The summer wave of sets is here, and LEGO has focused its Tolkien license back onto the Lord of the Rings trilogy, while we wait on the new Hobbit movies. The Council of Elrond is the medium sized set in this wave at $29.99 USD, with 243 pieces.
I find it interesting that LEGO chose to capture this moment from the series in playset form, because although the Council of Elrond is of paramount importance in the ultimate narrative, it’s basically a glorified committee meeting. Not exactly the stuff of Saturday morning cartoon action on which LEGO playsets generally focus. Nevertheless, LEGO has managed to fit in some play features here. The boxes for this summer wave have been redesigned from last year’s Lord of the Rings sets, and I love the new look. The right end of the boxes features a orange-tinted map of Middle Earth, which extends onto the closed flaps. This gives the boxes quite a striking look on the shelf.
Now down to the set itself. Opening the box will dump out two numbered bags, the instruction manual, and that ever-present sheet of stickers. Fortunately my sheet wasn’t crumpled, but I’ll say yet again that LEGO needs to be putting sticker sheets in some sort of protective material. The stickers are for the 3 chair backs, and the Eye of Sauron. The Council of Elrond builds two small structures from Rivendell, the home of Elf-lord Elrond, and his daughter Arwen. The first bag builds the council room, which in the nature of the elves, is more of a patio than a room, being open to the air and shaded by a tree. It includes 3 chairs around a central plinth, where the One Ring resides during the council. The only action feature in the set is also built here. It’s a minifig flinger located in the floor next to the plinth. It’s used to recreate the scene from the film where Gimli brashly gives the One Ring a good whack with his axe, and is sent sprawling backwards. If you’ve watched The Fellowship of the Ring recently, you may also recall that the screen flashes to the Eye of Sauron for a split-second as Gimli hits the ring. In the floor when the fig-flinger lifts up, there’s a red slope that’s stickered with the Eye of Sauron, so you can briefly glimpse it before the floor shuts again. It’s more than a little corny, but also an amusing interpretation of the film into a playset. I tried it, and it actually flings Gimli quite effectively.
The second bag builds the remainder of the set, which is a small segment of a roofed structure. It contains a removable weapon rack for holding Arwen’s bow and Elrond’s spear. This part looks really lovely, using a mixture of white, dark tan, and light grey. It includes another tree, and this segment clips into the adjoining council room segment with two Technic pins. This building also features the first ever appearance of the new Gothic half-arches, which are a long yearned-for piece for Castle builders everywhere. Sadly, this new piece follows suit with the newer design of the full arches, and uses thin walls that disallow studs being placed on the underside, a common fan technique. Other interesting pieces in this set include the first appearance of dark orange large leaves, which in combination with the recently released dark red leaves puts fans well on their way to making an autumnal forest. There are also olive green small leaves here, which aren’t new, but are still hard to find. All told, there are 4 white half-arches, 3 dark orange large leaves, and 5 olive green small leaves. Personally, I’ll be buying this set in droves, just for the leaves and arches.
There are 4 minifigs in this set: Elrond, Arwen, Gimli, and Frodo. This seems a very logical selection of minifigs. Elrond must be present–it is the Council of Elrond, after all. And Frodo has to bring the ring. And Gimli’s got to go flying to give the discussions some play value. Arwen might be the odd character out, but given her limited role in the series, this is probably about the most logical place for her to show up, short of a Black Rider chase set or the Coronation of Aragorn. The figs are all high quality with front and back printing. Gimli and Frodo are identical to those found in previous sets, so I’ll skip over them. Arwen is a fantastic addition to the female medieval population, and her dress is generic enough to pass for any lady in a Castle setting. Both Arwen and Elrond have rubbery hair, with painted ears. Elrond has a meticulously detailed gold printing, and a terrific double-sided cape. The outside of the cap is dark red, with a painted tan inside. I don’t even remember the last time a set included a two-sided cape, though I know it’s been done before.
All in all, this a good set for fans, or parts collectors. I can’t imagine that there’s a lot here to be excited about for kids who aren’t major fans of the movie, since the structure isn’t even defensible. Still, each of the weapons in the set (except Gimli’s axe) have an extra included, so it’s not a bad weapons pack, plus there are 2 extras of the 1 Ring (good thing Sauron didn’t have backups). It seems like a big opportunity missed not to include a statue with Narsil and maybe a shield inside the building, though. Still, I expect most of the lovers of this set will be people like me looking for those new arches and leaves.