Lego’s Huge Rivendell Set Is as Epic a Feat as the Lord of the Rings Movies
Before this month, it had been years since Lego had made any sets based off the Lord of the Rings movies. But the iconic brick maker came to us at the turn of the tide with the latest adult collectors set—a recreation of Rivendell from The Fellowship of the Ring as epic as an extended edition trilogy marathon, and just as satisfying.
Lego provided io9 with access to a copy of the new set, and after a few days of furious building—and cursing of 1×1 tile pieces—we’ve got our extensive impressions of what it’s like building one of the biggest sets the company has ever made.
How long does it take to build Lego’s Lord of the Rings Rivendell set?
Whether you’re an experienced builder or a Lord of the Rings fan jumping into Lego for the first time in years, it’s going to take you a while to finish Rivendell. If you’re used to the more complex adult-oriented builds Lego has put out in recent years, you can probably finish in about 16 or so hours of building—if you’re not, expect to spend closer to 24. Spread over a few days, it’s a herculean task either way. Put on the extended editions in the background (you’ll even have time for The Hobbit trilogy, if you want!) and get cracking.
How many minifigures are in Lego’s Lord of the Rings Rivendell set?
Rivendell comes with a hefty 15 minifigures—each member of the Fellowship (Gandalf the Grey, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragon, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli), three extra named characters (Elrond, Arwen, and an elderly Bilbo), and three unnamed characters (two Elven attendants, one male and one female, and one unnamed dwarf, meant to represent some of the other dwarven representatives at the council of Elrond). Almost every figure comes with accessories and alternate face prints for different expressions, and both Gandalf and Gimli even have alternate hairpieces to show them with or without their headgear.
That total doesn’t actually include another five and a half minifigures peppered throughout the set—grey figurines representing various statues around Rivendell itself.
Is Lego’s Lord of the Rings Rivendell set difficult to build?
Like most of its recent “adults only” sets, Lego recommends Rivendell to builders aged 18 and up. If you’re not used to Lego’s adult sets, Rivendell features a number of advanced techniques that have become commonplace in its larger sets that could be difficult to wrap your head around—and in general there are lots of steps that require multiple builds of the same repeating element, or clever bits of positioning, to get just right. The instructions as ever are clear enough that nothing is too hard, but the amount of small pieces and intricate steps can make it intimidating, especially in places where it’s difficult to see what you’re actually building towards until it’s finally coming together. If you’re seeking a challenging, satisfying build, you’ll have one in Rivendell.
Is Lego’s Lord of the Rings Rivendell set better for Lego fans or Lord of the Rings fans?
Like I mentioned before, Rivendell is an intimidating set if you don’t have a lot of experience with Lego’s modern collectors-focused sets. But there’s so much detail and so many little Easter eggs throughout the whole thing that even if it takes you a while to get through it, the end product is something that feels like an absolute love letter to the Lord of the Rings films, and that will get you through the more challenging, delicate aspects of putting it together. If you’re a Lego collector with no familiarity with the movies, this is still an incredible building experience, full of smart techniques and pieces of design that can be appreciated even without knowledge of the source material. But considering the price, it’s much harder to recommend even on the strength of that experience if you’re not already a diehard fan of the movies. Speaking of…
How much is Lego’s Lord of the Rings Rivendell set? Is it worth the price?
Lego’s Lord of the Rings Rivendell costs a whopping $500—not the most expensive set in recent memory, but still a big hit to your wallet (once again, for full disclosure, Lego provided io9 with a copy for review). Lego fans’ fabled “price per part” ratio makes it around eight cents per piece, but that’s not really a good way of looking at the value of a set that is, while not in the majority, still filled with a lot of very small pieces. In the end, it’s a gorgeous display piece, and the amount of time you’ll invest in building it is enough that you’ll feel the quality the set commands. Even though the price is at the kind of high point that will give most casual fans pause, there’s enough love and care, and scale in the final build, that it mostly feels worth that tag.
If you’re a diehard fan of the films, this is a must have, and it’ll be around for long enough that you can likely wait a while for sales to knock at least some of the price down to take the edge off of the sticker shock. If you can drop the money for it now though, it’s absolutely one of the best Lego sets you can buy at the minute.
Now, click through to see a breakdown of building the set, and plenty more pictures! Lego’s Lord of the Rings Rivendell set is available to order direct from the company now.
Rivendell is built in four distinct sections across three instruction manuals, making up the eventual thirds it breaks down into for play and transportation. The first is the tower that sits at the far left of the build, and includes your first three minifigures (well, technically eight, but we’ll get to that).
Those minifigures are three Hobbits, who, unlike past Lord of the Rings halfling minifigures, have updated two-tone leg pieces to show off those blocky big feet. Frodo comes with the One Ring, of course; Sam with his trusty frying pan; and Bilbo a walking stick.
The five other minifigures in this section are actually representing statues that run around the base of the tower—they’re still complete figures though, including alternate expressions for more stern or calm faces.
The very bottom of the tower includes a small hidey-hole covered by leaves, and is inspired by Sam hiding in the bushes of Rivendell to overhear the council meeting he wasn’t invited to.
This section features two interiors: on the ground floor is a small library, while above it is Bilbo’s room.
The wall behind that top floot includes a mural depicting Isildur about to fatefully strike Sauron down at the Battle of the Last Alliance—and becomes part of a larger scene when the set is all put together.
The ground floor includes a small bookshelf of Elrond’s tomes and a nice little bench to read on.
Bilbo’s room is a little more elaborate—there’s a bed with a bedside table, a small chest containing Sting and his Mithril vest, and a writing desk.
A desk where, once you removed the tower parapet, you can get a better look at the Red Book of Westmarch, where Bilbo is writing his book.
Both Bilbo and Frodo come with alternate brick-built legs for sitting down, whether it’s to recreate Frodo waking up after recovering from his injury, or to… well, get them to sit down anywhere.
Frodo and Bilbo’s heads can both be rotated to reveal alternate expressions—Frodo’s horrified shock, while Bilbo’s is of course a reference to the ring tempting him in Fellowship’s extended edition, causing his face to quickly flash sinisterly in a highly meme’d jumpscare.
The second phase of building is actually for the other end of the set: a small bridge and pavilion area that comes with four more figures.
Those four minifigures are two named characters and two unnamed ones: Gimli (with his trusty axe), Arwen (with a book for her to dramatically drop in two movie’s time), a feminine-presenting Elvish attendant, and an unnamed member of the Dwarven contingent that attends Elrond’s meetings. Early sources believed this was actually Gloin, Gimli’s father, but Lego designers have since said it’s meant to represent any general Dwarven ambassador.
The small pavilion is meant to represent scenes from later Lord of the Rings movies where Arwen reads away her immortality and mopes about Aragorn. Plus, it’s on the other side of the building where her dad hangs out, so it’s best suited as a getaway for his nagging about her boyfriend.
The stone bridge, which features exposed studs to place minifigures on along the way, goes over a small recreation of some of the river Brunien, which flows through the structures of Rivendell.
Lifting up Arwen’s pavilion reveals underneath an armory and forge, for storing some of the weapons that come with the set (including Elven and human swords, dwarven axes, and a bow) and just in case, you know, you ever need to re-forge a blade that was once broken for any particular reason. Like some king returning or something.
Rivendell is full of little details and secrets that you won’t normally see looking at the set from the front. Case in point: this little cave behind the waterfall that houses a single frog and some mushrooms made out of glow-in-the-dark pieces. Neat!
There’s also a smaller forge outside, should your Elves need some fresh air during all that smelting and whatnot.
The largest part of the build is the main section of the set: Elrond’s various chambers that serve as the backdrop to the council meeting. You also get the most minifigures here, befitting the size and focus of the build this section commands.
Those six figures are a second unnamed Elven attendant, this time masculine-presenting, Pippin and Merry to round out the Hobbits, Gandalf the Grey, Boromir, and Legolas.
Naturally Merry and Pippin’s accessories are food themed. Merry comes with the parts of the broken carrot he stole when he and Pippin bumped into Frodo and Sam on their way out of the Shire, while Merry has a piece of Lembas bread—the Elven bread meant to fill a man’s stomach in a single bite, but more of a party nibble for a Hobbit.
This section of the build includes some of the most intricate detailing in the whole piece— like this gorgeous set of columns that form a ring around the house’s front.
As a clever nod to the moment Sauron’s eye flashes when Gimli’s axe strikes the One Ring during the Council’s meeting, the foundation of the section you’ll eventually place the Council sets on has a hidden recreation of Sauron’s disembodied form, always watching.
Arguably the arduous part of the build, if not the toughest, is the the intricate tiling atop the roofs of Rivendell, done with painstakingly placed single-stud tiles to create an elaborate mosaic. You don’t have to be too perfectionist with the positioning when you’re first placing them—the instructions include a clever technique of running a long, thin piece in between each row of tiles to straighten them out.
The small interior of the house is filled with various desks of writing, mostly taken up by maps.
The second floor of Elrond’s abode connects to that small section at the back of the tower earlier—representing the hall of artifacts and artwork that Aragorn and Boromir examine. Included are pictures of Ost-in-Edhil, the Elven captial of Eregion and home to Celebrimbor, and Eärendil and Elwing sailing to Aman in the First Age. The last statue minifigure forms part of the sculpture that holds the shards of Narsil, the sword of Elendil that ultimately destroyed Sauron’s physical form at the climax of the Second Age.
Although part of the same manual as the main house, the final section of the Rivendell set is built separately—the ring of seats where Elrond calls his council of Middle-earth representatives to discuss the finding of the One Ring.
This small section, which can be displayed on its own, includes the final two figures: Elrond, and Aragorn.
There are several different tree builds placed throughout Rivendell, but the mighty tree that sits behind Elrond’s seat is the most impressive—and its leaves are full of wonderful autumnal colors.
Both Elrond and Gandalf, like Bilbo and Frodo, come with alternate brick-built lower halves so they can actually sit down at the council chairs.
Although this section is not completely secured when placing it into the final build—so you can remove it for play—it fits tightly into its allotted section thanks to some clever shaping and structuring, so you don’t have to worry about jostling it out of place.
Here’s another final look at the minifigures included on their own, starting with the citizens and guests of Elrond’s realm.
And, of course, our gathered heroes that become the Fellowship.
Click through for a few more beauty shots of the final model, recreating some key moments from The Fellowship of the Ring!