Saturday, December 29th, 2012 at 12:45pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Today we review the last Lord of the Rings set from 2012, 9473 The Mines of Moria. Should you travel with the Fellowship into the deep places where dark things lurk? Probably not, but you can read what might be our last review of the year to see if you should buy this set!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The box is, in a word, shiny. The front shows a lot of action going on and clearly indicates which minifigs you get with this set, which is nice for those trying to complete their Fellowship. The back details the many action features and shows that Legolas is ambidextrous and can shoot a bow left-handed.
Upon opening the box, you'll find four numbered bags, the cave troll in his own polybag, and the instructions and stickers. I took a picture because this is the first set I've built recently where the instructions and stickers come in a bag with a piece of cardboard. This keeps them from getting bent and creased in transit which is, frankly, awesome. I hope we see it in some smaller sets in the future too.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
First things first - there are a LOT of stickers in this set. It's kind of ridiculous. There are many instances where I feel the pieces could/should have been printed. That said, the designs on the stickers are great and make the set look that much better. I just wish some had been printed instead.
The first bag has you build the cave troll and his mace, followed by a well and a sarcophagus. It's all very basic and they go together fast.
Next you build the doors into the room. It's a pretty basic studs-up affair for the most part. There's some parts where you'll use SNOT to add some tiles to look like stonework. The most interesting parts are the doors themselves and the play feature that uses some Technic pieces.
After that comes the main play area, which is spread across the last two bags. The first bag is for the center portion. One interesting thing I noted is that the build uses 1x1 modified bricks with studs on the side as normal 1x1 bricks. The side-studs are just hidden in the interior of the structure in most cases. Other than that, it's a fairly basic build, but meaty in that there's a lot of pieces that go into it.
Finally, you build the two side platforms. They have a couple Technic elements hiding in there but otherwise not a lot to be excited about. Then you build and add the pillars and you're good to go!
There's 776 pieces here, a lot of them smaller elements, so this is a pretty lengthy build all told. Nothing will blow your mind, but it will keep you interested.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Dark and light grey are the colors of the build here, as would be expected from a set based on a mine. There's a smattering of black and brown too. All-in-all, it's a treasure trove of parts if you like building castles.
I really had to scrounge to find interesting parts. In the first bag, Gimli's beard and helmet were the highlights, along with the L-shaped plate with a raised edge. I'd never seen it before and it was awesome! Then there's a book, a gold crystal (I would have preferred mithril myself), Boromir's shield, and a bucket. The second bag had nothing that jumped out at me, and the third only had one semi-interesting Technic piece. The last bag included a bunch of the weapons from the Heroica games, which was cool. All things considered though, this is not a set to buy for unique pieces - it's all about the basic bricks.
The well is simple enough. Basic grey, a few stickers to add some details, and a sliding platform. Accurate enough in that it was in the movie and not something the designers completely made up.
The sarcophagus is where the attention to detail really begins to shine in my opinion. The set designers went through the effort of making stickers with the proper inscription (yes, I checked). While there's nothing else very exciting here, it looks great and definitely adds to the set.
The doors to the tomb look great. The woodgrain stickers, while I would have preferred printing, add some nice detail, as do the stickers on the side. I especially like the one that says 'Orcs,' and then has some tally marks for the number of kills. On the top are some Futhark runes that translate to 'Diordie was here.' I'm guessing that was one of the set designers, because I couldn't find anything relating that name to Middle Earth. Nice little easter egg. Back the the actual set though, I liked the space for a bar to close the doors with the axe in it, emulating the scene from the movie. The 'brick' bricks and tiles add some decent-looking stonework too. A solid build in my mind.
And here's the rest of the scenery. I'm not sure exactly what it's supposed to be - I guess it's just a wall in the tomb? Maybe the part where Frodo was running away from the cave troll? It definitely captures the look of Moria and the scene from the movie. The stickers again add some great detail like the books and the stonework. There's some nice brick-built details as well with some chips from the rocks and tiles used as stones. It looks good - just not necessarily useful.
Onto the minifigs! The troll is unique to this set I believe, but is similar in size, shape, and posing to the Hulk figure from the Avengers sets. He has some nice printing and decent arm poseability. I wish he could move his legs though.
The two Moria orcs are also unique to this set. Their designs are very similar to the Mordor orcs from the Orc Forge set, but with very different skin colors. They have front and back printing and two-sided heads and are unfortunately identical. They make for good hero fodder though.
Boromir and Legolas - two more unique figs! They have torso and leg printing that looks stupendous and definitely captures the look of the figures. Boromir's face does a good job reminding me of Sean Bean too, although I can't say the same for Legolas. I don't think they did a very good job capturing Orlando Bloom and instead we just get a very stoic-looking elf.
Wrapping things up we've got Pippin and Gimli. Gimli also appears in Helm's Deep but Pippin is an exclusive here. They both look like decent enough approximations with front and back printed torsos and double-sided heads. Gimli's beard and helmet are especially awesome and help capture that character perfectly. As a result, when you take them off you're wondering who that is underneath. Poor John Rhys-Davies...
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?
Look at this thing - there's so much there. Even if you ignore the action features below there is hours upon hours of roleplaying fun to be had in this set.
The well: pull the platform out and the skeleton falls down, creating a ruckus to alert the orcs to the Fellowship's location. It works well enough I suppose.
There's a lever on the back of the sarcophagus that, in theory, when pressed should launch the skeleton of Balin and the lid up into the air and off the base. In practice, you really have to slam on the lever multiple times in order to get it to move significantly. Also, isn't that skeleton a little too big to be a dwarf? I think we could have done without this tacked on feature in my opinion.
If you push on them just right, you can get the axe to pop off the doors, allowing the orcs and troll to burst in. But really they're just doors that open. There's also a Technic lever on the side that, when pressed, knocks off a piece of the wall. It works decently enough, and if you're lucky you could even crush an orc with it.
The main part of the playset has some features too. You can push a plate in the back and pop out a treasure chest - I don't remember this at all in the movie or books, but who doesn't like gold and gems? There are also two Technic levers on the back that you can use to knock down the pillars. They require a good deal of force to make them work, but when they do the pillars fall exactly as you would expect. Nothing too exciting, but they help with immersing you into the scene.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Great minifigures
- Lots of good parts for castle builders
- Impressive attention to detail
- Accurately captures the movie scene
What's not to like?
- Too many stickers
- Few exciting parts
- Some play features difficult to use
The Mines of Moria set costs about $80 and contains 766 pieces - that's a pretty good deal for a licensed set. If you're a big Lord of the Rings fan I would recommend this for sure. Additionally, if you're a castle builder you will find a lot of great parts in here. Aside from that though, I think most everyone else can do without it.
Thanks for reading our last set review of 2012. I hope you all enjoyed this and the many other reviews our staff have put out throughout the year. I look forward to the 2013 sets and you can expect plenty of reviews from them in the coming months, right here on BZPower!
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