Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gandalf Arrives 9469 - Review

My birthday was earlier this month and my wife surprised me with the gift of LEGO. She bought me the two smallest sets from the Lord of the Rings line, which I had been holding off on buying any of until they start going on sale. I'm not one to complain if someone else is buying the bricks though.

LEGO set 9469 Gandalf Arrives is the smallest entry in the first wave of LotR sets. Inside the box you'll find two bags, a loose brown horse, and the instruction book. My book was creased, which seems to be pretty common with other copies out there. It's not a "hard" crease, but it still kind of stinks to open up the box and automatically find some damage to the instructions. I guess I'm just getting spoiled by larger sets that have started putting a piece of bagged cardboard in there to keep in the instructions fresh and clean looking.

At 83 pieces, the set appears to be a little overpriced when you consider RRP on it is $12.99. However, you must take into account that you get two excellent minifigures and the new horse in here as well. It's not too bad when compared to other similar recent licensed sets, such as the two smallest Super Heroes sets. Those larger pieces of plastic can be expensive to produce, I imagine, so it adds a little value to the set and makes it hard to actually calculate the per piece value. It's similar to the new Jabba's Palace set. The huge mold on Jabba drives up the price a bit there as well.

I'll start with the best part, the figures. Gandalf the Grey is an excellent representation of this iconic character. The hat, torso printing, beard, and cape all combine to make a great minifigure. His staff is a little plain, but I was impressed with him overall. Frodo has great torso printing and looks excellent as well. Many people will be buying this set just for the figures, and these do not disappoint. LEGO has done an excellent job with the figs from the first wave of sets in this them. I doubt it will happen, but it would be great if LEGO figured out how to give the hobbits bare/hairy feet.

The new horse style is also here, even if the ability for it to rear up on its hind legs does not come into play with this set. It's still a great opportunity to pick up the new horse in a small set and is easily worth some extra points when considering the value.

As for the cart, construction is pretty simple and can be done in just a few minutes. The designers made good use of hinges to give the side panels an angled look and LEGO was smart to add so many pieces to include in the cargo area. You get a nice backpack and barrel, along with a pretty cool looking snake. That one is probably supposed to represent the dragon firework that Merry and Pippin steal in the movie.

My only real complaint about the cart is the seat at the front. It's almost impossible for Gandalf to actually sit on the thing with his cape on and there's only one connection point for his legs. I highly suggest modifying it with a 2x2 brick to raise it up a little. Otherwise, Gandalf will keep popping off.

Another issue is Frodo's book. This part is a pretty flimsy piece of plastic that shows stressing on the spine the first time you fold it together. While it's thematic to the scene in the movie this set is meant to represent, the cheapness of this one part (likely Chinese plastic) almost makes me wish they had not included it at all.

Final thoughts: This is a nice little introductory set for the LotR line and you get some excellent little pieces and figures. It's not the most amazing set in the world and has a few minor flaws, but you can certainly have some fun with it. I actually built it while watching the opening scenes of Fellowship of the Ring, and the cart  does a pretty good job of depicting Gandalf rolling into the Shire. It's worth picking up, especially if you can get someone to buy it for you. (note: I still would have bought this eventually.)


  1. Nice little review. These sets are so hard not to get. Sometimes waiting for a sale can kill.

    1. Thank you! I know the feeling. I've only been able to resist this long because I was so focused on the CC project.


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