Sunday, December 16th, 2012 at 8:24pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
Today we take a look at another Lord of the Rings set, a real one this time. 9476 The Orc Forge is a Target and LEGO Store exclusive, but no matter, I have a copy so I decided to review it. Is this set worth adding to improve your arsenal? Read on to see!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
One of the first things I noticed when I saw this set was the lack of any good guys. The forge and Gandalf Arrives are the only two boxed sets to not include both factions. Anyway, the box makes a big point of the light brick the set contains, and the back has a lot of callouts to the many play features, as well as the interesting weapons the set has.
Open up the box, and you find yourself with three bags and an instruction manual. There definitely looks to be a good amount of parts in here.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The building is broken up into three sections, one for each bag. This is nice since you don't have to go searching through all the parts and can pop open one bag at a time.
The first bag starts out with a couple of orcs and an anvil for making instruments of war. Then you proceed to build what appears to be some kind of furnace for melting down ore. I ilk the brick-built rock sections - I dislike the fact that they combine the same three pieces in the same way about a dozen times. Mix it up a little!
The second part has you build two more minifigs (not shown) before you make a mould for pouring the liquid metal into to create some swords. Then you build a pretty nondescript base with more of the repetitive rock patterns and an interesting hollow section with some tiles. Hmmm...
The third bag builds upon the base you made with the second. There's a tower-like structure with a waterwheel and a bucket on a string - lots of variety that keeps the build interesting. I liked that there were some Technic elements in here too.
Finally, the two main parts go together and you have your completed set. It's definitely not a quick build, but there's nothing too complex. It all goes together in a straightforward manner - there's just a lot of set here.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
Above you can see the wide variety of pieces. Lots of dark tan and dark grey as well as brown. It's a good variety if you like to build castles, forts, and landscapes.
Here's the pieces that caught my eye. In the first bag the square with cross braces is hardly new, but it's not often you see one in brown. The cauldron is a cool piece, and the black support is one I haven't seen in a long time. I'm sure it's been around but when I see it I think Blacktron II. The silver grill, olive green cheese slope, and transparent red 1x2 brick are all unusual colors and good to see. And of course there's the light brick.
Not as much in the second bag. An interesting slope, transparent plate, and a 1x2 brick with Technic pins seemed interesting. The real winners though are the shield and helmet. The pieces have been seen in other Lord of the Rings sets, but these are printed with the white hand of Saruman. They look much better than my pictures show and are probably the biggest reason for some to buy this set.
The last bag has a crows nest piece that reminds me of pirate sends from when I was a kid. There's a newer Big-Ugly Rock Piece (BURP), which I was initially displeased to see. The piece for the waterwheel is not one you see everyday, as is the black thing that connects it to the tower. I'm not sure I've ever seen the 2x3 tile with clips before, so that was cool. The 1x4 tile with wood printing was a nice touch - much better than stickers. The 1x1 round tile in silver will find a lot of use by builders. And of course, who doesn't love some string (or nothing!)?
Overall, I like how this sets looks. It has a lot of cohesion and flows together well. I was distraught to see the BURP when I opened the last bag, but they hid it so well I hadn't even seen it before when I was looking at the box or other images, so that must not be too big of a deal. I'll lament again the repetitive use of the same three pieces in the same way to build the rocks along the base - variety is the spice of life after all. I do like the cheese slopes scattered around as moss or slime, really a nice touch.
The minifigs are probably the stars of this set. There's four orcs here - two Mordor orcs, an Uruk-hai, and Lurtz, the 'hero-orc' from the first movie. The Mordor orcs are essentially the same except for the hair/ear piece on one. The Uruk-hai is the same as you've seen in the sets around Helm's Deep, but Lurtz is completely new. They all have great front and back printing. The Uruks have two-sided faces while the Mordor orcs have hair printed on the back of their heads. It would have been nice to see a little variety here, but if you're trying to build an army, this will help.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
There is a lot of playability jammed into this set, even though there's no good guys to fight the bad guys. It's actually a lot like a construction-themed set, except you're making weapons of war instead of a school or skyscraper.
How to make a sword:
- Load up the bucket with iron ore.
- Use the water from the invisible stream (how else does it work?) to raise the bucket via the waterwheel.
- Climb up the tower and take the bucket off the winch.
- Tip over the bucket and dump the ore down the ramp into the cauldron. (This actually works really well.)
- Climb back down and move the cauldron onto the furnace.
- Stoke the fires to melt the ore. (Yay, light brick!)
- Dump the liquified ore into the mould.
- Pull out the sword, have your buddy do the final touches on an anvil, and watch as he takes all the credit.
Whew! That's a lot of work. It sure would be nice if they had some help...
Remember that hollow part I mentioned while building? Turns out it's a play feature to help you recreate a scene from the movie. A wall pops off, and out comes Lurtz, born from within the forge. I guess it would have been hard to make one of those mucus-y sacks out of LEGO bricks. With this feature though, it would have been cool to see Saruman or the orc taskmaster in this set, since they're both present in this scene.
Additionally, some heroes to fight them would have been cool. I feel like this would have been the best opportunity to make Treebeard or another Ent, unless we're going to see a $100+ Orthanc set at some point.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Awesome printed armor
- Cool minifigs
- Lots of play features
- Good selection of pieces
- Some interesting building parts
What's not to like?
- Some repetitive building parts
- No good guys for them to fight
This set retails for about $40 and includes 363 pieces. That seems a little high, but it feels like there's a lot in this set. The minifigs are cool if you want to expand your army, and your interest in them is probably the deciding factor as to whether or not you should buy this set. I enjoyed it, but then again I'm a huge Tolkien fan.
I hope you've enjoyed this look at The Orc Forge. As usual, any questions or comments can be posted in the Talkback. The year may be almost over, but keep checking back because we still have a couple more reviews up our sleeve at BZPower!
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