Between both of Aloy’s Horizon journeys, I’ve spent dozens of hours meticulously dismantling robotic foes big and small. Scanning for weakpoints, learning what parts make those creatures tick – and which parts will make them go boom – is one of the most thrilling aspects of Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West.
So I gained a bit of newfound appreciation for these virtual technical marvels as, rather than tearing one apart, I got to construct one with PlayStation and LEGO’s collaboration, a Horizon Tallneck LEGO set. Coming in at 1,222 pieces and standing over a foot tall once fully built, the first LEGO set inspired by the Horizon universe offers a new perspective on these creatures, and gave me a newfound appreciation for how they’re assembled, even if it’s a brick-ified approximation. The set is a ton of fun to build and see come together as you carefully piece the Tallneck together, with a pretty adorable base, Aloy minifig, and Watcher mini-build to boot. It’s a design clearly made with love for the source material, and one that should make any hunter happy.
It’s first worth calling out the impressive work and thought put into its base, which is meant to emulate the naturalistic post-post-apocalyptic setting of the Horizon games. The sturdy base actually takes up a decent chunk of the build itself – a couple of the set’s eight bags go into fortifying its base, and here, as LEGO is often wont to do, it hides some colorful Easter eggs into its design. The bricks used underneath the structure partially reflect the dichotomy of natural, earthy tones and bright streaks of color that make up Horizon’s palette. Bright blues and oranges are a core staple of Aloy’s outfit, and can be found in the brickwork laying the foundation. It’s a nice touch given the Tallneck itself will be more uniform in its black, white, and gold makeup.
But after slapping on the grassy field, there are a few neat additions here as well. Aloy’s world is full of bright, beautiful trees, and this set has one front and center as well. But it’s the dilapidated streetlight that offers one of the cooler elements to the board. Wrapping a piece that simulates a vine overgrown on the hanging light may seem like a small thing, but it sells such a key element of the Horizon universe in such a concise bit of the package that really completes the scene.
The rest of the field offers a nice bit of organized chaos – you’re scattering points that will both hold up the Tallneck, as well as pieces of flora and stone that give the illusion this isn’t a carefully manicured scene. Aloy herself is also included, and it’s as good an approximation of the character as I could hope for in minifig form. There’s a particularly great detail on the head and hair – her head will have a Focus so that no matter which of the two faces you choose, one is hidden by the hair and another is pointing in the right direction. And there’s a small, clear circular cutout in the hair that, as you place it over the head, does a solid job of recreating the look of Aloy’s in-game focus. And she’s not the only land-level figure – a quick bit of the entire build is a small Watcher, a nice bonus that similarly lends the set more grounding in Horizon’s worlds. And there’s even different translucent pieces to change the Watcher’s eye for its alert levels.
Constructing the Tallneck itself is a joy to see and piece together. You start with the body and neck of the machine, slowly assembling the plating that Aloy would tear off any other creature (as any player knows, Tallnecks are there to be climbed, not hurt). The scope and size of the project starts to come into view as you attach the neck to the body, slowly assembling approximations of portions of the beasts you’d otherwise be climbing up in Horizon. There’s nothing too complex in its design as to make the set confusing – we’re not dealing with all the inner workings of these robots, after all – but you get an appreciation for the sleek design of the machines that’s been smartly translated into LEGO form as you progress. The cascading effect of the plating on the neck is one of the piece’s most eye-catching elements. And given Tallnecks typically stand upright, don’t expect to tilt its neck down like a giraffe bending for water, but you can slightly shift it back and forth, using a larger piece of plating to either hold the neck in place or let it tilt back.
The neck isn’t the only posable part of the whole production. Each set of front and back legs are essentially mirrored builds of each other, so there’s certainly some repetition here. But they’re quick and easy portions to put together, and again offer some appreciation for the layers that go into both the machines in-game and the LEGO model of them. With white outer plating masking most of the constructions underneath, you can also shift the legs at where they attach to the body, and move the adorable claw-like feet to help it balance as well. The set offers specific places on which to lock in the Tallneck, but you could technically pose it offset too.
The tallneck’s iconic top is another fun symmetrical aspect of the build – you essentially slowly piece together two halves and their connective tissue, layering on elements to add to the blocky facade of plates and metalwork. Along with it are the creature’s antennas on its head and the tail-like protrusions from the body are placed, and you have a bit of freedom in how you would like to angle them. Like the in-game Tallnecks, the LEGO builds are not meant to be particularly mobile, but if you’re not using the anchor points suggested, there’s still a nice bit of freedom in how you’d like to have the Tallneck stand.
And when it’s complete, it’s quite the imposing, beautiful figure, standing at about 13.5 inches tall. There are several spots you could attach Aloy to mimic her climb up the creature, including some fins sticking out its neck that should be familiar to players or, of course, having her sit comfortably on the Tallneck’s head, surveying the world around her. She may be observing my rather drab office compared to the beautiful vistas of Guerrilla’s games, but it’s clear a lot of love for those games and attention to detail went into this set, and it should make for a pretty awesome showpiece for any fans. This is just LEGO’s first stab at taking on Guerrilla’s impressive bestiary of mechanical marvels, and I certainly hope it’s not the last.
Jonathon Dornbush is IGN’s Senior Features Editor, PlayStation Lead, and host of Podcast Beyond! He’s the proud dog father of a BOY named Loki. Talk to him on Twitter @jmdornbush.