Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Review: LEGO Hobbit An Unexpected Gathering (79003)

It's rare that I review Lego. The main reason for this is because that seconds after a model has been constructed the children decide to 'explode' whatever's been carefully made, making pictures a little problematic to take.

As I begin writing this review Bilbo's house, Bag End, is in one piece. It will be a minor miracle if it's in this state by the end. Indeed, even as it was being built many sections had to be rebuilt due to a marauding 2 year old.

I've built (/co-built) all of the Lord of the Rings sets, thus far released, and a few of the Hobbit ones. This set is by far my favourite. The finished model looks fantastic, being a faithful representation of the home seen in the Hobbit (/Lord of the Rings) plus somewhere that simply looks like a really nice place to live. All the bright green, the flowers and the carrots growing in the garden. It's a peaceful, picturesque little cottage.

Inside is a condensed version of what was seen in the films. Not wanting to make the set enormous(ly expensive), Lego have condensed the house into a single room but all the important details are there - including Bilbo's dining table and the table where he (and later Frodo) writes his book. The dining table has seats for 6 and has piles of food, as needed when company visits. Dotted around the house there are also maps, bottles of...stuff, and various other details which add to this being a place where someone actually lives.

My only nit-pick is that the chandelier, which Gandalf frequently bashes his head upon, isn't present. Since it's a memorable moment in both Fellowship and Unexpected Journey, it'd have been a nice addition. Not something that can't be easily added yourself, however.

There are 6 mini-figures included - Gandalf, Bilbo, Balin, Dwalin, Bofur and Bombur. All of whom are beautifully detailed and instantly recognisable (even if you can't remember which dwarf belongs to which name!).

A major plus for me with this set is that it's a single building. Unlike, say, Moria or Helm's Deep or the Goblin King Battle, which consist of a number of separate parts you can arrange how you like to form the scene. There's something about creating a large, solid building which is appealing.

The set has a recommended age of 9-14. I always wonder about the upper age on these things as I'm sure any 14 year old, upon mentioning to his friends that he spends his weekends playing with Lego, is surely to be severely teased (or beaten up, depending on your area). My 6 year old son built everything except the roof by himself with zero problems. The only reason he didn't finish is because the set is a little bigger than his patience, thus Dad stepping in to finish off. He may well have finished it himself eventually, but I was fed up of it sitting around the house, getting in the way.

An Unexpected Gathering comes with a recommended price tag of £60, but you can find it with a tenner knocked off online. It's a tad expensive full price, but I like this set so much I'd actually pay that much. It's a lovely set and well worth purchasing.

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