24 March 2023

LEGO® Icons set review: 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell

Posted by Ben Davies

In a previous article, I took a careful look at the numerous new element designs, decorations, and recolours that appear in the forthcoming 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell set from the LEGO® ICONS™ theme. Today, I'll be expanding upon that by taking a look at the building process and finished model, with additional insight from Senior Graphic Designer, Ashwin Visser, who New Elementary spoke to at Recognized LEGO Fan Media Days in September 2022.

Products in this article were provided by LEGO®; the author's opinions are their own.
10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell
US$499.99/ £429.99/ 499.99€/ AU$799.99
6167 parts
5 March 2023
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Construction process

The construction of Rivendell is divided into ten stages, spread out over 49 different bags of parts. The first three stages of construction cover the left-most section of Rivendell, featuring the tower. The next three stages assemble the right-most section of Rivendell, consisting of the river, forge, armory, and gazebo. The last four stages are devoted to building the centre-section of Rivendell, which includes the Council ring.

According to Ashwin Visser, creating such a huge set required a true fellowship of designers:
"It really shows the collaboration between every designer because there were three model designers, five graphic designers and three element designers, but everybody came with their own expertise and their own ideas."

The tower

Bags 1 through 5 create the first level of the building and tower. During this stage, simple furnishings are added including a bookshelf and daybed. The front of the tower is also decorated with several sculptural minifigures.

While not accurate to their location in the films, Frodo's chambers are located on the next level of the building, and assembled using bags six through eight. Highlights include a recreation of the ornate carved elven bed Frodo wakes up in following his encounter with the Nazgûl, and a writing desk located in the tower.
The building roof and tower are completed next, using bags 9 through 11 of parts. It is during this stage that the the tiling technique used for Rivendell's patterned roof is introduced. Faced with the daunting prospect of manually aligning all the 1 x 1 tiles used for the roof at a 45º angle, the instructions instead suggest running a long plate or tile through the gaps between the tiles, to quickly align them.

The river, forge, and armory

Switching to the second instruction book, bags 12 through 13 are devoted to building the base of the right-most section of Rivendell. During this stage, the river is assembled using Transparent Light Blue/ Trans-Light Blue plates and tiles to create the flowing water, augmented with a variety of bowed elements in White to represent foam.

Bags 16 through 19 are used for assembling the bridge and some of Rivendell's autumnal trees. The angled branches on the trees are achieved by connecting Plant, Leaves 6 x 5 (Design ID 2417) to Animal Body Part / Plant, Tail / Horn / Tentacle, End Section (40379), a technique previously seen in 21338 A-Frame Cabin. Additional leaf detail is added using Plant, Plate 1 x 1 Round with 3 Leaves (32607).
The gazebo is created next, using parts from bags 20 through 22. Its architecture faithfully captures the Art Nouveau style that the movie version of Rivendell is known for. To achieve this it uses a strange assortment of elements for detailing, including Ornament with Bar (28870), Equipment Flotation Ring [Life Preserver] (30340), Arm Skeleton [Bent / 2 Clips] (93609) and Animal Body Part / Plant, Tail / Horn / Tentacle, End Section (40379).

The Council Ring

The third instruction book is the thickest of the three, and dedicated to building the central Council Ring and surrounding halls. Bags 23 through 29 assemble the base of the section and hall support structures. Rivendell's intricate floor tiling is captured using the newly-introduced Tile 2 x 2 with Floor Tile Print in Brick Yellow / Tan (6421849 | 3068), Tile 2 x 2 with Angled Point Floor Tile Print in Brick Yellow / Tan (6421844 | 3068), and Tile Special 2 x 3 Pentagonal with Point Floor Tile Print in Brick Yellow / Tan (6421843 | 22385).
Bags 30 through 35 continue construction of the section base and supporting structures. During this stage, a Turntable 4 x 4 Square Base, Locking (61485) is added for later use, and further Art Nouveau architectural detailing is added using many of the same elements as the gazebo.
Next, the roof is assembled using elements from bags 36 through 41. An additional small hall is added, and locked at an angle using the previously-added turntable.
Some of the most interesting techniques are found during the final phase of construction, when bags 42 through 49 create a cypress tree and removable Council Ring.

When we spoke to Ashwin Visser, he emphasized that this section was one of the hardest to get right, and again noted the contributions of the individual product designers:
"Mike [Psiaki] was the design lead and focused on the math and the geometry: the angles, round sections, how everything is secured. Chris [Perron] did the outside section, and the chair design – he was really proud of that. He figured that out with popsicles and sausages! Wes [Talbot] is really into colour theory, so he was really playing a lot with this layout. The colours in the section outside of Rivendell are desaturated. Then, in the main model, everything is more fresh and alive."
To achieve the octagram-shaped plinth in the center of the Council Ring, several of the new Panel 2 x 2 x 1 Corner Posts with Centre Stud (3131) are stacked, alternating between 45º and straight. Extra plates and jumpers are used for spacing as necessary.

To get the organic shaping of the tree along the rim of the Council Ring, Brick Round 2 x 2 d. Tube with 45° Elbow and Axle Holes at each end (65473) are fit inside of a Brick Arch 1 x 4 (3659) to create the illusion of emerging roots. A Brick Round 2 x 2 Dome Top - Vented Stud with Bottom Axle Holder x Shape + Orientation (3262) is used at end of the tube to achieve a smooth transition. An extra dome and stacked Cone 1 x 1 (59900) are used inside the tree for structural support, without interfering with the root. 

Finished model

The finished model of Rivendell is as impressive as one could hope for from a set of this size. Together, the three model sections measure 28.5 in. wide, 15 in. high, and 19.5 in. deep.

While an amalgamation of two different structures from the films, the tower is immediately architecturally recognizable as Rivendell. The lower level does not attempt to directly replicate a single location seen in the films, but nevertheless features details including a floor candelabra, daybed, and bookcase embedded in the wall.

The second level features Frodo's Chambers, which appear in The Fellowship of the Ring. It features an ornate bed, side-table with candelabra, as well as a writing desk inside the tower. A chest inside contains Sting and a mithril coat, which Bilbo gives to Frodo.

The river, forge, and armory features the bridge the fellowship crosses in The Fellowship of the Ring, the gazebo seen in the The Two Towers, and the forge seen in The Return of the King. While these structures were spaced apart in the films, combining them makes for a more satisfying and cohesive model. If desired, the gazebo can be easily removed for individual display.

Turning to the main building, it features an exceptional recreation of Elrond's study as seen in The Fellowship of the Ring and later The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The study features a variety of desks for writing, and floor candelabras. The elaborate tiled floor has also been faithfully recreated with new decorated tiles.

The annex features an elaborate telescope and a table with Lembas bread. While the location of the table is accurate, the version in the set unfortunately bears little resemblance to the version seen in the film, and omits the accompanying chairs outright.

The upper level of the structure prominently features the Shards of Narsil on display, with accompanying statue. Additional paintings on the back show the elven ship Vingilot from the First-Age, and Ost-in-Edhil, the chief city of Eregion in the Second-Age.

The Council Ring can be separated from the rest of the structure to be displayed individually. 

Removing it also reveals the Eye of Sauron beneath, as glimpsed momentary when Gimli attempts to destroy the ring. 


While New Elementary does not typically look at minifigures in great depth, they are worth examining in this case simply due to the selection and sheer volume. Fifteen exclusive figures are included in the set, not counting the six additional figures that appear as statues throughout the set.

Focusing on the Hobbits: all use dual-moulded short legs in Dark Brown and Light Nougat to show their exposed feet. This is a marked improvement over the original 2012 figures. Each figure also features a revised torso, noticeably cleaner than their previous renditions. 

Since 2012, Merry and Sam have switched wig colors, with Merry now using Medium Nougat and Sam featuring Dark Orange. Curiously, this seems to have been a late change, as the version of the set shown at Recognized LEGO Fan Media Days in September had these colors reversed.
Legolas, Boromir, and Aragorn have also been updated. Legolas features the new elven hairpiece, as well as dual-moulded legs which feature boots. Boromir has received a dedicated sword accessory and an updated shield. His facial hair now appears in Reddish Brown, rather than Dark Orange. Aragorn has received a different outfit than previous appearances, though the Dark Brown and Sand Yellow / Dark Tan colours do not correspond well to the physical costume, which appears closer black and silver in the film and behind-the-scenes images.

The set marks the first appearance of old Bilbo Baggins, and an updated version of Gandalf. While the printed robes are a definite improvement over prior versions, the use of a generic head is disappointing, and pales in comparison to the dedicated head print introduced in 2012.

This may be indicative of a change in approach by the LEGO graphic designers. When discussing the subject of not all of the minifigure selection featuring exclusive faces, Ashwin Visser had this to say:
"We've tried to get away from that idea of using one face for just one actor. It should be a universal face for for all kinds of characters, so that we don't limit ourselves by purely making specific decorations for specific actors."

This set marks the second appearance of Arwen, who appears here with the new white dress. It also marks the third appearance of Elrond, and second in his council robes. The most notable differences are the his headpiece is now printed, rather than moulded, and that his printed legs have been replaced with printed robes.

Old Glóin appears for the first time here, with the new dwarf beard and a new facial decoration. Due to destruction of the moulds used for his 2012 figure, he appears with a new beard and printed helmet. He is accompanied by renditions of his axes from the films.
Lastly, two generic elves are included. Both feature the new elf hair moulds, as well as a new decorated torso. The female elf features an accompanying printed dress, while the male features generic Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray legs.

The subject matter of the set demanded that the team come up with some novel solutions for minifigures, as Ashwin Visser explains.
"We needed to get the characters who are wearing dress elements seated, because of that scene with the Council. We really wanted to stay true to the characters as they appear in the movie, so we came up with the solution of using the same print [as on the dress element] on a slope [Curved 2 x 2 x 2/3, part 15068]."
Elrond and Gandalf weren't the only characters with legs requiring special attention. This time, the solution was a classic brick from the 1970s.

"Then we came to the next issue: the Hobbits, because they have short legs which are not bendable. This solution had to be approved from higher-up!"
Attaching regular building bricks to the bottom of torso elements was common, in fact even encouraged, when minifigures were introduced in the 1970s. Nowadays this is not permitted – however, the fact that special permission was granted for this set perhaps suggests the reasons are related to the minifigure brand, rather than the connections causing undue stress upon the elements. 

Light Nougat 1 x 1 plates form the feet and the legs are headlight bricks (4070), the seminal SNOT brick designed by Erling Thue Dideriksen during his time as Chief Designer of the LEGOLAND® Town theme. Sadly, Dideriksen passed away earlier this month, and it is fitting to see this set confirm the important legacy his work still holds within the LEGO System.


Overall, 10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell marks a triumphant return for the LEGO Lord of the Rings franchise, although it is intended as a one-off product within the LEGO® ICONS line. 

It’s an incredible set, which manages to act as display piece and playset simultaneously. The build is filled with rare elements in desirable colours, and the clever techniques continually surprise, such as the plinth for the One Ring and the construction of the various trees. The set does diverge from the source material in layout and details, but it still retains the essence of the original. 

While the selection of minifigures itself is excellent, the execution of the figures is mixed. While there are some notable improvements (Gandalf's robes and the Hobbit's dual-moulded feet), some figures fail to live up to their 2012 counterparts, perhaps due to the desire to make heads reusable. Several minifigures reuse existing head prints to their detriment.

Others diverge from the source material; of particular note are Aragorn, who features a dark brown and tan outfit when the film shows him in black and silver garb, and Legolas, who suffers considerably from use of the new elf hair piece. 

Though undeniably expensive, the price of the set has allowed the introduction of many specialized minifigure elements and accessories, and exceptional detailing on the build itself. For fans of the franchise, the set is filled with references to the films and the rich mythology of Middle-Earth.

This is not to say the set is entirely without flaws, as some of the minifigures, such as Legolas, fail to live up to the high standards set by their 2012 counterparts, but it is a relatively minor issue in the context of the larger set, which sets a high bar for any future LEGO sets we may see based on The Lord of the Rings

READ MORE: Get further insight about Rivendell's new element design development from four more LEGO® designers in our exclusive interview

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  1. Nice review!

    Out of curiosity, is there anywhere in the set to store the unused seated/standing legs for the figures? It's a shame if not, since for a set this big and expensive it would be nice to be able to keep all the components in one place (both for safe keeping and to have them handy in case you want to change up how you have them displayed). It looks to me like there might've been room to add a removable tray of some sort under the council area, sort of like the tray used for skates and other accessories in 80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival.

    In general despite being a casual fan of the franchise at best, I'm immensely impressed with the look of this set, though. The combination of art nouveau and medieval architecture as well as the integrated natural elements like trees and other plantlife remind me fondly of the Lego Elves theme (one of my all-time favorite themes), albeit with more subdued colors and fewer kid-friendly play features.