With The Rings of Power debuting on Amazon Prime, it seems a fitting time to check back in on Jonas Kramm’s The Lord of the Rings vignette series. Here, Gandalf the White appears before Théoden in Meduseld and drives Sauman’s magic from the corrupted king. This cross-section style rendering of the Golden Hall is worthy of royalty, with the carved wooden horse heads being an especially nice detail.
Nobody sets a LEGO scene quite like Jesse van den Oetelaar. Just take a look at some of these past builds, and you can find some common themes showcased in this gorgeous vignette of Boromir making his last stand against the Uruk-hai. For example, Jesse’s vegetation is top notch, not to splashy such as to draw the eye away, but definitely providing a closeness to the scene. The twisted tree trunks and overgrown patches of dark green and olive contrast the occasional pile of rocks or red-capped mushroom. And the use of lighting is exquisite! The surrounding forest feels dark and eerie, with the foreground even slightly out-of-focus. Everything about this build pushes the eye to the center of the picture, all to behold Boromir’s final redemption: sacrificing himself so Frodo (and The Ring) can escape.
There are few towering structures more recognizable than the two towers featured in the Lord of the Rings novel of the same name. The obsidian-colored sharp-cornered Orthanc has more in common with its dark counterpart in the book, Barad-dur than it does with any of the man or Dwarf made structures of Middle-Earth, namely a lot of sharp pointy bits. Even in this microscale model by Jesse van den Oetelaar the tower at the center of Isengard looks quite ominous. One of my favorite details is the angled bars made by wedging the lever part in between grille plates. The round base was constructed with black clamps attached to flexible tubing, and it is a simple yet effective technique.
So admittedly, I’ve got a bit of a thing for LEGO trophies — those small builds organizers hand out when you win a category in events like online contests and LEGO conventions. I love the design decisions that have to be made when you’ve only got a tiny patch of real estate to work with. So I’m absolutely gaga for this tiny Bag End trophy by builder Caleb Huet! His use of the smallest green curves to shape the hill is excellent. The details on the front, including the use of snowflake tiles for windows and brown horns for the trim, are such an accomplishment with so few pieces. And the iconic round green door makes this microscale marvel instantly recognizable without any minifigs or title cards. And that’s not even mentioning all the organic shaping that went into the tiniest topiary atop the hut. Whoever wins this model in the Middle Earth LEGO Olympics is a lucky LEGO builder!
Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and the newly joined Merry travel by ferry in this LEGO vignette by Thorsten Bonsch. This series from Thorsten follows the first part of The Fellowship of the Ring. Here, we see the four primary hobbits traveling across the Brandywine River into Buckland. The color palette of this build is outstanding, allowing each detail to stand on its own among the others. When it comes to the building techniques, the roofing tiles on the structure draw my eye. It’s a simple technique, but quite effective. It’s just tiles on plates, but the tiles aren’t pressed down on the raised end. The rest of the structure is cool too, with the disheveled layers and angled brown supports. This is one of those locations in a LEGO build that I would love to visit if it were a real place. I would listen to the sounds of the lapping water on the riverbank and the nocturnal sounds of nature around the river.
This scene you may recognize from the movie as well, with a Ringwraith bearing down on the hobbits. In the book, upon which this vignette is based, this scene had less pressure on it. The book takes a lot longer to get Frodo and company out of the Shire, but there’s only so long they can take with a movie runtime to consider. Either version, the wraith takes the long way over Brandywine Bridge. Silly Ringwraith, shortcuts are for hobbits!
The next LEGO build from Thorsten Bonsch in this The Lord of the Rings vignette series is here! Hamfast Gamgee, the father of the hero Samwise Gamgee, receives a peculiar traveler. Frodo and Pippin learn of this event shortly after their own frightful encounter with a Ringwraith. Sam tells the tale of his gaffer’s visitor and the feeling of dread his father felt. Here, Thorsten paints the scene with greater detail than Sam in his own telling. Check out that thatch work on the roof of the hobbit home! The layering of grille tiles gives the roof a wonderful straw-like texture. Minifigure hands and droid arms stand in for disheveled bits of straw sticking out at the ends. This is a delight to see rendered in LEGO, as some thatch work can look too tidy without it. Another example of great texture layering is the plates and tiles making up the brickwork in the house’s structure. Also, be sure to check out that wheelbarrow!
Continuing in the tradition established in the previous builds in the series, this vignette depicts the moment from the The Fellowship of the Ring book. The movie version does this scene with Farmer Maggot. In fact, Hamfast is only in the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring film. Here, Hamfast gets his due! Personally, I’m really enjoying this series, as the books often get overshadowed by the movies in artwork depictions. Can’t wait to see what’s next in this ongoing vignette series!
Three is company, but four with a Ringwraith is a crowd. Coming from builder Thorsten Bonsch, this LEGO scene is the fifth build in a series taking on the legendary world of The Lord of the Rings. Depicting moments iconic to both the films and the books, these builds favor the books in the details. That’s why we see three instead of four hobbits–Merry didn’t join the group until the next chapter! Thorsten returns to this story moment after ten years away, though this time at a much smaller scale. What makes or breaks a build at this scale are the details, and the details here are amazing! Take a look at those tree roots, how they frame the hiding hobbits and flow towards the leaning tree. The tree takes you to the Ringwraith sniffing out the Ring, but Sam stops Frodo from revealing their location. These aren’t the hobbits you’re looking for, Ringwraith!
Ten years ago, Thorsten realized too late that Merry wasn’t part of the group of hobbits hiding from the Ringwraith pursuing Frodo and the Ring. This time around, the mistake is corrected with Frodo, Sam, and Pippin in the hideaway. The ten year-old build is quite beautiful, and I recommend checking it out. It’s at a larger scale than this one, and on a steep slope rather than the hollow Tolkien described in the book. Also look forward to the next build in this Middle-earth vignette series! It will expand to other builders once Thorsten’s contributions are finished. I do enjoy a good adventure through Middle-earth!
When Frodo and Sam approached Mordor, they felt a great dread about land of the dark lord Sauron. LEGO builder Hubba Blöoba has captured those ominous vibes with this fantastic microscale model of the Black Gate, where the hobbits snuck into Sauron’s wasteland. Beneath the gathering stormclouds, the eery glow from Mount Doom is excellently portrayed with a gradient of plates. The shallow depth of field used in photographing this mini model puts the tower of Barad-dûr out of focus, making the scene feel even more realistic.
There are a lot of Lord of the Rings LEGO creations out there, but Geneva Durand brings something extra to this offering. The great dragon Smaug sits atop a golden horde – pretty standard there – but this horde is lit from below with a warm yellow glow. The dragon’s form is excellent, with a good mix of red colors and a solid wing design featuring curved tile to create texture. Triangle tiles are clipped and wedged upright to create the creature’s spine, and golden horns are used to give him a grumpy expression over the Mixel 1×1 round printed tile eyes. The mix of golden-toned elements, chromed gold coins, and under-lit transparent elements, though, is what made this build stand out to me. Mainly because I wonder if Smaug’s body heat is melting that pile of gold, or maybe he just farts fire. Well, whatever it smells like, this build looks great.
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Rivendell – the mention of the name already evokes a feeling of home. A location in J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it appears as a sanctuary, a last respite to characters who are on a journey into “the wilderness.” Builder Elias (Brickleas) built the Last Homely House in all its peaceful glory in microscale in just 100 LEGO parts. While the elven buildings are tiny among the large cliffs, they are instantly recognisable thanks to clever parts usage.
I love the way Elias uses books as the angled roofs, and one stickered book is actually very fitting here. It is the Red Book of Westmarch, the book that Bilbo Baggins wrote during his retirement in Rivendell. The battle droid torso also works very well, since its skeletal nature represents the open-air feel of those buildings. I found the small waterfalls very impressive, using Hero Factory claw pieces which perfectly hug the large wedge used as a cliff. Elias perfectly demonstrates that when building something with a small number of parts, use the best parts.
While we know Bilbo Baggins doesn’t get eaten by orcs, he came close to being devoured several times. This build by Nathan Smith shows one of those near misses. This image looks like a scene straight out of LEGO: The Hobbit video game. It goes to show that part of a great build is building it. The other part is how you capture the moment.
Everything looks fantastic here. The blue glow on Bilbo’s sword is a nice touch, clearly indicating that orcs are nearby. The wargs that the orcs are riding on the look as menacing as ever. And the fire crawling up the trees adds to the sense that, for Bilbo, time is running out.
Do you remember how this tale of terror ends? You’ll just have to pick up your copy of The Hobbit and find out.