7 Apr 2010

The Magical World Of Toy Vault's Middle-Earth

In 1969 Professor Tolkien sold the merchandise rights for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to United Artist (MGM) for £ 10,000 which does look really like nothing in today's money. Three years after Tolkien's death, United Artist sold the merchandise rights to Saul Zaentz Company which created the Tolkien Enterprises (now renamed Middle-Earth Enterprises). From this moment on all merchandise related to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit had to be authorized by Middle-Earth Enterprises. In 1998 a newly formed American Company called Toy Vault decided, after long thoughts, to acquire the licence to create a series of toys/figurines based on Tolkien's Middle-Earth tales. This was to be the first series of action figures ever produced based purely on a literary property and not on any cinematic adaptation.

Toy Vault took a different approach, with a focus on the literary work rather than movies. The artists involved did extensive research on Tolkien's descriptions used in the books for the characters, and asked fantasy artist Daniel Horne to make concept drawings and the execute the sculpting on many of the figures. And so it happened that Toy Vault produced were highly detailed and articulated beautiful toys of the characters as they appeared in the books. The toys (some of which are now very hard to find) come complete with many accessories in wonderfully designed packaging which includes concept art and original quotes from the books.

These toys were made for people to enjoy and be opened. Several versions of different characters were made between 1998 and 2000 when suddenly the line was discontinued probably due to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy's release and the need to produce merchandise based directly from the movies or perhaps the whole project was too ambitious , it featured only 9 characters with several variants of each of these, sot the line feels somehow 'unfinished' but what is available are truly wonderful and magical little toys. The attention to details is impressive, like the swords that have nicks where they have been used over time.

As I said some are harder to find then other. I've been lucky enough to come across Frodo, Gandalf and Lady Galadriel recently ...they were a little bargain, so I could not resist :)

I am still looking for the Barlog and Gollum which are really superb hence very rare. As I said its a real shame this series was discontinued, many of the characters are missing, notably the other Hobbits, Aragorn and Legolas , Arwen and so on. The Toy Vault Middle-Earth toys are really beautiful and what makes them even more special is the fact the artist based the toy design on the book and J.R.R. Tolkien's description of the characters. As you can see by my pictures, Mr. Frodo Baggins, Hobbit of the Shire is ready for a great adventure and will accompany me on my journey back to Middle-Earth (New Zealand) in few months time :)

Found:Toy Vault Middle-Earth Toys - Frodo, Gandalf, Galadriel

Where: Ebay UK

Price I did pay for it: £12 in total ($18.23 ~)

Condition: Mint complete with original packaging