Sometimes it seems like LEGO Lord of the Rings came out ages ago, but in actual fact pretty much the only place where that happened (back in May) was the United States. Since last week little blips on the Internet – and today a store visit in my native Finland – confirmed that LotR was now finally, in late July, appearing in European stores. It was a bit weird visiting LEGOLAND earlier this summer, which had pretty much all the exclusive rarities one could think of, yet there were no LEGO Lord of the Rings sets in sight.

All the initial sets are now finally available except the little later released 9476 The Orc Forge, which sucks because I might have picked that one up. Oh well, it is an exclusive in the U.S. too – that probably explains it. The brand new catalog offers no hope for the Orc Forge (or hints of new sets) either, it just lists the same initial launch sets over three pages, way back in the catalog – almost like an afterthought. No mention of The Hobbit either.

My external observations at the store, best ones first:

  • 9470 Shelob Attacks actually looks really good, it is just the kind of scene that works well as a medium-sized LEGO set, unlike the next two…
  • While 9473 Mines of Moria seems a little disjointed as a scene, the gorgeous troll and construction techniques do make it seem interesting. I can’t escape the feeling that in order to do justice to Moria you’d need a large set, like Helm’s Deep, though.
  • 9472 Attack on Weathertop just seems too small in physical dimensions, not at all like I imagined Weathertop – I know some have recommended the set despite previous reservations, but as it is, I just can’t get over the (lack of) size.
  • Footnote: Externally the euro packaging looked similar to the U.S. boxes, although with a larger number of languages printed on the sides.

Based on this (admittedly cursory) experience, I still feel that the Gandalf Arrives and Uruk-hai Army sets I previously ordered online and reviewed are – at least for their size – the two strongest contenders in the launch range. Go pick them up!