Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings are some of my favorite movies ever— and while I’ve designed within his cinematic vision before (my Balrog and Minas Tirith models are a few of note), it was an enjoyable exercise to recreate some of the films’ most iconic creatures at a tiny scale. I made these quite fast, going from start to photographs in only two days! Making a series of three felt apropos to honoring the trilogy; you might notice I’ve done one build for each movie. Read on to find out more about each build’s design process, or click the “build them” button below to access their free instruction guides!
First seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the Balrog of Moria is a fearsome demon and perhaps the most iconic of the three creatures I have selected. I built a minifigure-sized Balrog on commission several years ago; returning to the subject now felt like catching up with an old friend.
Black was the obvious primary color, but I definitely experimented with slightly more or less trans-orange “fire” in the build. Ultimately I settled on clearer color blocking for a more impactful presentation. I’ve opted for some reddish-brown in the stony base, a choice I made to suggest the ruddy light characteristic of the Balrog’s scenes in the Mines of Moria.
The fire whip uses an old-school technique to string fire together. I wasn’t able to recreate this effect in Stud.io when I input the design, but I trust people will be able to figure it out when they build the model!
When first seen in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the Fell Beast makes quite a dramatic entrance! I love how the eventual shot of the dragon takes us by surprise. I wanted to replicate the creature’s stunning debut over the Dead Marshes with this micro-model.
This was a trickier-than-expected build for me. While the base came together very quickly (the murky combination of dark tan and olive green is one of my favorites), the actual Fell Beast took some finagling. Because the Balrog had to be pure black, and I wanted to add a little variety to the series, I leaned into the greyness of the flying lizard. However, the color of the back spines and wing fillers necessitated balancing some black back into the build.
I had some difficulty getting the head/neck area just right, since initial designs felt overly stiff. Even if the final dragon is always looking left, I prefer that effect for a display piece to something too static.
Although the Mumakil (also known as Oliphaunts) make their first appearance in The Two Towers, I think they really get their chance to shine in the Pelennor Fields sequence in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. A line of gigantic cavalry elephants, laden with Harad troops and armed to the tusks? Highly memorable and imposing!
Of the three micros, I think this one is my favorite. I’m very pleased with its shape, character, proportions, color, and flexibility. I’ve never attempted any kind of elephant before, and making this one was super fun and a surprising success!
In a happy coincidence, the part I wanted for the trunk only came in red; this empowered me to lean into a red-painted look that’s thankfully accurate to the Mumakil’s battle appearance. I’m also quite pleased with how I managed to include that second set of tusks, using a short Technic liftarm!
Thanks for reading! If you have any other questions or comments about these models, feel free to leave them in the comments below.