After what seems like an eternity, I am finally getting to my review of 79010 The Goblin King Battle. I don’t like picture-heavy reviews so don’t expect any of my own. I will be talking about three aspects of this set: part selection, minifigs and set design.
To begin with, the part selection in this set is very good. I’m a castle builder at heart and this set is chock full of castle/fantasy goodness, as you would expect from a Lord of The Rings set (yes, it’s the Hobbit, but you know what I mean). There are tons of dark grey slopes and such, lots of brown bits and loads of decorative bits such as bones, books, weapons, jewels, etc. There were around twenty pieces that used stickers. The majority of those were tiles with various wood grains. I would have preferred that those were printed, but I know that LEGO is mostly going with stickers these days. The only piece that really suffers from the sticker use is the 2×2 tile/scroll that the Goblin Scribe is supposed to hold. If you actually have him hold it, his hand messes up the edge of the sticker. Printing would have been a much better choice for this piece. However, overall I was mostly very happy with the parts selection.
Secondly, the minifigs are a fun assortment. Naturally LEGO dispersed the 13 dwarves throughout all the sets. In this one you get Ori, Dori and Nori. You also get Gandalf, the Goblin King and three goblins. The three dwarves all very decent figs. I really like their torsos. Ori’s hairpiece is a bit boring since it simply Ron’s hair from the Harry Potter line in brown. The other two are unique to these figs. Gandalf is the same as the one in the small cart set. LEGO lists it as different figure but the only difference is that this one has a sword. The three goblins are each unique. This surprised me. I was expecting all three to have the same torso. They have the same heads, headpiece and two have the same legs. The goblin scribe has stubby legs. That just leaves the Goblin King. He is obviously supposed to be the highlight of the set. I was rather under-whelmed by him. I am a fan of the giant trolls and such but the Goblin King leaves something to be desired. He is going to be hard to use for anything else. I hope someone does (and I have some plans myself) but there are some design elements that are really going to get in the way. The main issue is his crown. It doesn’t come off. You can remove the three spikes but the base of the crown is part of the figure and seriously limits the versatility. The snarling expression and printed hair down the back are also issues but they are easier to work around.
Lastly is set design. I first have to say that I am not a fan of the “playset” style that many licensed themes seem to be using lately. So that was a point off of this set right from the start. I also feel sorry for whoever designed this set because I think they were placed in a no-win situation. The choice of the Goblin King’s cave for the big set in this series was ill-advised. The biggest set in a series needs to feel like the crown of the whole series, much like Helm’s Deep did for the LOTR series. The Goblin King’s Battle leaves you feeling like something is missing. While the piece count is right for a large set, what you build with those pieces is boring. Really all you build is four platforms for the figs to stand on. There are some nice play features, such as a falling bridge, falling ladder, hidden treasure, flying cage (what is up with that?), a crane and the obligatory catapult, but in the end it is still just four platforms and they don’t even attach to each other.
I’m also not a fan of the technique of attaching 1x tiles at one end and then leaving the other hanging for that ramshackle look. It has its place but it is over-used in this set, about ten times. That technique, along with several others, makes the entire build feel messy. I know it is a Goblin cave and they are supposed to be messy. However many pieces are just placed randomly about to give the sense of…randomness. There are even two pieces (a skull and a small bone) that you are told to place on the table in front of the set. That’s it, their “place” is unattached and on the table. I’ve been fine with unattached pieces on sets before but not the extent this one does and the two pieces loose on the table was a bit much.
So, overall I have very mixed feelings about this set. I love the parts selection and even though I have some misgivings about the Goblin King himself, the minifigs are a fun lot. The set design really leaves me cold, but in the end most of us buy sets for the pieces and not the design. I’m not going to assign this set some random score, but I was glad to have it. If you want the kind of pieces this set offers, you should get it. But if you only want the figures, I would buy them on the secondary market. And, unless you need to be Hobbit-complete with your minifigs, I would skip the Goblin King himself.
Thanks for reading!