It was 1982, and the final episode of NPR adaptation of Star Wars (A New Hope – not that the label was familiar to us yet) had just been broadcast on ABC FM on Sunday morning. “Next Week – The Lord of the Rings episode 1″…of 26. This BBC production was my introduction to Lord of the Rings. Over the next 6 months, 12-year-old me followed the adventures of Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring, as they covered the diverse geography of Middle earth. I opened the books and began to explore the extended world.
With time, Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations became a regular Wedding Anniversary date for Ann and myself. Then, in 2010, I finally came out of my Dark Ages and accepted that I was allowed to buy LEGO® sets for myself. Fast forward to 2011 and after presenting Bag End, assailed by dwarfs at Brickvention 2011, I put together a model, loosely based on Rivendell, at the time of the Council of Elrond.
Using non-licensed minifigures, and drilling a hole through the middle of a pearl gold 1×1 round brick/stud to use as a ring, many kids who saw the layout identified most of the figures in the fellowship correctly. Except for 2. But they were so consistent that I suspect I must have been wrong in identifying Merry and Pippin.
And then, in 2012, we saw our first wave of Lord of the Rings sets – with the Fellowship of the Ring carefully spread across no fewer than four sets! A second wave followed in 2013, before leading into the sets licenced from the Hobbit. In this second wave was the set ‘Council of Elrond.’ With 4 Minifigures and 243 elements this was a somewhat lacklustre representation of the iconic scene from the story (be it book, radio drama or movie).
And now, after 10 years Lord of the Rings is back.
With 6167 Pieces and 15 minifigures (plus some statues of Elven Heroes from days gone by.) this is a beautiful set, providing exquisite architectural details, as well as rolling landscape and new minifigures throughout.
When this set was revealed to the assembled Fan Media at RLFM Days by Senior Graphic Designer Ashwin Visser: a hush spread over the room, followed by a cheer. The fact that this licence was returning after 10 years in the wilderness was indeed exciting to all of us. But then it started to sink in: this wasn’t a token souvenir to celebrate a decade of Strider Free sets: This is a sprawling tribute – measuring 75cm long, 50 cm deep and nearly 40cm high – designed not only for LEGO Fans who love The Lord of the Rings but also for Fans of The Lord Of The Rings, who might also be curious about building with LEGO sets. The set was designed by Mike Psiaki, Wes Talbott and Chris Perron, with assistance from Senior Graphic Designers: Ashwin Visser, Djordje Djordjevic and Madison O’Neil.
LEGO Design Master, Mike Psaiki said, “We know many of our fans have been anticipating a set like this for a long-time – but a great LEGO The Lord of the Rings set is never late, it arrives precisely when it means to! It was important to us that we created something really special in this recreation of Rivendell. We aimed to add as much detail as possible and create an engaging experience throughout the build to delight fans recreating scenes or proudly displaying Elrond’s home. We are really pleased with the final design and how we have brought Rivendell to life in brick form.”
Rivendell is, for those who are unsure, the home of Elrond Halfelven, and represents the point where the different races of Middle Earth unite, and begin their quest to reach Mordor, to destroy the One Ring, which would provide the Evil Sauron with all the power he needed to rule over Middle Earth. In Peter Jackon’s movie ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ it is depicted as an elegant, autumnal area, with some unique elvish architecture, with meticulously maintained grounds.
The model catches the key details of the last homely house East of the Sea, from Bilbo’s room, to the gallery of heroes, where Narsil, the sword of Elendil, lies shattered, waiting for Aragorn to claim it and have it reforged.
I have to admit, I am delighted by the design of the roof of the hall: I am a little terrified too of getting the alignment of what looks like more than 400 1×1 tiles correctly lined up. Like Star Lord’s Helmet and pencil container last week, Does this mean that so soon after the cancellation of LEGO DOTs was announced, we are seeing them renewed in Imladris form?
Likewise, I am impressed with the gazebo: this design would have been impossible with the elements available 10 years ago. the scroll elements in particular were not available at that time.
The detail in the tower is also elegant, and also in the area for the Council of Elrond.
I am somewhat amused by the use of sausages and Ice-Lollys for the seats around the dias. The path and bridge across the river provide ample opportunity for adding detail into the landscape. Speaking of the landscape, there appears to be a new leaf element – a fern – fitting, given its prominence in New Zealand, where the movies were filmed.
Overall, between different colours and forms, i reckon there are close to 15 different botanical elements present in this set (leaves, foliage, fronds). and there appears to be a recolouration of the large foliage element in sand green.
But while I am happy to wax lyrical about the neat part usage, on close examination, we see some interesting solutions to the problem of having minifigures with non flexing hips sitting down. This applies to 2 types of character in this set: the hobbits, with child like legs, as well as the elves wearing their flowing robes. While the latter is dependent on having a print on a curved slope attached to a bracket (in dark red no less), the hobbit seating is achieved using a pair of headlamp bricks, along with 1×1 light nougat (flesh) plates.
I will examine these techniques a little further in the future, as I will be presenting a review here in due course.
The LEGO The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell set is packed with fan favourite moments and Easter eggs, and can be built in three sections including;
Section one, featuring:
- The Council Ring – complete with a semicircular ring of chairs for the council and the plinth where the ring is first revealed and the Fellowship discuss how to destroy it
- Frodo’s Bedroom – with a desk and chest where the young hobbit recovers following his rescue by Arwen from the hands of the Nazgûl, before being reunited with Bilbo
- Elrond’s study – with famous paintings from the history of Middle–earth
Section two, featuring:
- An elven tower – featuring five Elven statues of unnamed famous warriors from the past
Section three, featuring:
- Gazebo, river and bridge – to recreate the scene where the Fellowship departs Rivendell.
The set also comes with 15 minifigures – including all nine members of the Fellowship; Gandalf the Grey, all four hobbits (Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Merriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck and Peregrin “Pippin” Took), Legolas, Gimli, Boromir and Aragorn. They are joined by minifigures of Elrond, Arwen, Bilbo Baggins plus additional elves and a dwarf (Gloin) are also included.
LEGO and The Lord of the Rings fans alike will also receive several new LEGO elements from the world of Middle–earth, including: Bilbo’s sword, Sting, the broken shards of Narsil, Aragorn’s ranger sword, Boromir’s sword, as well as numerous dwarven axes and elvish blades to ensure the Fellowship are well armed for their quest ahead.
The LEGO The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell set is RRP £429.99/$499.99/€499.99 and is available exclusively for LEGO VIP members from 5th-7th March 2023, along with a free Frodo and Gollum LEGO Brickheadz set (40630). It is free to become a LEGO VIP member and you can find out more at www.LEGO.com/VIP. From 8th March 2023 the LEGO The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell set will be available at LEGO Retail stores and www.LEGO.com/LOTR.
I have to admit, I am a little excited, and I cant wait to bring you my review of this set in coming weeks.
This set looks like one where we should savour the build, and possibly share with the family. Certainly, with over 6000 pieces, the set comes in at $799.99AUD, 499.99 USD; 499.99€; £429.99, 669.99CAD and 4599CNY. I’ll have to admit, I was not surprised by this price tag, but it is certainly going to make this set difficult for some to afford. I do hope we might see some new, smaller sets over the next few years, either related to The Lord of the Rings, or The Rings of Power: perhaps even in the diorama style introduced last year with Jurassic Park and Star Wars. Of course, more affordable play sets will always be welcome.
What would you hope to see, now that the ancient license has been awoken? Why not leave your comments below, and until next time,
A brief footnote: I was reminded this morning that this is the 1000th post on The Rambling Brick. Thanks for reading, thanks for your support. I can’t think of an unveiling I would rather have to mark the occasion.