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Review of Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure

Asmus Toys
Date Published:
Written By:
Overall Average Rating: 2.5 out of 4

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Introduction

Asmus Toys has released their fourth figure in their Lord of the Rings sixth scale line, and it's finally one of the Fellowship. Gandalf makes his first appearance, but not in his gray duds, but in his risen from the dead whites.  This guy has been shipping for awhile now, but finally started hitting the States just this last week.

You should be able to find him for around $160 or so, depending on the retailer. Remember, this is one of the figures that includes a 'Build An Orc' piece, and it's the very critical and important head. Even an Orc isn't much good without a head.

Aragorn should be next on the list, although we should also see some horses coming out quite soon (already available for order) that include both brown and white versions. While these are intended for the LOTR license, there's a ton of additional potential with other characters (think Indy or POTA), so a lot of folks are hoping they turn out well.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Packaging - ***1/2
The shoe box style package is pretty basic, but it does hold the figure and accessories quite safe, and in a completely collector friendly way. You can pop everything out easily, and always put it back later without any mess, damage or fuss.

I upped the score slightly here because I also really like the white and gold design.  While the earlier boxes were appropriately grubby, this one has that fresh, clean look you associate with Gandalf the White.

There are some basic instructions for the belt as well, hidden under the black stand base.

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Sculpting - **1/2
Let's address the elephant in the room first. It appears the elephant sat on Gandalf's head. Yes, the head is too narrow. There's no arguing it, there's no denying it, there's no blaming it on the lighting or the phase of the moon. It's too narrow.

That being said, it's not as bad in person as I expected. It's still unacceptable, but it isn't quite into goofy realm.

That's because there are two other factors that contribute to the elongated look of the head. One is the long hair and beard, which draw out the portrait to the eye, making it look taller and thinner than it should.

The second is more critical, and one that you will probably be able to hack for yourself with some basic skills. The head does not sit properly down on the neck, riding well above and leaving a big gap. I've included a photo from the side so you can see this gap.

Because of this, the head is much too high on the shoulders, and the overall effect is one of a stretched out head.  I hope there's a way to fix the neck, but I'm concerned that with the way the beard and hair are sculpted, simply shortening the barbell post or neck itself will bring the facial hair down too far on the body, making movement of the head impossible.  I'm going to let someone else be the guinea pig on this one.

The likeness is not bad though, and there's no confusing Gandalf with Dumbledore. Even without the elongation of the head it's a bit caricaturish, but I'd rather that than something unrecognizable or soft.

The hands are pretty basic stuff, much like you'd expect with a off the shelf body. They work well enough with the accessories though, and the proportions are reasonable.

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Paint - ***
This is one of those cases where I think the paint work actually improves on the situation with the sculpt. The work is accurate and clean, with some nice highlighting in the hair. Details of the expression are brought out by the subtle paint work, and while it's not quite at the quality of Hot Toys or Enterbay, it is appropriate for the price point on this figure.

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Articulation - **
While most people that do not own/handle this figure will have their major issues with the sculpt, it was with the underlying body that I had most of my problems.

The previous Asmus releases had some trouble with loose joints, but it wasn't extreme.  I know I was luckier than some though, in the loose joint lottery. This time around, I had a lot of trouble with knees and elbows being too weak for a lot of poses, and overall the body just doesn't give you the sort of fluid, strong stances that you want at this price point.

My main issue was with the wrists, or more specifically, a broken left wrist peg. There is a screw in the forearm of the underlying base body, and I suspect that this screw holds the wrist post in place, unlike other standard sixth scale offerings out there. I haven't actually confirmed that yet - I don't want to dismantle the other wrist until I get a replacement body for Gandalf - but I think that's the case, and I understand why they might go that route. It does mean that all hand swapping is done by popping off the hand on the very small peg on the outside of the wrist ball joint, but that's okay. That is, until the entire ball snaps off the post inside the arm. I've contacted Asmus to get some sort of replacement, either just a wrist post or the forearm (they pop off pretty easy too), but if they have nothing available I'll have to buy a new body for this guy. To finish the shoot, I swapped in a Hot Toys peg from a slender body, but it's not a great fit. Any suggestions?

Regular readers know how annoyed I get when things break right out of the package, especially things that cost this much money. Including extra wrist pegs has become an industry standard, and Asmus needs to follow suit.

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Accessories - ***1/2
Gandalf comes with a handful of extras, not as many as I'd like, but enough to get by.

There's his staff of course, as well as his sword, Glamdring. The sword is metal, but much more lightweight than most metal accessories. He'll have no trouble wielding it, and it fits nicely in the provided scabbard.

The sword is a bit shiny and clean, however, and it lacks some of the detail you might expect. There's no runes or inscription, and the shape of the pommel seems a little off to me.

The staff is screen accurate, considering the scale, and fits nicely in either hand. It's easily my favorite of the accessories, and is a must for the display.

There are an assortment of hands - 6 altogether. There's a couple fists, a couple relaxed, a couple gripping, the usual assortment for holding and working with the accessories. I've already complained about the issues with swapping them, so I won't beat that dead Shadowfax again.

He comes with not one but two display stands. There's the basic black version, as well as a sculpted stone. The latter is larger, mossy and very nicely done. The black support post can be used with either of these bases.

Finally, Asmus is doing something pretty cool with their Lord of the Rings line up. The are doing a 'Build an Orc' promotion, where a piece of the unnamed Orc comes with various figures.  The large flag that comes with Guritz actually belongs to this new Orc, and Gandalf comes with his helmeted head. Aragorn is the next figure that will include a piece.

This helmeted head (the helmet is not removable) looks great, and I really love utilizing the BAF concept with a sixth scale line. I hope we see some other companies pick up on this idea *cough*Hot Toys*cough*

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Outfit - ***
The outfit is nice work, just not particularly screen accurate.

The boot sculpt is attractive, and they don't cause him to have issues with various stances.  The underlying white robes and pants look good, with some quality tailoring and materials.

I particularly like the stitching on these robes, done in a white thread.  It's hard to see under the vest, but it's there, and it's very nice work.

I didn't remove the vest to show it off though, because the vest has one of those very tiny zippers in back. My frustration levels were already at the top of the meter, and tiny zippers can be notoriously tough to get back together.  While I'm not thrilled with the vest, I do want to display him wearing it.

Which brings us to said vest, and it's dark, dark thread pattern. Overall, the entire piece of clothing is too dark, and simply doesn't match the on screen version. It's nice looking - well tailored and made from high quality material - but this lack of screen accuracy brings down the overall score.

The outfit finishes off with robe and belts.  The belts are made from a thin leather, with a metal 'buckle'. You loop the belt material through these metal buckles for the main belt and the smaller sword belt. The instructions will show you how to get the belt working, but I'm not thrilled with the end result. While this does match how it was done on screen (certainly better than the vest), in practice it does a poor job holding the scabbard. I tried tying it in a couple different ways, and was never totally happy with the final result.

But let's end on a happy note - I do like the cape quite a bit. You have to pop off the head to put it on, since it's actually sewn shut at the neck, but that's no problem.  The clasp tends to sit a bit high on the body, getting covered up by the beard, but the overall stitching and fit are extremely nice. You'll notice a lot of wrinkles right out of the package though, due to how it's folded up inside the tray. An ironing or a water treatment will fix that right up.

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Fun Factor - ***
If you can avoid issues with swapping hands and loose joints, you'll have some fun posing and displaying this guy. I'm looking forward to Asmus' release of the white horse in sixth scale, so Gandalf can ride the shelf on Shadowfax!

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Value - ***
He comes in at a very good price, considering the current sixth scale market. You can pick him up for around $160 or so, a solid value. If you can avoid the problems with the wrists and previous issues with floppy joints, you end up with a very good deal.

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Things to Watch Out For -
Obviously, you'll want to take care when swapping the hands around. Other than that, I didn't find any issues that require extra attention.

Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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Overall - **1/2
Some figures have a lot of little issues across all aspects, none of them enough to ruin a single category score, but added up they take a serious hit on the overall impression of the product.

Other times, a figure can seem to have most of its bases covered, but one or two serious issues end up taking down the overall. This latter description is the situation with Gandalf.

The accessories are a solid effort, with decent quality and number. The outfit has some problems with screen accuracy, but does make up for it with the overall quality of the stitching, tailoring and materials. And the paint work shows promise, particularly at this price point.

But the head sculpt is not sufficient this time, and the base body is underwhelming at best. These are two hugely important characteristics of any sixth scale figure, and missing the mark in both hurts the figure in a big way.

I suspect that with Aragorn we'll see a much improved portrait, but Asmus must get the issues with loose joints and breakage with the body under control if they want to take the next step.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - **1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **
Accessories - ***1/2
Outfit - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- has him in stock for $160.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I've covered the other Asmus releases, including Gothmog, the Morgul Lord, and Guritz.

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Gandalf the White - Lord of the Rings action figure by Asmus

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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