The Latest LEGO ICON set 10361 Rivendell, realises one of the most iconic locations in JRR Tolkien’s tales of Middle Earth. This set brings us a model in three main sections: the Tower; River, Armory and Gazebo, and finally, the main Hall and Council Circle. With 15 minifigures and 6167 elements, this set captures the beauty of both the Architecture and Landscape of the Last Homely House, East of the Sea.
When I first saw this set, revealed at the LEGO Fan Media Days in Billund, last September, I started to get excited about the set, and what kind of build it might be. And just a bit daunted by the appearance of all of the 1×1 tiles on the roof.
When I was offered a set for early review, I have to admit,I felt a little giddy with excitement. I have been a fan of The Lord of the Rings since the early ’80s. Perhaps not a dedicated consumer of everything related to Middle Earth. But a fan nonetheless. I could see past the changes made, where the movies deviated from the primary text, without being too upset.
I am grateful to the LEGO Group for sending me this set to review. All opinions are my own,
This review will include comprehensive coverage of the building experience. If you are merely curious as to whether or not the set is for you, and wish to avoid having the experience spoiled… click here to go straight to the conclusion and further images of the completed model.
If not: Let’s get on with it.
Rivendel’s box art reveals the model in its entirety on the front, with different views on the left- hand end of the carton and the rear. The rear also shows several scenes/locations within the model.
The top of the box displays the 15 minifigures. Along the lower edge of the box is the now familiar icons/creator expert/for adults strip, this time in yellow. The 3 flaps bring us artwork from the gallery display in the model, including Celeborn forging the Rings of Power and Isildur cutting the ring from Sauron’s hand using the broken sword, Narsil. Inner flaps reveal an elvish design based on a leaf motif, and an expanded image of the ICONS relief, which extends across the underside of the box. We also have the New Line Cinema (a Time-Warner company) logo, along with recycling, manufacturing and small part warnings.
Inside is a combination of loose plastic bags, numbered 1-49, as well as an unnumbered, softer bag containing larger plates, as well as pack of weapons – created for this set. Some of these bags are contained within a plain white box, decorated with naught but a product code.
I’ll have to admit, up until now, the packaging was looking really good, and enticing. And I probably would have been completely satisfied last year, had I not seen the internal packaging for the 75321 Razor Crest last year, which came with these internal boxes, covered in concept art:
There is plenty of great concept art out there for The Lord Of The Rings, and this strikes me as a missed opportunity. I acknowledge that while Razor Crest had a similar part count, it is priced $AUD100 more than Rivendell.
There are 3 instructions manuals, and 2 small sticker sheets, which enhance the appearance of the set significantly. The manuals have white covers. On the front, they feature a line drawing of the model: an outline for the most part, but the pencilling is a little more detailed for the section enclosed in each specific book. There is also a golden leaf motif in the top right hand corner of the cover – with one, two or three leaves gathered together, to indicate the progress.
Book 1 presents us with an barest outline of Rivendell, and then brings us to a picture of the design team: 3 model designers, 3 Graphic designers, as well as 3 element designers: truly a Fellowship to complete the Quest.
The next page prints us a timeline of the events in the Lord of the Rings, as they were represented as LEGO sets back in the day (well, 2012-13)
Finally, the we get an overview of the section enclosed in the manual – including some key features, as well as pictures of some of the minifigures revealed in that part of the build.
Book One covers the Tower, Book Two the Gazebo, River, Forge and Armoury, while the final book includes the Hall and Council Circle.
The first few pages of each book show us which bags go towards different sections of the build. This has been a great help in planing how you might break up the build, and in our case, allocating bags of elements to Ann, the Rambling brick’s Knoller-in-Chief. Once again, with out Ann’s efforts, I’d have found the build a longer, more complicated process.
So, without further ado, let us start at the beginning. As we progress through the build, I will present the relevant minifigures for each book at the start, and then work our way through, chunk by chunk.
Book 1: The Tower
NOTE: I shall prepare a more comprehensive review of the minifigures over the coming days, and compare them with those included in the previous wave of Lord of the Rings sets. There is one obvious thing of note, when considering the hobbits: they all have dual molded legs, with light nougat feet visible.
As we open up the bags and spread them out, a couple of things become apparent. The dominant colours include tan, dark tan, olive green and various greys. I was relieved to see that if an element was present in olive green during a building step, it was not present in dark tan: unless you are working under harsh white light, you might have difficulty distinguishing the two colours. I know I did!
In previous models, you might occasionally have 2 bags sharing a number – because they were both relevant to a step In this model, all bags have unique numbering, and during multiple phases, we use the contents of multiple bags together. We have tried to maintain these combinations where possible, in the knollings. I suspect this approach was adopted during the second half of 2022, and I applaud the Building Experience team (yes, there is such a team) in making this aspect a little clearer.
This will be a large model when completed, and so I expect that each module will be sturdy and firm, so that it can be moved around without any concern. Anyway, after putting together our first hobbit, we move on with the base: we start off creating a lattice of plates and bricks, with brackets creating a solitary, stud covered column at one end of the model. Before getting bricked in, a plate and tile are added – making the column functionally square and flush with the edge of the main floor, before stars are added, tapering to the base level.
Smooth stairs are facilitated by the use of 2×2 plates, with only 2 studs.
Olive green slopes give the feeling of rolling grass and moss covered ground, while the dark tan feels more clay or rock like. Leaves and green floral studs are added, to give a feeling of ground cover. Finally, a small stone arch is added at one end… but for what purposes?
Bags 3 and 4 are mixed together as well. We build up detail within the ground floor; adding arches and carpet, as well as adding foundations for the tower proper. I am somewhat enamoured by the use of alternating bricks and 1×2 rounded plates – this gives a feeling of grouting between the bricks, on a larger scale than we see with the standard 1×2 masonry bricks. Telescopes on offset plates support white tiles on sand green plates as balustrading/handrails.
The candle sticks stand tall from the ground, and the use of the 3.18mm bar as a candle is probably not being done for the first time here, but I have all but ignored Harry Potter sets since they came back in 2018, so it still feels relatively fresh to me.
We are also introduced to our first new mould for the build: a new fern leaf, in dark green. It feels more like ABS or another hard plastic, rather than polyethylene: more like the variegated leaf than the standard soft foliage element.
We add a small piece of foliage cover that obscures the opening under the tower’s foundations.
By the time these bags are finished, we have most of the walls of the ground floor completed, as well as the base of the tower.
The final bag in this block serves to furnish the study/library: We start with a table, made from Golden handle elements, providing edging and legs for the table, while it is capped off with a pale aqua tile, and offset plate, on which to attach a either some ancient, arcane relics of Elrond, or lunch. The table is held in place using a transparent 1×1 cylinder underneath.
Next we furnish a book case, filled with thick and thin volumes – represented by brackets (half plate thick), plates, plates with rails through to SNOT bricks with 1×1 arched elements representing hefty orange tomes on the shelf. This shelving slots in behind the base of the tower, and we finish adding structure to the study.
We move to the outside, and continue work on the stone at the base of the tower: Five alcoves come together, and attach at a couple of points to the base. Statues of unidentified Elven heroes of the past are seen. The front 3 are attached to the alcove via a bracket and plate on the back of their legs, while that kind of weird 4×1 1/2 offset plate thing from 80s/90s space sets help keep the angled alcoves appropriately positioned. (again, my new favourite stone work technique is used on the alcoves, which are capped off with stone grey wheel arches.
And with that, our first section is completed. Lifting it up, and moving it from my build area to the photo studio, it feels quite firm and sturdy. I am interested to see how this stability holds up as the build continues.
Lots of grey, a large tan panel as well as dark orange and nougat plates, some teal tiles, tusk elements as well as the decorative swirls in gold and white. Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few brackets, while bag 8 brings us lots of telescopes, tiles and sand green plates… safety first!
We start off assembling the back wall of the first floor. Onto the panel goes the first of our stickers: it is the image of Isildur confronting Sauron. The decorative frame really highlights the importance of this image in lore. We continue the column from the ground floor to its natural conclusion.
On the other side, we add Bilbo’s bed and writing desk, which contains some beautiful detailing, from the lamps and quill in the ink bottle,
More stickers are used on the beadhead and the linen itself – to provide an elegant quilt.
Next, we extend the walls of the tower upward, and add in Bilbo’s writing desk: I love the scrolled details here, as well as the candles and ink well. The frontispiece for his book is a sticker, but feels right in this place.
We now add the railings to the walls, and also some arches over the downstairs windows and entry. A row of coupling plates, and curved slopes lines the roofline in preparation for attaching the roof. We also set up a couple of columns, made from candelsticks, rather than 1×1 cylinder bricks. We have started to see this technique used more often in recent years, most recently in the Creator 3in1 Cozy House. It certainly conveys the feeling of finely detailed work which characterises the location, and Elven aesthetic in the movies.
This section covers the sloped, tiled roof and the remainder of the tower.
We start off by building the roof that covers Bilbo’s room: a collection of plates layered together, wedge plates to help the structure fit around bilbo’s desk and the tower. There are around 100 1×1 tiles to align between the studs. But do not worry if you cannot do this perfectly: the gap between tiles is approximately one plate thick, so running the edge of a long plate or tile between these will help them to align rapidly, and with a minimum of stress. (Thanks to the manual for this handy hint.)
The muted shades of the tiles on the medium nougat roof are really effective: sand blue, tan, dark orange and sand green.
Seeing just how simple it was to align the tiles was very reassuring, and meant that I was not feeling concerned about the main part of the roof any more, which was significantly larger, with closer to 400 more tiles to align.
The roof is pinned into place, and we continue work on the tower. Four x 4 curved tiles fit the internal diameter of the tower nicely, and support the next layer, with the outer later of studs connecting to it. (studs at a point 5 studs radius from the centre of the circle.
The octagonal structure of this layer is established by having the brackets alighted with the studs (north south east west), while in between, there are 1×1 bricks with an axle connection aligned at 45º, similar to the tiles on the roof. an axle extending between these bricks, and attaching to a 1×2 brick incorporated in the fascia section gives us a smooth octagon:
We cover this layer with curved rounded slopes – and the layer above this has its shape given by the use of SNOT bricks and 2×2 curved slopes at 90º to each other.
We continue the development of the tower, now on a 4four-sided base It builds up with a mind mangling interlocking SNOT technique. I cannot believe that this is the debut of the 2x2x3 convex clope 75º in sand green. I though it had always existed, but no. I can see some great architectural and geological applications for this element in the future.
The top layer of the tower sees more wheel arches at work, in sand green, and a nifty application of curved slopes on a 1×1 brick with studs on 2 sides. We cap it off with a pyramid slope and a golden spire, and the tower is done.
The tower is designed to be removed, as it allows you to see into Bilbo’s study
At the end of this section, I remain impressed at the rigidity of the whole section, while heavy, it feels secure. Only the tower feels like it is not designed to hold the weight of the model.
*Pro tip: do not try to lift this part of the model by the tower or sloped roof. Tears might result.
Book 2: The River, Forge and Armoury
Fun fact of note here: the dwarfs Gimli and Gloin both have the slightly longer ‘teen leg’ element – giving them hip articulation, as well as now being slightly taller than the hobbits. Arwen and the female elf are provided with the curved sloped gown element introduced a few years ago.
Again, we start combining bags 12 and 13 as well as one of the 16×16 dark tan plates. We start with plenty of wedge plates in tan and nougat, making up the base of the second section. Fun fact: There are an equal number of left and right-sided wedge plates and slopes used in the model. Your ability to build a muted-palette spaceship is assured.
There are a few brightly coloured elements included in this section which will be hidden in the final model, but they certainly assisted in keeping the alignment correct.
We set up some plates along the base and on a couple of edges, build up with sloped elements: ultimately, we have a split level effect, with a 45º cutoff in the centre of the section.
After covering the corner of this section up, we start laying out water: 1×4 transparent blue elements over teal plates, resulting in a great watery look. Occasional studs convey the effect of rushing water, while opaque white elements give a feeling of much rougher water. By mixing up the elements along the waterfall, the organic look is enhanced, even when smoothly curved windscreens are used! Tan and olive green slopes and bricks are used to convey the impression of damp rock.
We also add stairs climbing up to where the bridge will cross the river. And we add further fernery!
Before long, we have an area that looks well sculpted, from the point of view of being a natural, flowing river and surrounds. Behind the waterfall, we have some sand green mushrooms. They must be magic: they glow in the dark.
More rock and clay and plants for us to add to the forge, while we see a splendid collection of coloured foliage, including sand green and bright yellowish orange, with leaf elements in olive green, yellowish-orange and gold: quite the autumnal palette.
We start work on the forge by adding a workbench, as well as the forge itself. A lantern on the wall keeps the dark place lit.
Having built up the walls, including some sloped elements to provide a fairly square edge to the doorway, we are able to drop the doorway to the forge into place.
I really like this technique, enabling you to drop the wall in at 45º to the grid of studs: it takes a little forethought, but the principle of tiles underneath, an angled space and securing the panel in place still holds.
We add further foliage and rockwork before constructing a simple arched bridge. The shape is created by using curved slopes, with some slightly short, allowing an extra stud here and there to secure a passing minifigure.
This section is completed by adding a couple of trees. I like the way in which leaves are added to the foliage elements, and that detail is added around the base of the trees. – with fungi also growing on the tree trunk.
The final section of the second book brings us Lady Arwen, along with the gazebo, which sits atop the armoury.
We create a close approximation of a brick built circle, sitting over a hexagonal frame. The chief complexity with its design comes with ensuring the spacing for the supporting pillars suits the circle forming the gazebos’s domed roof.
Each side of the frame is 6 modules apart, while the 3 way ‘y’ technic connectors attach to 1×1 bricks with axle ‘x’ hole. The curved ornamentation elements add to the swirling elvish design, while tusks reach up from the connectors to form the curved shape of the roof.
The pillars are again made from candlestick elements, conveying a fineness not possible with cylindrical bricks, and allowing simple ornamentation using bricks and technic bushes. The table design is identical to that used in the hall of the library.
The Gazebo slots into place over the top of the armoury. This small area presents such a variety of techniques, for natural rocks and flowing water, trees as well as the architectural features such as the bridge and gazebo, while the armory is hidden beneath, and the forge has a neat work area.
Book 3: The Council Ring and Hall
As with Arwen, Gandalf and Elrond feature the curved slope ‘robe’ element, instead of legs.
We start work on the main hall and Council ring. Our early bags work to set up the base – primarily under the hall, it’s a grid of bricks and plates, with an emphasis on mint/aqua 2x4s for support. At one end, there are technic connectors to join to the tower, while at. theother end, we have some sockets for ball joints set up along an angled edge.
As we cover it up, we extend the base and add a small arch, with some roots extending beyond it. This little bit of landscape greeble keeps the build interesting, as well as enhances the look at the end of the day.
We start to furnish the floor, using 64 printed 2×2 tiles, along with a few additional tiles to create a starburst effect.
The 2×2 offset plates with a single stud provide a place for various furnishings, particularly desks and candle-sticks to be positioned with a degree of stability. I really appreciate the way that pearl gold elements are used to create the ornamental candle holders
Along the way, we add some desks to the scene – along with stickered maps created by the graphic designers.
I don’t want to be ‘that guy’, but I am having difficulty reconciling the location of Barad-dûr – which I presume is the tower with the eye above it – the image does not seem to line up with Tolkien’s map of Mordor, and in fact looks a little closer to Isengard. NOW… I might be mistaken, and the eye might represent the Palantir of Orthanc, which Gandalf was aware of at the time of the Council of Elrond.
We move on to create the outline of the council circle – forming a circular plinth one brick higher than the floor.
With the final bag of this section, we add the outer walls, arches and columns of the outer wall. We add in a sticker featuring the forging of the rings of power, we well as an arched door, leading to the tower section of the build. Again, my new favourite column technique alternating bricks with rounded plates. I love the application of r the 3×3 round tile/quarter circle to create the archway here.
There are some arches running at around 30º to the grid. A 1×2 rounded tile at the point where they intersect with the rear wall of the halls means that no studs will challenge the connection of the next level up. This is a relatively new technique to me and is one of the big lessons I have learned during the build.
Building forward, we add the stairs onto the base, complete with a gold flex tube balustrade! The stairs are, however, all tiled. Minifigures can hold onto the hand rail to stay steady. As we do this, we add the plates to the upper level floor which will be extended in the future. But next, a diversion.
Do you remember how the right-hand end of the base featured some socket joints, on an angle? Its time to come good on this. We build another small base unit, 35 studs deep, and 13 studs at the back, 11 at the front. We add some ball joints along the way, and they are designed to join up with the main base. but not before we build it up,and add a seat, for Bilbo and Frodo to remember old times, and make unreasonable demands about the precious.
Once the plates are lined up, a couple of hinges are added over the top for stability. I love this technique, used as a way to get a rambling shape to the floor print of the model. One to tuck away and pull out on a rainy day.
We add a mezzanine to the upper level: it looks like we might need to wait for a while before we see what will be installed: there are two plates with upward technic pegs just waiting for something to be added. Before the bag is done, we have added a handrail along the inside aspect of the walkway.
Moving forward, the time has come to complete the Health and Safety disaster that is the staircase. We have seen a gaping hole present for a while and we now make amends. To makeup for the delay, we add an intriguing astronomical device to the landing: It’s pretty and golden and features some neat parts usage. Alongside the landing, there is a column, with technic pegs poking out the side… I’m sure their use will become apparent later.
Finally, we have also added some ornate columns, featuring cupcakes for added detail. The columns are ornate, made of candles, and ever-so -subtly attached to the wall.
We build up the back wall of the model, and stabilise the sides with reinforced arches.
Having stabilised the structure with the arches, and added some connectors for the roof (coming up soon I expect), we add a wall of decorative columns, exploiting the decorative device that was an integral part of the Elves Range back in 2017. Great to see it being used by elves once again…
We start this section preparing to attach the roof to the hall: we place a long row of sand green coupling plates, using 2×2 ‘footplates’, and add a small tower in the process. The tower presents us with a lintel over the windows which is almost inverse to those seen in the main tower.
The roof goes together, using layered plates, and is decorated with 1×1 plates, in a style similar to that used on the tower. Again, lining the roof elements up is not too tedious, being achieved by sliding a plate along the grooves to line up the plates.
The roof is attached using pins at each end, and forms the hypotenuse of a 3-4-5 triangle:
With the roof on the hall, it is really starting to feel as though it is coming into shape.
Bags 40-41 go toward building a small dining hall, attached to the main hall via the landing at the staircase. This is another great example of using upright bricks in the centre of the form, followed by the addition of SNOTed curved slopes to form a rounded shape. The arched room contains a small round table, with some lembas resting on top.
The roof is much smaller than those previously used in other sections of the build. As such, it is held in place only using 2×3 shields.
The round brick on the bottom clicks into the turntable base seen above (surrounded by red tiles), and forms an extension to the hall.
We commence the final push by adding a couple of trees to the landscape.
the first will tuck in behind the dining room, above the bench, towards the rear of the model. The trunk attaches directly to some technic pins on the side of the hall, ensuring stability. In contrast, the upper part of the trunk is constructed using technic connectors, with staggered y-connectors attached to individual foliage elements. The lower foliage is darker, while those located higher in the tree are lighter. We add in a smaller tree, located close to this first one: I imagine it probably seeded from the larger one.
We start work on the council circle: the main platform is built around a core of SNOT plates and has a lot of interlocking elements on each of the ‘curved’ components. There is a large area looking for some form of tile decoration, as well as a few collections of exposed grey studs.
From here, we add some decorated tiles, a plinth for the ring and finally build chairs for the council. These 7 chairs are fashioned from nougat paddle-pops and sausages, amongst other things. They are linked together using rounded plates. As such, only 3 of these are attached to the dias.
As we get closer and closer to completing our quest, we add Elrond’s throne, and start on the large tree behind it. I appreciate the way that the 2×2 macaroni brick is used to form part of the trunk, running up under the arch. The tree is not quite completed as we take a short diversion…
Our final bag contains a few general bits and pieces:
We start off by taking the new weapons from the small plastic back they are included in, and distributing them to some of the appropriate characters:
Aragorn’s Ranger’s Sword, Gimli’s Axe and the Sword of Gondor. A slightly shorter sword goes to Boromir.
Next, we complete the tree from the Council Circle and then place the circle in front of the hall. The completed base and council ring is designed to be removed from the main model and displayed seperately.
We construct a small display to hold Narsil, the sword that was broken. This was, of course, a point of difference between the book and the Movies, where the fragments of the broken sword were carried by Aragorn, rather than curated at Rivendell. This display clicks onto the two vertical studs located on the mezzanine of the main hall,
We build a small desk with a map displaying Barad-dûr; Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith.
Finally, in a move that feels a bit like a Star Wars Advent Calendar, we have two weapons racks to put together. They can hold any remaining weapons: A bow, short-sword, another ax and four Elven Swords – probably based on Hadhafang, the sword wielded by Arwen.
There are two sets of the new weapons moulds included in this set, specifically: Aragorn’s Ranger sword, Boromir’s Sword of Gondor, Narsil- the sword that was broken, an ax and 2 elven swords. These weapons racks fit comfortably inside the armoury, located underneath the domed pavilion. Spare copies of these are certainly welcome.
The final sticker goes onto a tile to create a mithril coat, which Bilbo passes on to Frodo, as well as Sting. These go in a chest, which can sit in Bilbo’s study.
Finally, we are also given the means to help some of our characters to sit down. For the hobbits, substitute a headlamp brick the colour of their trousers, and add a light nougat plate onto each foot.
Elrond and Gandalf have a printed curved slope arrangement to help them to sit down whilst wearing their robes.
And now, we have assembled our fellowship, and a few assorted hangers-on. I was hard-pressed to find an area in the house where I could take a picture of the completed model. So I took it outside into the evening sun: Here it is, in all its enormous glory.
I was excited when I first saw that Lord of the Rings was returning, and even more so when I saw that the Rivendell Model was designed on such a scale, using techniques you might usually see employed in a talented AFOLs MOC. It is a thing of beauty, that captures the look and feel of Rivendell, without being an entire village, sprawling all over the living room. The build is broken up into 3 logical sections, each with their own focus.
The model has a feeling of being incredibly secure and rigid in its construction. Moving it around, it never felt insecure, unless lifted by parts that were not designed to support it, such as removable tower
The Tower introduces new builders to the basics of contemporary techniques: a structured floor, brackets to strengthen a vertical column as well as combining different slopes and botanical elements to fashion a landscape. To say nothing of the use of non-brick elements to construct the arches over the entrance and windows. The Tower is removable to provide access to Bilbo’s study.
The furniture included in this part of the build: Bilbo’s bed and desk; the library along with the table and chairs are all immaculately crafted, while the candle sticks serve as an introduction to building with elements on a ‘sub-brick’ scale. These building techniques are prominent in the main hall, so an introduction to them at a relatively small, less intimidating scale eases the builder into the project in a smooth fashion.
The tower itself brings us a demonstration of how you can make a 5-panelled semicircular curve, independent of the grid that studs run on, and there are some innovative uses of elements and SNOT techniques as you move up the tower.
For builders returning after a few years of absence, the introduction of the rounded 1×2 plate will come as a revelation, although it is not exploited to its full potential in this phase of the build. Its use to add texture to an otherwise relatively uninspiring stone column has frankly been a revelation to me.
The relatively small section of roof, with a mere ninety-eight 1×1 square tiles (and some quarter circle ones, too) demonstrates that aligning the tiling on the main roof will not be not nearly as intimidating as it first appears. As such, I found it alleviated a lot of anxiety that I might have had in anticipation of what would ultimately be a relatively small part of the final section of the build..
The second section – The River, Forge, Armory and Pavillion presents an interesting approach to the river, with a combination of transparent blue elements and opaque white to give the feeling of the flowing water; while the addition of rockwork around the river demonstrates different ways to sculpt this type of landscape. The armoury brings a neat rotating sharpening stone, as well as room for the weapons racks constructed towards the end. The angled door to the armoury is an excellent demonstration of taking parts of the build off the grid. I sometimes have difficulty distinguishing between dark tan and olive green with the lighting I was working under. I am grateful that each bag did not mix the same element in these two colours.
The trees in this area are tall and slender: I have not seen this sort of tree design used in a set before, and it is great to have another technique to add to library of options.
The round base for the pavilion posed the design team with a geometrical challenge: getting the holes in exactly the right position but provides a great demonstration of using a square system to build a round base. The pavilion’s reliance on candlesticks for its main columns suits the fine elven aesthetic and also prepares you for the additional use of the technique to provide decorative elements around the main hall.
The Council Circle and Hall bring all we have done so far together, also bringing us a beautifully tiled floor with tactful studs to enable firm positioning of minifigures and furniture. We see several different candlestick designs used, all fitting in with the environment but also providing further inspiration for future builds. The upper-level balcony and white ornate ‘woodwork’ capture the spirit of the place. The additional wing demonstrates how the ‘grid’ of a build can be shaken up, and how a turntable can help out in this setting, to say nothing of using no fewer than 4 different arches.
Finally, the council circle: another layered circular build, incorporating furniture built using novel techniques and elements, while Elrond’s throne is certainly grand; and the tree behind him incorporates some interesting techniques to convey its great age and dignity.
From the outset, this was never going to be able to include all of Rivendell at minifigure scale, but it certainly brings the key locations for the story, as we know it, together.
The bedroom, Bilbo’s study, the council circle, the gallery, and Elrond’s library, the river and pavilion, as well as the bridge. There are plenty of opportunities to set the figures up in different locations around the model, and enough space to make photographing them possible.
The selection of minifigures is appropriate for the location. It is refreshing to have the entire fellowship in one set – unlike the initial releases in 2012, where at least four sets were required to be able to obtain the entire fellowship in minifigure form. The addition of Elrond and Arwen, along with Gloin and the additional elves is just right!. I applaud the inclusion of bare feet for the hobbits, as well as ‘sitting legs’ for Bilbo and Frodo, as well as Elrond and Gandalf. I realise I have left out all talk of the statues, focussing only on the character figures.
Is it a perfect set – given the setting? It is very close.
I feel the opportunity to make the internal packaging a little more special, as it was with sets such as the Titanic, and the UCS Razor Crest, where each part of the build was included in its own box, with additional artwork on the outside. Certainly, the Razor Crest was a set of similar part count and price point.
The only other little gripe I have is with regard to one of the maps that seems to be identifying Barad-dûr, with its eye, in a location that I cannot fully reconcile with a map of the source material.
While the stickers posed little challenge to apply, I do feel that a set this side warrants a spare set to be included.
That said, these are extremely minor concerns, that I think should not influence your decision to purchase the set. My main concern is working out where to display it at home! We shall find a place.
This set brings an incredible building experience: one of the best I have ever had! It is one which will sate the desires of experienced builders, while occasional builders who are fans of the source material will be introduced to techniques they may not have seen before. Fortunately, the programmed building experience is designed to introduce you to these techniques bit by bit, sampled in the initial tower section and the armory, while they are consolidated in the grandeur of the hall and council circle. And by taking you through the building experience over a number of days.
The minifigure selection is perfect, and I do not think there are any others that need to be included with this particular model.
While this is a large set – it measures 75 cm from end to end when assembled – and expensive, I feel that the set represents appropriate value for money. Construction took me over a week, at a time when getting the build done was my major priority, in between work and other tasks. It could easily be drawn out over the course of a month, and still engage the enthusiasm of the builder with every step.
This is a set that I feel deserved Five Arbitrary Praise Units out of Five 5/5. You get an introduction to constructing fantasy architecture; landscaping as well as a huge selection of minifigures. What more do you need? I actually believe that this set has displaced the Saturn V and Creator Majestic Tiger as my favourite- set-building experiences EVER.
The only other concern I have is that this set appears to be a one-off: this year represents the 20th anniversary of the release of Return of the King and could be the ideal opportunity to release further material, perhaps even in diorama form, as seen last year with Star Wars and Jurassic Park: imagine a diorama scale model of the Mirror of Galadrial; Theoden and Eowyn against the Witch King of Angmar; a microscale Minas Tirith; or even the Cracks of Doom where Gollum snatches the One Ring back before going over the edge? I think the scope is endless.
The Graphic Design lead on this set, Ashwin Visser, has been known to sneak teasers into various stickers over the years (How many jazz references appeared in other Creator Expert sets in the year before the Jazz Club rolled out?) Perhaps we will come to see a model based on the hanging artwork or maps?
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Thanks for hanging into the end. I’d love to know what you think of this set: Just what you were looking for? Something you never knew you needed? Keep your eyes open for my review of the Minifigures soon, and until then…
This set was provided by the LEGO Group for Review Purposes. All opinions are my own.