Any kid that had a pulse during the 70s in the US would certainly remember this gem of a toy, in fact one of the great Little People play sets of their golden age in the 70s, but just one of them. I’m inclined to say the greatest, but I have a few more Little People sets to work through before Christmas, so I have to be careful. That said, the Castle is a model for imaginative design and creating a toy that was in many ways magical for those spaces you couldn’t necessarily access or see. For example, the dungeon in the front-right tower (pictured below) was part of this set I played with for hours on end, and it’s connection to the alligator in the moat—which was nothing more than a matte-like sticker—was for me the most frightening and exciting part of the toy.
Granted this was a 1974 toy and I was probably four or five when I first played with it in earnest, but what I remember was how much the castle was like my family’s big old house. All sorts of unexpected nooks and crannies that your characters could get lost in, like the secret hiding space behind the stone stairs in the foyer/entrance. And while the Weebles Haunted House—another magic design I will certainly discuss in the future—did something similar with the secret space behind the wall mirror, it was nowhere near as perfect as the Family Castle.
Finally, the Dragon’s Lair beneath the Castle (or on the side at the bottom) was cool, I was not as crazy about the Dragon as most were, I was all about the Knight figure, who was most definitely my favorite Little People figure of all-time.
Another feature that can’t be underestimated was the hiding spot behind the staircase. The genius of this playset was all about the crazy hiding spots and all the nooks and crannies you couldn’t see, not unlike an old house.
The Dragon’s Lair, with yet more cool floor/matte stickers for effect as well as a yellow door into the Castle. Also, you’ll notice the sticker of the very classic painting of the Knight and dragon. I should have been a toy designer in the 70s, what a cool it job it must have been.
Image credit: Wishbook’s “1976.xx.xx JCPenney Christmas Catalog P356”