I got the Battle at the Black Gate a few weeks ago, mostly for the Mouth of Sauron figure. But now that I have it, I'm glad to see that there's a lot more to it than him, even if the gate isn't quite accurate to what it looks like in the film. (This is my first review, so here goes!)
It comes with a lot of good parts, but nothing really amazing. I like the new bottle piece a lot, but the most it comes with are a ton of black cheese slopes, which I dislike for some reason. It also comes with a new mold for the spear, which is hard to notice, the only difference is that it has a flat bottom instead of a round one.
The highlight of the set is definitely the Mouth of Sauron, who rides a new black horse, and comes with an amazing helmet piece that covers most of his head except his creepy-looking mouth. Under the helmet is just a few wrinkles and lines seen on most of the orcs in these sets. Speaking of orcs, we get two Mordor Orcs in this set. One is just a regular bald one, and the other has and Uruk-Hai helmet, which looks pretty good on it. We also get Gandalf the White, a figure I was hoping for for a long time. He has Saruman's beard, but without the grey. He has the same double-sided face as his Wizard Battle figure. Next we have a new Aragorn, in his Gondorian Armor. It looks much better than his original figure which looked pretty boring IMO. He has a double-sided cape which is pretty rare. Lastly, we have an awesome Great Eagle. A minifig can sit on its back.
The build was enjoyable, but I don't really have any downside to building any Lego set. It was a little repetitive at times, but I don't mind it.
The completed model
It looks great after it's completed. My biggest issue with it is the lack of a second tower. It just looks strange with one side having one and the other not. It's also smaller than it looks, but I wouldn't expect it to be much bigger at the price it's at. They could've made it bigger and more expensive, but honestly, I'm glad they didn't. I would never have been able to afford this if it were any more money!
This is a wonderful set with tons of playability, even with only three play features. $60 may seem like a bit much, but if it goes on sale, definitely pick it up. If you're a big fan of the Lord of the Rings and want to collect all the minifigs, pick one up anyways!
5 out of 6 people thought this review was helpful.
Today I bought my second copy of this set and I liked it that much that I had to review it. I have always been a big fan of Lego fortresses and this, even though being just a gate, really falls in that category. When building, I opened all the bags at once and there was an abundance of great black parts. Most of what you get here is small in terms of part-size, but it all fits together nicely. To me, the little tower is the highlight of this set. It is rather small, just in typical 'set' size but the designer crammed in many details so - as the whole set, actually - it appears to be a cross between a child and a collectors item. The battlement also comprises of some innovative part choices I have seen in a set, e.g. the use of the tiled wall elements. The bar function with its turning knob was also a nice touch I would like to mention. I would also have to point out that I really like that Mouth of Sauron fig. I watched the snippets of the LotR movie it appears in a couple of days ago and it comes very close to the real faceless monster guy. Normally, I do not care much for the minifigs but focus on the set as whole but this one really is cool. If you have one copy of the set you already own a nice structure but two of them combined really make it look imposing because of the two towers and the symmetry.
However, inspite of all the praise, it was the first time I caught some badly printed directions in one copy of my two sets as some of the pages were faded. Also, if you buy two sets, you have three specialized figs that you do not really have a use for when having the set on display. Moreover, the gate is a tad flimsy when you move it around because the new (?) 6x24 plate serves as the only connection between the doors. The last one is only a minor gripe, but the SNOT effect in the palisade is rather reminiscent of that of the base of the Tower of Orthanc, and if you built that set before it could feel like 'been there, done that...' But these are only a couple of cons you might consider. I really like the set, even more so the two copies combined, and its really one of the best in my collection.
3 out of 4 people thought this review was helpful.
-Aragorn, The Return of the King (2003 film)
The box is fairly large but fully packed with the set clearly displayed on the front and back. On the back are several pictures demonstrating the set's many play features. The instructions came in two books which surprisingly were two different sizes. One was almost a square, the other a rectangle. They were folded in the middle but that didn't really hinder the building process. One long grey plate was packed loose. I got mine 10% off at the LEGO store because the box was slightly damaged along one edge but all the pieces were there and I saved a few dollars too.
The parts selection in this set consists mostly of black pieces, but there's a fair amount of grey pieces too. The spike pieces on the gate itself are slightly rubbery and so are the four big spike pieces on the tower. However, the ones on the tower weren't all the same. I mean, they look like they're meant to be the same but because of the way they were packaged they were each slightly bent in different spots which was annoying. Other than that I think the parts in this set are fantastic.
Mordor Orc(s): We've seen these guys lots of times. There's nothing different about them and Mordor Orcs in other sets. It's not that they're bad minifigures just the opposite! Their printing is definately orcish and their heads are quite scary for LEGO minifigures. It's just that in the films each orc was a bit different and with the amazing quality of minifigures in these sets you'd expect that LEGO could make a few variations of them. O well... One orc comes with a big crude sword. The other comes with a flail and, of all things, a Uruk-hai helmet. Why does he come with that? Beats me. It's silly to have an orc from Mordor wear a Uruk-hai helmet. Overall you needed orcs for this set but in some ways they're a disappointment.
Mouth of Sauron: We'll get to the fantastic minifig in a moment, but first I'd like to give you a short backdrop on who this guy is. He was only seen in the Extended Edition of The Return of the King which is why he's unkown to many. Another name for him was the Lieutenant of Barad-dur. He was a Numenorean (the same people that Aragorn comes from) but turned to the service of Sauron. Depending on how you interpret the text, he still most likely had an unusually long life-span. Over that period he learned much sorcery and was very deep in Sauron's plans. Over the years he had forgotten his name so he started being called The Mouth of Sauron. He was very cunning and even crueler than an orc. With that in mind now we can examine the minifig. He looks incredibly accurate to the 2003 film. His black and grey torso and legs are nicely printed his black cape covers up some printed folds on the back. The real amazing part about him though is his helmet. It's probably the coolest and most detailed LEGO helmet I've ever seen (yes, I'm looking at you Darth Vader). It's exactly like the one we see in the film. The slightly rubbery masterpiece covers up almost all of his head except for the mouth. Just looking at minifig makes me want to go brush my teeth. His head piece has printings on either side, but the mouth is the main feature. The only other designs are some folds in his skin around the mouth and where his eyes once were. The back side of the head looks a lot like the back of the Mordor Orc's in terms of design. He comes with a dark grey sword and a black horse identical to the Ringwraith's in Attack on Weathertop. Overall it’s an amazing minifig with a stunningly accurate and hideous head.
Aragorn: After that long review of the Mouth of Sauron I'll try to be brief with Aragorn, but it may be hard. ;-) His head and hair are just like any other Aragorn we've gotten thus far. His cape is a new piece though. It's red on the inside and black on the outside. This is not only accurate to the film, but it brings big delight to LEGO fans because double-sided capes are so rare. I think the only other one I have came from set 7255 General Grievous Chase in 2005. His torso and legs have his blue leather tunic printed on it with the White Tree of Gondor in the middle which looks absolutely stunning. It's also the first glimpse of Gondor we've seen in LotR LEGO sets thus far. Hopefully it's a sign of more to come! :-) The only disappointing thing about him is his sword, just another plain, simple broadsword. LEGO made a new mold for Sting, why couldn't they make Anduril for Aragorn? That sword was even more important to the story than Frodo's! Other than that he's a great minifig.
Gandalf the White: Finally! Now I can complete my Helm's Deep scene! This guy is simple yet elegant. His legs are plain white. His torso has some printing on the front and back, the coolest part of which is a silver, elf-like clasp for his cloak near the neck, under his hair/beard piece. Other than silver and white the only other color on him (beside his head & hair or course) is a brown belt near on the bottom of the torso. His head is just like Gandalf the Grey's from the Wizard Battle and Orthanc sets. One side is neutral, the other angry/fighting. With the beard the neutral side looks more focused or stern to me. His rubbery hair piece is the same mold used for Saruman's but without the grey paint on the beard. To complete the minifig he comes with a plain white stick for a staff which doesn't bother me as much with Gandalf the White as it did with Gandalf the Grey.
The build is modular so you can combine multiple sets if you wish to purchase more. Building the second half of the gate was slightly repetitive but it wasn't too bad. Especially since the backs of the doors are different. Sometimes the spikes on the gate were a little hard to put in place, this was probably because they are a bit rubbery and were difficult to mold to perfection. Once in though they look fantastic.
The completed model
When I first saw the eagle in pictures I was was sorely disappointed. It looked horrible! However, I'm pleased to say that since I've gotten him he's grown on me. He's not quite as big as I think the eagles of Manwe should be but he's still pretty nice. The two-toned wings and tail feathers are nicely done and the golden beak looks cool. His eyes are yellow and look quite angry at the orcs he's swooping down to grab. Only, he can't grab them. He doesn't have talons. That's really the only part I don't like about him now. His feet are just one big plank. I think it just looks sort of ugly but others may disagree. Last but not least, on his back are four studs you can use to set Gandalf on when he goes to rescue Frodo & Sam from Mt. Doom. (Note: The eagle you get in the Orthanc set is identical to this one).
The completed model feels a bit small for $60 The gate should've been a bit longer. I'm probably not so disappointed as others in that they only included one tower though. The gate, as I just said, should've been longer or taller. If Aragorn is sitting on a horse he could almost jump up to the gate and climb over! There's a removable catapult on the top of the tower. It seems like every set has a catapult or flick-fire missiles in it somewhere. Some may complain about the secret door in the tower. While that is completely invented for the set it provides lots more play opportunities for smaller children. When it's closed you can't even tell it's there so for me it's great. I can easily overlook it if I want to display the set plus it makes it more likely for younger kids to put it on their wishlist. The model overall looks very nice. The spikes, teeth, and slopes really sells it and gives it that evil, distinct Mordor look seen in the films.
Overall this is a great set for pretty much everyone. Little kids probably wouldn't go for it since it's just so dark. But older kids (8+) will probably enjoy it. Cool minifigs, fun build, lots of playability, etc. AFOLs may want it for the minifigs and/or variety of spikes but if it's black pieces you want then save for Orthanc. For a LotR fan it's a must, like every other set it seems. You can't have TT or RotK scenes without Gandalf the White! The minifigs are fantastic, the scene is iconic, and overall it's just a great set.
Agoreg Vae LEGO!
7 out of 7 people thought this review was helpful.
... You sneak through the secret door!
I had my eye on this set from the moment the first blurry image emerged, and I am not disappointed. This was a thoroughly enjoyable build, from start to finish, and I cannot wait to get a second one to expand it.
There are five minifigures included in this set: Aragorn, Gandalf the White, the Mouth of Sauron, and two Mordor orcs.
Aragorn appears for the first time in his Gondor garb, and it looks fantastic! The first appearance of the White Tree (actually printed as silver) looks incredible against the dark blue torso that also includes a belt that runs across his back. Aragorn's outfit is topped of by an awesome double sided cape: black on the outside and red on the inside.
Gandalf returns to this set as Gandalf the White, a first. I was worried that he may look too similar to Saruman, but he has his own unique torso, face and hair/beard piece. His torso has a large silver clasp on the front, and also has a belt that wraps around the front and back. He has a two sided face, with a happy face and an angry face, but as the beard covers his mouth, all that changes is his eyebrows. His hair and beard in one piece is great - it is made of high quality rubber and fits snuggly, so no need to worry about it slipping off or anything . The only problem is that it squashes the top of his cape, but that is only a minor issue for an otherwise great minifig.
The standout evil minifigure for this set, and possibly the wave, is the Mouth of Sauron. This minifigure packs a whole lot of evil! The silver detailing on his torso and legs really stands out against the black and looks terrific, but it is his helmet that steals all of the attention! Made of the same high quality rubber as Gandalf's hair/beard, the Mouth's helmet has three spikes on top that are surprisingly pointy! The detailing on the helmet reminds me of the detailing seen on the gate (in the movies more than the set), so I love the continuity. Under the helmet is one of the most disgusting Lego pieces I've seen - and I love it! There is the mouth with it's cheesy grin and cracks in the flesh around it, but there are no eyes or nose - just warts and folds of skin, with a few hairs on the back of the head. All in all, a fantastic fig who also comes with a black horse with evil red eyes and armour printed on its nose.
The last two minifigures included are a couple of Mordor orcs. They both have the same torso, legs and heads, though one [for some reason] has an Uruk-Hai helmet. The torsos have great layers of what looks like leather, with hints of silver armour underneath. Their heads have a single face, with jagged teeth, deep set yellow eyes and various rings on their faces. The backs of the heads have hair and warts. One wields a ball and chain while the other brandishes a large, jagged blade.
The other creature included is the great eagle. While it appears somewhat simplistic with its lack of articulation (only its wings can move), it is still quite impressive. I was taken aback by its wingspan, which is larger than I was expecting. The darker brown printing on the ends of the feathers really adds a new layer of detail to it and blends well, but it is the detailed eyes that stand out for me. While it would have been great to be able to move its head or legs, this eagle is still a fantastic addition to the set, and I am looking forward to taking my second one to add to the Attack of the Wargs set.
The gate itself is an incredible build, one I enjoyed from the moment I opened the first bag to the moment I placed the last brick. It was more involved than I was expecting, particularly the SNOT attachments for the front of the gates themselves. The tower is superb - a solid structure that stands taller than I was expecting. The play feature for the tower is the secret entrance. While it's not something I'll be using, it's a play feature that doesn't bother me at all, as it isn't noticeable unless you know it's there. The doors are sturdy and open and close smoothly. The locking feature works well, though it wobbles slightly which can mean it takes a couple of goes to slot it into the other door. From the back, it isn't much to look at, but Lego have gone the extra step to add little details like a bottle and a skull and bone.
The evil feel of the set comes mainly from the abundance of teeth, slopes and spike pieces to give the jagged effect that screams 'Bad, evil place! Turn back!'. While the look carries through the whole set, the build wasn't as repetitive as I may have expected (unless you get a second set to combine them!). The set is modular, so that you can combine two to get a second tower and extend the gate, but that doesn't detract from the overall sturdiness of the set, which is a big plus for me as it was something that worried me.
I look forward to getting a second set to complete the gate with a second tower (though I plan to do a bit of modding to split the two doors to add one to either side of the towers, rather than having two sets of doors side by side with the towers at the ends as Lego has suggested), but as a set on its own, Battle at the Black Gate is bigger than I was expecting and is more than evil enough for plenty of enjoyment!
6 out of 6 people thought this review was helpful.
I got this set a few days ago, and it's pretty good. There are a few moderate problems, however, at least in my eyes.
The box is one of the newer 'higher quality' boxes that have come with many post- 2010 sets. The front shows everything that comes with the set, paired with some lovely artwork of Mordor. Also shown on the front, as well as the top, is the lineup of minifigs included in the set. The back showcases many of the features of the set, along with some 'action' pictures of the minifigs fighting. I noticed that on my box, the mace-and-helmet Orc on the wall looks odd...like it was edited in after the main picture was taken. I don't know if this is a one-time thing or a common error. There are two instruction booklets in this set. The first one builds the tower, the rock segments, Aragorn, Gandalf the White, The Mouth of Sauron, the horse, and the Great Eagle. All of the above was in bags 1 and 2. Manual 2 builds the Black Gate and the Orcs.
Many of the parts in this set are very basic, but there are some unique pieces, such as the spikes on the gate and tower. The horse is the new poseable variety and the Eagle is so far exclusive to LOTR. This set also includes the rare bottle piece. The entire set would be great for a Barad-Dur MOC! There are also many special minifig parts, but I will save that for the next section.
I will start with the Orcs, because they are the least detailed, but still extremely detailed. The Orcs are the same except for the accessories. The head is accurate to the films, but the disappointing thing is that each Orc is unique in the movies, but the Lego versions are all the same. The armor printing on the chest is amazing and really captures the theatrical look. This theme is continued on the hips and legs. The printing is also continued on the back of the torso. One of the Orcs comes with a Ninjago mace and an Uruk-hai helmet. An Uruk-hai helmet. While I appreciate this piece, but I really wish the Orcs were given their own helmet sculpt. As a side note, I wish that one of the Orcs had the Orc hair piece instead of being bald. The other Orc has a Ninjago crude sword. Now, on to the Mouth! You may not know of this character, as he was only in the extended edition of Return of the King. For this reason, I really love his inclusion!The Mouth of Sauron is probably my favorite fig in the set. His legs and hips are very detailed. The legs have an uneven look, with a sword sheath on one side and some robe folds on the other. His hips have an awesome belt print. The Mouth's torso has front and back printing. The front has detailed robe printing with straps and other trinkets. The back just shows robe folds, which is fortunate because his back is covered by a black cape. The Mouth's head print is really cool. As his name suggests, it's just a mouth. A giant, toothy mouth, to be exact. Under the helmet are wrinkles and on the back is some gray hair. This head is very creepy without the helmet. Speaking of the helmet, it is a rubbery piece with amazing molding details. It is mostly black with a little gray. Overall, an amazing fig, probably my favorite. Next, I will review the White Wizard. Gandalf the White is great. He has plain white legs, but I see nothing wrong with that. He has great front and back torso printing, accurate to his cloak in the film. Unfortunately, most of this astounding printing is covered by Gandalf's large, white beard, which is the same as Saruman's, but without any color. I find this amusing, as Gandalf and Saruman's were confused a few times in the films. Gandalf has a double-sided head, with a smiling face and a 'battle' face. I love double-faces, but sometimes I feel that printing on the back would be better. Gandalf is not one of those cases. Last, but certainly not least, is Aragorn in his Gondor armor. He has superb torso printing that carries on to the legs and the back of the torso. I personally love the 'White Tree' design on his front. Obviously, the best thing about Aragorn is his two-sided cape, as seen in the film. The inside is red and the outside is black, but it is slightly different than the normal black. The head and hair are the standard pieces for Aragorn, both highly detailed. Though technically not mini figs, I want to add the Eagle and the horse. The horse is the same as the Ringwraith horse from Weathertop, with a gray saddle and brick to replace the saddle to set the horse 'free'. The Eagle is the same as the one in Orthanc and has yellow eyes and wings in two shades of brown. A great addition, although far too small to be accurate.
Building this set is very fun. It uses many interesting building techniques including SNOT. The gate portion is kind of repetitive, but is overall very unique.
The completed model
The completed model looks stunning. The features are fun, such as opening the gate and using the secret door.
Gate is too short
Missing second tower
Eagle is too small
Aragorn needs a horse
I would have traded the Eagle for a horse for Aragorn or a Gondor soldier because there is no Fell Beast for the Eagle to fight!
Overall, this set is a great value for 60$. Even though there are a few problems, the playability is great. This is a must-have for any LOTR fan.
1 out of 1 person thought this review was helpful.