outer Circle. These are just a fairly simple construction, but it allows you to do it without knowing the layout of the show in advance.
Our members were also invited to bring scenes for the inside and outside, and we’ve added a few little bits in here. At a later show, it might be nice to have a full baseplate courtyard, but that is a lot more time and effort than we were able to commit for this show.
So that’s the main part of the castle. Obviously, the main big thing here is the keep, which I think Matt will have spoken to the designers, so you’ll see that in a lot more detail. Final touches were things like adding the moat around it and just adding in the little animals and scenes. Another 150 soldiers on the top, these are Lego Dimensions Cybermen because it’s a nice way to get a silver metallic silver type of figure and then a bunch of other bits sourced from Lego to go with them.
Matt Kelly – Keep Designer
I’m here with Matt, and he’s done this fantastic keep here, so I just thought I’d get him to talk us through a few features and what the challenges in building it. Yeah, so the keep was built by SW and my wife, and our two principal were involved Dary. It’s designed in sections, so it’s built as four walls joined together. Challenges really have been in the size and height of it, and obviously getting detail in. I build the structures, and I then do the motors and all the bits and pieces. Then I hand it over to Sabrina, and she does all the fancy details because that’s not my thing. I do big solid structures and I do motors that work.
So, we got a little pig in here; he’s actually being roasted. Hopefully, we’ll be done by the end of the day, and we’ll have a nice hog roast for the team. Down here, the little guy with the blacksmith, he’s actually got a working anvil, and to do that, we had to take one of his arms off so he’s got a little hammer. Then we’ve got the king and the queen and everybody having a banquet.
There are some wonderful details that you’ve got in here, and the stained glass windows at the back are actually all little one-by-one tiles. So each of those arches has got nearly 90 pieces of Lego in it, and we think in total there’s probably over 40,000, close to 45,000 bricks just in this castle keep if you…
Yeah, amazing! Up on top, what do we got here? Up on top, we’ve got a Falcon, so he’s flying around, and so the Falconer has a little H on top that’s just there to disguise the motor mainly, to do that, and just a motor on speed control. And then round on the side, there is…
Leaving guys, the idea is that the guys are walking through the window upstairs. There’s a guy with a he’s stolen a ham, and he’s being chased by one of the guards. So they come up through the window, they’re chasing upstairs.
The other real challenge has been doing the lights for it. So we’ve used a lot of LED strip lights; they make lights, they’re good. And then in each of the rooms, there’s one of these little, like P lights. And then there’s nearly, believe it or not, there’s more cable inside there than on some of the lighting rigs I put in for bands. There’s about 20-odd cables in there and battery packs and various things to facilitate the lights and the electrics.
Yeah, some fantastic work there, and even some little funky details up here as well. Robin Hood, a few fun characters as well. Every build I do personally has to have a Batman in, and Batman’s hiding on the side of the tower. That’s just something for there to get the kids involved and something that people say spot. There’s a lot to talk about on this display, but any display I do is to sneak a Batman in, then the kids board or interested can say, “Can you spot the Batman?” Nice little touch.
John – Gate House Designer
I’m here with John, and he’s going to walk us through the part that he’s done for the collaborative build. I wanted to do something a bit more than just a tower or a few wall sections, and this is a castle. You’ve got to be able to get into the castle. What we need is a gatehouse. So I started with John’s original design for the towers. I built two of those but made them flat-sided so I could put walls right up against them and leave enough space in here for, well, we’ve got to have a working drawbridge.
Originally, I made this with a phone control, control plus the powered-up app, so I would work it from behind the table. But then we thought, behind the table wouldn’t it be a really good idea if we had something interactive here? So, I got this so that visitors can work the gates themselves. I’ve got three medium help-up Motors inside here and a load of string. So that’s some brilliant functions you got there.
And I guess the usual sort of question is how long do you think it took you to do and what’s sort of in it? I think given that it took a couple of iterations to get it right, probably around 100 hours, I think, spent on this. I rebuilt this house completely because after I had a disaster, it imploded completely just before a show. I thought, we rebuild this more structurally sound kind of method with a lot of Technic inside to make it solid because it’s a different design to the original one. It’s not as sturdy in its original design, so I had to redesign them in the core, so that added a whole load of hours to the project. I mean, who counts these hours anyway? Yeah, exactly. As you can see, the tops are slightly different. What I can do actually is just remove the top of here.
Brilliant! This is a cheap Lenovo tablet that we had kicking around the house, which is a freebie from five or six years ago. We don’t really use it for anything useful, and it’s too slow and old and out of date, so it’s the perfect candidate for having small children punch at it. Oh, brilliant!
We got the kids all set up going through a little witch’s pumpkin patch in the cave, little potions, little guy sword in a stone, going about it. Came up with a turn onine here, little procession up into a little sarcophagus, and you got toad in the back, a nice tree over the top.
Timelapse Speed-build – Tower
Now we’ll go through and show a time-lapse of building out one of the round cylindrical Towers. You start off with this funky little base configuration, then go through and build the spiral staircase by building the individual stairs and then just spinning them around and placing them in place. There, you can see you build up the individual supports to really hold it in place. Next up are six of these roundish type sections, which you go through and build. Because you’ve got the staircase, they’re all individually different because obviously the doors and windows are at slightly different heights. Thus, it’s not a matter of just doing the same section six times. It is actually slightly different each time you build it. It is quite a challenging build, but then when you get to the end of it and all comes together, it is very satisfying.
Having then done it, lots of really interesting techniques. You are looking between 10 to 16 hours for each tower for the 4 and 1/2 thousand pieces and weighs the better part of 3 and 1/2 kg or 7 lb each. Get all the sections in place, and there is something very satisfying about that curve shape.
Build out the top platform, which is all pretty much built sideways and getting some really interesting angles in there, finishing up with the top rounded section, which is then also built upside down as well, and the last interlocking pieces. So when you come to the last two panels to put onto here, panels five and six, best just to actually take these individual pieces off first, put them in top and bottom, and then attach the whole actual faceplates. Because otherwise, if you put one in when you try to put the other one in, you’re going to have no way to grip on it and push it in. So it’s just a more optimal way of doing it.
Timelapse Speed-build – Wall Section
Here, we’ll look at building up one of the wall sections. Just start off by going to be using lots of these masonry bricks stacked three high. So just go through and build out 40 odd to begin with, just make the rest of it go much faster. Start by building the top half section of the wall. This is actually a lot more difficult than what it looks because you’ve actually got a one-tile thickness stripe there in the red going all the way around. If you didn’t have that, you probably just build this thing straight up. Here, you got a combination of different techniques, and then here going to be using to flip things upside down and different snot techniques and also just different jumpers and techniques. Those Shields really hook in in a nice comfortable tight manner.
Here are some more techniques to be able to get things to go basically upside down. The finished effect of being virtually studless is actually quite worthwhile, and it’s really nice. Each one of these 12-stud wide sections is about 700 pieces. Then go through and build up so you can put in the brown handrailing, similar to the tower, the merlons built in upside down as well. The bottom half is built up using pretty much three identical sections that you just build as individuals and then join together and put on the bottom.
Free Building Instructions
If you do want to build this, there’ll be links around the video to places such as BrickLink where you can get instructions for building steps pretty much for free. This one is on Jon Gale’s account because the original design.
Different steps here. You just cycle through, and the nice thing out there as well can flip it, move it around, see what’s going on, and see all the different ways it goes. Some of the steps can be quite dense in terms of you’re going to be doing lots of pieces at a time, so build this up once and repeat it the whole way through. So, while there are only 500 steps, sometimes you are putting a large number of pieces per step, and it will take you some time.
You can also go in and have a look at the 3D model as well, again, same sort of thing, spin around, look so if you need to double-check anything. And I think the intent is to then put in some of the other wall sections and that and have the instructions available. So if you want to go through and build your own, then you’ll be able to do that. And certainly, if you do manage to build it, then post some photos or links on any socials so that we can have a look, and it’ll be great.
And we’ll finish up here with some shots of the castle and the details.
Thanks very much for watching. If you leave the word “castle” in the comments, we’ll know you’ve watched this far. If you’ve enjoyed this video, hit that thumbs up button and consider subscribing to the channel. And a share never goes astray. If you want to see my custom Sonic Hedgehog course compared with the official set, check out this video. Otherwise, this video will show you how to build it. Here are some other videos you might be interested in.