Hello and welcome to the first review of 2015! I’m still having a hard time training myself to type out 2015 instead of 2014 – it’ll probably take a few weeks for me to get used to the fact that we’re in 2015.
Resuming the reviews of the Hobbit sets, today we’re going to take a look at the second smallest set from the Battle of the Five Armies – Attack on Lake-town! In case you missed it, check out my review of 79015 Witch-king Battle.
Oh, in case the pictures come out funny, there’s a really good explanation. I recently got a new camera over Christmas and I’ve been experimenting with it. I’m not sure if I’m 100% satisfied with it right now, but I’m trying to get a feel of using a DSLR and learning what settings work best. Please excuse me if the pictures are a little weird! I should get better at this soon!
Also, since this is a new year, all reviews from here on will include a 5-point scoring system. Here’s what the scores mean:
5/5 – I love it
4/5 – I really like it
3/5 – I like it
2/5 – I don’t like it
1/5 – I didn’t really like it
0/5 – I hated it
I feel that the scores will help communicate my thoughts about the set in a more succinct manner.
Attack on Lake-town was a bit of a pleasant surprise, mostly because I didn’t expect too much from it. In fact, I was pretty much prepared to hate the set since it looked a little boring to me. It didn’t help that the set was pretty pricey here in Australia ($59.99!), double what it costs in the US. I’m not usually a stickler for prices, but this seemed a little high for me.
Attack on Lake-town also comes in a square box, which for some strange reason bothers me. LEGO sets should ONLY come in rectangle boxes.
Maybe it was because of my exceedingly low expectations going into this set, I actually discovered that I couldn’t really bring myself to hate this set, and maybe kind of like it a little! Let’s get into the minifigures.
Here’s the lineup of minifigures included in the set. It shouldn’t surprise you, but the Lord of the Rings sets have traditionally been more about shrinking down some of the most beloved Tolkien characters into minifigures – a trend that Attack on Lake-town keeps alive. From left to right you have Tauriel, Bard the Bowman, Bain, son of Bard and two Hunter Orcs, one brandishing a Orcish scimitar and the other, a bow and arrow.
We begin with the mythical Elvish character, Tauriel. Why mythical? Because she doesn’t exist in Tolkien’s books and is a figment of Peter Jackson’s imagination! Seriously, she was just shoehorned into the film (along with that prat Orlando Bloom) because according to moviegoers: More Elves = Better Movies.
Good thing that her minifigure is really awesome. Tauriel has a flowy bright green top which is contrasted almost perfectly with her striking orange locks. Her bright green clothes are a lot more intense than her onscreen character’s slightly darker green but as a minifigure, the vivid colours work exceptionally well. The primary bright green shade is also punctuated by a darker shade of green for her arms, as well as the brown leathery elements of her entire outfit.
Unlike the character portrayed by Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit, her minifigure has freckles on her face – they look nice and give her face a lot of utility as they can probably be reused again in other combinations. In a time where LEGO are running unchecked by printing too many minute details and facial lines on minifigure faces, Tauriel’s visage is a great use of simple but effective facial features such as her high cheekbones to get close to replicating the looks of Evangeline Lilly’s character.
Tauriel also has simple back printing, an extension of her attire, which is nice as well as a more combat-oriented alternate face in which she has her teeth bared to intimidate her enemies. I really like Tauriel’s minifigure – they did a fantastic job replicating the movie character in LEGO form and beyond that, her individual parts are really useful as well.
Here’s the pseudo-protagonist of Battle of the Five Armies – Bard the Bowman. I say that because it really seemed that he had a lot more screentime in the movie than titular character Bilbo Baggins. This version of Bard is exclusive to this set, sporting a brown fur-lined coat over his modest peasant clothes. There’s some visual trickery going on with Bard’s clothing which makes him look a lot taller than he is. Do you notice it?
The printing on the entire minifigure is incredibly crisp, with thick black outlines that go a long way in making it a very visually appealing minifigure. Bard’s face is also a spitting image of his movie character – the designers have done a commendable job capturing Luke Evans’ thoughtful and stoic appearance, right down to his furrowed brows.
Spinning him around lets you see that he has back printing and also an alternate face which has him baring his teeth. His face is also covered in dirty splotch marks – a souvenir of Smaug and the Orc’s assault on Esgaroth. Again, the printing on his alternate face is on-point.
They must have very talented hairdressers at Lake-town because Bard’s exclusive hairpiece is just beautiful. The moulded textures of his faux-ponytail are all executed well. His hairpiece is pretty great for any action-hero type minifigures you might want to design yourself – I’m a huge fan simply because it’s one of the more three-dimensional hairpieces. There just seems to be stuff happening at every angle, in the best of ways.
A very interesting inclusion in this set is Bard’s son, Bain, a ginger-headed boy that seems to like his fish. Why else would he be holding one? Bard’s son Bain had a decent amount of screentime, which serves to flesh out a very tropey Father-Son “please take care of your siblings as daddy goes off to save the world” cliche.
Bain’s minifigure is charming, with his Ron Weasley-esque head of orange hair, coupled together with freckles and an unassuming, innocent smile. His torso is also fairly detailed, with Bain wearing a fur coat (that’s in a very interesting shade of green) along with a very trendy toggle button inner-coat. Lake-town not only has great hairstylists, but also sartorial outlets as well! Seems like a great place to live (apart from the proximity to an angry dragon bit).
I really like Bain’s boyish facial features – I believe it’s quite rare to come across flesh-coloured childlike faces.
Like his father, Bain also has an alternate blotchy face as well as a more pensive, solemn expression. Back printing is also present. Like his dad, I really love the thick black outlines on his torso. It really makes the details pop.
On to the baddies of the set, the Hunter Orc duo. They’re both identical minifigures save for their weaponry – one has a bow and quiver and the other has the standard-issue Orc notched blade. The Orcs pack a ton of detail on their faces and torsos, although I find their choice of outfit a little questionable. They look more like female bodysuits rather than leather armour and a loincloth.
I’m not that big a fan of the Orcs in The Hobbit – something just doesn’t seem right about their tan skin colour, which makes them look a bit more like zombies than Orcs.
The Orcs have back printing but no alternate faces. Again, their torsos are a little uninspiring. From the back it kinda looks like they have fur lined hoodies. Very dapper.
The Orcs do have one good thing going for them – the Orcs have a really cool hairpiece. It’s hard to describe what it exactly is – it’s kind of a cross between a mohawk, undercut and ponytail all mashed into one. You get two of the hairpieces, which should come in handy if you’re looking to create any alternative-looking minifigures for your LEGO city.
Other than that, the Orcs are pretty meh. They should look a lot better if you amass a huge number of them, though.
Here’s the completed build of Lake-town Attack. The set is honestly quite small, only consisting of 300-odd pieces although the finished structure’s size is quite substantial. The set represents a small section of Lake-town, a sprawling human settlement constructed in the middle of the Long Lake, All the buildings are suspended just above water-level through stilts and pillars.
As I mentioned earlier, I was initially not too excited about this set as I thought it looked quite lackluster and bare. After putting the set together, I still feel that my initial impressions were accurate BUT, I was able to discover a small sliver of positivity that keeps this set from being a turd.
Attack on Lake-town is split into two sections, connected by a bridge. The section on the left is a fairly boring platform which contains a rudimentary crane that suspends a barrel. The pillars on this platform, as with the rest of the set are placed atop two blue 2 X 6 plates, meant to represent water. Frankly, the water “effect” looks incredibly lazy and half-assed. It would’ve been so much better to give us a larger blue plate instead of the measly 2 X 6s.
Other than that, there’s nothing much going on. The barrel is attached to a crane that can swivel or tilted up and down which is a passable bit of interactivity that you can play around with. You can swing it around much like a wrecking ball or have a minifigure stand from the barrel, but that’s all it does.
From behind, you’ll notice a small little lever which activates the second, more exciting play feature. Pressing the lever down results in the right wall (that has the ladder attached to it) blown off in quite dramatic fashion. It’s pretty fun and kind of makes up for the lack of any other details on this platform.
The second more significant half of the set has a little bit more going for it. The ground floor has what seems to be a living area or home, because there’s a door, windows and a lamp. The door is of a heavier variety, sporting an elaborate doorknob and hides a very nifty secret. More on the secret door in a bit.
The windows look great, taking design cues from Santa’s Workshop with that winning combination of dark green and pearl gold. The lamp is a rigid installation that serves as quite a decent bit of extra detail on an otherwise bare set.
Can you spot anything spot anything out of the ordinary with the door? What happens when you open it?
Heads up! Opening the door activates a clever little booby trap, raining down transparent 1 x 1 round studs on unassuming intruders. The mechanism works exactly as intended and is quite a bit of fun. The trap also receives bonus points because it’s pretty well hidden and not very obvious when you first look at it.
Above the house is a watchtower housing a giant crossbow which I’m guessing is the black arrow from the film. In the film, instead of the black arrow being a regular arrow, it is a giant ballista-like weapon that fires steel lances that serve as dragon-deterrents that act as aerial defences, in the case of an unlikely (hah) dragon attack.
Topped with a steeple made out of dark green plates that are flecked with sheets of snow, the watchtower kind of manages to look quite alike the one in the movie, although the one on-screen is a lot taller.
You can place a very angry-looking Bard up here to use ballista to repel Smaug or even the pesky Hunter Orcs. The watchtower also houses a steel-coloured bell which you can ring with your fingers.
For a weapon that is meant to be fired at dragons, it’s a bit of a shame that it is mounted in a rigid position, which means it can’t point upwards. So for all intents and purposes, in the context of this set, we’re mostly going to be using it to fire at Orcs. The ballista utilises the new spring-loaded missile launchers which work quite well – you tip the shaft of the missile and it fires with a decent amount of force.
Thank goodness, LEGO have moved away from flick fires. In terms of how deadly they are, flick fire missiles are the equivalent of getting hit by a wet noodle.
What I liked:
- Tauriel, Bard and Bain are great minifigures with really useful components
- Great selection of brown and dark green elements
What I didn’t like:
- High price tag
- Orc Hunters are pretty uninspiring
- Finished model is decently large for a 300-piece set, but details are lacking
Final thoughts: Attack on Lake-town’s price tag is the worst part of this set. You simply don’t get a lot of value for $60 bucks RRP. That said, the set is not completely rubbish. The minifigures are pretty decent, and have one of the highest quality torsos and heads that I’ve seen in awhile.
If I could single out one redeeming factor of the set, it would be it’s excellent selection of bricks. The set is mostly brown bricks, useful bricks at that, especially if you enjoy making village/medieval/any wooden MOCs. The rest of the bricks are equally useful – the dark green elements such as window sills are all really nice to have.
It seems that the main point of this set is for you to build it once, display it for a bit and quickly harvest it for parts. The set is pretty small and frankly doesn’t even really look that good since it’s quite insignificant. Also, it kind of looks like a bridge more than it does a portion of Lake-town. The boxy and squarish shape of the buildings make it seem like not much thought went into the design of this set to make it stand out.
If I had about 4 of this set to combine into one giant Lake-town diorama, I think it would look pretty good. On its own, it does little to capture the rickety, dense and haphazard charm of the Lake-town in Peter Jackson’s film.
The fact that the two major minifigures included in this set, Bard and Tauriel are readily available in other sets (which are slightly more interesting) makes it even harder to recommend getting this set. Unless you’re a Lord of the Rings purist like me, the lure of alternate costume minifigures and two below average Orcs simply don’t justify the expensive price of Attack on Lake-town.
I really think that LEGO Australia made a big mistake with the pricing of this set – $60 is simply way too high for the substandard value contained in this set. $40 would’ve been a lot easier to stomach.