…the most loathly shape that he had ever beheld…Most like a spider she was, but huger than the great hunting beasts…Great horns she had, and behind her short stalk-like neck was her huge swollen body, a vast bloated bag, swaying and sagging between her legs; its great bulk was black, blotched with livid marks, but the belly underneath was pale and luminous and gave forth a stench. Her legs were bent, with great knobbed joints high above her back, and hairs that stuck out like steel spines, and at each leg’s end there was a claw…
For every Tolkien fan, the name leaps from the pages (and screen) of Middle-earth to invade a commonly held fear in our everyday life – the fear of an impossibly large, eight-legged, creepy-crawly finding us in the dark. *shiver* According to Wikipedia, it is estimated that 55% of women and 18% of men are Arachnophobic. You can count me among those with a mild fear of spiders, which basically means I have to ‘act’ the role of father/husband when it comes disposing of them. I can’t very well unleash a high-pitched scream and run away now can I…
So when I first saw the ‘Shelob Attacks’ LEGO® Set at the 2012 Toy Fare, I have to admit…I was a bit creeped out. Yes, its LEGO® blocks, but the piece is still surprisingly life-like. In fact, one of the reporters getting the sneak peek at this set could not go within 5 feet of the display. Yes, he was that Arachnophobic!
Before we get to the meat of this review, I will warn you ahead of time, that I am in no way a LEGO® Set expert. To be honest, I haven’t touched the popular construction toys for possibly 10 years, so I’m a bit behind the times when it comes to the licensed themed sets. However, I can tell you, within 1 minute of opening the box, the wonderful memories of LEGO® set building came swooping back.
All of The Lord of the Rings LEGO® Sets follow a similar theme for their packaging, including the official logo, a background of the Middle-earth map, and the ominous Sauron finger with The One Ring. The front of the box features a very well composed image of the set, depicting the sequence from The Return of the King where Frodo is captured by Shelob and Sam rushes in to save the day. We of course also have Gollum lurking in the shadows of a LEGO® cave wall. The back of the box focuses on the diversity of the objects inside, including possible poses, accessories and action sequences. My particular favorite is Gollum leaping on top of Frodo, but the ‘hanging Shelob’ above Frodo shot is also quite intriguing. The back of the box also features a small plug for the upcoming LOTR LEGO® Video Game. (A game that many of us are highly anticipating!)
Inside the box are the packages of LEGO® bricks and a very in-depth instruction booklet. I was expecting the bags of LEGO® bricks to be organized into groups…you know, Hobbit pieces, Shelob pieces, etc…but from what I could tell they were not. The instruction booklet clearly outlined the process of building this set and was a godsend for a LEGO® newbie like myself. I can’t even imagine attempting to put this together without the booklet – in fact, I’m pretty sure its quite impossible.
Mini-figures (Frodo, Sam, Gollum): 4/5
The mini-figures are obviously a lot of fun. The head of Frodo and Sam both feature the ‘concerned’ and ‘angry’ face on opposites sides, so you can adjust the mood for your scene. Each has a cloth-like coat (they come in one of the little white boxes – I was looking forever for them) and each has a full detailed body torso. For Sam, you have his traveling gear, and for Frodo he’s wearing his red vest. The set comes with multiple copies of The One Ring, Sting and Sam’s sword. And of course, we have a very cool replica of the Phial of Galadriel to ward off Shelob. Gollum features on ‘angry’ face and comes with a fish.
I gave these figures a 4 out of 5 because I was a bit disappointed in two features. First, Gollum seemed a bit top-heavy and would topple over if you try to pose him in some unique ways with the fish. His articulation is limited to the arms. And second, both Frodo and Sam’s legs are static – with no articulation. I would have also liked to swap out Gollum’s face for this set.
It goes without saying that Shelob is the focus of this set. From her construction, to the very detailed body, LEGO® has gone above and beyond bringing us this monstrosity. I’m sure others could do it faster, but she took about 30-40 minutes to construct (using the instruction booklet) and I enjoyed every minute. The smallest of details are accounted for, including the face detail with the injured eye. The mechanism that drives the web/string works very well, and besides having to figure out how to tie a nice knot to both ends (I really should have observed more at Boy Scouts), you have quite a lot of string to reconstruct a scene. The added ‘hook’ at the end of the string seems to also work very well for dangling Shelob from a shelf. There is a gear system internally that is activated by a wheel under her belly – you simply turn the wheel and the string retracts. Shelob’s body articulation is a bit realistic freaky – from the full rotating ‘butt,’ to the eight dynamic legs, it just feels like you can make her handle any position. The only possible drawback I found is when trying to pose the base of the legs down more – they are limited in that respect. Again, my inexperience with LEGO® sets could be at play here.
Gollum’s Leaping Platform: 5/5
I’m not sure what this is officially called, but the small wall and ‘launch’ pad for Gollum was easy to construct and simple enough to get the hang of using. It features two green vines and a small springboard for Gollum to leap off of onto Frodo (or Sam, or heck, Shelob!)
For a small set, ‘Shelob Attacks’ packs a punch! From the first ever web function LEGO® spider, to the amazing accessories, this little set is well worth the cost and will provide you with hours of fun – from construction to play. If you personally don’t ‘play’ with LEGO® Sets anymore, I challenge you to give this one a shot. If you like The Lord of the Rings, and you don’t have an overwhelming problem with Arachnopobia, I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how fun LEGO® Sets can be for ‘kids’ of all ages. I know this set is going to sit in a place of honor on a shelf in my office. However, if I notice Shelob’s leg out of position one day…I might just freak out a bit…
This set will be available in June at stores near you! Look for a post on TheOneRing.net as soon as online purchase options are available. And check out the gallery below for full pics including construction snap-shots and final pieces. And if you are wondering what else I’m about to review…you may see it in the background of some photos. Coming soon: ‘The Mines of Moria’ and they’ve got a LEGO® Cave Troll!
Shelob™ Attacks LEGO® Set
Plotting to reclaim The One Ring, Gollum lures Frodo into the lair of the ancient giant spider, Shelob. Will Shelob cast her web and capture Frodo or can Samwise Gamgee rescue him in time? Includes 3 minifigures: Frodo, Samwise Gamgee, Gollum. Available June 2012. 227 pieces $19.99 USD
Official Website for The Lord of the Rings LEGO Sets – http://thelordoftherings.lego.com
Calisuri is a co-founder and owner of TheOneRing.net. His views are not necessarily those of TheOneRing.net – odd, right? Considering he’s an owner? But no…that’s not always the case. He is a mid-range Tolkien fan with a knowledge of fandom that is just dangerous enough to get himself in trouble.