Tag Archives: The Hobbit

To coincide with Peter Jackson’s new movie trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic book, LEGO began releasing official LEGO The Hobbit sets in 2012 (following quickly on the heels of official LEGO Lord of the Rings sets). Of course, LEGO fans had been building Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, the 13 dwarves, and the wonderful locations in The Hobbit for years. We’re sure the new movies and LEGO sets will be inspiring even more wonderful custom LEGO models for years to come.

The Hobbit cast meets their LEGO minifig selves

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:

Martin Freeman with Bilbo Baggins minifig

William Kircher with his awesome Bifur minifig:

William Kircher with Bifur minifig

Sir Ian McKellen admires his Gandalf minifig:

Ian McKellen with Gandalf minifig

See the full gallery on Facebook.

LEGO Hobbit 79002 Attack of the Wargs [Review]

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:

LEGO Hobbit Attack of the Wargs tree

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.)

LEGO Hobbit Warg

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.

Parts

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.

Value

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.

Recommendation

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:

LEGO Hobbit 79000 Riddles for the Ring [Review]

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.

Minifigures

The set includes Bilbo Baggins and Gollum. Interestingly, Gollum’s face print is different from the one in 9470 Shelob Attacks.icon 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.

Parts

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.

LEGO Hobbit 79000 Riddles for 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.

Value

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.

Recommendation

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.)

79000 Riddles for the Ring is available now from both LEGO.com and Amazon.com.

Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick:

LEGO Hobbit sets out now from the LEGO Shop [News]

We expected LEGO to officially release the LEGO Hobbit sets on December 1st, but they’re now available (perhaps spurred on by their early availability from places like Amazon.com). All of the new Hobbit sets are out on LEGO.com, and free shipping applies on orders over $99 through December 18.

Here’s the full list of sets:

  • 79000 Riddles for the Ring: 105 parts and two minifigs (Bilbo Baggins and Gollum). This is a nice little set — we’ll have a full review up later today.
  • 79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders: Includes 298 pieces and four minifigs (Fili, Kili, Legolas, and Tauriel). Read my review of 79001 here on TBB.
  • 79002 Attack of the Wargs: 400 pieces at $49.99, and minifigs include Thorin Oakenshield, Bifur, Yazneg, and two orcs, plus two wargs. This is another set I picked up early here in Seattle, so I’ll try to get a review posted here on TBB later today as well.
  • 79003 An Unexpected Gathering: My current favorite set of all time. With an MSRP of $69.99, Bag End has 652 pieces and six minifigs — Gandalf, Bilbo, Balin, Dwalin, Bofur, and Bombur.
  • 79004 Barrel Escape: This set includes 334 pieces at $39.99, with five minifigs — Bilbo, Oin, Gloin, Thranduil the Elvenking, and a Mirkwood elf guard.
  • 79010 The Goblin King Battle: At $99, this set has 841 parts and 7 minifigs — Gandalf, Dori, Ori, Nori, the Goblin King, a goblin scribe, and two goblins.

I know we’ve had a lot of sales news lately, but a percentage of everything you buy on the LEGO Shop and Amazon.com goes toward supporting what we do here on The Brothers Brick, from servers to contest sponsorships. Thanks very much for all your support over the years!

LEGO stop-motion animation tips & tricks from BrotherhoodWorkshop

You might think that stop-motion animation is just a matter of taking lots of sequential photos, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Kevin Ulrich shares his experience creating the popular Hobbit and Lord of the Rings shorts we’ve featured here over the past few months.

Like all movies and TV, I would argue myself that what actually makes the BrotherhoodWorkshop shorts so great is excellent writing. Can’t wait to see what they post next!

LEGO Hobbit 79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders [Review]

I suggested yesterday that 79003 An Unexpected Gathering might be the best LEGO set of all time. I wasn’t kidding (it’s definitely my new favorite), but I don’t think all of the sets in the new Hobbit line are the stuff of legend.

79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders isn’t the worst set of all time, but I can’t really recommend it for anybody but completionists.

The Build Process

This set felt too much like many other “trees on bases” sets we’ve seen over the years. Worse, the spiders are basically scaled down versions of Shelob, and you spend about a third of your build time making two identical arachnids.

Unlike the brilliant window in Bag End, I didn’t encounter any ingenious building techniques, and the play features are what you’d expect — pull a pin and the tree falls down.

Minifigures

The minifigs are certainly the highlight of the set — an elf named Tauriel (not from Tolkien’s book), Legolas (who’s not in the original book), and the dwarves Fili & Kili. In a mostly black set, they bring about the only color, further emphasizing how much the spiders and trees feel like background for the four minifigs.

Legolas has his longer bow, while Fili & Kili have the older-style LEGO Castle bows. LEGO must have a surplus of time-traveling daggers left over in their warehouse from the Prince of Persia sets, because Tauriel gets two of them. They sort of work as elven weapons, but they’re a bit jarring if you know their LEGO origin…

79001 Escape from Mirkwood SpidersEdit: Fili & Kili have a hairpiece that might be the first long hair that allows the minifig to also wear a quiver for arrows underneath.

I’d break my self-imposed rule and post a picture of my own, but I’ve already packed this set away due to some flooding in my basement, so here’s a good photo from our friend Huw over at Brickset (who liked this set a lot more than I did, according to his review).

Parts

As you can see from the inventory pages, there’s a whole lot of black in this set. The two highlights are dark red leaves and printed tan mushrooms (2×2 radar dishes).

79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders (1) 79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders inventory (2)

Edit: I forgot to mention the two little cloth bags that the dwarves go in when they’re all wrapped up by spiders. I don’t build with capes, rubber bands, or ship’s sails, so I think I subconsciously dismissed them without a second thought. They’re new, and certainly add some play value to the completed set. But I still stand by my original assessment that this is an overpriced fig/battle pack.

The Finished Model

This official photo is a pretty good representation of what you get when you’re done building — four minifigs, two spiders, and two bases with trees on them.

79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders

Value

For $30, you get 298 pieces and four minifigs. That works out to almost exactly 10 cents per part, I know, but that’s a whole lotta black! (I just don’t find black a particularly useful or interesting color.)

Recommendation

Pass. I suspect this set might be the only way you’ll be able to pick up Fili & Kili for the time being, but the build is repetitive, the elf minifigs are non-canon (though they are elf minifigs), and the part selection is lackluster.

If you want a complete dwarf crew, wait for this set to go on sale.

UPDATE: This set is now available from LEGO.com and Amazon.com.

Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick:

LEGO Hobbit 79003 An Unexpected Gathering – best set of all time? [Review]

LEGO sets for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey aren’t officially due out for another several weeks, but a local retail chain here in the Pacific Northwest has been putting the new sets on their shelves over this past week or so. I picked up 79003 An Unexpected Gathering (Bag End) today, and I can honestly say that this may be my favorite LEGO set of all time.

Side note: The build process itself is part of the joy of a new LEGO set, so I’m not going to spoil the surprise or ruin the story (if you will) by sharing under-construction photos or shots of each minifig’s second face. Where’s the fun in that? The official photos are better than anything I’d take anyway, so read on…

The Build Process

What impressed me most about LEGO’s rendition of Bag End is that the designers frequently used brick-built techniques where a prefab part might have sufficed. The ramshackle fence in front is a gorgeous example of this, complete with gaps. Each section of fence uses 9 or 10 pieces where another set might have had a single prefab fence piece.

Before seeing any pictures of this upcoming set, I wondered how LEGO would handle all the round windows and front door. They succeed by a combination of a new 4×4 round plate with a 2×2 round hole in the middle in front of “normal” windows, an ingenious brick-built window that made my jaw drop (I won’t ruin it for you), and a large round tile with printed boards on it for the door.

Speaking of printing, the front door and a letter are the only printed (non-minifig) pieces in the set. There is a small sticker sheet for fence boards, the cover of Bilbo’s book, and three maps of Middle Earth on 2×2 tiles. I skipped the boards, but my only disappointment with this set is that we didn’t get printed maps of the Shire, Mirkwood, and the Lonely Mountain. The good news is that the stickers are clear, so you could put them on whatever you want (as I do with sci-fi stickers on all my spacecraft).

Another wonderful detail in this set is that the interior color isn’t just the same color as the exterior — green. There’s a layer of tan that encloses Bilbo’s quarters against the green hillside. And the hillside itself isn’t a uniform green; LEGO included both regular and bright green, and the little spots of bright green add excellent highlights. (Also, cheese slopes in both greens? Yes, please!)

Minifigures

It would be silly to expect that this set would contain all 13 Dwarves (plus Gandalf and Bilbo), so with realistic expectations for a set of this size, six minifigs is quite nice — Gandalf the Grey, Bofur, Balin, Dwalin, Bilbo Baggins, and Bombur (left to right in the photo below).

79003 An Unexpected Gathering

LEGO has begun dispersing its minifigs throughout the build experience, so you don’t get all of them until you open the fourth bag. By then, I was too excited about Bag End itself to care much about the minifigs, but like all the recent figs, they’re actually quite nice.

79003 An Unexpected GatheringNearly all of them have double-sided printing on both heads and torsos — Dwalin even has tattoos on the back of his head. For castle / medieval / fantasy builders, they’re a treasure trove of unique hairpieces, belted tunics, and grumpy old man faces.

My favorite minifig is probably Bombur, whose hair/beard piece has both a bald patch on top of his head and a rotund tummy beneath his beard. In the set, he’s given a pot and a large red sausage rather than weapons. Awesome!

Based on the quality of the dwarf minifigs in this set, I can’t wait to complete the rest of Thorin Oakenshield’s crew.

Parts

I’m not going to spend a lot of time going into all the individual parts in the set, but for those more interested in the set as a collection of its parts, I’ve uploaded the inventory pages:

79003 An Unexpected Gathering inventory (1) 79003 An Unexpected Gathering inventory (2)

The Finished Model

When the set all came together, I had the hugest grin on my face and couldn’t wait to show my wife all the cool details I’d built — I felt like a 9-year-old. First, the roof comes off for easier access to the complete interior.

79003 An Unexpected Gathering

Inside, Bilbo has a kitchen, writing desk, shelves, and a table laden with more food than I’ve ever seen in any other LEGO set (including a new pretzel). In a nod to The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo already seems to be working on his book, and Sting is displayed on a shelf. Back out front, there’s a lovely garden, complete with planted carrots and a bench on which to blow smoke rings with your favorite wandering Wizard. The overall rounded shape carries over from the door and windows, and looks exactly like a Hobbit hole should — a green door in the side of a hill.

Bag End is by no means a large-scale modular building, but thanks to all those thick walls, it has a heft to it that makes letting a child or younger sibling play with it not as tragic as with fiddlier sets. It’s also wide enough to look quite attractive on a bookshelf or mantle.

Value

Neither LEGO.com nor Amazon.com list the new Hobbit sets yet, so I’m not 100% sure what the MSRP is going to be for this set. I paid $70 at Fred Meyer, but I do see the set listed on some reference sites at $60. Either way, at 652 pieces and six minifigs, the set is within the magic 10 cents per part range that many LEGO fans look for — 10.7 cents at $70 and 9.2 cents at $60.

(Rant: A ridiculous and outdated standard, if you ask me. What, is LEGO going to stay the same price for these past 10 years as the price and scarcity of petroleum go up? What exactly is ABS made of, again? And how does it get transported to your house? Get real, people.)

At full price, I’m not sure I can recommend the set as a pure parts pack for landscape builders, but it’s a pretty good value for a licensed set. On discount, I’d even recommend this to non-Castle fans just for all that green, brown, and tan.

Recommendation

At any price, this is an absolute must-have set for every LEGO Castle and Middle Earth enthusiast. These days, isn’t that pretty much everybody?

This is probably the most iconic set of the line, so expect it go go fast when it’s out. We’ll let you know when the sets are officially released.

UPDATE: This set is now available from LEGO.com and Amazon.com.

Read all of my reviews of the latest LEGO Hobbit sets here on The Brothers Brick: