One can, it turns out, simply walk into one part of Middle-earth. No, it’s not Mordor. We’re talking about Rivendell. The beautiful location comes to life in The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell LEGO Icons set. Once you walk into this version of Rivendell, you’ll find yourself on a very unexpected journey—a delightful one.
I have never put together a serious LEGO set before Rivendell. But when I saw it announced, it was love at first sight. So I gathered my Fellowship, and together we embarked on this most remarkable quest with a set that LEGO provided to Nerdist. But luckily, unlike the trip to Mordor, building LEGO Rivendell only uncovered welcome surprise after welcome surprise. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I’ll answer the question topmost on everyone’s mind. Is The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell LEGO set worth the $500 price tag? Unequivocally, yes.
Jump to: The Build // The Gazebo // The Tower // The Council Ring // The Minifigures // Takeaways
LEGO Rivendell: The Build
The 6,167 LEGO piece Rivendell set itself took around 23 hours to complete, and that’s with at least two people working on it for the majority of the time. An experienced LEGO adventurer might be able to build it more quickly. But to give you a better perspective on the size of the project, here’s the three-part instruction that came with LEGO Rivendell up against The Fellowship of the Ring. Don’t tell Tolkien, but the instruction books are giving him a run for his money.
But miraculously, no two sections of the three-part build or 49 bags of LEGOs are the same. As Bilbo would say, “You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” The designers of LEGO Rivendell clearly understand that the journey is the adventure. At times, we found ourselves crafting almost Star Wars-like works of machinery; at others, we built graceful trees and put together tiny mushrooms, and still, on occasion, we found ourselves putting together a hidden fireplace that took two hours and dozens of pages to complete. But isn’t that what the elves would want?
The Gazebo with River
The Gazebo area of The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell set was likened to a Tetris game by its builders. Nothing came together how you thought it would exactly, but everything fit in some bizarrely interesting way that intriguingly lacked all symmetry. This part seemed more emotional, more about the feeling of the build than it was strictly technical. And that makes a lot of sense because it fully captures the beauty of Rivendell’s nature. The bubbling river is made of dozens of different kinds of blue and whites, and there are at least ten shades of green in this section of Rivendell alone.
LEGO really delivered a certain sensation of gorgeous wilderness in this area. It evokes the sensation of being lost in the woods, and that’s perfect for Rivendell. It’s also critical to note that the glow-in-the-dark mushrooms were a big hit.
Rivendell’s gazebo and iconic bridge also come perfectly to life in LEGO form. A note in the instruction books offers that the base for the gazebo was one of the most challenging geometric designs the designers faced in this model, and that’s felt. But the gazebo quickly goes from Death Star in the base build to ornate artistry as all its lines and shapes come together to an unbelievable finish.
From the intertwining lines of the gazebo, we departed to the more geometric build of the tower. Alongside making sure every major part was different, LEGO Rivendell’s design also took care that sections alternated from difficult to easy. One minute, you’d nervously be flipping pieces and anxiously crossing your fingers everything fit, and the next, you’d be merrily tiling the roof.
As you continued to embark, little delights greeted you as a reward for your hard work. After a big base, you’d get to use stickers to craft Bilbo’s book. After a tricky axel, you could put together a bed and a couple of adorable lanterns.
Of course, the centerpiece of “The Tower” is the massive elven statue on the outside of it. Aside from being completely beautiful, the statue’s carved elves serve as bonus Minifigures. And you can imagine your favorite elf decorates the walls.
The Council Ring
By far, the biggest part of The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell LEGO build was the “The Council Ring.” In fact, it was more parts than the other two put together. But well worth it. Does Lord Elrond of Rivendell expect you to hand tile every bit of his floor? He certainly does.
The Council Ring’s attention to detail was literally awe-inspiring. Tiny desks, tiny candles, floor mosaics, a garden bench, little bird statues, maps, a throne—if an elven kingdom needs it, you built it. But there’s nothing more satisfying than the way all these miniature works of art come together to form the whole. LEGO Rivendell even took care to create a LEGO version of Lembas bread that you could serve on the table. Of course, the entire structure is mind-blowing as well, a feat of physics and impeccable planning.
All of that said, one of the most notable portions of this LEGO build is easily its many kinds of trees. Never have I seen plastic trees so beautiful and so varied. The golden tree and the large multi-hued green tree are indescribably delicate and incredibly nuanced. Holding them in your hands, it really feels like you’ve created a little wonder.
Who doesn’t love a minifigure? The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell is especially exciting when it comes to minifigures because LEGO hadn’t to date, released all the members of the Fellowship in such a way. The set comes with 15 Minifigures which you discover as you go. Included are Gandalf the Grey, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Merriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck, Peregrin “Pippin” Took, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, and Aragorn. And in addition, we get LEGO minifigures of Elrond, Arwen, Bilbo Baggins, plus additional elves and a dwarf (Gloin) are also included.
(We mistook Gloin for Gandalf when we first revealed him, but, you know, Frodo was sad about his death anyway.)
The figures come with adorable props and even some almost fabric-like cloaks. For instance, Sam has a frying pan, Frodo has the ring, Arwen has a book, and Merry and Pippin have their favorite snacks.
In addition, a brand new kind of hair or wig was made for The Lord of the Rings elf minifigures. The instruction book shares that “it was molded in two different materials to provide color for the hair and the ears separately.” The hobbits also received dual molded legs to show off their signature trait, their feet. And finally, every character was created so that they all have the option to sit or stand. Otherwise, how could they come to sit in the council to discuss matters of the Ring?
The Rivendell set is amazing, but having this many minifigures allows it to also be cinematic. With all of your favorite The Lord of the Rings characters at hand, this LEGO build can tell many stories.
Takeaways about The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell
In sum, The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell set is worth it. It is challenging but fun, technical but beautiful. Even though I was a complete LEGO beginner and this is an exceptionally complex set, I never felt overwhelmed. If I did make an error in my The Lord of the Rings build, the set ensured I discovered it quickly and could correct it with relative ease. I felt like LEGO had taken care of every question and thought before I even had to consider it. For example, when tiling the roof, LEGO provided an ingenious way to get all the tiles straight by using a different piece of LEGO. The structural builds were gravity-defying and exciting, but the small details really touched my heart.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe I built all that. And even though 23 hours is a long time, it never once felt tiresome. So would I journey there and back again and again to The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell? In a heartbeat.