A little while ago we reviewed another Lord of the Rings Lego set. This was Shelob Attacks and you can read that review here.
This time I'm looking at another Lord of the Rings Lego set. This one is Gandalf Arrives, and it is also the cheapest set in the range at £11.99. That makes it quite affordable for Lego, but are you going to get some insubstantial, tiny set that's really not a lot of fun?
This can be the case, so I decided to take a closer look at the Gandalf Arrives set. Exactly what do you get for your money?
This set is from the very beginning of the book, when Gandalf arrives back in the Shire after being away for a while. He is driving a cart loaded with fireworks for Bilbo Baggins birthday party, and the first hobbit he meets is Frodo Baggins, who rides in with him on the wagon.
In this set you get the wagon, plus accessories such as fireworks, a backpack, a barrel for the fireworks, a letter, and Gandalf's staff. There's also a horse, and two figures - Gandalf the Grey and Frodo Baggins. From end to end the wagon and the horse measure 6 inches or 16 cm.
Unlike in other sets, Frodo does not wear a cloak as he hasn't as yet left the Shire to go off on his big adventures. This took some explaining to a seven year old who expected Frodo to look like all the others.
And that's a slightly disconcerting thing about this Frodo figure. He looks less like Frodo, than he does like the dad from Little House on the Prairie, the American TV show from the 70s.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the box was, for the cheapest set in the range you sure get a lot of pieces. Despite looking fairly simple, this is still quite a challenging set to build so will have a lot of appeal for children of all ages.
There's some really nice design touches too. The wagon has sides that go up, and down. However, the horse was the real find in here. I loved this! The horse can be attached to the wagon, but the middle Lego pieces can also be removed and you can put figures in there so they can ride the horse. This broadened game play a lot, and also fits the horse in very nicely with other sets in the range. We also have an Aragorn figure, and he spent quite a lot of time riding the horse.
There's lots of moving parts on this set, and like the Shelob Attacks Lego set, it has clearly been designed with actual hands on play in mind. The pieces are a little harder to put together, but once in place they're tougher to move. Obviously, this is Lego, so if you're rough it will still come apart. But it can take a lot more than other sets.
From a parental perspective, I was pretty pleased to find that when the set is built, the wagon, horse etc all still fit right inside the box itself. I took this set with us on holiday, and we made it on the first day. It travelled about with us, to restaurants and so forth, as well, and was quite good for keeping him occupied when we were sitting at the table. The box was an absolute godsend for transportation!
I think this would make a great gift for the present drawer or for Christmas. Or as something of a special treat on days you need one, like going on holiday. If you've got a Lego mad child. Mine has only seen part of the second movie, so it isn't like he knows the story all that well! It is the Lego that he's the most interested in.
As an aside, the gold coloured stick Gandalf has in my photos is actually part of the fireworks, not his staff. But my son decided it was way cooler to use it as Gandalf's magical staff!
Pros: a good level of difficulty, Lego horse works well for all sorts of gameplay, robust
Cons: a lot of tiny fiddly bits like the carrot, which won't get used often so will quickly get lost
Overall verdict: 8/10 with marks slightly lopped off for the fiddly accessories (from the view of the parent who'll get plagued to find them when they're lost) and the price as always, even a small Lego set is fairly expensive.