FRODO BAGGINS, SAMWISE GAMGEE, & GOLLUM
LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING (TOY BIZ)
Hey look! More Lord of the Rings stuff. In my last LotR review, I noted that over the summer I picked up a handful of figures from Toy Biz’s Lord of the Rings line. Today’s figures make up the rest of that handful. Or something like that. So far, I’ve looked at the Witch-King and Faramir, neither one the most major of players in the story (what can I say? I’m a background character sort of guy), but today I’m changing that up and looking at three characters who are at the very center of the story: Frodo, Sam, and Gollum.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
These three were released as part of the “Mount Doom Gift Pack” from Toy Biz’s Lord of the Rings: Return of the King line. The set is made up of three previously released figures, with Frodo and Sam hailing from a two-pack released towards the end of the Fellowship line and Gollum being a re-release of his Two Towers figure.
Frodo, the nephew of The Hobbit’s titular character Bilbo, is the central character of Lord of the Rings, being the one tasked with taking the one ring to Mount Doom to destroy it. He was privy to his fair share of figures from the films, of varying quality. This one presents him as he appears for most of the three films, in his vest, jacket, and cloak. The figure stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and has 16 points of articulation. The sculpt on this figure is pretty decent. The clothing has some very nice texture work, especially on the tweed jacket. The coat is pretty windswept, which is usually the sort of thing that I don’t like on particularly posable figures. That being said, it’s actually pretty well rendered, and doesn’t look as silly as some attempts at the effect. The likeness isn’t the best Elija Wood that Toy Biz produced, but it’s alright. While it’s not his spitting image, you can pretty easily tell who this is supposed to be. His cloak is a removable piece, and is sculpted with a windswept style that matches that of the jacket. Like the jacket, the effect works pretty well (I’m generally more open to such an effect on capes and cloaks anyway). The texturing is once again pretty solid, offering a fairly believable cloth-like feel. The paintwork on the figure is pretty decent overall. The base color work is all pretty solidly handled, with everything more or less matching up to the colors from the film. There’s a bit of accent work here and there, which helps to highlight some of the sculpt’s finger details. There was clearly an attempt to add some color to Frodo’s cheeks, but I’m not sure it worked out as well as the painters had hoped. He ends up looking like he’s been outside on a rather cold day. Frodo includes his sword/dagger Sting, as well as a removable scabbard for Sting to be stored in.
Where would Frodo be without his faithful gardener Sam? Eaten by a giant spider at the very least, that’s for sure! Frodo may be the central figure of the story, but Sam’s definitely the heart. While Sam wasn’t quite as action figure heavy as Frodo, he did still get a fair number. This figure matches up with Frodo in terms of where in the movies he hails from. The figure is about 3 1/2 inches tall and has the same 16 points of articulation as Frodo. There was actually a version of this figure, released as a single-carded figure during the Two Towers line, which had bicep swivels as well, but they opted for the slightly less articulated version here, probably to keep him consistent with Frodo. Sam’s sculpt is pretty much on par with Frodo’s, if not maybe a little better. His slightly larger build has been translated pretty well, and there’s still a tremendous amount of texturing and small details, with the jacket once again being some of the best work. Sam’s clothes are a lot less windswept than Frodo’s, making him a more basic figure, which I certainly appreciate. His head sports a pretty decent Sean Astin likeness, which definitely feels better than the Wood likeness on Frodo. He has a removable cloak, which is blown back, rather than going in one particular direction. He’s also got a removable satchel, which is a cool little piece. Sam’s paintwork is a touch more drab than that of Frodo, but no less well-rendered. The colors still match up pretty well with those of the film, and there’s plenty of nice accent work, especially on the coat and hair. Sam is packed with his sword and a scabbard for it. His skillet would have been cool too, but I guess that was too much.
Oh Gollum, how hard you tried. No matter what you did, you always came up a bit short, didn’t you? Even on this figure! Yeah, so the packaging, the solicitation, and even the little figure illustration on the back of the box indicates that the Gollum figure that was supposed to included in this set was the actually articulated Gollum from the Return of the King line. Instead, we got the bendy figure from the Two Towers line. It’s nowhere near as good. The figure is a little under 3 1/2 inches tall and, depending on how you look at it, has either no articulation or infinite articulation, thanks to the whole bendy thing. I’m leaning more towards no articulation myself. Don’t get me wrong, there are figures where the whole bendy thing works out alright, but I don’t think Gollum is really one of those. He’s really only good for sort of awkwardly standing there, and he’s not even particularly good as that, because he falls over a lot. Okay, I’ve given him crap for the articulation, but how about the actual sculpt? It’s actually not bad, especially for being a bendy figure. It does a pretty good job of capturing the CG model from the films, and pretty much looks the part like he should. The details are a little softer on him than on the straight up plastic figures, but that’s to be expected to a certain degree. When this figure was released individually, there were two different heads available: the angrier Gollum head (seen here), and the friendlier Smeagol head. As far as I know, the boxed set version only had the Gollum head (which makes sense for the Mount Doom theme). He does end up with a rather obvious seam at his jaw line, but it’s not immediately apparent from every angle, so it’s not the end of the world.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Back when the LotR films were still new, I actually had the Frodo and Sam pack from which the two in this set initially hail. In fact, they were my very first LotR figures. For whatever reason, I parted with them during one of my many collection purges. I ultimately ended up regretting that, but never got around to tracking down a replacement. I ended up finding this set at a nearby goodwill for like $10. So, I not only replaced my original Frodo and Sam, but I also got a Gollum too! Sure, he’s not a really good Gollum, but he’s better than nothing!