LEGO The Lord of the Rings could be the weirdest LEGO comeback ever

Between its three BrickHeadz double-packs and rumours surrounding an enormous direct-to-consumer set, it sounds like LEGO The Lord of the Rings could be the weirdest LEGO comeback yet.

Originally running from 2012 to 2013 to accompany the first two films in Peter Jackson’s prequel trilogy, LEGO The Lord of the Rings and LEGO The Hobbit focused entirely on minifigure-scale playsets and vehicles, from Bag End and Rivendell to Moria and Helm’s Deep. But given they left shelves almost as quickly as they arrived, there are some pretty major gaps in the content they managed to cover.

When word of a resurrected LEGO The Lord of the Rings theme first surfaced earlier this year, then, it left us hopeful that the LEGO Group was planning to fill those gaps, bringing us LEGO Amon Hen, Minas Tirith, Mordor and so on. Instead, the first three LEGO The Lord of the Rings 2023 sets are 40630 Frodo & Gollum, 40631 Gandalf the Grey & Balrog, and 40632 Aragorn & Arwen.

The only other licensed theme to trade exclusively in BrickHeadz is (technically) Universal Monsters, through 2020’s 40422 Frankenstein. Every other IP – from Jurassic World and Disney to The Simpsons and Stranger Things ­– has also had at least one other LEGO product, whether at minifigure-scale or not. That bodes well for a wider return of The Lord of the Rings, and indeed rumours suggest we’re getting at least one more set in 10316 Rivendell.

Now said to launch around March 2023 for $499.99, 10316 Rivendell will supposedly include 6,167 pieces. That part count and price point puts it pretty close to 71043 Hogwarts Castle, the Wizarding World direct-to-consumer set that kicked off the renewed LEGO Harry Potter theme in 2018.

That could just be a coincidence, but unless the LEGO Group is feeling especially generous, it’s rare to see a licensed set come in at 10316’s rumoured price-per-piece without most of those elements being very small. And if that is the case, the natural conclusion to draw is that 10316 Rivendell is actually built in microscale, just like Hogwarts, and may not include minifigures at all (or could bundle in a few token characters, like 71043 Hogwarts Castle).

It wouldn’t be the first time the LEGO Group has defied expectations in recent memory – who thought we’d ever get a 4,049-piece Hulkbuster? – but it would add up to a very strange comeback for a theme once dominated by minifigures.

Factor in that 10316 Rivendell’s set number places it squarely in the LEGO Icons range – home to other one-off licensed sets like 10300 Back to the Future Time Machine and 10302 Optimus Prime – and hopes of a wider return to LEGO Middle-earth seem more and more fruitless by the day. Perhaps the best we can hope for at this stage is that 10316 Rivendell sells well enough that the LEGO Group is encouraged to properly bring back the theme in 2024, but that price tag won’t make it easy.

The very existence of 10316 Rivendell is of course just a rumour at this point, so it may be that 40630 Frodo & Gollum, 40631 Gandalf the Grey & Balrog, and 40632 Aragorn & Arwen are all we’re getting from LEGO The Lord of the Rings in 2023. We’ll hopefully find out more early next year, but for now, here’s a round-up of the three sets definitely coming our way.

Every LEGO The Lord of the Rings set confirmed for 2023

LEGO setPricePiecesRelease date
40630 Frodo & Gollum£13.49 / $14.99 / €14.99184January 1, 2023
40631 Gandalf the Grey & Balrog£17.99 / $19.99 / €19.99348January 1, 2023
40632 Aragorn & Arwen£17.99 / $19.99 / €19.99261January 1, 2023

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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.

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