04 March 2023

LEGO® element design interview: 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell

Posted by Tim Johnson

No single designer is ever wholly responsible for a LEGO® set, so to get a better understanding of the new elements in 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell, we spoke to four of them! Our very own ‘Council of Elements’ comprises three element designers: LEGO Senior Designer Mani Zamani, LEGO Senior Designer Gitte Thorsen and LEGO Design Master Yoel Mazur; as well as one of the model designers, LEGO Design Master Wes Talbott.

LEGO® ICONS™ 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell
US$499.99/ £429.99/ 499.99€/ AU$799.99
6167 parts
5 March 2023 for VIPs, general release 8 March
Buying from LEGO.com? Please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop.


Mani Zamani and Gitte Thorsen worked on some of the new elements required to create the hair of the minifigures in Rivendell.

New Elementary: Gimli's beard is similar to the old beard, but can fit an existing wig and the helmet. Where did this idea come from?

Mani Zamani: We wanted the “not wearing a helmet” versions of the characters in the set as well, and with the old beard it was not possible to fit the long wig. The beard got slightly trimmed in the front as well, to be able to see the beautiful graphic work on the torso, and to be closer to the reference material.

The elf wig is used on multiple figures; is it a challenge to create a generic enough wig to be used by such a variety of figures?

Gitte Thorsen: Yes, I had to make sure that the wig was good for both Legolas and Arwen, but think it works very well for both characters. There were five prototypes. It is made from soft material, so the hair could be thin at the front, as per the reference material. Softer material prevents the thinner sections from breaking off.

Council of Elrond weapons Family Pack

Yoel Mazur led the design of the weapons multipack, or “family pack” as they are known as within The LEGO Group. All 16 separate weapons within the family pack are moulded at once within a single mould in a special moulding machine which instantly bags all of them up into one bag. This is why these bags only have one Element ID, and why you never receive just one part from a family pack within a LEGO® set.

New Elementary: 
What references did you consider when designing the weapons?

Yoel Mazur: I'm a big fan of the art and visuals of The Lord Of The Rings, and years ago I collected some replica swords from the movie. I was super-excited to get to create the LEGO versions of all the weapons I liked so much. The weapons for the family pack were created by a combination of looking at other LEGO swords for reference, movie references, and personal passion for these designs!

How many prototypes did you make, and what sort of ideas were discarded along the way?

Yoel: So many prototypes… we even had a concept for a shield in the beginning, and weapons that appeared in other scenes of the movie. Finally we had to funnel down all the greatest ideas into only a few different designs, that also needed to fit the specific mould for family packs.

How did you pick the final few?

Yoel: After watching the movie together – and even going frame-by-frame for one scene to make sure we got it right – we focused on the type of weapons present in the Council of Elrond. We tried to give as many main characters present in the set their "signature" weapons.

Do you have a favourite?

Yoel: The sword Sting was one task I was very excited about, as I knew the sword fairly well. As part of my design process, I found the 3-D file for the previous Sting sword, to use as a reference. After also looking at the most recent movie references, a textured grip was added, and the symmetrical cross guard design was changed – if you look closely, one “leaf shape” covers the other “leaf shape”. How awesome is it to redesign one of your passions into a LEGO element?

After we decided exactly what weapons we were going to put in the family pack, I had to re-design Sting to fit the specific mould; the previous Sting had its own mould, but the new Sting had to fit in the different type of mould for family packs. 

What are these differences that family pack moulds have which you need to accommodate for?

Yoel: The differences are very much on the technical side. One of the more relevant ones here is that we have to keep the size difference between the smallest element and the biggest element in the pack as small as possible. This is related to the pressure calculation when injecting the material into the mould cavities.

Plant, w/Plate 2x3x2, No. 1

New foliage parts are always received with interest, and the design of the new fern piece which premieres in Rivendell is the work of one of the model designers, LEGO Design Master Wes Talbott, and element designer Mani Zamani, LEGO Senior Designer. Wes shared some images of the element’s development recently, which you can view by scrolling through the gallery below. We were keen to know more, of course!

New Elementary: We ran a contest recently, asking readers to design their own elements. We received a surprising number of fern entries! Were you already aware that this was such a desired element? 

Wes Talbott: Haha, yes I remember feeling very galvanised that we made a good choice after seeing so many suggestions for fern elements. I think often times what avid fan builders want is also what comes naturally to the designers within the company: we both build a lot, and have a good idea of what we are missing. For me, it was some sort of mid-scaled ground shrubbery, and a fern was the obvious choice considering how common they are across the globe.

Was the fern design influenced by The Lord of the Rings? A reader asks if it was based upon a New Zealand fern!

Mani Zamani: When designing botanical elements, we try to avoid regional specificity and aim as much as possible for a generic shape that can have a broader use across themes. 

Wes: Yes, it’s very much an abstraction of a fern. We referenced multiple types when sketching it up.

The curve of the fern element matches that of the 1x6x2 arch; why was that particular arch chosen?

Wes: We knew we wanted the fern to have more presence than the current 3-leaf plate, and as soon as we had the idea to make it curve upward, it was just a matter of finding a curve in the LEGO® System that matched the scale we chose. We also knew there could be architectural potential for the element, and wanted to make sure it was naturally compatible with common shapes used in architecture. 


Thanks so much to the designers for taking the time to speak with us! 

If you've enjoyed our 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell coverage so far, please consider using our affiliate links, we may get a commission which helps us keep on publishing: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop. The set is available from midnight Sunday 5 March 2023 for LEGO VIPs, and general release on Tuesday 8 March. It is priced US$499.99/ £429.99/ 499.99€/ AU$799.99.

We have another LotR article coming very soon!

READ MORE: What are all the new LEGO® parts for March 2023?

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  1. "Weapons family pack" sounds very strange, especially from a company that alegedly doesn't promote violence with their toys. That foliage piece looks very unlego, it looks like a Cobi piece. I wonder if my opinion will change after seeing it irl.

    1. To clarify, "Weapons family pack" is not its proper name. I dont yet know its proper name. Those kinds of moulds are informally known as family packs within the company, and this one contains weapons. I didn't actually think of that bring such an odd combination of words!

  2. I second the other commenter. The fern piece looks too specific to be Lego and it's odd Lego is fine emphasizing weapons when it's part of a franchise

    1. And I'm tired of people constantly and intentionally misconstruing LEGO's policy on weapons and war. Elves with swords are fine. Space explorers with ray guns and laser swords are fine. LEGO will not ever make American Navy Seals with machine guns no matter how much trolls complain about it. So stop complaining about it.

    2. Agree with the previous reply: there's no point in trying to "call out" Lego because they have one stance for realistic/modern settings and a different stance for historical/fantasy/scifi settings.

      There /could/ be a discussion had about where they draw the boundaries, and whether that is sensible or consistent, but the edge cases are things like the Osprey and Rescue Helicopter or the Agents and Ultra Agents lines—there's no reasonable argument to be made that LotR is any kind of debatable edge case or hypocritical exception.

      Also, to the first Anon: if you don't like seeing weapons in /any/ Lego, that's fine. But then Lord of the Rings Lego probably isn't something you should have any interest in—war and combat and weapons are pretty integral parts of the stories, so it would be a bit odd to have LotR Lego sets that didn't have /any/ weapons in them.

      But it sounds like you actually think that Lego should put /more/ weapons in sets, and particularly in modern-setting sets. If your stance is that Lego is being puritanical by restricting weapons, then complaining when they do what you want /is/ just concern trolling: pretending to argue for the exact opposite of what you want. Instead of complaining about "hypocrisy" when a set does what you want [has weapons], go find a discussion about a set that /doesn't/ do what you want, and complain there.

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  6. this was such an excellent interview--it's the little design details like these that I love reading about. thank you for sharing!

    1. Yay! Thanks for letting us know it was worthwhile. It was lots of people to organise!

    2. Agreed! I come to New Elementary for in-depth discussion of parts, new and old, and any glimpses behind the scenes, like the design process, are more than welcome! This was a really interesting read.

  7. I just ordered 50x of this fern piece in green, and 50x in opal-trans-pink. After messing around with it... its now literally one of my favorite pieces it looks great, and you can do a lot of things with it. The easiest and most effective trick is to turn them upside down and use them as leaves on a tree. Stack them onto a pole piece. It is used in the new japanese garden set and the viking village after a bunch of fans used the trick so it seems the lego designers have caught on aswell.