Of Legos and Ring Lords: Counting Down to The Hobbit, Part 1

Posted on December 10, 2012


As previously mentioned, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is something of a holiday tradition for me. I’ll never forget the first time I saw Fellowship of the Ring; as far as movie-going experiences go, it was incredibly powerful.

I went around noon to one of the nicer theaters (at the time) in the area, one of the first to adopt the stadium style seats. I worked evening shifts and was in school in the morning, so I had to be sure I was able to get in and out prior to my shift start time. I had to go by myself because, well, who is generally available to go to the movies in the middle of a weekday?

I don’t remember what previews there were; what movie do you preview prior to Lord of the Rings? The lights had faded, as they do ever so subtly between the time previews start and finish, and the screen was blank for a moment. An ethereal sort of singing is heard softly as “New Line Cinema presents… A Wingnut Production…” appears on the screen. Back to complete darkness, the singing still lingering in the background.

Suddenly, against the music and darkness, Cate Blanchett (as the elf Galadriel) speaks in Sindarin, almost a whisper.

I amar prestar aen..” and then, in a speaking voice, translates in English, “The World is changing.”

Han mathon ne nen… I feel it in the water. Han mathon ne chae… I feel it in the Earth. Han noston ned wilith… I smell it in the air.”

There is something incredibly haunting and beautiful in her delivery, absolutely nothing visible to distract from one of the finest vocal performances in cinema history. Even if I did not know who Galadriel or Cate Blanchett were, I would know that, whoever was talking, she must surely be other-worldly. You were, quite suddenly and against your will, no longer anywhere but Middle Earth; any doubts or apprehensions I had about the movie were suddenly evaporated in an instant.

I also think I peed a little.

The movie unveils itself at it’s own speed, neither too fast or too slow, paying enough homage to the book to be recognizable without getting bogged down in the details like the narrative it is based upon does. Just enough humor, suspense, action… great characters, great actors, great music. I remember Gandalf absolutely stealing the show; Ian McKellan did such a fantastic job showing not just the might of Gandalf but the humanity of Gandalf as well. Wise and brave, yet humble and compassionate. The fireworks in the Shire, Rivendell brought to life, the dangers of Moria… the moment after Gandalf’s fall, as the remainder of the Fellowship is grieving, Aragorn calls for Frodo, and he turns with that single tear down his cheek (easily the best performance of his career).

All the feels. *sniff*

And Sean Bean… I mean, granted he dies in pretty much everything he is ever in, but if there is a finer death scene in any movie anywhere, please let me know. The fall of Boromir was a standout part of the book for me, and he delivered to my incredibly high standards and then some. I mean, you can almost see the life leave him. And his delivery of “I would have followed you to the end my brother… my captain… my King…” was beautiful. Beautiful.

It has lost some of its magic over the years, because of over familiarity. The special effects don’t seem as sharp, certan performances aren’t quite what you remember, but there is still a magic to that film all the same.

I wanted to prepare myself for the release of The Hobbit (this Friday, December 14th) in a way that was both familiar and new. I have not mentioned it here much (though it is something I want to start visiting regularly on this blog), but I am an avid Lego collector. Well, maybe not avid, but I am certainly more than a casual observer. I own the entire Lego Lord of the Rings collection, including the Target exclusive Orc Forge with the battery powered light brick, but I had not had the opportunity or excuse to build them as of yet.

It was time.

For the first session, I decided that, in honor of one of the coolest scenes in the first movie, I would put together Mines of Moria, while watching Fellowship of the Ring. Feel free to click all pictures to see the bigger version of the photo.

Lego Mines of Moria (set 9473), 776 pieces in 4 bags plus one separately bagged Cave Troll. Also, the extended Lord of the Rings bluray boxset.

Lego Mines of Moria (set 9473), 776 pieces in 4 bags plus one separately bagged Cave Troll. Also, the extended Lord of the Rings bluray boxset.

Now, as I am sure every kid does when they first open the box, the Cave Troll and his Hammer got put together first.

Rahr! Cave trolls! :}

Rahr! Cave trolls! :}

Then, of course, I had to start playing with perspective a bit…

Are Cave Trolls scary? It's all a matter of perspective...

Are Cave Trolls scary? It’s all a matter of perspective…

So once I had fun playing with the Cave Troll a bit, I moved on to completing bag #1, which includes a few key pieces from the Tomb of Balin, where they initially battle the Orcs and Cave Troll. First was the Balin’s stone casket (including a Lego version of the Book of Mazarbul):

"Let them come! There is still one dwarf in Moria who still draws breath!"

“Let them come! There is still one dwarf in Moria who still draws breath!”

I have to say, all of the LotR minifigs are detailed very nicely, but Gimli’s helmet is a work of art. (I’ll take close-ups later… that’s Boromir riding shotgun, by the way.) Bag #2 includes the well where Pippin, that fool of a Took, knocked in the skeleton, chain and bucket, alerting Moria’s denizens the Fellowship was there.

Young Peregrin Took by the well

Young Peregrin Took by the well

Now, typically, I hate when they include stickers with Lego sets. They are generally uglier than having bricks painted to fill the role, but the LotR Lego sets are the exception. The stickers look incredibly nice and add a lot of flavor to the sets. As you can see on Balin’s sarcophagus, the lettering looks fantastic. The best use of stickers though is easily on bag #2…

The Tomb entrance

The Tomb entrance

The door where the goblins and troll burst through and attack the Fellowship. Note the sticker above the door for the lettering, and the stickers on the door to add texture to the wood. Works extremely well, in my opinion. The doors are obviously hinged and open and close easily, plus, as Boromir does in the film, they can be barred with a nearby axe. Very cool.

Bag #3 and 4 are more or less part of the same structure, the back wall where a lot of the action from this scene plays out in the movie. I’ll show the two part construction process…

Legolas and 2 Moria Orcs with the first part of the wall

Legolas and 2 Moria Orcs with the first part of the wall

The completed back wall

The completed back wall

The best part of this part of the set is that the pillars and chunks of the wall can be “broken” during play to simulate or recreate the scene. (And easily reset to do it all over again, of course.) The treasure chest underneath can retract and extend with a mechanism in the back.

And when you put it all together…

Completed set!

Completed set!

Join us next time  for… The Two Towers and Battle at Helm’s Deep!

Posted in: Geek, Lego, Movies