Lord of the Rings has been a beloved franchise created from the mind of J. R. R. Tolkien. The first book, which was meant to be a sequel to Tolkien’s previous published book The Hobbit, was published in the mid-1950s, yet its impact still holds a considerable influence on pop culture today.
What started out as a series of books has grown into a franchise of movies, video games, and even collectible figures made in the likeness of the movie characters. Lord of the Rings has gone far and beyond what most books are able to do, and it still holds its place as best-selling novel of all time to this day.
The most popular film rendition to come out of the franchise has been Peter Jackson’s trilogy that depicts the events of every book in the series. The movies themselves have rendered a large fanbase on their own and, as a result, led to the creation of collectible figures released at the time of the movies.
Toy Biz Collection
In the year of the first movie’s release, up until two years after the last film’s release, a company by the name of Toy Biz began a collection of action figures to accompany the depicted characters.
Laser-scanning technology captured the facial features of each actor and portrayed it on a scaled replica. The figures could be posed, and they ranged from 4-14 inches. Over time, a total of four series were released for the franchise, each with their own individual packaging and versions of the same characters.
The figures released with Toy Biz were all packaged in what is referred to as “half-moon boxes.” These boxes have a clear plastic casing that gives visibility to the figure itself and wraps around about halfway through the packaging before being cut off by a sturdy strip of cardboard that is animated with specific scenery related to the movie.
These packages came in multiple waves that differed in terms of figure size, multiple characters, and box art; this was all dependent on which year the wave was released.
Each wave was released in individual series that varied from 4 to 5 per wave, which did not include special exclusives and gift packages released within each wave. The series included characters that may or may not have been featured in the previous wave, and often included different outfits and poses.
The waves covered all three movies and depicted many of the most significant characters, often accompanied by a particular weapon and positioned in a certain pose. A few of the main characters associated with the first movie were Boromir, Frodo, Galadriel, and Strider, along with an elven warrior and a unique twilight Frodo.
For the second movie, characters like Aragorn, Legolas, Faramir, Merry, and Pippin made their first appearance, or reappearance in a different costume, in the Toy Biz collection.
The third movie included characters like Smeagol, which came equipped with authentic movie phrases, and Saruman the White with his staff and the Eye of Sauron.
After Toy Biz
Toy Biz ceased production of their high quality detailed figures in 2005, but the desire to collect such figures did not cease. Lord of the Rings continued to hold a significant place in collector’s culture, and many other companies stepped up to provide their own take on the characters of the movies.
As the depiction of characters in figure form grew as an art form, individual characters from the movies were remade by a different company into figures once again, but this time with more features and greater attention to detail to truly appeal to the fans and collectors of these types of figures.
Asmus and Lord of the Rings
Asmus is the name of the toy company that took over making some of the most detailed depictions of Lord of the Ring characters available to date.
Their focus is strictly on characters from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, similarly to Toy Biz, and have once again revolutionized the ability to incorporate detail and features into a single figure, much like their predecessors.
Currently, Asmus is reproducing some of the most well-known characters of the franchise into figures once again and aims to develop a figure for many of the popular characters seen in the films.
One of the most iconic and identifiable characters from the franchise is Aragorn, played by Viggo Mortensen in the movies. In a 2015 release of his character by Asmus, the figure stood at the sixth scale with more than 36 points of articulation features.
These features include several pairs of hands that can be alternated to portray relaxed posture, weapon holding, and fists. Different weapons and armor are also included to be interchanged at the whim of the owner.
Unlike most of the former Toy Biz figures, this one stands on an interactive base that is just as detailed as the figure itself.
Merry and Pippin
Two other characters that were prominently featured in the Toy Biz collection were Merry and Pippin, who were portrayed by Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd, respectively. Although they were previously packaged separately in the series that Toy Biz put out, Asmus chose to release a sixth scale that contained both characters in one package.
Both characters have their own features, including handsets that are posed in a relaxing position, weapon holding position, and open palm position. Each character has their own distinct clothing and accessories specific to details of the movie.
Mouth of Sauron
Among The Return of the King figures Asmus has to offer is the Mouth of Sauron, played by Bruce Spence, in sixth scale. This figure has interchangeable mouths and a sword, and it stands on its own figure stand.
A newly released sixth scale figure from Asmus is Saruman, played by Christopher Lee in the movies. The figure guarantees an entirely realistic portrayal of the character and a similar set of hand pairs as the other characters.
Toy Biz paved the way for the creation of high definition Lord of the Rings collectible figures. They released figures in different poses, costumes, and expressions across the span of five years as the movies were being released.
Likewise, Asmus has mimicked the concept of creating incredibly detailed likenesses of the featured characters, but with something Toy Biz did not formerly provide: interchangeable accessories.
The expansion of this franchise and continued popularity of collectible figures is very telling of the future of the Lord of the Rings, and the worth of the figures created by Toy Biz, as well as those currently being produced by Asmus.