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Review of Aragorn - Lord of the Rings sixth sale figure

Asmus Toys
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Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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

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Introduction

The battle for Middle Earth is over. And I'm not talking about the one that played out in print and on screen, but rather the one that played out in the world of sixth scale action figures.

Both Asmus and ACI started out this year with the license to produce figures based on the films.  Only Asmus still maintains that license.  Their latest release is Aragorn, a figure already done by ACI, but one that they needed to include in their line to be complete.

This is a bit of an early review, and these should start shipping to various retailers shortly.  Expect to pay around $200 for him, depending on the store.

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

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Packaging - ****
Pretty standard stuff from Asmus, but it does sport a great photo of Aragorn himself on the front of the box, as well a shot of the toy on the inside insert.  I also like the foam trays, made from high quality material.  They give the packaging a bit more 'class', and are less likely to cause rub marks on the paint on the accessories or heads in transit.

They did include some instructions, although they are a bit wobbly with the English translation. You should be able to work out the belt and traveling packs without too much trouble.

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

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Sculpting - ***
There are three aspects to any human sculpt that I consider when grading. Is it realistic? This involves the texture of the skin, the fine detailing of the lips and hair, and the set of the eyes. Nexc up - is it life-like? This covers that special something that takes a sculpted portrait from mannequin to living being, and is dependent on the expression and muscle tone in the face. And finally, the key question - does it look like who it's supposed to look like?

Asmus has been working hard on their human portraits. There was a huge steep forward in the realism of their work between Gandalf and Bard. The latter is showing the sort of skin texture and fine detail work that creates truly realistic portrait. With Aragorn, they've stepped that up even further. The strands of the hair are small and cleanly defined, the facial hair, including the beard and eyebrows, is feathered with a soft transition, and the skin texture is outstanding. Even the glassy, wet eyes are set at the right depth to maximize the overall effect.

Then there's life-like, and again, they've nailed it, at least with the standard portrait. The expression is stoic, with a tightness to the jaw and cheeks and a piercing look in the eyes. This isn't a bland expression, nor is it over the top and silly.

Let's talk about that second head sculpt, since part of the lower score in this category is due to it. Originally they intended to include a wide open yell, sort of a battle scream. They toned that down, but what they ended up with is a hot mess. They eyes don't line up properly on mine, and the mouth has a Bucky Beaver look that doesn't remind you of the character at all.  And that's the biggest issue - it's not an expression I can associate with Aragorn. The detailing I just discussed is all there, but it's not a good look. It's nice to get a second head, but this one was a miss, and hurt this score.

Back to the regular head. The last consideration is the likeness, or how well it matches with Viggo as Aragorn. Compare my photo below with what you see on the front of the box in the packaged shot. Yep, they nailed it.

At least they nailed it from the middle of the forehead down.  The eyes, jaw and chin, and most important - the nose - are perfect. There have been plenty of Aragorn likenesses in figures, statues and busts, but this is the best...from the middle of the forehead down.

I keep saying that because this head sculpt suffers from a similar issue to the Gandalf sculpt they originally did. It's too long, seeming to be stretched out.  Yes, Aragorn has a fivehead, there's no doubt about that, and it's important to capture that in this scale. Again, look at the photo of him on the box - that face is huge. When you see this figure in person, you're going to think he has a weirdly shaped egg head, I will guarantee it. But I think a big part of that is not how tall the forehead is, but how narrow it is.  They've brought the hair inward toward the face, covering up the sides of the forehead, unlike what you see in the photo on the box. The fault here lies with the hair sculpt and how it frames the face, making it look thinner and longer.  In reality, this forehead and face is very similar in length and size to the ACI version, but with the ACI version you can pull the rooted hair back the few millimeters necessary to give the forehead enough visible width.

In the end, it's that mistake that pulls the score down to three stars. I almost went another half lower, but I can't go that low when the face itself is such an excellent job. I thought the ACI version was solid work - this goes well beyond that when it comes to the likeness. If they had just gotten that hair right...

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

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Paint - ***1/2
To get that realism, a great sculpt has to be backed up with great paint. Asmus clearly has improved in this category as well. The skin tone is excellent, the highlights in the hair work, the eyes are glassy and wet, and the flesh has that slight depth to it that makes it seem alive.  Even the transition at the top of the forehead from the sculpted hair to the skin tone is just about perfect.

My only issue is with the beard, which has a bit of a rubbed look to it. It appears as though they painted it, thought there was too much, and rubbed some off. The work on the eyebrows and mustache is good, but the beard isn't up to the same level.

It's also worth noting that this category is not as strong on the second head, either.  As I mentioned earlier, the eyes don't quite line up, and the teeth are too close in color to the skin tone. It's not terrible - the second head is hurt more by the sculpt than the paint - but it's not as good as the standard head.

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

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Articulation - ***1/2
Here's an area where I had a massive issue with Bard the Bowman.  The underlying body there was pretty old school stuff, with non-removable wrist pegs that broke and pulled apart.  Asmus has switched bodies starting with Aragorn, and that's no long an issue.

That's good too, because swapping hands still requires some real effort.  The posts are a tight fit, but I didn't have either break.  The more I swapped hands, the easier it got, as the holes softened up a bit.

The body itself is very tight, and very posable.  I didn't strip him down, but all the standard joints are there, and it is very, very similar to a TrueType in feel and posability.

Even in the full outfit, I was able to get key joints to move with terrific range.  For example, even in the coat, tunic and cloak, the shoulders were capable of raising up for a true bow-firing pose.  And the soft boots allow the ankles their full range of movement, allowing you to keep the feet flat on the ground in deep stances.

If you pose this guy without the cloak, he will look a bit like a giraffe.  The head sits very high on the long neck, but that design is intended to make him appear right when the cloak (and bedroll, blanket, and quiver) is in place.  I don't plan on displaying him without the cloak, so I prefer that they went this route.

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

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Accessories - ****
This is one of the areas where Asmus has really been shining the last couple releases. This guy comes with a TON of stuff, and it's all well done.

Well, except for that second head.  However, I already beat them up about the sculpt and paint in earlier categories, and with this category it's a big plus to simply get a second portrait.

There's a nice assortment of hands too, with six (three sets) in all.  There's the fists he comes wearing, plus a gripping left and right, as well as a relaxed pose left and right.  All the rights are wearing the fingerless glove, and all the lefts come complete with the ring (and sparkly jewel!). There's no extra wrist pegs, but it's a minor issue.

Aragorn is a warrior, and as such needs weapons. Here he has his long sword, small dagger, and longer curved dagger.  The long sword is not Anduril, but rather the battle sword we see him with first. This sword fits inside a scabbard on his belt, and the small dagger slips inside a sheath that is part of this overall scabbard.  The longer dagger was a gift from Celeborn, and also fits inside a nifty sheath that attaches to the belt. All three of these bladed weapons are metal, but are light weight enough for him to hold in any pose.

That's not it for weapons - he has a bow, six arrows, and a quiver in which both bow and arrows can be stored.  The bow has that same rubber-like string that we saw with Bard's bow, and its stretchy quality makes it look particularly good in firing poses.

That's it for weapons, but not for accessories.  Aragorn likes a little smoke now and then, and has his long pipe for such an occasion. As a traveling man, he has both a bedroll (with a cool outer leather wrap) and blanket that can be wrapped around his shoulders quite easily.

I'm going to count his bracers as an accessory as well, because they come as a separate item in the box. You can slip them on, or leave the long arms of the leather coat bare, you're choice. He also has the tiny Evenstar on a silver thread around his neck.

Speaking of bracers, there's a second pair that's part of Asmus' plan for a 'build-an-orc'. We got the banner with Guritz, the head with Gandalf, and now the rough hewn pig iron bracers with with Aragorn. We still have three more pieces to come (and you'll need to supply a base body), but it's great to see they are continuing with the overall plan.

That's it? Nope.  He comes with not one but two bases.  There's the basic black base for consistency with the rest of the line, plus he has a terrific resin base, complete with mossy growth!  It is a set of several steps with the eagle/hawk statue on a post to the side. It's a really nice addition, but be careful when handling it. The moss can be crushed and rubbed off, so try to avoid touching those areas.

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

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

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Outfit - ****
Along with the Accessories, Asmus has really improved their game with the Outfit, particularly since Eowyn.  She was a bit disappointing, but now both Bard and Aragorn have the sort of outfits I expect in this price range.

There are three layers of clothing on his torso, and yet they all look perfectly in scale thanks to their choice of micro-fabrics.  There's a long sleeved cloth shirt, a long leather vest, and his long outer leather coat.  This outer coat has thin wires in the the sides and bottom of each hanging section, allowing them to be posed in just about any wind blown way.

There's pants of course, and some interesting soft leather boots. These boots allow for complete mobility in the ankles, but they do make them look a bit skinny. Futzers may want to remove them and pad out the ankles with some soft tissue to get a fuller look. Ignoring that, the boots are excellent, with an interesting design.  I don't remember ever getting a good look at his boots in the movie, and the few stills I've seen make them appear to be leather with a folded over top.  The two tone color makes sense in that case, at least when the boots are new, but that's my one gripe here - they look too new.  The lighter colored thread stands out on the dark leather, and there's no wear or mud.

That's not true with the tunic and coat, which have some nice mud and dirt effects. The outer cloak is complete with the leaf clasp, although it's non-functioning. The cloak is stitched shut at the neck, and you have to pop the head on or off to put it in place. The dirt effects work on the cloak as well, and the super soft material looks great. What about the color?  Just what shade of green is correct? In the film it varies, thanks to lighting and saturation. Whether you like this color better, or you prefer the way ACI went, you can't fault the quality of the tailoring or the materials.

He has a single belt to hold the dagger and sword scabbards. There's also a couple small pouches permanently attached to this belt.  The fit is good, and the buckle works easily.

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

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Fun Factor - ***1/2
Because of the excellent articulation, the well done costume, and the wide variety of accessories, you should have plenty of fun posing and re-posing this guy. Add in that second diorama style base, and you'll have a ton of options. Unfortunately, no one will take advantage of the second head.

Of course, it's not a figure for kids. With the high price point - not to mention real metal weapons - it's intended for the older crowd.

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

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Value - ****
This figure will run you around $200. That's a little more than the average Asmus figure (Bard was $180), but you are getting a tremendous amount of stuff for that price.  The multi-layered costume is complex and well done, and the number of accessories - including metal and resin - is mind blowing. If Hot Toys would provide this much value at $250, I'd never complain again.

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

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Things to Watch Out For -
Not much. Just remember when you're handling the diorama base that the moss can be crushed or rubbed off, and you should be good to go.

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

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Overall - ***1/2
This was a tough call for me, because the figure does have that one glaring error - the narrow, tall forehead makes him look cone headed. It's not as bad in person as it appears in some photos, but it's still an issue, and one that almost made me drop this score another half star.

But then I spent some time holding the ACI and Asmus figures next to each other, and there's simply no way the Asmus deserves a lesser score. From he neck down, there's no real difference in quality.  The costumes on both are great, although you may prefer the boots on one over the other, or the cloak on one over the other.  The quality of the accessories is fairly even as well, but Asmus trounces ACI on quantity and value. The only real difference in the body is in the bulk - the ACI base body is thicker and larger, particularly in the chest.

The big difference is from the neck up. I'm not a fan of rooted hair - yet - and with the ACI Aragorn, there's simply too much.  It's too long, and it's too thick, so even with plenty of product, you can't get enough of the 'poof' out of it.  The best versions I've seen have involved someone trimming and thinning the hair.  The likeness on the ACI version is also not as good - Asmus crushed the likeness from the middle of the forehead down.

If they had managed a slightly better hair style and therefore avoided the cone shape of the head, this would have been a four star figure. It's my favorite of their work so far, and at $50 less than the ACI version, my clear winner there as well. Asmus is *this* close to crushing it - they've come a long way in short time, and seem to be listening to customers. If they can stay on this trajectory, I have very high hopes for them in 2016.

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

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

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Sideshow has him up at $200.

- comes in at just $200.

- has the pre-order for $220.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Most recently, I covered Bard the Bowman from Asmus. I've also covered Eowyn, Nazgul Steed, the Morgul Lord, Gandalf, Gothmog and Guritz, all from Asmus.

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.

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

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