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While there have been many companies that have worked with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit licenses, it was really Toybiz that crushed it. They produced a wide range of figures of high quality that appealed to kids and collectors alike, and were a big seller for the company. If they ever do a 'Toys That Made Us' on LOTR, the Toybiz series will figure prominently.
But it's been a long time since someone attacked the license with any vigor - twenty years! Now Diamond Select is doing it up right, and has already produced three waves of two figures each, with a fourth wave already on pre-order and more to come. I'll be checking out the first two waves tonight, including Frodo, a Nazgul, Legolas, and Gimli. I'll also be reviewing the Aragorn and a Moria Orc, along with the build-a-figure of Sauron, at a later date.
These guys run around $25 or so depending on the retailer, and you
can sometimes save a couple bucks if you order the wave of two
figures at once.
Packaging - ***1/2
This is not the normal DST packaging. While most of their series use the 'bookshelf' style package they've had for years, these are in hanger boxes. The big benefit here, which I'm giving them extra credit for, is the collector friendly nature. Instead of tearing up the package to free the figure, these can be opened without any real damage. The large window also shows off the figure and accessories nicely.
Sculpting - Frodo, Nazgul, Gimli ***1/2, Legolas ***
The detail work on the entire line has been excellent, with lots of textures and small details everywhere.
The line is in a 7" scale, which means Frodo is about 5 1/2" tall, Gimli is 6", Legolas is just over 7", and the Nazgul is close to 7 1/2".
Obviously, the Nazgul is mainly about the small details on the armor and clothing, like the textures, rivets, wrinkles, and folds. He has no face, but the cowl is deep enough to create plenty of shadow to hide the interior. The sculpt doesn't work particularly well with the articulation - more on that in the appropriate section - but it's still a great looking figure.
Frodo has a solid head sculpt, with very detailed curly hair. He's a dead on Frodo from certain angles, but from others he's more like a very close cosplayer. The work on the details is also solid, including the big hairy feet, and the small buckles and buttons on the clothing.
Gimli has the best portrait, and the detail work on the complex beard is pretty amazing. The nose is just about perfect too, and of the four, his is the best sculpting work overall. Both he and Legolas have the more intricate work on the armor, chain mail, and patterned leather, giving them a slight edge.
Unfortunately, while Legolas shares the terrific sculpting on the body, his portrait is the weakest. He's definitely cosplayer quality, with one of those faces that is close, but not quite there.
Paint - ***1/2
All four of these figures sport exceptional paint operations, with clean lines and a very realistic appearance.
The work on the faces of Gimli, Frodo, and Legolas is super clean, with sharp eyes, even eyebrows, and perfect lips. The hair color is appropriate on all three, and the detail work on the smaller details of the costume has clean lines between a wide variety of colors.
Of course, the Nazgul isn't quite the same. Various shades of black make up his look, sort of the Johnny Cash of Middle Earth. But there is some variation to call out different materials, like the cloth robe and the metal armor.
Articulation - Frodo ***1/2; Legolas, Gimli ***; Nazgul **1/2
These figures are designed to be very articulated, but the sculpts do get in the way occasionally.
Frodo has the best combination of sculpt and articulation. The ball neck has plenty of lean and tilt, and the rotating hinge shoulder, elbows and wrists can manage decent arm poses. The legs are particularly good with hinge hips, cut thighs, rotating hinge knees, and ankles that can manage good rocker movement. The torso can turn a bit, although the long coats on all these figures make any torso movement slight at best.
The Nazgul is on the opposite end. While sporting most of the same joints, the long robe and sleeves restricts them heavily. The legs are particularly affected, and you won't get much more than a narrow stance. Even putting the swords in his hands is difficult, thanks to the stiff, long sleeves.
Gimli and Legolas fall in between. Long hair, Gimli's beard, and various armor pieces restrict many of the joints. You can still get some decent stances, even deep ones, but some key poses - like Legolas drawing his bow - are out of the question.
Accessories - Gimli ***1/2; Nazgul, Legolas, Frodo ***;
Everyone comes with one or two bits for the BAF of Sauron. Regular readers know that these parts get every figure to a **1/2 here, and then we look at what's added.
For Frodo, there's the small vial and of course, Sting. Sting fits inside the sheath permanently attached to his belt.
Legolas comes with three arrows and his bow. His quiver is already on his back, and the arrows can easily sit inside. There's also the two sheaths for his knives, but sadly, these are not included.
Gimli has the best assortment, coming with the three deadly axes. I wish I could get them to all attach to his body, but it wasn't possible. There's a small holster for one on his left hip, and that works great. There's the two loops for the other two - one on his back, one on his belt - but these are sculpted too tightly to the body. I was able to bend the one on his back far enough to get the large axe to slip inside, but the other was a lost cause.
Gimli also has the only extra hands. He comes wearing some grasping hands, but there's two tight grips to use with the ax accessories as well. They swap easily.
Finally, there's the Nazgul. Technically, he should do the best in this category, thanks to the two swords, one knife, and two sheaths he comes with. However, there's really nothing you can do with the scabbards, since there's no place to attach them. I was able to slip the smaller knife sheath between his robes and the fit was tight enough to hold it in place, but it's not a perfect solution.
Fun Factor - ***1/2
While some of the articulation is constrained by the sculpts, these are still a lot of fun. They look terrific on the shelf, and I'm hopeful we'll see the full Fellowship before too long.
Value - **1/2
At $25 - $30 each, these are pretty much in line with most of the 'collector' series in a 7" scale right now. The overall quality is in line with the price point, and fits the market.
Things to Watch Out For -
Not much. I had no issues with the various accessories, and was never afraid of any breakage.
Overall - Nazgul, Legolas ***; Frodo, Gimli ***1/2
Of the four, my favorite was easily Gimli. Great sculpting and paint work, and he was still quite posable. He also had a nice set of accessories, all quite useful.
Frodo was good as well, and I was particularly happy with his articulation. Legolas has some sculpt issues, but they are pretty minor. The poor Nazgul suffers from the difficulty with getting any real poses out of him, but he can hang out in the back of the group, standing in a foreboding manner.
There's alreadly the third wave available - Aragorn and the Moria Orc - and I'll be covering them shortly. You can also preorder Gandalf and the Uruk-Hai, and I expect we'll see the rest of the Fellowship soon, each one paired with some additional character.
Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - Frodo, Gimli, Nazgul ***1/2; Legolas ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Frodo ***1/2; Gimli, Legolas ***; Nazgul **
Accessories - Gimli ***1/2; Frodo, Legolas, Nazgul ***
Fun Factor - Frodo, Gimli, Legolas ***1/2; Nazgul ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - Frodo, Gimli ***1/2; Legolas, Nazgul ***
Where to Buy
Online options include these site sponsors:
- Entertainment Earth has the singles for $25, and the sets of two for each wave for $50.
- or you can search ebay for a deal.
Related Links -
Another company working with the license right now is Asmus, but they are doing it in sixth scale. The last review was the Death Frock Arwen.
You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.
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