|History of the Classic Castle City Standard|
A Short History of where the Classic Castle City Standard came from.
The Fall of Castle
In my experience in the online LEGO community, there are three major themes that have shown resilience and popularity: Space (and Mecha, together as "Sci-fi"), Trains (including Town), and Castle. Their popularity has been fairly constant through the years. However, several years back TLG began replacing their themes with Licenses. First Space was replaced with Star Wars which, while being a license, does maintain the science-fiction/space travel concept fairly closely. With the popularity of the Star Wars license, TLG branched out into Harry Potter to effectively replace the Castle line.
Star Wars maintained the sci-fi feel of the Space line, but Harry Potter (HP) did not have the feel of Castle. While providing some useful pieces, it hardly replaced Castle. Knight's Kingdom, Castle's last line before HP, was also the weakest ever. And so the LEGO Castle community was left without a strong product line to support it.
Of course, the Castle community has survived without a product line, but not without its losses. At times during off season (summer, when people vacation and kids are away from their computers), Castle even fell completely silent for several weeks. Despite winning some valuable sets such as the the first Legend 10000 Guarded Inn, the 3739 Dan Siskind's Blacksmith Shop, and another of the Legends, the 10039 Black Falcon's Fortress, the Castle Community has yet to command the presence it once did.
The Idea of a Standard
In the Fall of 2002, several determined, young Castlers began to openly fret about the Fall of Castle. They began several things to generate noise and perhaps get more people excited about building in the medieval style. One of the ideas that came up was developing something like the building standard used by the Space Community, the Moonbase Standard.
The concept was that a Castle Standard would be something everyone could build within, and then at fests (such as Brickfest, the NWBrickCon, etc) each "module" could be brought together and a larger castle city would be formed. The concept was tried several times, most notably at Brickfest '02, but had many bumps and usually required one person to make most of the layout.
In Fall 2002, the idea was resurrected and codified on the internet as the Medieval Marketplace, based around building on the 16x16 baseplate. A flurry of activity and a variety of creations were generated by the MM effort. While limited in its scope, it showed the viability of introducing rules into what had been seen as a chaotic theme. Creations continue to be made within the concept of the MM.
Some Good Ideas
In February 2003, Jon Furman posted the first of his Provincial Town creations. Interesting and very creative, they deeply inspired both Lenny Hoffman and Anthony Sava (amongst others). The main innovation of Furman's was to step away from larger, more detailed creations like Dan Siskind's, and embrace smaller buildings. Although his creations still have wonderful details, the smaller size allowed for more buildings to be made, especially on a modest collection.
In March of 2003, Anthony Sava posted his city of Dahyart, inspired by Furman's creations. At first the village was a central road with the houses all facing the road. Manfred Moolhuysen suggested Anthony offset the buildings of his village using the perfect triangle (using the pythagorean theorem, we know a2 + b2 = c2, providing us with 3-4-5 right triangle, where all the sides equal a whole number. There is also the 5-12-13 triangle and 7-24-25 triangle). The effect worked perfectly, making Dahyart the first full village to be arranged on that principle.
The last idea to be thrown into the mix before the fateful meeting at Brickfest 2003 was an idea between Lenny Hoffman and Ben Ellermann (again inspired by a Jon Furman creation) about developing custom LEGO sets that fit with the modular walls of classic Castle.
Ideas Come Together at Brickfest 2003
And so, at Brickfest 2003, the Castle Community Discussion took place. It was chaired by Ben Medinets and attended by Anthony Sava, Lenny Hoffman, Don Cox, KK Quah, Jim and Mae-Lee Foulds, Chris from WAMALUG, Cale Leiphart, and a few others (if I forgot your name, or misspelled your name, please email me and I'll fix it in a jiffy!).
The conversation began with a discussion on how to help re-vitalize the community. The issue of a standard came up again. Different ideas were proposed, such as building onto 32 baseplates, or onto 16 baseplates. The primary problem we had was one of roads. Medieval roads were winding and irregular, and basing the basic "module" on the baseplate inevitably led to a grid. It was then that someone (if you'd like to reveal yourself, email me - altho I think it was Chris from WAMALUG) proposed having the buildings separate from the baseplates that form the standard.
The idea quickly developed into what is now the CCC - perhaps one of the most creative and versatile standards in the LEGO community.
Written by Lenny Hoffman, please email him with any problems you may have. Wonderfully edited by Alan Findlay.