When I saw the final movie in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy in winter 2003, I thought that The Hobbit movie would surely be out within two years, three tops. Even though 2006 seemed an eternity away back in the ninth grade, I was willing to grant Jackson and New Line Cinema ample time to craft yet another Middle-earth masterpiece that would make author J.R.R. Tolkien proud.
Needless to say, the entire mid-’00s passed by without any suggestion that Jackson would ever start filming the highly-anticipated prequel to one of the most successful film franchises in Hollywood history. Jackson and New Line had been squabbling over profits from 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, with a New Line executive going so far as to say that the acclaimed director would never work with the studio again.
Luckily, the two sides made like Sam and Frodo and patched up their differences, with filming for a two-part Hobbit project finally beginning early last year. I like to think that no feud actually ever existed and that it was all a cover-up for the fact that Jackson had been on the treadmill for the past seven years.
It’s a little late for Christmas 2006, but popular Tolkien fansite TheOneRing.net recently announced the upcoming release of The Bridge Direct’s line of action figures based on the first installment, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is due to hit theaters this December.
You’ll have to forgive me for getting so excited in July for a movie that won’t arrive until there’s about 10 feet of snow on the ground here in Minnesota. I figure I (along with millions of Tolkien fans worldwide) have already waited 103 months since the release of The Return of the King, so what’s another five? If they’d delayed The Hobbit any longer, I would’ve grabbed my One Ring replica and taken a chance with Smaug myself.
The Bridge Direct, previously best known for its Justin Bieber and Annoying Orange toys, will start out with figurines based on hobbit hero Bilbo Baggins, wise wizard Gandalf the Grey and dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield. The collectibles, packaged individually and together, will come in 3.75” and 6” models and come complete with clothing, weapons and other accessories.
The Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin figures are set to retail at $7.99 and $14.99 for the smaller and larger models, respectively, with online sales beginning in September. They will arrive in stores the following month. Special Beast and Battle packs (3.75”; $19.99) will pair each of the protagonists up with a villain from the movie, while a 3.75” Box Set ($29.99) includes figurines of five Unexpected Journey heroes.
Those lucky enough to attend this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con have also had the opportunity to pick up a limited-edition 6” “invisible” Bilbo figurine, which shows collectors what everyone’s favorite hobbit looked like to the dragon Smaug when he slipped on the Ring. The hand-numbered collectibles are only available at Comic-Con 2012.