Review: 79007 Battle at the Black Gate

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79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

This is a set which will divide opinion I should imagine. There is certainly a lot of fun to be had here and the Minifigures are excellent, however, the actual gate is weak in terms of accuracy as it does not capture the sheer magnitude of the setting in the book or the film. This model, 79007 Battle at the Black Gate is priced at £59.99 or $59.99, and I have to say, that seems rather expensive to me.

My complaint is not with the Minifigures or the appearance of the gate, both are superb. The actual accuracy of the gate on the other hand is lacking, this is a set which really needed to be sold at a higher price point in order to do the scene justice. The most notable exclusion is a second tower to attach to the left end of the gate, and for this, there is no excuse in my opinion. To be honest, I feel the second tower could have been squeezed in at this price point.

Nevertheless, it is certainly not all doom and gloom with this set. Read on to find out more...

Box and Contents

This box for this set is exceedingly wide just like that of 75019 AT-TE and is fairly attractive. It features the Eagle, Gandalf the White and Aragorn attacking the Black Gate while the Orcs hurl rocks at the men on the ground. The artwork certainly gets the gloomy and intimidating appearance of Mordor across with Mount Doom visible far beyond the gate. The Eye of Sauron peers out from the top border of the box and there is the standard Minifigure gallery showing off the five figures included.

On the back of the box is an image of the Black Gate from the rear, allowing one to see all the details hidden atop the battlements and inside the tower. Some of the features are also demonstrated here and a couple of nice cinematic images complete the packaging.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

Inside one finds two instructions booklets, and four numbered bags. The instruction manuals are not packed with cardboard backing, but this is understandable since no stickers are included, therefore making the instructions the only thing here which could be damaged, although this seems unlikely as the box is so tightly packed with parts.

Minifigs

Five Minifigures are included in this set, three of whom are all new and exclusive to this set. I will begin with perhaps the most desirable of the Minifigures, Gandalf the White. This is a truly brilliant figure in my opinion, featuring the same combined hair and beard piece as Saruman, although on this occasion without any printing, thereby making it entirely white. The head piece is the same as that which appears in 10237 Tower of Orthanc and 79005 The Wizard Battle, printed with two expressions, one angry and the other smiling. His eyebrows are dark grey and he has plenty of wrinkles printed for added detail.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

Gandalf wears a white cape and his torso is printed with some fairly simple robes, although they look wonderful nevertheless. There is some accurate silver scrollwork and a rather attractive cape fastening towards the top (which is mostly obscured by the beard) as well as a narrow brown belt which is continued onto the back of the piece. His legs are plain white and he carries a white pole, the same mould as that which appears accompanying other Gandalf Minifigures. This is of course a very popular character, and I think that the LEGO Minifigure is an excellent representation of Gandalf the White.

The next Minifigure, who is just as good as Gandalf in my opinion, is Aragorn, here in his Lord of the Rings: Return of the King attire. This version of Aragorn is far superior to the one included in 9472 Attack on Weathertop and 9474 Battle of Helm's Deep, which was quite disappointing in my opinion. Here he has the same hairpiece, which is cast in dark brown and looks suitably unkempt. The head is printed on both sides, with one side displaying a determined expression, and the other quite neutral. Both sides feature some stubble and brown eyebrows, just like the alternative Minifigure.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

Aragorn comes with a dual coloured cape which I love. On the inside it is dark red to simulate velvet and on the outside it is black, exactly as it is in the film. His torso is printed with a dark blue tunic and buckled belt, as well as a rather nice tree-like design on the front. The back is dark blue with some folds in the fabric and a continuation of the belt. This blue shirt is also printed on the hips and legs components, finishing with gold and red trim at the bottom. He carries a standard pearl grey sword. Some may disagree, but I would like to see a couple of swords created which are specific to one character, Andúril for Aragorn here would be nice.

My favourite Minifigure in this set however is the Mouth of Sauron, who appears for only a few minutes in the extended edition of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Nevertheless, despite his brief involvement, the character does a very effective job of riling Aragorn to the extent that he mercilessly beheads this Wraith like creature. It is the helmet which makes this Minifigure stand out in this set for me as it is supremely accurate and detailed. The spiked shape is perfect and I love how the overlapping plates armour over where his eyes should be have been captured. The entire piece is cast in a slightly rubbery plastic which actually gives it a bit of a shine, thereby only augmenting the accuracy of the helmet. The head piece is printed very nicely with an enormous mouth (as one would expect) filled with vile teeth and a few wrinkles which are hidden by the helmet on the front and back.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

A black cape is worn by the Mouth of Sauron and his torso is similarly dark, printed with some creases and a metallic silver buckle of some kind. His hips are printed with a belt and there is a sheath for his sword hanging from here printed on the legs, which is a lovely detail in my opinion. He carries a pearl dark grey Morgul blade just like the Ringwraiths in 9472 Attack on Weathertop. A horse is included for the Mouth of Sauron to ride.

The last two Minifigures are the Mordor Orcs, which differ only in the weapons and armour they are provided with. Their heads are printed with sunken orange eyes, various metallic rings and piercings, and a mouth filled with jagged teeth. On the back of each head are a few bedraggled hairs and a couple of wrinkles. The torso too is detailed with leather padding and some spiked armour, which looks fairly accurate to the film. Their legs are plain dark brown, and while one carries only a huge sword, the other wears an Uruk-Hai helmet and is armed with a flail. I am always pleased to see more Orcs and two seems like a reasonable number in this set to me.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

Creature

An Eagle is another welcome inclusion to this set. The exact same character appears in 10237 Tower of Orthanc and I have the same complaints here as I did with that one. The actual appearance of the Eagle is predominantly fine, although his talons are not ideal, being simply a 2 x 2 surface at the end of his legs. The head is printed with his yellow eyes which look great, and I think the reddish brown and dark brown colour scheme looks fantastic, particularly on the adjustable wings where there is some moulded feather details. Unfortunately however, the entire assembly is far too small for my liking. A Minifigure can sit on top of the Eagle, but looks far too big in comparison with the creature as far as I am concerned.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

Nevertheless, while the Eagle may fall short of being the appropriate size, it is definitely a nice interpretation of these regal birds and I am pleased that one was included as they do appear in this scene to fend off the Fell Beasts which assault Aragorn and his accompanying friends and soldiers.

The Build

Construction of this set is fairly entertaining, but being a mostly symmetrical structure, it can be repetitive at times. There are lots of details added such as spikes and armour plating to the gate itself, which look excellent and keep the build interesting, as well as the use of these black spines on their end to achieve the appearance of the intimidating pinnacles which top off the tower. There are few techniques of note, although a lot of small pieces are used and it can get a bit tricky at times. As I have already mentioned, no stickers are included, so no need to worry about those if you dislike stickers.

The Completed Model

As I have said again and again, while this model is very attractive, much like the Eagle, it is far too small. The Black Gate in the book is said to be about sixty feet high, so approximately ten people standing on top of one another would reach the top.On the model however the gate is just three Minifigures in height, which looks a little ridiculous I am sorry to say.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

Putting this issue aside however, the actual detail and architecture of this model is a real treat. The ribbed armour which lines the gate is faithfully recreated and the one tower which is included looks rather nice too. Naturally, the gates can open and there is a locking mechanism which functions by twisting a brown knob on the back of the gate. Along the top are several spikes (which are definitely a theme throughout this model) and space for Orcs to guard Mordor from the battlements. A glass bottle, barrel, skull and a torch are found up here, but there is still plenty of room for Minifigures.

The tower is about double the height of the gate, which is quite reasonable given the limitations imposed by cost and strength, and is similarly detailed. There is a rather odd feature found here, a secret entrance, which can be opened by pushing down on a Technic lever at the back of the structure. I like features as long as they make some sense and avoid interfering with the aesthetics of a model. Unfortunately this function fails on both counts as not only is it completely bizarre, but the lever at the back is rather unsightly. Behind this door are a skull and a bone.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

On the first floor are three dark bluish grey cylinders which can be launched from the catapult found on top of the tower. This small catapult can be removed easily to function separately from the Black Gate, or it can fit between the four spikes. Wherever you prefer to place it, it works well and can launch a cylinder approximately two feet quite easily. The entire structure is modular and can be re-arranged easily, with a pair of small rock sections to be placed at either end of the gate.

Overall

This is a set entirely of two halves. If playability and Minifigures are important to you in a set, then this is a great model. However, if you are looking for displayability and accuracy, this set is a little disappointing in my opinion.

I believe that the problems with this set stem not from the design of the model, but with the price point. Had this set been created to cost closer to the price of 79008 Pirate Ship Ambush, it could have been a highlight of the entire Lord of the Rings theme. As it is however, despite the many positive attributes to be found here, I think that there are a few major issues. Furthermore, the £59.99 or $59.99 price of this set seems high for a model which is actually fairly small, albeit densely packed with pieces and highly detailed.

79007 - Battle at the Black Gate

It is worth noting that the back of the box shows how one can attach two of this set together, although I do not see the benefit of having two pairs of gates. However, a second set would provide another tower, and one could increase the height of the gate if you are willing to part the second model out, so it might be worth doing if you have the money. I would recommend this set to Lord of the Rings fans, although there are plenty of other sets which I would purchase in favour of this one.

Parts: 4 - If you are looking for black pieces and spikes, then this is an excellent selection, although there are not many pieces which one could not find elsewhere in similar quantities.

Playability: 4.5 - Although a feature or two are not to my taste, there is plenty of fun to be had here with some desirable Minifigures and lots of potential for playability.

Building Experience: 3.5 - There are some pleasing moments, but the build can be fiddly and repetitive at times.

Value for Money: 3 - The 'price per piece' ratio may seem quite fair, but most of these parts are very small, and the final model is smaller than I would have liked for the price. A second tower would have satisfied me.

Overall: 3.5 - The Minifigures are excellent, and the Black Gate is perfect from the perspective of appearance. However, the size of the set is a huge flaw, and this set seems expensive to me for what it is.

31 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Excellent review as always Cap! I really like this set after seeing it in more detail... Though the tower is far to short, as you said.

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By in United Kingdom,

"My master, Sauron the great, bids thee welcome"

I love that MoS minifig

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review, this is good set but I think like you said about the 2nd tower that they could've made it a bit better and the best set of this wave. But I'd probably say the Elromd set is because of the flaws of this model. I think it should also be £49.99 as well.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thankyou for the excellent review, as you say and I've said before another disappointingly accurate LOTR set. 3/3 for me, from the latest batch, that doesn't capture the scene in the Film. This one is simply too short, it looks as if Gandalf could simply give Aragon a lift over it by him standing on his shoulders..... The question for RICH film fans is if you bought two sets and sold the 2nd set of Minifigs could you build the 2nd tower and make the whole gate a bit higher ? Would this £90 ish set do it justice.....? Maybe Lego are just stuck between proper AFOL sets (Ultimate Collector Series etc) and mainstream playable 5-14yr olds sets.... price and demand wise. I did think Helm's Deep was Good, however I got it £30 off, which helped and I bought 2 extra walls sections and made my own top arch section...and added 20 awks.... ok that did fall short too then.....

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By in United States,

The only thing I would want from this set is the Mouth of Sauron. So off to ebay I go...

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By in United Kingdom,

Yet again, a set that excels for figures but a bit lack-lustre by itself. It is a shame what Lego have done to the Black Gate, as a full assembly (gate, 2 towers, 2 wall sections and 2 rock outcrops at the end) they might be able to command closer to £80, even with the figures relatively as they are (+1 more orc please!)

I will probably review this set in early September (must wait for the mini camper for Black Gate #2) as I am currently experimenting a way to make it more 'movie accurate', albeit with no way near the good amount of detail the Capn puts in his reviews, as I disagree with Lego's view of 'stick 2 together and that'll do'.

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By in United Kingdom,

Well I think this set is about right. Only if Lego expect you to buy two. Although it should have been a £40 set.

However at the price point they chose they should have done the second tower and
if they are following the film they should have included 2 Trolls to open the gates.
These Olog-hai could have had battle armour to allow us to MOC the Battle at Minas Tirith.

Unless Lego are planning to release a Grond Set with the battle Trolls?


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By in United Kingdom,

...... and The Eagle should have been three times bigger. :)

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By in United States,

The set is ok but you can buy another and add it on to the one you have.

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By in United States,

"The Black Gate in the book is said to be about sixty feet high, so approximately ten people standing on top of one another would reach the top.On the model however the gate is just three Minifigures in height, which looks a little ridiculous I am sorry to say."

UCS Black Gate??

Given the price/size of the set, I don't mind the scale... after all, it would be unreasonable to expect such a scale from a "normal" set.
I agree that another tower would've been nice, though.

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By in Canada,

The instructions have an ad showing buying two sets to combine into one larger scale model (the image is on the lego shop site too). Perhaps Lego wanted to offer this set at a more affordable price point than $100+. For those interested the option is there to buy two. I purchased my first at 25% off the CDN price and will probably get a second on sale in the spring.

I would agree two of "Sauron's Teeth" could have fit in this set. I don't mind the size it is a nice detailed model and bigger than i anticipated, but one tower is odd and bothered me from the getgo. I would also agree this set at the pirate ship price point could have been amazing in ONE go. Also a great opportunity to include soldiers of Gondor.

I think the price point is good though. $75 CDN for over 600 pieces including three exclusice mini figures, a new horse and the eagle. Attack on Weathertop was the same price point for under 500 pieces. Of course Weathertop is slightly more 'complete' but personally I feel it is a bit lacking for the price.

On the whole the 2013 wave of LOTR Lego is all slightly disappointing but still enjoyable (not counting the amazing orthanc set). I trace all problems back to doing a pirate ship. Make the black gate into the $100+ set and expand the council of the ring to the $75 dollar set. I hope there is a great year three focusing on Gondor! Lots of stuff to potentially still do.

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By in United States,

@rnsrobot While I do see your point about these sets being bigger, keep in mind that these sets are made mostly for kids and that the average kid wouldn't spend $75 on a Council of Elrond set, no matter how big and detailed it is.

Good job on the review Captain, I agreed with you on everything throughout the review. Are you going to be reviewing the Ghost Pirate ship or any more star wars reviews?

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By in Belgium,

What I quite dislike about this set, and some of the others as well, is that it contains no ordinary soldiers, even though it's a "Battle" set. Where are the army builder sets for the good guys??

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By in Canada,

@wlievens - definitely could have introduced gondor soldiers in this set!

@darth Nader that's a great point. The council is pretty boring for kids however much I want an afol-targeted Rivendell (I was hoping for a $200 price point set). At 60usd black gate is a much for entertaining larger but not crazy expensive set. I have no real issue buying two (on sale at least) to get a full gate. I believe this was Lego's way of getting the gate out as a more affordable play set for kids while giving adults the chance to buy two ... Since we're more willing to spend over a hundred on a bugger version.

Not really noted in the review is the modular nature of the four components - a technique which allows a person to easily integrate two sets together for a larger version. Quite clever and a nice build overall.

I still don't get the pirate ship choice and feel like there plenty of other sets that could be done at that point... But heck maybe kids are all over it. I wonder how well LOTR is selling to be honest...

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By in United Kingdom,

Nice review, but there's just no way this tiny set is worth £60. Much like Weathertop and Moria from the first wave, I might consider it at half price. Also, the orcs are a let down - reusing the Uruk-hai helmets. How about a new Moria Orc helmet mold?

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By in Canada,

I bought the set for the figs,never built the gate,all parts went right into their appropriate bins.

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By in United States,

Good review Captain. I tend to agree with you in that the model is too small, but it is still a pretty good set IMO.

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By in United States,

I know a lot of people are complaining about the size of the eagle, and that the one from Fierce Flyer would be better, but I'm not sure how many people have considered that Fierce Flyer was $15 set...making the Black Gate and the Tower of Orthanc even more expensive, if an eagle of such a size was included. Also, the size of the set is a shame. I personally, being a somewhat new fan of The Lord of the Rings, didn't mind too much, but I can understand that fans more hardcore than me would be upset about the size. Of course, size and other inaccuracies are hard to avoid completely in licensed sets. If I get this set, I will probably be getting a second soon after. The thing that bothers me most about this set though is that even if you spend the large amount of money to get 2 of the Battle at the Black Gate, and combine both walls together, you then have two gates rather than a single gate, like in the movie and book. And if you use only one of the wall pieces, it seems a little short, especially compared to the two towers besides it.

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By in United States,

I actually bought 5-6 fierce flyers for that very reason when they were around $10. Sold the eagles and will build those for the great eagles.

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By in United States,

Lego advertised buying two Black Gate sets to make a more complete gate so they definetly wanted to give people options with this set which I think is great. The price per piece for it is right around 9 cents which is also pretty good considering the large plate pieces and molded horse and eagle.

My problem with the set is Lego advertises buying two, but then gives tons of characters you would only ever want or need 1 of. Gandalf the White, Aragorn, and the Mouth of Sauron? Why not only have 1 or 2 named characters in the set and give us a Gondor Soldier or two, or a mountain troll?

As for what we do get, I agree the eagle should be bigger. Maybe not as big as the fierce flyer, but something about the size of the Cave Troll would have been nice and not looked so rediculous next to the minifigs. I also feel like even something as minor as painting its talons yellow would ha e made it look less cheap. We get these amazing wings then the rest of the eagle just kind of sucks. As for the Moria Orcs, some new or different armor would of definetly been appreciated but instead we got Uruk-hai armor which was pretty lame. It was also lame we got the exact same Mordor Orc print which has been used in 4 or 5 other sets now. Come on Lego, give us another Mordor Orc variant or two will ya? Other than that I think everything about this set was great!

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By in United Kingdom,

Good review and I agree with its contents. I picked up 2 black gates as part of the 3 for 2 Argos deals looking to make the big black gate. But this fails epicly as well. Lego say u can put two sets together which u can but that makes u have TWO opening gates systems which is in fact more inaccurate than the main build! There is some moc/mod pics online but suddenly that's not Lego 'official'. I therefore left the one gate and added the second tower. I know it's not accurate in terms of height but as I see it's its accurate when compared to Lego and Helms deep standard.

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By in United Kingdom,

Not thrilled about the 9.5p per piece of this set when MMV was 4.5ppp retail and GE was recently discounted to 4.3ppp. Hell, even Orthanc manages to hit 7.2ppp undiscounted. I'll be waiting for a substantial discount.

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By in United Kingdom,

I don't like the eagles feet, But I quite like the minifigures, Also Huw could you review some different themes please, I think you need some variety.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thanks for your comments everybody. It sounds as though the general consensus is the same concerning this set.

@Darth Nader - All I will say for now is that more reviews of some larger sets are on their way :o)

@gingerlad - Huw and Matthew are reviewing some of the City sets I believe, while I am reviewing Star Wars and Lord of the Rings models.

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By in United States,

Great review as always. I hope you do a review of the pirate ship next (I almost shudder at using the term 'pirate ship' to describe a LotR set). I don't have this set yet, but I'll definitely pick it up sometime soon (I need that Gandalf the White fig to complete my Fellowship collection!), even if this set doesn't look as great as other similarly-priced Tolkien sets (Weathertop and Bag End both being excellent pieces of Lego).

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By in Denmark,

I'm split about this set. In many ways its really nice... but its true as some noted: without armies, its pretty dull. It lacks some action. A different large troll, and some orcs and gondorsoldiers would greatly improve it. Great theres no stickers, but what does that help if no bricks are printed?

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By in Canada,

Then you are reviewing the best themes Capnrex :)

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By in United States,

This set is a great idea for a Toys-r-us buy one get one half off.

For the eagle's feet, they should have been done like the rat's tail where it zig zags around the studs. Obviously, more squared off and thicker than the rat's tail. That would have made it look like two sets of talons.

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By in United States,

Excellent review,I might have to pick this one up.

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By in United Kingdom,

Good review. Once again though, it's another expensive/ overpriced licensed set that I only really want one fig from so it goes on the 'wants' list for future discounts (I hope!)......

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By in United States,

About the size of the towers: I was just looking on brickipedia when I saw someone who had posted a picture of the black gate. Apparently there are four towers- the two large ones most of you are probably thinking of, and two that are immensely smaller that are built into the wall itself. Here is a link to the wiki page with a pic of the black gate. http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/Black_Gate . Sorry I couldn't find a better picture (you can google search it if you want, there are some good ones there), but if you look closely, you can see two small towers as part of the wall.

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