The Black Falcons
The LEGO Black Falcons: an unofficial fan history
By Bobby Martin
I’m creating a history of the LEGO Black Falcons Castle faction that ran 1984-1992 – and onwards…
In human terms we are going back to 1984, but in Legoland time we are travelling back to the 12th century
The Black Falcons were just one of the major groups of knights that occupied Legoland in the Castle era. We know very little about them, other than what we can piece together from pictures from lots of different sources.
In this mini-series, I am going to interpret – like any historian – the evidence that we have to create a narrative of what may have been taking place during this period.
Classic Castle was a time when the skies were golden, and when power was measured by the size of your castle fortress.
This is a time when soldiers control everything – life is important only when you can wield a spear, axe or ride a horse.
In Classic Castle, there are hills, rivers and forests to explore – these can be a chance for adventures, or battles to be fought.
Training as a soldier is important, and so is the chance to rest and relax with good food & drink at the end of a day’s adventures.
Please note: these entries are designed to create an Unofficial fan’s History of the Black Falcons – none of the narrative is endorsed by The LEGO Group; all images are taken from source material created by LEGO, but they are not being used in a profit-making capacity; any images used are only for the purpose of illustrating our story. Set images and catalogue pages are sourced from websites, primarily using the excellent online resources at https://brickset.com/. LEGO Ideas book images are scanned from my own sources and added where they add useful additional detail to the narrative.
We start our adventure properly – by going back to the golden years of Classic Castle back in 1984…
Chapter 1: 1984
Our quest to dig into the history of the Black Falcons begins in 1984 in human years, in the Middle Ages of LEGOLAND systems.
Two main factions ruled the land – the Lion Knights and the Black Knights – who would later become known as the Black Falcons because of their distinctive crest.
Who was the Black Knight? By the looks of his fortress, he was a powerful noble who was wealthy enough to build a large castle and retain a decent number of soldiers in his court. He had enough money to buy uniforms and horses for his troops, and he even had the resources to build catapults for his army. His symbol of power was the falcon – which suggests that he was determined to seek out things that he wanted, so he was particularly ambitious. Was he even related to the king? In some human countries, the younger brother of the ruling monarch was referred to in similar terms. Was he a threat to the king? We get the impression that he lived up in the mountainous areas of the land, so he may not have had the resources to build an extensive army to challenge the royal standard. I get the impression that he lived in a fairly easy co-existence with the Lion Knights, and while their armies were rivals and they were willing to put their fighting abilities to the test through tournaments and jousting, there was never really much open warfare between the two factions during this period. The Lion Knights had strong defences and guarded key resources, such as the blacksmith, and their army was much bigger, so attacking them at this time was too much of a risk.
The main leader in the early days of the Lion Knights was Sir Richard – he was clearly not the ruler of the land, but was very much in a position of authority, and was the arch enemy of the Black Knight. Had the king left him in charge of the land while he went away to war elsewhere, or was the land of Lego Castle a province that needed to be controlled by a nobleman, where the Black Knight was a threat to the Royal standard? Why was the Black Knight not allowed to rule this domain? This may be a clue to what happened in future years, but we know that the two magnates were rivals, and so they were vying constantly for power.
By this point in time, the Black Knight was getting older, and he had two sons who were coming of age. He decided to give them joint responsibility for maintaining order in his area of the kingdom. They were identified by the colour of their shields – the older son carried the blue edged shield and had more flags to his standard, and the younger son had the yellow rim on his shield. The younger son was ambitious and sought to challenge the growing might of the Lion Knights and to prove himself in battle, but the older son kept control of the army and made sure that order was maintained – at least for now…
See chapter 2 – wealth + power start to increase, but have the Falcons over-extended themselves…?
Chapter 1A: the Bricks & Pieces Chronicles
A mysterious extra piece of history is added into the official accounts by the LEGO Club magazines in the UK from 1984 into 1985. (Note – the links here are to Brickset where you can read the rest of the magazines.)
The Black Knight is described as villainous and the arch-enemy of Sir Richard , and in a later edition there is a suggestion that the Black Knight colluded with some mystical wizard who was seeking the Zarconian jewel to capture Sir Richard and rule the land.
One of the spies who discovered this wizard had the chance to escape with the help of a catapult, and the other seems to have caught the Black Knight off-guard and stolen the jewel from the wizard. His soldiers seem to have been rather inept and been easily beaten back by some inventive trickery.
There is also a tale about a tournament that reads as follows:
“Castle Lion was in a fair and prosperous land; peace reigned, the harvests were good and the people merry and fearless.
One day Sir Richard decided to hold a friendly tournament between his neighbours and his knights. There would be jousting, archery, tug-of-war and many other knightly sports. Invitations were sent out to all the lands and generous prizes were offered for all the events. These prizes were placed in Sir Richard’s Treasure Chest to be presented at the end of the tournament.
When the dastardly Black Knight, who lived in the Dark Castle beyond the Impenetrable Forest, heard of these treasures he couldn’t resist a bit of cheating. He called his sneaky squire and instructed him to wait until the most exciting point in the tournament – the joust between the Black Knight and Sir Richard himself – then, while nobody was looking, steal the Treasure Chest!”
Given that there are no reports that anyone was caught with the treasure, I work on the basis that this was either an account made up by those responsible for guarding the treasure to avoid the penalties for dereliction of duty, or the squire (who held no allegiances in the official accounts) was caught and blamed it on the Black Knight to avoid the penalties for theft…
However, a later edition suggests that there may have been more to the Black Knight fortress than we might have dared to believe. The account says:
“Beyond the Impenetrable Forest lurked a land that was always night, the air cold, and the people grim and silent. Dominating this unhappy land was the awesome Black Mountain. Up in the clouds that blocked out the sun, on the mountain peak, was the home of the dastardly Black Knight. Deep below his castle, down many steps, along creepy passages, far into the hard of the mountain lay the secret! Now we know why he needed to steal Sir Richard’s treasure […] – but what is he up to? Who is the Black Knight? Does Sir Richard know about the sinister secret of the Black Mountain?”
This gives a bit more context of where the Black Falcons originated, but many questions still remain unanswered…
Chapter 2: 1985
Over the next period of time, it became evident that the Black Falcons were able to build up their wealth and power: treasure carts started travelling through the land, and the number of soldiers in the Black Knight’s army increased. There appears to have been no problems with outlaws in this period – even a visiting time travelling mechanic from the town sets was mistaken for Robin Hood!
The extent of the Black Falcons’ power is illustrated in 1985 Ideas Book 200, which suggests that by this period they had even taken control of some of the agricultural settlements and marched into the traditional heartlands of the Lion Knights. They were building fortifications and watch towers to consolidate their position – but then disaster struck!
What was it that caused open warfare with the Lion Knights at the end of this period? Did the king fear the increasing power and prestige of the Falcons and impose taxes to moderate their wealth? Did the Black Knight fear for his position and launch a pre-emptive strike as a rebellion against the king’s troops? Or did younger son (Yellow Shield) launch an attack on his own initiative, seeing the chance for personal glory on the battle fields of LEGOLAND? The chronicles don’t give us much of a clue, but we know that both sides mustered huge armies and marched out to war. The Lion Knights used a considerable amount of cunning, as they managed to seize the Black Knight’s fortress from behind them, forcing the Falcons into the open fields and into a siege of the Lions’ main fortress that was heavily defended.
We don’t know what terms were offered between the two sides, but we get the impression that they settled on a test of single combat between the leading warriors on both sides to decide the victor of this war – and by all accounts the younger Falcon son’s champion was bested in the tournament ring by one of the Lion Knights – while the Black Falcon knights, along with their troops, were forced to watch.
By the end of this period the Black Falcons had been forced to give ground – the Lion Knights had taken over the territory that the Falcons had tried to claim at the beginning, and even the Black Knight’s original castle had to be forfeited due to the defeat. Skirmishes continued between the two factions, but the war had proved that the Falcons were no match for the might and power of their rivals.
Chapter 3: 1986
With the humiliation of the war over, it was time for the Black Falcons to consolidate their position again. The Black Knight died during this period, and their original fortress had been lost as part of the terms of peace, so the two sons had to find a new home and defensive position.
Events were moving elsewhere as well – there was a new queen on the throne (referred to as the damsel or maiden, and identified by her white peaked hat, but given homage by some time travellers from the Technic and LEGO systems), and she brought in a period of wealth and culture. The buildings from this period are considered to be some of the best ever created, so she was investing in architects and builders to make this happen. She was even generous enough to allow the Black Falcons to decorate their fortress in the new style, which encouraged peace across the kingdom. Black Falcons were welcome to travel throughout the land without risk of harm or arrest, and they were able to buy weapons from the local armourer. However, the queen and her consort still ruled from the impregnable Castle Lion, and it was clear that the new buildings were under the firm control of the Lion Knights. Any thoughts of rebellion or re-taking land had to be put far from their minds – at least for now…
See chapter 4 – as the Falcons start to rebuild but then face betrayal…
Chapter 4: 1987
Peace for the Black Falcons brought a new opportunity to grow and rebuild their forces. It was a period of massive cooperation with their former rivals in the Lion Knights faction – which was encouraged by the queen who ruled over the land. New buildings were springing up, which included fortifications and outposts for the Black Falcons, using the new circular towers that had come into popularity. Heavy industry was being introduced, and the Falcons were keen to oversee how that was implemented. New buildings meant new options for harvests and taxes, and that led to the construction of a new fortified outpost for the Lion Knights. The Falcons also trained with their Lion colleagues – on land at least, as it became clear that the Lions (or Crusaders) were starting to develop river-borne skills. Because of all this cooperation, then, the Falcons just didn’t see that there was a massive threat brewing – and at the end of this period the Lion Knights attacked them in force in a huge betrayal.
There are so many questions to remain outstanding from this declaration of war: did the Queen authorise it? Was she removed from power and replaced with a more militaristic leader in the Lion Knights’ faction? Why did the Falcons not see this attack coming? Where was their leadership – had they been tricked by the Lions into thinking that all was well between the factions? Had one of the Falcons even committed the sin of falling in love with the Queen, leading the Lion Knights to retaliate against their former rivals?
Whatever led to this declaration of war, we know that the Falcons were almost wiped out, but that led to a disruption in the main kingdom as well – as we will see in chapter 5, new factions were getting ready to appear, and outlaws were coming into the edge of the forest…
Chapter 5: 1988
For the Black Falcons, the surprise attack from the Lion Knights was devastating for morale – but they managed to cling on to their territory and not to lose any ground. Some forces had to be recruited, and they set up new outposts that were a lot more limited. Finances were used up, and they couldn’t build stone fortifications any longer, but they could still post sentries at key points on their borders.
The biggest threats for the kingdom, however, came from new neighbours that had suddenly appeared in the land during the war. A new faction claiming to be the true Black Knights set up camp and built a fortress right in the middle of the old Falcon lands! These new troops came with updated armour and weapons and posed a real threat to the old order of the Lion Knights, who struggled to establish control. The new Black Knights – along with their black castle fortification – came with a determination to overthrow the existing rulers and take power, and all sides struggled to contain them. Were these new troops led by the original Blue Shield as he set himself apart from the Falcons after being side-lined in earlier periods during the construction of the new fortress?
A further threat came from the forests, which had been previously used for heavy industry when the Falcons and the Lions had built their castles. Whether the war had created the opportunity for lawlessness in the kingdom, or whether the forest people had always been there in hiding we don’t know, but suddenly the soldiers of the core factions found themselves under threat from armed peasants dressed in green! These folks knew how to hide in the forest and carry out daring raids, and they would prove a challenge for the kingdom over the next period…
Chapter 6: 1989
After finding their lands invaded by the new Black Knights who were demonstrating hostile intent, this period was extremely quiet for the Black Falcons. The forest men posed the biggest level of threat to anyone who served a master under a flag, and the Falcons seem to have worked together with the Black Knights to fend off the attacks that were coming from the forest – but they didn’t have the resources to do any more than that. Was time running out for the Falcons…? See chapter 7 as the relationship with the Black Knights turns out to be a lot more complicated than anyone could have predicted…
Chapter 7: 1990
This period started off with a surprise – while the Lion Knights/ Crusaders were busy dealing with threats from the Forest Men, the Falcons launched a raid against the Black Knights at one of their outposts. Was this a final opportunity for the Falcons to regain their old territories? Were the Falcons remembering the glory days of their own Black Knight and the legends that he created with his young sons? Blue shield elements took to the walls in a push to get through their land defences, and yellow shield forces mounted a river-borne assault. Sadly, this was to be their last offensive mission – they had neither the manpower or financial reserves to make it effective, and they could only send in token forces against a much more powerful army, so they were easily beaten back.
The Forest Men were becoming unmanageable, and new defences were having to be created to cope with the situation. By the end of the period, this included a huge joint effort between all three armed factions in what seems to have been a diplomatic necessity. The creation of this outpost shows that the Black Falcons had now been forced to merge their armies with those of the Black Knights. Was this something that had been forced on them under the terms of the peace treaty from their earlier raids? Or was it a diplomatic move to save their troops from being outlawed and hunted down? However it happened, it was clear that by the end of this period forces in Falcon tunics were fighting under Black Knight colours and shields.
Are we about to see the end of our friends in the Falcons, or are there any more surprises around the corner…? Watch out for the final chapters…
Chapter 8: 1991-92
After their final assault on the Black Knights in the previous period, and then being assimilated into the Black Knight forces, there was very little recorded in the history annals for some time – life was moving on without the Black Falcons, although there were rumours of ghosts creating problems within the other factions (was it even the original Black Knight claiming his territory…?).
When it looked like things were moving into some form of normality, the Crusaders and the Black Knights faced a new form of outlaw adversary in the form of the Wolf People – and they seemed to be very successful in their raids against the castle outposts. Legoland was descending into chaos, and into this chaos the Black Falcons are recorded as making their last formal appearance in their classic Castle uniforms. A token force of Blue Shield forces took up arms. Were they rebels or deserters from the official armies of the Black Knight, or had they been hiding, hoping for an ideal time to strike? They mounted a brave challenge, but they had neither cavalry or artillery to make it effective, and river-borne forces of the Black Knight in their dragon ships held them back.
And so the Black Falcons disappeared from the pages of LEGO history – or did they…? Follow us to the end of our story with the final epilogue as hopes are kept alive for this faction…
Chapter 9: the end for the Black Falcons…?
Following their last formal appearances on the borderlands to make a desperate doomed stand against the Black Knight, the Black Falcons disappeared from Legoland history. The land was descending into chaos, which the main armed factions were unable to control. The Wolfpack would last a short time, but new armies were coming: the Black Knights would face the green shields of the Dragon Knights, and the Crusaders would be taken over by the new Royal Knights – and even with their mighty warriors they couldn’t bring order to the land. New outlaws would appear and Fright Knights and even Ninja would fight for prevalence in the land. There would be wizards, ghosts, dragons and witches amongst the standard levels of fighting.
For some, this period (1993-1999) would be seen as a dark age for LEGO Castle, while for others it would the chaos that they grew up in. The Black Falcons had disappeared from the collective memory – until they made a mysterious appearance when their Fortress and the Guarded Inn were re-discovered, almost like the forces of a legendary king coming out of the mist…
This leads on to the final storyline and hope for this classic faction – could they still be out there in the long-lost areas of Legoland, just waiting to come back and claim their glory as the legendary knights of old – and so their memory lives on in with those who dare to dream…
In 2012, a knight came forward appearing to claim the lineage of the Black Falcon in the royal tournament. We don’t know how well he did, but he seems to have put up a good show in the ring.
Chapter 10: a new beginning/ revival?
We thought that we had heard the last of the Black Falcons officially back in 1992, although there were still rumours that suggested that the idea of them hadn’t gone away. Various knights came and went through the years, particularly as specialist minifigures, and it suggested that the land was now open for individuals to prove their bravery through completing quests. But overall, the land was at rest after the years of raiding and constant warfare, and very few people travelled through it.
So it came as a complete surprise to many people when a new blacksmith arrived on the edge of the forest with his wife, who appears to have been an expert archer – and they were joined by a couple of travelling Black Falcon soldiers carrying an updated version of the old surcoats and shields. The blacksmith seems to have worked hard getting ready for their arrival, as armour, swords and shields were ready and waiting for them. Are these Falcon troops simply travelling through on some sort of quest, or are they the advance party for a new wave of soldiers ready to take up arms in memory of their glorious ancestors…? As of March 2021, we can only say that time will tell…
Interestingly, these new troops have moved away from the competing blue and yellow shield colour schemes of the olden days, but they are still clearly identified by the silver and black falcon on top of a blue surcoat. And they are well armed and ready for action if needed.
Chapter 11: The cast of the Black Falcons story
The early knights/ leaders:
Cas194: he appears only in 6021: Jousting Knights in 1984 against Sir Richard – I take him as being the classic Black Knight, the original adversary, and the great ancestor of everyone who came afterwards. His only other later appearance was when the champions fought after the disastrous battle of 1985, when he wasn’t carrying a Falcon shield – were the terms of defeat so bad that he wasn’t even allowed to lead his own troops?
Cas183: the official Yellow Shield of 6073: Knight’s Castle from 1984. He only ever appeared in this set, so only has a small part to play in person, but his influence in the history of the faction was considerable, even if they came to regret it. He is seen carrying a blue shield in 1985 Ideas Book when on patrol, so perhaps he wasn’t too particular about which troops he was leading, so long as he saw some action. He was at the forefront of the battle in that period, leading his soldiers into the main siege, but he was absent from the champions’ tournament – was he taken hostage pending the outcome of that?
Cas175: the original Blue Shield in 6073: Knight’s Castle from 1984, he was the guiding leader of the faction for a long time and worked alongside his brother. He is seen on patrol with his troops in 1985 Ideas Book, but interestingly he is nowhere to be seen on the battle front during the major conflict of that period. Was he directing operations from the rear? He watched the champions’ defeat at the end of that battle, and he was seen in a series of skirmishes with Lion Knights following on from that as the terms of defeat were resolved.
Strangely, he then next appears under the new Black Knight banner in 1988 – as both a jousting knight and one of the core leaders of the new faction. He was operating under the Black Falcon shield in 1987 Ideas Book, but then seems to have established the new Black Knight faction in 1988. I think it is a fair assumption that he then appears with better armour in 6034: Black Monarch’s Ghost in 1990 as Cas172 (in which case, who is the ghost?), and then again in 1992 as 6009: Black Knight as Cas168 with a better helmet and a red beard. It seems that leading a new faction gave this knight great success, even if it came at the expense of his old faction…
The lower ranks:
Cas101: here is the solid backbone of the Black Falcon faction, the infantry soldier who gave strength to the armies and defences of the period. Making 11 separate appearances across 8 sets from 1984 until 1986 and including a couple of appearances in special legendary sets in 2009 and 2010, here is the defining image of the faction. This soldier is at the front of all the engagements involving Black Falcon armies, with a wide range of weapons at their disposal and different shields.
Cas301: the defensive archer of the Black Falcon faction, this version of the soldier only officially appears in the Castle and Fortress sets of 1984 and 1986, but there are two of them in each. They also seem to have been used as ambush troops in skirmishes – as seen in the 1985 Ideas Book. They and their similarly looking Cas005 (see below) were in a support role for the infantry during the main battle of 1985.
Cas005: in 1985 the archer troops received a minor upgrade, with red webbing around their legs. These troops are still archers, and they were central to the fighting with the Lion Knights from 1985 until 1988, including when the forest men started to make an appearance. They seem to have been frontline troops instead of defensive roles, so may have been better equipped than Cas301.
Cas098: looking very similar to Cas005, these guys are not archers but carry an axe & shield in the two sets where they appear (6102 in 1985; 6062 in 1987), so I work on the basis of them being sergeants-at-arms. They don’t seem to have had any other special role, but this may have been signs of the armies starting to develop in new areas as time went on.
The 1985 Ideas Book also carries images of other knights marching into battle as part of the massive offensive against the Lion Knights. These knights do not appear in any other official sets, and I work on the basis that they are unknown warriors who followed Yellow Shield into battle and were never heard from again, or that they were mercenaries operating under the Falcon banner arising out of the funds that the Black Knight had raised (or even stolen – see chapter 1A…?) in the period before this campaign. Whatever happened, it appears that they were totally wiped out in either the battle or taken as hostages and perhaps never released back to the faction.
The new generation – 1986-88:
Cas176: this new knight only appears in one official set, in the fortress of 1986. In that set he carries the blue shield, alongside Cas181’s yellow shield. There are no other known appearances, and I have to conclude that with the developments that were happening on other fronts, he didn’t last very long at all. In the 2002 Legends version, his helmet is grey, and he is classed as Cas217.
Cas181: this knight from 1986 lasted a little longer – despite only being officially in the 6074 Black Falcon’s Fortress, he makes an appearance in 1987 Ideas Book organising the desperate last defence of the fortifications in the face of the Crusaders’ assault. He makes an appearance in the Legends version, where his helmet is black if you follow the instructions, and he is classed as Cas218.
Cas182: this chap was one of the knights who was willing or able to move freely in Lion Knight/ Crusader lands – he makes his official appearance in the 1986 Guarded Inn and then again in the 2002 Legends version. I certainly get the impression that this knight was a diplomat – he also appears in joint exercises in the 1987 Ideas Book.
Cas099: very similar to his older colleague Cas101, the infantryman in 1987 received a minor upgrade to his webbing. He is seen defending the walls against a Crusader attack in 1987, fending off Forest Men intrusions in 1988 and then guarding some of the last outposts after that.
Cas177: one of the last of the classic Black Falcon knights, he only appears defending the final outposts in 1988. As new armour was introduced with the arrival of the hostile Black Knight faction, his days were numbered…
Cas173: In the doomed offensive of 1990, this knight led the charge against the Black Knight forces. With upgraded armour, he at least was better equipped than the previous generation – and he looks remarkably similar (blue plume, black body armour) to Cas176. Could there be a family resemblance – perhaps the son of the knight, trying desperately to reclaim his father’s honour…?
Cas187: this foot soldier appears to be an upgraded from the sergeants of the 1980’s – but his only role is as an artillery officer as the Falcons assaulted the walls of the Black Knight’s outlying fortifications. We know that they were doomed, so this chap did not last very long at all.
Cas144: with new chainmail sitting over the Falcon surcoat, this infantryman/ marine might have been mistaken for another faction (perhaps that was the plan to get as far into enemy territory as possible) in 6018: Battle Dragon in 1990. He carries a yellow Falcon shield and a new-fangled crossbow. Unfortunately he just wasn’t supported by sufficient numbers of troops and couldn’t push through the advantage of surprise.
Cas102: in the 1992 last stand, this archer, with new leg designs, appeared on the river areas of the Black Knight lands. Once again, he was under-equipped and out-numbered, and he didn’t last very long at all.
There are also some mysterious images in the 1990 Ideas Book of troops with Black Falcon surcoats but with black webbing and blue leggings carrying Black Knight shields. These are not part of any official set categorisations, so my assumption is that these were troops that had been coerced or forced into service with the Black Knight.
There are also some variations in the surcoats over the years of the classic period, as seen and identified in the following picture:
The first re-issue in 2002 will have been from the Legends Fortress set, while the 2009-2010 edition will be from 852697: Vintage Minifigure Collection Vol. 3 and 2855046: Black Falcon (Magnet figure). Apparently the reverse colours and opposite facing versions are very rare indeed!
Cas506: this knight made a single appearance in the royal tournament, apparently to keep the legend of the Black Falcon alive. Described as the Falcon Knight, his tent was established with a yellow Falcon shield, and it looks like he came dressed extremely well to put on a show, with full armour in place.
Idea085: the older male soldier in the new Black Falcon livery from the blacksmith set, he carries the sword and shield during the quest. Is he descended from one of the main Falcon knights or is he just a guardian for the warrior princess Idea084?
Idea084: the new young female soldier looks like she is ready to go to war in the name of the Black Falcons! Could she be a new warrior princess getting ready to lead her troops out and conquer the old lands and declare herself queen? Or is she merely the apprentice of the older warrior, learning what she needs to? Only time will tell…