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…
To be continued…