10316 The Lord of the Rings: Rivendell features an incredible selection of minifigures, including the complete Fellowship of the Ring. This group also appeared in 2012, spread between various sets from the original range.
Eleven years separate the original versions and those designed today, hence some updates are inevitable. This article accordingly compares the previous minifigures with their successors.
The minifigures from 2012 shown on the left, with those from 2023 on the right.
The most significant difference between the original Hobbits and their modern equivalents is the use of dual-moulded legs, representing their bare feet. Additionally, the variation between these torsos shows how LEGO printing has developed, with crisper lines.
Both iterations of Frodo display expressions depicting the character’s reaction to being stabbed with a Morgul-blade. Again, the design style has shifted and seems less exaggerated. Also, both minifigures wield Sting and the updated weapon incorporates a narrower blade, with a textured grip.
Sam’s attire has been updated, but maybe more interesting is the hair element shared between them. The mould remains the same and includes brilliant texture, which is testament to the high quality of the original piece. However, the hair colour has been darkened and I think dark orange is effective.
Ironically, Merry’s hair has changed in the opposite direction, with medium nougat replacing the earlier dark orange. The pattern on the waistcoat has changed colour too, now featuring metallic gold paisley decoration, rather than yellow.
The different styles of torso decoration between minifigures are interesting, as the new versions are cleaner than those from 2012, which captured more creases. The variation looks particularly noticeable on Pippin, whose scarf was originally far messier and whose buttons are now hidden behind his lapel.
Gandalf the Grey
While the Hobbits take advantage of the dual-moulded legs introduced since 2012, Gandalf the Grey incorporates the dress element released in 2018. The original minifigure included standard legs, which are more versatile for play, but the wizard’s revised appearance is substantially more detailed.
Aragorn is the only member of the Fellowship not wearing his travelling attire, instead recreating the character’s formal garb from the Council of Elrond. However, the earlier minifigure highlights another alteration in torso style, as the new minifigures lack flesh printing on their chests. Given the continued colour matching issues, this decision was sensible.
Boromir’s minifigure has undergone a surprising degree of change since 2012, despite featuring the same attire. Once again, the torso design is visibly simplified, while the legs are now entirely dark blue. I understand the reasoning behind the original dark bluish grey section, but prefer the uniform colour.
Both minifigures are equipped with Boromir’s shield, displaying the same pattern. Here, the new design is more detailed than the older one, partly because the smooth shield allows more space for printing. The golden ring around the boss is particularly appealing and accurate to the films.
On contrast to Boromir, Legolas’ costume remains quite similar to the original, albeit with certain updates to the colours. The dual-moulded legs are certainly welcome and I like how the modern hair component extends over his shoulders. Even so, I still think the blonde colour seems rather pale.
Gimli was arguably the most impressive of the original Fellowship of the Ring minifigures, given the exceptional decoration on his helmet and the complexity of his beard. I am surprised that the older helmet has been replaced, although the new piece looks fantastic too. The beards differ as well, but the most significant change is the use of medium legs, of course.
The helmet is interesting, as metallic gold replaces bronze in some areas. This blend of colours looks wonderful, but I wish the moulded armour panels from the 2012 helmet had been retained for the new one. Also, the helmets are interchangeable, despite the bushy beards underneath.
I think minifigure designs took an enormous step forward around 2011 and 2012, becoming far more intricate and more focused on accuracy to any source material. However, this comparison shows another interesting update since then. The use of dual-moulded parts was inevitable, but the simpler torsos seemingly reflect a conscious change in style.
Facial expressions have also become less comical on the whole, while features like cheekbones are de-emphasised. The retention of some features is notable too, as the Hobbits’ hairstyles are unchanged and Gandalf remains familiar too, despite the modern robe.
Do you think the new minifigures represent an improvement, or do you prefer the older versions in some cases? Let us know in the comments.