I bought this set in the LEGO store in Cologne last weekend and it is my first set from the Hobbit theme.
Set Name: Barrel Escape
Set Number: 79004
Price: €49,99 / £39.99 / US$39.99
Theme: The Hobbit
"When the barrels were empty the elves cast them through the trapdoors, opened the water-gate, and out the barrels floated on the stream, [...]. For some time Bilbo sat and thought about this water-gate, and wondered if it could be used for the escape of his friends, and at last he had the desperate beginnings of a plan." J.R.R. Tolkien - The Hobbit
First of all, let's take a look at the box. On the front we have a picture of the set itself, standing on a (painted) wooden floor. On the top we can see the new logo for the Hobbit-theme and in the bottom left corner there is a little picture showing and naming the five included minifigures.
On the back of the box there is another picture showing the minifigs and different parts of the set, additionally the play features and the story behind the set are shown.
The contents of the box. There are two numbered bags and one instruction booklet. The box could be a lot smaller, but I guess at this price people expect a somewhat larger box.
The instruction booklet.
Random page. As you can see, the instructions are printed on a background that shows Thror's map. I love this design choice!
Now to the minifigs. I expect there will be quite a few of you that want to purchase this set just for them and can absolutely understand that, they are stunning! Let's start with Bilbo, Gloin and Oin (starting from left). Oin's hair and beard comes seperately packed and is made from a somewhat flexible rubber while Gloins hair is just the standard plastic material.
Bilbos alternative facial expression and the printing on his back.
The dwarves without their hair and beards, just to show the printing on the back and the alternative facial expressions.
As requested in the old thread, here's a picture of the front printing on Oin and Gloin.
There are a few dwarf and Hobbit weapons coming with this set. Gloin gets two axes, Oin a twohanded mace and Bilbo his sword Sting and the ring. Some of these come with extra pieces.
Apart from these minifigs the set includes two elves. The one on the left is called Mirkwood Elf Guard and the other one Mirkwood Elf Chief. I'm curious if those characters will be in this particular scene in the movie or if LEGO just included some generic elves. In the book, the elves drinking themselves into a stupor in the wine cellar are the elven king's butler and the chief of the guards. The printing on the Chief's legs is slightly off on my minifig.
And here we have their alternative facial expressions and the back printings.
When building the wine cellar you start with just the contents of the first bag, no need to unpack the second one already. Here are some interesting parts coming with the set. Some of them may be new, I for one didn't know the small arch with the "step" in it and the big arch piece.
In the second bag I found another cool piece I didn't know. It is used in building the lantern that hangs above the prison cells.
Now to the wine cellar! You start the build with the mechanism that lets you roll the big barrels into the down the ramp and into the "river".
The middle segment is added and the first mechanism is covered with some plates and other elements.
The segment in the middle gets a few barrels and a beautiful stone arch. I really like the technique used in this part of the build!
The third and last segement of the cellar comprises the stairs to the upper parts of the elven king's castle and the cells in which the dwarves are held.
The cellar is completed but the set includes three additional small builds. The first one is a wine barrel rack with a glas.
The second addition to thew cellar is a weapon rack with two elven blades and a bow.
The third and final addition is a table with a wine glass, two bottles and two stools for the guards.
The set is complete! Behold the cellar and its occupants in all their bricky glory.
These are the extra pieces included in the set. I wasn't expecting a brick seperator in a set of this size, nice surprise there!
The set has two play features. The first one is the ramp. You can push the lever to let the barrels with the dwarves roll down the ramp into the river that is supposed to be running along under the floorboards of the cellar.
The second mechanism lets you destroy the prison cell. Considering the chapter in the book, this doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
Design: 7/10 While I'm not a huge fan of the design of this set, it does one thing particularly well: It both works as a display and a set your kids can play with. The play features may not be particularly true to the story, but they are well incorporated into the set. I don't think I'll keep mine assembled for very long, though. The wine cellar, the prison area and all those extra details like the weapon rack make it clear, that LEGO has tried to incorporate a few different scenes into this set, which is understandable in regards to the target group but makes it much less interesting for me as an AFOL.
Parts: 8/10 While there are few extremely interesting pieces in this set, it offers a lot of useful parts in brown and tan. Apart from those, you get some interesting minifig accessories like the elven swords and the additional rings.
Build: 8/10 The build is not particularly difficult or time consuming and the instructions are pretty clear.
Minifigs: 9/10 The minifigs are what I mainly purchased this set for. They are absolutely brilliant, especially the dwarves and Bilbo. I am not a huge fan of elves in general, but the two that come with this set are pretty great, too. I am somewhat sad that the printing on the second elf's legs is a bit off, but the printing quality and design on the other figs is great.
Playability: 8/10 The set has two play features and some useful additions to the cellar scenery. One of the play features, the destroyable prison cell, does not make a lot of sense considering that the dwarves are freed with the key (that is hanging right next to tghe cell ), at least in the book. But I guess features like this are a big hit with kids.
Price: 6/10 This set is expensive, especially here in Germany. I can understand that licensing fees have to be paid, but 50€ for a set with only 334 pieces leaves a bitter aftertaste nontheless. I would have waited with my purchase but this set seemed the obvious choice when I visited the LEGO store because I had ordered most of the other sets already and wanted to get my hands on at least one Hobbit set as fast as possible.
Overall: 46/60 I doubt that this set will be my favourite from the first Hobbit wave, but it's not a bad one either. The price is pretty steep, but you get some great minifigs and useful pieces.
I hope you liked my review. Sorry for the picture quality, but I don't have my usual setup at the moment. Maybe I can replace some of the blurrier pictures in a few days.
Edited by ZCerberus, 14 December 2012 - 02:16 PM.