Dwalin and Balin are probably my two favorite dwarves from The Hobbit and Pate-keetongu recreated them perfectly. There is a plethora of cool details in both figures but the pattern on Balin’s shirt is incredible.
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.
J.R.R. Tolkein’s own artwork for The Hobbit shows many different hobbit holes in Hobbiton, but it’s rare to see anything other than Bilbo’s green-doored Bag End. So, it’s quite a nice change to see this gorgeous, different slice of Hobbiton by Brick Vader. I love the way the shape of the diorama’s base reflects the iconic round doors.
You can see more photos (including interior shots) on Imperium der Steine.
One of the additions I enjoyed about the first new Hobbit movie is that Peter Jackson fleshed out Gandalf’s fellow wizard Radagast the Brown. (There were certainly other additions or differences I appreciated less…)
K.Kreations saw The Hobbit as well, and was inspired by Radagast’s very unique abode.
LEGO posted photos on their Facebook page yesterday of a life-size version of my favorite LEGO set, 79003 An Unexpected Gathering.
Here’s what LEGO says:
It took a team of 12 model shop employees 3,000 hours to build this life size model of the LEGO Bag End set. In addition to containing over 2 million 1×1 bricks this model has working lights in the fireplace and over the bookstand as well as a chimney that really smokes!
I suspect that this display model was built for an upcoming trade show, like Toy Fair. We’ll ask around and update this post as we learn more.
It’s not often you see actors from movies with their minifigure counterparts, much less in full costume. The cast of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, though, was recently visited by their smaller LEGO selves.
Martin Freeman meets minifig Bilbo Baggins:
William Kircher with his awesome Bifur minifig:
Sir Ian McKellen admires his Gandalf minifig:
See the full gallery on Facebook.
At $85.50, this is a good deal on a just released set and would make for an excellent Christmas present.
UPDATE: 79010 The Goblin King Battle is now 20% off.
My review of 79002 Attack of the Wargs will be the last from me before Christmas — as I am banned from the LEGO aisle and any LEGO stores online for the next several weeks, ha!
The Build Process
The set starts out a bit slow as you build a slanted rock for Yazneg to pose on. The rock section is actually two parts that can be separated, with the smaller rock hiding a catapult. The catapult should come as no surprise, I suppose, but it isn’t a highlight of the set…
The fun started for me when I opened the second bag and started to build the big tree. I know I complained about “trees on a base” as the core of a LEGO set in my review of 79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders, but this particular tree really reminded me of happy childhood days spent building and rebuilding Classic Castle sets like Camouflaged Outpost and Forestmen’s Hideout.
The most notable aspect of this LEGO tree is that the designers have incorporated some interesting techniques I haven’t seen before in official LEGO sets. First, several of the little olive green leaf pieces are attached with short brown bars that raise them from the other leaves and allow them to be rotated off the LEGO grid more naturally.
A big problem I have with LEGO trees is that the branches all sprout off at right angles. The designers of this set solved this issue by placing two turntables inside the tree. Oddly, the instructions don’t tell you to turn the sections after you finish putting them together, and the LEGO Shop description makes it sound like this is a play feature (maybe there’s something about a spinning tree in the movie). But rotating the sections takes the branches off the LEGO grid as well, making the tree look even more natural:
Finally, the round corner plates interspersed throughout the tree give it the curves so often lacking from angular LEGO trees built from square slopes and bricks.
I could do without the red 1×1 bricks with holes in them that include push pins for flicking fire off the trees, but they do add some solid play value to a mostly static set.
Minifigures & Creatures
Attack of the Wargs includes Thorin Oakenshield, Bifur, Yazneg, two “hunter” orcs, and a pair of wargs (one white and one dark gray).
Yazneg isn’t a named character in the book, but appears to be some sort of chief orc in the movie, astride his albino warg and wearing special bone armor, which I fully expect to see on many a fantasy and post-apoc minifig in the future. (Lurtz wasn’t a named character among Saruman’s Uruk-hai in The Lord of the Rings books, but he’s definitely one of my favorite villains in the first movie, so I’ll withhold judgment on Yazneg until I see the film.)
The warg is a completely new creature mold, with a moving neck and opening jaws. Naturally, there’s a slot on its back for the rider’s saddle. For whatever reason, the warg’s tail is made from rubbery plastic.
Even though Thorin Oakenshield is one of the most important characters in the book (and thus the movie), and despite accurately capturing the look of the character from the film, he’s not especially interesting as a minifig. Minifig Thorin basically looks like a short Viking, with a “Rawr!” face, fancy belt, and throwing axe. But so far, this is the only set you’ll find him in.
Bifur is a strange-looking fellow in the film, but he’s definitely my favorite minifig in this set. He looks a bit like a cave man elder, and underneath his beard he sports a really great torso with checkered printing on his collar (front and back). Bifur also comes with one of the new short capes.
The “hunter” orcs are essentially the same as the one with hair and pointy ears in 9476 The Orc Forge (but with printed legs). One of them rides the gray warg, while the other sports a bow and arrows.
Like many of the LEGO Hobbit sets I’ve built and reviewed so far, the 400 parts in Attack of the Wargs skew toward landscaping elements — lots of browns for the tree and grays for the rocks.
The unequivocal highlight of the set from a parts perspective is the small LEGO leaf piece in olive green. There are nine of them in the set, plus eight of the larger leaves in regular green. The two printed mushroom caps are another highlight, with an extra alongside the usual 1×1 extras.
The tree is built from a nice mix of reddish and dark brown, with slopes and arches of varying degrees and sizes in both colors. There are five different dark brown slopes (both regular and inverted) in useful quantities, for example. Thanks to the revolving trunk, you also get a substantial number of tiles and jumper plates.
My biggest complaint (albeit a minor quibble overall) is about the wedge plates, which aren’t all included in matched right/left pairs. Perhaps this is a non-issue for those of you who’ve bought Star Destroyers as gray parts packs, and thus lack nothing in this part of your collection, but the asymmetrical gray rock that looks so nice works out to an equally asymmetrical parts selection.
Side note: I wonder if LEGO would ever consider including larger pieces like a wedge piece’s opposite among a set’s extras. It would certainly improve the possibility of alternative builds from the set, and could even be marked that way in the instructions.
(Again, BrickLink now has the complete set inventory, so I won’t scan the parts list pages from the instruction booklet like I did for my earlier reviews.)
The Finished Model
Standing next to each other, the angular slab of rock and organic tree look rather beautiful. Replace the posing Yazneg — like I said earlier, not a named character in Tolkien’s book — with a big brown bear from a LEGO City set and you’ve got a great Beorn on his rock. Wrong part of the story, I know, but we can hope that LEGO will release a big black bear for Beorn in a future set that coincides with that part of the movie.
Play value comes from the rock’s catapult and being able to flick fire off of the tree — both features I could have done without as an adult builder and collector, but there’s not a lot of room for clever mechanisms in a set that illustrates a scene that happens in a forest. I also think there could have been more fire on the tree, of different sizes and shapes (such as minifig plumes and large flames). There’s regular orange fire and (presumably) magical blue fire, but both just use the small LEGO flame stuck into round 1×1 bricks. With only four flames on the whole tree, the dwarves’ situation doesn’t look particularly perilous.
I’m a little torn on this set. The overall part count of 400 is on the higher end of the range for price-per-part (at 12.5 cents per part) among the LEGO Hobbit sets I’ve reviewed so far.
But the set certainly feels like a substantial, $50 set. And five minifigs plus two wargs seems about right for a set at this price.
Even though I’d have fewer reservations recommending it if Attack of the Wargs were $5 or $10 cheaper, the set’s excellent creatures, some nice minifigs, and a really fun build make this a solid buy even at full price. This is also the only set with wargs and Thorin in it so far, and it does have a lot of great parts for landscaping.
79002 Attack of the Wargs is available from LEGO.com.
Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick:
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: