New from NECA, it's the Balrog votive!
What's a votive? Well, that's the hundred dollar word for candle
Lord of the Rings film fans have felt a
little shorted on the Balrog merchandise. The Toybiz figure is on some
form of wait-and-see hold, and there hasn't been many other items showing
off his ugly mug.
NECA comes to the rescue with this superb
plastic bust doubling as a candle holder. The design of this piece was
by Ed Repka and Randy Falk, with the sculpting handled by Kyle Windrix,
better known as Tankman to McFarlane fans.
There are two sizes. The one pictured
here is about 9" inches tall, 7" deep and 9" wide. It retails for
$39.99, while a second version about half this size retails for, you guessed
Packaging - ***
The big bad comes in a box, adorned in a style similar to all other Lord of
the Rings merchandise this year. Where it was green before, now things
are predominately red, and while the Balrog didn't have a big part in the
Two Towers, he was most certainly there.
The graphics are attractive,
but with anything like this, the packaging is far less crucial. It'll
grab your eye, and then you'll open it up, since there's no way to tell
what's really inside. Hey, it could be a head! Oh, I guess it
Sculpting - ****
Tankman is well known for his exceptional sculpting, and he's done the
Balrog proud. They've used a translucent red/orange plastic, which
allows light to pass through easily, even room light. The parts of the
face and body that are designed to be more substantial in nature are painted
with a gray wash, blocking the light.
There's tons of detail in the
sculpt, and with the gapeing jaws and red tongue, he looks like he's coming
for you, and he's not happy.
What's exceptionally cool about
this is it doesn't require a candle! While having direct light in back
settled into the holder provided gives even brighter and scarier
illumination, it's possible to get a good effect with just room light,
depending on where you place the votive. That means that even with the
lights up in the room, the Balrog still has a fiery glow.
Paint - ****
The gray wash looks great, and blocks the light extremely well. It
highlights all the details in the holder, giving the demon a little more
physical presence. It also captures the look of the film extremely
well, something that wasn't easy to do with such a unique character.
Quality - ***1/2
The votive is made of a translucent plastic, light weight but very
sturdy. I'm going to assume that the candle won't melt the surrounding
plastic - that seems like a fairly obvious necessity. I haven't had
any trouble, but I didn't keep it lit for an extended period. Always
be careful with open flames anyway - just ask Michael Jackson.
Value - ***
This is a particularly nice item, especially for the big LOTR fan. But
the $40 might be more than many folks can handle. I have a tough time
judging this category for this item, simply because I have no experience in
manufacturing costs on something like this. But I wish they could have
found a way to get it at least a little lower in cost without compromising
Overall - ***1/2
If you wish you have a Balrog, here's your answer. It's not an
action figure, but it will look terrific on your shelf. Put it in your
bathroom and light a candle in it next time you have friends over - let the
Balrog greet them for their potty break.
NECA is doing some great work, and I'm really looking
forward to the release of their Gremlins and Hellraiser stuff. I hope
that we see some more lines announced at Toy Fair as well.
Where to Buy:
This are available at some specialty and comic shops as well as on-line:
Earth is SUPPOSED to have them, but I don't see them listed on their
page yet. You might want to give them a call and see what's up.
Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.