Review: 79006 The Council of Elrond
The news that Lord of the Rings was to get a second wave of sets was very well received and the second smallest of the five sets released this year is a highlight for me.
One of the most popular settings from the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is Rivendell, the home of Elrond and elves under his rule. In this set, 79006 The Council of Elrond, we get our first taste of this magnificent location in LEGO, and it really is a treat, perfectly capturing the area as it appears in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring film, directed by Peter Jackson.
The model includes four lovely Minifigures, one of whom is an exclusive character to this set and two of whom have been updated. With 243-pieces, this set is priced at £29.99 or $29.99, and despite the fact that the 'price-to-piece' ratio (which I tend to take with a pinch of salt anyway) is some way out, I believe this set is well worth the price.
Box and Contents
The box artwork for this set really is delightful, showing the moment Gimli attempts to destroy the ring using his enormous axe, only to be thrown backwards as the ring is left unblemished. The beauty of the location is conveyed effectively by the packaging and there are some beautiful streams of light that are shining through the branches which surround the model. The box has a different border to the sets last year, this time featuring the eye of Sauron peeking out from the top of Barad-dûr which is suitably menacing. The four Minifigures are also displayed in a gallery at the bottom of the box as usual.
The back of the box shows the set from a different perspective and displays the various features of the model. The weapons included are also shown off in one image.
Inside the box are two numbered bags, an instruction booklet and a small sticker sheet. They are not packed with a cardboard backing to keep them straight unfortunately.
Four Minifigures are included in this set, and all four are excellent in my opinion. The first of these, who has appeared three times before, is Frodo Baggins. This Minifigure has some slight changes from previous editions of the character. His hair is the same mould as is used for all Hobbits, and it looks perfect in dark brown here. His head is unique to this Minifigure with a concerned expression on one side and an angry expression on the other, both of which are very nice indeed.
His torso is identical to that which appeared in 9470 Shelob Attacks and 9472 Attack on Weathertop with a brown jacket and dark red waistcoat. His shirt has a open collar and the jacket is printed on the back as well as the front with creases and a strap for adjusting the jacket. His legs are simply dark brown and short.
The only Minifigure in the set who has appeared before looking exactly the same is the ever-popular Gimli. His helmet is printed with an enormous amount of detail and looks exactly as it does in the film. It fits perfectly around his beard, but worn without the beard it looks rather strange as it is rather larger than a standard Minifigure head accessory. Gimli's head is printed with two different expressions, one neutral and the other angry. One both sides are some wrinkles and bushy brown eyebrows, although of course much of this detail is covered by his huge beard, which is cast in reddish brown and is a perfect likeness for Gimli's beard in The Lord of the Rings films.
His torso printing is totally obscured by the beard, although it is still highly detailed with padding and fur clothing, as well as a belt with a golden buckle. The back of the torso is printed with some more of his belt and various pockets. Just like Frodo, he has dark brown short legs. He carries a single accessory, an axe which he uses in this scene when he attempts to destroy the ring.
What really makes this set for me though are the two Elves, the first of whom is Elrond, who has appeared before in a polybag which came with pre-orders of the LEGO Lord of the Rings video game. This is a far superior version of the character in my opinion and is bound to be popular. His braided hair piece is rubbery and also includes his Elven ears as well as a metallic silver headband. The head is very detailed with two faces (as are all four Minifigures in fact), one with a rather stern expression, and the other with a smile. Wrinkles and brown eyebrows are printed on both sides which are very accurate to the film.
Elrond wears a cape which is yellow on the inside and dark red on the outside. I love these dual colour capes and this component is identical to the one worn in the film. His torso too is very accurate, printed with a dark red jacket and metallic gold shirt underneath. There are various little scroll details also included which are excellent. The back of the torso, despite being covered by the cape, is also printed with more of his red jacket and the tiny silver scrollwork. His hips and legs are printed with a continuation of this design. I have to say, this is quite possibly among the best Minifigures of the year in my opinion, it is particularly detailed and it is great to have a definitive Minifigure of such an interesting and popular character.
Lastly, we have Elrond's daughter Arwen, another popular character. It was a subject of some discussion last year that not one female Lord of the Rings Minifigure had been produced, which was particularly surprising given the importance of some to the plot. Now this has been at least partially rectified with this Minifigure, and I think it has been well worth the wait as this is another outstanding Minifigure. Her hairpiece is a unique mould much like Elrond's, with Elven ears and a detailed cast. This piece too is rubberised and cast in dark brown. A face is printed on both sides of her head, one with a cheerful expression, and the other with a slightly irritated look, although both faces are fairly similar and the differences are subtle.
Her dress is superb, with various frills and details all over it. The torso and skirt (which is formed in the usual manner using a 2 x 2 x 2 slope piece) are both sand blue in colour and they match up nicely. She carries the slightly longer variation of the bow piece just like Legolas, which I far prefer to the shorter version which is included in some sets.
The build is fairly entertaining for a relatively small set, taking about thirty minutes. The trees are built to appear irregular and natural, quite effectively for the use of 'legal' building techniques. The manner in which the steps towards the right of the model are created is also very attractive, using 4 x 4 quarter circle pieces to capture the unique architecture of Rivendell. The roof of the small building is detailed with 1 x 1 (cheese) slopes to represent tiles and the latticed peak of this roof is formed using pearl gold 1 x 4 fence pieces which are also brilliant in appearance.
The Completed Model
This is a set which has some real charm about it. What it may lack in size it more than makes up for in detail and density of parts. The model is split into two sections, the meeting area where the council of Elrond actually takes place, and a small building which nicely captures the architecture seen in Rivendell.
I will begin with the council area which is what one builds first according to the instructions. Three chairs, which can swivel and each utilise a sticker to create the decorative backs of each seat, are dispersed around a central pedestal. This looks rather grand with two pearl gold 4 x 4 round pieces making up the top and bottom of the table, and the ring sits on top just like in the film. The only real feature to speak of in the set comes here, where a button can be pressed to send Gimli (or any other Minifigure of course) flying after he attempts to destroy the ring with his axe. This is a nice enough feature as it is, and it works perfectly, although I love the fact that the extra detail of the eye of Sauron being visible when the catapult lifts up, recreating Frodo's brief hallucination during this scene in the film. A tree stands over the scene, and uses two large leaf pieces in dark orange, which are unique to this set and look lovely. This is no doubt a piece which will be sought after by MOC builders.
Not to be outdone though, the small building area also includes a brand new component, shallow arches in white which look fantastic in my opinion. The same piece is available in 79007 Battle at the Black Gate in black. A small weapon stand is included here which holds an Elven sword (which appeared previously with the Elrond polybag mentioned earlier and in 79004 Barrel Escape) and Sting, the sword wielded by Bilbo Baggins and later Frodo. The architecture of this building really is superb given its small size, using five rounded pillars and the new arch pieces to capture Rivendell perfectly. A couple of light bluish grey Microfigures are included which act as statues. A nice curved staircase runs down from this building and beside this is another tree, again making use of a dark orange leaf piece, as well as two olive green ones.
This is a set which I would label as a 'must have' for fans of Lord of the Rings without hesitation. The Minifigures are excellent, the parts selection is incredible and the set looks fantastic. Although lacking in features, this set is still a lot of fun, thanks in no small part to the wonderful Minifigures as well as the fact that just about everything one could want to recreate the relevant scene from the film is included.
However, there is no doubt that the real quality of this set lies in how it looks on display. The Autumnal but bright atmosphere of Rivendell is certainly captured in the model and I think this set is one which should be placed right at the centre of your Lord of the Rings collection.
Parts: 5 - Some very useful parts we have seen before plus the added bonus of some lovely new pieces is delightful.
Playability: 4.5 - Few features when compared with other sets, although I still think there is a lot of fun to be had.
Building Experience: 5 - For a set at this price point there are more than enough interesting building techniques used.
Value for Money: 5 - Four Minifigures and a lovely little set seems well worth the price to me.
Overall: 5 - This is a set which I recommend very highly. Elrond and Arwen are well worth picking up loose if you cannot justify the cost of the entire set, although you will not be disappointed if you do purchase it.