For a while now, there were rumors that LEGO might be releasing The Tower of Orthanc (10237) for the LEGO Lord of the Rings theme and in January, there was a blurry image of what appeared to be the tower in Isengard. In April, LEGO revealed there was indeed a set coming out based on the structure from the Lord of the Rings movies. The set contains 2359 pieces and retails for $199.99, a $0.08/piece ratio. The box includes 18 numbered bags that go from 1-15, 3 cardboarded instruction booklets, and a sticker sheet.
There five minifigures in the set: Gandalf the Grey, Saruman the White, Grima Wormtongue, an Uruk-hai, and the Orc Pitmaster. Also included is the Great Eagle and a buildable Ent which I will describe in more detail later.
The Gandalf the Grey minifigure is pretty much the same one we’ve seen in previous Lord of the Rings sets. He has a double-sided face with the stern/angry expressions with the grey bushy eyebrows. One difference is that he does not have his wizard hat but has the same long grey hair as Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter line. Gandalf has a brown staff as his accessory.
Saruman the White makes his first appearance in the Lord of the Rings theme in 2013. In this variant, LEGO describes him wearing a white kirtle outfit with some very nice detailing. He also has a pair of white legs that you can switch out. He has a double-sided head with a stern look on one side and an evil smile on the other. One note about his head is it is the same one as Count Dooku as Christopher Lee portrays both characters. Saruman has a white beard with grey patches. He has long white hair and a white cape. His staff of power consists of multiple pieces.
Grima Wormtongue is an exclusive minifigure to the set. He has a mostly black torso with some brown printing for his robe. There is also printing for his medallion. Wormtongue also has a pale double-sided head with a worried look on one side and an angry look on the other. He has long black hair and a black cape. Along with his pale face, Wormtongue also has pale hands to go with his look. His accessory is a short knife.
The Uruk-hai minifigure is the same one that we got in the Orc Forge (9476) set. Both sides of the torso have some very nice detailing for their brown leather armor. There is more leather printing on the legs as well. It has a double-sided head with an angry look on one side and an even angrier look on the other. The angrier side also has the white hand printing across the face. It wears body armor and a helmet that also has Saruman’s symbol. It’s weapons include a sword and shield that also has the white hand emblem.
The Orc Pitmaster is also another minifigure that was in the Orc Forge set. It a brown torso which represents leather printing and brown legs. It has a single sided head with an angry expression. It’s accessories include a hook on a rope and a long axe.
The Great Eagle, possibly Gwaihir the Windlord, is included in the set. It consists of three pieces, the head and body piece and two wings. It is the same eagle that is in the Battle at the Black Gate (79007). The body/head piece is most brown with a darker brown for the tail feathers. The head shows his yellow eyes and a gold beak although the head itself does not move. The feet is just a big block with some indentation to make it show the talons. There are four studs on the back to let a minifigure ride it. The wings of the Great Eagle are huge. The wingspan is measured at a whopping 7 inches. A very nice addition to the set.
There are two parts to the build, the Ent and the Orthanc tower itself. The Ent isn’t named in the set so I’m not sure if it is supposed to be Treebeard or not. First off, it looks much like your typical mech build but it looks ok. The top of the head has two tree branches and areas where minifigures can stand on, much like when Merry and Pippen was on Treebeard. The actual head is a little bit lower and is at shoulder level. The eyes are on 1×1 tiles and are uneven so it looks like it just had a stroke. In the chin area of the head, if you can call it that, are some dark green vines which could act as a beard.
On the back of the body, there is a knob that you use to rotate the right arm at the shoulder. The swinging arm is meant to smash things or to grab a minifigure and toss them around. Both arms have elbow joints and movable fingers.
The waist is able to turn a full 360 degrees but the beard vines will hit the hip joints. The legs are able to swivel in wide range of poses. The thighs and feet are very bulky but that bulkiness makes the Ent balance well. There are also ankle joints that gives it more flexibility.
Overall, the Ent is a pretty good figure with some nice features. I also like the detailing of the Ent as a whole from the vine beard to the mushroom and the leaves that are growing on the feet.
Now to the piece de resistance, the Tower of Orthanc. After you finish building the tower, you will be amazed how tall it actually is. It is by far the largest set I’ve built so far. I’m currently having a little trouble on where to display it though. The completed tower stands 73 cm/28.75 inches from base to the highest point of the spires.
Dungeon: The dungeon area of Orthanc has what your typical dungeon has: skulls, bones, and a rat. There is also a ball and chain for a previous, unlucky individual. On the back wall are some stickers a prison door, wargs, and some creepy eyes. The trapdoor from the entrance hall drops down too this area. On the exterior, there are stairs that lead up to the main entrance. The outer black beams of rock are curved as you go up the tower.
Entrance Hall: The floor above the dungeon is the entrance hall. In the back of the entrance, is the front doors. If you look in from the front entrance of the tower, you get a good looking view up. There’s not much to see in the room except for a couple of blue banners with the white hand symbol (stickered). There’s also an axe on each side of the room. In the left-middle area of the room is a table with a little grey statue. On the ceiling is a chandelier that has a feature that I’ll explain in the next room. Finally, there is the trap door in the middle of the floor that leads to the dungeon. The outside of the tower is built pretty much as like the lower level.
Throne Room (Palantir Room): The third level of Orthanc is the throne room where the Palantir sits on a black stand in the middle of the room. If you push up the chandelier from the entrance room, the stand lights up by the way of a red light brick. The Palantir will light up only if the lighter green side is on the bottom. It is also possible for it to light up with the darker side down but it has to be at a certain spot and plus, it won’t be as bright. Towards the back of the room is Saruman’s throne and on either side of the throne are tall yellow lamps. On the left side of the room is a bookshelf with potions and a 2×2 sticker tile that shows some kind of recipe of a potion. The bookshelf on the other side of the room also has a potion and a letter of some sort. Facing the exterior is the balcony where Saruman rallies the Uruk-hai before before their march to Helm’s Deep. There is a 2×2 tile with a middle stud for you to stand Saruman. On the exterior part, there are plenty of tooth-spike pieces and pillars that give the tower a lot of detailing. The whole room is very similar to the The Wizard Battle (79005) set with some slight differences.
Alchemy Room: The next room up is the alchemy room where Saruman and Grima Wormtongue created the bomb that is used to blow a hole in Helm’s Deep and the finished device is sitting gingerly on the floor. In the middle of the room is a cauldron with grey studs that you can pour out. Right above the cauldron towards the back are a couple of unlit torches. On the right side sits a couple more potions. On the exterior are some windows that use arch pieces with a lot of black bars. In my opinion, this part of the build was the most annoying because the vertical pieces are easily knocked off as you’re building until support pieces are put on to hold them in place. But once completed, the exterior looks amazing.
Library: The fifth level of the tower is the library. I think this part of Orthanc is probably the most detailed part of the whole set. One of the main things you see in the library are the pictures of the Order of Wizards: Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast, and the two blue wizards Morinehtar and Romestamo, although one is grey. On the left side of the wall is a map of an unknown place and a bookcase is on the right side of the room. On the table is a 2×2 sticker tile of the Ring of Barahir. There are also a couple of books in the room. One is an unknown book with a nice design and the other has The Eye of Sauron on both sides of the cover. Towards the back are a couple of torches and a couple off skulls on the ground. On the ceiling is a turntable piece that is used for something on the next floor.
Attic: In the final room of the Tower of Orthanc is the attic and storage area for random items. The room is accessed from the folding staircase that is opened by the turntable from the ceiling of the room below. On the left side of the room are some pieces of Uruk-hai armor with the white hand symbols. The helmet is resting on a clear minifigure head. In the back of room sits a sword on a table. Next to the table is a barrel with three different colored staves. On the back wall hangs a blue banner with a sticker of the Eye. The wall also has two keys which represent The Two Towers of Orthanc and Barad-dur. On the exterior of the Tower, you will find more of the tooth pieces protruding out from the side of the structure.
Pinnacle of Orthanc: At the very top of the Tower, you’ll find the Pinnacle of Orthanc. It is a platform where Gandalf was trapped by Saruman and where he was later saved by the Great Eagle. There’s not much to see on the platform because the exterior spires are where the details are. Just look at it and be amazed on how LEGO designed them to look very similar to the ones in the movie.
The Tower of Orthanc as a whole set is one of the best sets I’ve built in a long time. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, this is one of the sets you have to pick up. All the detailing that LEGO has put into not only the tower itself but in the Ent too is absolutely amazing not to mention the sheer size of the structure blew me away. There are many details in the set that you will find that played a big role in the movies and you can also remake some of the scenes as well. I enjoyed building it very much although there are some parts that you build that get a little repetitive. One of the things that LEGO could’ve done to make the set even worth it is to include a couple more minifigures. Although you get five minifigures, which a couple are exclusive to the set, maybe a couple of the Hobbits or Uruk-hai/Orcs would have been nice. The price of the set might scare some potential buyers away but it’s worth the $200 price tag. Overall, the Tower of Orthanc makes a great play set or a display piece. Now if I can just find a place to put it.