#1594: Boromir & Merry



“One does not simply review a Boromir Minimate without referencing a Boromir meme”

Boromir (probably)

After the success of Marvel Minimates, the brand had big dreams.  In conjunction with Play Along Toys, they were able to snag the rights to Marvel’s distinguished competition (well, in a loop-hole-y sort of a way), as well as the rights to one of the hugest hits of the early ’00s, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Unfortunately, the line didn’t launch until after Return of the King‘s exit from theatres, meaning we only got two series of two packs before the line ultimately failed.  A lot of this had to do with the somewhat baffling decision to double release one half of each series two-pack.  Fortunately, by the second series, we were finally starting to get all-new packs, including today’s focus, Boromir and Merry!


Boromir and Merry were one of the five two-packs in Series 2 of the Lord of the Rings Minimates line.


You know Sean Bean had to have a good laugh when he got cast as Boromir, the only member of the Fellowship that dies over the course of the story.  I mean, Bean’s sort of the quintessential dead guy of Hollywood, so it’s really perfect casting.  Boromir and Faramir were two of my favorite characters from Lord of the Rings, and since Faramir never got a Minimate, I guess Boromir’s my guy.  As with all of the human sized characters, Boromir was built on LotR‘s new medium-sized base body, meaning he’s closer to the 3-inch mark than the standard ‘mate.  He’s still got the usual 14 points of articulation, albeit somewhat restricted by some of his add-ons.  Speaking of add-ons, Boromir has five of them for his hair, cloak, wrist bracers, and the bottom of his tunic.  All of these were unique to this particular ‘mate.  They display a simpler era of ‘mates, being without the texture work and dynamicism that newer ‘mates tend to have.  It certainly gets all of the important details, though, and Boromir is well-captured.  The paint follows the sculpt’s trend, erring on the side of simplicity.  I don’t know that his face looks all that much like Sean Bean, but it’s not as if it looks unlike him, either.  Boromir is quite well accessorized, including his sword (with scabbard), shield, horn, and a display stand.


Its a little weird to be looking at only one half of a duo, especially since it’s a two-pack based line and all, but here we are.  At least they were good enough to put Merry and Pippin both in the same series.  As a Hobbit, Merry was built just on the standard Marvel-style body.  He had add-one for his hair, cloak, and jacket.  His pieces are obviously more in line with Boromir, but the lessened detailing isn’t quite as noticeable at the smaller scale. I quite like how they’ve gotten the proper shaping to his hair; Frodo didn’t really look like the real person, but Merry is definitely closer, albeit in a cartoonish fashion.  The paint on Merry is pretty solid stuff, and I like the likeness on the face a lot, as well as the very slight way they’ve livened up his color scheme.  He definitely pops.  Merry is packed with his own sword (technically a dagger) and a sheath for it, as well as a clear display stand.


Series 2 of this line was pretty scarce, so I didn’t get any of them new.  I was able to finally secure this set just this past November, via Luke’s Toy Store’s special buy collection.  I’ve really picked up an appreciation for Boromir, and Merry was my favorite hobbit, so this set was a pretty cool find.  It’s reminded me of how much I loved those earlier ‘mates, as well.  Now, I just need to find myself a Pippin!

#1117: Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, & Gollum




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.


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.


frodosamgollum2Frodo, 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.


frodosamgollum3Where 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.


frodosamgollum4Oh 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. 


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!

#1076: Faramir in Gondorian Armor




Hey, remember how I didn’t really have a lot of Lord of the Rings figures in my collection?  Well, this summer I sort of tried to fix that.  Now, I’ve already looked at my favorite of the villains, the Witch-King, but what about the story’s heroes?  I think I’ve talked before of my aversion to main characters.  I gat why they’re there, and I even tend to like them, but my favorite characters are always the ones just slightly off the side of things.  For the Lord of the Rings, my favorite hero is definitely Faramir, brother of Boromir (I was also pretty fond of Boromir, too), and Ranger of Gondor.  Fortunately for me, Faramir got a couple of figures over the course of Toy Biz’s Lord of the Rings line, one of which I’ll be looking at today.


faramir2Faramir was part of the second series of Toy Biz’s Return of the King line (alongside the previously review Witch-King).  This was his second of the three figures he got from Toy Biz.  This one depicts him in his Gondorian armor from the last film in the trilogy.  It’s not his main look, but it got some decent play during RotK’s big battle scene.  The figure is a little over 6 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Or at least he should have 30 points of articulation.  Mine is down one of is bicep swivels, due to soft pegs and sticky paint, resulting in his arm tearing off on his way out of the packaging.  Fortunately, my handy dandy tube of super glue fixed him up, but now he’s a little more restricted.  As a whole, though, this guy’s a fair bit easier to pose than the Witch-King, which is certainly a pleasant change.  However, on the flip side of things, his sculpt is a little weaker than the Witch-King’s.  On the plus side, his head sculpt sports a pretty good likeness of David Wenham as Faramir.  It’s not as spot on as some of the figures in the line were, but it was definitely better than the Two Towers Faramir.  In particular, they did a good job capturing the slight detailing of his beard, and also avoided making his hair too bulky.  The rest of the figure is certainly well detailed.  The armor is very lovingly recreated, based on what Faramir is seen sporting in the film, and there’s some wonderful fine detail work exhibited by the various layers of it.  This figure’s biggest issue is proportions.  The head and torso are fine, but the arms end up being rather on the large side, resulting not only in them being out of scale with the rest of him, but also in him not being able to put them down at his sides properly.  The hands in particular are huge, and the elbow joints are painfully obvious.  The legs are also rather on the large side, with the feet definitely possessing a clown shoes vibe.  The overall appearance is fine, but it could certainly be better.  He also included an action feature, which is rather similar to than of the Witch-King.  When the button on his back is pushed, Faramir’s right arm swings down.  It works alright, but results in there being a rather obvious button on his back, which is rather frustrating.  Faramir’s paintwork is pretty good.  There are some minor issues here and there (the placement of the eyes being a major one), but he generally looks like he should, and he even has some cool washes on the armor to bring out more of the details in the sculpt.  Faramir included a sword and the helmet which accompanies his armor.  Both pieces are pretty cool, though the helmet is a little larger to accommodate Faramir’s hair.


I never had any of the Faramir figures growing up, which is sort of weird, because I always rather liked the guy.  I do remember this one, but I just never bought him for whatever reason.  I ended up finding back a couple of months ago from Complete In Box (at the same time that I got Tormund).  He’s not a perfect figure by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s still pretty cool, and I’m just happy to have a Faramir.

#1063: Morgul Lord Witch-King




My fandom of Lord of the Rings is something that can be described as “moderate” at best.  I’ve seen and enjoyed all three of the films, but never anything but the theatrical cuts (because I though 9 hours for the whole story was enough of my time).  I’ve read The Hobbit (and wasn’t that into it, to be totally honest), but none of the other books.  I enjoy the franchise as a whole and can really appreciate some of the characters and concepts therein, but you start to lose me if you get into the real nitty gritty stuff.  That being said, I did like the movies a lot, especially when they were new, and for me, that usually means a few action figures.  Fortunately, Toy Biz was there for me, producing a rather expansive line of figures based on the three films.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of my favorite designs from the movies, the Witch-King of Angmar, leader of the Ringwraiths, and one of the primary antagonists of the films.


witchking2The Morgul Lord Witch-King (as he’s dubbed on the box) was released in the second series of Toy Biz’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King line.  This was the point in the line where they had switched to the smaller packaging style, and were releasing figures from the entirety of the trilogy, but the Return of the King figures were still off on their own.  The Witch-King is based on his appearance in the third film in the trilogy, after he’s taken on a more unique, armor-clad look in order to lead the Morgul forces into battle.  It’s definitely an imposing look, and possibly my favorite from the whole trilogy.  The figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall (going to the top of his actual head; the tallest spike on his crown adds about an inch more) and he has 18 points of articulation.  Though Toy Biz were articulation nuts when it came to the concurrently running Marvel Legends, the LotR figures were a little more reserved.  The Witch-King has a decent selection of joints, but is admittedly a little hard to pose, mostly due to the heavy robes covering him.  You can still get some decent poses out of him, and it’s worth noting that he’s very steady on his feet, which is more than can be said for a lot of Toy Biz’s figures from the time.  He can also move his head, which puts him above any of the other Ringwraiths the line released.  The sculpt on this figure is very impressive.  There’s a lot of truly phenomenal detailing and texturing, just all throughout.  This guy really looks like a 4000 year old undead warrior.  He’s very imposing, which is what he should be.  Even the interior of his (hollow) hood is fully detailed!  The scabbard for his sword is permanently affixed to this figure, and it’s a little thicker than such a piece would be in this day and age.  Of course, after the issues with the fragility of similar pieces on Funko’s Legacy Collection Game of Thrones figures, I can’t really say I mind.  Perhaps the only real nit on the sculpt is the crown.  Due to safety standards, the points of his crown had to be rounded off, resulting in something that looks more like a deer’s antlers than it does the menacing helm of the Witch-King.  Not their fault, of course, but disappointing nonetheless.  The paint on the Witch-King is quite good, far better than you might think at first glance.  The whole figure has various washes and dry brushing, to help bring out the smaller details of the sculpt.  The end result is a quite realistic looking figure.  Definitely some of Toy Biz’s better work from this period.  The Witch-King included a sword and a mace, based on the weapons he had own the film.  He also had an action feature; when the button on his back (which is quite well hidden, it should be noted) is pressed, his right arm swings up and down, to either flail the mace or slash the sword, depending on how you have him armed.  I myself would have preferred for the feature to have been left out to facilitate better movement on the right shoulder, but the effect is decent.


I always wanted the Witch-King when these figures were new, but he was one of the harder to find figures in the line.  All I could ever find was his less-cool look from Fellowship, which just wasn’t the same.  Ultimately, I ended up selling off pretty much all of the figures in my (admittedly pretty small) Lord of the Rings collection, so I didn’t really think much of it.  This summer, I ended up finding this guy at Yesterday’s Fun, and couldn’t bring myself to put him back, despite no longer owning any of his companions.  He’s actually a really awesome figure, and was definitely worth the wait.  Of course, now I want more figures to go with him…

#0879: Orc Scout




Though it was rather short-lived in the grand scheme of things, the Lord of the Rings Minimates line certainly had big dreams. After the pretty huge success of Toy Biz’s line of more realistic figures, I guess AA and DST thought they’d get a lengthy run. This resulted in a number of rather important characters getting left out (Why couldn’t they get to the Witch King? Why?), but it also meant we got some more minor characters and looks we might not have seen otherwise. This included several different varieties of Orcs, such as today’s focus figure, the Orc Scout.


OrcScout2The Orc Scout was released in the second series of Lord of the Rings Minimates two-packs. He was originally packed with Grishnakh, one of the few named Orcs. Unlike the first series, the second round of figures were mostly new, so collectors weren’t forced to double up on previously released figures. The figure stands just shy of 3 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Yes, you read that height right; as a “normal” sized person in the LotR line, the Orc Scout uses a larger scale body. More or less, it’s the same as the regular body, but scaled up. In addition to the scaled-up body, the Orc Scout has add-ons for his cap/ears, and torso cover, as well as unique pieces for his gloves. When I reviewed Gimli, I noted how, as an earlier ‘mate, he was lacking in a lot of details. This isn’t the case with the Scout; his extra parts are actually quite nicely detailed, if perhaps not as jam-packed as some later figures. The pieces fit nicely, and generally do a nice job of capturing the Orc’s design, which is really great. Paint-wise, this figures a bit on the drab side, but that’s actually accurate, so you can’t really complain. The general application is pretty clean, and there are some nicely detailed bits, with the full face under the cap being a real standout. The Orc Scout included a bow and arrow, which are a bit difficult for him to hold the right way, but still cool.


The first series of two-packs from this line were a bit of a turn off, being somewhat hard to find and half made up of figures I already had. The second series fixed the line-up issue, but sadly was even more difficult to get, resulting in me never getting a single one of them. I found the Orc Scout at the same flee market that got me Gimli, Big Guy, and Perseus. I can’t say I’d had an undying need for the figure, but he’s actually pretty fun, and I’m glad to have found one.

#0874: Gimli




Over the years, Minimates have covered a whole ton of different properties, of all sorts of differing genres. The Marvel line has been DST’s flagship for quite some time, but they’ve experimented with other potential “seconds” at various points. One such experiment was Lord of the Rings, which they launched right after the release of Return of the King, in hopes of striking while the iron was still hot. At the time of the Lord of the Rings Minimates, DST/Art Asylum were still figuring out exactly what was the best way to distribute ‘mates, so they were available a few different ways. Initially, they were released as boxed sets of four, but the line eventually re-configured into the more standard two packs to which we’ve all become accustomed. Unfortunately, the characters from the boxed sets ended up getting re-packed, resulting in extras of those figures for the more faithful fans who still wanted the new characters in the packs. Today, I’ll be looking at one of the unique figures from the two-pack assortments, Gimli.


Gimli2Gimli was released in the first series of Lord of the Rings Minimates two-packs. His original pack-mate was Legolas (a logical choice), who was a repack from one of the larger boxed sets. The LOTR line is an oddity amongst Minimates, in that it isn’t in scale with the Marvel Minimates body that would go on to become the standard body for the brand, or even the earlier Star Trek/Music/Bruce Lee ‘mates. They were a scale all their own. However, being a dwarf, Gimli is actually an exception to this, and makes use of the body we’re all so familiar with. As such, he stands roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation (though the movement is restricted a bit by some of the sculpted parts). Gimli has sculpted add-ons for his helmet/beard, cape, skirt, and boots. Given how early on in the life of Minimates these figures came, the sculpts on the add-ons are a fair bit simpler than more recent stuff. That said, they capture the general look of Gimli pretty well, if perhaps in a more cartoonish style. Whether or not that particular style works for Gimli is another story entirely, but he certainly fit well with the rest of the line. He does seem a bit on the lean side for Gimli, especially at the arms and torso. Gimli’s paint is also pretty simple; it’s pretty clean and sharp, which is good. The colors are a bit brighter than you might expect, but it does the simplistic style some favors. The detailing on the helmet is pretty cool, and is definitely one of the stand out parts of the figure. Under the helmet/beard, there’s a full face, complete with…another beard. Hey, dwarves are supposed to be hairy. He doesn’t have the most striking resemblance of John Rhys-Davis, but he doesn’t not look like him either. Gimli included an small axe, which could be stowed on either side of his belt.


While I had both of the boxed sets from the LotR line, I never actually got any of the two-packs. It was in part due to not wanting to double up on the characters I already had, but also due to the two-packs being a bit harder to find. So, I never had Gimli, which was a darn shame. Fortunately, I found him on his own at a flea market last month, allowing me to get one more member of the Fellowship for my collection. Sure, he’s not quite as exciting as some more recent ‘mates, but he’s certainly not bad either.

#0022: Lord of the Rings Minimates Part 1



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.



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.


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.


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.