LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell review
The LEGO Group pulls out all the stops for its journey back to Middle-earth in 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, a set that proves there’s some good in this LEGO world – and it’s worth fighting for.
A LEGO set is never late. Nor is it early. It arrives precisely when it means to. For 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, that’s a good six months after Amazon’s The Rings of Power TV show finished airing, but the timelessness of Peter Jackson’s original The Lord of the Rings trilogy should ensure this 6,167-piece set finds its way into plenty of homes.
Did we say 6,167 pieces? Yes: make no mistake, this is a LEGO set of grand ambitions; one that hopes to deliver everything you could want from a LEGO The Lord of the Rings theme in 2023 within a single box. This is an Icons set, and includes a character line-up that speaks loud and clear: no smaller LEGO The Lord of the Rings sets are forthcoming (save for those BrickHeadz), so if you want to journey back to Middle-earth in bricks, it’s basically all or nothing.
That places the weight of expectation squarely on the shoulders of 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, so can this sprawling build seize its opportunity to become the one LEGO Middle-earth set to rule them all?
— LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell set details —
Theme: LEGO Icons Set name: 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell Release date: March 5 (VIPs), March 8 (wide), 2023
Price: £429.99 / $499.99 / €499.99 Pieces: 6,167 Minifigures: 15 (plus six statues)
— Where to buy LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell —
LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell is a direct-to-consumer exclusive, which means it will only be available at LEGO.com and in LEGO Stores for at least three months. It will likely then show up at just one other retailer (if any at all), minimising the chances of a future discount.
— LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell build —
Let’s address the elephant in the room: it’s really remarkable 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell exists at all, as a concept, because it sits so far outside of the rest of the LEGO portfolio. And that’s a good thing.
Think about it. What other £430 LEGO set do you know that depicts a location in which the most exciting thing to happen is… a conversation? This is no Helm’s Deep or Minas Tirith; it’s not fertile ground for play features, action sequences or really even the most memorable moments from across the three films. On paper, it might seem like a strange choice for the first The Lord of the Rings set in a decade. But one look at these images is almost enough to convince you otherwise, because – and we aren’t telling you anything new here – it’s beautiful.
It should come as no surprise that 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell is a display model through and through. The closest you’ll come to functionality is popping out the bush for Sam to hide behind while eavesdropping on the Council of Elrond, or, erm, opening the trunk that contains Sting and Bilbo’s mithril armour. The rest of its 6,000+ pieces are dedicated entirely to authentically and artistically recreating Rivendell’s majestic architecture, stunning scenery and breathtaking landscapes.
In fact, this is effectively LEGO landscaping turned up to 11: where other sets might occasionally fall into the twin traps of repetition and symmetry to simplify their builds, 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell refuses to take shortcuts. Everything feels impressively organic and varied, and so the build never becomes dull or laborious, which is no mean feat for a set of this size.
But that’s not to say it feels haphazard or slapped together. Even when laying down slopes, ferns (new here, and what a difference they make) or brick-built mushrooms, you’ll get a tangible sense of precision in their placement. It’s helped by how intricately and thoughtfully designed the man-made elements of the set are, too: build this set and then come talk to us about that gazebo, because it might just be the cleverest bit of LEGO engineering we’ve seen outside Technic mechanisms in a very long time.
That’s not just in the mass of life preservers, droid arms and decorative elements that make up its canopy, either. An otherwise unassuming grey slab, its base is a masterpiece in design, built horizontally with a combination of slopes, brackets and even clips to ensure it’s not only structurally stable in itself, but can also support each of the gazebo’s legs without a single stud on show.
The gazebo is also just one example of how 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell doesn’t hold your hand to the same degree as even other 18+ sets, leveraging its price point and market position to full effect. This is a set few kids are likely to build, and the designers have seemingly run riot with that knowledge in mind. The set trusts that you’ll know – or be able to figure out – how to mirror attachments within a sub-assembly, how to differentiate between elements that share a close resemblance, and how certain smaller builds fit into the wider picture.
But even when the build gets challenging (and it does), it’s never unsatisfying. Take the patterned roof, for instance, which at first blush looks like an exercise in frustration. The LEGO Group has wisely sidestepped any potential ire by including a 1×8 or 2×8 plate or tile in the corresponding bags (to be incorporated into the model later). It’s almost too obvious a solution: running that longer element down between the 1×1 tiles (with a little bit of force) straightens them out, and is also unlike anything else you’ll ever have done in an official LEGO set before.
It’s that variety that keeps 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell engaging for the entire duration of its 16-hour-plus build, and ensures you never really know what you’ll be doing next. Even the trees are different, with four different approaches to them in the one set. That’s unprecedented.
Almost as integral to the success of 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell as its building techniques are its colours, though, because it would all be for nothing if the aesthetic of the elven kingdom was lost. If. Thankfully, Rivendell absolutely hits the mark in its use of colour, mixing together almost every shade of green in the book with yellows, nougats, browns and careful sprinklings of white, light grey and dark grey to stop things getting overwhelming.
It’s all incredibly evocative of Rivendell as we saw it in the movies, and for those of us who grew up watching The Lord of the Rings the first time round – and have been watching and re-watching the trilogy for the past 20 years – it makes 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell akin to comfort food. Everything about this set transports you right into Peter Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth, building into a tranquil haven of a LEGO set that sits in stark contrast to something like 10305 Lion Knights’ Castle in all the best ways. (And that set already looks a bit like Helm’s Deep, so we didn’t need that again right now.)
10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell might seem like an odd choice on paper, but it’s actually a really smart play from the LEGO Group. And yet that was never a given: it’s only in the very particular execution here that it succeeds to the level that it does, which is to say that it might just be one of the best LEGO builds you’ll ever undertake.
— LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell characters —
We don’t know the actual numbers – who could? – but at a guess, probably 90% of the people interested in 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell do not own any LEGO The Lord of the Rings sets. An even smaller fraction of that remaining 10% are likely to own every single character, or even just the entire Fellowship of the Ring, given they were scattered across the original range of products in 2012.
10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell brings Middle-earth to an almost entirely fresh LEGO audience, and can’t rely on its predecessors, so it’s to its credit that it includes every single character you’d expect – and then some – from a LEGO Rivendell model. The entire Fellowship is here, with new and improved hobbits (see those dual-moulded legs to represent bare feet), but so too are Elrond, Arwen, Bilbo, a couple of generic elves and, erm, Gloin. (Gimli’s dad, for… reasons?)
All that said, it’s also testament to the quality of the original The Lord of the Rings sets that these aren’t necessarily major upgrades over those original minifigures. In fact, they’re a bit of a mixed bag: the new hairpiece for the elves is pretty good, but it doesn’t really fit Legolas, who wore his hair further back behind his ears, and Gandalf would almost certainly have benefited from a dual-moulded hat and hairpiece.
These are minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things, by which we mean the fact that this is an instant The Lord of the Rings minifigure collection in a box, and who’s going to turn their nose up at that? Anyone considering assembling the Fellowship one character at a time on the aftermarket (hello from this writer) just had all their problems solved at once. For the small price of £429.99 / $499.99 / €499.99, which brings us on to…
— LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell price —
This LEGO set is expensive. This LEGO set is good value for money. Both these things can be true, and they absolutely are in 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell.
Nobody can argue that £430 / $500 / €500 isn’t a substantial amount of money to pay for a LEGO set. But if the past few years of the LEGO Group’s ‘adults welcome’ campaign have taught us anything, it’s that we as fans are collectively willing to pay high prices for good sets. There’s a clear delineation there – we won’t hand over our hard-earned cash for any old model, as the final quarter of 2022 keenly demonstrated between 21337 Table Football, 76210 Hulkbuster and 76215 Black Panther.
But if your pockets are deep enough to stretch to this budget in the first place, you’ll find plenty of value in adding 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell to your Middle-earth collection (or, better yet, using it to start your Middle-earth collection). So much love has been poured into every facet of this set that Tolkien diehards and casual fans of the Peter Jackson movies alike will be equally satisfied.
That value doesn’t just come across in attention to detail, either, but real, tangible things: the quantity of minifigures; the number of new and (so far) exclusive pieces; and that the price-per-piece ratio (always an infallible metric anyway) has not been artificially inflated by small elements. There are lots of 1×1 tiles across the roof, but they’re matched by huge 16×16 plates, large wedges and even just the sheer variety of parts (including those beautiful printed tiles for the main hall’s floor).
No visible corners have been cut in bringing 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell to life, yet it doesn’t feel like the responsibility for its grand ambitions has been passed on to the consumer – particularly amidst a landscape of set prices shifting increasingly north. Again, it’s not cheap; but crucially, it doesn’t feel unfair.
— LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell pictures —
— LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell pros and cons —
Is 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell the LEGO Middle-earth set to rule them all? Unequivocally, undoubtedly, simply… yes. It’s a LEGO set unlike any other, not just within Tolkien’s world, dramatically recreating a sweeping landscape and beautiful architecture with complex techniques and careful precision.
You can feel that mastery of angles, geometry and brick maths where it matters, but in other places it’s cleverly and skilfully hidden behind artistic expression. The result is a set that still feels organic, even while you’re building in Pythagorean triples, and therefore still captures its subject matter in a way no other location-based set has quite managed.
It’s a steep price to pay – one does not simply walk into the LEGO Store and spend £430 on any other set – but if you have so much as a passing interest in The Lord of the Rings, Rivendell is a model worth saving up for. From the build experience to the finished product, this is the peak of what LEGO display models can be in 2023.
|10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell pros||10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell cons|
|Possibly the most fascinating build you’ll ever undertake, and unlike absolutely anything else on the market||A couple of the minifigures feel slightly lacklustre compared to their 2012 counterparts|
|Filled with attention to detail, and you can see exactly where the budget has gone – it’s actually great value||Even if it’s great value, it’s still an expensive prospect|
|Every minifigure you could want from a LEGO The Lord of the Rings set based on Rivendell|
This LEGO set was provided for review by the LEGO Group.
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— Alternatives to LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell —
This is a trickier section than ever to fill for 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, because – as this review has already attested – there’s really nothing else like it on the market at the moment. The closest you can realistically get is with 71043 Hogwarts Castle, as long as you can handle building in microscale rather than minifigure scale.
Otherwise, there’s always the aftermarket for more affordable LEGO The Lord of the Rings sets, a phrase we never thought we’d be using about that retired product line.
— LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell FAQs —
How long does it take to build LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell?
Prepare to spend at least 16 hours with 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, or many more if you don’t blitz through the build at breakneck speed for a review like us. That’s plenty of time to watch all of the extended editions of The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and maybe even the first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, too.
How many pieces are in LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell?
LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell contains exactly 6,167 pieces, within which are 21 minifigures (including six all-grey statues, but who’s counting?). That makes it the biggest LEGO The Lord of the Rings set to date, and one of the biggest LEGO sets of all time, too.
How big is LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell?
Prepare to set aside some serious shelf space for 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, as the LEGO Icons set weighs in at a blistering 72cm wide, 39cm tall and 50cm deep.
How much does LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell cost?
LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell is the most expensive Middle-earth set to date, coming in at £429.99 in the UK, $499.99 in the US and €499.99 in Europe.