LEGO designers discuss 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle

Find out how Model Designer Milan Madge and Design Master (yes, real job title) Mike Psiaki captured the nostalgia of classic LEGO Castle sets in 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle.

Blocks magazine Issue 94 is available to order now as a single issue or as part of a money-saving subscription deal. The front cover features the incredible new 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle set that has been launched for the LEGO Group’s 90th anniversary. Inisde the magazine, we have an exclusive interview with LEGO Model Designer Milan Madge and Design Master Mike Psiaki as well as images of a sketch model that explored a different way of approaching the build.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the interview – this is just a taste of what these LEGO designers discuss in the full feature…

When Model Designer Milan Madge and Design Master Mike Psiaki sit down, they are visibly delighted to be talking about 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle – and with good reason. Castle ran for more than 30 years, with that longevity meaning that it touched a great many childhoods. For the 90th anniversary of the LEGO Group, fans had the opportunity to vote for their favourite LEGO theme – and the votes poured in for Castle. That desire led to the enormous model that Milan and Mike have created, a set that offers adults a classic castle but at a size relevant to their larger hands.

One thing that Mike wants to make clear from the off though is that the duo won’t be revealing any of the Easter eggs found within the set. Whether he’s going to be asked about Easter eggs or not, he is absolutely, definitely, under no circumstances, going to be revealing any Easter eggs at all. Not one.

It makes sense, as part of the joy of building a set like this is discovering these secrets for yourself through the building. Particularly in these nostalgia-based models, those moments are even more special. Like 2020’s 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay, this set feels like a tribute to classic LEGO sets, from the yellow-bordered box that it comes in, through the familiar colour scheme, to the updated versions of vintage minifigures that populate it.

Milan Madge and Mike Psiaki.

‘Our starting point was that we’re going to do a set that celebrates LEGO castles, specifically something related to Lion Knights, Black Falcons and Forestmen – those three clans are going to be involved,’ says Mike. ‘We did a lot of exploration. Is it a Black Falcon castle? Is it a complete redo of an old castle just in a bigger style? Is it a Forestmen hideout? We built a lot of different stuff, there was a lot of like very blue sky thinking and building. That was not very refined stuff, we would build half a thing and we would look at it and be like, “no, that’s not so good,” or we would be like, “wow, I can see that this would be cool and I don’t need to build anymore.”

‘The more we explored, we realised all of these things are cool. But the thing that we were missing is that first we need a castle. We need a big awesome castle, then who knows what will come next.’ Mike is keen not to raise expectations though; just because they were thinking about different options, it doesn’t mean that any of those ideas will ever be developed further. ‘I’m not saying there’s anything more coming – do not misread me.’

Once they had settled on a castle, that didn’t mean that the decision-making process was over. With decades of Castle sets to drawn from, there was plenty more to think about. ‘We explored actually making different colours on the castle,’ says Milan. ‘We looked at the Yellow Castle and then we looked at if we updated that – should it be tan? What’s the level of realism we’re going for? We looked at the Black Knights’ Castle, what if we did black? What if we did dark grey? We decided that castle has been away for so long a classic grey castle is what people are missing. That was the icon that we should be going for. Obviously, it’s in the new grey though.’

To read the rest of the interview and find out more about the influence of Black Knights, the enormous Forest Guardians sets that was at one point explored and balancing detail with nostalgia, you’ll need to order a copy of Blocks Issue 94. Spoiler alert: Mike does manage to reveal an easter egg after all.

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