Building a LEGO Mountain - Part III
← Catch up on Part I and Part II here
Welcome to Part III of this series of posts looking at the process of building up a big LEGO mountain and castle.
In Part II we looked at building up a platform for a new “secret project”. The reason I called it a secret project was because I didn’t really know what it was going to be, other than it would be a) big and b) somehow connected to the castle eventually.
If you’ve followed my Instagram you will have seen the many adventures of Majisto. First released in the early 90’s, this hairy little guy was the first LEGO minifig to feature a beard piece and the first to wear the blue pointy hat. He’s up there with the classic space crew as one of the all time greatest figs (and joined recently by Cookie Monster, in my opinion!) and he’s been a staple on my layout pretty much since the beginning, taking on various roles of site inspector, lead guitarist and general nuisance.
So with all that in mind… it was time to build him a house!
I’ve already mentioned my process for building big things - vague idea, rough sketch, then get stuck in - and this was no different. But this time I actually started with the intention of tearing it all down and starting again. I missed out on any castle sets as a kid and while I’ve been saving any bits of inspiration I find for months, this was the first time I’d tried to build something “castley” - so there was inevitably going to be a learning curve.
As it turned out, the first version actually looked alright. I wasn’t too happy with the rectangular profile but it had the right imposing feel and gave me a decent sense of the scale of everything.
But while this version made use of the LEGO stair pieces again, it was inevitably held back by the need for a landing at each turn. What we really needed was one continuous staircase running all the way from top to bottom… and the only way to do that is with a spiral.
There is a LEGO spiral staircase system which it has to be said looks great when used properly. But this wasn’t an option for me as it would have been too wide and also meant hanging around for days (again) waiting for orders to land. Plus it’s always fun coming up with your own solution to these problems using basic bricks and plates!
Some of the modular buildings make great use of the 1x5 rounded Technic plates for short, sweeping stair cases but again, this was too big for what I needed. In the end, after trying a few options I settled on a a system of 1x4 “edge” plates connected by one stud at one end. This gave me enough flexibility to ensure I could clip the steps in at 90˚ increments, keeping it nicely secured inside the tower and hopefully reducing the chance of the whole thing imploding.
Once I’d figured out that this was going to work, it was a case of rinse and repeat all the way up the tower. I also made the decision to build a hinge into the base of one of the tower walls, which helped with the construction and also means that (for once) the work isnt completely hidden from view.
This is all fine, but the scene is only as good as its surroundings and the one thing that had been consistently bugging me for weeks was the backdrop. I am somewhat stuck with the enormous mirror that takes up most of the space behind the mountain, so had to come up with a creative solution to disguise it and get a proper backdrop installed. The problem was the height, and most off-the-shelf backdrop prints come in either 9 on 15in flavours. After a lot of searching around (and several scam sites swerved), I found a decent printer who could supply 24in x 10ft prints.
As you can see, its not quite perfect. There is a gap at the top and the join between the two pieces is quite ugly. The seam was an intentional decision because I reversed the two 5ft segments, though there is a new piece arriving next week which should fix this issue. I can then fill in the sky area with some thin strips eventually, and any remaining gaps should be covered up nicely by the castle itself.
If you’re thinking of investing in a backdrop, I’d definitely recommend it. It adds so much depth to the scene and instantly transforms the entire layout (well maybe not the entire layout, but definitely this bit!)
The next step was to work on the tower penthouse. This is where Majisto will actually live, although I hope he’s got a spell for carting his big weekly food shop up all those stairs.
I wanted to try something a bit different so I went for a wooden structure perched on top of the stone tower. Is there anything more satisfying than a snugly fit roof? Answers on a postcard.
Over the coming weeks and months I will be starting to work on the castle itself, plus the rest of the small village and then eventually the interior of the mountain. There’s still LOADS to do but it’s already come a long way from the cluttered dumping ground of a few months ago.
Here’s one final shot of the new tower in position in front of the rolling forest.
Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned for Part IV sometime soon.