May 13, 2023
LEGO The Lord of the Rings BrickHeadz Build, Unboxing & Review
Mike Alexander unboxes, builds, and reviews the LEGO Brickheadz: Lord of the Rings sets: Gollum, Frodo, Arwin, Aragorn, Gandalf the Grey, and Balrog!
By: Mike Alexander
2023 marks the twentieth anniversary of the conclusion of Peter Jackson’s industry-defining trilogy: The Lord of the Rings. While many theaters are celebrating by holding special screenings of The Return of the King, our pals at LEGO have taken a different route.
While I might have very much enjoyed a next-gen upgrade to the LEGO Lord of the Rings video game, LEGO has instead graced us with three new LotR-themed sets! Now, they are sets in the BrickHeadz line, which definitely has its devout fans but doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone. I quite enjoy them, but I also have several Funko Pops on display above my computer.
(Please enjoy this image of my nerdy knick-knack collection)
There are only three sets of characters out right now, but I was lucky enough to get my hands on all of them! If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, a LEGO fan, or even a BrickHeadz fan (there are dozens of us!), then join me as I go over some things I liked and a few things I didn’t in this review of the BrickHeadz: The Lord of the Rings series.
The packaging of the Lord of the Rings BrickHeadz is immediately satisfying. The big, clear images of the fully assembled characters adorn the front and back of the box just as they do on other series, but the recognizable map of Middle-earth that serves as the backdrop looks fantastic. Combine that with the gentle fade into the mottled dark blue texture that might match the Return of the King Extended Edition DVD case, and you have yourself a mighty good-looking box. So much so that I plan to keep these somewhere rather than immediately recycling them like I would any other BrickHeadz box.
Some thought went into this packaging when compared to the similar Mandalorian or Obi-Wan Kenobi BrickHeadz, which have what I would call bland backgrounds on the front and back.
LEGO BrickHeadz - Gollum and Frodo (40630)
For my own purposes, I decided to start off small and work my way up to the Balrog since it is both the biggest of the BrickHeadz and also one of my favorite creatures in the entire trilogy. Also, its boxmate is Gandalf, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how awesome he is.
That meant Gollum was up first, which gave me an unreasonable expectation for the rest of this series.
Cracking the box open, I was presented with neatly packaged pieces in numbered plastic bags and two separate instruction manuals for each character. Coming off of the excellent packaging design, the rather plain design of each manual was a little disappointing, but it makes them easier to produce.
Also, the size and shape of the manuals and the dimensions of the boxes unfortunately mean that the odds of getting a manual with an egregious bend in it are unavoidable, which makes keeping them flat and on the right page as you’re working impossible.
Overall, building Gollum was a delightful experience. As a little lad with a loin cloth, he’s not particularly colorful on the outside. Although, each BrickHeadz does have a “core” made up of colorful pieces topped with a pink brick, which I thought was pretty cool. They’re like the souls of each character. Or the guts, depending on how you see it. They aren’t visible once construction is complete, so it’s really just part of the assembly experience.
Aside from the signature eye pieces and the specially shaped ear bricks, Gollum has these frankly hilarious flat pieces representing his thin, stringy hair. These got a little chuckle out of me when I snapped them into place.
Each character also comes with some sort of accessory, and Gollum has this unique fish piece that fits right in his claw hand. Unfortunately, there’s no boulder accessory to smash it on.
It’s worth mentioning that this was my first experience with a BrickHeadz set, so I wasn’t sure what to expect regarding build time. I didn’t rush through the process, but the tiny, roughly 3-inch Gollum BrickHeadz took me about nineteen minutes to complete. Take that for what you will. But look how cute he looks!
Next up was Mr. Frodo, or Frodon as a typo on top of the box would have you believe.
Frodo’s process was a little more complicated as he has several different types of brick that attempt to simulate different textures, but the colors and shapes are distinct enough that I didn’t run into too much trouble.
And just take a look at his vest and how his cape comes together. It’s pretty inventive!
Frodo’s accessories appropriately include a sword that is supposed to be his elvish sword, “Sting” (it’s a generic LEGO sword, but use your imagination), and The One Ring. However, the set comes with several of those. Since there was enough to share, I went ahead and popped one of the spares into Gollum’s free hand. Now everyone is happy!
Most of the process was smooth and enjoyable, but I encountered a slight issue when assembling the display stand. As you can see, the piece guide calls for two short peg pieces, but you’re provided with one long one with both the pegs you need. The only reason I can see for this error is that Gollum required the individual pieces because he has a narrower stance, but Frodo’s legs are the same distance apart as the other figures.
The increased complexity and distractions throughout the build process resulted in Frodo taking about forty minutes to construct. I found this amount of time to be about average for the rest of the line in my case, but I wasn’t really conscious of that time passing anyways because I was having too much fun. That’s how you know you’re working with LEGO!
And finally, here is what Gollum and Frodo look like, completed and side-by-side!
Just a tiny note, I’m noticing that the Gollum on the box has the fish in his right hand, but the instructions have you put it in his left. Hardly a big deal, though, and that was likely only done for aesthetic purposes.
LEGO BrickHeadz - Arwen and Aragorn (40632)
Now we move on to Arwen and Aragorn, The half-elf daughter of Master Elrond and the Ranger turned King of Gondor. The BrickHeadz figures of these iconic characters both have special pieces that highlight their status at the end of Return of the King, which is a great touch.
The first figure I tackled was Arwen. Most of her figure is made up of a light green brick that makes up her dress, though there are also dark brown bricks that make up her hair. Again, there is enough differentiation to create visual interest but not enough to be confusing when staring at a pile of pieces.
The trapezoidal hair bricks under each cheek to create the illusion of long tresses were a nice detail, but I wish some of the dress pieces had some kind of printed detail as the forehead tiara piece has.
The Arwen construction went smoothly, and I didn’t encounter any issues with misprinting or errors in the manual. Unfortunately, she is the only character who doesn’t come with any accessories, although it makes sense for this coronation version of Arwen. Her only special parts are the metallic gray pieces that make up her tiara and the specially detailed flat forehead piece.
The time has finally come for the titular King to be constructed. I idolized Aragorn growing up, as I’m sure many people did, so I was excited to get to this particular BrickHeadz.
Right off the bat, Aragorn was way more complex. His construction has red, purple, and blue bricks (most of which aren’t visible in the final product), and he also has printed detail pieces for his chest armor and the crest of his crown. I also like how the flat rounded pieces were used for his leg armor and how his beard is represented.
For accessories, Aragorn comes with his own generic LEGO sword that I pretended was a screen-accurate Andúril.
Several more pages of fairly simple instructions later and Aragorn was finished. Here is what our fully constructed lovers look like next to each other.
And that was it! Another simple and enjoyable set of builds without any hassle. At this point, I was two-thirds through the BrickHeadz I had, and I was having a great time so far. I had obviously saved the best for last, but the idea that I would run into issues didn’t cross my mind... until I opened the next box.
LEGO BrickHeadz - Gandalf the Grey and Balrog (40631)
And now, it’s time for Gandalf and the Balrog to shine. The clash of these cousins (both being Maia) turned mortal enemies was a highlight of both Fellowship of the Ring as well as The Two Towers, and their fight to the death in the mines of Moria is probably one of the most remarkable scenes in cinematic history.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that I was particularly excited to get to this final duo. It saddens me to report that while they are the best set in the series, I also had several issues in each build. But before I get to that, here is a layout of everything that comes in the box.
Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf’s pieces fit in the standard two packages that every other figure got, but the Balrog gets an extra smaller pack due to his sheer size. I was already a little nervous at this point by just noting how many similarly colored pieces there were.
And then I opened Gandalf’s packages.
Everything looks clearly defined on camera and in images, and I don’t know if it was the light I was using or an issue with my own eyes, but I got mixed up between the light gray pieces for Gandalf’s hair and beard and the darker gray pieces for his robes and hat more than once. I don’t expect this to be an issue for most people who buy this set.
Aside from those issues, Gandalf is a little two-dimensional in terms of color. It is just his face, robes, hat, and hair, consisting of three different color bricks and no printed detail pieces. However, a great deal of thought has gone into creating texture for these various aspects, which saves this figure. You’ll likely have him on display facing forward, but his entire back is where the real visual interest is. Just take a look at his robes and hair!
Add to that his signature hat, with its droopy tip, staff, and sword, and you have a wizard figure that looks ready for battle!
Finally, I’ve made it to the big finale of this collection. The Balrog, described by Saruman as “shadow and flame,” is the most imposing BrickHeadz figure of the entire series. It seems like LEGO did its best to do the creature justice because it has several special bricks and bits that none of the others have. Here’s what that brick pile looks like.
There are many black, red, yellow, and orange pieces, which is appropriate enough, seeing as the creature is a fire demon. Among those pieces are translucent red and orange wedge pieces that do an excellent job of selling the flame that surrounds the creature in the movie, and their placements on the final figure are equally as thoughtful. Oh, and the eyes are yellow instead of black, another nice touch.
Also, as the only non-human being in the series, the Balrog has some extra appendages that must be accounted for. Namely, its wings and tail. LEGO handles this by connecting these pieces with a series of clips and bar pieces that clip into them, creating poseable features that bring the figure together.
If you thought the Balrog made it to production without any accessories, think again! Remember that awesome flame whip he uses against Gandalf? That’s here… kind of. It’s really just a red whip that looks like it could have come from a LEGO lion tamer, but the color is suitable. The movie Balrog only uses one whip, but the set came with an extra, so my Balrog has whips Akimbo.
The added complexity and extra pieces of the Balrog caused it to be the longest figure to construct by far, clocking in at just under an hour and ten minutes. I did have an issue where I got the red and brown pieces confused a few times, but I’ll attribute that to my eyesight.
Here are the completed figures of the final set in the series.
Misshaps and impaired vision aside, building each of these figures was a great experience as both a LEGO fan and a fan of The Lord of the Rings. I understand the need to limit detail to a degree with the Funko Pop-like approach to aesthetics, but the way shapes and textures are engineered out of special bricks more than makes up for it. Building each figure and watching those aspects come together in “Ah! I see what you’re doing!” moments added to the build experience.
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