How To Raise an Army!

Assuming you meant a small plastic one made of bricks


Sam Meine, Writer

Upon entering high school, many people give up their LEGO addiction, donating and selling it off for “better things.” This, if you haven’t already guessed, was quite the blunder on their part which I, and you if you are so inclined, will now profit from. Profit how? Why in small plastic bricks of course, why profit in money when you can instead invest in LEGO?

My personal Black Falcons army gathered using the methods you are about to learn about.

To us collectors, nothing is more valuable or nostalgic than the LEGO Castle sets and themes. Though the castles and keeps are all fine and well, those are oh so terribly common. What we really care about are the minifigures, the tiny people, full of personality and the stories we build for them from the ground up to fill our probably lopsided constructions of bricks. 

A Classic LEGO Castle advertisement describing the factions represented during the 1992 era of sets.

The issue comes when we want to, ya know, own them. LEGO is a notoriously expensive kids toy and a bane to most parents, and for the hobbyists where this kids toy evolves to a collectors item… Well suffice to say getting our hands on our tiny armies is easier said than done. I am here to help you through that nitty gritty backend of getting your hands on these oh-so-elusive minifigures en masse, maybe paying with a leg but keeping the arm. You will need that for building.


Notably, the first ever LEGO castle set in 1978 introduced a whopping 4 unique factions with the new theme. All four* of which  born and died in this first wave of sets, their groups never even receiving names. *(The crown faction got a remake in CMF series 23)

The first goal will be to focus on an army faction. Since the beginning of the LEGO medieval themes with the Yellow Castle, LEGO has always been fond of diverse groups and factions, all with their own quirks in unique colors and crests. Though having a dozen different knights from a dozen different eras may be colorful, it is in no way helpful if you are to build a cohesive garrison. The most reliable faction to collect by a long shot nowadays will be the Black Falcons mini-figures. Almost every revival castle set in the past couple years has had couple of these little dudes associated with this group, and they are usually the cheapest and most abundant on second hand markets. You could also focus on the revival Lion Knights or Forestmen which are similarly accessible.

If you are interested, one of the factions from the Collectible Minifigure Series, CMF for short, might suit your fancy. The recent Series 24 of the CMF line introduced us to an alternate Black Falcon’s member named the Falconer and the Orcs. Along with this, older CMF figures such as the series 23 Knight of the Yellow Castle, series 22 Snow Guardian, or the elusive series 20 Tournament Knight, are all great options.

Realistically, you now have 2 main options for growing your desired army: to either buy new or used. Both will undoubtedly be expensive, but there are always ways to cut down your costs. 


Though you might be inclined to just go to the store and pick up the first castle you see, it is often common course to avoid this tactic like the plague. You are no confused grandmother buying for the grandkids—unless you desperately need the main build itself, you should never buy a LEGO set simply for the minifigures. Instead, one of our first locations will be on Pick-A-Brick. 

Pick-A-Brick is a website run directly by the LEGO company where they sell bulk clean parts from their recent catalog of sets. With the recent 90th anniversary of LEGO, we were given a boon of dozens of different unique minifigure parts and accessories to pick from, originating from the revival Castle sets, that we can get easily and consistently. Of course, there are downsides; Often parts from Pick-A-Brick are marginally more expensive than from third parties. Along with this, the constant rotation of parts in circulation means pieces you may have had your eye on might already be discontinued from the website.

Revival and Vintage Black Falcons minifig


Though Pick-A-Brick might seem to have everything you could want from LEGO’s catalog of Castle sets, what they intentionally leave out are the CMFs. CMF, as discussed earlier, is home to a massive collection of high quality exclusive figures that are perfect for our needs. The difficulty here comes instead in obtaining them. The minifigures are available in most stores, coming alone $5 each in opaque mystery poly-bags. You can search out the figures you want by feeling through the bag for distinguishing parts. For us, this usually means feeling for an oddly shaped shield, weapon, or armor mold we know are unique to that figure in the series. If the figures you like from CMF are from a past series, then you might be out of luck. The gimmick to the ‘Collectible’ part in CMF is the fact that once the series retires, they and their figures will never again be reprinted.

Well, this is an outrage! How can we get these things if they are no longer made? Good news for us, they do still exist, and now is where the second half of our two part plan comes into action; you must now take the risk that entails when you get LEGO from third party sources.


A Revival and Vintage Lion Knights minifig


The most reliable method of buying used LEGO, and for our purposes specific minifigures and parts, is widely accepted to be through the website Bricklink. Recently acquired by the LEGO company, Bricklink is a website where independent vendors catalog and sell individual parts, mini-figs, and full sets to people all over the world. In theory, you can order any part ever made in LEGO’s history, and within the week have it delivered to your doorstep neat and packaged. In practice though issues begin to emerge, specifically the financial ones.

The fact you can get whatever you may need wherever you may be is convenient, but the reality that many of the sellers originate overseas can quickly become an issue. It is good to remember that many vendors may not have exactly what you are looking for; often sellers may only have two or three of a part you need, and shipping a couple parts from a dozen sellers is inefficient and expensive for everyone involved. To cut down on your expenditures, you need to consolidate your cart. With luck, a big order might have everything you will need while only coming from at most two or three sellers. 


A Vintage and Revival Forestmen minifig

You will of course have concerns about damage or scams, and though it is customary for vendors to state if scuffs and breaks exist on a part, you can never be sure with third party sellers. Common sense and awareness of deals too good to be true, or simply contacting the seller directly with questions safeguard against these concerns…usually.



Otherwise, those are the basics in my experience. There was a debate on whether to include directions on how to equip and display your army here, but well, I think I can trust you with the fun part of this, yeah? 

LEGO is derived from the phrase in its home Danish leg godt, “play well”; I will simply wish you good luck and a similarly good time building whatever story you might build for your tiny army to inhabit, and, well,  if we are being honest with ourselves now, to fight!

A cinematic shot of a display containing a battle between Black Falcons and Raven Knights, made by SW Bricks.

Research for this article came mostly from my own experience in the hobby, however the checking of LEGO Castle’s history via the efforts of passionate collectors on Classic Castle, first hand accounts from LEGO army builders on the form Eurobricks, and some photos of figures and sets from Jays Brick Blog were used.