“Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air. I hear your breath. Come along! Help yourself again, there is plenty and to spare!”
O Smaug, the Magnificent — Peter Jackson gave you (SPOILER!) a fond farewell in The Battle of the Five Armies, the final addition to his Tolkien saga. I am giant Middle Earth mark, so while I don’t love the Hobbit films quite as much as their predecessors (I could write a month’s worth of columns on that alone), I have had a lot of fun on this ride. So while I might wince with the lack of dwarven character development, I will be one of the first to say that I found Jackson’s Smaug truly magnificent and most certainly the greatest of calamities. Well, almost the greatest of calamities.
See, as I am sure you can guess,aside from being a big Tolkien fan, I am also a big action figure collector. So, when two of my favorite things have the change to combine forces, I am pretty ecstatic. However, when it comes to action figure offerings for the Hobbit, to say that I am disappointed would be an understatement; in fact, I am really sad about the whole affair and now at the end of all things (in terms of Hobbit film releases), I am left with a collection more sparse than that for the putrid old Fantastic Four flick. Ugh.
The Hobbit line from The Bridge Direct started off so promising, too: there were figures in two scales, multi-packs, exclusives, the whole shebang. Then after the initial product offering, there has been, for all intents and purposes, nothing. Now, while I am a 6-inch action figure collector, I was willing to go all in at the 1:18 scale as well because I love the property so much, but I was not given an opportunity to even try. Heck, I sit here with less than half of Thorin and Company and I really numb over that fact. You can talk about demand and changes to the movies and while some of that might be valid, but in the end, an action figure line can be successful despite those challenges. For such a huge property with years-long potential, The Bridge just has not been able to pull it through, and that is just really, really sad, especially to think of what could have been.
So, in what was a likely requirement by Warner Brothers, The Bridge released a final figure in the form of Smaug, and for what he is, he is our feature. I will be honest, I was going to write this article last week when I received this figure in the mail, but once I opened the box, I was so deflated that I just could not muster the nerve to write. I pre-ordered this figure way back in August, so I was still excited to get it, but then when I saw what I paid $70.00 for, I simply thought, “Well, this is certainly going out with a whimper.”
I will be completely frank: size of the figure and thus, the value offered for the price is what sinks this figure. By that, I mean, it completely sinks this figure because I just cannot justify recommending this piece for the price that is being charged for it. The boasted 22″ wing span is a stretch at best, and most of the figure’s size comes from the tail, and that is pretty defeating. It would be easy to just dismiss this figure entirely if the sculpt and other things weren’t there, but Smaug does have a few things working for him, but NOTHING so exceptional that it justifies the price tag.
Smaug was sculpted by Gentle Giant, the company that has been used for the deign and sculpt (pre-production) for the entire Hobbit line. Now, while things did not always come through production perfectly, GG has been doing good things, but we never really got to see much of it. So, the sculpt of Smaug is actually pretty nice, but I am sure it lost a bit in production. The likeness is good, too, and he is pretty on-model with the movie, though his head seems a little small.
The articulation is decent as well, at least in terms of points. The wings are articulated in two places, his legs move at the hip and his bendable tail twists as well. His neck is the big winner, though with four separate points from shoulders to head, and his jaw can open and close to help achieve a variety of pretty expressive looks. The issues with the articulation is that he cannot stand without help and the ratchet joints on the left wing on my figure broke on the first move. That means that wing is now very limited in terms of movement and his gone pretty floppy. At 70 bucks, that is pretty unacceptable.
There is some subtly airbrushing on the wings and body to add a bit of paint depth, but the detail work leaves something to be desired. Smaug’s intricate details offer a playground for paint details, but TBD did not really take advantage of this and it hurts the figure most in the detail on the head. The paint is not terrible there, but there are a lot of spots where more applications could really enhance the likeness. Again, this is something that should just be expected in a $70.00 figure.
Oh, and the figure includes a TINY Bard figure with a wind lance and Black Arrow. This is such an afterthought, and an inaccurate one at that (see the movie). The worst part is that Smaug is not even big enough to be in scale with a figure that is smaller than a Lego mini-figure.
So that is really it. And by “it” I mean the Hobbit line from the Bridge Direct. I had such high hopes and nothing really materialized, but I think that is because the line was not managed to what people were wanting from the property, especially the collectors. I think there is still a lot of life left in The Hobbit (and LotR) from a collector standpoint, so I hope a company like Funko will sweep in and make a great collector line. Get me some dwarves, and Thranduil and Beorn, and at a scale that will fit in with my AMAZING Toy Biz figures. That sounds like a great idea for another article…
For Smaug though, unless you have the disposable income and are a HUGE fan of the property, you should probably just skip this. By this point, TBD did not create a line that sold for them so this feels like it was approached with “let’s get this over with” attitude, and that is such a shame. I was surprised when I leaned the acquired the line, while I was hopeful, I was scared they might have been out of their depth, and ultimately, it looks like they were. Smaug is a tiny figure and huge disappointment. Sigh, let’s look to the future and maybe better things are in store for us fans of Middle-Earth.