A while back, I decided that I wanted to recreate Gandalf rescuing Sam and Frodo from Mt. Doom after they destroyed the One Ring. Because my preferred method of assembling a Set That Never Was is to mix and match components from different sets, Volcano Exploration Base seemed like an obvious starting point to building the scene. However, the prohibitive cost of the set (even used) required a sensible compromise solution: purchasing just the volcano from an eBay seller who broke apart sets for minifigures and individual components. Once acquired, there was the issue of the Great Eagle: the one LEGO included in Battle at the Black Gate, which also supplied the Gandalf the White you see pictured on its back, clearly wasn’t a good fit. For plenty of good reasons, LEGO cannot make everything close to scale in all its sets. However, Gandalf looks rather comical when placed as a rider on the Great Eagle.
The Eagle Legend Beast set from the Chima line provided an inexpensive solution. Its fierceness and size offer a much better mount for flying into Mount Doom. The stickers and coloration of this particular bird, however, are definite drawbacks. Ideally, I’d possess the pieces necessary to use the set’s instructions as a template for building a more faithful recreation of a Great Eagle. Alas, that wasn’t the case. Nonetheless, the Eagle Legend Beast served its repurposing well. Even with the wrong colors and markings born by the stickers, it still made for a more believable mount than the Great Eagle LEGO issued for its Lord of the Rings and Hobbit lines.
Finally, Shelob Attacks provided the Frodo and Sam minifigures for the build. Their attire is a little too pristine, but that was generally true for all the characters throughout the trilogy.
With all the components gathered together, it was time to build the volcano. Although the packaging clearly shows the design doesn’t capture the look of the lava flow that the hobbits found themselves trapped in, I went ahead and assembled it per the instructions. As was the case with the build for the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, some kind of future second effort is probably likely in order to build a more faithful replication of the scene. To do that, though, a greater supply of transparent bright orange bricks is absolutely in order. Still, the final result strikes me as sufficiently faithful to the spirit of the scene in the same manner that many other LEGO sets simply attempt to create.
The next Set That Never Was post will, as promised in the previous post in this series, demonstrate what happens when incorporating elements from sets produced by some of LEGO’s competitors.