In the past several years, TLG has given its fans themes based on favorite film series, such as Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the ongoing Star Wars theme. However, all of those, except for SW, have only lasted two years or less. Each one has only been made into a theme because of a recent sequel or spin-off (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, On Stranger Tides, and now The Hobbit), and the theme's popularity has largely depended on the film's relevance. Will LEGO Lord of the Rings be any different? This is yet to be seen, but hopefully by looking at the current sets we can get some indication of that answer.
A largely anticipated theme, the first wave of LOTR Lego sets has given us some memorable scenes from the film trilogy. The Attack on Weathertop is one of those. But how does the set compare to the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring? And does the set show enough potential for the theme to live on? Read on to find out.
Set: 9472 Attack on Weathertop
Price: 59.99 USD / 49.99 GBP / 59.99 EUR
Theme: Lord of the Rings
Year Released: 2012
Let's start with what you pick off the shelf: the box. I didn't get this set from the store myself, so I was fairly surprised at the size when I found it waiting for me at home. For a 430-piece set, the box's height and length are more similar to a set of 600 pieces or more. The design is fairly straightforward, with a plain, dark background with some trees you can hardly see anyway. Personally, I think that the angle and presentation of this set on the box gives a rather poor impression. Just the way the different parts were set up and the angle make the set look like a big blob of rocks.
The colors are a black-fade-to-gold, with the Lord of the Rings font title as well as Sauron's finger with "the one ring to rule them all". Not sure if the picture is of the finger post-severance, or...? And naturally, the front of the box depicts the set itself, the minifigs, and the set info.
The back shows more of the set and some of its features. The box displaying the accessories (swords and ring) seems to be a trend among this wave of LOTR sets. There is also a small ad for what I assume to be the upcoming Lego LOTR video game. The observant customer would also notice that the background depicts a map of Middle Earth, which I find to be very cool. Once I tried reading Fellowship of the Ring, but could never get through itI did read The Hobbit, though... . Instead I always looked at the maps in the back of the book, and as far as I can remember (it was a long time ago), the maps used for the artwork in these sets is accurate.
The top of the box shows the minifigures, again (more on those later), while the bottom gives you translations for "Lord of the Rings" in French and Spanish (at least this version of it, sold in the USA). "Senor de los Anillos" may not have as nice of a ring to it, but from now on I'm going to use SDLA for the acronym and see if people know what I'm talking about.
Pouring out the contents, accompanied by that freshly-opened box smell, you get four numbered bags and an instruction booklet (below). I turns out the box's large size was completely unnecessary, as the contents only take up about half the space. And as you see here, the bags are also needlessly spacious. Seriously, a bag 2/3rds the size could accommodate the pieces of bag four. I feel as though this extra space was meant to make the set look larger than it really is, considering the 60 USD price tag. Like a bag of chips that's half air. So much for being eco-friendly, I guess.
Also in the box comes a single instruction booklet. In the back are your usual ads and whatnot. It's folded, as usual, but the damage wasn't too bad for this set.
Each numbered bag has it's own part of the build, and naturally you build everything in each bag, in order. There are part call-outs for each step, with sub-steps in yellow boxes. The background of each page depicts a faint outline of the map of Middle Earth; the casual viewer (i.e. one who is building) will most likely not notice it but it's a nice detail anyway.
Strangely, the minifigures are built separately with the bags, instead of all being built before everything else. Maybe I'm just not remembering that larger sets do this, but I think this is a new thing. Your guess is a good as mine when it comes to the reason for it, but I suppose it has something to do with preventing theft, or maybe the designers just wanted to spread out the fun. I don't think it's a huge deal either way.
Anyways, the set comes with five figures: Aragorn, Merery, Frodo and two Ringwraiths (I only showed one since they're the exact same). Aragorn comes with a pearl light grey longsword, which is probably my favorite new piece this year. We're been waiting a long time for a proper longsword, and the earlier versions pale in comparison. For one, it has a point at the end, which is much better than the rounded shortswords and broadswords from other Castle/Fantasy themes. Also, it is angled on the sides, allowing for a realistic look, while remaining simple enough to fit in with other Lego accessories. My only gripe is that the Lego logo and part information etched into the blade is pretty apparent, compared to other pieces where it is hardly noticeable. I'm not sure why this is, but up close it looks pretty ugly. Each Ringwraith comes with a peral dark grey version of the longsword.
Merry wields the nice new shortsword piece, while Frodo carries the ring and Sting. Although he doesn't acquire the orc-detecting sword until after the scene at Waethertop, I still would've rather the designers include it instead of another shortsword. The ring is chrome gold, and it is much more versatile than one might think. Because it can grip studs on both sides, more innovative connections with this piece are possible, including SNOT and reversing the direction of bricks when stacked.
Overall, a good crew of figs. I like how TLG has diversified their minifig selection for this theme by putting different figs in different sets. It's not always Frodo, Sam, and Gollum in every set. Instead we get Merry in this set, Pippin in Moria, and Gandalf in his own small set. This way allows the consumer to collect all of the Fellowship without just buying the largest set, while encouraging them to but different sets and collect as they please. Does this make sense?
Let's start details on each minifigure, starting with Aragorn, the real hero of LOTR. He wears a grey tunic underneath a dark brown coat, a print that carries from the torso to the legs. He also wears the fairy necklace that Eowyn gave him, though again that takes place after Weathertop. A deep jawline, a goatee, and some stubble make up the ranger's face, although I don't think the figure looks anything like Viggo Mortenson. The torso colors aren't accurate to the film, and this is just one face print that I don't think is right. The reverse "battle" side is slightly closer, but not by much. There is also some back printing, but it's so subtle that I wonder why the designers even bothered to put it there. It's not a bad thing, just not really worth it IMO.
Overall, one of the less impressive minifigures of the theme so far. I think a cape or some sort of longcoat could've gone a long way for adding to the "cool factor", but this is easily fixed.
Next up is Frodo Baggins, played by Elijah Wood in the film. Unlike Aragorn, I think this minifig is fairly accurate and similar to the actor. The new hair piece is fitting for all of the hobbits, as is the short cape piece (Frodo's is dark green). The reverse side of this fig is also much more interesting than Aragorn's, although I can't get a certain song out of my head when I look at his "possessed" face...
A solid figure all around. The only thing I think it would've benefited from is more wrinkles/detailing around the "normal" face to capture that very stressed mood that Wood portrays in the films.
Onto Merry. Like I said before, I'm glad the designers included him instead of, for example, Sam. It's nice that they change things up like this. In this set he wears a fancy yellow vest with a dark green cloak. His cape is in the new olive green color, and both the torso and face have back prints. The hair is the same as Frodo's, but in medium orange (Sam's is nougat/sand orange, in case you were wondering).
IMO, Merry is best figure of this set. His normal face is, well... merry, and the battle face is instantly recognizable from multiple scenes in the trilogy, such as Weathertop, the orc camp, and when he fights the Witch King at Minas Tirith. Just a well-drawn design that captures Merry's real-life counterpart.
Finally, we have the Ringwraiths. While there's a unique print for these guys, they're not all that different from the dementors from Harry Potter sets. I don't have them to compare, but from what I can tell, the cloaks are pretty similar, as well as the obvious black robes/hood. No fault on the designers, of course, I think these Ringwraiths are accurate (and cool to boot). Maybe it's just that fantasy writers have a fetish for evil, faceless, soul-sucking hooded undead entities.
There is one major gripe that I have about these minifigs, that that's about the fact that their hoods don't stay on when the cloak is attached. The cloaks are hooked onto the neck of the torso by three holes instead of two like other capes. This causes big, stiff creases near the shoulders, so the hood pops off really easily. Just touching the minifigure can cause this. The creases will probably loosen up over time, but it is still pretty frustrating.
The first bag deals with a very small portion of the set: the
There's not a whole lot to see in the first, very small build. Two dark pearl grey longswords, an orange piece separator, and two wraith horses are present. The separator is a nice bonus that seems to be becoming the norm in recent sets, and is much superior to the older version in that it can lift tiles and punch through Technic axles.
A white cardboard box also comes in this bag, which contains the four capes belonging to the Ringwraiths, Frodo, and Merry.
Since this is a new piece, I will look at the Ringwraith's horse in great detail. In comparison to the older Lego horse, this one is a lot curvier and more realistic, while retaining the original simplicity. The new one also has rounder ears, more pronounced detailing (such as the mane and the angled head), a longer tail, and pose-able hind legs. All in all, the new horse is far superior, and a well-needed upgrade.
Speaking strictly about this particular design of the new horse, there is some neat metallic printing on the head as well as the creepy red eyes. Very reminiscent of the film.
One other thing I would like to mention about the horse is that the Ringwraiths can sit comfortably on them without having to bend the cloaks at all.
The rest of Bag 1 focuses on building this small rock. It's kind of random, but well-built. As I will mention later in the review, the designers have done an excellent job at substituting brick-build rocks for Big Ugly Rock Pieces (BURPs). Also, fans of the dark tan bush piece from Prince of Persia sets will be glad to note that another one has been included in this set.
The complete build of the first bag with extra pieces (piece separator and hobbit capes not included). The black 1x2 bricks with 1x2 plates on top can be switched out with the saddles on the horses to fill the gap when the Ringwraiths aren't riding them.
Overall, a fairly unimpressive build for an entire bag. I started to feel like I wasn't getting my money's worth at this point, because I thought the main part of the set would be rather unimpressive with only three bags.
The second bag deals with building the first half of Weathertop itself. Let's take a look at the interesting pieces first.
A light grey microfigure statue and some weapons. I have never had a microfigure before, so it is interesting to see one in person. I can imagine that it will be useful for acting as a statue (what it's supposed to be) in MOCs, though those creative builders out there will probably find other uses for it. The pearl dark grey shortsword and spear are decoration in the set, and the pearl light grey longsword belongs to Aragorn. One thing I would like to point out is that the bottom of the spear's shaft is flat, unlike the previous mold which had a rounded bottom. I'm not sure about the reason for this other than to make it more aesthetically pleasing, but it's not a huge deal.
Now, let's jump into the build.
We start out by stacking some hinge plates. There's quite a few of them in this set, so MOCers take note.
We continue by building up a wall. Combinations of slops make for an excellent rock surface while giving the buyer the pieces to create their own (whereas the same thing could not be achieved with BURPs).
This next part is really gratifying. Using the hinge plates, you fold the walls inward...
...and lock them in place by attaching 1x4 dark green tiles to the plates. This, to me, was really cool to see. I never had enough hinge pieces to make a round wall or surface myself, so seeing it in action has taught me a valuable skill in building. It is also at this point that the build comes together very quickly, and any reservations had about the set design have all but vanished.
After a weapons rack, a rat, torches, and some more slopes and hinges (for support) are added, we have a nice full, temple-like structure. The holes in the lower floor are also covered with some plates.
After adding some plates to the top, the second build is completed.
This is the half not shown on the front of the box, so I really felt like I was getting a better deal for my money after building this far. An extra spear is included, as well.
The third bag builds the other half of Weathertop.
More interesting pieces. The hollow Technic column I personally have not seen since the original Bionicle sets. We also get some masonry bricks in dark tan, a dark tan 2x2 plate with a Technic pin on the bottom, black PoP arches, and pieces for a spiral staircase.
Starting with the build, we can see some sort of sewer starting to form, as well as a candelabra. While building, I found that 2x2 jumper plate with a 1x1 tile attached to it to be rather strange, but it does have a purpose, as you'll soon find out.
The build is continued by adding non-BURP rock builds, for the wall. The Technic tube is added, and the spiral staircase pieces are stacked. These are always so much fun to build, and we finally figure out the purpose of the strange tiling. It is to keep the stairs in place, so that they can't easily fold up again. The staircase is topped off with that 2x2 plate with pin so that more can be built on top of it. Nice!
Next, the build of Bag 3 is connected to the build of Bag 2 via hinge brick. This allows the set to fold open and closed for playability purposes.
More wall and support is built up on the front and sides of this half of Weathertop.
And finally the third bag is completed, with just a few small extra pieces. Almost done!
The fourth and final bag deals with adding final details and finishing touches. These will be focused on more in the next section, but here are the interesting parts.
Sting, a leek, The One Ring to Rule Them All, and the new sack accessory. A good amount of useful pieces.
Bag 4 completed! As you can see some arches and walls were added to the top to give that "ruined" vibe. Various other details were added too, which you'll see shortly. The extra pieces include two more rings and a second Sting. Very nice.
The Complete Set:
The full set in all its glory. It was definitely much bigger than I originally thought, and there's a lot of nice details that really make this set worth the price. Before we take a look, I would like to mention one thing.
While this set may be a tad low on the piece count for 60 USD (about 14 cents per piece), the parts are actually useful. This isn't to say that any Lego part is useless, but I find that this set offered a lot of basic pieces that will be useful for MOCing. This is in stark contrast to some large Star Wars vehicles, where a facade of semi-useful angled plates cover a skeleton of Technic beams. Don't get me wrong, some SW ships are really nice and I'm not saying that they should be built a different way, but there is definitely less part value. What's more is the fact that this set doesn't use any juniorized parts, such as BURPs or those castle wall pieces. This gives the buyer a lot of basic, useful parts for creating MOCs.
Just my two cents on the matter. I really think that this set offers a good part value, despite the steep cost.
And now we can fold the set in. It snaps together via Technic pin. The arch acting as a sewer drain really helps to attach and separate the two sides here.
Here's what Weathertop looks like from both sides while folded up. Not bad, I must say. It looks like a natural mountain with man-made touches to create the watchtower that it should be. In the back we have the camp that the hobbits set up, complete with a fire and some food. The front shows that awesome rounded wall will remnants of the tower that once was.
The back has some flick-fire missiles. Wow, they even managed to include those in a LOTR set... I don't remember anything shooting in this scene, but I guess it's a nice and subtle feature that will entertain children who own this set. They can only be fired when the set is folded open, though.
Merry remains oblivious as Frodo gets shot in the back of the head... he should really look where he's going!
Setting the minifigures up like the scene in The Fellowship of the Ring was admittedly more fun than building it.
And now it is the time where the review comes to a close. It's for the...
Build/Design: 10/10 - Really nothing to complain about here. Despite the poor first impression I got before opening the box, this set really has a nice design. The rounded walls are great and fun to build, and I enjoyed learning how to make better rock structures. The "ruined" look is present, and the folding mechanism works great.
Playability: 9/10 - I'll admit, recreating the scenes from the film with this set was fun. The dollhouse-style opening of the set allows even more playability options, as do the missiles and trap door. Might've been cool to have some sort of launching mechanism for the minifigures on top, but playability isn't weighted very heavy in my book anyway.
Minifigures: 8.5/10 - There are some really great prints, and some not-so-great ones (Aragorn). Overall not the best of the theme's minifigure selection, but still very neat ones. The main gripe I have is with the issue with the hoods staying on the Ringwraiths.
Parts: 5/5 - You couldn't ask for a better selection of parts in a set. All of them are very useful, and we get some neat new molds. Top scores from me.
Price: 4.5/5 - Like I said, this set has an excellent parts value, but it is still a little steep at 60 USD.
FINAL SCORE: 37/40 - A must-have set for LOTR and Castle fans alike. The pieces can be used for anything, from medieval castles to modern skyscrapers. Most of the minifigures are very desirable, and the set has a great design to boot. I would reccomend that anyone considering buying some LOTR sets purchase this before Helm's Deep, but after the Mines of Moria.
Even the Ringwraiths are frightened of zombie Frodo.
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