‘…There are Orcs, very many of them,’ he (Gandalf) said. `And some are large and evil: black Uruks of Mordor. For the moment they are hanging back, but there is something else there. A great cave-troll, I think, or more than one. There is no hope of escape that way…’
I think back on my relatively young life and can fondly recall a few events that I would consider highlights: My marriage to my beautiful wife; the birth of our daughter; TheOneRing.net Oscar Parties from 2002-2004; Finding my dream job with Sideshow; and that time I got to see 26 minutes of The Fellowship of the Ring at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001. As you can read in my original report, I was blown away by the revelation of Peter Jackson’s vision of The Lord of the Rings on the big screen, especially when it came to the infamous Mines of Moria. Sure it was different from the books, but visual execution seemed to transmit my own visions of Middle-earth and put them on the big screen. So many years later, it is now my privilege to relive some of that sequence through the ‘Mines of Moria’ LEGO® Set, now available at most retailers.
As a preface to my review, I need to remind you all that I am not a LEGO® Set expert. My first experience with LEGO® Sets in many years was building the ‘Shelob Attacks‘ set I reviewed last month. So if I get some terminology wrong, please don’t hold it against me :P.
There are a few obvious differences between the ‘Shelob Attacks’ LEGO® Set and ‘The Mines of Moria.’ First, and most obvious, is that the set is much larger and more complex. Whether it is the ‘action’ elements in the gate and right side piece, or it is adding the detailing stickers just in the right place, you will find this set takes anywhere from 3-4 hours to piece together. Let me say…that is not a bad thing! I’m quickly finding myself addicted to the enjoyment and plain old fun of LEGO® Sets again! (After the break I’ve got 84 pictures of the set!)
As with the previous set, the ‘Mines of Moria’ LEGO® Set has the official LOTR logo, a background of the Middle-earth map, and the ominous Sauron finger with The One Ring. The front of the box showcases the various action elements and facial choices included with the set. I particularly like the Pippin ‘terror’ face as he knocks over the skeleton into the well, and the Cave Troll about to smash Gimli and Balin’s tomb. Legolas looks like he is about to pounce off the right wall element onto the Cave Troll’s head, and Boromir is defending against a Moria Orc. The back of the box features even more possibilities and a reminder about the upcoming LOTR LEGO® Video Game.
Inside the box are five packages of LEGO® bricks, marked to help you sort them, and not one, but two very in-depth instruction booklets. As you will see in the gallery below, I took some pictures of parts of these books that gave me a true giggle. First the big red x through the concept of unpacking your LEGO® pieces in the grass. I would imagine that is explicit, but hey, you never know. The second graphic is a sad face with a squinty-eye being hit by a black ball. I honestly didn’t ‘get’ what the graphic meant at first. After all, there were no small black balls in the set. But now I’m on board with the universal symbol that one of the action elements could project a LEGO® piece at your face and possibly damage your eye. Short of actually fast-balling the piece at someone’s face, I’m not sure that is a real worry, but I guess this is one of those cases where the lawyers got their way! ha!
But back to the instructions, they were very informative, clear and precise. If I had one complaint, it was I was not always sure which sticker went where on the set. Some are numbered, but not all of them are, and in some cases the drawings were not as clear as I had hoped. You’ll probably see some of the mistakes in my pictures below.
For as complex and time consuming as the process can be following these instructions, I have to give the packaging and internal materials a very high grade. This amateur LEGO® fan was able to do it on the first try!
Mini-figures (Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, Pippin, Moria Orcs, Skeletons): 4.5/5
There are a lot of mini-figures in this set, and all have a bit of unique charm. The Skeletons that are included with the set are quite entertaining, considering they are simply skeletons! Their arms dangle freely and they have posable legs.
Pippin has a detailed body with a blue cloak and scarf. Like the hobbits in the ‘Shelob’ set, he has a cloak that can be found in the small square white box among the other pieces. (I only mention this because I took forever last time to make that discovery!) He has two facial expressions to choose from…I guess we could call one his ‘nervous’ face and the other his ‘terror’ face. Both are fun and express the character very well. He has a small sword as an accessory. The only oddity with Pippin is the fact that his legs don’t pose – not sure why that would be the case. We know he can run through Farmer Maggot’s fields pretty quickly!
Boromir does have posable legs with a detailed torso mimicking his costume in the films. Don’t forget to put on his cloak like I did! He comes with his sword and shield and also features two facial expressions: ‘Snear’ and ‘Intense Concentration.’ (Sorta like Blue Steel :P) Of course he has orange/red hair and his face is detailed with a matching go-tee.
Gimli is shorter than the other figures and has a very detailed helmet. His beard, a separate element, hides his facial expressions, but you can get the general gist of his mood by the stern eyes. For some reason, Gimli is cursed with having non-posable legs. Again, I’m not sure why this would be, cause we all know he jumps around and fights with the best of them. His accessory axes are really well crafted, but ultimately they seem unwieldy and hard to pose. Since he doesn’t have the posable legs, it makes that a bit more challenging. But besides those minor setbacks, Gimli does have the Book of Mazarbul – a great little piece of detail that makes this set all the cooler.
The Moric Orc figures feature the armor as we see in the film and also the crazy faces, jet black hair and pointy ears that make them so distinctive from others of their race. The accessories that accompany them are notched and damaged to further maintain film accuracy. The head itself has the same expression on either side, so you won’t necessarily need to make a choice – you know, Orcs in general are always ‘angry’ face after all. The hair and ears are a single piece that fits on the head. While wrist articulation is available on all of these figures, it drew my attention on the Moria Orcs. Maybe it was the color difference between the body and the hands, but ultimately it makes for even more rewarding posing options.
Legolas is represented in his green cloak and has two faces: ‘intense’ and ‘pissed.’ (Obviously I’m assigning my own names at this point! Ha) He comes with a bow/arrow accessory that fits a bit awkwardly in his hand…I’m guessing that is just one of those things that can’t be technically executed in LEGO® form. Legolas’s hair and ears are also the same piece, like the Orcs, but as a result he can only truly ‘face’ forward. His hair prevents moving his head from side to side – again, just a technical limitation. I should note that Legola’s legs are posable, allowing him to jump on top of that nasty Cave Troll.
The only reason these figures don’t get a 5/5 is due to the non-posable legs on some and the unwieldy accessories for others. Expert LEGO® collectors probably will not have the same issues I had with posing. Otherwise these figures are stand-alone awesomeness. I have them on my shelf above my computer!
Cave Troll: 5/5
The highlight of this set is the imposing Cave Troll. Ever since Boromir muttered, ‘They’ve got a Cave Troll!’ in the films, this monstrous beast became a fan favorite and a much anticipated sequence in The Fellowship of the Ring. The figure itself lives up to this excitement in LEGO® form. He appropriately stands taller than the other minifigures. His back, arms and scalp are detailed, with his face in permanent ‘angry’ mode. While his legs don’t move, he does feature articulated shoulders and wrists. He has space on his head to attach the chain accessory and wields a gigantic club. If you check out the ‘making of’ video at LEGO.com, with designer Hans Henrik Sidenius, you can see an early prototype version of the Cave Troll in grey. The final piece here is a blue/grey.
The Well: 5/5
‘Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!’ We all remember Gandalf’s rebuke of Pippin so very well. So it is no surprise to see that very well piece in The Mines of Moria, complete with bucket, chain and Skeleton. Of course, the well has a function to allow you to set up them all up nicely only to have them tumble noisily into the abyss. There are some detail stickers applied here as well as a yellowish crystal to accent the piece.
Main Gate: 5/5
When you think of the Balin’s Tomb scene in The Fellowship of the Ring, you most likely visualize the Fellowship facing the gate as it is barred and secured by Boromir and Aragorn. This LEGO® Set does a great job capturing that moment with highly detailed doors, as well as the ability to bar the gate closed with an additional axe accessory. Once built, the gate has some great stickers that further detail the gate with stones, cobwebs and of course, dwarven writing. What I found most interesting in building this set was how even the smallest pieces can provide that added level of detail/diversity to make the scene come alive. Whether it is the single beige accent on the floor or the LEGO® bricks that have literal brick ridges, every effort was taken to make the set piece feel authentic. The gate also features a break away portion to provide some dynamic play when the Cave Troll busts through the doors.
The center of this environment is, of course, Balin’s Tomb. As one would expect, the tomb comes with the skeleton of Balin and a neat little action function to mimic being smashed by a Cave Troll. The top of the tomb has runes and inscriptions to add extra detail. As I mentioned above, you also get the Book of Mazarbul to further authenticate the scene.
Right Side/Dwarf Library: 5/5
The largest element in this environment is the right wall of the Tomb. This is of course where Legolas jumps on the back of the Cave Troll and a few hobbits scurry for their lives. The construction of the wall takes full advantage of the stickers as well as some extra accessory pieces like a barrel, pick-axe, bottle, book, spear, skull, torch, etc. There are quite a few action elements on this wall, including a very cool hide-away treasure chest, complete with jewels and valuables. Additionally, two large columns collapse when triggered by the switches on the back. The construction of this wall is done in three pieces, and they easily come together to form the largest portion of this set.
I thoroughly enjoyed building this set. I think I have the LEGO® Set bug now…which is an expensive but rewarding habit to acquire! Ultimately, ‘The Mines of Moria’ delivers the goods when it comes to reliving the sequence from The Fellowship of the Ring. Whether it is imagining the action of a Cave Troll bashing through the gate, or Legolas leaping on top of the beast to finish him off, this set really does allow you to fully realize each moment from one of Fellowship’s most memorable sequences. I think it goes without saying that I highly recommend it to friends and family.
In the coming weeks we should have some more reviews for the other sets. They are all available to purchase now at LEGO.com: The Mines of Moria, Shelob Attacks, The Orc Forge, Gandalf Arrives, Uruk-hai Army, Attack on Weathertop, and The Battle of Helm’s Deep.
If you enjoyed this review, please do consider purchasing through the links above (That way LEGO will know you heard about them from us! ). Please also share your own thoughts and opinions on this set in the comments and on Facebook.
The Mines of Moria LEGO® Set
Defeat the giant cave troll with 6 minifigures at The Mines of Moria, packed with realistic details, hidden features and action functions! Includes 6 minifigures: Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, Pippin, Moria Orcs, Cave Troll. Now Available (links below). 776 pieces $79.99 USD
Purchase: The Mines of Moria
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.