Thursday, March 5th, 2015 at 6:56pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
It's time to check out the last set from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and it's the biggest - 79018 The Lonely Mountain. The dwarves and Smaug never interact in the third movie, but that didn't stop them from making a set based on it and including a very specialized dragon for it as well. Is this monster of a set worth its weight in ABS? Or is the mountain doomed to remain forever unclaimed? Read on and watch our review to find out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
This is a big box, and it's quite shiny. As you might expect, Smaug takes up a majority of the front, breathing fire and being suitably evil. Around him the dwarves and Bilbo make use of the set's action features to try to subdue him. It's not really a fair fight...
On the back the many play features are highlighted in different callouts. We also see just how big Smaug is and all the weapons the set includes. There's definitely a lot to see and play with here, hopefully enough to keep you plenty busy.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
This was a really fun build; it never felt tedious or boring, and for the most part was not overly repetitive. With 866 pieces, there's certainly a lot to be assembled, but I feel like it didn't take all that long.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Sand green and grey are the predominant colors here, and while the grey isn't very special, this is one of the few sets to give you sand green bricks in bulk. Some, like the 2x2, 2x4, and 2x2 corner slopes, only appear in one or two sets. So this is definitely a good source for that color if you need it. Aside from that, the 2x2x2 slope in warm gold is exclusive to this set, as are the tail pieces in dark red. The 1x1 round tile isn't special, but I thought it was cool. The silver armor is also unique, as is the trans-green axe blade. Finally, you get the 1x1 round tile with the Arkenstone printed on it. It's not easy to photograph, but the metallic silver printing is pretty awesome.
Looking at the figs, Bilbo Baggins is first up. His torso is exclusive to this set and has a nice winter coat print over his normal jacket and waistcoat. His two-sided head isn't unique but he's still a solid fig.
Now we're on to Balin and Dwalin, two of the more prominent dwarves in the book and movies. Again, the heads and hairs are the same that we saw in the past, but the torsos feature the fancy armor that the dwarves picked up once they made it into the mountain. The printing is very nice and I'm also a fan of the silver and gunmetal arms!
Fili and Kili get upgraded torsos too with similarly-nice armor prints. More silver and gunmetal arms abound. The heads and hair are still the same. No complaints unless you're a completionist who needs every version of every character.
Smaug looks pretty great. His feet are a bit blocky, but overall the look is there. As far as the construction, I think I would have preferred a brick-built model like in Ninjago, but the shape probably wouldn't be quite the same. The wings are great and use a rubbery material that allows them to fold up and spread wide. They have ball joints as well, which means they can easily be used in constraction creations. The rest of the pieces are very specialized though and will probably not see a lot of reuse.
The first part of the set you build is a pile of gold, of which there are many inside the Lonely Mountain. It's pretty basic-looking, but certainly better than just a stack of gold bricks. It opens up too so you can find treasure buried deep within!
The main set is quite sizeable and has a lot of detail. Starting on the bottom left there's a little forge with an anvil, some tools, and some weapons. Above that is some sort of cauldron that I guess is supposed to be melting the gold but it also doubles as a catapult. Above that is a bucket on a track that the dwarves can use to bring gold and ore from the mine to the cauldron to smelt it down. Below and to the right is what I think is supposed to be the secret door into Erebor, even though it's on the inside? The runes above it say "Erebor" and "Threr," so somebody made a typo (it should be "Thror"). Connecting the left half to the right half is another pile of gold that can be used as a slide to escape Smaug or to Scrooge McDuck it up.
The right half is a lot simpler. The two pillars have a lot of nice details, but the main focal point is a throne for the King Under the Mountain. It has some nice stickers to complete the look. The stairs leading up to the throne have a play feature that allows them to be shot out, knocking over anyone who happens to be climbing on them.
The back is pretty bare. One side does have three 'rooms,' and one of those rooms has a mineral deposit or something that contains the Arkenstone. It's a nice touch, but the rest of the back seems like they stopped trying. I would have rather it been left empty and work been focused on the front side instead.
I think the set looks pretty great. It's obviously impossible to fully capture the majesty and grandeur of dwarven architecture, but I think the designers did a good job.
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?
I touched on a lot of play features in the design section of the review, but beyond that there is of course the role-play value. Bilbo and the dwarves sneak into the caverns of Erebor and accidentally wake the sleeping dragon. They use their wits and the mining and refining machinery to attempt to defeat this mighty foe. Since this is your imagination at work, maybe they can win and Lake Town can be saved!
SPOILER TIME: Time for my latest Hobbit rant. First off, this scene does happen in the movies, only it happens in The Desolation of Smaug, not The Battle of the Five Armies. It would have made much more sense to get Smaug in 2013, or if he was in a 2014 set it should have been the Attack on Lake Town. All that is irrelevant though, of course, because in the book, the dwarves and the dragon never even come face-to-face and the scene they added in the movie was completely ridiculous and added only to give some 'action' and allow them to make a third film. Okay, rant over.
The action features all work pretty well and add to the play value. The catapult and stairs can definitely launch if you provide enough force and the bucket slides, raises, and lowers with no issues. It's a solid package filled with cool looks, appropriate characters, and some good features to make kids and adults happy.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
Nice minifig designs
Lots of sand green
Fun play features
Set looks cool
What's not to like?
Storyline issues abound
Separating it from being in the wrong movie and the book inaccuracies, this is a good set. It's the only way to get Smaug, and you get some Dwarves and Bilbo with new designs. There's lots of good parts, especially sand green. Is it worth $130? While there's less than 900 pieces, there are a lot of bigger ones, and Smaug adds at least $20 of value on his own. I'm happy with my purchase.
And so concludes our reviews of the sets from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - I hope you enjoyed our look at 79018 The Lonely Mountain. As always, you can give us feedback and ask any questions in the Talkback. And of course, you should keep checking back on BZPower for all the latest Bionicle and LEGO news!