Balrog Votive

New from NECA, it's the Balrog votive!  What's a votive?  Well, that's the hundred dollar word for candle holder.

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 it, $19.99. 

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 is...

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 the coolness.

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:

- Entertainment 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.

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