Packaging - ***
The Toybiz LOTR packaging is pretty great. It's big, eye-catching, durable and informative. The only real downside is that you have to completely destroy it to free the little people inside. I haven't included a picture here because there are a few in Michael's review archives already. I do love the red-ish colour scheme that Toybiz chose, but after four waves of it I'll be glad to see the new 'Return of the King' packaging come this autumn. From what I've heard, the ROTK packaging will be predominantly blue.
Sculpting - ***
If I was judging Gollum's sculpt in comparison to other bendy figures, I'd give him four stars without hesitation, but unfortunately for old Stinker, I'm judging him in comparison to his peers in the LOTR line. Overall, the sculpt is excellent. His muscles look perfect no matter how you pose him; his frame and physique are incredibly life-like and accurate to the movie; and his face-sculpt is way above average, although not quite perfect.
There is one thing that really holds him back though - a big, ugly mould-line that goes from the top of his head, down one side of his face, under his chin, and back up the other side. If this line was somewhere else on his body it really wouldn't matter too much, but Gollum's face is the focal point of the entire figure, and the mould-line severely detracts from the otherwise life-like sculpt.
Having said that, there does seem to be a reason for the location of the mould-line - Toybiz will be releasing a variant Gollum figure in their ROTK line-up. This new Gollum figure will represent his kindly 'Smeagol' persona and will feature a happy-smiley face instead a murderous-ragey face like this one. Casting a small face-plate will be much cheaper for Toybiz than making a new mould for the whole figure, so I can understand their decision, but that doesn't make up for the unsightly mould-line.
Paint - ****
Paint application is the one area where I can't fault this figure at all. His hands, elbows, feet and knees are all muddy, his eyes are piercing blue, and the paint on his hair is very understated, which makes up for the strands of hair being sculpted a little too thickly. On top of all that, Toybiz have applied a subtle wash which brings out the wrinkles, muscles and veins in the sculpt beautifully.
I'm not completely sure that the underlying skin tone is accurate to the movie, but it did seem to vary depending on location and lighting, so I can't say for sure.
Articulation - **
Toybiz made a controversial decision in releasing Gollum as a bendy rather than a regularly articulated figure, and like a lot of other people I was concerned about quality, appearance and durability when I heard about it, but I'm happy to say that I think Toybiz made the right decision. Gollum doesn't have as much posability as I expected and what he does have is quite limited, but I don't think that giving him normal points of articulation would have provided any real benefit. If anything, it may have detracted from the sculpt.
Gollum is particularly mobile at the shoulders, elbows and knees, and his neck even has a slight twist and tilt to it, but that doesn't feel like enough for me. Given his size and body shape I don't think Toybiz could realistically have given him more flexibility, but it is a shame that he can't assume his classic crouching pose.
With regards to durability, I was afraid that Gollum would quickly deteriorate after heavy posing and re-posing but having handled him, I don't think durability is a serious issue. A regularly jointed figure might be a little more hardwearing, but if you treat the figure with care and respect, he should still look fine for years to come. On the other hand, if you punish and torture him, his paint and eventually his plastic will tear. My Gollum already has a small tear in the paint near his shoulder, so I'll be picking up a spare as soon as I find one for the right price.
One final point of interest - Toybiz are planning on releasing a 'Super Poseable Gollum with Crawling Action' for their ROTK line. From what I've heard, this figure will be articulated in the traditional sense.
Accessories - **
Gollum only comes with one accessory - a talking rock base. The base is well detailed, the rocks look realistic and the sound button is cunningly hidden. Unfortunately, it only speaks one phrase - "My Preciousssss". Admittedly, the phrase is very, very loud, but I'd be much happier if it spoke a few more lines. (For your information, the variant Smeagol figure that I mentioned above will come with a base that speaks a Smeagol phrase.)
I really think that Toybiz should have included a fish or some dead rabbits or something with this figure. Gollum is a small figure, and the talking base just isn't enough on it's own.
Value - **
Compared with most other LOTR figures, I don't think that Gollum represents good value for money. He's a small figure, very lightweight, and too sparse in the accessories department. I'd still recommend buying him, even if you don't collect the LOTR line, but some more accessories would be a vast improvement.
Overall - ***
I'm very happy with Gollum, but he's not without his flaws. The sculpting and paintwork is excellent and I strongly recommend buying one, but Toybiz should have given him more accessories, or included more than one phrase in his talking base. My
judgment is probably clouded by my love of the license and the character, but I'm giving him three stars anyway.
Where to Buy -
Here in the UK, you should be able to find him at Woolworths or Toys R Us for about £9 now. Online I've always been happy with the service
at TheToyShop.com and Sci-fi Warehouse.