Packaging - ***
I suspect we'll see the two packs come in boxes similar to the recent Marvel
Superheroes, so it's not surprising to see Sauron come in a box as well.
It's a great design, with nice black and white graphics. It's certainly
easy to store, relatively collector friendly, but be careful you don't smoosh it.
Sculpting - ***1/2
The most important question for this figure is - how big is he? This
is a figure that must TOWER over the others, and impress with his sheer
size. The Toybiz version did a pretty good
job, and was one of the coolest figures of 2002.
Minimates come in two scales currently. There's the 3" size that
the Star Trek and Crouching Tiger minimates were, and the newer 2" size
that the Marvel versions and now the LOTR characters will be in.
To get the effect of size, they produced Sauron in the 3" scale.
It works pretty well, and I've included a shot at the end of the review of him
with a smaller Hulk minimate to give you an idea of the overall difference in
Most minimates don't have a lot of sculpting details, but all of Sauron's
major armor pieces are done that way. His helmet, shoulder armor,
gauntlets and 'skirt' are all sculpted with just the right amount of detail and
The helmet is particularly good, and the red blazing eyes stare out
menacingly. The helmet slips off a regular blank minimate head.
Actually, without his armor on, he's not nearly as terrifying.
His cape is a three piece affair. It slips on and off with the shoulder
armor, and the two 'wings', are articulated to be positioned as far out or as
tightly together as you'd like.
Paint - ***1/2
Sauron is done in a gun metal gray with black lines to indicate his lesser
armor pieces. The red of the eyes is the only splash of color, but he's
not really a pastel kind of guy.
Articulation - ***
Minimates have great articulation - neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist,
hips, knees and ankles. However, the design of this figure takes away a
bit of that articulation.
The 'skirt' tends to limit the legs, and the helmet and shoulder pads limit
the neck and shoulders. Still, he can take a most imposing stance, and
look good doing it.
Accessories - **1/2
He comes with one - his scepter. It looks great, and fits perfectly in his
hands. It's not too soft, but not brittle enough to break easily.
Fun Factor - ***
Most mini figures are kid friendly and offer tons of fun for the little ones.
Plenty of articulation, and lots of neat play possibilities. Sauron might
be a little frustrating for them though, with the helmet popping off very easily
whenever you turn it. Then again, kids have been known to put up with the
little annoyances when it's a license they love.
Kids that are into LOTR are likely to really enjoy acting out the various
scenes with these smaller versions. Convincing them that these are cooler
than the 6" versions might be a tough sell though.
Value - **1/2
The single 3" minimates tended to sell for the $6 range, so $7 here for
an exclusive isn't all that surprising. It's not a great deal by any
means, but it's fairly average these days.
Overall - ***
I've managed to avoid most of the Lord of the Rings frenzy. I picked
up the 12" Toybiz stuff, but that was because I knew there wouldn't be
much. I only pick up the occasional 6" figure, knowing that if I
started down that road, I'd have a massive collection of hobbits and orcs in no
time. Even worse would have been the Armies of Middle Earth, with dozens
of figures released right in the first wave. I've even avoided the uber-cool
but uber-expensive Sideshow/WETA stuff.
But it looks like Art Asylum may have me hooked this time. Sure, these
don't have the sculpting of the 6" scale, but they have a unique
look, and they're small, so they won't take up much display space. There
aren't likely to be as many as the AOME series, so they'll be a little easier on
the wallet as well.
Of course, a lot of this depends on how the main characters look in person,
and how easy they are to pick up. Hopefully there won't be any crucial
exclusives that are impossible to get.
And also of course, if you don't like mini-figures in general, it's pretty
safe odds that you won't like these. They are a different style, and lots
of folks don't find them their cup of tea.
Where to Buy -
Tower Records has him as an exclusive
right now. They make it clear though that it's as a single packed figure,
so I suspect we'll see him pop up in some sort of set later.