I30213 Gandalf at Dol Guldur from the Hobbit line. Should you pick up this little guy or save your money for a larger set? Read on to see what I think.
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The bag for this set clearly proclaims it as part of The Hobbit line of sets and contains all the information you'd expect on the front. The back isn't very exciting and has all the standard legal text and warnings crammed in there in several different languages.
Let's open her up! You get a bunch of parts with grey being the predominant color, the instructions, and a little cardboard box containing the cape.
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
Not much to talk about here. It's all pretty basic studs-up building - no SNOT or other fun techniques to be found. You'll have this together in no time at all.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
As I mentioned earlier, grey is the predominant color here - both the rock structure and Gandalf use a lot of dark bley. There's a little variety though - a green piece from the old Piraka minifigures, a fire piece, a skull, a spider, some weapons, and a map are also included. The map is by far the standout here: it's beautifully printed, although it doesn't seem to match Thorin's map or any of the ones from The Lord of the Rings. Still though, there's a lot of nice little details crammed into a small two-by-two space.
The structure is of course the main feature of the set itself. It's nothing special, but it gets the job done. I'm not sure exactly if it's supposed to be a rock or the ruins of Dul Guldur - I'm guessing the latter as that would explain the spear and torch clipped to it. It doesn't really have a very clean shape though, and doesn't (to me at least) look like it could have been part of a castle. But I guess that's why it's ruined. Whatever it is, it has some nice pieces for making a castle or rocky scenery, and the parts are probably more useful than the whole.
The Gandalf minifigure is the same one that appears in 9469 Gandalf Arrives, but with a sword. Gandalf appears in at least one other set from The Hobbit line, but this is the cheapest way so far to add him to your collection. He has some great front and back printing, even if the latter does tend to be hidden by the cape. He only has a face on one side, but I see that as a plus as sometimes you want a bald minifig or one wearing a hat that leaves the back of the head visible. And he does an alright job capturing Sir Ian McKellan.
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?
I'm going to start this section by talking about where this set fits into the book and/or the movie. As far as the book goes - there's no scene where Gandalf explicitly goes to Dul Guldur, although we find out in The Fellowship of the Ring that he was there at some point. In the movie, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Gandalf doesn't make it to Dul Guldur either, Radagast does. I can only imagine then that this set was designed either based on early concepts or possibly before the decision was made to split it into three movies. I would have liked something that tied in a little better, like including Radagast instead of Gandalf - that would be an awesome minifig.
As far as playability goes, there's not a whole lot here. The only thing for Gandalf to fight is a spider, and while it can certainly leap up and clip itself onto his staff, there's not a whole lot to be done beyond that. But then again, that's more that some polybag sets have, so we'll allow it.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
If you want a complete collection of The Hobbit sets or are looking to get Gandalf on the cheap, I would definitely recommend this set. You could also buy a bunch and get some good pieces for castle MOCing. If you're looking for something with play value though, your money will be better spent elsewhere.
Thank you all for reading; I hope you enjoyed the review. Questions and comments can of course go in the Talkback topic. We've got plenty more reviews planned for the near future, so keep your eyes peeled right here on BZPower!