J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-earth, best known from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books and films, has shaped much of modern fantasy. Indeed, LEGO builders have been finding inspiration there for a very long time, in the recent years even more so with the support of the official LEGO themes based on the movies. Over the years, we’ve seen multiple collaborative projects appear both as online galleries and convention displays; however, we think this latest initiative is among the most impressive. The massive collaborative project includes 10 builders and 13 creations depicting different locations and events of the Third Age of the Sun.
The project consists of dioramas of varying sizes and styles, although modern castle-themed builds tend to have moderately standardized techniques and styles in the fan community. This makes for a very consistent group project, while still letting each builder’s individual style shine through, and making each creation a great stand-alone build.
The series includes creations both from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit stories, and they follow a loose geographical order of both journeys. The iconic Bag End was built by Northern LEGO and is one of my favourite scenes from the whole project. As the first creation revealed, it set the standard very high. The most notable features are the flowing grass across the diorama, the stone wall and natural angles on the trees’ leaves.
Next, we have Rivendell by Timothy Shortell, the hallowed home of Elrond and safe haven on the road to the Misty Mountains. The curve of the walkway is very neat and it is impressive how Timothy managed to follow the curve with the sand green roof.
Built by Mountain Hobbit, this scene of Goblin Town from The Hobbit films is one of the most interesting and unusual creations from this series, featuring multiple tiers of wooden walkways and all the imaginative supports and irregular shapes. The little tunnel entrance in the rocky cliff adds a neat bit of mystery and depth to the creation.
We continue the story of Bilbo Baggins with this entrance to the mountain kingdom of Erebor, built by Felix Nygren. The layered wedge plates make for an ornate look of the arch. The river also holds some interesting techniques that will reward a closer look.
The fifth creation in the collaboration is Dol Guldur by Carter Witz. It is one of the most visually engaging scenes in the project. While at first the intense textures and mix of browns and greys overwhelms the eye, exploring every little detail is very rewarding. The careful use of colour extends to the background as well, setting a gloomy mood for the tense scene.
The journey moves south to the elven sanctuary of Lothlórien. Built by Caleb W., the prominent feature of this scene is an elvish home that naturally flows with the large tree. The builder keeps the irregularity of the baseplate even where the water meets the border, blending in white wedge plates since translucent ones do not exist.
Caleb W. has provided the next creation as well, the cavernous halls of Moria. The builder doesn’t shy away from the dark themes of this dark place, filling the diorama with skeletons and mold. In these decrepit tunnels, the only thing that still hearkens the once mighty dwarven architecture is the doorway in the back of the scene. The doorway also adds depth of the build – something doorways seem to consistently do in this collaborative project.
A little distance away, Cypiratemocs brings us as a pivotal event in The Two Towers, the Ents’ attack on Isengard. The scene is full of life and great details, such as an orc squished under a rock and a very well-built wheel machine that the orcs use in the films. Notice the translucent elements on the left-hand side of the diorama, representing the impending flood. It almost appears almost faded at the edge, where you can see the white background through it.
My favourite build in this series has to be the Golden Hall of Meduseld by Norlego. Not only is it huge, but it also has amazing textures, from decorated wooden walls to the large stone platform and the thatched roof. A stone fountain at the ground level and the corners of the roof have a very simple yet effective solution for a horse head, a decoration perfectly in the style of Rohan. The rocks are also my favourite amongst all the techniques on display in this collaboration.
The collaboration continues in an epic battle at The Great Gate of Minas Tirith, built by Spartan Bricks. The huge white walls hide some nice decorative shapes that aid in breaking up the monotony. The titular gate is probably the best part, textured to give it an ornate appearance and topped off with an interesting design for an arch.
Carter Witz’s second creation in the collaboration is the ruins of Osgilliath. Ruins of a medieval style city could easily be overwhelmed by grays, but there is just enough dark tan and sand green details to keep it going, as well as a nice contrast with the river running across the left side of the diorama. The ruins are very well done, and the depth of all the arches and pillars really pulls you into the picture, aided by the composition and photography angle.
The most unique from the builds has to be the Dead Marshes by H2brick. Not only is it smaller than the others, but it also focuses more on the characters than the location. However, that’s not to say it doesn’t do justice to the sickly marsh, as the pallid greenery effectively captures the maze of ground patches the trio is forced to navigate. The main attraction is the Nazgul’s beast, though, with very flowing organic shapes and a menacing appearance, helped by the large fangs.
The last creation, the Black Gates of Mordor, is also the last conflict in The Lord of the Rings, and it serves as fitting conclusion to the collaboration. It is built by Northern LEGO, who also built Bag End. The diorama shows Aragorn challenging Sauron to a full-on battle, diverting the evil lord’s attention in a key moment. The gates are menacing and dark, but my favourite parts are the smooth rocks at the sides.
All the different styles of builders have culminated in a collaboration worthy of the epic stories that inspired it, and we commend them on an excellent journey through the Third Age.
If you like this, be sure to check out the incredible LEGO Tower of Orthanc collaboration which stands over 7 feet tall!