Some Lego Photography

With Helm’s Deep still hanging around I thought I’d try my hand at a more “theatrical” photo. So I put a CTO filter on one of the flashes I use and voila:

Helm's Deep Toss Me

Have a closer look on Flickr – just click on the image. I’m happy with the result especially since I got it pretty quickly. Someone visiting the site asked for more info on how we take the photos so here goes- BrickKnight Lego photography in a nutshell.

Background: As you can see in the photo above I used a black background, normally I use a white one. When I first started I tried paper but it wasn’t static enough, you had to get it just right and then if you moved the paper the minifigures would fall over and you were back to square one. So, I use Ikea Linnmon table tops. One horizontal as the base the other vertical as the background.

Camera and Lens: I use a Canon 6D with the Canon 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens. Canon stuff is great obviously and the 6D is incredibly cheap at this stage for a full frame camera. It’s nice to have a full frame camera for the extra light you get and with the smaller space I have I can be closer to the Lego I’m photographing. A macro lens is a must have, it lets you get the little details.

Lighting: As I posted previously for lighting I use two Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites and the ST-E3-RT transmitter so I don’t have to have any wires connecting the flashes to the camera. This is nice since I’m cramped for space and have to take down and set up the equipment regularly.

Setup: I shoot through Westcott Optical umbrellas, I have a 32″ and a 43″, the size doesn’t seem to make much difference. I place these at roughly 45 degrees on either side of the camera and angle them downwards, placing them as close to the Lego I’m photographing as I can.

So there it is. As you’ll notice it’s not always the perfect setup, with only two flashes there are still shadows present but I don’t do the amount of Photoshopping that the Lego website does to have pristine (and somewhat fake) looking product photos.

Everything I’ve acquired for equipment was cheaper than it is now with the (big) exception of the Canon 6D. Canon usually has rebates going, the 100mm Macro lens should cost somewhere around $800. Obviously that’s a lot of gear. If you don’t have this much gear just keep in mind that the bigger the light source and the closer to the subject you bring it, the softer the light will be.

Review: Lego 10237 The Tower of Orthanc

Let’s finish up on Lego Lord of the Rings for now with the biggest set, The Tower of Orthanc. This set belongs to my friend who built it, I just photographed it (and not in the usual place so the photos aren’t quite as good as usual).

Pieces: 2359  Minifigures: 5  Retail Price: $199.99  Price I Paid: I didn’t

December January Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

First of all, this set is quite tall.

10237 main

28″ high to be exact.

10237 minifigures

It comes with 5 minifigures, two Uruk-Hai not shown and an eagle also not shown.

10237 Wormtongue

The only exclusive figure is Grima Wormtongue.

10237 Treebeard

Treebeard is also part of the build. The part that isn’t black pieces.

When you first look at this set it looks like a bunch of black pieces. However the overall shape/outline is extremely true to the movie I’d say and captures the evil and imposing nature of the tower well. Then, on the back side of the set you get several levels of little vignettes.

10237 back

10237 int3

10237 int2

10237 int1

10237 int5

And at the top we get all the little details of the evil that Saruman is up to.

10237 int4

The little details are really what make the set approachable at the $200 price. Even so, there’s a reason I don’t own this set – it’s $200. It would be great to have and put in the midst of a bunch of attacking Ents, but I just never set my sights on it and it’s unlikely I will now. The set is still available from Lego, probably not much longer though. I’ll stick with the usual and give this set a 4 for vision and execution.

Review: Lego 9474 The Battle of Helm’s Deep

Pieces: 1368  Minifigures: 8  Retail Price: $129.99  Price I Paid: $85+tax

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

9474 box f

9474 box b

Well, here it is. The biggest Lego Lord of the Rings set, save the UCS like exclusive Tower of Orthanc. This is the third largest set I’ve built after Arkham Asylum and Medieval Market Village. It took 3 solid hours of building to get it finished.

9474 minifigures a

Helm’s Deep comes with 8 minifigures, 3 are exclusive to this set. The Uruk-hai who carries the torch to light the bomb to blow up the wall, Haldir and King Theoden. King Theoden is my favorite, his printed plate armor piece is very nice. Then you’ve got Gimli and Aragorn (they really should have included a Legolas) and 3 more Uruk-hai – visible in the next photo along.

9474 set

The construction uses light grey, what some call bley, with a few dark grey and some light pastel green thrown in here and there. There are many 1×1 bricks and 1×2 masonry bricks involved. The building is done in sections then completed by “plugging” the sections into each other. With the exception of the keep section, which is meant to be placed directly behind the main doors.

9474 keep

The long plate raises and extends and creates a bridge to the rest of the structure – although there is no ladder on the inside so I’m not sure how you get down.

9474 keep interior

Inside there is no ladder or staircase but there is a lovely throne and some weapons and a turkey leg on a golden bowl/plate. Not nearly as impressive a Lego food display as Bag End.

9474 keep connection

There’s the “connection” – I’m not sure why they didn’t make it a little more complete but oh well, the keep is a nice part to have individually but it’s not going to figure in your massive battle scene.

9474 side door

What surely will feature is the side door that Gimli, Aragorn and Legolas – apparently called the “Three Hunters” – make use of to go back out and join the battle after the main door is sealed. It’s kind of comical when you think of it – “how do we get out of this huge fortress?” “oh, just take the side door” – and it leads to Gimli being tossed across the divide.

There is a big tower in the middle and a succession of three connected ladders to the top – I don’t remember this featuring much in the film, I think the three ladders are just a way to have the set seemingly make the top reachable. Unlike reaching the keep on the other side of the set.

9474 tower interior

9474 back

As you can see this is another mostly 2 dimensional set, the back is not really much to see or look at other than the tops where the armies can walk along. It’s less disappointing here, as there isn’t much shown in the film either.

Here is the set with the 9471 Uruk-hai Army set attached, extending the wall. As cool as it looks by itself, adding the wall really does make it look better – and, again, closer to the film.

9474 and 9471 lego

Once you have the two sets, you have quite a battle already, with 6 of the “good guys” and 8 Uruk-hai.

9474 and 9471

9474 set plus 9471

I may need to get some more elves though.

So, there it is. quite the set in some ways and not quite in others. I really think they should include Legolas here, he’s as crucial to the battle as any. And Gandalf the White would have been nice, at least they released him in a later set. On the outside this does look quite a bit like the scene in the movie, one of the most memorable scenes from all the films I believe.

In terms of rating, I’ll give it a 4. It cost $129 and I held off on buying it until I got it for $85 at Target, but it wasn’t widely available at this price so it wasn’t always a great deal for everybody. But now that I did get it and finally built it, I’m quite happy.

Review: Lego 9471 Uruk-hai Army

Pieces: 257  Minifigures: 6  Retail Price: $29.99  Price I Paid: $23

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

9471 box f

9471 box b

Another small set but it portends the big set – review coming on Monday – Helm’s Deep (which is properly called The Battle of Helm’s Deep). And I like this set a lot – so much I have 2. It comes with 6 minifigures.

9471 minifigures

4 Uruk-hai – making the set worthy of it’s name and 2 Horse-lords or soldiers of Rohan. One of the Rohan soldiers is Eomer so he is useful in your rebooted Star Trek MOCs or Bourne Identity MOCs.

9471 ballista

The Uruk-hai have a ballista which is pretty nice, so that they can attack the wall.

9471 base front

As you can see Eomer gets his own horse, so for those scoring at home, that’s 6 minifigures, 1 horse, 1 ballista and one wall.

9471 base back

The wall is designed to extend the wall of the Helm’s Deep set but even by itself it makes a nice set. The price was really good only $30 for all the figures and the horse and it was frequently discounted below $25.

9471 set

I have to give this set a 5. It’s not a scene stealer but it gives you a nice army and I can’t wait to incorporate it with the rest of Helm’s Deep.

Review: Lego 79006 The Council of Elrond

Pieces: 243  Minifigures: 4  Retail Price: $29.99  Price I Paid: $23

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

79006 box f

79006 box b

Going back to a somewhat smaller set, we have the Council of Elrond. A scene from the movie in which the Fellowship (of 9) was formed and here we have a set with 4 minifigures, 2 of which are in the Fellowship. This is a very isolated scene – where Gimli tries to destroy the ring. It would have been really great if that had worked, there would be about 8 hours less of the films. And this set would have gotten the treatment it deserves with all of the minifigures.

79006 minifigures

The minifigures you do get are Frodo and Gimli who are the same as before but then you get Elrond and Arwen who do not appear in any other sets. They are both quite nice and Elrond has a two color cape (which is then jammed down by his hairpiece). The elven hairpieces are the same, only different colors.

79006 base

The set is interesting as it has lots of colors you don’t usually see in Lego with the light green and orange red tree leaf pieces. The chairs for the minifigures to sit in are pretty cool but there are only 3 chairs. They also swivel – which is interesting to know they had swivel chairs in Middle Earth.

79006 set

Anyway for a set that has been on sale for less than $25 for a long time I can’t complain too much about it – but it would have been great to get the full scene. If it somehow went on sale for $15 then maybe I could buy enough sets for the entire Fellowship to have chairs. Of course, first the minifigures in this set would have to be able to sit in the chairs. I think ultimately I have to give this set a score of 3. It is mostly average. It is no longer available on Amazon but still available online through Target – for $22.49 a pretty good deal.

Review: Lego 9473 The Mines Of Moria

Pieces: 776  Minifigures: 6 + Cave Troll  Retail Price: $79.99  Price I Paid: ~$65

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

9473-minifigures-good-guys

This set comes with 6 minifigures, 7 if you include the large figure cave troll, which is pretty big, larger than the Wampa and Incredible Hulk. It is the only set that included Boromir or Pippin, while Attack On Weathertop was the only set to include Merry. As I said, Lego really made sure they spread the fellowship around so you couldn’t just buy one or two sets. When I took the photos I thought it came with Gandalf and Frodo as well (I figured every set came with Frodo, but now I realize that the extra Gandalf and Frodo figures I have came with the polybags Gandalf at Dol Guldur and Frodo’s Cooking Corner. This was also because the Brickset database lists it having 9 minifigures but that is because it includes two skeletons. I’m sorry but skeleton’s don’t count in my book. Or Bilbo’s probably. So instead of just reshooting I thought it would be more interesting (and easier obviously) to just put a big red X over the two figures I mistakenly included. Who doesn’t love a big red X?

9473 minifigures bad guys

Surprisingly (to me at least) this was also the only set with Legolas in it until the Pirate Ship set came out. I don’t own that one and probably won’t – that scene in the movie doesn’t really do anything for me and the set seems kind of boring. Put it this way, it costs more than this set did and I’d probably rather have three of these before I bought one of those.

9473 doors

This set is broken down into four separate “sections” the first of which is the door that the goblins smash through with their cave troll. The brown doors themselves are pretty nice and “realistic.”

9473 side wall

Next you have the side wall section which can break apart if you press a lever – the doorway also does this – a great playset feature.

The next two sections are smaller – the tomb of the great dwarf (who I think was Gimli’s relative – but are all dwarves related? (is that racist?)) and the well with the bucket and skeleton which leads to the excellent line “Fool of a took!”

9473 tomb

9473 well

Not included in these photos is a little bag of weapons you get – grey ones that are supposed to be spread around the room as if left by the dwarves.

This set makes for great battle scenes – and if you do spread random pieces around it would look quite similar to the films – obviously you might want to add four real walls.

9473 close up

But this is a pretty cool set the only reason I hesitated to buy it before was waiting for it to go on sale a little but in retrospect it is probably worth the full retail price. I’ll happily give this a 5 despite the price I think the inclusion of Boromir and the Cave troll and the real effort made to capture the scene in the film is worth it.

9473 set

Review: Lego 9472 Attack On Weathertop

Pieces: 430  Minifigures: 5  Retail Price: $59.99  Price I Paid: I think I got a pretty good deal.

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

This was a set I was hesitant to buy, it was $60 and had less than 450 pieces but luckily back when Barnes and Noble had deals and you could use coupons on LEGO I got it for a pretty good price – I’m tempted to say it was somewhere below $40. For that price it was definitely worth it.

9472 minifigures

It comes with five minifigures – two Ringwraiths or Nazgul whichever you prefer. And Aragorn, Merry and of course Mr. Frodo. Lego decided to spread the members of the fellowship over as many sets as possible so you had to collect them all. (It worked.)

9472 ringwraith

As far as frightening minifigures go, the Nazgul are right there at the top of the list. As everyone knows, there were 9 total (“They were once men. Great kings of men.”) So if you wanted to get nine you’d have to buy 5 of this set since it’s the only one they come in. That’d be $250 or so, suffice to say, I don’t have a full set of Ringwraiths.

9472 front

The base of the set is excellent, because it is completely three dimensional. It is a little tricky build, because it is a circle, everything has to be angled right. When I first built it I ended up with pieces all over the floor halfway through building.

9472 closeup

You have to be very gentle when “opening” and “closing” the set.

9472 base open

There is some nice detail in the set – nothing approaching An Unexpected Gathering – but a few little things here and there. I especially like the mini-minifigure statues.

9472 side view

Closed the set looks the best and somewhat resembles the movie.

9472 closed

And when you add the figures, you have quite the playset.

9472 set

As you can see Frodo and Merry have alternate faces expressing horror. Frodo especially when he gets stabbed by the sword of the Ringwraith. Aragorn also has an alternate expression but it is much more subtle as you can see. The only complaints about this set are that it doesn’t come with more minifigures, either Ringwraiths and Hobbits. Two more Nazgul and the $60 price tag would have felt like a great deal. As it is, I got it for a good price and with all sets after they retire they become more cherished. Something about a bird in the hand. So I will remain true to form and give this set a 4. If you’re scoring at home, we now have one 5, for An Unexpected Gathering and 4s for the remaining sets. We also have 4/9ths of the Fellowship, thanks to the 2 in this set and in Gandalf arrives. This set was retired long ago.

*I forgot to include an image of the basically useless few pieces with a brown bush that goes to the side. It’s so not integral to the set that I forgot to include it. Next time I photograph a set for a review maybe I’ll feature it.

Review: Lego 79003 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Gathering (Bag End)

Pieces: 652  Minifigures: 6  Retail Price: $69.99  Price I Paid: ~$55

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

79003 set

What a set! Most reviews of this set said so about a year ago, but I finally got around to cracking open the box and building it. I can do nothing but wholeheartedly agree. It’s beautiful and so detailed. I don’t own any of the Modular sets but this set seems to be on the level if not exceed those sets in terms of detail. I guess I should acknowledge that this is not technically a Lego Lord of the Rings set, but part of The Hobbit line but obviously it depicts a crucial part of Lord of the Rings as well.

79003 minifigures

You receive six minifigures including Gandalf and Martin Freeman Bilbo. The rest are dwarves from The Hobbit films so I’m not that interested in them but they are all excellent figures.

79003 Bag End

The house, Bag End, as you likely know is built into the side of a hill, so that is why there is a tree growing from the roof. The best feature of the front of the house is probably the great round green door – especially the scene when Bilbo walks through it while invisible.

79003 closeup2

What makes this set so great is that the interior is fully realized and while it’s not a full four wall set, it has the feel of one, much more than most.

79003 side angle

79003 Bag End interior

You have Bilbo’s book complete with a stand, just as in the film.

79003 book

And an incredible feast filled with the juiciest of Lego delicacies.

79003 feast

And three maps with stickers, but incredible levels of detail.

79003 maps

Mmmmmmmm. I love Lego food. Building with it of course.

I don’t know how they did it, but Lego seems to have really rewritten the book on this one. This is just an absolutely gorgeous set. Perhaps it was due to come out with the LOTR sets but they spent so much time on it they delayed to The Hobbit sets? If so it shows. More than any Lego set I own, it is just a pleasure to stare at…

So with all that being said, I’ll give this set a 5. It would be a 10 on the regular rating scale as well. This set is at the end of it’s lifecycle. It is listed as “call to check product availability” on Lego.com. Through Amazon it is only available through 3rd party resellers currently.

Review: Lego 9469 Gandalf Arrives

Pieces: 83  Minifigures: 2  Retail Price: $12.99  Price I Paid: Retail

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

Here we have the smallest set from Lego LOTR and the first one encountered movie wise. You get the two main characters, Frodo and Gandalf, in their most basic forms.

Gandalf arrives on his cart with horse. This was the first release of the new Lego horse – which can rear up on its hind legs (after much time spent carefully balancing it of course). He has the fireworks he launches at Bilbo’s birthday party in the back of the cart, along with an envelope with wax seal.

This set does not come with the ring of power. (Is that supposed to be capitalized? If so, I’m sure I’ll hear about it from Sauron later.) Because at this point in the film Frodo has no idea the travail that awaits him. The nearly 10 hours of celluloid that await!

And there you have it, Gandalf Arrives, in less than 90 pieces even. This was the first Lego Lord of the Rings set I got and so I’m fond of it. Like all the sets so far, I’ll give it a 4. You get a horse and two minifigures for the standard $12.99 introductory price. Or should I say you “got” – this set is no longer available.

Review: Lego 9476 The Orc Forge

Pieces: 366  Minifigures: 4  Retail Price: $39.99  Price I Paid: ~$30

December Special! The final Hobbit movie comes out in the middle of the month. Unless Peter Jackson has J.R.R. Tolkein’s body dug up and reanimated to write more books, it should be the last we see of Middle Earth on the big screen for quite awhile. I’m a big fan of the Lego LOTR sets and will attempt to review all of them in the next few weeks. As many of these sets are no longer available, I’m going to use a 1-5 rating system where 3 is average and 5 is excellent.

The second Lego LOTR set to review is 9476 The Orc Forge. In this “bad guy” set, you get four minifigures.

Two Orcs, two Uruk-hai, one of which is called Lurtz. This seems like it would have been a great set to include Saruman with but he’s not here. Lucky for us, he’s in The Wizard Battle set. The Uruk-hai minifigures have nice back printing.

They also have even angrier faces if their regular faces weren’t angry enough for you.

The set also comes with some very nicely detailed armor, complete with the white hand of Saruman paint job. I still think that the white hand should be a Lego minifigure c-shape handprint but oh well. Apparently somewhere in Lego Mordor there is a human hand.

Again in opposition to most of the Lego LOTR sets being filled with grey pieces, this is a brown set.

It’s fairly three dimensional and has a fun action to it – you can lift the basket with the “water wheel” and spill the raw ore down the chute to go into the cauldron. The cauldron has a light brick underneath it that glows a lovely fiendish red when activated. I would have shown a photo, but it doesn’t really show up in the photo.

As you can see the set comes with two full sets of armor and an extra sword forge or something like that. As you may recall this is the scene in the film when the Uruk-hai are being pulled out of the mucus-y ground. It’s pretty gross, but it makes for a pretty good Lego set. This is one of the last ones I purchased, when I lucked out and it was on clearance at Target, which it was exclusive to other than the Lego Store. I will also rate this set a 4. But it’s funny how time passes, at first you don’t really care about a specific set and then you either get it or miss it and you’re really happy or really mad about it. I’m really happy I got this set, especially at a discount. Sadly, it is no longer available.