I’m a little tired of writing about Legoland Malaysia. My last few posts have been about the park, and while I am still very much excited for this weekend’s public opening, I don’t want to keep sounding like I’m a Legoland shill. So I’m going back to the essence of this blog, Lego itself and get started on a long overdue review on the second largest set in the first wave of Lord of the Rings sets – The Mines of Moria!
Name: Mines of Moria
Set Number: 9473
Price: US$ 79.99
Theme: Lord of the Rings
Year of Release: 2012
Brickset Link: 9473 – Mines of Moria
Now, this was quite a tough set to review, simply because after constructing, displaying and playing around with the set, I can’t quite come to a solid conclusion on whether I like the set or not. I think it’s partly because I made a commitment to buy every Lego Lord of the Rings set, where I normally only purchase sets which I like or I know will be good. Anyway, let’s continue our descent into the Mines of Moria, beginning with the box shots followed by a brief look at the minifigs.
Here’s a look at the front and back of the box. The box is a little blockier and less ‘rectangular’ than normal. It’s got a lot going on both in front and back. This set is clearly designed to be more of a playset than a display set, so buyer beware! Behind, you get to see the wealth of play-features that are possible with the set, giving it a very fun look. There’s a lot happening with a Cave Troll thundering about, pillars falling and doors being smashed open.
Here’s the manual and MASSIVE sticker sheet. Seriously look at that. There are TONS of stickers on this sucker. Not sure I’m really happy about having so many stickers, but to be frank, they don’t really detract from the overall build. You can always opt not to put them on, but I like my sets to be 100% complete, so I always apply my sticker (badly).
A Brick Separator is included in this set, which is always nice to have. I’ve got about 4 lying around my desk now. You can never have enough of these!
First up, we have
Eddard Stark Boromir, son of Denethor, the High Warden of the High Tower. Boromir was sent as an envoy from Gondor to The Council of Elrond and subsequently selected as a member of the Fellowship of the Ring. First up, the positives about the minifig – Boromir’s cape is made out of exquisite dark red fabric, and is one of the nicest colours used for a cape I’ve ever come across.
Boromir’s cape on the right. Pippin’s one is on the left.
The detail on Boromir’s torso and legs are another plus point, which makes the minifig look amazingly detailed. Lego has done an amazing job replicating his garments from the film. The blue-dyed leather armour matches perfectly with the more regal deep red fabric he wears inside – making him look very majestic and befitting of the heir of the Steward of Gondor. Boromir comes with a standard issue longsword and a simply round shield, which doesn’t bear intricate designs, but does the job of looking really good anyway. What I don’t like about the minifig is Boromir’s facial features, which makes him look really old and bears no resemblance to Sean Bean at all. The minifig makes Boromir look really old. The oddest thing, however is the ginger-orange hairdo. Understand that they needed to differentiate him from Aragorn’s brown locks. It bewilders me that they didn’t opt for Pippin’s or even Sam’s hair colour, which IMHO, would be a lot more fitting.
Next up, we have Pippin, or Peregrin Took! Tooks are a Hobbit clan renowned for their adventurous and inquisitive nature. The Hobbits have thus far been the stars of the Lord of the Rings theme, and Pippin doesn;t disappoint one bit. His olive green cape, blue jacket and hipsterish looking tie go extremely well together. He’s one well dressed Hobbit and wouldn’t look out of place at posh Hipster hideouts like Publika or Artisan Coffee. We get a new share of brown in Hobbit-style hair. Pippin comes with a shortsword and a fitting half-smirk on his face, followed by a shocked expression on the reverse side of his head.
My second favourite minifig in this set, Gimli! In case you were wondering about the Lockbearer moniker, it was because in Lorien, Gimli – overcome by the beauty and grace of Galadriel requested a lock of her hair for safekeeping. The detail on Gimli’s minifig is magnificent and that beard is just grand. Because dwarves are fierce, Gimli was given TWO axes. A large broad axe along with a smaller hatchet, presumably to carve up some orcs. The Mines of Moria was an especially difficult place for Gimli, as he discovered that his relative, Balin was unsuccessful in reclaiming the mines, or Khazad-Dum and met his demise below the Misty Mountains.
Here’s Gimli without his majestic beard to give you closer look at his torso printing, which I love, as well as his facial expressions. Very nice that Lego included two expressions, but kinda pointless since most of his face is obscured by his massive beard. Gimli looks like he hasn’t got much sleep and is suffering from some unglam eyebags. Oh, his helmet is a work of art. Incredibly detailed printing, complete with a very unique design make one very tasty accessory.
Presenting everybody’s favourite pretty-boy Elf, Legolas Greenleaf! Similar to Boromir, Legolas suffers from some warped facial features, in this case – over defined cheekbones that make the minifig seem a little weird. Other than that, it’s still a very solid minifig. His green garb retains his Elvish and Sindarin lineage. His hairpiece, just like his hair in the movie is a beautiful piece of moulded plastic. His braids look nothing short of exquisite from behind. Just like the other minifigs, we’re treated to a reversible head where he bares his teeth in an attempt to look fierce and dangerous! Legolas is rounded off with an Elvish longbow – the very same one we got with the Elf from the Collectible Minifigs Series 3.
Now for the baddies includes in the set! We get two identical orcs who are looking a little green. They’re carbon copies of each other, except that one is wielding a flail and the other is equipped with a rather fancy Uruk Hai shield and a bulky chipped sword. The Orcs are very nicely detailed, with metallic paint used for their armour printing. In case you were wondering why their ears look a little Elvish, it’s because Orcs were originally elves that were corrupted by Morgoth and Sauron’s malice. They have reversible faces, which are a little hard to distinguish (Hint: look at the mouths!), but it was a nice addition from Lego.
Two skeletons are also included in this set. Nothing out of the ordinary, just typical bones. Funny thing though, one of them is supposed to belong to Balin, a dwarf. Found it funny that he suddenly grew longer legs after dying 🙂
And here we have, undoubtedly the star of the set, the massive Cave Troll that was unleashed upon the Fellowship as they sought out cover in Balin’s Tomb. Speaking of Balin’s Tomb, I think that this would be a more appropriate name for the set, since the battle takes place in the tomb itself and the Mines of Moria is quite an all-encompassing term. I guess Lego decided to go with the term that most people are familiar with. Anyway, the Cave Troll stands out as one of the largest humanoid behemoths created by Lego and is a major fixture in the set.
Here’s a scale of sorts to give you an idea of how huge the Cave Troll is. He completely dwarfs Big Hulk!
The Cave Troll is well designed, with pretty cool face painting, a freckled spotted back as well as a skimpy loincloth to hide his junk in. Just like Big Hulk, the Cave Troll’s legs are immovable, but his arms can be raised up and down as well as hands that can swivel around. His hands can fit one standard minifig leg, or one rod piece, which is what his giant club is made of. He’s got two studs on top of his back, so that a minifig can get secure footing on him.
Here’s the Cave Troll manhandling Pippin. He also comes with a link chain that’s attached to his back, which accurately matches the depiction of him in the movie as he smashes about the tomb, causing all sorts of problems for The Fellowship. It’s quite an impressive character to have and is probably responsibly for why this set costs a bit higher than it ought to be.
In the first bag, you’re off assembling the Cave Troll, Pippin, Boromir and Gimli to get things started. First thing you build is this well, which if you remember from the movie – triggers the entire battle when Pippin accidentally knocks the skeleton into the depths of Moria and the “drums in the deep” begin to stir.
“Fool of a Took!”
The well has quite a smattering of stickers to give it the impression that it’s made of bricks. Which is where things get a little weird because there are some brick pieces being used here… so the stickers were kind of a lazy move. You also get a bucket (cool!) and a golden crystal piece.
There’s a little play function here, which involves a sliding mechanism that allows the skeleton to fall into the well. It looks a little something like this.
Next up, we construct Balin’s stone coffin where his skeleton comfortably lies, undisturbed till a Cave Trolls comes to tear up his final resting place. The stickers are well done here, with dwarvish runes to mark Balin’s coffin. They don’t look out of place and are a perfect addition to this build.
Here we have another play function where you can press down on a lever to make Balin’s skeleton ‘pop out’ from the tomb, unhinging the heavy stone cover.
Here’s the completed contents of Bag 1. Forgot to mention that we also get a sweet book that has stickers on it. It contains Balin’s logs of his time in Moria, right up till his death.
Next in Bag 2, we construct this great looking doorway that featured heavily in the movie. This is where the Fellowship barricaded themselves in, as they were assaulted by Orcs via the only entrance to Balin’s tomb. Quite a decent build, it certainly looks big enough to be impressively blocky. We get a spear (perhaps the one used by the Cave Troll to spear Frodo?) and a torch as well as a bronze axe piece, used to jam the door shut. Above the doorway, there are stickers you add which have more dwarvish runes on them. I like these stickers because they add a lot of flavour to the set. The door is made entirely out of bricks, which is a another plus point.
The door has another small play feature, which I didn’t get a gif off. Basically, you press down the lever and a chunk of the door falls off. You can see the piece that falls out from the outline. Check out the cute little sticker on the side, where you have some mysterious eyes peering out of the darkness.
Here’s the back of the door. Nothing too impressive except from the brick pieces used in the pillars.
Up next is Bag 3 & 4, where we unleash Legolas and his Orc friends!
First up, we build the centrepiece of a column system. Spot the treasure chest hidden in the middle.
This is supposed to be a raised platform that doubles as the ‘walls’ of Balin’s tomb. We get quite a few accessories here that were remnants of the Dwarves who tried to tame Moria – a bottle, another book, a jewel and a pickaxe in a barrell. Don’t really like the stickers used here, in particular the bookshelves with arrows in them. Makes it look very cartoony.
Dwarves LOVE their treasure so they obviously hid it in a chest. You can retract the chest via a sliding mechanism from the back. Don’t remember this from the movie, but it makes sense to include this for a playset like this.
We then construct two more platforms that attach itself to the main unit. The pillars go here. Nothing too fancy or out of the ordinary here.
Here are the two almost identical pillars that make up the most exciting (I’m using this term sparingly) play feature of the set, where literally at a push of a button, stuff just tumbles down.
Here’s what you get when you combine the platforms, centrepiece and pillars together. It’s quite a large, beefy section and makes up the bulk of the entire set.
Via twin levers behind, you can knock down the pillars which makes it look like the entire tomb is crashing down. Pretty cool feature to have and one of the rare play features I actually approve of.
Here’s a closer look at the back of the centrepiece. Two levers to topple the pillars, and the slider for the treasure chest.
You also get a pretty cool smattering of weapons that you litter the floor with.
Now that I’ve walked you through the various features of the set, time to put everything together to see how the set actually looks!
Barricading themselves and preparing for the onslaught. “They brought a Cave Troll!”
“They’ve broken through!”
All hell breaks loose. If only I had more Orcs, this scene would’ve been perfect!
Recreated one of my favourite scenes from The Fellowship of the Ring, where Legolas shows off as usual, mounts the Cave Troll and fires some arrows directly into its skull.
Damnit Cave Troll, you’re drunk! Go home, you’re making a mess!
Final Thoughts: Like I mentioned early on, I’m a little conflicted. It’s not a great build, since it does absolutely squat as a display piece. It’s fun to set up different scenes, but other than that, there just seems like there’s a lot of fluff in this set. Even with almost 800 pieces, the set feels kind of bland and way too messy. There’s just too much going on to make any sense of it. The Cave Troll and minifigs are a nice addition, but overall, I have to say that this was a little disappointing, after the stellar build and display piece that was Weathertop. The price doesn’t help it too, as you’re essentially paying for a lot of boring grey bricks and some nice minifigs AND a Cave Troll. After much thought, I’ve decided that I’m not too happy with this set. It could have been much much more. All in all, it feels like a waste of a set and I wish Lego had put in a lot more effort into this and not turn it into a glorified play set. Play features are nice for kids, but you aren’t pandering to kids with Lord of the Rings.
Should You Buy It?: First up, props to Lego for putting in one of LotR’s most popular characters, Legolas in one of the least desirable Lord of the Rings sets. You’re going to NEED to buy the Mines of Moria to complete your Fellowship of the Ring as Pippin, Boromir and Legolas are exclusive to the set. I do feel kinda cheated by the subpar set that I had to get in order to obtain the minifigs, but hey, props to Lego’s marketing for that. Unless you can get it on sale, I wouldn’t recommend getting it unless you’re a purist/completionist. If you want to round up your Fellowship, you’re better of just purchasing the minifigs off Bricklink. The Cave Troll is nice, but not necessary at all. Only buy it if you’re a mad Lord of the Rings fan. If you aren’t, you can skip this and not miss out on much.
Too much went into amassing The Fellowship of the Ring. But I love it anyway. This is still a dream come true for me!
Thanks for reading! To close this review off, here’s a picture of the minifigs from the Mines of Moria running away from a rampaging Cave Troll. Until next time!