The LEGO Hobbit sets just started shipping officially today, but I have a couple more sets I picked up early locally, so to help you decide which to get right away, I’ll be posting some more reviews today, starting with 79000 Riddles for the Ring.
The Build Process
At just 105 and $9.99, this is the smallest set (excluding the little polybags) among both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings LEGO sets. There’s not a lot to the build, to be sure, but what struck me as I built the rock section where Gollum hides the One Ring is that LEGO a few years ago might have released this set with a Big Ugly Rock Piece. Instead, I found myself building a fairly intricate little hidey-hole with some nice landscaping (lots of dark gray cheese slopes) and a fun mechanism to flip the hidden ring in and out of view.
Gollum’s boat is pretty much what you’d expect — you could probably reverse-engineer it from just the one picture above — but the designers have added some bones for a nice spooky effect indicative of Gollum’s true nature.
The set includes Bilbo Baggins and Gollum. Interestingly, Gollum’s face print is different from the one in 9470 Shelob Attacks. I’m generally not a fan of single-purpose minifigs, but it’d be hard to imagine Gollum as a “normal” minifig. At least his arms are articulated and he has a stud on his back (presumably so Sam can attach some elven rope to it).
Bilbo is the same minifig as the one in 79004 Barrel Escape. As has been the case in nearly all recent LEGO sets, both Bilbo’s head and torso are printed on both sides.
Excluding the minifigs, most of the 105 parts in the set are dark gray, and there’s nothing spectacular or new in terms of selection. You also get two One Rings rather than three (something we got used to in the Lord of the Rings sets). Considering the inclusion of the two minifigs in a $10 set, this might not be the cheapest way to bulk up your “rock collection” for LEGO landscaping, but the set does include a lot of dark gray slopes of several varieties, plus some dark tan.
(BrickLink has the full inventory at this point, so I haven’t scanned the pages at the back of the instruction booklet.)
The Finished Model
Gollum’s hidey-hole opens and closes, and a rock flips up to reveal the ring.
It’d be interesting to see a LEGO fan extend this idea to a full-scale underground lake, but there’s not much else to the set. Still, there’s actually quite a bit of play value in the little boat and the One Ring’s hiding place.
At a time when most LEGO sets at this price point are $12 or $15, a licensed set with two minifigs and 105 pieces at $10 is an excellent value.
One copy is a must-buy for anybody interested in Tolkien LEGO, but I’d recommend multiple copies for LEGO Castle builders and anybody starting to specialize in LEGO models of Middle Earth (as I know some Castle builders are beginning to do) — this set is a fantastic way to bulk up on both Hobbit minifigs and landscaping parts. (Notice that I said “both;” if you’re just after the readily available gray parts, you’re probably overpaying.)
Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick: