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Review: 9470 – Lord of the Rings – Shelob Attacks

Saying that I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan is a pretty huge understatement. Other than Lego and Pokemon, there is no piece of pop culture that I love more than the Lord of the Rings. I’ve devoured through the trilogy and accompanying books more times than I can count – in fact, just like Christopher Lee, I make it a point to read the books at least once every year.

lego-lotr-fellowshipImagine my absolute delight when Lego announced that it was going to license LotR in conjunction with this year’s highly anticipated The Hobbit, which is slated to hit cinemas in December. Saying that it’s a dream come true to have the likes of Frodo and The Fellowship immortalized in ABS plastic is another understatement.

p1070554My Limited Edition Lord of the Rings poster hanging on my room wall

I believe that I am one of earliest Malaysians to have gotten their hands on the LotR sets, seeing as they’re not available at retail yet and getting them from overseas is a HUGE pain (both financially and physically). I actually got it about a week ago but work kept me away from playing with them. Owe a huge debt to my colleague Isa whose mum was coming back from Canada and graciously allowed me to get 2 sets, this and Weathertop. I also capitalized on the free limited-edition Hulk minifig as well as scored the limited edition Lord of the Rings poster that is now hung proudly on my room wall.

Anyhow, presenting the very first review for 9470 Shelob Attacks from Malaysia!

9470-shelob-attacks-32Name: Shelob Attacks
Set Number: 9470
Pieces: 227
Price: US$ 19.99 (shop.lego.com)
Ages: 8-14 (interesting that Lego bumped up the minimum age to 8..)
Minifigs: 3
Theme: The Lord of the Rings
Year of Release: 2012 Brickset Link: 9470 – Shelob Attacks
Official Lego Lord of the Rings website: http://thelordoftherings.lego.com

9470-shelob-attacks-box-frontHere we have a glorious look at the front of the box, showing all the kinds of fun you can have re-enacting the scene in Return of the King where Sam and Frodo get set up by Gollum and are forced to face off against a massive spider-beast known as Shelob in the labyrinths of the Mountains of Shadow (by now you can guess that I’m a massive LotR nerd). I like the colours and the graphic exaggerations on the box such as Shelob’s fangs dripping with venom. The header of the box features a glimpse at Sauron’s ring finger as well as Isildur’s Bane (The One Ring) being featured prominently. The minifigs are a huge highlight of the theme and we get a look at Frodo, Sam and Gollum on the bottom left corner.

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And here we have the back of the box, which shows us the many many play features that the set offers us! Special highlight to the weapons included in the set and the epicly awesome One Ring accessory! I absolutely love the design of the box as it’s draped with the iconic maps of Middle Earth.

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On on the side of the box, we get the hero and star of the set, Gollum in scale! More on the minifigs soon!

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Obligatory shot of the manual which features the same graphic as the one on the back of the box. My instruction booklet was kinda mangled, but not TOO bent out of shape. Oh and did I mention… no stickers, yay!

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Four bags in the box! Quite a lot of plastic bags for a US$20 set!

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And here’a a peek at a random page inside the menu. I like the map-coloured pages.

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My favourite bit of the manual is this LotR minifig checklist, so you can catch ’em all!

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Here’s a look at the parts broken down by colour. Lots of repetitive elements because you have a grand total of EIGHT spider legs to build, which was not a big of a pain that it sounds. One of the best bits of this set? We get not one, not two but THREE, yes THREE One Rings! As an added treat, we also get TWO Stings (Frodo’s sword) as well, which is an amazing new weapon to have due to its iconic leaf shaped blade. Gollum’s hands are new as well and seem to be modified droid arms.

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Here we have the slightly chunkier pieces, with the two standout ones being the brown and black pieces of plastic used for Shelob’s bum. Gollum also comes in his own personal plastic bag. A huge huge surprise from Lego is Shelob’s face, which is printed! Mega props to Lego for not giving us stickers.

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Closeup of Shelob’s glorious printed  face. Eight eyes including one damaged eye as a result of Sam stabbing it with Sting (great attention to detail!) make this a very very nice surprise. It’s kind of sad that Lego fans get surprised when Lego actually has printed designs instead of stickers instead of the other way around.

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Aaaand, here we have the minifigs of this set! Featuring Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee and the precious addition to the Lego universe that is Gollum! They got everyone central to the scene in place and Frodo does appear in Weathertop as well as Gandalf Arrives. Sam and Smeagol are exclusive to this set and at US$20 a pop, you get a pretty good deal minifig wise! And seriously, who wouldn’t want a Gollum minifig??

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First up, here’s Frodo Baggins himself, brought to life by the very Hobbity Elijah Woods. The first thing that struck out to me is the new hairpiece introduced especially for the Lord of the Rings theme. At first glance, it looked a lot like noodles to me. After that initial first impression, I’ve come to love this snazzy new hairpiece, simply because it captures the look and feel of the Hobbits’ hair so well. The printing on Frodo’s torso is quite exquisite and detailed, depicting the layers of Frodo’s outfit very finely. As mentioned earlier, the One Ring is a brilliant Lego accessory NOT only because of its shininess, but also the many ways it can be gripped (sideways and placed on a stud). Sting as I mentioned is sleek, deadly and mercurial all at the same time. Perfect transformation from film to plastic and one of the best weapons that Lego has produced. A nice touch is also the grey cloak, if you recall was gifted by Galadriel and has awesome stealth properties.

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Frodo’s reverse side of his head has quite possibly one of THE BEST facial expressions ever. A look of pure terror and perhaps some slight paralysis thanks to Shelob’s venom, this face is just HILARIOUS to look at. On to the back printing, Frodo’s coat is nicely detailed on the back as well, which is a nice touch, seeing as how the back is mostly obstructed by their cloak most of the time. Man, I still can’t get over how ridiculous Frodo’s face is!

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Here we have Sam, Frodo’s trusty gardener and companion. Seems like the Hobbit’s default faces are pretty grim and determined, which actually looks okay. Fighting Shelob and wandering the tunnels of the Mountains of Shadow is no time to sport a smile or a grin. Like Frodo, Sam’s torso printing just oozes character and personality, down to the little pouch he carries, which if memory serves me right contains either magic dirt from Galadriel or spices that he uses to cook conies (rabbits) near Ithilien in the movies. Anyway. Sam’s equipped with a shortsword, most likely one of the barrow-blades they found at the Barrow Downs (based on the books) as well as a vial of the light of Eärendil’s star, an immensely powerful gift from Galadriel, containing pure light. Galadriel famously quoted “May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out” which is one of my favourite quotes from the books/movies. Just like Frodo, Sam also has a grey elven cloak.

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From behind, Sam looks excellent as well, with his suspenders and strap continuing from the front. Sam has a more battle-ready face which mixes both fear and ferocity as he defends Frodo from Shelob using the Light of Earendil and even stabs that giant spider in the eye.

9470-shelob-attacks-gollum

Ah, Gollum, perhaps one of LotR’s most memorable characters, thanks to his never-ending lust to reclaim his precious, his famous split personality (Smeagol vs Gollum) and of course portrayed and brought to stunning life by Andy Serkis. I remember the AFOL community abuzz with excitement when the Gollum minifig was first revealed and it’s easy to see why. They’ve captured Gollum’s unique posture, bright shining almost bug-like eyes, wispy hair and wrinkled skin so well. His mouth baring razor sharp teeth and his favourite meal (fish) is a nice bonus.

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Check out the level of detail paid to Gollum’s hair. I also like that they painted his loincloth (both on the back as well as his groin area) and the stud on his back has an aesthetic effect to make it look like a hump. Works brilliantly. His legs are moulded together, so you can only really move around his arms, which are slightly longer and thicker modified droid arms.

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Here’s what we build out of the first few bags, a little cave where Gollum can lurk about as he watches the hobbits walk into the trap he set up together with Shelob. It achieves that cave look quite well, thanks to the arch where Gollum lies in wait. There’s also a minor play feature that allows you to launch Gollum into the air, which I suppose is to simulate Gollum leaping out of nowhere on to the Hobbits. Not a fan of play features like this, but it’s nice they added a little something in for the kids. I like this little cave structure because it doesn’t seem like an afterthought meant to bump up the piece count since it gives Gollum a legit place to lurk.

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Okay, now onto the main course, constructing Shelob! One minor irritation I had was the building the legs, which got kind of repetitive after awhile. But then again, Shelob is a giant Arachnid and they have eight legs… so..

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Shelob is pretty massive! Look at the size in comparison to one of the Hobbits!

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Here’s a full-frontal view of the beautiful beast that is Shelob. After putting everything together, I absolutely love what Lego has done. They really designed the giant spider well, and it’s very poseable thanks to the joints and hinges on each leg. The fangs are well done and her fat abdomen accurately matches how she was CGI-ed in the films.

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You might wonder.. what exactly does Shelob store in her fat behind. Well, spider silk of course! Lego cleverly designed it in the way that you can retract and pull out white thread meant to wrap her prey up. It achieves this via some gears and it works flawlessly. It’s very difficult to outright pull out the string so you’ll have to spin that flat knob on the bottom of her butt.

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Here’s a look at Shelob’s spider silk at work! I swapped out Frodo’s body for some 1×1 round bricks to get that “wrapped up” effect down. This is where Frodo’s shocked expression comes in handy.

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One extremely peculiar detail in the set is this set of wheels that Shelob has on her bottom. I don’t really understand why these were included, although I’m inclined to think that this is to allow her to roll around more easily. shrugs

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Okay, I get it, more action shots of the set! I agree too! I had so much fun posing Shelob and the Hobbits to reenact several key scenes from The Return of the King. Lego spiders are HEAPS FUN.

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Here we have Sam showing his obvious displeasure at Gollum, who is trying to get into Frodo’s good books by pawing at him, constantly.

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The fight for Frodo’s affection gets ugly.

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Yikes. Looks like Shelob got to Frodo.

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True to the set’s name, Shelob finally attacks.

9470-shelob-attacks-7 (1)Sam isn’t one to take just take it, bravely unveiling Galadriel’s Vial containing the Light of Earendil to fend off Shelob! It seems to be working!

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Sam isn’t going down without a fight! In fact, he’s on the offensive and using his sword to stab away at Shelob. She’s not going to like that.

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Final Thoughts: Shelob Attacks is an excellent introduction/gateway set to The Lord of the Rings theme. Ever since I’ve gotten hooked on Tolkien’s masterpiece, I’ve always secretly wanted to have a Lego Lord of the Rings and finally, my wish is granted. Have to comment Lego for doing an amazing job honouring such a respected license. Shelob Attacks at US$20 is a great set to start with, simply because of the amazing value. Shelob is a really fun build (save for the repetitive legs) and is even more enjoyable to play and pose with. The minifigs are great AND you get Gollum. I have to recommend this set to anyone, even if you’re not intending to complete the Fellowship just to get Sting, Gollum, three One Rings AND an exceptionally designed spider. My only minor complain is that Shelob’s eyes fall off pretty easily and it has happened quite often when playing with the set. Other than that, I can’t find any fault with this set.

I think 2012 is the resurgence of another golden age of Lego. So many amazing sets and so many licenses brought to life in Lego form so spectacularly. And so many to choose from!

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