15 May 2024

LEGO® Icons review: 10333 The Lord of the Rings: Barad-dûr

Posted by Jonas Kramm

Today we cast our fiery eye over the new elements in the massive LEGO® Barad-dûr. The 83cm-tall tower of Mordor is the next LEGO Icons Lord of the Rings set, and features not only detailed minifigures, but also some precious recolours and prints. As a huge LOTR fan I will try my luck to simply walk into Mordor.

Products in this article were gifted by The LEGO Group; the author's opinions are their own.
This article contains affiliate links to LEGO.com; we may get a small commission if you purchase.

10333 The Lord of the Rings: Barad-dûr
US$459.99/ £399.99/ 459.99€/ AU$699.99
5,471 parts
Released 1 June 2024

From 1 to 7 June or while stocks last, the gift with purchase of set 10333 is 40693 Fell Beast - read our review

Set 10333 on LEGO.com

In 2023, 10316 Rivendell turned out to be a great gift to fans of Middle Earth, with its amazing elvish architecture and a waterfall of new elements. Visually opposite is the new Barad-dûr, which brings us to Mordor, the land of shadows. This region is known for its pure evil, but still, the LEGO designers were kind enough to treat us with some new moulds and recolours that were forged for this set.

Our journey starts with the minifigures and new parts, and will lead us to the Barad-dûr itself. The big question is, can an entirely black tower become an interesting build?

Minifigures

The LEGO Barad-dûr set comes with a few new moulds, which all happen to be minifigure elements in Pearl Dark Grey. In total, 10 characters are included: a few entirely new, and some returning from the previous set or even the LEGO® Lord of the Rings sets from 2012 to 2013.

Sauron and his Mouth


A highlight is for sure the dark lord himself, seen here with the Mouth of Sauron. 

Sauron wears special headgear that combines helmet with armour. It is made from a rubber material to prevent the spikes of the crown from breaking.

The headgear for Sauron's Mouth is technically new too, but only very slightly different to the figure above right that appeared in 2013.

A family of Orcs

Just like 10316 Rivendell, where we got different weapons for Elves, Dwarves and Men, this Lord of the Rings set also contains a special "family mould" to stock up your armoury. Family moulds are a group of elements that are all cast at once by the one mould, and immediately bagged by the moulding machinery.

The bag contains eight Orc helmets of 3 different designs (6471829).

  • 1x Orc-Helmet for Sam
  • 1x Orc-Helmet for Frodo
  • 3x Orc-Helmet 
  • 3x Orc-Helmet  

Also new for the Orc figures are these Orc shields (6484323), which have a new shape and are printed. Four are provided in the set. 


The five Orc minifigures are new and have all unique decorations. Above left we have Gothmog, who is known from the battle on the Pelennor fields. 

The others have no names, but could be inspired by the Orcs of Cirith Ungol or the troops on the march to the Black Gate, who Frodo and Sam encounter.

The hair with pointy ears in Olive Green is not a new part, but a clever recolour of the Harry Potter goblin headgear.


Frodo and Sam are the same figures who started their journey from Rivendell, but at least you can add the special Orc helmets to disguise them. 


Gollum is a complete new figure, and introduces 2x Arm Skeleton Bent with Clips at 90° in Brick Yellow/ Tan (6490029 | 93061).

With this new Gollum design, LEGO avoided the longer arms that the previous rendition used, instead simply colour changing this arm mould which was already active in production.

Minifigure comparison 

For all LEGO Lord of the Rings nerds, here is a comparison of new (above left) and old (above right) minifigures next to each other.

Printed elements

Aside from the minifigures, two additional prints are introduced. 


The 3x Glass for Window 1 x 2 x 2 Flat with Scrolls in Dark Brown (6484327) could be of special interest to all mediaeval and fantasy builders, as you can easily fill shelves with them. 

  • 1x Minifigure Head with the White Tree in Black (6484325)
A wonderful detail and maybe a glimpse into the future of LEGO Lord of the Rings is the Palantir, which on one side shows the burning white tree of Minas Tirith and on the other the devastated Shire.

While Pippin in the third film actually sees the scene with the white tree in Saruman's Palantir, the inspiration for the shire comes from Frodo's vision in Galadriel's mirror.

Recolours

Mordor is the land of shadow and fire, so it is no surprise that all the colour changes fit within the spectrum from orange to black. The designers used this gradient on different sections of the tower to create the illusion of the light of lava or fire falling on the black walls; a decision that makes the build process more interesting and also helps the overall appearance, as we will see later.


Glowing like lava are the 63x Tile 1 x 4 in Transparent Bright Orange/ Trans-Orange (6484052 | 2431) which make up most of the ground on the bottom floor.

  • 4x Weapon Blade with Spikes and Two Bars in Trans-Orange (6483809 | 23861) 
To use these blades we need to jump to the very top of the tower, where they shape the flaming eye.

Even more new pieces are used to shape the iconic top of Barad-dûr:

  • 4x Brick Arch 1 x 5 x 4 Inverted in Dark Orange (6475346 | 30099)

  • 2x Wedge Sloped 2 x 5 Left in Reddish Brown (6475334 | 3504)
  • 2x Wedge Sloped 2 x 5 Right in Reddish Brown (6475347 | 3505)
  • 2x Plate Special 1 x 2 with Angular Extension and Orange Tip in Dark Orange (6475349)

  • 4x Brick Curved 1 x 4 x 3 in Reddish Brown (6475335 | 65734)

  • 7x Slope 45° 2 x 1 Double / Inverted in Reddish Brown (6475343 | 3049)
Because of its sharp architecture, it’s also no surprise this element makes its first appearance here.


With the wide selection of pieces already available in black, the LEGO designers had most assets at their disposal to recreate Barad-dûr. Only two elements needed to be recoloured in Black for this set:

  • 6x Weapon Sword, Big Blade in Black (6475345 | 98137)

  • 7x Slope 45° 2 x 4 x 1 1/3 Double in Black (6475341 | 80545)
Who remembers the DeLorean Slope? After its introduction in Medium Stone Grey/ Light Bluish Gray in 10300 Back to the Future the element finally gets its first recolour to become pillars in Barad-dûr.

Rare parts

Not entirely new, but a welcome return from the LEGO® Legends of Chima theme in 2014 are these wedges in Dark Brown:

  • 2x Wedge Curved 6 x 2 Left in Dark Brown (6475338 | 41748)
  • 2x Wedge Curved 6 x 2 Right in Dark Brown (6505863 | 41747)

  • Plate 1 x 1 x 2/3 with Open Stud in Aqua/ Light Aqua (6481909 | 86996)
Being released on the same day as Barad-dûr, 10334 Retro Radio introduced this useful piece in Light Aqua – however the tower uses a whopping 21 times for the internal structure.

The build

A black tower: that doesn't sound like a diversified building experience, does it? And while I can't deny that completely, Barad-dûr tries a lot to not be that boring. 


The first surprise is actually the bags, because this is the biggest set so far only with paper bags.

What will soon be the norm is, for now, still unfamiliar. For seekers of specific elements within these unopened bags, it will be quite a challenge. One more thing to point out with opaque packaging is how important it is to check if all the bricks actually come out of the bag.

The Forge and Dungeons

Barad-dûr starts at the base and works its way up. 


With such big builds, it is always interesting to see how they start and how they set a stable foundation.



This effect is also used for the rocks, where the lowest rocks are still Dark Orange and towards the top more and more Dark Tan and finally Light and Dark Bluish Gray are used.



First, we raise the lowest wall. The design decision not to build everything in black is particularly worth mentioning. This not only helps in the building instructions, but the gradient from Reddish Brown to Dark Brown to Black also creates the illusion that the lava is actually glowing.



A few really straightforward play features are integrated on the first level so that you can open the gate and lower the dangling cage. In fact, there is only one scene in the films that takes place inside Barad-dûr, but LEGO has omitted the stretching bench for Gollum. Probably for the best.

The Dining Hall

From the second floor upwards, the footprints for the rooms taper further and further inwards.


While the interior here is a dining hall for the Orc Minifigures, the details on the outside are built in microscale:




The food on the tables is similar to what is served in any other LEGO medieval set. 


However, a sticker pays homage to the films. ‘Meat is back on the menu’ is also the motto of the Orcs and Uruk-hai in The Two Towers.


Throne Room

While the designers of Rivendell could draw on a wealth of scenes set in the Elven city, they were faced with blank pages for Sauron's Tower. That's why all the interiors had to be freely imagined.


The Dark Lord's throne room has a clever mechanism that allows the Palantir to be hidden behind the throne:


Library

The long, thin tower is used by Sauron's Mouth as a library. Unfortunately, the high walls are decorated mainly by stickers, which I chose not to apply, and brick-built interior furnishings are rare.





At least the building technique for the outer tower wall is interesting, but might be familiar to anyone who has built the large tower from LEGO 71043 Hogwarts Castle. 


As a result, the details on the walls are also more intricate, and some spiky pieces are used out of their original purpose.


The eye

A literal highlight is the Eye of Sauron, which tops off the 83cm high tower. Various wedges are used and, thanks to SNOT techniques, the shape with the two spikes is beautifully carved out.


The effect of the colour gradient from orange to black is also most evident here and the reason for many of the recolours in this set.



To frame the black pupil, the fiery eye itself uses two mudguards cleverly, that just lock in the slopes. 


Around them, many elements in transparent shades are used.

The eye can be illuminated with a light brick from the back, but this effect is so subtle it can only be noticed in complete darkness. 


With a long exposure, you can still make some epic pictures though.

The completed model

The finished LEGO Icons set is huge and impressive. 


I was most surprised by the colour effect which gives the impression of fire or lava. Nevertheless, the model remains a very dark tower, which unfortunately has none of the elegance of a Rivendell.




From the outside, the tower is a pretty good recreation of the tower seen in the films. Some of the walls and towers, especially on the second ring, have been greatly simplified, but the microscale still does justice to the original.



In some places, I would have liked the tower to be even darker, as the light grey lines are a little distracting to the overall appearance. 



I have absolutely no problem with coloured parts as the inner structure, but why these blue flashes are not avoided at an 18+ collectors' item is beyond me. Fortunately, it's easy to fix this.



The interior is a bit hit-and-miss, as the references for interesting scenes were non-existent. Instead, you get scenes that could also be included in any LEGO castle. Only small details such as the Palantir and the minifigures place these tower rooms as being in Middle-earth.


The absence of stickers is only noticeable in the interiors, but the rooms look particularly empty if you don't apply them, as I chose not to.




The modular nature of the set means you could extend the height of the tower by buying further copies.

Conclusion

The choice of the model as a counterpart to the peaceful House of Elrond is understandable, but anyone expecting the same building fun, and abundance of references to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, could be disappointed. Apart from its sheer size, the build does not have many wow-moments.


At the end of the day, as a LOTR fan, I'm at least left with excellent minifigures including a Sauron that we would probably never have got otherwise. But as long as iconic locations such as the Shire, Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith have not yet been ticked off, a Barad-dûr priced US$459.99/ £399.99/ 459.99€/ AU$699.99 would have had a lower priority in my eyes.


READ MORE: Our full review of 40693 Fell Beast

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12 comments:

  1. Hey can y’all run a post that’s just every family mould family?

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  2. I think I would've preferred a solid-core tower if it meant they would be able to achieve a slimmer profile and get more of the ridge details on the outside. I end up feeling like this looks pretty blocky. Which, i mean, yeah, but it feels out of place on a set like this when there are ways to get the textures more in line with the source material. I also have mixed feelings on the color choices, especially for the fake glow effect, because in some spots if you look at it right it works, but in other spots you can just see a hard stepped edge between pieces. It might be a silly idea, but i'd have loved to see a few light bricks in the base to create an actual glow effect, though i'm not sure what the internal policy on where and how to include those bricks are.

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    Replies
    1. I think one of the challenges with light bricks is the typical ones used in System sets must be operated manually, which makes it hard to have a synchronized effect with multiple light bricks in different locations throughout a build, which is part of why sets typically only use one light brick for emphasis of a particularly key feature. Powered Up lights like the one used in the Motorized Lighthouse set could be wired together to a singular hub, but including all that it takes to run that would certainly raise the already steep price of this set even higher.

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    2. Yeah, there would need to be some kind of mechanism to turn them on all at once to get the effect, and I don't follow set design close enough to have noticed any kind of pattern to how complex a light brick mechanism is allowed to be. Likewise I have no idea if there are, but can imagine there might be, guidelines or rules about not being able to "lock" a light brick on to prevent accidental battery drain.

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  3. Nice review!

    Figure-wise, I appreciate that the new Gollum feels like he has slightly more minifigure DNA. His thicker legs, smaller head and arms, and more simplified face make it easier to envision that Smeagol here used to be a Hobbit like Sam and Frodo. Sauron also looks great though compared to his mostly Titanium Metallic color scheme with elaborately molded armor, his Dark Stone Grey brick-built club looks slightly dull and clunky—recoloring those rocket pieces to Titanium Metallic to match would've been cool and made it stick out less.

    The Nexo Knights blades used for the flaming eye are a very interesting recolor, considering that the lava monster faction that introduced those blades (in Titanium Metallic then) also heavily used Trans Orange. I always found it interesting that while recently Trans Neon Orange was retired due to its similarity to Trans Orange, the first year of Nexo Knights used both colors in different ways (the high-tech Trans Neon Orange for the good guys and the more "natural" Trans Orange for the baddies). And of course these same blades were later used in Trans Neon Orange in the first year of Monkie Kid, which in many ways was the "last hurrah" of that classic color.

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  4. What colour at the two 4588s in Sauron’s mace?

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  5. Hey, does anyone know why the new Jurassic World review has no comments section? Or is it just me?

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  6. https://www.newelementary.com/2024/05/lego-icons-review-10333-lord-of-rings.html

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  7. Hey! Can you tell me the size and weight of the whole box, please! Im from latin america and i need to know this for the delivery 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼

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  8. I agree regarding the use of stickers in the interior. The tower library with swivel ladder is really cool but sticker book shelves, are you kidding me? For an almost $500 set I can't believe Lego cheaped-out with a sticker library! I believe Rivendell has a REAL library shelf. Come on Lego, this isn't a Duplo set! For $500 I want real Lego books and shelves. A few more minifigs would have been nice too.

    ReplyDelete