LEGO designers don’t want you to know Rivendell’s big secret

There’s a secret waiting in the instructions of LEGO Icons 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell – and the designers really don’t want us to spoil it…

“Don’t say that – that’s a secret!” So says Mike Psiaki, one of three model designers behind 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, when we ask him about the team’s approach to one of the set’s more unorthodox techniques. “We’ve been telling everyone that it’s a secret for them to discover, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Nothing in LEGO stays secret for long, much as the designers might try to squirrel away Easter eggs and hidden surprises. 75978 Diagon Alley’s bonus Harry Potter and Hagrid minifigures, perched on a separate display stand, aren’t advertised anywhere on the box – but as soon as review copies landed in the hands of fans, the curtain was instantly pulled back.

And as much as Psiaki (and fellow designers Chris Perron, Wes Talbott and Ashwin Visser) might have wanted Rivendell’s biggest secret to stay a surprise for fans, none of that was communicated anywhere on the packaging. So, plenty of reviews of 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendellincluding ours – have already covered exactly how the team has countered the 6,167-piece set’s most laborious technique.

We’re talking specifically about the roof, which requires laying down (and then carefully aligning) dozens of 1×1 square tiles. Psiaki and the gang have come up with the perfect solution to getting every single tile aligned, and it’s printed right there in the instruction manual. But convincing everyone in the design team that it was the way to go wasn’t necessarily that clear-cut.

“It was quite unorthodox to do,” Psiaki elaborates. “It took a lot of convincing to get that into the building instructions. We did a few different tests with different people to make sure it worked. We had to look at some of the actual tolerances of the elements to make sure the parts interacted the way that we wanted them to interact.

“But it’s funny, I think we originally proposed it as kind of a joke. And then as we were building the model, [we were] like, ‘Actually, this works great. Can we do this in the building instructions?’ And our building instructions developer was like, ‘Please no!’ We’re really happy that it made it in and yeah, everyone better go home and build the set. Or I guess you can look at the building instructions.”

“That page is missing online,” jokes Perron. “We’ll just take that one page off.”

“We definitely have that power,” Psiaki quips. The quartet are yet to wield that power, because the relevant page is still alive and kicking over at, where you’ll find the PDFs for all three instruction manuals in 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell. We won’t spoil the exact process for you here, but you can discover the finer details in the instructions, or in our review of Rivendell.

For more on the long-awaited return of LEGO The Lord of the Rings, check out everything you need to know about Rivendell, or watch our full interview with the designers who brought the set to life. You can also see just how much they know about Middle-earth in our tough-as-nails Tolkien quiz

Support the work that Brick Fanatics does by purchasing your LEGO using our affiliate links.

Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *