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: