Packaging - *1/2
The packaging is exactly the same for the whole series: Shoebox-style with the LOTR ROTK logo and the One Ring in front of a blue tinted map of Middle Earth. No earth-shattering graphics here, and the lidded construction makes display of the unopened figure impossible. Also, there is no info on the figure in the box. Not even a name. The only way I knew which figure I was holding was by opening the box. (Author’s note: Upon further inspection, each box does have a tiny UPC sticker on the bottom with the name of the figure inside on it.)
Once opened, I found the figures well packed in their plastic trays. Twisty ties were plentiful. Getting them back in the boxes would be a major chore. Considering that a lot of the release delays were associated with packaging problems and approval, the final result is a real let-down.
Sculpting - Aragorn * ½, Gandalf ** ½, Legolas ***
The head sculpts are by far the weakest aspect of the figures themselves. Aragorn looks nothing like Viggo Mortensen. It looks like they attempted to replicate his grim stare, but the face just has a bland expression. It’s also very flat, with a nose too broad, and head too rounded. His sculpted hair and beard look great. The detailing is very precise. Viggo just seems to be very difficult to capture in this scale.
Gandalf and Legolas fair much better. They actually bear a resemblance to Ian McKellan and Orlando Bloom. The sculpting on Gandalf’s beard is very good, although I don’t recall the beard being that curly or quite that long. I took off ½ a star from Gandalf because he has zero neck movement, thanks to sculpted hair which is also too long. The hair also frames his face so much that, from the side, you can’t see much of Gandalf’s profile. I’d have much preferred his hair to be tied back for battle, so we could see more of Ian McKellan’s features, and gotten more posing options. The sculpt actually looks a bit more like Gandalf the Grey than the trimmed look of Gandalf the White.
Legolas has the best likeness by far. I wish all of the sculpts had this level of quality. Details like Legolas’s ears and the braids in his hair are particularly striking.
All three heads are cast in hollow vinyl, which gives the hair some flexibility. This will be important when it comes time to add the accessories and clothing stored in the tray next to the figure.
Paint - Aragorn ***, Gandalf **, Legolas ***
The paint work on all three reminds me of Dragon. Skin-tones seem to be air brushed. The paint on the eyes and mouth are clean, although Aragorn and Gandalf seem a bit cross-eyes from the side. Aragorn’s hair has great paint ops, with deep browns and good highlighting to bring out the texture. Still, his hair is a touch too light and the line between hair and skin is sloppy, with the hair close to his face unpainted. His facial hair has been given a brown wash to bring out detail.
Gandalf’s hair has been painted, not white, but silver. The choice only sort of works to make him look magically gleaming and new after his resurrection, but it mostly just looks weird and garish. The fact that his eyebrows are brown only serves to make the shiny hair all the more strange. The line between hair and skin is sloppy again.
Legolas gets the most skin-tone highlights. The ops give the subtle Elven features a boost, but he looks a little sunburned compared to the others. His hair has perfect ops. Not a single complaint to be made, which is amazing considering the trouble most companies have with painting blonde hair (Luke Skywalker, anyone?). The hair is actually slightly metallic, giving it a nice sheen. This appearance may not be pleasing to all, but it works for me.
Articulation - ***1/2
I count upwards of forty points of articulation. There are double joints at the elbows and knees, cut joints at the waist, thighs, ankles, and mid-biceps. There are two tension-ball joints in the stomach, which is unusual. Hinges at the ankles, mid-foot, wrists, and in the hands (G.I. Joe style). It’s got a ball-jointed neck, arms, and legs, with extra ball joints at the shoulders, for the much coveted “shrugging” action.
The hands are attached via ball joint, which, in concert with the cut joint at the wrist, gives them a nice wide range of motion. There are two sets of hands: jointed, with separate trigger fingers, and bendy. The fingers on the bendy hands are a bit short to be really effective at holding the swords or the bow, but are wonderful for arrows and Gandalf’s Staff. It’s nice to have a choice.
I encountered loose joints at the shoulders and hips, but the figure was otherwise pretty sturdy. These guys carry a lot of clothing, armor, and weaponry without any ankle support, so you might want to break out those Sideshow stands that have been collecting dust.
The figures are taller than Dragon or G.I. Joe, but not quite as tall as Sideshow.
Accessories - ****
Real metal and wood is used for all but one of the accessories. Aragorn has a tiny metal Evenstar on a gold chain (wrong color again), a metal Elvish dagger in a basic black sheath, and a metal Ranger sword with metal sheath. The choice of a metal sheath for the sword is a bit odd. It ought to be leather. Also, the utility knife that is unique to Aragorn’s sheath is missing. The Dagger and Sword are well sculpted and the paint ops look great. The dagger has a detailed handle, but is missing the leaf detailing on the blade. They aren’t too heavy, and the metal has a little springiness, so it won’t have to be straightened all the time. The belt strap on the pleather scabbard for the knife fell apart when I put it on his belt, so you might want to watch out for stitching problems. Likewise, the sword sheath has a leather strap that attaches to the belt. The sword hangs well from the figure. I wish we had Anduril as well as this sword, since Anduril figured largely in Return of the King.
Gandalf has the Glamdring sword with sheath, of equal make and quality to Aragorn’s Strider Sword. Gandalf’s staff is metal. It’s a good height, but the sculpting on the headpiece is a little soft, and the white paint is flecking where the head-piece meets the staff.
Legolas gets the lion’s share of weapons, with a Rohan sword and sheath (like the previous swords), two metal daggers (same quality as Aragorn’s dagger) that fit into sheaths on his quiver, three wood arrows with vinyl tails and metal heads, and a plastic bow with elastic string. The bow actually works very well, but I wouldn’t recommend launching the thin arrows, which also use cheaper metal than the swords, and can be bent out of shape. The detailing on the bow is a little soft, but still looks very good.
Outfit - ****
The outfits are fantastic! No skimping on detail was done here, and the choice of materials is superb. The clothes are well tailored to the bodies, without constricting the articulation. Each figure comes out of the box wearing their basic tunic, trousers, and boots. The boots are leather with sculpted rubber soles. Aragorn and Legolas have Velcro to hold the boots closed, while Gandalf’s boots actually lace up. We’ve seen cloth boots done before, with terrible results, but these are masterfully accomplished. They look great and allow the ankles to retain full articulation. The only flaw is that Aragorn’s boots are black instead of green or brown. To go over his red shirt, Aragorn also has a chain mail shirt made of a rigid mesh material that looks goofy on its own, but works in concert with the rest of the outfit. The mail shirt even has a leather neckline. He also has his jerkin, made of leather, and his coat, which is leather and a sort of flocked material. They look wonderful, but the jerkin is green and the coat is brown, and it should be the other way around. Aragorn’s belt is leather with a metal buckle. The belt did not feel like it would rip too easily. Aragorn also has two-piece Gondorian Armguards, which he took from Boromir’s body, and a spandex glove for his right hand. The armguards are pleather, with the gold symbols stamped on. It would have been nice to have gotten two gloves, as moving it from the bendy hand to the articulated hand can be annoying.
Gandalf’s outfit is all-white cloth and looks great. Special mention should go to the lace up front of Gandalf’s tunic, which is an incredible addition, considering it’s covered up by the second tunic and his beard.
A tunic goes over the basic one, then the leather belt, which is brown, not white as in the film. His hooded cape has ornate stitching on the trim and the cape is held on by a metal brooch. The level of detail on the brooch is particularly amazing considering how tiny it is. It has a black wash to bring out the extensive detail. The cape sits nicely on his shoulders, unlike most 1/6 scale capes, which tend to fold unnaturally.
Legolas has a very thin flocked short-sleeved tunic that goes over his gray
shirt, and a light grey leather belt. All the color choices for Legolas are spot-on. He also has armguards similar to Aragorn, but with Elvish markings. Leather Rohan shoulder armor goes on over this. The shoulder armor is well-made, with metal rivets, but kind of shapeless. They should conform to his shoulders more, but that is a minor quibble. The armor is attached to Legolas’s arrow quiver, which is a pure work of art. The quiver is pleather, with a metal rim and base. It has sheathes for his knives and a fuzzy interior that protects the arrows. The real treat is the peacock detail painted onto the back of the quiver. The detail is clean and just marvelous. The armor and quiver is all held together with leather straps and metal buckles. Legolas also has his
gray Lothlorien hooded cape, with a hole in the back to fit the quiver through, and the distinctive leaf brooch. The brooch, like Gandalf’s, is highly detailed, but with a green wash to bring out the detail. I kind of wish that Gandalf and Aragorn had come with the Elvin capes as well, since they wore them in Two Towers. I can’t remember if they shed the capes by
These are meant for posing, not play. I had to replace the strings on Aragorn’s jerkin because I pulled them right out when I was trying to tie them. The Evenstar is connected to the chain by the thinnest of prongs on it’s back. I added a drop of superglue after the Evenstar slipped off the chain and got lost for five agonizing minutes. So far, those were the only real problems, but I suggest great caution when handling these, especially Legolas’s arrows.
Value - **1/2
I paid $58 for each of them on-line. That’s a lot of doe, not even counting shipping from Hong Kong, which I’ve blocked out of my memory in the hopes of preserving my sanity. Other companies, like In The Past Toys and Drastic Plastic, have used some leather and metal of lesser quality in their Historical figures and charged $70, so there is a precedent for this price. I have done a bit of searching on-line and have not found any options for purchase other than eBay, and those auctions seem to be few and far between.