Now that some set box images have been leaked I almost feel like it's not worth moving on with Return of the King. Plus, the Hobbit movie adaptation(s) is going to be different from the book so that will weigh on the design of the sets.
But, I'm nothing if not a glutton for completion so here we go.
Our first scene is Smeagol and Deagol (I'm not typing in the é every time, sorry) fishing and then fighting and then dying/killing over the ring. Probably not a good set. Followed by a meeting of the remaining Fellowship at Isengard to have a last word with Saruman. Seeing as Grima stabs him, then he plummets to die on a spiked wheel, it's probably not a good set. However, that scene isn't in the theatrical version so it may not make it to a Lego set.
Meduseld - The first thing I can see being a set is the hall of Meduseld in Edoras. The group is back together for the most part, they are hailing their victory at Helm's Deep, Merry and Pippen are dancing and everyone is drinking. Lego likes to make medieval houses so having one with a lot of Rohirrim and neat cups would be cool.
Gollum, Sam and Frodo - The three travel through many wastes and rocky outcroppings, there are only going to be a couple of times that a good set might come up. Early one we'll skip their travels.
Pippen sneaks a peak at the Palantir, gets in trouble, he and Gandalf leave. Arwen is leaving for Valinor but has a vision and comes back to Rivendell. Sadly, I can see her leaving with all her house accouterments and elf friends/servants as being a set. Lots of elves, some horses and trees. They don't do anything, but I bet you TLG will try to get some girls out of this by making an Arwen set or two. (See Fellowship)
Steward - The sword of Narsil is reforged and Gandalf and Pippen meet Denethor, which I can see as a set. Three minigifs, a guard, the throne and the steward's chair. Also, Denethor might have the broken Horn of Gondor. Denethor is a crazy person so I wouldn't be surprised if he had an Emperor Palpetine type face.
Also, just realized. Star Wars did flesh colored minifigs, I wonder if LOTR will do the same?
The Beacon is lit. This will probably be a set. Merry climbing up a little tower with some thatch and pitch while two guards look on.
After this there's a lot of fighting in this so let's just quickly sum up what's left so I can get back to work.
The Rohirrim assemble, Frodo and Sam go past Minas Morgul up the stairs to Shellob. Frodo is captured but Sam rescues him. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli leave Theoden and take the Dimholt road to the Dwimoberg mountain and recruit the King of the Dead. (I'll have to look this up officially, the movie script just calls him the king of the dead.) Orcs attack Osgilliath, Denethor hates Faramir and sends him back to basically get killed and then the Orcs attack Minas Tirath. The Rohirrim show up and attack, the army's of the south show up and then the army of the dead arrive and wipe out the remaining bits of the Army of Mordor. Eowyn takes out the Witch King of Agmar with Merry's help.
Sets out of this will be:
Shellob - Sam and Frodo vs. a giant spider.
Osgilliath - A few orcs, Faramir and some ruined buildings.
Minas Tirith - Aside from a throne room, there will be at least three battle sets for the Battle of Pellenor Fields/Breach of Minas Tirith. I see one set with Gothmog (that disfigured orc) on a warg with a siege machine or catapult. A big set with the outer wall of Minas Tirith, some Gondorian soldiers and orcs. And an interior fight set with Pippen, Gandalf and the Witch King. Finally two concluding sets, one with Theoden on a horse, maybe with Eomer, as well as at least one Oliphaunt. The other being some dead warriors engaged in battle with Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn.
Although the corsairs from the south have ships and Lego likes boats, I don't know that these are important enough to make into sets, but I could be really wrong.
Dwimoberg - A set of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in the kingdom of the dead would be awesome. A trans-green castle, lots of skull minifig heads and neon green soldiers. Wicked.
Cirith Ungol - Frodo is capture, Sam goes to save him. Sam's luck holds as the orcs end up killing themselves. But the tower would be a good set, plus some uruk-hai, orcs, Frodo and Sam.
Frodo and Sam in Orc Gear - Marching into the vast emptiness leading up to Mount Doom and past the Eye of Sauron, the two hobbits dress as orcs to get past the last of the army.
The Eye of Sauron - It's the most iconic symbol in the whole of the movie and should only be dealt with here. How they'd build it I have no idea, but it has been done. The thing is, Lego won't build on that scale. Much like the Republic Y-Wing I built, TLG group isn't worried about scale. The tower will be big the same way the Death Star was big. It's big enough to be the biggest thing in the series, but not stupid enough to preclude actually buying it. The same will go for The Eye of Sauron and possibly a Minas Tirith set.
Mount Doom - All their marching and trudging and fighting off Gollum will ultimately pay off by their scene inside the volcano of Mt. Doom. Lots of trans-orange and brown, disheveled Frodo and Sam minifigs and Gollum. How they're going to do the ring I have no idea. Maybe a gold 1x1 rounded plate?
The Black Gate - As a distraction, Aragorn leads a last distraction to the black gate where they fight to give Frodo more time. It's not really a needed set but I can see it happening, especially as it'll now be the new Aragorn in his king minifig printing.
Rescue by the Eagles - I think an exterior of Mt. Doom with Frodo, Sam, Gandlaf and a couple Eagles would be a good set.
After that the movie is over as far as playsets are concerned. There's the recovery, the crowing ceremony and the march back to the Shire. There's the marriage of Rosie and Sam and the eventual departure of Gandalf, Celeborn, Galadriel, Elrond, Bilbo and Frodo.
So, my guess is there will be a lot of Castle line like playsets for LOTR. Which means the sets will be either really big or really small. As you can see from the leaked images, there are already sets with a LOT of figures and minifigs drive up prices. This will be an expensive line but it's only a preview of the minifig smorgasbord that is The Hobbit. Along with Bilbo and Gandalf, there are 13 dwarves and for the most part they are all doing everything together!
If I were Lego, I'd release the Twelve Dwarves and the Nine Fellowship Companions (as well as maybe the Nazgul, because technically there are nine of them as well) as their own sets and then go light on the figure count per each set. I feel that'd be the best way for everyone to enjoy the sets but not feel like they are missing anything from the story itself.
I hope you enjoyed reading all this and if you have any suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them.