It's very, very rare
that I get permission to show LEGO ideation and concept work. In
fact, all of the pieces for which I've ever gotten permission come
from a brief two-week window in the beginning of 2003, right before
I got drafted out of the Concept Lab and directly into Knights Kingdom
Product Development in Denmark for a couple of months.
Fortunately, the couple pieces that I am allowed to show include
this early development work on the "Transforming Castle"
that eventually became The
Castle of Morcia, as well as an initial concept painting for
the evil Vladek.
of Morcia" Model
Copyright LEGO ©2003
"Castle of Morcia" Product
Copyright LEGO ©2003
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award Winner,
Children's Choice Award by Canadian Toy Testing
Toy of the Year Award 2005 (Boys category) by the
Toy Industry Association, for LEGO Knights' Kingdom
When they handed me the
assignment, we were looking at the theme as a future fantasy, much
in the spirit of He-Man or the Thundercats. (It was later switched
back to straight magical medieval fantasy, which was the smart move
with The Lord of the Rings movies hitting the theaters.) The early
idea was that these future knights were each based on a specific
animal, and their castles were built to reflect it. While
all the hero knights' animals had already been decided, the King
hadn't had any development work yet, so I was just told to pick
whatever seemed appropriate. On a lark, I picked the lion emblem
from LEGO's original 1984 King's
Castle, with cameo appearances by King
Leo from the earlier 2000
Knights' Kingdom theme. The emblem and character stuck, and
so this theme became Knights Kingdom as well.
All of this is a kind
of long-winded explanation for why the King's castle is a blue lion
and Vladek's castle is a red scorpion.
I spent an afternoon
pumping out a bunch of different sketch ideas for how the castles
might look and how their transformations might work, and I was pretty
proud of these two in particular. When I showed them to my manager,
though, he wasn't convinced. He said we wanted a castle that transforms,
not one that you take apart and rebuild a different way. He'd said
something similar about a concept I'd done the day before, and I'd
gone home and built a functional Lego prototype to prove him wrong
- I think he just got a kick out of making me build prototypes.