GOLLUM, GANDALF THE WHITE, URUK-HAI BERSERKER & FRODO BAGGINS
LORD OF THE RINGS MINIMATES
The figures in question today are another set from the Minimates masses. This time they come from Lord of the Rings, one of the first licenses to be attempted after the booming success that was Marvel Minimates. They were released initially as to 4-packs: 1 containing Frodo, Gandalf, Gollum and an Ork; the other Aragorn, Legolas, Saruman and Twilight Frodo. Today, I’ll be looking at the former set.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
First up is the story’s lead character, the hobbit Frodo Baggins. Frodo is built on the basic Minimate body, so he stands a little over two inches tall, and has 14 points of articulation. His sculpted pieces include: Hair, elven cloak, belt, and his trusty sword Sting and a scabbard. These minimates are from an earlier time in the line, when the figures were more simplistic, so Frodo is sculpted to match this style. As such, he’s a good deal less detailed than a modern ‘mate. All in all, Frodo’s a pretty solid Minimate, but he represents one of the recurring issues with minimates as time has passed, and the line has evolved: the older offerings don’t fit in with a lot of the new figures.
Next is Gollum, or is it Smeagol. I guess he’s technically both. Gollum/Smeagol is also built on the basic Minimate body. His only sculpted piece is his loincloth-thingy. All of his other details are painted. Admittedly, the figure captures the character’s look rather well, but I can’t help but feel that this guy’s a little bit on the boring side.
Next is one of the more straight forward villains of the films, the Uruk-hai Berserker. For brevity’s sake, I’ll just refer to him as Uruk. Now, Uruk here is technically an army builder*. His purpose as an army builder is a bit defeated a bit by packing him in a boxed set with 3 other “non-army builders,” but that hardly impacts the quality of the figure. Uruk has two sculpted add-ons: his loincloth and his helmet. Both are well done, especially the loincloth, which has a very nice sculpted texture. Uruk’s paintjob is probably the most complex of the set, with detailing on practically every surface. Of particular note is the full face detailing under the helmet, allowing Uruk to be displayed sans helmet. Though he’s the only non-named character in the set, Uruk is, in my opinion, the most standout ‘mate in the set.
GANDALF THE WHITE
Last up is another of the main characters from the films, as well as a major character in the current Hobbit films, Gandalf. In particular, this is Gandalf the White, depicting the wizard in the garb he wore after his assumed death at the hands of the Balrog in the first film (umm…spoilers?). Unsurprisingly, Gandalf is predominately white. Well, off-white, but that’s splitting hairs. Gandalf is built on the larger (But not largest!) minimate body, but still features all the same articulation as his smaller counterparts, although his hair and skirt pieces do restrict the neck and legs respectively. Gandalf features the most sculpted pieces of the set: Hair and beard, cape, skirt-piece, and two pieces that slide over the wrists to simulate Gandalf’s longer sleeves. As far as painted details, Gandalf is fairly basic, with his only real detailing being on his torso and face. The torso is fine, but the face is nothing short of amazing. The designers managed to capture Sir Ian McKellen’s likeness perfectly in just a few simple lines. Wrapping things up, Gandalf also features his wizard’s staff. It’s decently sculpted, although it does have a tendency to bend in the middle over time.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
So, all in all this is an okay set. It’s definitely a product of its time, when Minimates were much more simplistic. While that worked well for characters such as the Marvel super heroes, who thrive on simplicity, I don’t feel that it works quite as well with characters like these, who don’t have particularly dynamic designs. The strongest figure in this set by far is Uruk, who is the one figure that I feel comes closest to the modern standards of minimates.
The other big issue this line has is that it doesn’t really fit in with any of the other Minimates lines. In order to accommodate the smaller size of the hobbits, they made the human characters larger, putting this line in a scale completely its own.
I got this set for my birthday the year it was released. I remember enjoying it, but not quite as much as my other minimates. In this set’s defense , I am a lot more of a Marvel fan than a LOTR fan.
*For those not in the know, an army-builder is a figure, typically of a nameless character, that can serve as a generic member of an army of similar characters. Army builders are meant to help you build an army at a greater speed, by letting the collector have a figure they can buy a large quantity of at once. It is also beneficial to the toy company, as they get greater sales without having to tool new figures. A good example of an army builder is the Stormtroopers from Star Wars.