Diamond Select has released their second series of Lord of the Rings figures, this time featuring the hobbit Frodo Baggins, and the frightening Nazgul. Do these new figures improve upon Gimli and Legolas from series one? Let’s take a look and find out.
I have been entranced with Middle-earth and all of its inhabitants for as long as I can remember. Ever since I saw that first Rankin/Bass take on The Hobbit, I have been a super-fan of all things Tolkien. It is probably my first “fandom” even if I didn’t know it at the time, and the characters, stories, and lore remain very important to me to this day. So, getting action figures is always a great thing when my hobbies collide, so I am always willing to check out new Lord of the Rings toys.
In fact, the original Toy Biz line based on Peter Jackson’s trilogy is something I still have in full, and proudly display. I am sure I will get blowback from this, but still think it was the best thing Toy Biz ever did. Fight me. Plus, along with Marvel Legends and World of Springfield, it is one of the original lines that really got me back into collecting. That line (and first movie) have aged to twenty years at this point, so it seems logical that it is probably time for a new toy line. Diamond Select took up the call, and while I was eager to see new toys, I met that news with a healthy amount of trepidation.
I have had my fair share of struggles with DST product in past, but LotR calls too strongly to me, so there was no way I was going to pass up trying out the first series featuring the elf and the dwarf. Gimli turned out mostly okay, but Legolas had a pretty start decline between prototype and final form (something DST is especially guilty of). Plus, the changed articulation schemes (they got worse) and cutting essential accessories really worked against the figures. Then Gollum arrived with no hair and my invisible Frodo has two left arms, so I was very much ready to chalk this up to what I was used to with a lot of Select figures and move on. But again, because this is Tolkien, I decided to allow a little more latitude and see if series two could course correct.
For the most part, I am very happy and pretty shocked to say it has. There is still, of course, room for more improvement, but this Frodo and Nazgul are miles better than series one in my opinion, so that is fortunate, and it has me in a spot where, if things continue down this path, I will be with the line for the long haul. I am admittedly not army-building this time around with the Nazgul, orcs, or Uruks, but I would love to at least get the full Fellowship (Boromir, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are still MIA), and would love to see things expand to The Hobbit to get Thorin and Company as well.
Frodo is probably my favorite of the two. He is not as impressive as figure, or even includes as many accessories as the Nazgul, but in terms of accuracy and functionality, he wins. The likeness is actually really good, much better than Legolas, and the paint work is strong, especially on the face. Again, poor Leggy has this weird red dry-brushing around the eyes that makes him look sick; Frodo is free of any of that and that improves the overall look quite a bit. His costume is faithfully rendered, and aside from that darned missing Lorien cloak, only the One Ring is missing from the prototype. I hate that the cloak is gone, but I guess I understand that from a cost-cutting measure, but the removal of the Ring is curious to me. Like, being the ring bearer is kind of Frodo’s thing, so not having a whiff of it left is just odd.
All of the articulation functions just fine for any Frodo-esque poses you will probably want. I am not sure if Frodo lost points from prototype to production aside from the omission of the double knees, but if he did, I certainly don’t miss any lost movement for him nearly as much as Legolas and Gimli. A few painted joints remain, and that is always less than ideal, especially at the wrists, so just be mindful of that.
Frodo is pretty limited in terms of dedicated accessories, but he does come with a chunk of Sauron (who is shaping up to be an absolute BEAST) as well as his cape, so it is hard to complain. Except for that cloak, I am not going to shut up about those. Frodo is RARELY seen without a cloak in the movie, so he feels a bit naked with that omission. I guess I have to throw my hands up at this point, but if you know of any good third party creators making Lorien cloaks for these figures, PLEASE let me know.
Anyway, Frodo comes with a nice version of his sword Sting, and that fits well into the scabbard. Fortunately Frodo is right-handed as his only left hand is open, so he cannot hold his sword that way. So again, extra hands would have been cool. Frodo also comes with the Phial of Galadriel which holds the Light of Earendil. Now, you are not seeing pictures of that here because this dummy dropped it while starting to take pictures, and I haven’t found again yet. So, let that be a lesson to you as it is small. It is pretty accurate though, but I guess you have to take me at my word on that.
The Nazgul is pretty great, too, and it is beautifully imposing. While I still cherish the old Toy Biz LotR line, we never really good a good ring wraith. The Witch King was mired with limiting action-feature, and the Nazgul that came in the steed set had some weird material combinations and again, limited articulation. So, really appreciate the most neutral nature of this release. I know that sounds weird to say, but as this figures stands tall without any strange pre-posing, the options open more. Yeah, the robes predictably limit a good deal of the articulation, but I was anticipating this. So, in the end, if it is going to be limited, he can at least look good, and this Nazgul looks great.
I love all the details in the folds and textures in the robes, and even underneath all of that, the armor is very nicely rendered. It sounds funny to say that the likeness is great for a figure that does not have a face, but the likeness is great for this figure, and it is the iconic look of the Nazgul in my mind’s eye, even down to the shape of the hood. The black visage and tattered robes surrounding the armor make for an imposing presence on the shelf, and damn it, this figure has me reconsidering my stance of not army-building Nazgul. This figure looks so nice they might end up getting me.
Now, I mentioned the articulation is limited by the make-up of this figure, and I was expecting that. I do wish the wrist articulation/sleeve shape worked better together so you can achieve variety of convincing sword poses, but it is pretty limited. I really don’t need my Nazgul to do much but creep and skulk around, but I would like to be able to achieve a few scary attack poses. Seeing pictures of Gandalf from NYCC make me nervous he will suffer from the same condition, but as long as he can hold his staff naturally, I will be good there.
The Nazgul comes with two swords, the Mogul blade dagger, as well the dagger and sword sheaths. The latter are pretty plain (the should most certainly have metal pieces at the top and end) and I have zero idea as to how to attach them to the figure aside from just getting the robes to hold them in place (but that method actually works, so yay?), even though that is not ideal. I do appreciate that you get both the Witch King and “regular” wraith swords with this figures, so you can have it your way, but I am going with the dagger for now. Again, you also get chunk of Sauron with this figure (the hips) and I am really excited to complete this guy, I looks like they are most certainly doing right by him.
Hey, this are looking up for this line, and as a big LotR fan, that makes me glad. It looks like series three is going to be hot on the heels for these two, so if you haven’t gotten Frodo and the Nazgul yet, you still can. I still hope we see some cloaks sometime for the Fellowship, but with any luck, this line will be around for a bit, I am excited to see what is next. Namarie.