Okay, even though I am going to go see the Dark Knight Rises tonight and I am completely ecstatic about it, nothing–NOTHING–is holding my cinematic anticipation this year like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Yep, even in a year chock full of flicks like the Avengers, Prometheus, Moonrise Kingdom, and the aforementioned TDKR, I cannot even begin to put into words how excited I am about seeing Bilbo joining up with Thorin and Company to travel to the Lonely Mountain. As I am sure you can guess, being an avid action figure collector, I am also very excited for the influx of all of the merchandise that is getting ready to battle for my measly dollars in support of the film. My curiosity and hope for awesome action figures based on The Hobbit that might possibly be compatible with my Toy Biz Lord of the Rings figures has been running very high since the announcement of the action figure license holder, the new-comer, The Bridge Direct. Now, even with stalwarts like Hasbro and Mattel, it can be an anxious time waiting to see how action figures that you have a vested interest in will ultimately turn out; when they are coming from a company that you do not have a lot of knowledge or history with, the wait time can be agonizing. Well, fortunately, The Bridge Direct had a “preview” figure of their invisible Bilbo Baggins figure available at their shared space with Gentle Giant at SDCC. You bet I picked him up, so now you can see just how this is going to go.
I was actually pretty impressed with what I saw at SDCC from what was shown of the toys for The Hobbit, and that is coming from someone who is not a traditional 3¾ collector. See, while this Bilbo is in the six-inch scale, and there will be a collector line to accompany him, most of the toys will be in the smaller scale. I got to see characters like Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, and Thorin in the small scale, and I will be picking them up to help build the entire Hobbit universe. However, I am 100% naturally inclined to be more interested in the six-inch stuff. They were only showing off three figure from the standard line at SDCC in Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin, but in those example figures I was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief–they are going to blend in just fine with all of our current Lord of the Rings toys. Yay!
This is exactly what I have hoping for, and I am praying that this format and scale will be successful for The Bridge Direct so that we can get tons and tons of characters to go along with the three that have been shown. I am happy right now, but make no bones about it–they MUST get ALL of Thorin and Company to us in this scale and format. It is required. I realize that the 1:12 stuff is not their bread-and-butter line, so I am trying to remain realistic by not evoking names like Radagast, Bard, and Beorn (yet), but I am being dead serious when I say I NEED Balin, Dwalin, Gloin (especially Gloin), Oin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Fili, and Kili figures for this line. Now, that is a lot of figures, I realize that, but over the span of the next couple years I really hope that The Bridge Direct can come through for the fans on this. I talked with a few of the very nice folks that were there at the show, and while they had to be coy about several things, I did leave hopeful. I will remain that way, and I am very excited to see what will be coming next. Dwarves. I need them.
So what about Bilbo himself? Well, I am very happy to report that he was my sleeper purchase at the convention. I am having an awful lot of fun playing around with him. You can tell that the design team responsible for these figures (I don’t think it is coincidence that they were shown at the Gentle Giant booth) put a lot of thought into accuracy and articulation in the original designs for these figures, and, for the most part, I am pretty darned pleased with how this Bilbo figure came through production. Now, he is obviously not painted since he is an “invisible” variant, so we will have to wait for the final judgment on paint for the regular figures, but the likeness, construction, and poseablity are all solid.
This is the actual standard Bilbo figure, just cast in clear plastic, so I can make the assessment now that he, at the very least, will join my LotR collection without issue. Now, those Toy Biz figures, especially the later ones, were chock full of articulation, and even little Frodo and Sam were heavy hitters in that department. I don’t think this line’s focus will be to be THAT articulated, but Bilbo has all the needed points for a hobbit and they all work really well. His points include: ball-jointed head, partial ball shoulders, ball elbows (think “elbros”), wrist twists, waist twist, partial ball hips, ball knees (kneebros), calf twists, and hinge ankles. I don’t know about you, but that covers just about everything I need for a hobbit. The more important part is, though, that all of the joints work well and they are solid in construction. Bilbo can sit, stand, parry, creep, just about anything you need him to do well. After seeing the promotional shots of these figures a couple of weeks ago, I was most worried about the articulation, so I am very pleasantly surprised with just how good it turned out. Yay!
As I said, this figure is going to fit into your LotR collection just fine and if you see the pictures, the Hobbit Bilbo is actually a little smaller than the TB hobbit figures, but I am okay with that; in fact, I think I prefer this stature as it makes him even more “hobbity” to me. He does include his trademark sword Sting (it is pretty small) as well as his knapsack and canteen that are made from a nice, flexible plastic and can be removed. His coat and scarf are also flexible so they do not greatly hamper his movement, that is a point I always appreciate.
He comes packaged in a cool and collector-friendly “book” packaging (individually numbered) that can open to feature the figure and a brief biography. The inside looks like he is creeping through the goblin tunnels under the Misty Mountains where he has his faithful encounter with a familiar character. I am not one that normally keeps figures carded, but since there will be a standard version of Bilbo coming soon, I have put this one back into the “book” for display.
Okay, so right now, I am sold on this line. Final paints will be a big part of making the case for the collector editions to be a success, but what I saw at SDCC has me confident. Like I said, I am going to be going in for the 3¾ stuff too, but I REALLY, REALLY hope that the 1:12 figures have a nice long run and we are able to get to all of the Company. The standard figures are supposed to start hitting in September (I believe) and I cannot wait for Bilbo and Thorin, especially since I have never had an action figure of the latter. I believe Legolas and Tauriel, along with a deluxe Azog, were leaked as the other figures in the assortment (but no official confirmation yet), so I will be grabbing them all up as soon as I see them. This property is a BIG one for me, huge, even. I really hope that it is successful and we are able to go deep with the characters. Right now, I am willing to go all in, and I just want to be shown more as soon as possible so I know that some of my favorite dwarves will be featured in this “collector” scale. Exciting times seem to be ahead for us and I cannot think of a better way to wait out the movie than to be collecting the toys to support it along the way. Make it happen, The Bridge Direct!