Battle of Helm's Deep is the biggest of all Lord of the Ring sets so far and I spent some 2 and 1/2 hours on it including time wasted admiring the design and taking pictures.
PS if you have a 6 month old hyperactive kitten and a cheap pajama on, don't drop any piece!!! I hope I can still have children after what happened tonight...
On to the review.
A fairly large box, about the biggest standard LEGO box size that aren't LEGO exclusive.
1,368 pieces (excluding ridiculous amount of extra pieces)
MSRP: $130 USD. Toys R Us price: $150 USD That comes to about 9.5 cents per piece MSRP and 11 cents per piece TRU price. Decent price-piece ratio but I'd wait for a good sale.
There wasn't much empty space inside the box. The manuals and sticker (ACK!!! DSS!!! EVIL!!! ) were in its own bag with cardboard backing to keep them from coming in wrinkled.
A total of 9 bags, each with 1 or 2 smaller bags inside.
4 instruction books for the entire build. I remember when a 1,000 piece build could be done in a single 20 page book. Now that was challenging. Today's instruction have you doing 2 or 3 unique pieces (as many as 8 or 10 each) per step. The color is clear and there's very little chance of missing a step or something. All the black pieces are outlined in white.
evil dreaded sticker sheet. Only 6 stickers total on the sheet, the smallest one goes onto a 2x3 tile with clip. So it's not hard to apply them straight and no STAMP (sticker across multiple parts)
8 minifigs total. King has printed breastplate in addition to printed torso. Also the King and Gimili has printed helmet. Nice detail too. Haldir's pointed ear are on the yellow head piece so the ear is transferable to any minifig with flesh colored head.
All of the heads and torso have 2 sided prints. That's a lot of printing!
New horse with pose-able hind legs. This set comes with brown horse that otherwise looks similar to classic brown horse.
First couple pages of the instruction showing the 9 bags and 9 main sections to build the set.
This set has lots of square macaroni bricks (36), masonry profile bricks (40), sand green parts (53 1X1, 10 1X4, 24 1X2 tile, and 2 1x2 inverted slope) and more 1x4 hinged brick and plates than you would ever need.
End of first bag. I really liked the brick built wall and using 1x2xn° panels used sideway to make narrow silted windows.
I did find one minor issue with building the walls. It is fairly flimsy until you install the plates on top. These part could prove a bit challenging for little kids who likes to assembled roughly or push pieces together hard as the wall can break apart.
Other angle of the first part, with the flipper on the side. Hint: Gimili still don't like it.
brick built wooden doors for the front entry way.
Front view with the door and flaps on top added.
Curved ramp leading to the front door
One side of the curved wall done. This is after completing bag #3. Notice the secret door where the heroic duo can sneak out to jump on the army and try to stop them from breaking down the main doors.
I liked the use of sand green to give an appearance of lichen covered rocks.
An easter egg? A skull hidden under the ramp.
Brick built ladder. The hook on the end does not rotate like the movie but it still hooks into the wall just fine as pictured below.
Bag #4 done, shown with ladder.
Honkin' big horn there. Creative use of elephant's trunk for mouth piece. The crate at the bottom is empty so probably just to add decoration.
The one big weakness of Helm's deep with a bomb next to it ready to go off!
Same section, reverse side. The grey lever there triggers the "explosion" like in the movie.
...and after it's been blown up. Easy to reassemble. Easy to blow up again.
more interesting parts
Here is where I got gripe with LEGO. After beautifully brick built walls and sections, they get cheap in the last part and give us 7 prefab wall panels. Maybe the R&D spent too much time making the front look good and rushed the last part?
Brick built throne looks nice and is adjustable so even Jabba the Hutt would be able to sit there.
Front view of throne room. The plate on the side swings out and is used as walkway to reach other part of the keep.
Top view of the completed keep
And now the left over parts:
One extra cloak may have been a fluke because 2 I got were stuck together. I almost never get extra cloak in little white box.
5 flame, 6 dark green cheese wedges, 7 bley cheese wedges, and a few others.
Overall I enjoyed the build and picked up a few new trick.
Playability: this Keep should have decent play factor with catapults (one to toss the dwarf), exploding wall section, and uses technic pin to connect sections differently. The box even suggested getting 9471 army set to connect with this. Or you could buy another Helm's Deep set and combine them for larger and more fancy keep. If you do buy second Helm's Deep set, be sure to replace the cheap looking 7 wall panels with better walls.
This set is defiantly good to buy and the price is not too bad for the size of the set with 8 minifigs. Although you could wait for a good sale and buy the army set along with this to have more minifigs and more playability.
Pieces: there are numerous interesting pieces. Sand green isn't common color and this set has lots of it. Lots of masonry wall bricks, bley cheese slopes, and 1x2 bley cheese slopes, etc should be good for parting out for castle mocs.
price: 4.5/5 (get it on sale if you can wait)
Fun factor: 5/5
part variety: 5/5
movie accuracy: 4.5/5 (could have used a battering ram)
Now it's bed time for me. I'll do Mines of Moria next if no one else posts em.
EDIT: I forgot to mention this set comes with a new orange brick separator!
UPDATED WITH NEW PICTURES!!
And... (upload still in process, ready by about 7 PM EDT)
Edited by Lego Otaku, 27 May 2012 - 06:08 AM.