Burger King Lord of the Rings

I haven't been buying Happy Meals toys in years.  I used to buy them all the time, but I was able to break the habit with much effort.

Then we had the Spooky Light Ups.  Then Mickey D's followed with Monsters Inc., one of the best kid's meal lines in ages.  And now Burger King comes back with a third punch to the chin - Lord of the Rings.

There are 19 (nineteen!) figures in this assortment. Why 19?  There were 20 rings if you include the Great Ring, so it seems odd they chose 19.  Each one comes with a base that either causes the figure to light up, or talk and light up.  Obviously, light up features are hot these days.  The bases form a circle around the central piece, the 'One Ring'.  Turn the center ring will cause each of the light up or talking features to activate around the circle.

Fortunately, with this many figures they aren't as expensive as the Monsters Inc. figures were.  I found them at the first BK I hit for about a buck each.  Your mileage may vary.

Pictured in this review are 'assortment 2' as labeled on the box - Arwen, Strider, Gandalf, Merry, Pippen, a Lurtz, Boromir, Legolas and an Orc.  The central ring, pictured below, appears to ship separately.

Sculpting - **
These are pretty weak sculpts, even for kids meal toys.  Several of the figures really look off, particularly Arwen.  Her scale is way off to the rest of the set.

Trying to do anything with this much detail in this small of scale is difficult, and if these figures had been just slightly bigger I'm sure the sculpting wouldn't have suffered so.

Paint - **1/2
The paint ops aren't too great either.  While they are certainly sufficient for the cost, there are some pretty sloppy areas.  In particular, the extra strip of gray hair across the top of Gandalf's forehead seems oddly out of place.

Again, you really don't expect too much from a kid's meal toy, but the bar has been raised in recent years even with these toys.

Articulation - *
Most of the figures have one point, often the neck or the waist.  Nothing too exciting here, but the are really just little statues.  Of course, that makes the poorer sculpting even more noticeable.

Accessories - ***1/2
The bases are the cool item here.  Overall, I think the concept of the interconnecting, interoperable bases is great.

The bases fit together fairly well, although you have to be some what particular on who stands next to who, since some figures are much larger than others.

Play Factor - ***1/2 
With the cool bases, central 'ring', ring theme for the entire set, and sheer number of figures, the play and fun factor on these is very high.  Kids will enjoy getting the whole set, but even if they don't they'll still enjoy the individual toys.  Turning the ring lights it up as well, but the turning mechanism is a little tight and works better with some of the figures.

The light up features all worked well, and are a neat touch.  Only three of these nine speak - Gandalf, Legolas and Boromir, and only Gandalf both lights up AND speaks.  I'm surprised that more don't, and I'm not sure why some do and others don't.

There's another feature to these figures.  Each comes with a 'magic message'.  Go to the Burger King site and enter the message, and you get a sweepstakes form to fill out.  They are giving away 100 sets of the toys.  This is fairly weak though, since you have to buy the toys to get the messages to get the forms to win the toys you already bought.

Value - ***1/2
Kid's meal toys are always a great deal.  At around a buck, you're getting a pretty decent PVC, with a neat little base.  Tie that in with a great license, and you'll always have a winner.

Overall - ***
They aren't perfect, and certainly not as all around terrific as the Monsters Inc. figures from McDonald's last month, or even the Spooky Light Ups from BK several weeks ago.  But they are fairly true to the license, and have some great extra features.

Adding both speaking and light features, along with the 'ring' theme and the magic messages, make this set a terrific toy for kids.  There's lots of thought that went into this promotion, and it shows.

The Offer - 
There is also an offer for a free Toybiz Uruk-Hai action figure with each BK toy.  Just send in the coupon from the toy, along with the proof of purchase symbols from four Toybiz LOTR figures,  and the dated cash receipt.  The offer is good until March 31st, 2002.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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