Castle's are fascinating and I've liked them ever since I was a kid, and as a kid enjoyed movies set in the Middle Ages. Who can forget movies like The Vikings, El Cid, any of the Robin Hood movies, Ivanhoe, or even comedies like The Court Jester, or Walt Disney's cartoon The Sword In The Stone where the primary action was in and around castles? But if you were to believe Hollywood, one would think that every castle in existence was a grand manor where the king held court, jousting tournaments were a regular weekend pastime, and knights in shining armor went forth to do battle. Not really.
Castles began around the 10th century as strongly fortified residences. The earliest examples were the earth and wood 'motte-and-bailey' type. The motte was a raised earthen mound with a stone or wooden keep at the top. The bailey is an enclosed courtyard surrounded by a ditch and palisade or wall. These evolved into highly fortified stone structures with walls sometimes as thick as 30ft (9m) and castles were built from Europe to the Middle East. Even the Far East saw it's share of castle building. Many were surrounded by wide defensive ditches called moats which were only sometimes filled with water - a common staple of Hollywood movies - if they were near a stream. Towers were placed near the entrance and at other strategic locations to provide a means of lookout and defense. By the 16th century they began to lose their luster as residences and were supplanted by grand manor houses and grandiose palaces. Also, the thick walls, which were originally meant as protection against catapult shot, were no match against gunpowder and artillery. The castle as a fortified structure was eventually replaced by the fort using different design and engineering techniques.
Another thing to keep in mind is that not every castle was the residence of a nobleman. Many were built to hold a small garrison of men whose job was to watch perhaps a valley, an important road, a waterway, etc. Some, like the Pfalz im Rhein Bei Kaub featured here on Toys and Stuff, were built to collect tolls. The Pfalz castle was actually built on an island in the middle of the Rhein (or 'Rhine' here Stateside). Many are now in ruins. The castle shown below is Burg Hartenfels, Westerwald, Germany. Originally built ca1289 to protect the High Street, the main trade route between Frankfurt and Cologne, it was destroyed in the 15th century, rebuilt in 1594 and destroyed again. It was never rebuilt.
Here's an interesting tidbit. This is essentially the view of the castle (although from a bit farther away in a nearby town) Bettina used to have from the kitchen window of her old house!
A remnant of the wall. The enclosure was relatively small at ca60 x 40 meters.
The tower is 23 meters high but was probably 28 meters at one point. It is called by locals The Schmanddippe, or Butter Churn, probably because of its appearance upon the landscape.
Which brings us - finally - to today's toy: the Built-Rite Castle from the 1930s. Another classic toy from the Warren Paper Products Company of LaFayette, Indiana, the castle is made of heavy cardboard lithographed with stonework and wooden doors and shutters and utilizes Built-Rites easy-to-assemble tab-&-slot assembly. Unfortunately I'm missing the box top and all of the soldiers/knights which most certainly would have been included in the set. However, the castle itself is fairly complete, to include the box bottom which doubles as the castle's base but a couple of shutters are missing. From here on in we'll let the photos do the talking. I had been scouring the Web trying to find any photos of this vintage gem because I wanted to see what kind of figures came with it but folks, I do believe what you see here today is an Internet exclusive because my search came up bupkis! Enjoy Everyone! Fritz (Ed) and Bettina Berg
Including base the castle measures 12" (30.5cm) W x 9 1/2" (24.1cm) D x 9 3/8" (23.8cm) H
The base was too large to scan so it had to photographed and cropped.
It measures 12" (30.5cm) W x 9 1/2" (24.1cm) D x 3/4" (1.9cm) H
The sides and ends
11 5/8" (29.5cm) W x 8 5/8" (21.9cm) H
Side Wall 1
8 5/8" (21.9cm) W x 8 5/8" (21.9cm) H (WITHOUT tabs)
Side Wall 2
8 5/8" (21.9cm) W x 7 5/8" (19.4)cm H (WITHOUT tabs)
11 5/8" (29.5cm) W x 7 5/8" (19.4)cm H
The big doors are 3 1/4" (8.3cm) H x 2 3/4" (7cm)W
Tall Tower Wall x2
3 7/8" (9.8cm)W x 4 7/8" (12.4cm) H (WITHOUT tabs)
Short Tower Wall x2
3 7/8" (9.8cm)W x 4" (10.2cm) H (WITHOUT tabs)
11" (27.9cm) W x 8 5/8" (21.9cm) D (WITHOUT tabs)
Posed on the new display base
Here's the photo set-up (photo by Bettina Berg)
I built a 'dirt' ramp up to the door by carving a little block of Styrofoam, coating it with wood putty, and painting it. It's not fine art but will do until I come up with something else.
I posed a couple of Britains Deetail Knights which actually go quite well with the castle.
There's not yet enough knight figures in the collection to flesh the scene out with a lot of action.