I might be finding aspects of my LEGO® life a little chaotic at present. Some of this is of recent doing. Some of it relates to things I did over a decade ago.
I am quite excited by the new LEGO of The Rings: Rivendell set. I can’t wait to share my review with you. It will probably be the highest part count set I have ever put together. Before I do that, however, of course, I will have to build it. and I thought I might like to compare the minifigures with those from the initial release, a decade or so ago. And then one thing drove out another, as it were.
As I mentioned in the announcement of the set, Middle Earth has a special place in my LEGO MOC history. I came out of my Dark Ages and started exhibiting at back in 2010, but that was just a simple, somewhat quaint and primitive modular terrace house, built without enough time to get all the right Bricklink orders in before the due date. As such, it is decorated in the style of a student share house, somewhere in the 1970s or early ‘80s, complete with a poor choice in decor.
Non sequitor…For reasons I don’t fully understand, I still have this MOC intact, and sitting in the middle of the modular street, in a display cabinet in our LEGOratory™. This cabinet also seems to have been filled up with lots of other MOCs and sets that were floating around in the middle years of the previous decade. Before the kids abandoned LEGO Play, and I was left to my own devices. And we all know where that led. We shall return to this cabinet in a little while.
MOCs Gone By
I have vague memories of buying the first wave of LEGO Lord of the Rings, and my Brickset Profile seems to confirm it. However, as I started seeking the sets LEGOratory, I was reminded of a few new things. As I continued my buildings, I made an attempt at Bag End (2011) – which I exhibited at Brickvention alongside my son, who had built Smaug, atop a hoard of gold, based in part on 2009’s 6751 Fiery Legend. We had a collection of Fantasy Era dwarfs, some of whom might have been invisible in my MOC. Alas, this has also now been destroyed. But while exhibiting, we caught a fortuitous glimpse of sunlight through the roof of the Melbourne Town Hall.
As I mentioned previously, I made my own attempt on Rivendell in 2012, with my own version of the Fellowship of the Ring alongside Bilbo Baggins smoking a pipe under a tree, complete with a few random fig-barfed elves. To the best of my knowledge, it had been lost forever. Astute observers might note that I have repurposed Gloin, Gandalf and Bilbo from the previous year’s MOC.
There are a few things that I observe from that era: My approach to creating elves involved taking the armoured CMF elf from series 3 and changing the head, regardless of whether it was Legolas, Elrond or any of the myriad of other elves around Rivendell, preparing for council or just chilling out, certainly not preparing for battle.
The other is that I seemed to have a penchant for casting medieval peasant children as Hobbits, rather than considering them as small gentlemen. As time has progressed, we have certainly seen more suitable torso prints to use – perhaps more amongst the licensed, rather than in-house themes – I think some of the Pirates of the Caribbean, or Winter Village torso would be amongst my favourites, were I to approach this again.
But I digress. My actual goal was to locate the figures to form the Fellowship of the Ring from the first wave of The Lord Of The Rings. The point of the article that I am failing to write was to compare the cost of purchasing all of the sets to obtain every member of the Fellowship of the Ring, back then, with the cost of Brick linking individual figures today (February 2023) and the cost of the forthcoming Icons set, which we know contains every member of the Fellowship and a few more to boot.
Now, Brickvention 2012, when I exhibited Rivendell, took place in January. The first sets were released a little later in the year, and my mind turned to Brickvention 2013: Fangorn captured my imagination. The layout would include Treebeard the Ent, having rescued Merry and Pippin from the orcs, who were now engaged in an encounter with riders from Rohan.
Meantime, deep in the forest, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas found the recently resurrected Gandalf the White. (Spoilers… but the book was released in the 50s, and if you were reading about a fan-fuelled tribute, these were always going to be somewhat of a risk). I suspect Gandalf was made using Gandalf’s head from The Unexpected Gathering, which had hit the shelves in December, in time for a movie release, along with generic white legs and torso.
The Hunt for the Minifigures
There were several things happening here, but not necessarily representing a single moment in time from the core narrative. Now, I opted to populate this MOC using (mainly) figures from the sets. Underneath a table in the LEGOratory, there is a large plastic tub with some de boxed sets: some random bags containing parts from a set that might have never quite seen the light of day, as well as some instruction books: 7471 Uruk-hai army, as well as 7472 Attack on Weather top. Now, some of these parts had been transferred into ziplock bags, with labels such as “Attack on Weathertop Bag 1. Merry removed” and “Uruk Hai Army – Bag 2, Eomer removed.” Swings and roundabouts: I had the sets: confirmed. I had not built them(something to be wary of, when you consider the enduring fragility of reddish-brown elements from around this time).
I entered the Cupboard of Shame, and found a mint copy of 7476 the Orc Forge. Thanks to a bulging cupboard and the force of Gravity, I was also assailed by Gandalf Arrives, and a Wizard’s Battle – the sole set that I purchased from the second wave. I opened the other Cupboard of Shame: in here I found 7473 The Mines of Moria One of the flagship sets, it had been stripped of Pippin, Gimli, Legolas, and several orcs. However, Boromir and the random skeletons remained. (Boromir was, of course dead, by the time the storyline turned to Ents.) And I found, after some questing, 9474 The Battle of Helm’s Deep – still intact, unopened. I was starting to doubt whether or not I actually owned it. It turns out Brickset is Never Wrong.
Now… another set in a drawer revealed Yet Another Plastic Box: and this was (very nearly) the mother lode. It contained virtually all of the minifigures that had been part of my Fangorn MOC: lots of orcs (from a variety of factions), Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, a customized Gandalf the White, Eomer, and quite a few of the Rohirrim. It also contained, for reasons I do not understand, a historical printed Brick from Brickvention the year before. Truly a treasure box.
This was feeling like a good start. I had 5 or 6 of the fellowship in the one place. (5 or six? I wasn’t really sure that I should include Gandalf at this stage. Looking through my castle minifigure box, I found his hat and normal robes. No cape though… Perhaps I raid my LEGO Dimensions to fill the roster here. Now, I never owned The Lord of the Rings Fun packs – only the starter base, which did include Gandalf. Things were coming together, but not in ways I was anticipating.
As I started searching through the archives (some of which are layered on one or two of the alleged ‘building’ tables), I came across a plastic box. This is not surprising. At last count, there were around 78 plastic boxes located in both strategic and completely random places around the room.
What this box revealed was my tendency to act as a bit of a hoarder: it contained many (but not all) of the minifigures featured in that original 2012 MOC, in all their crazy glory, including Gandalf (in sand blue) wearing his cloak made of once-grey paper – now more of an off-white.
So… Most of the old, and much of the slightly newer – all over a decade old and left lying around waiting for me to put them away in the meantime. This has plainly NEVER happened.
But I am left with a problem…
Where’s Sam? Neither he nor Frodo were used in that Fangorn model, as far as I can remember. They were not to be found in the Treasure Box. There is a Frodo to be found in the bag with the Weathertop parts, so I had a spare (and most likely to contain a cape, as 2013 richard had a habit of not taking capes out of boxes, unless truly necessary. but I thought I should have had another one or two in play somewhere: However, Sam Gamgee was present in only one set: Shelob Attacks.
And I know I have a copy of that. It is ticked in Brickset. Oh yes, and that great big spider from the set can be found atop the Modular Pet Store in our display cupboard.
It is around this point that the Knoller in Chief came to my aid. It was obvious that there was a little too much chaos in the LEGOratory. In the meantime, we started to tidy some of the uncontrolled boxes containing windscreen, wheels, random minifigure accessories, and perhaps just a little more Transparent Fluorescent Orange than one might normally consider healthy. The Forces of Darkness were overtaking. I stared at Shelob. She stared back. Now, I might have imagined it, but I think she glanced downwards, and there, waltzing out of the petshop was Gollum, wielding fisheses. Now, this was the Wide-eyed Gollum. He came in Shelob Attacks. But where were Frodo and Sam?
There are a limited number of places where my minifigures could be: and I wondered if he might be in my main minifigure storage bins. Currently sorted into Castle, Others, and more others.
But a Gollum. Narrow eyes. And not too dangerous: he was partially armless… While not a part of the council of Elrond, or the Fellowship, perhaps he should ride with the Elves and Dwarfs for the time being, If only so I know where to look for the vile, wretched creature later on. This, however, means I should also have a Bilbo Baggins figure or two: one from the Unexpected Gathering, and the other from 79000 Riddles for the Ring. I did locate the Unexpected gathering on the top shelf of the display cabinet….missing Bilbo and Gandalf, but the Dwarfs were present.
So, for the record: as well as looking for Frodo and Sam, I am now trying to locate at least two Bilbo Variants and an arm for Gollum.
I scan the streetscape, to no avail. Again and Again.
I search the drawers where all good poly bags go to wait… I find some that are relevant: Elrond (courtesy of preordering the LEGO LOTR Video game), some copies of the Gandalf at Dol Guldur polybag, and Good Morning Bilbo Baggins – thanks to a DVD/Bluray bonus figure. There was also a small creator polybag I picked up at LEGOLAND Malaysia years ago – to substitute for an eagle, should the need arise.
And then I find a box of Toy Story figures. These predate any of my LOTR figures, but the green army men might have been used as a Building the Bag challenge at one of the Brickventions I attended. Still, I was getting desperate, and starting to ransack just about everything that I could. I lift out the plastic-wrapped Woody and Jessie, to find (at last), Sam, clutching Sting and wielding Lady Galadriel’s Star Glass, and… Bilbo – the one from an Unexpected Party. An odd combination to be sure, but I was still no closer to finding Frodo.
Now, the box containing Sam and Bilbo was stacked in another box, and there was Gollum’s arm, clutching a ring.
It felt like things may be coming together.
As the floor of the LEGOratory was cleared more and more, I could move around the room more easily and then I saw him. Bilbo, wielding Sting, with an anxious face. And there, fallen face first, in the middle of the street behind him was Frodo. Some further glances in the cupboard revealed the missing figures from 2012 – my so-called ‘purist custom’ Fellowship.
And so for now, my quest is complete. I have identified my original Fellowship, and I have hunted down the figures from the First Wave of The Lord Of The Rings sets. I hope to compare them with the new Fellowship Soon.
However, you have hung in there with this story so far. So let me show you a little display box I have made to suit some Rivendellian Minifigures – In our household, we have recently focussed on getting our bricks in order. Another Story for Another Day. But ultimately, the display rack came together as quickly as I would have hoped. Perhaps I will build more to house the other Lord of the Rings figures I own. ( and maybe extend it to other themes)
Now, my intention is still to look at the original licensed figures and discuss the pricing and purchasing options across the decade. However, it’s getting late, and I need to finish off a rather daunting build, take a few pictures and put some more words together for you.
I’m sure there is a moral to this story… A storage system is probably helpful? Don’t forget to pack things away after their Exhibiting life is through? Life is full of surprises?
Probably all of them, At once. We will get back to that soon.
Have you had any adventures searching for …misplace… minifigures? Did you have a happy ending? Or do they remain lost?. Perhaps you avoid it by just having things displayed in an orderly fashion. Leave your comments below and until next time,
The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
One thought on “The Road Goes Ever On: In Search Of Hobbits…”
If you need an apprentice to build any sets for your reviews, I’m sure I could find some time to help…….lol