Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

LEGO began releasing official Lord of the Rings sets in 2012, followed quickly by LEGO Hobbit sets, but LEGO builders have been recreating the people and places of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth for just as long as there have been books and bricks. Relax in the Shire or battle Saruman and his Uruk-hai army at Helm’s Deep and the Tower of Orthanc, but wherever your LEGO journey takes you, beware the watchful eye of Sauron!

The Hobbit – Desolation of Smaug: 79012 Mirkwood Elf Army [Review]

The first wave of kits are rolling out to accompany part 2 of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, The Desolation of Smaug, which appears in theatres next month. This wave consists of 4 sets, priced at $20, $30, $50, and $70, respectively, and are available for preorder from Amazon with a release date of Dec. 1. We’re starting our reviews in the middle of the lineup, with 79012 Mirkwood Elf Army, the $30 set.

79012 Mirkwood Elf Army

79012 Mirkwood Elf Army is a small forest battlement manned (elfed?) by a squadron of 4 wood elves. It’s under siege by a duo of orcs, one of whom rides a warg. With 276 pieces for its $30 price-point, it fares well for a licensed set, and only gets sweeter when you consider that it includes 6 minifigures. It’s the Hobbit equivalent to the Lord of the Rings’ 9471 Uruk-Hai Army.

The box contains 2 numbered bags, a 10×10 octagonal plate with hole, an individually bagged warg (which is new here in dark brown), and one annoyingly crumpled instruction booklet that wouldn’t stay open without weights on the corners. The first numbered bag contains the warg rider, Elf-King Thranduil, and the generic Mirkwood elf, as well as the pieces for the tree-fort — ahem, I mean forest battlement. The forest battlement is a large, brick-built, hollow tree stump, concealing a cubbyhole for a barrel full of green gems — well, one trans-green gem and one trans-green 1×1 round plate. The most interesting part of the trunk is the use of the new 1x3x3 arch, aka the gothic arch, in brown, which is the first time that piece has appeared in brown, and is only the third color currently available. You get 4 of them in brown with this set.

Atop the stump, which is about 8 bricks tall, sits the 10×10 octagonal plate on a turntable. The allows the entire top portion to rotate around the clickyturntable. The top is covered in a mixture of crenellations and foliage, which disguise a giant catapult. The catapult is actually a fig-flinger, which seems far less useful in a siege than the traditional methods of throwing rocks and fiery bombs. When activated, a tree branch is thrown back, revealing the catapult. Oddly, the tree branch that’s thrown aside contains a bar 3L inside the brown 1×1 round bricks that make up the limb. Presumably this is for strength, but I tested the segment with and without the bar, and didn’t note any significant difference in strength. So it’s unnecessary, but extra parts are always a good thing.


Bag number 2 finishes out the set with the rest of the battlement’s wall, the two elf archers, and the remaining orc. The wall is small, with three articulated 6-stud segments for a total of 18 studs in length, and connects to the tree-fort via a pair of Technic pins. This allows it to be placed on either side of the tree-fort. Despite its small size, it’s entirely brick-built, with no “wall” type pieces, and in fact mostly consists of 1×2 sized bricks. The set consists entirely of earth-toned pieces (tan, dark tan, brown, dark brown, light bluish grey, olive, and dark green), which is terrific for those looking to flesh out their landscaping collections. The front of the wall utilizes the second unique arch element for this set, which is the 1x3x2 arch, aka the Prince of Persia arch, in light bluish grey. There are 3 of these in this set. It’s just not a proper action set these days without including a flick-fire missile, and the middle wall segment does not disappoint.

The wall has small segments on the back side for the elf archers to stand on while raining down arrows on the hapless orcs approaching, and the top has the same small crenellations as the tree-fort. There are also two awesomely-printed oval shields that serve as decoration on the wall’s exterior. A separate little rock piece contains clips for weapons, including a spare longbow. Finally, the charging orc is provided with a ladder to scale the wall.

79012 Mirkwood Elf Army

With 6 figures in the box, and the word “army” in the name, you know that the minifigures are the real point of this set. They are all up to LEGO’s usual high standard for minifig detail, with all 6 containing front, rear, and leg printings. The two elf archers and the generic elf have the same printing for the torso, legs, and head. The two archers, are, of course, armed with longbows, and each carries a quiver on his back. The generic elf gets a giant Prince of Persia dagger — there’s an extra in the box, so he can dual wield if you’re so inclined. Thranduil holds a standard long-sword, and gets a terrific olive green torso overlaid with an ornate champagne gold print. His hair/crown mold is the softer rubbery plastic so that it can fit over the cape in back, and is tan with the crown painted gold and the ears painted flesh. Elf-King Thranduil is unique to this set. The two Gundabad orcs are identical, except that the warg rider wears a spiky pauldrons piece and carries a spear instead of a notched scimitar. It’s unfortunate that among the 6 minifigs included here, there are only 3 different torsos/legs/heads. LEGO ought to have made at least one of the elves different from the other two in something besides accessories. Even a different head would have helped, if LEGO didn’t want to create an entirely new print for a torso.

All told, though, this set is a marvelous deal. 6 minifigures in any set is a pretty good bargain, and in a $30 set it’s all the better. The part selection is great, with no single-use pieces, and two highly-useful unique elements in great colors. This set is a must-have for fans of the line, or for anyone looking for a great parts pack.

Goldberry’s Spring

Burlogh’s rendition of Goldberry’s Spring from The Lord of the Rings is top-notch. I love the effect of foliage-piled-on-foliage that virtually hides the brick-built base. It really conveys the lush feeling of Goldberry and Tom Bombadil’s home. The tree has the appropriate feeling of age and Goldberry is holding the white water lilies that Tom brings her everyday. This is decidedly a nice piece!


Gigantic Lego Helm’s Deep built with 150,000 bricks and featuring 2,000 minifigs.

I’ve seen some pretty impressive renditions of Helm’s Deep in Lego, but this gigantic layout by Goel Kim and Big J captures the scale of the epic battlescene like no other. The diorama took 6 months to build and over a year to plan. Check out more pictures on MOCpages and Flickr or you might miss a detail like this.

“”Then I have guessed your riddle. You are one of those miserable tub-thumping Lake Men!”

I’m probably in the minority of nerds who prefers the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit to the current overblown Peter Jackson spectacular, but I won’t let that stop me from posting great models based off the 7-part film series. This particular scene comes to us from Paul (Disco86), who uses some familiar but effective techniques to paint an immersive scene from the trailer of the latest installment of “The Hobbit“. The diorama is entitled “It is our fight” and it appeals to me in large part because there is nothing but Lego in the scene, no glaring white background, kitchen table or Photoshop weirdness, just 100% mainline ABS goodness. There is also a nice technique I haven’t seen before involving flower-petals and green string. I’m guessing that’s Legolas on the right, probably saying something incredibly clever like ““There is a fell voice on the air” or “A shadow and a threat has been growing in my mind”. Oh Legolas, won’t you ever lighten up?

"It is our fight"

The Lord of the Rings 79007: The Battle at the Black Gate [Review]

The summer wave of Lord of the Rings sets are skewed towards the high end of the price-range, with 79007 The Battle at the Black Gate in the middle at $60 USD. It does have a nice price-to-parts ratio, with 656 pieces. Beyond the fact that it’s a Lord of the Rings set, which I admittedly love, I wasn’t too thrilled about this set. After all, LEGO’s Battle at the Black Gate consists of, well, a black gate. And not much of a battle.

79007 The Battle at the Black Gate

The gate has been scaled down nicely enough, though compared to the monstrously large gate seen on the screen in The Return of the King, LEGO’s seems laughably small. Still, that’s forgivable, since I doubt many people would be interested in purchasing a true-to-scale version of what amounts to a big wall (or be able to afford it). The gate is paired with a small tower, and two stone outcroppings which take the place of the mountain shoulders the gate is nestled between.

Inside the box are 4 numbered bags, a bag containing the eagle, and a loose dark bluish grey 6×24 plate. The 2 instruction manuals were pretty crumpled, as usual. For a very brief period LEGO a year or two ago packaged instruction manuals in a bag with a stiff piece of cardboard, and it helped immensely. I don’t know why they decided not to roll that out permanently, as it can be very frustrating trying to follow instructions when the pages keep curling up. For the first time in a long while in a set of this size, though, I discovered that there is no sticker sheet. Since I’m not a fan of stickers, I was happy to see that. In fact, the only decorated pieces in this set are the minifigures and animals, which is also a bit of a rarity these days. All 3 of the named minifigs wear capes, and all 3 capes were packaged together. This decision is of no consequence to me, but it is the first time I recall seeing it. As with most recent, large sets, there’s also a brick separator included, which is a nice trend. 

The 4 bags break down into two each for the tower and the gate. The tower has a small postern door in the base which raises vertically with a lever, like an old-fashioned garage door. Both the tower and the gate have a lot of texturing on their surfaces which is accomplished by using mostly small pieces. It reminded me a lot of the building style of many of the adult-fan oriented sets like the modular city buildings, except that here everything is black. The abundance of various 1×1 elements explains the high part count. It’s always nice to get more Studs-Not-On-Top pieces, and this set has plenty. In fact, the tower uses 1×1 Technic bricks in many places where a regular 1×1 brick would have sufficed. The tower is topped with a small single-piece catapult, the medieval equivalent of a flick-fire missile.

The gate is built on a large, almost completely tiled base. It’s two large gate pieces which swing outward; more of a moving castle wall than anything else. They are secured in the back with large latch on a knob. Beyond being covered in the castle-y version of greebles, there’s not a lot to this. The tower, gate, and rock pieces each clip to each other via Technic pins, so you can change the layout, but only slightly. The rock pieces have to go on the ends, so basically the tower can just be on the left or the right.

The Battle at the Black Gate includes 5 minifigs, 1 horse, and 1 eagle. There are two orcs, which are slightly different from one another. The creepy-as-can-be Mouth of Sauron is a natural choice for this set. His helmet is rubbery and packaged in a small bag. No doubt the head with no eyes and a freakishly large mouth will do service in many fans’ horror dioramas.

Representing the forces of good are Aragorn in regal garb and Gandalf the White. Both of these versions are exclusive to this set, and I’d guess that fact will contribute heavily to the sales of this set. The Mouth of Sauron’s mount is a black horse. There is armor printed on the horse’s head, which between that and the beady red eyes will reduce its usefulness. Finally, there’s the giant eagle. The eagle comes in both this set and the $200 Tower of Orthanc, so many people simply wanting an eagle will do best to opt for this set at less than 1/3 the price. The eagle is 3 pieces: two wings and a body. Each of the individual elements are completely rigid and non-posable, though the wings connect to the body via LEGO’s standard clip system allowing them to be positioned. The single-piece body doesn’t do much for me, but I can’t wait to try out the giant wings in various MOCs.

In the end, this is a rather boring set. Despite the high piece count, the final model feels small for the price. The problem here is not one of LEGO’s making; they did an admirable job considering the source material. But when your source is a giant gate, there’s only so much you can do. The build-quality is great; it’s just a boring subject. And it’s hard to have a finale-worthy battle with only 5 minifigs, but I doubt LEGO could have feasibly pushed the price point any higher to accommodate more figs, and making the gate any smaller would have been disastrous. I doubt many people will be interested in buying this set because of the gate itself, so the minifigs are the real selling point here, and they are indeed very nice. If you’re interested in getting your hands on any of the rare or exclusive minifigs in this set, then it’s a must-have. Beyond that, I’d give this set a pass, unless you’re running low on your stock of small black pieces.

LEGO Gollum reminds us that there are only a few more days to register for BrickCon 2013!

BrickCon 2013 is less than a month away and registration will be closing in two weeks! If you are planning on attending the longest-running LEGO fan convention in North America, you had better get registered. There will be prizes, games, seminars, round-table talks, food, new friends and, of course, tons and tons of cool LEGO creations to drool over. This will be my eighth BrickCon and every one has been fun and unique. You definitely don’t want to miss the party! Iain Heath posted this video gem to remind all of us how precious registration really is…

If you plan to attend the whole convention, register through the BrickCon Builder’s site.

If you plan to only view the displays during the public hours, buy tickets in advance at the Public BrickCon sit.

Friday Night Fights (Round 17)

Welcome back fight fans, to Sin City Nevada for another bare-knuckle edition of Friday Night Fights! Tonight’s bout is a rematch of the most recent Iron Builder battle; a chance for redemption or utter humiliation with YOU the public as the ultimate judge instead of a panel of highly acclaimed turbo-nerds. Let’s go to the tale of the tape:

Fighting out of the red corner, from The Great White North…“Punchy” Pascal (pasukaru76) and his “Ferroconstructosaurus“.


And fighting out of the blue corner, from “The land of green shins“… Gilcélio “El Guapo” Chagas and his “Star Wars“.


As usual, constant reader, you are tasked with deciding the outcome of this pugilistic endeavor by way of comment. On the last record breaking edition of Friday Night Fights, the battle of Hipster vs. Manga-Nerd, Mike Dung emerged the battered victor by a narrow margin of 10-8. Tune in next week for another action packed edition of Friday Night Fights!

“You must ride to Edoras and raise the alarm. Do you understand me?!”

Another day, another killer LOTR diorama, this time the perpetrator is -infomaniac- and the subject matter is the Golden Hall of Meduseld from Rohan’s capital city Edoras. This diorama would make a great companion piece to The Council of Elrond featured by Sister Caylin earlier this week. Enjoy tonight’s single-serving of Tolkienian boilerplate with details so accurate you can almost smell the horse manure….wait, that didn’t come out right. Any hint of manure should be attributed to this foul write-up and not the delightful model. My love of the halfling leave has clearly slowed my mind…


The Council of Elrond the way it was meant to be

I could talk about the literary impact of the scene depicted from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I could write about the technical pieces about the sculpting, the curvature and natural look of the build, and excellent manner Paul (Disco86) has captured just a small portion of Rivendell.

But really, just look at it:


I highly recommend looking around his photostream; for more Lord of the Rings themed builds, you can check out this gallery.