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2012 Award
LEGO The Lord of the Rings The Battle of Helm's Deep
(Lego Systems, Inc. $129.99 Score:)

For many tweens, teens and even adults-- when we mentioned that there would be Lord of the Rings LEGO sets it was like a dream come true. With over 1300 pieces, this is a tah-dah kind of build that recreates the fortress with towers, a main gate,  an exploding wall, a side door attack function and, of course, a catapult.  The set comes with one horse along with eight mini figures: Aragorn, Gimli, Haldir, King Theoden, Berserker Uruk-hai and three Uruk-hai.  Somehow we think this kit will end up on the holiday wish list of many "big" kids! 

Our 13 year old tester pointed out that an experienced younger LEGO builder (like his 10 year old  brother) would not have a problem with this set. "There are lots of pieces, but none of it difficult."  He thought the older label on the box was to appeal to the middle school audience that likes the books and movies. We agree.  He did note that the tower was a little more challenging to put together, but even that was not too difficult.

Our tester also thought this was a "really good" LEGO set in general. His rationale: "I have never seen most of these (Minifig) accessories before – They’re all new except for one battleaxe…" (His mother wanted us to share that this is a boy who, despite growing up in a pacifist home, knows his Lego medieval weaponry…) "The bows are more detailed, and the swords are a new model that is different from the Lego Kingdom sets. There is also a new type of pike. And they (the accessories)  all just seem more detailed."

We loved the parent report that this tester was mixing this set with other LEGO sets including the Kingdom and Star Wars to make his own fantasy story "set ups" that he builds.  His version of Middle Earth is populated with not only LOTR & LEGO Kingdom guys, but also pirates, dwarfs, an Ewok, a chef from Lego City (who is being held prisoner in the keep and being forced to cook for the general!), Prince of Persia guys, Chewbacca from StarWars, and a "space criminal."
 
And if there was any question that sometimes licensed sets prevail, check out this response to how he would spend his money:  "If I were going to spend the same amount of money on a Lego Kingdom set or a LOTR set, I would definitely choose the Lord of the Rings set."

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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