Frequently Asked Questions

Why are you building Lego castles?
What do you do when you're not building Lego castles?
Where do you get plans for new castles?
How long does it take to build one of these castles?
What order did you build the castles in?
How many Lego bricks does it take to make a castle?
What's the largest castle you've built to date?
Do you take apart each castle before building the next one?
Do you really count the bricks?!?
How many Lego pieces do you own?
How many grey bricks do you have?!?
How did you get so much Lego?
Do you buy your Lego bricks in bulk?
Have you shown your castles to Lego?
Any chance of seeing Lego Wars online?
Do you play with the castles when you're done?
How many castles do you intend to make?
What castles haven't you done that you'd like to?
Do you have plans for a "last" castle?
Can I have the plans for one of your castles?
How have you kept your family from having you certified?
Who is this Anne person, and why was she working on your site?

Robert Carney with his Middleham castle model in 1995.
To his right is Lego Castle set
#6090 Royal Knights Castle
Click the image to see a larger and full color picture.

Why are you building Lego® castles?
I have always been very interested in ancient times, particularly the medieval period with chivalry, "swords and sorcery" and the like. I built my children a play castle from redwood, using newsprint rolls for the towers, complete with drawbridge and knights. I have also been a Lego builder since the early 1970s, when my wife and I got our children Kraft® Lego sets, distributed by Samsonite Corporation. When Lego came out with the Black Falcon's Fortress [set #6074] in 1986, and for the first time there was the chance to build castles with round and D-shaped towers, the two interests meshed, seemingly permanently.

What do you do when you're not building Lego castles?
By profession I am a dermatologist, diagnosing and treating skin diseases and skin cancer. Now in my 36th year of practice, I work four days a week. I love to play golf, do some gardening and serve on several boards and committees. I used to build castles from April to December, then spend the winter months in Illinois designing future castle projects, but after my dear "Lego-suffering" wife and I redecorated our basement to fit my hobby - and with the advent of digital cameras, now I design and build year-round without regard to the season. Since I no longer have to build castles in portable sections to photograph on our patio, building is much more relaxing too.

Where do you get plans for your castles?
I draw them myself. For the first few years, I visited libraries wherever I travelled, looking for previously unseen books about castles. I photocopied pictures and plans for hundreds of real castles, and kept them in alphabetical stacks. Once I had gathered enough information about a castle, that castle's pictures was moved to the short stack of castles to be drawn in Lego "minifig-scale" - the size Lego knights and ladies could live in. Now I do most of my searching on the internet. I draw the castle plans and elevations on 8 squares to the inch graph paper.

How long does it take to build one of your castles?
Anywhere from a couple of days to about five months, depending on the size (Okay, The second modelling of Dover Keep did take 10 months - but only becuase of numerous dark gray Lego purchases to complete the project). There have been many other smaller instances where I overestimated my hoard of necessary bricks and construction was on hold a week or two while I awaited a shipment from Lego Pick-a-Brick or a wonderful BrickLink member.

What order did you build the castles in?
lineage is now available on this website.

How many Lego bricks does it take to make a castle?
Anywhere from a couple thousand to tens of thousands, of depending on the size of the project. Small Scottish and Irish towers such a Affleck or Clara could be built by most anyone with lots of Lego bricks, since a huge number of gray bricks isn't needed. On the other hand, I have a drawer full of castles, such as Caernarvon (Wales) and Burg Eltz (Germany), that I have designed but are still too large for even my extensive collection of bricks! But my collection grows, and eventually I'll have enough bricks.

What's the largest castle you have built to date?
Vajdahunyad [#113, Romania] reigned as largest for more than 3½ years at 36, 310bricks, but my 127th castle,
the awesome Schloß Neuschwanstein in Bavaria is the largest by far. She required 52,461 Lego bricks roughly broken down into 23,815 white bricks, plates, etc; 8789 old dark gray Lego; 3205 black slopes (for the roofs); and 16,652 other colors (infrastructure, gatehouse, etc.) 271 support and grider bricks, and 166 BURPs and LURPs were utilized.

Do you take apart each castle before you build another one?
Usually, particularly with a large castle like
Chillon or Caerphilly which practically decimate my supply of gray bricks. Occasionally I'll have two smaller castles built at once - and there were three for BrickWorld 2009! Once I've carefully photographed a castle, it's usually soon to be sorted and reboxed.

Do you really count the bricks?
Only when I think the castle will be my largest ever - otherwise they're relegated to the large group of also-rans size-wise. The first castle I actually counted was Harlech [#41] with a mere 16,416 bricks (11,039 gray). After that I counted only castles I thought would be larger. Here is the list:

Harlech (Wales) #41 Dec. 1991 16,416 bricks
Trim (Ireland) #50 Mar. 1994 17,817
Warkworth (England) #56 June, 1995 18,624
Middleham (England) #59 Dec. 1995 19,066
Conway/Conwy (Wales) #63 Dec. 1996 21,567 (13,681 light gray)
Bolton (England) #67 Sept. 1998 18,996 (16,150 light gray) [Oops?]
Chillon (Switzerland) #68 Nov-Dec, '98 30,698 (20,418 light gray)
Die Wartburg (Germany) #79 Sept-Oct, '01 27,030 (13,056 light gray)[double oops!]
La Mota (Spain) #89 Jan-Feb, '03 22,633 (18,824 light gray)
Chepstow (Wales) #95 Jan-Apr, '04 26,352 (16,785 light gray)
Caerphilly (Wales) #100 Jan-Feb, '05 31,950 (23,495 light gray)
Vajdahunyad (Romania) #113 Nov '06-Jan '07 36,310 (20,158 light gray & 6,157 dark gray) [Biggest until 2010]
Diósgyõr (Hungary) #115 Nov '06-Jan '07 34,352 (24,794 light gray) [new light gray record]
Neuschwanstein (Germany) #127 Jan '10-Jun '10 52,461 (23,815 white & 8,789 dark gray) [This may be unbeatable!]

How many Lego pieces do you own?
I actually don't have a clue, though I love the question (and I wish I knew the answer!) The last time I actually counted my bricks was June 2, 1980, more that 30years ago. On that date I owned 13,817 Lego bricks (of which about 600 were gray). I would estimate 150,000 to 200,000 bricks, but the number could be higher. If I win the Irish Sweepstakes, I'll retire and I promise to count every Lego block that I own and post the number on the Internet! PS: Where can I buy a ticket?

How many gray bricks do you have?
Well, more than 25,000! Obviously a castle like
Chillon exhausts some categories of gray blocks, but others may be in abundance, depending on the style of the castle. I probably have about 40,000 light gray bricks, and now perhaps 12,000 dark gray bricks, and the number keeps growing slowly.

Okay, how did you get so much Lego?
I've been buying Lego® Building Toy sets for more than 30 years. While I have tried to be selective [I never buy a set just because Lego Group markets it], individual designs are very inviting due to their style [e.g. Star Wars] or content [lotta gray bricks] and I often buy several of those. For example I own 28 Black Falcon's Fortresses - still the best castle set Lego ever sold!...and now it's back, for new builders!! For a couple of years I bought lots of Lego through a now-defunct auction website called AucZilla - the 15 or so auctions were pretty exciting and hectic...and sometimes expensive for certain desireable bricks. Then came BrickBay, where thousands of Lego enthusiasts from around the world opened shops, some selling unwanted Lego (like me) and others buying sets and used Lego at garage sales and the like and working at making a living of sorts reselling Lego. Legal threats from eBay caused BrickBay to become, which is now the source of almost all the Lego I buy. There are currently almost 2,700 "shops" offering more than 85,000,000 Lego bricks and other parts for sale!

Do you buy your Lego bricks in bulk?
This is the FAQ that's been on everyone's lips since Ole' pressed his first plastic building block! While the people at Lego Group who design the sets of the future and build the models we see at Legoland and at our local mall undoubtedly get anything they desire, and while a smathering of architects and designers occasionally are privileged to model in Lego for purposes of promoting Lego products, the rest of us have historically bought Lego bricks in sets at the local store or from Lego Shop at Home, or more often from shops or eBay auctions, or maybe at an occasional garage sale.
That said, Lego had started to sell a few modest sets of 'bulk' (i.e. individual) bricks quite a number of years ago-- and happily has expanded that into "Pick-a-Brick" at in the past couple of years. I am among the many who still long for even more choices, but Lego Group is listening!

Have you shown your castles to Lego?
My correspondence about Lego Building Toy goes back to February 1969, when I wrote to Samsonite Corporation in Denver about production of specialized red roof tiles, and received a nice letter from the Toy Division's Director of Product Development. My first correspondence with Lego Systems, Inc. was in December 1977. Of the 11 roof, window and ¼-circle brick designs I suggested, only 3 were ever manufactured and sold. In November and December 1979 I built and photographed a 100-picture series called Lego Wars. I sent Lego Systems pictures from that Star Wars spinoff in February 1980. In November 1986 I sent 25 pages of designs for a Western town, complete with cowboys, indians and cavalry, first to Lego Systems and then on to LEGO A/S in Billund, Denmark. Imagine my delight 10 years later when Legorado sets debuted in 1996. The equivalent of my cavalry fort was called Fort LegoLand. I sent a castle design to Lego with the wild west letter. I suggested an international Lego castle builders club in that letter as well, and was informed that a Lego Builders Club was in the works [It has arrived of course]. Lego has been complimentary about my fairly frequent letters about my castles, many of which requested some hard to get parts.

Is there any chance of seeing Lego Wars online?
I was real proud of my 1979 Lego Wars, which not only involved building a variety of models from Lego bricks but three shooting schedules to match scenes from the original movie -- that is until Lego came out with their models almost twenty years later and more or less put mine to shame. However, if there's enough interest I'll make a selection of scenes available. Bottom line - if you want to see my Star Wars sequence let me know!

Do you play with the castles when you're done?
Never. I do set up opposing forces of knights and soldiers occasionally, but only for purposes of photography. The only actual battle occurred in 1986 after I had photographed the first model of Goodrich Castle [#2]. I turned the castle and its array of soldiers over to my oldest sister's four children. The ensuing conflagration pretty much trashed the castle, which was my intent in the first place. I enjoyed the battle vicariously! I now have four grandchildren - ages 2½, 4¼, almost 7 and 7½ years - and they are already VERY excited about Lego. Grandpa has been picking up after them (but I'm trying to train them!)

How many castles do you intend to make?
As many as time permits. I will not run out of possibilities!

What castles haven't you done that you'd like to?
I'm currently a couple dozen designs ahead of my building schedule, so whenever I have time to build (and then dismantle), there will be new castles. I'm most frustrated about my inability to find plans for more of the beautiful castles in Germany, Spain, Italy and Eastern Europe. France, Ireland and the United Kingdom are no problem, with many books and websites available. All but 12 of my 107 castles came from those three areas, but of the last 21 castles, an additional 12 were from other parts of Europe - so I'm broadening even endeavors

Do you have plans for a last castle?
Is that a morbid question? Actually, I have historically built a "Christmas" castle each year. I have tried to make them large and impressive, since they were to be my visible "Castle Art" from December until April when the next building season began. Now I just build a massive castle for the Christmas and New Years holidays!

Can I have the plans for one of your castles?
Sure. I build from pretty simple plans and elevations on graph paper. I found LDraw far too time consuming, though impressive. Plans for many of my castles are on the website, and I'll be happy to assist anyone who's trying to reproduce one of my castles and having problems.

How have you kept your family from having you certified?
I'm a master of disguise? Actually, my wife Judy has become more adjusted to my hobby as the years have gone by, and actually suggested the remodelling of our lower level several years ago, a large part of which is committed to my Lego building and design! Pictures of this project are on the website. I believe I have the best Lego storage system in the western hemisphere...and welcome all challengers.

Who is this Anne person, and why was she working on your site?
Anne Sullivan was my oldest son Scott's girlfriend for four years. When she first came to Illinois to celebrate Christmas with us, we found out about our common Lego bond. We liked to call it the Lego mind meld. I was finishing up
Chillon Castle while she was here, and she was very impressed. Since she did websites for fun, she felt it necessary to put them on the web to let everyone see...And thus the castle webpage project was born!

Return to the
main castle page.

Have any other questions? For website related questions, send them to
Robert Carney. Lego castle related questions should also go to Robert Carney.
Original site created by Anne Sullivan.