For those who love J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous books, Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movies have been a dream come true. Not only have we been able to see Middle Earth come alive on the big screen, we’ve also been able to build LEGO sets that recreate iconic scenes from the movies. With this set, we get our only official look at LEGO’s Rivendell, and while it’s well done, it leaves me wanting more. To see what I mean, take a look at some of the breathtaking MOCs that are out there. For now, though, let’s get to the build!
The Council of Elrond’s 243 pieces ship in two bags with a single instruction manual. Assembly is straightforward and enjoyable as there are some engaging building techniques that you’ll want to reuse in your own creations. I’ll highlight three for you.
First, the pictures below show the mechanism that causes the Eye of Sauron to explode out of the floor. You could use this assembly in your own vignettes to launch super heroes, fling missiles, or cause unexpected things to burst from the ground. The only unusual pieces are the “track” bricks (in black in the photo) and the “rail” bricks (in bright yellow).
Another technique that I’ll
steal adapt for my own creations is found in this staircase. It’s so simple and elegant that you will probably smack your forehead wondering why you didn’t think of it yourself.
Lastly, check out how the designer of this set utilized a Technic hinge for the roof. Brilliant! It’s economical in terms of piece expenditure and it allows you to choose virtually any slope that you want for your roof.
And here’s a look at the finished kit. The trees really complement the Elvish architecture, as you can see below.
Now, on to the ratings!
** Playability: 2 out of 5 bricks. This set makes a fantastic display for the Rivendell-based characters from the LOTR movies, but as a play set it leaves a lot to be desired. While the building techniques utilized are clever and produce a setting that effectively calls to mind the look and feel of Elrond’s home, the set lacks significant play features. The Eye of Sauron that explodes from the floor is neat but one dimensional, and since the Rivendell architecture is fairly distinctive, the set doesn’t integrate all that well with other kits from this theme that you may have purchased. In summary, it makes a better backdrop than a toy.
** Minifigures: 5 out of 5 bricks. Council of Elrond scores highest marks in this category, both for overall value and for the desirability of the minifigures themselves. The bricks per minifig ratio for this set is an outstanding 61 to 1 (the average for the LOTR theme in 2013 was 165:1, while the average for all kits in 2013 was 111:1). Turning to the minifigs, this is the same Gimli that appears in all of the LOTR sets; while he’s certainly well done with front and back torso printing and a distinctive helm, you’re likely to have multiples of him in your collection. On the other hand, the remaining three minifigures are unique to this set. Cape-less Frodo features printing on front and back of his torso as well as a reversible head (I make sure I always display him with his eyebrows drawn together). Elrond and Arwen have fantastic head pieces, and Elrond’s cloak has a lighter color lining that really elevates his minifig to the Must Have category. Feast your eyes on the photo below.
** Brick Value: 3 out of 5 bricks. This set sold for $34.99 in our market, resulting in a price per brick of $0.14. The average for all LOTR kits was slightly better at $0.12, but since the average for all kits released in 2013 was also $0.14, Council of Elrond doesn’t have much to celebrate here. You do get a nice mix of colored elements, but there aren’t a lot of “specials” that stand out. The bottom line is a brick value that meets expectations.
** Overall: 10 out of 15 bricks. For the price, this set delivers below average playability and routine brick value, so if you come across it, you should buy it only if you are collecting the LOTR minifigures, which are outstanding. Some of the techniques used in the set are clever and will no doubt inspire you when you’re working on your own imaginative building. If you decide to recreate some corner of Middle Earth, please post a link for me in the comments!