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Review: 9474 The Battle of Helm's Deep


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Poll: Review: 9474 The Battle of Helm's Deep (161 member(s) have cast votes)

How do you rate this set?

  1. Poor (flattened Uruk Hai) (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  2. Below Average height like Gimli (3 votes [1.86%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.86%

  3. Average number of bricks per wall (9 votes [5.59%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.59%

  4. Above Average good looks like Aragorn (46 votes [28.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 28.57%

  5. Outstandingly stupendous with a rearing horse! (103 votes [63.98%])

    Percentage of vote: 63.98%

What would you buy this set for?

  1. The amazing figures (15 votes [9.32%])

    Percentage of vote: 9.32%

  2. The Castle design and parts (29 votes [18.01%])

    Percentage of vote: 18.01%

  3. Both (117 votes [72.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 72.67%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#51 Missing Brick

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 11:47 AM

I like the main wall and gate section, but the inner keep and tower are pretty uninspiring with their prefab walls and stickers. Shame, but probably essential to meet the $100 price point. The blow-up wall seems like a nice play feature - but personally - I've never had a problem making my lego buildings blow-up, mostly unintentionally during building when I pressed a brick down too hard.

If I get time I'd like to widen the causeway and gate from 6 to 8 studs. At the moment Gandalf's cart can't get through. I guess that's a good thing because it's a set that sparks your imagination and encourages you to improve and expand the structure.
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#52 Zzz

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 05:31 PM

View PostFalconer, on 10 July 2012 - 11:24 PM, said:

I too am having a hard time trying to think of sets as “scenes.”

When I was a kid, we would play out all kinds of stories with our sets. The Falcon Knights always started in the Knight’s Castle, the Crusaders always started in the King’s Castle, and the Forestmen always started in their hideouts. The story possibilities were limitless. The King’s Castle naturally came with the 12 soldiers who lived there.

It’s REALLY strange to me that the Hornburg set comes with NONE of the soldiers who actually live there. So you really can only recreate that one scene (inadequately… no Rohirrim, no Dunlendings, no Huorns), rather than any of the other possible scenes in the entire history and alternate history of the Third Age and Fourth Age.

But maybe I’m the only one who “roleplayed” with his Lego?

That might be the problem that I have with this set and why I gave the Potter Castle the thumbs up instead. It's difficult to decipher a faction here, and a castle should have one. For HP it's the pupils, the PoP castle had a faction of soldiers, the Endor bunker had troopers for it. I have a similiar problem with the marvelous Queen Anne's Revenge, which doesn't really have a crew - well, it's 2 guys there. And there even are little sets and battle packs for upgrades, but they contain the very same 2 figures. Talking about all this, I have to assume that I want to have my playsets filled with minifigs and I am a sort of an army builder guy.

@Hive = I completely get your point, and it's only correct to emphasize on the fellowship characters and invest careful, not coming up with numerous battle packs, minifig designs etc etc. It all makes sense from a business perspective and it even makes sense from your players or collectors point of view, I am unluckily a bit more difficult to handle and despite the obviously great sets that PotC or LotR offers, I have already starting problems in imagining them together as playsets or on display. Indy was one of my favorite themes and as a nerd of explorations, archeology etc, I could endlessly play with this and imagine things but I also read that someone stated once, that the sets don't fit together and leave no room to actually interact or play with - and this still puzzles me. Enough said, I guess I'd rather stick to the 3rd XotX theme, the War of the Stars and dream my dream for an Indy revival..
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#53 Falconer

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 05:49 PM

View PostHive, on 11 July 2012 - 12:37 AM, said:

the problem lies not with the set but with their own imaginations

View PostHive, on 11 July 2012 - 01:32 AM, said:

it's not a problem with the set but with your imagination.

View PostHive, on 11 July 2012 - 01:32 AM, said:

Your imaginaton is the limit, not the set. With all due respect.
LOL. Respect? You know, I’m new here, but I imagined it’s safe to (mildly!) criticize commercially sold LEGO sets here without receiving retaliation in the form of personal attacks. Moderator?

View PostHive, on 11 July 2012 - 11:37 AM, said:

Uruk Hai Army is a battlepack of sorts and contains two good-side soldiers. If you don't have the imagination to switch some heads and gear around to make the extra Eomer figs not all be him, then I'd once again argue that the limit is not with the sets themselves.
No, I have opined since the beginning of June that the Eomer figure can be used as a generic Rider of Rohan. The limit is not my imagination; the limit is my pocketbook. One would have to spend $90 in order to end up with “extra Eomer figs.” That on top of $130 for the actual Helm’s Deep set. A child doesn’t have the option of acquiring multiple sets, eBaying, etc. So I would say that’s a reasonable criticism.

#54 Hive

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 06:50 PM

View PostFalconer, on 11 July 2012 - 05:49 PM, said:

LOL. Respect? You know, I’m new here, but I imagined it’s safe to (mildly!) criticize commercially sold LEGO sets here without receiving retaliation in the form of personal attacks. Moderator?

I didn't mean to offend anyone, and I'd hardly call it a personal insult. It surely wasn't meant as a such. I'm merely trying to suggest that people might get more out of a set such as this if they forget the movie/book context for a second and let their imaginations roam free instead.

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No, I have opined since the beginning of June that the Eomer figure can be used as a generic Rider of Rohan. The limit is not my imagination; the limit is my pocketbook. One would have to spend $90 in order to end up with “extra Eomer figs.” That on top of $130 for the actual Helm’s Deep set. A child doesn’t have the option of acquiring multiple sets, eBaying, etc. So I would say that’s a reasonable criticism.

But that has always been the way with LEGO (or any other toy for that matter): if you want an abundance of figures that can oppose each other, you'll have to spend some money and invest in more than a few sets. Nothing new here in regards to this theme or even LEGO compared to other toy brands.

People are of course allowed to disagree with my viewpoint, but I'll repeat that LEGO sets today individually offers more opportunities for conflicts between opposing faction than in the old days. Would you have prefered the days of 6080 that came with 12 minifigs (yes I know we got more figs back then, but those days are long gone and expecting anything else is futile) - with ALL of them being of the faction belonging to the castle and pretty much identical? Sure, you get your foot soldier army that way... but you'd still need to buy at least one other set to be able to play out a conflict! At least nowadays, you can play out a small conflict right out of the box and won't necessarily have to buy other sets - unless you want to enlargen the battle and possibilities. Which, again, is just the way toys work.

#55 tvih

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 10:57 PM

View PostHive, on 11 July 2012 - 11:37 AM, said:

Uruk Hai Army is a battlepack of sorts and contains two good-side soldiers. If you don't have the imagination to switch some heads and gear around to make the extra Eomer figs not all be him, then I'd once again argue that the limit is not with the sets themselves.
Sure you can switch 'em around... if you have some to switch around with! Not everyone necessarily has. And while it is indeed a battlepack of sorts, it's expensive for that purpose especially for the good guys.

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Also, with a Fellowship containing a whooping 9 main characters and only a limited range of sets (naturally) for a first-wave release, what were LEGO to do? Excluse some of the main characters in favor of generic ones? Imagine the reactions from people if they had done that... and this isn't the 80's, we won't see a set like this containing 12 minifigs and 4 horses ever again. The number of figs for this set is equal to unlicensed sets of a similar size.
As for the '80s, personally I never had sets with such a huge number of figs anyway. My biggest set by far was the Black Falcon Fortress - it was my only castle - with a "whopping" 6 figs and 2 horses. It had two "knights" and four "soldiers", which seemed like a reasonable ratio at the time. Mostly they spent their time fighting my older brother's Forestmen from the Camouflaged Outpost. I would've loved to get some of the bigger castles, but with our family's finances always being very tight, it never came to be.

And yes, LotR has a lot of main characters. But that you only get ONE generic human soldier from the entire first wave? I don't expect 9 main characters and 27 generic characters, but only having one is a bit silly. Especially as it's unlikely that the Hobbit sets and other new LotR will help much in that regard either.

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I'm not sure LEGO's main concerns about playability evolve around children "killing" the minfigs, nor do I think it ever should. And I'd like to remind you, btw, that in the 80's, while a castle of this size did indeed offer more figs than now. As I mentioned, perhaps 11-12 minifigs would have included for this one had it been released back then. But then again, they would probably all just have belonged to the faction holding the castle and offered no adversaries for conflict-playability on its own - so I'm not sure how that would have been better; in both cases, you'd have to buy extra sets to get where you want to be.

Main concern, perhaps not. But honestly, that's what kids do when you give them a battle set. Burying your head in the sand about it doesn't change that. The Fellowship and Sauron's/Saruman's armies don't exactly go hugging each other, now do they.

In any case, I guess in the end it's each to their own what they prefer. Even part-swapping doesn't really help that much in that you still wouldn't be easily be able to create a bunch of soldiers that have the same armor etc (i.e. uniformity). I'd prefer a means of getting some generic soldiers instead of only heroes, that's all.  Your opinion/mileage may - and obviously does - vary.

#56 SheepEater

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 11:23 PM

I think Lego figures that most of you (not me, unfortunately  :sad: ) can already use their already humongous selection of "generic human soldiers" from past Castle themes to fill in for Rohan and Gondor soldiers. "Crownies" already show up quite often as Gondor guys in MOCs.

Edited by SheepEater, 12 July 2012 - 01:31 AM.


#57 Hive

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 01:26 AM

View Posttvih, on 11 July 2012 - 10:57 PM, said:

And yes, LotR has a lot of main characters. But that you only get ONE generic human soldier from the entire first wave? I don't expect 9 main characters and 27 generic characters, but only having one is a bit silly. Especially as it's unlikely that the Hobbit sets and other new LotR will help much in that regard either.

I do agree that just the one generic human soldier in an entire wave is not at all optimal. They should do a human soldier impulse set.

I wouldn't have complained if Aragon had been swapped with a soldier in this set, but I understand why LEGO felt they wanted to include at least 2 characters from the fellowship in this flagship set. And though I may get flack for this, as everyone of course loves elves, I think they could have replaced Haldir as well, saving him for another wall-add-on to Helm's Deep (like Uruk-Hai army, but with a generic elv instead of generic human) in the second wave. He's a nice exclusive fig, but feels a bit out of place to me. Come to think of it, I'm actually really impressed with the fact that this set has (so far) 3 exclusive figs. That's not something I notice that often in LEGO sets of any size.

#58 I Scream Clone

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 04:00 AM

Whilst we as Adults, collectors and even army builders love a healthy mix of unique and army building figs, LEGO is aimed at the children afterall, and they are more likely to want the unique characters in order to recreate storylines not just within the sets but additional adventures too, take the LotR project topic showing the extra set designs that  Nuju Metru has created as a good example of further fleshing out Tolkiens world. I am sure there was loads of testing with kids/teenagers for these sets and market research as well as the license owners wanting visible characters represented in all sets to aid in selling them.

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#59 dartmar

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:52 AM

View Postlegomonk, on 10 July 2012 - 09:41 PM, said:

Just bought this set today. Now I have all the LOTR sets. I havnt opened it but I want to badly lol. I have to wait till I get home but I can say with ut a doubt one of the coolest set for LOTR.

You are lucky ! I haven't seen one LOTR set in stores here in the Netherlands yet. But that gives me time to save the money I need for the sets. I have also not seen any prices for the Netherlands.

But I think after Star Wars this would be a line I would collect. Although I stopped collecting SW after they started reinventing older models.

Funny enough it is the line Artic and Winter Village I have complete. 3 Sets each.

#60 Gandalf the Purple

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 03:51 PM

Very nice review, will have to pick this up.  :thumbup:
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#61 TheDarkness

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 11:03 AM

I sat down yesterday and completed my Helm's Deep set (along with the added Uruk-hai Army set)

Pros
It looks excellent
Exclusive minifigs
Introduces people to a Castle style theme who may never have had interest
Gimli! IMO one of the best minifigs ever
The door section and above - Despite the size it does look movie realistic
The Rohan flag sticker - I want alot more!
Armour prints on Theoden
The horse

Cons
No Saruman hand print on the Uruk-hai armour - looking back on the film, not many had it left on their helmets or shield, but on their chestplates instead. Would have been nice to see some on these Uruks
Lack of "generic" Rohan soldier - I agree with the complaints,they should have had at least one generic Rohan soldier
The size- I think realistically they should have aimed for the Deeping wall to be 1-2 bricks higher. With orcs next to it it looks tiny.
The Great Hall - My complaint with this is that it isn't elevated. It should be elevated to show that it is higher than the entrance point. It hides behind the entrance when really it should be able to be seen on any angle.
Lack of joining of the Great Hall to the outer walls. The idea
Only one Beserker
Aragon could have used a different print, one that highlights the chainmail he put on from the armoury perhaps?


Now I will admit I am being picky. Very picky. At the end of the day if the hand printing wasn't included on the Orc Forge set then I wouldn't think it an issue now.I would have happily paid a few extra dollars for another Rohan soldier and Beserker. I did however, enjoy building the set. It is fantastic and it does get you thinking about how you can build your castle to fortify it, as opposed to being just walls. You have key good guys to fight against a small army of bad guys. You have the exploding wall and Aragorn's leap to the causeway to enhance the playability factor. The Easter egg skull under the stairs. This definitely is one of my favourite sets for 2012.

Thanks for an awesome review ISC!

Edited by TheDarkness, 15 July 2012 - 11:05 AM.


#62 Falconer

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Posted 15 July 2012 - 07:21 PM

Are berserkers a big deal in the movies? Or you just like the idea of another orc design?

Interesting that you DON’T need this set if your goal is to collect the whole Fellowship.

#63 HeMan

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 01:15 PM

wow! a very nice set, i love the detail on the walls!

so tempting to move over to another theme!
but I've got 3 on the go so i can't otherwise i'll be broke!

#64 Kyrasdad

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 06:04 PM

View PostCallMePie, on 08 July 2012 - 10:17 PM, said:

Nice review. The best castle ever released, in my mind.  :thumbup:

@reviewer : Great review, well done on the pictures and their detail.
@CallMePie: One of the best castles but in my opinion the classic yellow castle is still the best. So many bricks, figures and baseplates, it kept me busy for many months.

Edited by Kyrasdad, 13 August 2012 - 06:05 PM.


#65 fenrir

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 07:38 PM

Just finished building this set.
It's such à good castle. It's THE best looking castle ever build by tlc.

iI did put à little box under the great hall, and it looks even better.
This set is worth the money.

#66 SheepEater

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 08:51 PM

View Postfenrir, on 13 August 2012 - 07:38 PM, said:

Just finished building this set.
It's such à good castle. It's THE best looking castle ever build by tlc.
Agreed. I never cared about any castle theme until this came out.
With that said, me already being a big LotR fan did help matters.  :sweet:

View Postfenrir, on 13 August 2012 - 07:38 PM, said:

iI did put à little box under the great hall, and it looks even better.
This set is worth the money.

Why not build a little elevation using bricks? Sorry, just being a purist.  :tongue:

#67 Balrog

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 02:01 PM

First: Thanks for the review. I got this set as well and have finally built it. So I will share my thoughts.

This build quicker than I thought. I have to mention, that this is the biggest set I ever got. But it was done in several hours. I split the build on two days. On the first day, I build booklet 1+2 and the rest on the second day. Though I first wanted to split it on 3 days. But I was so in building mood, that I pulled through.

The build itself features some interesting techniques and approaches, like the headlight with cheese on some corners or the way round walls are constructed with hinge bricks and plates. Very nice. Though, it is not alike the castles that I remember from being a kid. No fixed groundplate or anything. But thats ok. Wouldn't have worked good anyway in my opinion. Another pro for the set is the amount of (for me) rare colours. Lots of dark green cheese plates, big tan plates, sand green bricks and loads of the new brick bricks. Building the whole thing was a lot of fun. Though the brick built walls were somewhat instable at first and I struggled a bit with assembling the tower. But in the end I got it done.

I really like the minifigs. Especially King Theoden and Gimli. Mostly because of the printed helmets and the printed armor. Though there are 8 minifigs, it would have been good to have 2 additional generic soldiers. There are only "heroes" for the "good" side. Even the Uruk-Hai Army set (which I still have to get) does not make the situation much better. It's really hard to build a army for the "good" side.

I really liked, that there were so few stickers (6!). But it were some big ones (Wedge Wall piece), which I didn't like. In the good old days, there were printed ones available. Even with variation, so they don't look all the same. Another good call goes to the spare pieces. Lots of cheese plates and flames. That is so awesome. The extra cape you get is even mentioned in the pieces list in the instructions, so it seems to be no mistake. But no idea which figure the cape belongs to. Perhaps for King Theoden if he doesn't wear his armor. Doesn't matter - FREE CAPE!

Well now that I have the two biggest sets built, I can finally go on to the smaller ones ;)



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