In the olden days (the mid 80s to be precise) there were the mighty Lion Knights (officially called Crusaders as far as I know). They proudly owned the first proper grey castle and were the mightiest power far and wide. For a long time, their only competition were the Black Falcon Knights, who were significantly down on numbers though.
This changed in 1988, when a serious contender appeared: The Dragon Knights (aka Black Knights, but not all wore black)! They didn’t only had a quite serious castle and a sizeable army, they also introduced the supernatural into the Lego Castle world. First in the shape of ghosts, and later on (after a slight rebranding as Dragon Masters) with actual dragons and wizards! (Sadly I lost my ghost somehow and I never got a dragon. Inexcusable, I know!). The Dragon Knights instantly became the villains the Black Falcons never were. They just looked so much more badass, while still (at least in their first version) being historically quite accurate.
Anyway, fast forward to the year 2010, which saw the return of this classical medieval rivalry with the Kingdoms-line. For me they were the absolute pinnacle of the Lego Castle theme, in regards of the quality of the minifigures, and equal to the Lord of the Rings-sets in that regard. These colours and those amazing armour-prints! The sets themselves were – ermm, oh dear… but the minifigures were truly great!
As a homage to this theme, which sadly got discontinued way too early, I made these two little dioramas. While they emphasise the difference of both factions, I don’t consider any of them as “good” or “evil”. They simply have different cultures and traditions. While the Lion Knights live a lush and fertile region with a rather temperate climate, the Dragon Knights inhabit a less friendly environment, full of dark forests and mountain ranges inhabited with – you guessed it: dragons!
The Dragon Queendom
For the Dragon Knights I had a distinctive, quite archaic look in mind, which pays tribute to the often harsh and inhospitable land they live in. A clear geometry with straight lines and steep slopes to give the impression of the Queen’s throne room being made of large black stones cut into simple shapes. Quite a imposing fortress-like architecture really with inspiration from ancient Babylonian temples and the city of Windhelm from the game Skyrim, with a little bit of Saruman’s throne Room thrown in. I also decided to give it a more asymmetric layout, to make it visually more interesting and slightly unsettling. The fireplace is made from a transparent Nexo Knights minifigure-base and a light brick I got from a Prince of Persia set. It turned out looking quite naturalistic and required no fancy effects added in post-production at all!
The Dragon Queen
The undisputed ruler of her Queendom. She is proud and cunning, traits typically for the lineage she descended from. She combines all the confidence of a mundane ruler with the skills of an experienced mage, which may make her appear arrogant to outsiders. But the way she sees it, confidence does only look like arrogance from below.
The Green Mage, Court Wizard of the DragonQueen
A battle-mage, alchemist and advisor of the rulers of the Dragon Queendom for many generations. He enjoys the nearly unlimited resources and power his position brings him – while keeping comfortably out of the day-to-day business.
He is also the greatest expert for dragons and other beasts and keeps good relations with the Ork tribes in the wastelands.
The Queen’s Right Hand
He is a friend of the Queen since their childhood when they both received their education by the Green Mage. It is said there is more between them, than just friendship. He is an inspiring commander in battle and acts usually as the more accessible face of the Queendom.
The Queen’s Champion and Bodyguard
The Dragon Queen’s personal bodyguard. Not that she really needs one, thanks to her magical powers. She probably just enjoys having his imposing figure underlining her arguments. But people who mistake him for only a simple thug underestimate him: he is a capable and experienced leader; known for his daring attacks with his heavily armoured knights. What he lacks in finesse at the Queen’s court, he has in practical matters.
The Lion Kingdom
This faction got a more welcoming throne room, which impresses rather by its elaborated decoration than with brutalist geometry. It is in every respect a more conventional setting, with typical medieval decorative elements and a warm colour palette and a quite symmetric layout to emphasize noble rulership, justice and stability. The striped columns are inspired by the throne room of Emperor Charlemagne in the cathedral of Aachen, as my King himself is inspired by the life of the real-life ruler.
In his youth, the King was quite a hothead. Always on adventures, taking part in jousts or hunts and fighting off the enemies of the Lion Kingdom with his magical sword. Nowadays he likes it quieter, but still enjoys a good hunt here and there. His calm lifestyle should not mislead though: He is still able and willing to ride into battle to defend his kingdom against any attacker.
Runs the day-to-day business of the kingdom pretty much on her own. While the King may be the main representative and defender of the land, he never really had the interest or the talent to keep things organized. The Queen is witty and well educated, and has an unrivalled in-depth knowledge of the Lion Kingdom’s administration, diplomacy and politics.
Is a bright and modest young man. Sometimes knowing that he will take the place of his father feels like a terrible burden for him, but the Queen and Merlin know very well that the Prince will actually be in many ways a better King than his father is.
A wanderer between the worlds and powerful wizard. Having the insight of both past and future, he sees himself as a protector of life and peace. Despite his powerful magic, this usually prevents him from taking direct action. He prefers the role of an advisor. He doesn’t wants to be a ruler amongst people, but rather their mentor and guide.