Dark Forest Fortress

One frustrating thing about being a fan of Lego and living in Japan is not as much their price (more expensive than the US, but about the same as Europe), but the absence of deals.

I often see on Reddit some crazy deals that people found in large stores such as Walmart or Target, or simply used sets on Craigslist or second hand stores.

In Japan none of this. Lego is still not mainstream enough to be common in second hand stores, and retail stores just don’t cut their prices. Older sets prices tend to fall down in the US, or even in Europe as the date of their retirement approaches. In Japan, at best it stays the same, and sometimes for some unknown reasons it increases (the worst offender being Amazon). Even the clearance deals at Toys R Us are never more than 20% Off.

In other words, sometimes, if I want to save money on a set, I pretty much need to buy it as soon as it’s being released, or be lucky and catch a random discount in one of the major retail stores, discount that is pretty much never more than 10%.

However two days ago, I stumbled upon this set at a local second hand store.


Dark Forest Fortress - Lego - 1


It’s a 1996 set called Dark Forest Fortress. Sets with minifigures were still called Lego System at the time. Of course, today it looks a bit old and not as sophisticated as current sets. But 20 years ago (during my “dark years” as they say) it must have been an amazing set. Then, I saw the price: 2,500 yens. That’s about $22 or €20.

Honestly, I wasn’t too sure what to do. Yes, it was a great deal, but I’m trying to save money right now, and those 2,500 yens could be used for one of the new sets that greatly interest me but are a bit pricey. I can’t say I needed that set, or even wanted it; I was barely aware of its existence five minutes earlier. But the collector in me felt that he couldn’t pass it up. And that raised plate? I’ve been looking for some for quite a while and they’re pretty much impossible to find (or with very steep shipping fees if I buy them from Bricklink).

So, well… I simply bought it. I wasn’t even supposed to go to the store that day.



I’m pretty happy with it. It is a really cool set, and really the plate is what makes it great. Sometimes I find some recent sets frustrating when instead of a whole building you just get a few walls. Well, this set too is just a few walls (and trees) but it’s the plate that ties it all together and makes it awesome. I didn’t double-check, but it seems complete.

Also, it’s in perfect condition, it must have been barely played with, just a bit dusty. Were there adult fans of Lego in Japan 20 years ago? I’m even surprised there were Lego in Japan 20 years ago.

Of course, I got a bit curious, and looked on Bricklink how much it is worth nowadays. Check it out yourselves.

Yes, the complete set sells for $300!

And I’m pretty much sure my set is complete, I do have the instruction booklet and the box:


Dark Forest Fortress - Lego - 6


Now, I don’t know what to do. Reselling it is very tempting. $300 would allow me to buy a couple of big expensive sets that are out of my usual budget. But that plate… And owning a 20 year old set in perfect condition… Those things, if not exactly priceless are in that range…

Still thinking, but my daughter will want these horses as soon as she sees them, and my wife adores the set (which is rare, I guess she’s not too sensitive to the beauty of Star Wars spaceships, or other western pop culture icons that she doesn’t know or care much for)…




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