When I saw the announcement for this set in 2022 I was legitimately thrilled. If you have yet to play Horizon Zero Dawn or its sequel Forbidden West, then you are missing out. Even if you are not a gamer, check out the story and design because both are exceptional. Suffice it to say, I am HUGE fan of this game and to see a set based on an iconic character design is amazing. The Tallneck is a wild, unique design that is instantly recognizable. And seeing it rendered in LEGO®️ bricks is such a treat. It’s a great blending of two worlds in all the best ways. So grab your Focus and probably a spear and let’s get reviewin’.
- VALUE: 98% (a near perfect score for both criteria, a great value overall)
- BUILD: 95% (excellent build techniques and parts usage. Very fun, rewarding build)
- MINIFIGURES: 100% (just one fig, but one of the best to date with great printing and detail all over)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 95% (fantastic display piece, great inspiration for moc makers)
- OVERALL SCORE: 97% (great all around set at a great price. Highly recommended)
A Near Perfect Game
Before we talk about this really great set, I need to talk about the even more exceptional video game it is based on. Horizon Zero Dawn is quite frankly a masterpiece. It’s set in one of those oh-so-popular post-apocalyptic futures. Humanity blew itself up, the remaining people are tribal once more and machines that resemble animals roam the world. You know, that old chestnut. Jokes aside, it’s a fantastic concept that’s brilliantly executed. The Tallneck is a giraffe-like beast that roams the world and acts as a transmitter or satellite (sorta). They’re also one of the few non-violent machines in that game so that’s refreshing. When you first come across one it’s a pretty amazing moment.
Where Is This??
OK one more quick sidebar – where is this set on the LEGO® website? Seriously, try and find it without the search field. When I go to look for it under ‘Sets by Theme’ it’s nowhere to be found. It’s not under Icons, or Creator and there’s no specific theme for it or even a general video games tab. There’s literally no way to really come across it quickly while browsing. I did finally find it when I searched ‘Shop > Interests > Fantasy’. And even then it’s on page 3. Once you find it, the location is listed as ‘Other’. Yeah great, there’s no ‘Other’ theme or spot to click on. Perhaps it’s time for a Video Game section. With Sonic, Mario and more inbound, I’d say it’s time. Alright, rant over – resume reviewing!
The Tallneck (76989) retails for the very reasonable price of $109.99 CAD. That translates to a very desirable cost-per-brick of $0.09 – which is becoming a rarity these days. So right away, this is a fabulous deal just on cost alone. With no clear reference on the box or website, I’m putting this set under an 18+/Icons banner. The average for all sets reviewed in this category is $0.10 per brick. And that’s for a score of 80%. At just $0.01 less, the Tallneck’s score translates to a stellar 96%! Even at full price, that is a great deal.
I picked up my copy at Toys ‘R Us in late 2022. I also snagged it during a 20% off Friends & Family sale. Sets at TRU are currently a little more expensive than other retailers. Consequently the base price is actually $114.99 CAD. With the discount I paid $91.99 CAD for a cost-per-brick of $0.07 and a score of 100%. So if you manage to get this set with any type of discount, you’re looking at a potentially perfect value score.
This tall beastie took me a little over 3 hours – 197 minutes – to complete. I have to say that’s pretty slow for me. I took my time with this one as the build experience was quite fun. With this build time, I get a cost-per-minute of $0.56 which earns a perfect score of 100%. Comparatively, the average cost-per-minute for our reviewed 18+ sets is $0.72 for an 80% average. So if good stats are your jam, then this is the set for you. The final value score is a fantastic 98%.
Taking a look at the packaging, the Tallneck (76989) comes in a standard box with the usual black background and greebling border. For reasons I still don’t understand, many don’t like this design aesthetic. In this case it works nicely and really shows off the model. Given the maturity of the game content, I think it’s appropriate. Inside the box you find 8 numbered bags, an 8×16 plate, small sticker sheet a 162 page instruction booklet. The build proceeds in two stages, the base and then the Tallneck itself. I gotta say that both stages are awesome, each having clever and fun building techniques.
First off, that this kit even has a base to display on gets it top marks. The Tallneck just wouldn’t look right on its own. This simple but cleverly constructed base looks great. It’s a natural setting with some rocks, a tree, vegetation and a broken street light. Making it an oval shape is a nice touch and it reminds me of the Creator Expert Colosseum (10276). Construction-wise it’s a sideways build with studs facing up which you then cover with plates and bricks. Sloped bricks on the edges create just the right bit of curve to make it look rounded.
It’s about 24 studs wide by 16 studs deep. At this size there’s enough room for the Tallneck, a smaller creature called a ‘watcher’ and the Aloy character minifigure. The watcher is a very clever build made with just 30 pieces. You get 3 different 1×1 trans studs to change the animal’s status: blue is calm, yellow is on alert and red is ‘run for it!’ Four 2×2 plates with vertical pins secure the Tallneck when it’s done. The birch tree is a nice touch with its fall colours. It feels a bit too small, but it fits the scale pretty well.
The Tallneck is awesome. As a finished model it’s got plenty of detail and presence. From a building perspective it’s also a gem. The body is not overly large – all this guy’s volume is legs and neck (naturally). Four bricks with clicking, ratcheting holes secure the legs. And even if there’s not much in the way of poseability, the connections are sturdy. I’m digging the colour scheme as well. The designers manage to capture the sharp contrasts of the body and armor nicely. Adding the sand blue and light tan highlights make for a nice pop of colour. Some stickers add mechanical detailing to the back.
Each leg uses a smart combo of angled axles and pins to get the bends looking just right. The toes are as simple as they can be but they get the point across. And as I mentioned before, all the legs connect to a pin so it stays securely to the base. Cheese slopes are used really nicely here as well to fill in some gaps created by the angle of the segments. I love that legs are so wildly tall and with what feels like too many ‘knee joints’. It adds to the mechanical and otherworldly feel. Look on the back of the body and you’ll see some nice parts usage. Snow boards are put on the back to represent four…tails? Whatever they are, they work and it’s a clever piece adaptation.
8 Floors of Neck
Moving on up (very up) the model we get the neck and ‘head’. The neck segments are staggered in such a way to create a gentle leaning angle. It’s actually quite linear and the parts are stacked in a simple way. To get that nice subtle lean, the neck is attached at the torso with a technic axle sloping backwards. White tiles with bows make a nice visual line right down the centre. Pearl gold swords make up the back of the neck. In the game you use these bars to scale the Tallneck to the top of the head.
Speaking of the ‘head’, it’s not what you expect. In so much as it’s essentially a big radar dish. In the game you will interface with the dish to access a map of the area. This brick-built representation is excellent. Like the base, the head is a sideways build with certain studs facing up and/or down. Using this SNOT technique makes for a smooth surface. Sloped bricks once again create near perfect rounded edges. Landing gear give us another bit of NPU on the back of the dish too. Most of the stickers get placed on the head as well. They lend just enough detail to create texture, but you will get the same basic idea even without them – much to the delight of many I’m sure. Just don’t put some on upside down like I did….sigh.
The Tallneck is a fabulous build. There’s a lot of smart building techniques, great parts usage and plenty of detail. Providing a base on which to display the animal is a big bonus too. I’m giving it a final build a score of 95%.
Let me get right to it – this is one of the best minifigures I have ever seen. Normally, at just one minifig, a set would get lower marks. In this case I’m ignoring that part of the scoring to just base it on the minifig itself. For a set like this, I’m finding it less practical to judge how many figures per piece. Many fan sites and accounts put this figure in their top 10 or best of lists for 2022. And I vehemently agree. Aloy is the main protagonist of the game with a wonderful tribal design, distinctive hair and really cool weaponry/accessories. Each of those elements is wonderfully realized with this minifigure.
Aloy features a dual-sided expression with a small triangle on the side of her head. This is a device she uses in the game called a Focus. Think of it as a VR interface headset. It goes on your temple and emits a blue glow. To highlight this detail, a small trans blue circle is molded into the hair piece. So it really stands out. And let me tell you that hair mold also stands out. It’s damn pretty. The braids and textures are recreated perfectly. Not stopping there, the torso has gorgeous printing that carries into the legs and the feet. Aloy’s arms also get some top notch printing.
Accessory wise she comes with her trademark bow and spear build. You know how important both are if you have played the game. The spear is a few pieces but it’s quite well done. I really appreciate how much effort and attention went into making this character. And considering it’s the only one in the set, I would expect nothing less to be fair. Top marks all around on this figure – an easily earned perfect score.
The Tallneck (76989) is a great display piece. With the base and static pose of the beast itself, this is very much a museum piece or diorama. And that’s definitely not a negative. It’s just the right size too for easy shelf space management, but it’ll still stand out. AFOLs will absolutely love it, especially if they have played the game. This is a niche IP so it might have less of a broad market appeal. And that’s especially something to note since it’s not really easy to find on the official site. I doubt anyone is picking this up for just the minifig, but it’s a great bonus. MOC makers will also get some good inspiration for animal builds too. I’m confident this will translate well for those needing a source for building techniques. It’s another solid score of 95%.
This. Set. Rocks. I absolutely love it. It’s one of the best sets I have built in a while. And while I generally enjoy everything I build, I love to make a model that I wasn’t expecting to really see made by the company. Those “Oh – they’re making that? Awesome” type of sets make for a great experience. And I think the Tallneck will surprise quite a few and easily delight just as many if not more. Even if you know nothing about the game, this set is a fun build and you’ll get a kick out of it. And again, that minifigure is *chef’s kiss*.
- Great size
- Screen accuracy
- Fun build experience
- Detailed display base
- Exceptional minifigure
- Desirable cost-per-brick
- Superb source material
- Makes a great display piece
- Minimal sticker use
- Hard to find on the site
- Potentially too niche
And that’s a wrap on the Tallneck (76989). What do you guys think? Did you already pick up this set? Are you a fan of the videogame? What other videogame properties would you love to see in brick form? Comment in all the usual places and let me know your thoughts. Thanks as always for reading and until next time, keep on brickin’. 🧱
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