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Review: LEGO 76989 Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck

It’s always exciting when LEGO explores new horizons – and 2022 sees LEGO embrace “Gaming” as part of their Creator Expert/LEGO for Adults theme.

The first of hopefully many is 76989 Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck, based on the hit Sony Playstation franchise – Horizon Zero Dawn, which recently saw a sequel Horizon Forbidden West launch to critical acclaim.

LEGO has a lengthy engagement with gaming, from Super Mario, Minecraft to LEGO Dimensions but Horizon is the first time (outside 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System and 71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block) which feature the bleak, black 18+ box design and branding.

Since it was officially announced, I’ve been really excited to get my hands on the Tallneck and get immersed in LEGO’s new Gaming theme, mostly because I think it’s a really unique, and awesome sci-fi model.

The 76989 Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck has a release date of 1 May 2022, and will be available from Amazon, LEGO.com or your local LEGO store. Regional pricing and links below

Let’s jump straight into the review!

Special thanks to the LEGO Group for providing this set for review

76989 Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck – Set Details

Name: Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck
Set Number: 76989
Pieces: 1,222
Minifigures: 1
Price: AU$129.99 | US$79.99 | £69.99 – Buy from LEGO.com [AUS] [USA] [UK] [Amazon] [Amazon Australia]
Exclusive to: N/A
Theme: Gaming
Designer: Isaac Snyder
Release Date: 1 May 2022

So full disclaimer – I’ve not played Horizon Zero Dawn, or Horizon Forbidden West as I don’t have a PS4 or PS5, but I’m fairly familiar with the story, having watched a bit of content and the story on Youtube.

The game, developed by Guerrilla Games is set in post-apocalyptic United States, where humans have devolved into primitive tribes, and the wild lands are dominated by lumbering, large machines.

The protagist Aloy is from one of the tribes, and roams around the open world, hunting down these machines while uncovering the mystery behind the disappearance of “the Old Ones”, humans from before the time machines took over the Earth.

The game is best known for its open world gameplay, which encourages exploration, crafting and hunting/hacking of machines, as well as the highly detailed robotic beasts, and creatures which have a very cool and futuristic designs.

The model is based off a Tallneck, large lumbering giraffe-like machines that function as communication towers – in the game, Tallnecks roam about and if you’re able to climb atop it to override it, you’re granted a map and vision of the area.

To get you up to speed with the world of Horizon, the manual features plenty of information about the world, Aloy, and your typical biography of designer Isaac Snyder as well as information about the Tallneck itself.

Pardon the manual photos, as I accidentally spilled coffee all over the manual…

Here’s a look at the sticker sheet – most of the stickers are used for the Tallneck’s dish head, and some for the back – they aren’t massive, so are quite easy to apply and aren’t particularly annoying.

Here’s a look at the build progress – you begin with the base, which has an uncommon oval shape, before moving onto the foliage details.

You build the Tallneck’s body, followed by the neck, legs and then finish off with the head.

With 8 numbered bags, it doesn’t take long, and I was completely engrossed throughout the build as it’s unlike anything LEGO have ever done.

The build experience can be described as a cross between building a large animal, sci-fi mech, and display diorama, making for a varied and fun build experience, watching the Tallneck come together.

Here’s a look at the Aloy minifigure. Aloy is the main character of the game, and the minifigure is absolutely incredible.

You can immediately recognise her as Aloy, and the designers have done an exceptional job capturing her wild look, including her tan clothes, with pops of tribal colour from beads and her wavy skirt which has bright blue and red trim.

Her hairpiece is also sensational – it’s made out of rubbery plastic, and features highly detailed braids which give it some really nice details.

The best part is that it the hairpiece incorporate Aloy’s Focus, a trans-blue ring that’s fused into the hairpiece. The Focus is a communications device that allows her to scan and detect machines, and serves as a heads up display.

It’s one of the craziest minifigure accessories I’ve seen, and I’m glad LEGO went all out with getting this detail just right.

The minifigure features a high level of detail, with arm printing on both arms, a dual-sided head, but no side leg printing unfortunately.

Aloy comes with a bow, which makes an appearance in white for the first time, as well as a brick-built spear.

It goes without saying – Aloy is an exceptional minifigure, and one of the best designs that LEGO have ever put into a set. She’s almost worth the price of admission alone… but the finished Tallneck model is equally as good!

This is the LEGO Tallneck, an absolutely mesmerising model that stands tall among other sets, literally and figuratively.

The finished model somehow manages to feel both large and small at the same time. It’s about 34cm (13.5 in) high, but takes up quite a small footprint thanks to its small oval base.

The Tallneck strikes a very impressive pose, and is a sensational display model, and fans of the Horizon video game will be delighted at such an accurate display model, capturing the Tallneck’s shape and silhouette in such detailed fashion.

Here’s a look at the base which provides some nice mixed terrain for the Watcher to stand on – there is grass, some clay/sand and a rocky quadrant, as well as some tastefully designed foliage, in the from of flowers, a tree in autumn colours, and some large reeds.

I love the little details that incorporate the world of Horizon, such as this broken traffic light, which has been overgrown and consumed by the wilderness, and the tree is also equally attractive thanks to its white trunk and branches, and bright yellow leaves.

Most importantly, they provide a sense of scale to the Tallneck.

Also included is a Watcher, one of the smaller machines in the game, which are quite annoying. They have a large optical sensor, and if it detects a threat, immediately becomes aggressive, and worst of all, summons its larger friends to cause the player more grief.

The construction is quite basic, but effective, with very generous articulation, allowing you to pose it in a number of different ways.

Fans of the game will be delighted to know that you can easily swap out the watcher’s “eye” as the set includes a yellow, and red variant to switch up the Watcher’s look between different modes – a very simple, yet important touch that demonstrates that the design team really prioritise attention to detail.

Back to the Tallneck, first of all, the colours are fantastic, with really clever use of contrast to emphasise the silhouette and different features.

While predominantly white, the black areas ensure that the white armour plates “pop”, and I also love the pops of gold, and more subtle sand blue, and tan plates and tiles tie it all together.

Here’s a look at the Tallneck’s head, with its trademark large disc-shape that gives it a very otherworldly, sci-fi appearance.

Like the base, the head is mostly build sideways, and stickers are employed mostly across the edges to give it that extra bit of detail – be careful with the alignment here, or it’ll look as bad as mine!

Like the games, Aloy can of course scale the Tallneck to access the terminal on its head, and unlock vision of the map!

One of the aspects that designer Isaac Snyder absolutely nailed is the overlapping armour plating across the Tallneck’s tall, umm neck.

The neck is quite sturdy, and I love the armour-plated effect, running down the neck all the way to the legs.

Behind the neck are pearl gold antennae, which cleverly use Uruk Hai swords in pearl gold for the very first time as well.

On the back, more stickered details are employed to give it a slightly more accurate look – these are quite clever, as the back would otherwise look quite plain with large white panels bereft of detail.

I don’t quite know what these are, but I guess these are the Tallneck’s tails? I love the construction methods used here, with nice part usage – snowboards and curved slopes being used for a curvy SNOT look.

And here’s a look at rhe legs, which have sand blue and tan details on them. Unfortunately, the legs are completely rigid, save for the feet, which have some articulation thanks to ball joints.

The knees are non-existent and only for show, mostly to give the Tallneck much-needed stability, as the last thing you want is for it to topple over thanks to its very high centre of gravity.

As extra insurance, the legs can be affixed to the base via these pins.

That said… the Tallneck is actually quite stable on its own – during my photography, I had no trouble balancing it – the ball-joint feet are actually great as you can adjust the angles for slightly uneven surfaces.

Such a gorgeous build, and the sci-fi and mech-lover in my had a complete blast building and displaying this set.

What I liked:

  • It feels both large and small at the same time thanks to its height, but small footprint
  • Build experience was thrilling
  • Incredibly accurate and does a brilliant job mimicking the source material
  • Aloy minifigure is exceptional
  • Makes for an awesome display model
  • Surprisingly stable

What I didn’t like: 

  • Aloy has no side leg printing
  • Without knees, you’re limited in ways to pose it
  • You’ll need to be good at sticker application for best results

Final Thoughts:

76989 Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck is another outstanding model from LEGO, and a fine introduction into the LEGO Gaming theme.

It strikes an imposing and impressive display, and is almost a diorama in itself, thanks to the great looking base, which functions to incorporate colour, but also a sense of scale, and nature into the Tallneck’s surroundings, bringing the world of Horizon to life on a very attractive oval base.

The Tallneck itself is stunningly jaw-dropping – building it was an absolute joy thanks to the interesting techniques used, not just from a technical standpoint, but there are some really inspired aesthetic techniques employed, such as the use of black elements for negative space, or to make certain features like the armour plating pop.

I’m a huge fan of LEGO models with height as they just grab your attention when on display, and the Tallneck does not disappoint in this area. If you’re a fan of mecha, or sci-fi, there’s plenty to love here even if you’re unfamiliar with the game.

You can easily appreciate the Star Trek Enterprise-esque head, and all the nifty robotic details scattered throughout the giraffe-like frame. Like the machines in Horizon, the LEGO version does a superb job of blending beast with machine.

Last but not least, Aloy is simply stunning as a minifigure, and I commend LEGO for going the extra mile with her design. The insane level of detail, and just how well they incorporated the focus INTO her hairpiece cannot be overstated, and she’s a front-runner for minifigure of the year for me.

This is a superb set, and whether you’re a fan or have played the game, I think this has much broader appeal and even non-Horizon fans like myself can truly appreciate the Tallneck model for what it is.

It’s an incredibly novel design, and is something that LEGO have never quite done before, yet the level of technique and skill employed here, does seem to suggest that LEGO have been doing designs like this forever.

I just love how sci-fi this model is, and how well it works as a diorama and display model – there was plenty of hype around LEGO Horizon Forbidden West, when the Tallneck was announced, and I can confidently say that it live up to the hype, and then some more.

A really satisfying, and accomplished build that you’ll definitely enjoy, even if you’re not super familiar with the game.

Rating and score: 4/5 ★★★★☆

Build [5] – Plenty of variation, and kept me enthralled from start to finish
Real Value [4] – While quite pricey for the piece-count, the end result makes it feel like LEGO could get away with charging more for it. Aloy itself, is almost worth half the ticket price
Innovation [4] – Masterful techniques are employed here, and the tech that went into Aloy’s focus fused into the hairpiece needs to be acknowledged
Coolness [4] – A brilliant display model, and a great way to kick off the LEGO Gaming theme
Keepability [4] – This one’s a keeper, and I hope we get way more Horizon sets to round out the collection.


Thanks for reading my review of 76989 Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck . It goes on sale on 1 May 2022 from LEGO.com!

What do you think of LEGO’s Horizon Tallneck? Do sets like these appeal to you, and will you be picking it up?

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Special thanks to the LEGO Group for providing this set for review

11 responses to “Review: LEGO 76989 Horizon Forbidden West: Tallneck”

  1. Kris Dee says:

    I have played “Horizon Zero Dawn” last year (but got distracted by other games, like “Elden Crap” – I mean “Elden Ring”), but I am going to start the game anew. And I am DEFINITELY going to buy “Horizon Forbidden West”.

    I had (still have somewhere?) lots of those “classic” Lego Space sets as a little boy and I loved playing with them.

    Knowing Aloy and her world, when I saw this Lego set (didn’t know it existed), I bought it right away. I haven’t started assembling it yet, but I already know it will look fantastic (and bring back memories).

    Thanks for the blog. The photographs look great!

  2. Eric says:

    There are some very cool Horizon MOCs that you can get the instructions for. I did the sawtooth a couple years ago. But with the way the machines are designed in the game lego could easily have a TON of different sets for us.

    • Jay says:

      Here’s hoping! The set has been incredibly popular, and LEGO have not been able to keep it in stock, so this bodes well for future sets. I’d definitely love to see more from Horizon

  3. legodude says:

    this lego set looks fantastic! Only the stickers on the head. Why Lego? This is right in plain sight. I think I will get it even though the stickers are a disaster..

  4. Martijn says:

    I love this model’s details. Such a cool design. I’ll definitely buy it.
    My only nitpick is that the neck is too short compared to the body when compared to the game.

  5. Nick Richards says:

    Sticker placement can be done accurately, very generally, with affixing the sticker Corner to the Tip of a knife. So that way you have a long handle to set either the angle (if you plop the opposite corner down first) or the initial placement down accurately. Tldr craft yourself a handle.

  6. Julien says:

    Thanks for the detailed review.
    The coffee on the instructions is a nice custom touch.
    Are there new parts except for the minifig ? I’ve seen some wedges in sand blue what is new.

  7. Bob says:

    Thanks for your review. I just started playing the first game because it was on sale. Between that and your recommendation, I’m looking forward to getting this. Especially nice to see the detail on the mini figure.

  8. Jake says:

    When is the Uncharted set coming?

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