Back in February, the LEGO® Group announced Rivendell (10316), based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The monster set was the first set from Middle Earth since the Hobbit sets of 2014. It quickly became one of the most anticipated sets of the first quarter. Interestingly, the set does not mark a full return of Lord of the Rings. Rivendell is currently a one off piece in the Icons lineup. Yes, 2023 also spawned a couple of Lord of the Rings BrickHeadz, but those do not count in my book. While whispers of a Barad Dur set persist, they remain nothing more than rumors as I write this. In any case, the LEGO® Group sent me a copy of Rivendell and I spent 13 and a half hours building it. It was a process of highs and lows… Let’s take a closer look.
NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. True North Bricks’ usual rating system applies (click here for more information).
Rivendell (10316) Specifics
- NAME: Lord of the Rings: Rivendell
- SET #: 10316
- THEME: Icons
- COST: $669.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 6167
- MINIFIGURES: 21
- RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2023
Rivendell (10316) Quick Review
- VALUE: 78% (Not the value I am accustomed to from large LEGO® sets.)
- BUILD: 80% (A huge chunk of the build is boring as sin.)
- MINIFIGURES: 90% (For an Icons set, you get a lot of really nice, detailed characters.)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 95% (Not the most enjoyable set I’ve ever built, but stunning all the same.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 86% (Good set.)
|WHAT I LIKED||WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE AS MUCH|
|The exterior tower design.|
The entire gazebo hill section.
|Most of the third instruction manual.|
Placing the roof tiles.
Lack of Minifigure diversity.
Not the best value I have seen.
RIVENDELL (10316) REVIEW
Rivendell is one of those break-the-bank sets. I am not sure I would have purchased it. Don’t get me wrong, I was super tempted. But almost $700? I was of the mind from the start that the LEGO® Group should have offered this set as a wave of smaller, combinable sets. Thankfully, I didn’t have to buy it and one just showed up on my doorstep. The set consists of 6167 bricks and costs $669.99 in Canada. At full price, the cost-per-brick is not as good as you would think. It is not bad, but it’s not great either. I generally expect great from a set this size. In any case, the cost/brick works out to $0.109 CAD, earning 77% compared to other Icons sets and 89% compared to LEGO® sets in general. Consequently, I rate the cost/brick at 83%.
Rivendell took me 13 and a half hours to build. At full price, that means each minute of build time costs $0.83. Compared to other Icons sets, that is fairly expensive build time. I usually get more bang for my buck with a $700 set. Comparing the build time to LEGO® sets in general, it is fairly average. Considering both comparisons, I rate the build time at 72%. Averaging this with the cost/brick score gives an overall value rating of 78%. Rivendell does not provide the value I have grown accustomed to from large, adult-oriented LEGO® sets. However, it also comes after the infamous LEGO® price hike of ’22. So, maybe this is the new norm…
Construction begins with the tower section. Most of this building consists of Elrond’s study and Bilbo’s room. Both are neat and sufficiently detailed with Lord of the Rings Easter eggs. However, neither holds a candle to the exterior tower. The lower level of the tower features beautiful alcoves housing five statues. The upper floor is a continuation of Bilbo’s room and houses his desk. What I really like about this section of Rivendell are the build techniques used to achieve the exterior angles. The wider base of the tower teaches you a neat way to build corners reminiscent of the ’80s LEGO® castles, but on a larger scale. If ever you dreamed of building a larger Black Falcon’s Fortress MOC, Rivendell paves the way. And that says nothing of the phenomenal brick work creating the corners on the tapered upper portion of the tower. I love the offset look.
Next, you assemble a hill next to a stream. The hill houses the Elvish forge and the gazebo sits on top of it. I loved this section of the build even more than the tower. I like building landscapes and learning techniques for vegetation and trees. You get both here. I am particularly fond of the stairs leading up to the gazebo and the angled entry to the forge. Of course, there is the gazebo itself. B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. And remarkably sturdy to boot. The gazebo looks quite fragile, and indeed touching the NPU (nice parts usage) lifesavers causes them to shift a little. But otherwise, I am surprised at how structurally sound the gazebo actually is. Additionally, I love the techniques for making the base round.
I almost gave up building the set on the third section…
With the third instruction manual, you start assembling the main hall of Rivendell. If I am being honest, I hated this section of the set. It was tedious and I almost wanted to give up on the kit entirely in favor of more interesting projects I have going. If I was not required to review this set, I might well have taken a long break at this point. The main hall is largely empty space. There is nothing interesting about building the structure and you have to do a lot of boring tile work. That roof may look pretty, but it is awful to trudge through the build. As part of the whole set, the exterior of this section look nice. But, from a building standpoint it is hands down the most boring part of the experience.
The third instruction manual redeems itself a little at the very end. Once you’re done the main hall, you assemble a couple of very nice trees and the Council of Elrond. Similar to the gazebo, you employ some nice building techniques to make the base of the area round. The chairs are… interesting… They employ some fun NPU by using hotdogs and popsicles to make up the chair. They are not particularly sturdy though. I don’t like when touching my builds forces me to have to re-adjust parts. With that said, the pedestal in the center of the council rings looks great, as does the tree behind Elrond’s throne. This was certainly a great high point to end the build after the horrendous experience of the great hall.
The Rivendell build ends on a high note.
I can’t say that this is the best build experience I have ever had. However, most of it was quite enjoyable and taught me a lot of interesting build techniques I can use in other projects. I love the tower and gazebo area. It’s just a shame that the largest part of the build is so boring. I rate the build experience at 80%. I would probably rate it lower if the third manual had not redeemed itself at the very end.
I am not going to lie… the Minifigures were a HUGE part of the reason I wanted the Rivendell set. I love fantasy stories and I have very few LEGO® elf Minifigures. They are rare characters outside of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit themes, and both those themes are retired. Consequently, if you want elves, you will pay a pretty penny for them on secondary markets. Since I missed out on Lord of the Rings in my dark ages, I also do not have any dwarf minifigs. You get a nice assortment of characters with Rivendell. Sadly, the hobbits all come with stumpy unmoving legs though. I won’t harp on that too much in this review because hobbits are shorter than dwarves, and the dwarves have the shorter moving legs. So, it makes sense, even if I hate unmoving legs.
With that said, Rivendell makes an interesting effort to address the unmoving legs. In order to seat relevant minifigures, some characters come with buildable alternate legs. Bilbo, Frodo, Elrond, and Gandalf all come with brick-built legs. Additionally, Gandalf’s and Elrond’s robes are printed bricks. This is an interesting development from the LEGO® Group that I have never seen before in a set. Combined with the fact that hobbits need to be shorter than dwarves, the brick-built alternatives make me hate the stumpy legs a little less… but just a little. Having to change legs to make a character sit is not ideal.
Rivendell includes buildable legs for characters who cannot bend to sit.
Otherwise, you get a detailed assortment of Minifigures. They all have front and back torso printing, 18 have double sided faces (including all the statues), and 12 have dual-molded legs or leg print (including all the hobbits). Additionally, Rivendell includes some Minifigure accessories. Interestingly enough, there are not as many as I would have thought for a set this size. I counted 41 accessories, but I might have missed some. There are numerous weapons in form of swords, battle axes, and bows. You also get a number of capes, a couple of extra hair pieces and books, as well as some tools and lanterns to name a few.
These Minifigures also show a stunning lack of diversity. Since they are based on actual actors, they all have fleshy tones as opposed to standard Minifigure yellow. However, all of these Minifigures are Caucasian. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is pretty much all white, so I see why the LEGO® Group went that route. However, efforts were made to make the more recent Rings of Power a little more diverse. Rivendell includes two generic elves and one generic dwarf (no, the dwarf is not meant to be Gloin despite a striking resemblance). Those characters could easily be more ethnically diverse to help people roleplay. While you can manually change the skin tone of the dwarf, you can’t do the same for the elves. Their ears are white and molded to the hairpiece.
This set made me realize how un-diverse Lord of the Rings was…
Ultimately, I would have liked some leg detailing on all the Minifigures, including the statues, and some more diversity. More accessories are in order as well. You have a number of brick-built books on a shelf in Elrond’s study, but more actual books Minifigures can hold on tables would have gone a long way to help that empty main hall. And even though hobbits should be shorter than dwarves, I would not have minded having them all the same height in order to get more of the moving, short legs. With all that said, I still love this assortment of characters. They are nicely detailed, and I am thrilled the statues are all proper minifigs as well. Plus, you get a decent number of minifigs for an Icons set. Large sets generally skimp on Minifigures. Overall, I rate the minifigs at 90%.
I’ve already discussed how entertaining the build was… mostly a good experience, but a large chunk was boring. However, you end up with a stunning display piece. If you have the space, this will look amazing on a shelf. But you do need space. While I had read the press release and seen the model in store, I only realized how big it actually is once it was built on the table in front of me. It is about 72 cm wide and 35 cm deep. At almost 40 cm high, not every shelf will be able to accommodate Rivendell. Thankfully, I have a mostly unused, large shelf in my LEGO® room. I plan to display this kit for some time there.
While I doubt many parents will consider this set for their kids, Rivendell has a lot on inherent play value as well. The interior spaces are all very accessible due to the modular nature of the build. Additionally, you get so many characters to play with. Even if not for play, Rivendell inspires more building. I’m just looking at that beautiful stream and waterfall now. Imagine what is above those falls… what expansion could you add to Rivendell there? I can’t give this set 100% for entertainment because of that really rough patch of boring building. But, it deserves to be close. I rate the entertainment value of this set at 95%.
OVERALL SCORE: 86%
Rivendell (10316) is a huge set that comes with an equally huge price tag. The inhibitive cost and the sheer amount of display area needed make the set inaccessible to a lot of AFOLs, who are the target audience. I also did not like the build experience as much as I’d hoped. However, the final product is certainly stunning and worthy of display. The build techniques also inspire and educate, and you get so many Minifigures! I wish the elves included a couple more skin tones though. Overall, I think Rivendell is a good set and I like it a lot. But, I loved sets like Lion Knights Castle and Pirates of Barracuda Bay. While those are personal preferences, maybe it gives you an idea of where Rivendell stands in my LEGO® rankings. What do you think? Let me know in the comments or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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