The Black Knights were one of the various factions of LEGO's Castle theme and were introduced in 1988. During its run, a total of thirteen sets were released as part this series, including two major castles, making it one of the larger LEGO Castle factions of this era. The black colour of their fortifications was one of the features that set the Black Knights apart from earlier factions. The Black Knights symbol was a blue wyvern dragon featured on their shields and banners, a motif that was also used by the Dragon Masters with different colours. The Black Knights were phased out as regular side after 1994 but the crest still made occasional appearances until 1996.
The first well known Black Knights set released was the 6085 Black Monarch's Castle in 1988, which marked the beginning of the this yet-unnamed side. The enormous black castle was guarded by twelve soldiers, including four mounted knights. This was one of the first sets to include the horse armor piece or barding. Also, the triangular dragon shields were originally invented to represent the Black Knights. An interesting feature the castle had was that it could be opened and closed using the special "hinge" pieces for more play in the interior. Despite the Black Monarch Castle's different styling and emblems, it did not belong to a named faction yet so it was considered a spiritual successor to the aging 6080 King's Castle as the largest/flagship Lego Castle set. (The overall structure of 6080 King's Castle is similar to the 6085 Black Monarch's Castle, which had a similar segmentation with hingebricks as well as two towers, a prison and a gatehouse on the same position.) In 1989, three Black Knights were included in the 1584 Knight's Challenge where they jousted against the Crusaders. The Black Knights, still not formally declared as a faction, was "merged" with the Crusaders form a combined "Castle" side in 1990-91 (the catalogue combined the lion and wyvern motifs).
Two more Black Knights sets were released in 1990, which were 6059 Knight's Stronghold, a set that featured three Black Knights soldiers defending a gate against a pair of Black Falcons and their trebuchet, and 6034 Black Monarch's Ghost, a set that included a lone armored knight and a glow in the dark ghost. Interestingly these two sets were one of the last LEGO Castle sets to carry the LEGOLAND banner. The two 1990 castle sets were re-released in 1992 with the LEGO System banner on the boxes, but the instruction booklets of the sets, still had the LEGOLAND banner. The only changes that were made to the 1992 re-release sets, were the horse saddles. The saddles were changed from one clip to two clips since 1992 was the year that introduced the altered LEGO horse saddle.
In 1992 the LEGO Group separated the Black Knights and Crusaders into different sides. Concurrently, they introduced the 6086 Black Knight's Castle, also known as the Dungeon Master's Castle in Canada and the USA from 1992-93 when the name was changed during its last year. Mounted on a raised baseplate, this was the largest set in the Castle theme during its production run, being considered one of the best castles ever released. It included four mounted knights, four archers, two soldiers/guards, a Wolfpack renegade prisoner, and a glow in the dark ghost.
Like Black Monarch's Castle, it included the horse armor or barding piece, but now two out of the four mounted knights had helmet visors and breastplate armor pieces like the knights introduced in 1990. There were new dragon plumes available in four different colours (just like the feather plumes), as well as introducing a new oval shield with a red and blue dragon printed. The older dragon triangular shield continued to be used in the set, to be carried by foot soldiers. This set was the first major castle to have minifigures with facial hair, mustache and beard faces rather than only having the usual plain, grin face.
Two other main Black Knights sets were released 1992 as well. There was the 6057 Sea Serpent, the biggest LEGO Castle boat ever released in the 1990s and also the last set to include Black Falcon figures. The other was the 6009 Black Knight, a small set that included a single mounted knight along with new accessories such as the oval shield, dragon plumes, and beard face.
In 1993 four smaller sets were released that did not appear in any catalogue. Instead, the sets from 1992 were still included until the end of 1994 when the Black Knights ceased to exist as a proper Castle theme. 1993 also saw the introduction of the new Dragon Masters theme, which reused the oval dragon shields but featured green dragons instead of blue ones. The theme also reused the "dragon plumes" introduced in 1992.
In 1995 and 1996 there were still new sets released that included minifigures with the Black Knights crest. 6078 Royal Drawbridge included a knight who carried an oval Black Knights shield with a blue dragon but was otherwise dressed like a Dragon Masters knight and 6079 Dark Forest Fortress included a cart whose driver carried a classical triangular Black Knights shield.
Relationship with other factions
Like the other castle factions of the Black Falcons and Crusaders (Lion Knights), the Black Knights were in conflict with the Forestmen who laid siege to the 6085 Black Monarch's Castle in several catalogue dioramas.
The Crusaders and Black Knights were featured together in only one set, the 1584 Knight's Challenge, and were merged into a "Castle" faction in 1990 and 1991 before being separated for 1992. A 1992 advert in the UK featured the Black Knights and Crusaders at war with each other.
As the 6059 Knight's Stronghold and 6057 Sea Serpent featured the Black Falcons, this suggested that the two factions were rivals, particularly in Knights Stronghold where the Black Knights defend the gates against a Black Falcons siege.
The Black Knights were also opponents to the Wolfpack (the 1992 catalogue diorama shows their soldiers and cavalry pursuing the Wolfpack wagon, Canada and USA ad shows the castle's knights sailing on 6057 Sea Serpent to attack the Wolfpack Tower, returning to the castle with the Wolfpack prisoners. The Black Knight's Castle contains a Wolfpack figure as a prisoner) and Dragon Masters (the 1993 catalogue diorama shows Majisto the Wizard on a dragon engaging the Black Knights' White Knight and Yellow Knight), while the commercial for Japan and the European Union shows the Black Knights' soldiers and cavalry (mostly from 6086 Black Knight's Castle, maybe 6009 Black Knight) attacking the 6082 Fire Breathing Fortress for treasure. This made for a three-way rivalry from 1993-94.
Castles and equipment
Their first castle, was similar in layout to the Crusaders' King's Castle and reprised its fold-out feature, but used mainly black elements and had an overall more elaborate design with less repetitive outer walls and octagonal towers. Another notable building was a gate with foldable walls that was obviously intended to be used as a supplement for the previous castles since had no enclosed structure. The Black Knights' second castle made use of the new raised baseplates.
With two castles, a fortified gate (6059 Knight's Stronghold) and two smaller buildings (6034 Black Monarch's Ghost and 1888 Black Knight's Guardshack) the Black Knights were a faction that was especially strong on buildings. However, they didn't own any noteworthy land vehicles, such as carriages or carts (except the debatable appearance in 6079 Dark Forest Fortress). Even their complement of war material is far from impressive, with only one mobile siege engine (1971 Battering Ram) and two stationary catapults (1491 Dual Defender and 1917 King's Catapult).
The Black Knights partially remedied this with one of the larger navies of the Castle faction, encompassing a big sailing ship (6057 Sea Serpent) and a boat (1547 Black Knight's Boat), only comparable to the fleet of the Crusaders.
Symbols and ornaments
The Black Knights' coat of arms and main symbol was a blue dragon as seen on their shields and actually resembled a classical wyvern dragon. This heraldic animal had only two legs and the wings in contrast to the dragons seen in other LEGO sets that had four limbs in addition to their wings.
The wyvern dragon emblem first appeared on the classical triangular shields and a small flag included in the first set 6085 Black Monarch's Castle from 1988. In this first crest the blue dragon had yellow accents in the form of its beak and tail tip, set against a red background. The wyvern dragon motif also appeared on horse bardings.
In 1992, several variations on the Black Knights wyvern dragon symbol were introduced. The Black Knights were the first Castle theme that was equipped with oval shields and adapted the wyvern dragon emblem from the triangular shields to fit the new elongated form, with the background being changed to yellow and the details of the dragon now in red. (This oval shield symbol design was adopted by the Dragon Masters, but with the dragon colored in green.) The Black Knights were also the first ones to trade the old feather plume for a new "dragon plume" that consisted of a small dragon figure mounted on the top of helmets with movable visors and two small dragon wings mounted on the helmet visor sides. The dragon plumes were also used as ornaments on castles and ships and were later reused in the new Dragon Masters faction where they were mounted to entirely new helmets. A side view of the dragon plume was adopted as for the sail of their ship, the 6057 Sea Serpent. The side view of the dragon plume was also used for the 6086 Black Knight's Castle main flag, with four rectangular fields which were either red or blue and contained yellow dragons.
Unlike the other contemporary factions, the Black Knights soldiers never had their emblem printed on their torso, with the symbol only being displayed upon their shields, buildings, or vessel. Most Black Knight infantry had chainmail torso prints, although a handful did have the plate armor torso print. (The Crusader crossbowmen in 6081 King's Mountain Fortress, the Black Falcons crossbowman in 6059 Knight's Stronghold and 6018 Battle Dragon, and some Royal Knights soldiers (6044 King's Carriage, 6090 Royal Knight's Castle, and 6078 Royal Drawbridge) also do not have chest emblems.)
|Image||#||Set||Number of pieces||Minifigures||Price||Release|
|1547||Black Knight's Boat||55||2||1993|
|1888||Black Knight's Guardshack||25||2||1992|
|6034||Black Monarch's Ghost||48||2||€5.99||1990|
|6085||Black Monarch's Castle||695||12||$68.00||1988|
|6086||Black Knight's Castle||569||12||$85.99||1992|
- Bonus packs
- 1597 Castle Value Pack (1993), included 1547 Black Knight's Boat, 1596 Ghostly Hideout and 1624 King's Archer
- 1967 Bonus Pack (1993), included 1971 Battering Ram and sets from other themes
- Other sets with Black Knights involvement
- 1584 Knight's Challenge (1988, Crusaders), same as 6060 Knight's Challenge
- 6078 Royal Drawbridge (1995, Royal Knights)
- 6079 Dark Forest Fortress (1996, Dark Forest)
- Sew-On Black Knights Patch (1992)
- Other sets
- 6018 Battle Dragon contains a boat that matches the typical Black Knights design but one of the soldiers carries a Black Falcons shield.