When I wrote my first two posts, several months ago, about The Lord of the Rings and LEGO, I did not expect to be writing a third, but breaking news in the last couple days has changed that.
Coming 2012, the LEGO Company is releasing a new line of minifig-scale sets, based on the upcoming Hobbit movies and their decade-old Lord of the Rings predecessors. This is probably the biggest news in LEGO licensing since Star Wars LEGO came out in 1999, because more than with any other work of literature or film, LEGO fans have spent spent the past decade either bemoaning the fact that LEGO hadn't acquired the LotR licence or arguing that such a licence was unnecessary, and possibly even undesirable.
Well, the debate about whether LEGO should get the licence has just taken a completely new turn, and a lot of people, LEGO fans and otherwise, are excited about what this means. For myself, however, I am at best cautiously interested. I am not excited, probably because I was always on the side of feeling a licence was unnecessary.
As a Tolkien fan, I don't think that LEGO sets based off the already-derivative movies are going to be the be-all and end-all of the LEGO experience. I have problems with some of Peter Jackson and Team's decisions in portraying The Lord of the Rings, and even where I don't, I feel that his interpretation is only one among many possible interpretations--and I'm not a big fan of making it into "the" interpretation.
Secondly, as a LEGO fan, I'm not a big fan of licensed themes. I don't like flesh-toned figs in place of yellow figs (though there are moments when the variety is nice), and I don't like the overpricing that comes from purchasing the licence--an overpricing that is often associated with mediocre or weak set designs. Not always--some Star Wars and most of the Indiana Jones sets were really well done... but I cannot say that same for Pirates of the Caribbean.
Does this mean I don't see potential here? Of course not. I am excited about the likelihood of new weapon moulds, new Castle-valuable parts, and lots of foliage. Even if the product is less-than-Tolkien, it should still add a lot of interesting new parts to my Castle collection. In all probability, I will acquire more of these sets than I have of many themes of late, simply because everyone knows me as the LEGO guy *and* as The Lord of the Rings guy. But I'm not getting overly excited ahead of time, and I'm definitely not getting my hopes up.