In honor of the release of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and in lew of my new job as your source for all things articulated and plastic on the Towel, I present to you dear readers a look at some of the greatest Tolkien toys ever created.
Don’t Forget a Towel proudly presents:
The 10 greatest Tolkien toys of all time (special extended 3 hour 45 minute cut…at 48 frames per second)
10. The Fell beast w/ Ring wraith, Toybiz 2004:
Of all the various beasts and monsters at Sauron’s disposal in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, none was more bad ass than the Fell Beast. Described very loosely by Tolkien and then reimagined by Peter Jackson as the baby of Satan and a Pterodactyl, nothing stands in the way of this awesome creature (unless you squat to pee). Toybiz did their best to release this to the masses in a way that wouldn’t cost a small fortune in 2004. What you have in the end is much smaller than it needs to be but is still insane at over 32 inches wide. This guy hit towards the end of the Lord of the Rings figures by Toybiz and it can set you back quite a lot of money; but it looks awesome in any collection.
9. Azog the defiler, SDCC exclusive, Bridge Direct 2013:
Leave it to Peter Jackson to take a character that’s just named in the friggin Hobbit story and make him into a full-fledged completely CG villain. Because he’s a creation of Peter Jackson the awesome is turned to 11. Not that being an albino orc was enough, he needs to be into body modification, giant wolf riding and have a hat rack for an arm too. Azog is one of a very few released Hobbit action figures from a company called Bridge Direct, who seem to be cutting their losses with the property as it wasn’t the money maker they hoped it would be. Regardless of that, this figure of Azog is head and shoulders above the others for the extras he comes with, in particular the severed head of the dwarf king Thror.
8. Super Deluxe Tree Beard, Toybiz 2004:
A giant talking tree god who helps two Hobbits reunite with their friends and discover who has been selling their pipe weed (read the books!), what’s not to love? This is one of the greatest figures to come out of the Toybiz line of Lord of the Rings toys for dozens of reasons but the fact he talks, he’s friggin huge, and he can carry two smart ass hobbits with ease; make him a must have for any Tolkien fan. This figure was also scaled down and released in the 7 inch scale if you wanted a smaller less cool version (you don’t, trust me)
7. 10-inch deluxe talking Gollum, Toybiz 2003:
I’m sure you’ve seen those very impressive quarter scale Gollum/Smegol figures from Neca, you know the ones that force you to buy two overpriced figures if you would like a cool larger Gollum with 2 heads. Well, what if I told you for the same price you could get an arguably better toy, in the same scale, which can be switched between Gollum and Smegol? It comes with a base, a fish, oh and it sings! This often overlooked Gollum toy was released with in the initial flood of Return of the King merchandise and got lost in the deluge of products. If you ever see one in the wild pick it up, you won’t be disappointed.
6. Theodred, son of Theoden, Toybiz 2004:
Fun Fact: King Theoden of Rohan was so grief stricken by the passing of his son (Theodred) on the battlefield; he was corrupted by the influence of Worm-Tongue. Because there is no better reason than the sheer “Why the hell not?” of it they made a figure of Theodred’s corpse. Upon initial inspection of the figure he seems like another guy with sword type until you notice the gaping wound in his stomach. Then you might also notice how he’s strangely possible to lay down and look like a guy who was just gutted by an orc. This one slipped by lots of people, if you have him in your Lord of the Rings display, make sure he’s posed laying down dead and not just standing there with a huge axe wound in his gut. Easily the most morbid of all the Tolkien stuff out there.
5. Balrog Battle Gandalf, Toybiz 2005:
Balrog Battle Gandalf makes this list for many reasons. One: it’s easily the best Gandalf figure to date, capturing the Gray Wizard at his final moments. Two: it’s a companion piece to another figure on this list, more on that later I’m sorry. And Three: this figure features one of the loudest most epic sound features I have ever heard in my life. Seriously for an 8 dollar toy this will make your ears hurt.
4. Sauron, Toybiz 2002:
Look at him, just look at him; do I really need to explain this to you? Hands down the coolest character design to come from Lord of the Rings. Toybiz went all out on this figure to make sure all of the proper ascetics were covered. The details are as close as you’re going to get, the sick mace is there, the rotten cape, again the figure talks, but far and away what makes the Lord of Mordor a must have; is the fact you can cut off his fingers and remove a 6 inch scale one ring. Random thought: I wonder if Sauron would find the Statue of Liberty hot?
3. Bendy Gollum/Smeagol, Toybiz various years
Bendy toys are a tough thing to pull off because seldom do you have anything that has a body that lends itself to looking realistic or being remotely playable in a bendable form. But when it works, my god is it a thing of magic. Imagine a cheap bendy Gollum you could place anywhere, in your office, on a Christmas tree, hiding in your wife’s box of tampons or even in your own Lord of the Rings themed manger scene. Back in the day, I bought dozens of these and just kept them around my house for no good reason other than my own childish amusement. I just covered one in chocolate cake and left it in the toilet to surprise my wife, because that’s how Tolkien would have wanted it. Precious!
2. The Balrog, Neca 2004:
Hate on Neca all you want, they deserve it most of the time, but when they come through, holy moly do they come through. Case in point, the largest Lord of the Rings action figure ever created, the Balrog. Conceived as part of Neca’s 18 inch figure line of Lord of the Rings characters the Balrog is more in scale to the Toybiz figures than he is to anything else. While I think the Balrog needs to be like 6 feet tall to be properly in scale, 2 feet isn’t bad either. This beast is the anchor to any Lord of the Rings display, if you can find somewhere to put him. The Balrog is notorious for taking up a massive amount of space in every direction and weighing well over 20 pounds. Display issues aside, you may want to just have fun with old Balrog and Gandalf as they have a dueling sound feature battle or dress him up like the son you never had and take him to the park, either way, if you don’t own this shame on you.
1. Tower of Orthanc, Lego 2013
Is this a curve ball perhaps? Were you expecting the Balrog to win? While the Balrog is all sorts of awesome nothing comes close to the pinnacle or Lord of the Rings cool, the Lego Tower of Orthanc. Seven stories of awesome, 2 and a half feet tall, it comes with an Ent, Gandalf, Saruman, Worm Tongue, orcs, skeletons, a giant eagle, and even references to every Lord of the Rings wizard even the twins! But forget all of that, this Lego monstrosity consists almost entirely of Black Legos, yes all 2300 pieces. I put down 2 hundred bucks for this beast, spent a week building it, and it stands now on my fireplace mantle like a crazy phallic exclamation point on my collection. If there was ever a reason to start buying Legos, this is it. If there was ever one Lord of the rings toy to rule them all, to find them, to bring them all and in the darkness bind them… it’s the Tower of Orthanc.
That’s it for the Tolkien Holiday Buyer’s Guide from DFAT. Hope you enjoyed, and I hope you pick up some of these for the Geek person in your life!