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Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Grishnakh - Lord of the Rings
Sixth Scale Action Figure

Asmus Toys
Date Published: 2016-09-28
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Introduction

The Lord of the Rings is one of those special, long term properties that can fuel product and licensing for decades. Long after the final movie has left theaters, fans are still buying bed sheets and t-shirts.

Even with a property with that sort of longevity - it was a hugely popular story long before the films - it has never been treated right by any sixth scale manufacturer. Several have tried, all have failed. That is until Asmus Toys took over and started producing figures based on both the original trilogy of films and the follow up Hobbit trilogy. The road has been bumpy, and some releases have been much better than others, but most would agree that the license we love is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Their latest release is Grishnakh, an evil orc captain in the service of Sauron. While he's definitely a B player (and that's being generous), he did play an important role with Merry and Pippin and came to a rather spectacular end.  Since Asmus has already produced Merry and Pippin, adding their tormentor makes perfect sense.

But they also know that he's not going to be as popular as someone like the recent Gandalf, and they are adjusting the production numbers in response.  Grishnakh will cost $175, and your best bet is to pick him up directly from Asmus. They only produced 500, making him harder to find at other online retailers.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Packaging - ***1/2
I'm digging this box, thanks to the nicely done cover artwork. It's bright and sharp, even when the character is dark and nasty. It is very thin, with little wasted space, and completely collector friendly.  My only deduction here is because of the thin outer shipping box.  This is likely to get damaged and crushed during shipping, and I'll be surprised if many boxes make it without at least a few smooshed areas and dinged corners.

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Sculpting - ****
Grishnakh has two looks to his portrait - right out of the box, and futzed hair. Mine came with the soft hair heavily gooped up, to the point that you might assume at first glance that it was sculpted. It defined 'helmet hair'. The photo below shows what it looks like coming out of the box, and it's a valid way for him to appear.  I've mixed up the photos so there's 5 with his hair neat, 7 with his hair a bit more wild.

This wilder look isn't easy to obtain, thanks to the serious amount of product (and I suspect, paint) that's flattened out his doo. I washed it out with warm water, then blow dried it, feeling an awful lot like an employee at the Mordor Great Clips.

It makes a HUGE difference, however.  The photo below is what he looks like OOB, and while the amazing sculpt - more on that in a minute - is mighty gruesome, he almost has a classy, Orc-about-town look to him. I think this neat hair style works in the photo where he is in repose, resting in a very Orc-like chair, acting very much the captain.  The mussed hair is more fitting to the character though, and I suspect most people will go that route.  The photos above - as well as the close up in the paint section - demonstrate the difference.

Once you have the hair looking just the way you like, it will amplify a truly amazing sculpt.  While I've been happy with a number of Asmus' releases in this line, I have to say that this portrait is easily their best work.  It's realistic thanks to the skin texture and wrinkling, and the fantastic detailing on the teeth and gums is eye popping good. He's also emotive, with a snarly, petulant, nasty expression. And yes, it's quite accurate, although capturing extreme portraits like this is considered easier than capturing the pretty people. 

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Paint - ****
Backing up an amazing sculpt is an amazing paint job, again the best we've seen from Asmus so far. The mottled skin hangs skeletal over the face, and he has a couple rather nasty moles that he should have someone look at. The blue eyes are piercing and hauntingly real, and the wet appearance of the teeth, gums, and lips completes the overall impression of cruel reality. This is a paint job that rivals Hot Toys at their best.

There's some additional work on the various pieces of armor, and it's all quite well done. The mottled color gives the plastic armor a metallic, aged, weathered appearance that fits with the characters personality perfectly.

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Articulation - ***
Asmus has had some issues with their base body in the past, and this time it was so close...so close. One issue, a recurring issue, holds this figure back from a higher score in this category.

The problem isn't with the majority of the articulation, which allows for plenty of deep stances and dynamic poses.  The rocker ankles work great, and the joints are tight enough to hold the more extreme poses indefinitely. While the armor and clothing on the torso can push back against poses with the upper body twisted or turned, it's a minor nit overall, and the majority of the articulation is free to do its thing.

So what's the problem? Those damn wrist posts.  Once again, when removing the left hand the ball of the wrist pulled apart.  This happens because, as with Bard, they are using a body that does not have removable wrist posts. Swapping hands becomes a much more dangerous proposition, and once the post comes apart, it continues to do it every time you try to swap the hand. The strength of the joint is compromised, and there's no great way to fix it other than swapping bodies or at least swapping forearms (that's possible - I did it with my Bard).

It is possible that if you pulled hard enough, this wrist peg might come out. It might not be the completely locked up version we saw earlier, and perhaps the ball/post itself is just weak.  But I pulled on mine with needle nose pliers, and it didn't budge. Pull too hard and you'll simply destroy the post and forearm, making the swap to another body/arm necessary. I wasn't going to risk it this time around.

I don't know why we are seeing this body again. Perhaps it's cheaper. Perhaps it was what they had signed up for originally when they speced this figure out - remember, he was announced quite awhile back. Either way, this is not a situation that they want to continue moving forward. I'm pretty sure this is a Kaustic Plastic body, but the design around the wrists has to change.

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Accessories - ***
Grishy doesn't come with a ton of extras, but what's here is nice, and necessary.

First the necessary. He comes with six hands: a pair of splayed fingers, a pair of gripping hands, and a pair of relaxed hands.  I've already commented on the dangers and perils of swapping hands, although for me it was only the left that caused problems. The sculpts are good, including scale.

His other necessary accessory is his evil looking blade, with a wrapped handle. The dirty, nasty looking blade will kill you with disease if it doesn't kill you immediately. The weapon is plastic which means it is light weight, but has the look of real metal.

Now for the nice to have.  He comes with a basic display base with the LOTR logo, which is consistent and useful. Not necessary, since he can stand great on his own, but still nice to have.

His other 'nice to have' is the special pre-order accessory.  I don't quite understand the concept, since if you pre-order from anyone you get the extra accessory, and I'm assuming all 500 figures were bought through pre-orders.  Still, it's a special extra: the huge spear that was used to kill poor Grishnakh.

The shaft is done up with a half loop that wraps around his side, allowing you to place it on his body and make it appear as though it is piercing him back to front.  Think Steve Martin, and the arrow through the head he used to wear in his stand up routine. There's some nicely sculpted translucent blood splattering out at the exit point as well, and the overall effect looks great. In fact, while this is the sort of accessory that is usually considered nifty at first but then ends up in a drawer someplace, I think it might be very different this time.  Combine this figure with Merry and Pippin and use the spear to recreate his death scene, and you might have the display option of choice.

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Outfit - ****
The outfit includes the underlying pants and long sleeve shirt, the outer short sleeved, armored tunic, a belt, the armored fur chest/collar piece, and armored guards for the shins, forearms, and biceps.

There's some nice mixed media pieces here, and the inclusion of the fur on the shoulders and legs works great. The saber teeth look decent, although there are some mold lines on a few of the edges. The sculpting and paint on the various pieces of armor give the impression of metal, when they are all made of plastic.

There is some metal though, in the tiny plates that are glued to the hanging strips of leather-like material. I had to glue three of these back on, all of which were floating around inside the box, but it's a minor repair, and the little plates look terrific.

I did think it was a little weird that the armor for the biceps and forearms came separate in the package, rather than already in place on his arms. Getting the bicep pieces in place can be a huge pain in the neck, thanks to the double layer of material on the upper arm. If you're patient it is doable, and you should be able to get them high enough on the arm to get full movement out of the elbows.

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Fun Factor - ***
This is a category that should have been a full star higher, thanks to the fun you can have getting the hair, fur, and pose just right, then changing it all up again. But the annoying wrists and the potential for problems with them pulls it back down.

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Value - ***1/2
While you aren't getting a ton of extras, the sculpt, paint, hair, costume, and overall presentation create a feeling of exceptional value at $175.  Add in a tremendously low production run, and you get a much better value than the majority of sixth scale figures on the market today.

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Things to Watch Out For -
Just the wrists, although that's enough.  The rest of the figure is sturdy and well made, with little chance for issues or problems. I suggest gripping the ball of the wrist with some needle nose pliers, holding the two halves tightly together, any time you swap hands.

Overall - ***1/2
This should be a four star figure, no doubt about it. The sculpt and paint are certainly four star work, and I love the outfit as well.  He's not packed with extras, but he has what he needs, and the pre-order exclusive extra - the split spear- is a great addition. He's even a fantastic price, coming in well below the current average for similar figures.

But those damn wrists - I can't give a figure a full four stars when I have a wrist fall apart. If you get out the needle nose pliers every time you swap hands you should be able to avoid any actual damage, but that's not the situation you want, and it's not the normal situation in the market. Asmus needs to stick with a body that has swappable pegs, so that any minor issue with the wrist doesn't turn into a major issue for the entire figure.

That really is the only issue with an otherwise fantastic figure, and this guy is easily the best release in the Lord of the Rings (or Hobbit) series so far.  That's saying a lot considering the quality of both Gandalf and Sarumon, and it's a terrific indication of the hard work and effort that Asmus is putting in to making this series shine.

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

Grishnakh Lord of the Rings sixth scale figure by Asmus

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- your best bet is to get him straight from Asmus, where he will run you $175.

- has him at $180.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I've covered the rest of the Asmus releases, including the recent Gandalf the Gray, the Mouth of Sauron, Merry and Pippin, and 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, Aragorn, 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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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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