Back in the start of April, I had finally scraped together the funds needed to cross one of the big hitters off of my wants list for 2023, the Diamond Valley.
It had taken me a couple of months, and I had been playtesting several sweet, sweet decks with the valley – including, of course, a top hot Lich build.
Everything was set. The money was burning in my pocket, I had even almost found the copy of the card I wanted to buy, but then…
Rival nerderies approached and foiled my plan…
Ooh, the choices
Yep, this was the target. But then I found that the money I had burning holes in my pocket, was also pretty much exactly the amount needed to buy this:
Ooh, the choices. The hardship of having to make priorities. The sheer First World problems of it all! What to do?
Okay, at the end, it really wasn’t that difficult…
The Rivendell set just looked so incredible, and I was sure it would be both a tremendous building experience as well as a sweet piece of art in the nerding cave when finished. I had had my eyes fixed on it, ever since it was spoiled by LEGO. So I bought the biggest box of LEGO I have ever had my fingers on.
Which of course meant that the acquiring of unique lands from Arabian Nights had to wait another couple of months (quarters/years…). My reasoning went like this: I had a lot of cards already. I did not have a beautiful LEGO Rivendell set.
Or rather: I really wanted the LEGO set. It just oozed of all the great feelings and legendary atmosphere of Lord of the Rings in general and Rivendell in particular. Because it is such a vast set (more than 6000 pieces), the designers had spared no detail, and I was certain that I would not regret this buy.
How is one to consider what is worth more or more important: A card I can play and have fun with numerous times or a single great experience that will be “done” once the build is assembled?
I don’t know. I was unsure whether the LEGO set was a limited set with a short window for purchasing it; I know Diamond Valleys are not (even though they may rise in price).
My final reasoning was that playing Diamond Valley would not yield a surplus of greatness from my Magic playing big enough to outweigh the greatness of building the legendary home of Elrond.
The building experience
I have already used the word “experience” several times, but I assure you, that it is the correct word to use in relation to this box of LEGO. It was simply amazing – and not a very similar feeling to stacking 8’s horizontally, as I did when I was seven years old!
Before purchasing it, I had read and seen several reviews (yep, that is a huge thing around the intarwebs) of the set. One of them tried to estimate the amount of hours it would take to build this. He reckoned that a very experienced builder would probably still have to find around 12 hours in his/her schedule; one with some experience would use around 16 hours and the estimate for a rather or completely unexperienced builder was the use of around 24 hours. Twenty-four. Hours. That is a long time building LEGO!
This is pure building time. Not taking into account breaks, sleeping, eating, saying hi to your family or other such distractions. At least 12 hours of purely putting little bricks together! Probably more, as I am in no way a very experienced builder.
But I was sceptic. I have never quite understood why there are age-distinctions on each LEGO box. I have always just thought that if you can see the pictures in the instruction manual, you can build whatever is in the box. And, I mean, how long can it take to put together around 6000 LEGO bricks?
Well, my skepticism was driven in the ground before I even reached the third bag (out of 49!). In other words: I learned a lesson…
See this was something completely different than anything LEGO I have ever done before. It was something different from anything, really, I have ever done before. Simply an immersive experience. It was in some ways overwhelming and it was also in a sense humbling.
I know these are big words, but I was actually really surprised about my feelings about building this set. I made sure that it was my project. My seven year old son could look at the building progress, but he was not allowed to help me. My wife who is also a LEGO fan was allowed to sit next to me knitting or whatever she wanted, but could not expect to be a part of the actual assembling of bricks. This was my project.
And I really enjoyed it!
One thing, of course, is that I find LEGO amazing in general: I always have a hard time not buying sets for my son; I try to find as much time as possible to play with him; We go to LEGOland and LEGO House as often as (financially) possible (it is insanely expensive!); and more than once I have used LEGO as a gift for my better half (and she was happy about it).
Another thing is that this build is so choke-full of insane, complex details from the description of Rivendell in the books and films. I am even not that big a LOTR nerd, so half of the details have probably gone above my head. But the attention to details in this build is vast. It is one of the really cool thing about LEGO in recent years, that they dare to make really big, very expensive models where they don’t have to shave details to fit better into a price category people can afford – possibly because we are a whole class of nostalgic nerds with a lot of disposable income…
Finally the set just had it all in terms of building techniques. I have been following a couple of LEGO blogs the last year or so, and often they write about different building techniques. I have to admit, that I did not really understand what was meant by this (“A LEGO piece is obviously designed to be put on top another LEGO piece..:”). But I found out that it is a whole thing. And the designers of the set has really gone to great lengths to both make it an enjoyable as well as complex and beautiful build. And they have not shied away from showing off…
I still need three Diamond Valley. I can’t get around that in any way.
But I regret nothing with this purchase. Actually I would recommend everyone with an interest in intricate LEGO builds and Lord of the Rings to purchase this set as soon as possible. Put the box on a table, get your TV going with the Peter Jackson trilogy of the books, and build away.
Even without being disturbed by Jacksons masterpiece, I must have spent around 16-18 hours of pure, joyful, building time on this, The Last Homely House East of the Sea.
And now I can enjoy looking at it – I have yet to find a suitable way to display it, but I have made some drawings of a bar for my nerd cave, where a build-in shelf with room for Elronds house are most certainly in order.