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In memory of LEGO designer Daniel Krentz

LEGO designer Mark Stafford shared some very sad news on his flickr page a few days ago. Daniel August Krentz, designer of the famed #375 LEGO Classic Yellow Castle and many other iconic LEGO sets recently passed away. Daniel was the first LEGO designer recruited from the LEGO fan community, and the first LEGO designer from outside of Denmark. Our heart goes out to his family, friends, and colleagues at the LEGO Group. Below is the original announcement from Mark (slightly edited for clarity).

LEGO Designer Daniel Krentz

Daniel Krentz, retired LEGO designer passed away. Daniel was born in the USA in 1937, and lived in Colorado and Chicago. He discovered LEGO bricks while in college in the 1960s. He bought as many brick-packs as he could afford on his salary. Soon his creations came to the attention of LEGO’s US distributor at the time (Samsonite), and they began using his work as display-models to increase sales. Shortly after they showed off his creations to visiting representatives of the LEGO Group, and Daniel was recruited to be a LEGO designer in Billund, Denmark. He was both the first AFOL (Adult-Fan-of-LEGO) and the first non-Dane hired to be a designer by the company. He started working as a designer in the mid 1970s, and continued until his retirement in the year 2000. While in Denmark he fell in love and got married. His wife passed away in the 1990s. He attended church every Sunday, and lived a quiet and peaceful life in Billund. He continued building with LEGO bricks for the rest of his life. His funeral is today, on the 21st of June, 2016. Daniel was the designer of dozens of LEGO sets during his time at the company. Here are some of the most iconic ones:

  • #375 LEGO Classic Yellow Castle (and all the additional LEGO Castle sets that launched with it)
  • #6067 LEGO Castle Guarded Inn
  • #6073 LEGO Castle Knight’s Castle
  • #6074 LEGO Castle Black Falcon’s Fortress
  • #6078 LEGO Castle Royal Drawbridge
  • #6081 LEGO Castle King’s Mountain Fortress
  • #6267 LEGO Pirates Lagoon Lock-Up
  • #6276 LEGO Pirates Eldorado Fortress
#6276 LEGO Pirates

Even after retiring Daniel continued to be active in the LEGO fan community. Some of his most recent models were featured in the first and second volumes of The LEGO Adventure Book series. If Daniel’s work and life had a positive impact on you, Mark will make sure his family gets any messages you would like to leave. You can share your thoughts at Mark’s flickr page, or in the comment section below.

LEGO Designer Daniel Krentz 2

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • rainey June 21, 2016, 11:09 AM

    He made fun for a lot of kids including mine. That’s a legacy!

    Condolences and gratitude for sharing his talents to his family and loved ones.

    • admin June 21, 2016, 6:05 PM

      Yeah, it’s amazing how much impact one LEGO designer can make on a child’s life. So much playtime, so much imagination opening up. 🙂

  • Håkan June 21, 2016, 7:30 PM

    I remember that the yellow color of the first castle never really transitioned to other castles, but it found widespread usage in the Pirates theme, although mixed up with white…

    • rainey June 21, 2016, 7:38 PM

      Of course when he designed that set, Legos were still available in primary colors, black and white.

      Grey may eventually have been added for castles in the Robin Hood era but that didn’t happen for a while.

      • admin June 21, 2016, 7:46 PM

        That’s my understanding as well. While gray was used previously for some accessories and small elements, LEGO preferred primary colors for sets, and didn’t introduce gray as a castle color later.

      • Håkan June 21, 2016, 9:45 PM

        Robin Hood era? You mean Forestmen? (They had various names in different areas.) Grey castles appeared already in 1984, though, while Forestmen appeared in 1987…

        • rainey June 22, 2016, 11:33 AM

          I stand corrected on both counts.

          I never took much note of Lego’s names. They seemed very Robin Hood to me at the time so that’s how I remember them now.

          • admin June 22, 2016, 11:52 AM

            A lot of people refer to the Forestmen line as Robin Hood sets, so nothing wrong with that. 😉

  • Strider June 21, 2016, 10:04 PM

    While, of course, I knew about the Yellow Castle, I hadn’t heard of the designer before. It’s a shame he passed away. I think it’s neat he started making custom work out of Lego sets in college, especially considering the time period he was in compared to the community in this day and age.

    • admin June 22, 2016, 11:45 AM

      Yes, that was pretty brave and unusual at that time.

  • A.J. Oster June 21, 2016, 11:39 PM

    Sad news. For my part I consider Lagoon Lockup and Kings Mountain Fortress to be 2 of the most aesthetically pleasing sets ever created. Happy to own both.

    • admin June 22, 2016, 11:45 AM

      Yes, those are beautiful sets. Nice to hear that you still have both. Take good care of them. 🙂

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