Set Review: 79015 Witch-King Battle
Thursday, December 4th, 2014 at 2:46am by Jason, BZPower Reporter
We're back again with more set reviews, and today we explore The Hobbit theme with 79015 Witch-King Battle. BZPower Reporter Xccj looks at the minifigures and landscape piece in this small set, both in a video and pictorial review. Will this set become your Precious, or something to be left in the depths of the Misty Mountains? Watch or read on to figure out for yourself.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box is of the standard small set size, although it does seem a little too small for its price point. The front features the three characters from the set battling it out around a small landscape piece, which is supposed to be set in Dol Guldur, I believe. The top of the box has some artwork from the upcoming movie The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. The back of the box features some more scenes with the characters, as well as highlights for the weapons used and the action features hidden in the landscape. It's not exactly the most visually exciting model, but the minifigures certainly stand out. Inside the box, you get two bags of parts and an instruction booklet.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The build is fairly standard, to the point where it's kind of bland. Essentially you're building a small tree amongst the ruins of an old fortress, so it's really hard to get too excited about it. I suppose the action features are built in nicely, but it's the quality of a set that I would expect to be $5-$7 cheaper.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Most of the parts are blacks, grays, or browns. Some pieces that stand out are the dark gray 1x2 brick-brick (masonry) pieces (only seen in twelve other sets), the medium dark flesh spikes (only seen in the other Dol Guldur sets), the dark red plant leaves piece (only seen in seven other sets), and the dark gray round tile with a hole in it (which is now quite common but it was a new piece this year and is still pretty cool). The more exclusive pieces go with the minifigures.
Elrond is the one character here that is mostly a remake. He's very similar to the Elrond that was released in the polybag with the Lord of the Rings video game a few years ago. However, while the styles are similar, the printing on this one is brand new. (He even has back printing, although it is mostly hidden by his cape.) His head and hairpiece mold cross over from the version that came in the Council of Elrond set, although this time his printed crown is gold, and not silver. His head has two expressions: one with a smile and the other with a frown. He wears a standard cape, but this is the first time it appears in olive green, and he wields a golden elven sword, which has only appeared in a few other sets.
The Witch-King is the antagonist in this set and is very detailed. Technically, he could be considered a remake from his Dark Rider / Ringwraith form that appeared in the Attack on Weathertop set. His form is also similar to the version Frodo saw when wearing the ring, but I assume he shows up looking like this in the upcoming Hobbit movie too. His cape is the same tattered style that came with the Ringwraiths, only this time it's in white. He has some great robe printing on his torso (both front and back) and legs, and wields one of the greatsword pieces in pearly dark gray. His head has a wrinkled face with pursed lips on the front, and more wrinkles printed on the back too. But the cool thing about it is that the head piece is glow in the dark, to give him an eerie look even in the dark. Finally, his crown is a new mold, which fits securely on his head and looks pretty rad. He definitely has the appearance of an evil ghost-like being, and I'll be interested to see how he appears in the upcoming movie.
Finally, we have Galadriel, who is purely unique to this set. She never made it into one of the Lord of the Rings sets, but luckily she has also appeared in the Hobbit Movies, so she gets her chance to shine in minifig form. She has a basic dress printing on her torso (again, both front and back) that extends down as a printed slope piece for her legs. Her head also has two expressions: one is a neutral smile, whereas the other has her in battle mode with a shouting mouth and glowing eyes. Fear her and despair! Her hair mold is the same as Elrond's, only it's gold with a silver crown. Her cape is white with a glittery texture on the back, similar to the cape that Vitruvius came with. Finally, she is holding onto a standard clear crystal piece, which I believe is supposed to represent the Star of Elendil.
Next to the beauty and uniqueness of the three minifigures, the landscape bit looks particularly dull. The window piece and the brick-bricks give the idea that there was once a building here, but it has now fallen to ruin, with a tree growing through it. So it gets the concept across, but it's still not particularly interesting. Even the tree is just a few brown slopes thrown together. The only benefit of this is the action features that were built in. One thing of moderate interest is that there are enough pieces to put together a full skeleton to fill in as a fourth minifig, but the skeleton's parts are also utilized within the build, which is kind of unusual.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
This is apparently a scene from the upcoming movie. I assume these three characters will come together and battle it out. However, given LEGO's past record, it could be that these characters don't actually meet up at all. (I'm looking at you, Iron Man vs. The Mandarin: Ultimate Showdown.) It probably won't be that bad, since the trailers indicate that Elrond and Galadriel do in fact make it to Dul Guldur, so I'll hold out hope that this set is indeed recreating an epic fight, and that will be a main selling point for play value.
Despite it's simplicity, the landscape does have a few action features built into it. The first is on the left side; there's a stud you can attach the Witch King to, and then a lever that will allow you to turn him around, as if he's swinging his sword. The concept is simple but pulled off well. When I first saw this, I was expecting some sort of gear movement, where you could potentially have the Witch King twirl around as he practices his ballet. Unfortunately, it's just a lever that only gives you a small angle of movement. It's enough to allow for a decent sword swing, but it won't be enough to help the Witch King's dancing career.
The next action feature is a catapult on the left side. It's a little heftier than some catapults seen in other sets, especially that puny catapult piece that designers like to thrown in as if it were a flick-fire missile. It still doesn't really toss the trans orange round bricks all that far, but it at least gets them over the edge most of the time. The most interesting bit about the design is that it uses the skeleton torso as the end of the lever, which is a neat way to incorporate the bones into the build.
Finally, there are some Technic rod holes in the landscape bit that allows them to be split apart, creating two small wedged landscape bits. Theoretically, you could purchase multiples of this set and snap together a more substantial tree. Additionally, you could also connect this set to the end of the larger Dul Guldur sets, in case you wanted to build up those scenes. For me, anyway, that's not a particularly enticing idea, especially since the Dul Guldur scenes weren't particularly memorable from the second Hobbit film compared to other locations. But to each their own.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Awesome minifigures
- Okay-ish action features
- Witch King's head glows in the dark
- A few good pieces, like the dark red leaves, medium dark flesh spikes, and dark gray brick-bricks
- No, really, the minifigures are great!!
What's not to like?
- Simplicity of the landscape bits
- Dol Guldur isn't that exciting of a place to build (IMO)
- Not too many interesting pieces outside the minifigures
- Too pricey considering the size of the set
Really, this boils down to a set with three excellent minifigures with a few bricks thrown in to make sure we don't feel too cheated by the price. But for $14.99 USD, I would expect a higher quality set in terms of design. The problem, I think, is that Dol Guldur isn't a very exciting location to recreate out of LEGO Bricks, and even then there wasn't enough included here to really pull it off. If you really want the minifigures (and I can't blame you, they are good) then bite the bullet and grab this set. Better yet, wait for it to go on sale somewhere before picking it up. But if you want a more substantial Hobbit or Lord of the Rings set, I would suggest looking at some of the more expensive ones that will offer a better value in terms of minifigures and built structures. Still, if you absolutely must have Galadriel in your collection, then there's still time to make sure this set ends up on your holiday wish-list!
Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned to BZPower for more LEGO set reviews!
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