Tuesday, December 10, 2013
First of all, right now I am focusing on getting the 6 inch scale figures. This is, of course, because they are compatible with the dozens of Toy Biz LOTR figures that already exist. And, as you can see, the first wave consists of Legolas Greenleaf, Azog, and Radagast the Brown. Of these, I now have Azog and Radagast; they are figures of characters that have never been made yet, and appear in both Hobbit films, and make perfect sense. But another Legolas? There was a Legolas in the last wave, and he didn't even appear in the first movie. I get it: that was Peter Jackson's fault, with his last minute decision to make The Hobbit into three films. But given the elf's already established presence in the line, couldn't his place have been taken by a new character? I, for one, would have loved a Balin, but if you had to have a matinee idol hero type, surely they could have had Bard (another archer appearing in DOS), or failing that at least one of the "heart-throb" dwarves, Fili or Kili? I get it, though. Legolas, Legolas, oh lovely Legolas, swoon swoon swoon. Plus, how economic to simply run it again! Just like the 3 3/4 inch scale Action Pack has only one new figure, Thranduil, in it. Anyone (like me) who have been collecting LOTR action figures for years already has a dozen variants of Legolas, and anyone new to the scene probably already has one from last year. Could we please just move on?
Okay, to focus on what we have been given. The figure of Azog the Defiler is a good sculpt, about seven inches tall, and nicely rendered, from his mass of scars to his kilt of tanned dwarf faces. He comes with his bone mace. The elbow and knee joints are rather stiff, and give the impression that if you tried to force a bend they might break. Neck, shoulder, wrist, and ankle joints are fine; the waist joint appears non-existent. So, posability limited, playability adequate, looks great.
I have written elsewhere in this blog that I love wizard action figures, so I am of course most excited about having Radagast the Brown at last in action figure form. This is a very nice sculpt, the face looks exactly like Sylvester McCoy's make-up (except he doesn't have one eyebrow up and one down). But the asymmetry extends through the rest of the figure: two different sleeves, two different shoes, show the patchwork indifference of the wizard, as does the bird's nest in his hair and the bird poop down his face. Details of hair, beard, and clothes are good, except if you look under his cloak, where it seems he is clothed in a featureless plastic onesie. Comes with his eccentric hat and gnarled staff. As with Azog, elbows and knees a little stiff, and no head turning on this figure, but he has a waist joint. So, once more, posability limited, playability adequate, looks great.
What is it with Bridge Direct? They have this great franchise, and I can't help but feel they've dropped the ball, somehow. This is how one representative described their policy decisions as reported at TheOneRing.net:
“We know many fans would like to see a wider range of characters offered for DOS, however this is the complete line for this film. We are huge fans of LOTR and Hobbit, and would like nothing more than to release figures of every character, but there are many factors that determine how many we can effectively produce.
For example, retailers have specific dates when new product goes into stores. To meet those dates, our development process starts 18 months before figures are in stores. This provides time for sculpting, painting, revisions, studio approval, manufacturing time, shipping, etc.
Therefore, if character appearance is not finalized that far in advance (particularly for digitally generated/animated characters), we cannot make them in time for retail launch. There is also the matter of minimum order quantities in manufacturing: we have to make 10s of thousands of pieces of each character! So if we include 10 characters in the 6″ figure assortment, that’s over 100k pieces of product, minimum. If our retailers can’t commit to buying that many pieces, we have to cut down the number of characters in the assortment to make the order quantity viable.
It was always our goal to offer the widest variety of characters possible in both scales, within the parameters of how much our retailers can sell. Based on sales of product from Unexpected Journey, we found that there was a larger market for the 6″ figures and therefore have been able to offer more characters in that scale.
We know the Tolkien fan base is passionate and appreciate their continued interest in our line. We also hope that the fans can appreciate our passion and commitment to quality, as well as the conditions that make it impossible to offer every character in every scale. Looking forward to the film and a successful sell-through of the figures at retail so we can offer more cool stuff for part 3!”
Anyone could have foreseen the popularity of the 6 inch line, and now hindsight can wonder whether it might not have been better to concentrate on that line and make a more diverse cast that would broaden its appeal. I know I would have bought more--if there had been more to buy. As it is, they seem to fall between two stools with their two scales. I hope they haven't self-destructed on the deal; I would like to buy more Hobbit action figures--more diverse action figures--for more years to come.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Even the village children feel that in some dim way the smith is poetic, as the grocer and the cobbler are not poetic, when they feast on the dancing sparks and deafening blows in the cavern of that creative violence. The brute repose of Nature, the passionate cunning of man, the strongest of earthly metals, the wierdest of earthly elements, the unconquerable iron subdued by its only conqueror, the wheel and the ploughshare, the sword and the steam-hammer, the arraying of armies and the whole legend of arms, all these things are written, briefly indeed, but quite legibly, on the visiting-card of Mr. Smith. Yet our novelists call their hero "Aylmer Valence," which means nothing, or "Vernon Raymond," which means nothing, when it is in their power to give him this sacred name of Smith--this name made of iron and flame. It would be very natural if a certain hauteur, a certain carriage of the head, a certain curl of the lip, distinguished every one whose name is Smith. Perhaps it does; I trust so. Whoever else are parvenus, the Smiths are not parvenus. From the darkest dawn of history this clan has gone forth to battle; its trophies are on every hand; its name is everywhere; it is older than the nations, and its sign is the Hammer of Thor.
But as I also remarked, it is not quite the usual case. It is common enough that common things should be poetical; it is not so common that common names should be poetical. In most cases it is the name that is the obstacle. A great many people talk as if this claim of ours, that all things are poetical, were a mere literary ingenuity, a play on words. Precisely the contrary is true. It is the idea that some things are not poetical which is literary, which is a mere product of words. The word "signal-box" is unpoetical. But the thing signal-box is not unpoetical; it is a place where men, in an agony of vigilance, light blood-red and sea-green fires to keep other men from death. That is the plain, genuine description of what it is; the prose only comes in with what it is called. The word "pillar-box" is unpoetical. But the thing pillar-box is not unpoetical; it is the place to which friends and lovers commit their messages, conscious that when they have done so they are sacred, and not to be touched, not only by others, but even (religious touch!) by themselves. That red turret is one of the last of the temples. Posting a letter and getting married are among the few things left that are entirely romantic; for to be entirely romantic a thing must be irrevocable. We think a pillar-box prosaic, because there is no rhyme to it. We think a pillar-box unpoetical, because we have never seen it in a poem. But the bold fact is entirely on the side of poetry. A signal-box is only called a signal-box; it is a house of life and death. A pillar-box is only called a pillar-box; it is a sanctuary of human words.
If you think the name of "Smith" prosaic, it is not because you are practical and sensible; it is because you are too much affected with literary refinements. The name shouts poetry at you. If you think of it otherwise, it is because you are steeped and sodden with verbal reminiscences, because you remember everything in Punch or Comic Cuts about Mr. Smith being drunk or Mr. Smith being henpecked. All these things were given to you poetical. It is only by a long and elaborate process of literary effort that you have made them prosaic.
--G. K. Chesterton.
The twin suns sink beneath the lake,
The shadows lengthen
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies
But stranger still is
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Song of my soul, my voice is dead;
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Cassilda’s Song in “The King in Yellow,” Act i, Scene 2, Robert W. Chambers.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
--from Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Read more: http://www.cracked.com/article_20615_5-ridiculous-myths-you-probably-believe-about-dark-ages.html#ixzz2gHRHuj7Q J. Wisniewski