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!
Readers of the Lord of the Rings trilogy can usually point out the differences between the movies and books. Four builds into the first of six installments, builder Thorsten Bonsch represents the book over the movie for this set design. Most notably is the inclusion of the curtains that Gandalf draws before picking up the ring. Minifigure hook hands were used as curtain rings which took a little bit of care since those elements can’t be “clipped” on but have to be slid on from the side. There is a wealth of other techniques displayed from the bucket handles used as a fire-dog to the textured stone fireplace. Loose tiles in the angular wooden floor or lining the round window illustrate staple methods builders employ for added realism. The base frames the scene while also hiding the thickness of the angled tile technique Bonsch uses. The added framing behind the tan wall also provides space for Samwise’s floating head framed amongst the foliage with a furrowed brow.
After telling the story of The Hobbit through 43 different displays with tons of unique techniques and iconic scenes, Thorsten decided to take on the massive project of its sequel series with the help of some yet-to-be-announced builders. We’ll have to wait to see who all is involved since Bonsch won’t be announcing his successor in the series until the end of his contribution.
We’ve seen LEGO Tudor-style buildings before, and quite often the building is the main focus of the creation. We’ve also seen LEGO brick-built dragons before, and just like the Tudor-style buildings, they too tend to be the main focus of the creation. Not so for KitKat1414, however. They built an amazing Tudor-style house to represent one of the houses of Lake Town and it is lit! No literally, it is on fire!
For the woodwork on the house, Kitkat1414 used window frames and filled those in with bars to represent the wooden beams. In other places, the window frames were filled in with cheese slopes representing stained glass windows. Often these types of buildings can be very earth-toned, and while that’s mostly the case for this one, if you look closely you can spot quite a few colours being used. There is a lot of sand blue and even some lavender hidden in the roof, and the house gets a dark green door which complements the dark red Smaug in a lovely way. The dragon itself is a true work of art and there are multiple parts used in very clever ways. One that really deserves a quick mention is the use of the Bionicle minifigure legs for the dragon’s nose bridge and eye sockets. The last part that deserves a little highlight is the angled bar with stud used to represent icicles. And naturally, there are quite a few Tolkien references hidden in this wonderful build. Can you spot them all?
I love the Lord of the Rings films, but that’s about as far into the Tolkien waters as I’ve ever dipped my toe. But builder Josh is giving folks like me a taste of the deeper lore with this model inspired by the tale of Túrin from The Silmarillion. Here, Morwen bids farewell to Túrin as he ventures off towards the kingdom of Doriath. Josh’s use of round tiles and studs not on top techniques give a realistic rustic texture to the walls of this homestead. And the brilliant use of color for the foliage in the background reminds me of fall in Vermont. Good luck on your travels, Túrin. I hope Josh will update us on your progress. (I know I should just read the book, but it’s more fun this way.)
As a child, one of my favorite things about holding a new LEGO set in hand was turning the box over and looking at all the alternate builds that the set could be reconfigured into. These weren’t official models. There weren’t included instructions for them, like you see in the Creator 3-in-1 sets of today. The pictures were just springboards for your imagination. While the LEGO Group might not market the versatility of their sets in the same way anymore, that doesn’t mean modern sets are any less customizable. And if you need proof of that, legoapprentice has got you covered. He’s built three different versions of Bilbo Baggin’s home, Bag End, made from only the pieces available in three different LEGO sets.
The first version of Bag End is probably closest to the one you’re familiar with. Made from the 21325 Medieval Blacksmith set, this build draws heavily on the medieval roots of Tolkien’s fantasy world. Bilbo looks right at home next to a pair of knights and a blacksmith. And the large chimney up top is no doubt evidence of a kitchen that’s serving up tons of delicious Hobbit meals. Perhaps a pie made from the apples grown on the tree up top.
You ever ask yourself “what if Lord of the Rings was a space epic?” Well, builder Steven Wayne Howard certainly entertained the thought. Another SHIPtember contribution, this space citadel was named for the dreadful Mouth of Sauron. Commanded by the lieutenant of the Barad Dur system in the Middle Space galaxy, this terrifying craft laid waste to planets and systems in the name of Sauron’s dominion. With a face like that, it’s no wonder it’s rumored to be the remnants of the galactic tyrant himself. The mouth, spinal cord, and brain are now repurposed under the watch of the black hole known as the Eye of Sauron.
To this day it still baffles me that they managed to make three movies out of the book The Hobbit. It’s not a complaint, I do love the movies, but it’s just strange to me. Especially since the book is about a third the length of The Lord of the Rings, which also is three movies long. But let’s not get into that for now. Jaap Bijl drew inspiration from the movie The Hobbit for their latest LEGO creation.
Here we see the dragon Smaug setting flame to Lake-town. The atmosphere Jaap managed to create is amazing. Smaug itself is a miniature and the fire he is breathing is done simple yet really effective with bricks, plates and tiles transitioning from yellow to red. Smaug being dark red makes him feel and look like he is part of the fire he is creating. But what’s interesting is that not a single fire piece was used in this creation, and yet it still looks and feels very much on fire. One thing that also contributes to this great model is the backdrop, which to me hardly even looks like it is edited in. Framing the main scene with a dark brick build archway is a really nice and effective way to set the mood and draw your attention to the center of the picture. However, if you zoom in on the arch you’ll find lots of hidden details in the darkness. Last but not least I would like to note the use of round quarter tile to create those great rooftop shingles.
In 2016, LEGO introduced the Mighty Micros line, featuring heroes and villains doing battle in tiny, individually-themed supercars. Unfortunately, as fun as those sets were, the line was limited to the Marvel and DC licenses. But now builder Milan Sekiz has now offered us a glimpse at what might have been, had the line expanded to Rivendell and beyond. Who cares if there are no internal combustion engines in Middle Earth? These things are adorable. And they perfectly blend the Mighty Micros spirit with the heroes and villains of this epic saga. From Aragon’s horse-powered horse to the Uruk-hai driving a literal white hand, it’s the cutest Tolkien’s work has ever been.
Without a doubt, the Two Towers is definitely my favorite Lord of the Rings movie. I have fond memories of going to a small town theater with my friend to watch it soon after it had come out. The contrasting story arcs kept my attention in a state of absorbant wonder though I honestly remember the scenes with Treebeard the most. There were plenty of accompanying Lego sets for the movies but in their wake, fans have created intense models of their own to celebrate their favorite scenes. Craig Jansenwas clearly inspired by the Last March of the Ents while building this massive model of Treebeard, Merry, and Pippin heading to Isengard.
Just check out the parts Craig used in this model! The first thing I noticed were the eyes. Treebeard’s eyes, almost glowing in the dark of Fangorn forest, have a distinct presence in the film. Craig did really well with them here. I thought those are printed eye studs but upon closer examination, I realized they were black technic bushings with yellow flextubes cut to fit inside. Simple but brilliant, I must say. They give the model Treebeard’s striking glare.
Longtime TBB readers might know that we are quite partial to a good LEGO Hobbiton creation. This one by Patrick Bohn deserves to join the line-up. Let’s zoom in on some of the details which make this creation so lovely. The picket fence made of bars and minifigure hands looks lovely. The inclusion of hockey sticks as a fence gate. The window frame and the round doorway look stunning thanks to the use of the macaroni tile. The use of the microscale Hogwarts arched windows looks especially fitting for this setting. The bucket handle makes a perfect door knocker. Using flex tubing to frame the roof of the building is really smart as it makes the building look more organic verses composed out of angular bricks.
Embedded into the base of a mountain, Helm’s Deep was the castle retreat of last resort for the people of Rohan as told in The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. Builder Patrick B. shares his micro rendition of the fabled fortress.
Known as the Hornburg for its sounding horn at the top of the castle’s spire, Helm’s Deep is every castle junkie’s favorite location. Patrick spares no expense in detailing the tiniest features in his tiny version of the castle. From the wooden palisades over the main gate to the curved ramp leading up to it. The small culvert is there, as are the windows of the main keep. Building everything within a black frame is a nice display touch as well. Helm Hammerhand himself would be proud of this magnificent tribute to the Rohirrim fortress that bears his name.
How small can the dark lord get? This teeny, tiny tower of Barad-dûr from The Lord of the Rings was constructed by LEGO builder Hubba Blöoba, and it’s got all the right notes despite its diminutive size. A pair of grey bananas make the two spikes that ring the all-seeing eye, while clips and slopes make up the jagged tower itself. The atmospheric clouds elevate this little vignette further and give it an appropriate sense of foreboding.