The five best LEGO sets based on book-to-movie properties

With new LEGO sets inspired by The Lord of the Rings, it seems the perfect time to take a look at some of the finest models inspired by books that were adapted for the big screen.

How many books have struggled to translate well into films, or scare off movie studios after a single rotten adaption? LEGO has made licensed themes around critical flops, such as The Lone Ranger and Prince of Persia, but it seems their few themes based on book-to-movie adaptions have fared well in particular.

The LEGO Group notably bases each of these sets on the film’s content rather than the original books. So, while you may not see a set of Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party on store shelves, you can still catch Gilderoy Lockhart’s book signing at Flourish and Blotts in 75978 Diagon Alley.

There are so many great sets to be celebrated before 10316 The Lord of the Rings Rivendell is released in March. From Hobbits to Hogwarts, here are the top five sets based on book-to-movie properties…

5. 79018 The Lonely Mountain (The Hobbit)

The only set on this list from The Hobbit trilogy, and the only non 18+ or direct-to-consumer set, 79018 The Lonely Mountain is an oddity among its peers. In a hit-or-miss theme stuffed with molded wargs, cave trolls and goblin kings, none stand quite so magnificent as Smaug. Featuring dark-red ball-jointed wings, killer elements and fantastic printing, Smaug is a figure that truly wows on a shelf or suspended on fishing wire.

He’s not the only spectacle in this set – a golden treasure hoard awaits, as well as beautiful Dwarvish architecture made from uncommon sand-green bricks. Unlike every other set on this list, this is achieved with fewer than 1,000 pieces.

4. 21326 Winnie the Pooh (numerous; definitely not Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey)

Oh, bother. 21326 Winnie the Pooh is the only set on the list that’s not Harry Potter or Middle-earth themed, but it’s anything but a doozy. It fits in ample detail and a smart, economic design, like the gnarled tree and trinket-filled interior. What sets this apart from a model with a similar piece count, like 9474 The Battle of Helm’s Deep, are its colours. Helm’s Deep’s appearance is accurate, but as fantastic as that set is, some of the details get lost in the sea of grey.

Nothing is lost in Winnie the Pooh’s house, which comes down to colour more so than the bricks chosen. The grass, tree, house and characters work so incredibly well, complimenting each other without looking plain or unsightly. Every detail shines through.

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3. 10237 The Tower of Orthanc (The Lord of the Rings)

In terms of detailing becoming lost in single-coloured models, The Tower of Orthanc is an exception to the rule. This sinister tower is mostly black and dark bluish grey, but its detail and sharp shaping come through like a silhouette, a true work of art. It’s a 73-centimetre-tall spire of madness made from everyone’s favourite bricks.

With play functions like a drop-down ladder and a trapdoor leading to starved wargs, plus a light-up Palantir, there’s no dearth of features, either. The minifigures, excluding an exclusive Grima Wormtongue, are somewhat rote for a direct-to-consumer set. That being said, Treebeard is a creative addition with plenty of detail and a geared rotating arm function.

2. 71043 Hogwarts Castle (Harry Potter)

While The Tower of Orthanc strikes a mean silhouette, nothing beats the magnificent Hogwarts skyline. 71043 Hogwarts Castle’s stunning architecture speaks for itself, as well as its detailed interior. As the only microscale model on our list, it nonetheless wins for its detail and sprawling size. The graphics used in the set are fantastic as well, though perhaps its four sticker sheets are more intimidating than its 6,020-piece build.

Like many modern LEGO sets, the castle was sold out for months after release, and with good reason. As the model is made up of two halves that can be built simultaneously, it’s a fantastic choice for building with that special someone. Of course, the next entry on this list can be built by up to four people…

1. 75978 Diagon Alley (Harry Potter)

Just how does 75978 Diagon Alley beat out the iconic Hogwarts Castle, a set so large you might need a dedicated table for it? It combines everything about the other four sets on this list. Its startling size, amazing architecture, and magnificent colours are only made better by its unique building experience. While it follows the modular playbook to a degree, every shop tells an entirely different story. Together, they make up a street that’s more than a metre wide.

What Diagon Alley lacks in other measurements like depth and height, it makes up for in ease of display. You can’t reduce the footprint of Hogwarts Castle or the height of The Tower of Orthanc, but the individual buildings on Diagon Alley can be separated, or even attached back-to-back to halve the width. It makes it so much easier to display on a shelf – it could even sit alongside the books that inspired the whole franchise.

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