Last fall's wave of Harry Potter sets threw me into a reviewing frenzy. The second wave didn't excite me quite as much, but I figured I'd still like to get the two non-vehicle sets. Hopefully I'll get to review 4867 Hogwarts as well, but at this moment the focus is on:
Set Name: The Forbidden Forest
Set #: 4865
Theme: Harry Potter
Film Connection: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
Year of Release: 2011
Price at Release: USD 12, CAD 15, GBP 10.50
Buy it? Inventory? Bricklink Peeron LEGO
Just browse the photos? Flickr set
This set really didn't have much of a draw for me, besides for the "ooh, it's a Harry Potter set, better get it" draw. It's a tree, end of story. If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that the only draw was the Narcissa Malfoy minifigure, since I already had Voldemort and Hagrid from the last Hogwarts and Hagrid's Hut, and it would be a lie to say I actually wanted bunches of dark brown tree bits. But still, I opted to buy the whole set rather than just Bricklink Narcissa, and I needed to make the price cutoff for the "Free Shipping on $75" deal.
The question remains: will this set leave me with a better impression than just being a bunch of stuff that comes with Narcissa Malfoy?
One thing certainly hasn't changed since the last wave: the sexy packaging. I first mentioned it in my Burrow review, and probably sound like a broken record by now, but this theme keeps delivering dark and spooky box-arts, which remains unusual for a LEGO theme. Of course, this boxart doesn't really make a whole lot of sense if you take a closer look; why would there be this short, leafy tree in the middle of a forest with extremely tall trees? Still, the background is quite beautiful, and I never expected box-art to make that much sense anyway.
I felt like highlighting that, despite the PotC theme having smaller boxes, this set is still in a bigger size box. It's the same size as last year's Freeing Dobby, the first wave's set in the same price range (though it was a dollar cheaper, go figure). I know the environmentalists might hate me for not being 'green' enough, but I honestly prefer the bigger size box over the tiny PotC box. Even I, who am not an uneducated mother wandering into a toy isle, feel like I'm being cheated a little paying $12 for such a tiny little box.
Now onto the back. The pasted notebook design remains, and in fact looks to be exactly the same as the design on the back of Freeing Dobby, although the red background flowery things are slightly different. It's a pleasing and uncluttered back, and of course shows off the one play feature: flicking a minifigure. Somebody on the design team must really like flicking minifigures, since that was the sole play feature in Freeing Dobby as well.
This being a small set, the top of the box has room for just one figure, but I think most of us know the general size of a minifigure by now anyway. That wraparound red flowery stuff continues to be lovely.
The instructions feature the lovely artwork again, although this time the minifigures are slightly shifted in their relation to the background. Really, while the background is nice, the way it integrates with the LEGO is not stellar. Perhaps since the two small HP sets are somewhat interior scenes, LEGO can't pull them off so well, since the structure in Freeing Dobby didn't make much sense inside of a hallway either. Also, note that the green snake has been left off for whatever reason (accident, artwork designer hates snakes? the possibilities are endless…).
The inside of the instructions is pretty plain, but the build goes along nicely. Sometimes, like here, there are two steps on a page, which makes the booklet not too long. Still, I could imagine these steps all crammed together on a single sheet in the old days.
On the emptier pages, we get the semi-creepy trio picture, still semi-creeping me out since the last wave.
Towards the back, there's a page displaying all of the regular-release Harry Potter merchandise. What I really like about this page (and about the new Hogwarts set) is that it encourages buying sets that were released last fall. Too often LEGO is always skipping to the next thing, but this time they are actively promoting the purchase of the new sets with the old. I appreciate that very much.
Then there is a teaser ad for LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7, depicting the final duel between Voldemort and Harry. Now that I have started playing Years 1-4 on my iPad, I am officially more excited for this game.
I would take a gander that, for most people, the real draw of this set is the minifigures. Frankly I was quite surprised when I found out that LEGO was putting four minifigures in this set, including both Voldemort and Hagrid. All of these figures make good sense for the scene that this set depicts, but a selection this good seems generous on LEGO's part. But that's nothing to complain about, of course! For anyone who hadn't already bought the last Hogwarts or Hagrid's Hut, this selection is really quite nice, and even owning those sets already I am still a fan of this lineup. Some people might question the choice of robes for Harry at this point, but all I can say to that is he does wear robes at some point during the new film, although I don't know if he still has them on by this scene.
Only two of the figures have alternate expressions: Harry and Narcissa. Most of us are probably already familiar with Harry's frowny face, though it continues to be my favorite of the two. Narcissa looks extremely angry, far angrier than I can imagine her being. I imagine her being extremely stern when she's angry, not all screamy like this. I have to remember that this is a LEGO minifigure I'm talking about, though.
Harry and Narcissa are also the only ones to have back printing, both looking very nice. Still, I would've rather had Narcissa looking a little less slim.
Since she's really the jewel of the set, I thought I'd take another closeup for you to feast your eyes upon. The dress is quite simple but still elegant, and her non-angry face works quite well for the character. I was expecting the hair to come in a separate baggie since it has printing, but it did not, for whatever reason. In the films, it's hard to tell if she has more blonde or more brown hair, but either way this printing still sort of evokes the essence of her character design, which is odd (but cool) to begin with.
And here's Mama Malfoy with her relatives: Hubby Malfoy, Draco, and Sis Bella. They all look slick and evil together, and I especially like how trashy Bellatrix looks compared to the rest of them, just as she should.
I mentioned in my Hagrid's Hut review (where I also compared him to the old Hagrid, if you'd like to see) that the new Hagrid looked much too happy. At least in the Hut set it was reasonable that he would be happy, because here it just doesn't work. With the beard on, it's hard to tell, but I still would've liked to see a scarred and sad face for Hagrid, him being all tied up and mocked and all.
One last thing of note is that this Voldemort has the new head mould, with the solid head. Here he is pictured with the Voldemort I got in Hogwarts, with the non-solid head. You can find comparisons with the older Voldemorts there as well.
Although the official set description says this set comes with an owl, as Admiral Ackbar would say: "It's a LIE!" (That wasn't quoted quite right, was it?) Anyway, the set does come with the usual, fairly boring spider and green snake. I was really excited about that green snake when I first got on in the Graveyard Duel set; these days, not so much. Seeing as there's one in 4867 Hogwarts too, LEGO might be trying to pass this snake off as Nagini, but I certainly hope not. Nagini deserves to have her own mould altogether, with printing. Or at least be the snake in dark green. That would be something.
PARTS of INTEREST
This is always quite a subjective section. Maybe you really dig dark brown slopes, or more dark green leafy pieces, or dark tan baseplates? Who's to say…
What I picked out as most interesting, though, are the mushroom piece, blue flames, and black 1x3 tiles. I was surprised by that mushroom piece when it came in Hagrid's Hut, but I love getting another one. Trans light blue flames are not all that common, and so are cool to me. This one is also the new style, no dragon-mouth-connection flame piece. And black tiles? Well, I just like tiles.
Alright, now onto the bulk of the set, the amazing, beautiful… hold on, it's just a tree? Yep, just a tree. But it is a nice and spooky-looking tree. You can see in this angle the place where you put a minifigure, and then launch it with the black technic piece. It worked pretty well the one time I tried it. But then when I was taking pictures for this review I already had forgotten about it.
Here's an angled side view. Those blue flames are lovely, and quite magic-y at the same time. Nice! For some reason, I though from the official images that the tree would be normal brown with dark brown highlights, but it's actually dark brown with black highlights. I don't know how many tree are actually that dark, but this color scheme works well to convey a spooky feeling.
And a back view: more tree. One point of interest is that LEGO moved the mushroom to the front of the set when they took the boxart image, but in the instructions is is placed in the back. I like it wherever it is. I think the black is a little strange in the tree, but it's probably better than the tree being monochromatic.
Although it wasn't in the last pics, the spider is supposed to go on the top of the tree. Because humongous spiders live on top of trees, didn't you know? Duh…
WHOLE SET and CONCLUSION
I know the sets are extremely different, but this set leaves me with much the same impression as Freeing Dobby. The minifigure selection is wonderful, and the tree is pretty well designed. This seems to be the year of the tree for LEGO (showing up in NinjaGo, Kingdoms, PotC, and probably more), but they've done a good job with it, especially in this set. It's dark and spooky, adequately tall… really nothing to complain about. 64 pieces might seem a little slim, but when they make a nice model and are coupled with four minifigures, three of which are in demand, those 64 pieces seem right for the price. I've turned out happier with this set than I thought I would be, which is always a good feeling. It wasn't just for Narcissa Malfoy (but mostly).
Parts: 8.5/10 - not a lot of great parts, but dark brown is always a beautiful color and I like the fire and mushroom.
Design: 9/10 - It really is a lovely looking tree.
Minifigures: 10/10 - The new one is wonderful, and the overall lineup is enticing.
Price: 9.5/10 - Why do the small sets keep inching up? Will they one day cost 17 USD? Who's to say, but I think 12 USD is still a fair price.
Playability: 7/10 - the feature is really a nothing (though it works well), but I think that with the balanced good guys to bad guys ratio this set is playable enough.
8.8/10 - That's a nice, solid grade. This set isn't thrilling, but I would certainly pick it up for the minifigures, especially if you don't already have Voldemort and Narcissa.
Here's a teaser for what's coming up…