One of the most anticipated movies of the year, perhaps of the decade (hey, it's still early) is the first in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring.  Coming out this winter, fans of Tolkien's classic work have high hopes that this time they'll get the transfer to film just right.

Toybiz got the toy license, and they employed their Real Scan technology.  Of course, since it's Toybiz, we also got action features, along with accessories and articulation.  The price point on these 6" figures is around eight bucks.

There are actually ten figures in this first assortment, including Legolas (reviewed here), Samwise Gimgee, Frodo, Sarumen, Gandalf, the Ringwraith, an Orc Overseer, a Newborn Lutz, Gimli the dwarf, and Strider (although I have heard he's not shipping yet).

Packaging - ***
The packages are extremely attractive, and I love the use of the map in the background.  The graphics are terrific, but only half of the initial line is shown on the back - the same five figures that ship together are placed on the cardbacks.

Another negative is that the curved flap obviously didn't want to stay closed for them, so clear tape is used in quantities to keep the flap shut.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Wow.  The real scan technology does wonders for this line, and every character I saw looked just like the actor.  In particular, Legolas and Frodo look fantastic.

The sculpting on the accessories and dioramas is good too, but the pose that Legolas has been given is restrictive.  The left arm can't do much, and the articulation is pretty useless.  That means the pose for that arm is only useful for holding the bow to the side, and that hurts an otherwise perfect sculpt.

Accessories - ***1/2
Legolas gets a bow, with string, four arrows, and two blades.  The bow is terrific, and actually fires the arrows fairly well.

The blades were both intended to fit in his hands, and each has a small post on the inside.  There is a one palm to accomodate a blade, but unfortunately, they seem to have screwed things up.  The right hand has the hole, but both blades have the post on what would be the left side.  Therefore, the only way to use the post, is to have him hold a blade upside down in his left hand.

However, ignoring this goof up, the accessories are great.  Of course, this varies across the line.  Of the figures I've seen, the Hobbits have the best accessories, with some very cool dioramas included, while the Newborn Lutz gets practically nothing.

Articulation - **1/2
Nothing is ever perfect.  Too bad that what looks like an amazing figure in the package didn't turn out quite that way once it was free.

The big negative here is the poor articulation.  It sounds good on paper - neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles.  It amazes me how little you can do with so many joints.

The left shoulder is very restricted, as are the ankles.  The number of poses you'll actually be able to use are surprisingly small, but the figure does stand on it's own very well.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops on all the figures I've seen are quite good, although you can see that on Legolas face there are a couple little goops.  That seems common for Toybiz, and these are certainly better than the majority of their recent released.

The details on the bodies and costumes are very good, and the colors are consistent and clean.

Action Feature - ***
Lots of folks are going to be disappointed that they included an action feature at all.  A line like X-men Evolution makes sense to have something like this - it's a kid's line.  But these figures are clearly intended for a collectors market first, kids second.  And collectors have little desire for action features.  Okay, most collectors.

The action feature on Legolas involves squeezing his legs together.  Do so and he swings the blade in his left hand.  The feature works smoothly, and feels like it would hold up to plenty of serious play.

Shooting the bow is probably also considered an 'action feature' by Toybiz, but since it merely means he holds the bow and you pull back the string, I don't count it as much action.

Value - ***
This score is purely for Legolas.  The hobbits, with the cool dioramas, would get another half star, while something like the Newborn Lutz would end up with a lower score.  While the price might be consistent across the line, the value isn't.

Overall - ***
This figure was *this* close to a ***1/2.  I spent 30 minutes at the store deciding if I wanted more than one of these, and if I wanted to get the whole line.  I decided, after much pacing around, to only pick up one and see how they were.  After opening Legolas, I decided that while they were pretty nice, it was a line I could do without.  And that's why he didn't quite make that extra half star.

I'm holding out for the 12" line now... 

Where to Buy
Toys R Us is the first stores around here getting these, but I'm betting both Target and Wal-mart will have a ton in the next couple weeks. Try there first before you resort to on-line...

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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