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Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Merry and Pippin - Lord of the Rings
Sixth Scale Action Figures

Asmus Toys
Date Published: 2016-02-29
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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Merry, Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Introduction

The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains one of the three best film trilogies of all time, ranking up there with Toy Story and Hunger Games. Godfather? Not even close. Matrix? Please. Star Wars? They come close the first time around but RoJ falls a hair short, and let's not even talk about the second set of three. Maybe three times a charm for them. Sadly, the Hobbit didn't live up to it's full potential.

I'll get arguments of course, especially with Hunger Games, but it's all a matter of taste. Few people will argue with LOTR though, even non-fans. And yet we've never managed a complete Fellowship in sixth scale. Sideshow came close, producing Aragorn, Boromir, Samwise, Frodo, Legolas, and Gandalf, six of the nine. Toybiz took a shot, and produced Gimli and Aragorn, as well as Frodo and Gandalf. DiD even did a few, but nobody made it to the magical number of nine.

Asmus has now stepped up to the plate.  They gave us Aragorn...and a Gandalf the White, though clearly we have to have a gray version to get a true Fellowship. And then they went off and did a bunch of other characters. Thankfully, with the release of Merry and Pippin, we're back on track. They've also announced the second Gandalf, and now that they have the Hobbit bodies all ready, how far off can a Frodo and Sam be?

These guys will run you $200 - $210 as a pair, depending on the retailer. There's no exclusives or special editions, and they are just starting to ship.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Merry Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Packaging - ***1/2
Nice work on the graphics, using actual character photos on the front. While these come packed in a single outer cardboard shipper - and I've only seen them for sale as a set through retailers - they each have their own individual box, making it possible for ebay sellers to split them up.

The package is completely collector friendly too, and the inner cardboard cover has a photo of the figure, perfect for comparing directly to the likeness on the front of the box.

Merry, Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Sculpting - ***
Both head sculpts are solid work, with reasonable likenesses.

I think Asmus is getting the realism down, and the last couple releases look extremely good for the money.  To hit the life-like aspect, they've gone with subtle expressions that keep either from being mannequin-like. I'm not quite as sold on the accuracy, although I have to give them a bit of a break with these two actors. Neither has an extreme look, or exceptional feature that sets them apart and allows a sculptor to find an anchor for the overall portrait.  Hell, I have a tough time telling the two apart on screen, and tend to resort to "Pippin wears the scarf".

I think the biggest issue for both is the nose, and neither is quite perfect.  Their noses are their most distinctive feature, and neither captures the perfect shape.  The other aspect hurting the overall look is the thicker, rougher looking hair.  The beard on Saruman was much cleaner, much less tootsie roll, but here the sculpt looks more like clay than hair.

Still, these are certainly good enough for the price point, and the realism and life-like qualities are both excellent. Unlike Gandalf or Tauriel, there's no reason that I need better head sculpts down the road.

These two figures are also the right size, unlike the overly bulky releases of Sam and Frodo from Sideshow. They stand just north of 8" each, and the slender body looks accurate to the film.

The feet are perhaps the best aspect of the overall sculpt. They are very realistic, and the addition of some glued hair creates a softly fuzzy look.  In photos the hairs are quite obvious, but in person they are much more subtle and realistic.

Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Paint - ***
Asmus is also stepping up the game when it comes to their paint work. Both figures have very nice skin, with a subtle tone and freckling that adds that extra level of realism. The eyes are very clean and sharp, and the eyebrows are just about perfect.

They could do a bit more with the hair, however. While I complained about the rough look of the sculpt in the previous category, I have to point out here that the paint work does nothing to improve on the look.  It has that same rough look, giving the hair a very clay-like appearance.

There's a bit too much gloss as well, with a slight shine to both the skin and the hair. This matching shine gives them too much of a toy-like appearance, and while it's very subtle, the impression it leaves is clear.

Merry Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Articulation - ***1/2
Both figures sport a smaller but fully articulated body, perfect for a Hobbit or child.  These aren't just stumpy adults, but rather properly proportioned bodies perfect for this line. 

Don't think you're going to match these up with the Sam and Frodo produced by Sideshow. Those are much larger and bulkier, and do NOT fit with these. Both Merry and Pippin come in at just a hair over 8" tall.

The majority of the articulation works as well as any full size sixth scale body on the market, including the neck, knees, torso, and hips. The wrists use swappable posts, and Asmus has included a couple extra. This is another example of Asmus listening to the requests of the collectors, and adding in something that they desired.

The body doesn't just have the joints it needs - they are also well designed, so the figure can take natural, fluid poses. All the articulation in the world is worthless if the end result is stiff, clunky stances.

The only reason they lost a half star here is the ankles, and that's completely understandable.  The feet and lower legs are visible, since hobbits love their high water pants. To get a realistic look, they went with a solid, one piece sculpt, which means no ankle articulation.  It does make deeper stands a problem, but retains the realism of the overall look.

Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Accessories - ***1/2
Individually, the figures come well stocked. There's quite a bit of re-use though, making it slightly less impressive.

Both figures have five hands: the relaxed pair the come wearing, a gripping right (for the knife), a gripping left (for the pipe), and a splayed, gesturing left. As I mentioned, they swap cleanly and there's a couple extra wrist pegs just in case.

Both also come with a belt, sheath and knife. The Elven blade fits neatly in the scabbard, but the belt was my least favorite aspect of either character. It is a stiffer plastic, and isn't long enough to neatly go under and through as described in the instructions. It does fit tightly enough within the buckle however that tying it off isn't necessary to keep it in place.

Merry and Pippin like a bowl now and again, and both have the same carved pipe. I suspect this will be a popular accessory, since it looks great and they can hold it nicely, thanks to the extra hand.

The one accessory that is unique to each is their bag.  Pippin comes with a soft, leather shoulder bag, while Merry has his leather backpack.  Both of these are stuffed with padding, and look terrific. The quality of the materials and stitching is excellent as well.

Asmus doesn't include stands with these two, but you won't need them, thanks to those big feet.  I think they should drop the stands with the figures altogether, and just offer them in bulk to those that want to use them. It would keep prices down, and still provide for consistency in displays that require the support.

Merry, Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Merry, Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Outfit - ****
My favorite aspect of these two is the costumes.  The quality is excellent, and shows how good Asmus can be when they put their mind to it. These costumes also give them enough layers, materials, and styles to strut their stuff.

The only pieces that are used with both figures are the pants and the cloak.  The shirts and coats are entirely different, and Merry adds his brightly colored vest while Pippin includes his cool scarf and suspenders.

The layers are very thin, and expertly tailored. While these are technically sixth scale figures, remember that they are only 8" tall, which makes multiple layers like this all that harder to manage. They pulled it off beautifully, and should have no trouble with Sam and Frodo.

My one issue isn't really an issue.  The thin material used for the cloaks is very, very attractive to static.  This is the time of the year when things tend to be dry inside anyway, and static can be an issue, and the cloak can be tough to work with since it likes to cling to your skin. A little static guard can go a long way.

MerryLord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Fun Factor - ****
Thanks to the well done body and a nice assortment of extras, you'll have plenty of ways to pose and re-pose these guys, depending on who they are with in the display. They also hold up nicely to handling (just watch those feet), with little fear of breakage or damage.

Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Value - ***1/2
When was the last time you got a sixth scale figure for $100? When Sideshow did their Sam and Frodo eight years ago - eight years ago - they cost $70 a piece. And let's face it, the quality has improved well beyond the $30 price increase.

While some may bemoan the lack of a stand or the re-use of the accessories, I'm all for it when it keeps the price tag this low.

This might be where you say "But they aren't $100, because you have to buy both!" To that I'd say "Of course you'll buy both, who would want Merry without Pippin?", and I'd also point out that because Asmus packed them in their own boxes, ebay sellers (and other retailers) can break them up if they'd like.

Merry Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Things to Watch Out For -
Not much. These are quite sturdy, and should hold up to normal handling, but I'd avoid touching the hairs on the top of the feet too much. They could wear off if you do.

Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Overall - ***1/2
These aren't the be all end all when it comes to portraits, but they are solid B work.  Add in the above average accessories and costuming, plus the excellent underlying body, and you get a better than average score.

Asmus continues to improve with the LOTR and Hobbit license, and I'm extremely happy with how much they listen to their customers and to the market.  I expect big things during 2016, and can't wait to add Gandalf, Sam, and Frodo.  Legolas and Gimli are no brainers too, and my biggest concern is around Boromir. He's not exactly the most important member of the Fellowship (although his death is a critical moment in the story), but we are so close to finally getting the ultimate set of LOTR sixth scale figures that I'd hate to see them stop at eight.

C'mon, Asmus, give us a full Fellowship!

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Merry, Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Sideshow is the cheapest at just $200 for the pair.

- has the pair for $210.

- is also at $210.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
The most recent release in the LOTR license from Asmus is the excellent Saruman the White. Asmus has also released Tauriel, Aragorn, Bard the Bowman, Eowyn, the Nazgul Steed, the Morgul Lord, Gandalf, Gothmog and Guritz. Other sixth scale LOTR figures include these by Sideshow - Gandalf, Sam and FrodoAragorn, Faramir, Boromir and Legolas. And don't forget the Aragorn from ACI.

Toybiz produced some 12" figures as well, including Gimli, Aragorn, Galdriel, Gandalf, Arwen, and Frodo. Dragons in Dreams did several as well, including Gandalf, Aragor, and Gimli.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
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Merry, Pippin Lord of the Rings 1/6th action figure by Asmus

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This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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