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The Gatehouse
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The 9th in a series of MOC's that could have come from the late 80's castle range. They're trying to explore Medieval life in more detail than Lego's sellable range ever allowed, whilst staying true to the design principles of that era.
About this creation

Design

Everything that I've built so far, and indeed that Lego produced as part of the 80's range, create a single convex wall to a castle or town that curves around. The limitations of this are that you can only have so many corners before you've created your loop, with my Maidens Tower and Hilltop Tower I've already got half a loop and it only takes a couple of other bits of wall before the loop is complete. What I needed was a section of concave wall that would allow the creation of more complex castle enclosures.

Concave wall segments are useful pieces of castle architecture, the space in the concavity is overlooked by two walls which makes it easier to defend and therefore suitable for introducing a weakpoint in the wall such as a gateway. The design started from there, a gateway flanked by a piece of wall which could be used to defend it.

In normal use the gateway to a town would be open during the day, soldiers controlling the passing of goods to and from town, extracting taxes and tolls from them as necessary. To facilitate this, and to break up the wall a little I decided to include a little alcove in the wall that the guarding sentry could take shelter in. A 30246 Panel 3x4x6 w/ Window forms the back of the alcove.

I kitted out the walkway above the alcove with a length of wooden hoarding. Simply built from 2453 Brick 1x1x5 pillars, however my initial design utilised 3937 Hinge Brick 1x2 Base which has never been produced in brown, although a box of either prototypes or special pressings is available from a US Bricklink seller. Back to the drawing board, I deviated briefly into using headlight bricks and bars to create my own hinges but eventually settled for 2458 Brick, Modified 1x2 w/ Pin coupled with a 3700 Technic, Brick 1x2 w/ Hole which are readily available in brown. The LDD captures below show the original and revised hoarding.






The gateway itself is made up of fairly simple octagonal towers with an arch between, yellow being used as the detail colour so that it matches 6074 Black Falcons Fortress. The use of 3063 Brick, Round Corner 2x2 Macaroni is a design detail borrowed from the rear towers of 6085 Black Monarch's Castle.

A gateway on it's own isn't a sellable prospect, to make it sellable it needs to be playable, to make it playable something needs to interact with the gateway. I considered siege engines, but eventually settled on a simple cart with the sides built up of finger hinges. Initially I'd been thinking of some form of smuggling past the guards, but I didn't want to go as complex as 6038 Wolfpack Renegades and it's false floor.


Screen captures of the final LDD design are shown below






Analysis


Story: Not much really and this is beginning to bug me. The cart needs that smuggling aspect, trying to sneak something past the guards. I really feel that with just a couple of panels to form a hollow hay-bale it would add something.

Playability: Nothing is to difficult to access, the bottoms of the towers are tricky but not impossible. The issue is still that it has no real story to back it up.

Build-ability: Did you know that Lego have never produced a 6x10 plate in green? Neither did I and it threw my build somewhat. Substituting 4x10 and 2x10 plates didn't really work because the joins were unsupported. Eventually I opted for a 6x6 plate surrounded by a ring of 2x8 plates which means that everything connects properly to the bottoms of the 2345 panels. The varying designs can be seen below, the favoured baseplate design being on the right.



There was one further issue with the build that wasn't evident in LDD but becomes obvious in real ABS. The side wall was only joined to the adjacent tower at the bottom. When lifting and manouvering the gatehouse it bows and a crack appears between the side wall and the tower. I ended up adjusting the design to allow an additional connection at the top of the wall which fixes this engineering issue.


Build photo's from all sides are shown below













Then I ran into a problem with the cart, my initial design proved to be wider than 8 studs which meant that it wouldn't fit through the arch. Realising that I'd over-engineered the connections to between the finger hinges and the 1x8 plates forming the side bars I was able to remove some of the plates on the outside that had been fouling the archway.





Cost: 451 pieces puts it of a par with 6074 Black Falcon's Fortress

Consistency: I believe the overall design still fits with the 80's ambiance. The anachronisms are the use of a Tan plate in the gateway and the 30246 panel of the alcove, both of which didn't appear until the late 90's. As usual the proof is how it looks when clipped into existing sets, the photo's below show it between 6074 Black Falcon's Fortress and 6067 Guarded Inn . I think it fits, I was quite pleased how the hoarding fits beneath Black Falcon's Fortress's peaked roof to form a contiguous whole, although it did happen more by luck than by design. I think my only consistency issue is that positioning of wall segments when they clip into the tower feels wrong, you can't walk out of the tower and onto the battlements, but this is would be easy to rectify by moving the Technic Brick that acts as the connection point.




Conclusion

Not bad, again I think its story is weak which leads to weak playability if it were purchased alone rather than as an item to add to an existing collection. Further emphasis on the smuggling might improve this.

I'm pleased with the hoarding, I can see it occuring on some other builds as it provides height and substance with only a handful of bricks. I'm also very pleased with the cart, again just a handful of bricks have produced something quite beautiful.


















The Series
The Guildhall The Apiary
Hilltop Tower Market By The Wall
The Stables Defending The Breach
Merchant's House Maiden's Tower


Building instructions
Download building instructions (LEGO Digital Designer)

Comments

 I made it 
  March 18, 2012
Quoting andhe ;-) Have you planned out a series or is it just a case of making it up as you go along?
The aim of the series is to build up a walled medival town in the 80's style, culminating in proper tower keep a-la the White Tower in the Tower of London, England or Rochester Castle in Kent, England. The build on the keep isn't as easy as it sounds becasue whilst I want a nice big keep I still have to stick to my self imposed rules by designing it as if it were a set. Therefore other designs have been happen as I go along.
 I like it 
  March 15, 2012
I've been following your series on eurobricks. I'm really enjoying the nostalgic feel and the great builds you have made with 'unfashionable' pieces (wall plates etc). Sometimes it nice to see a well thought-out MOC that doesn't use a million tiny bricks! Have you planned out a series or is it just a case of making it up as you go along?
 I like it 
  March 3, 2012
Very nice.
 I like it 
  March 2, 2012
Very nice structure!
 
By Brian Tucker
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LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop The GatehouseFortresses and castles


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