The artisans at Weta as most folks know are some of the kings when it comes to the special effects world. We know their work from films such as; District 9, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Lovely Bones, The Adventures of Tintin, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and of course both of The Hobbit films. In other words some of your favorite films and mine have been worked on or touched by some truly skillful folks.

However, these fine artists are also some of the masters behind many of you Ringers favorite collectibles. That’s why I’m writing about this particular item because it shows the amazing work that the creators working at Weta have made over the last ten years. The item I will be writing a bit about is the brand new released at Comic-Con 2011 Weta: The Collectors Guide. This amazing book captures the work Weta has done over the last ten years into one of the best reference books and coffee table books I’ve had the pleasure to own. Just a couple of the reasons I love this book are the amount of pictures taken of the items ranging from The Lord of the Rings to Halo. They’re all beautifully done and show off just how great the work coming from Weta has been over the last ten years. The other being the amount of information in the book not just on the collectibles, but the people behind the scenes the artists themselves will give collectors a real insight into who made these pieces. Finally, a nice addition is quotes and pictures from collectors who own many of these pieces. It’s nice to see people who I call friends pictures or quote from people who say what I’ve felt when looking at these items.

The book starts out beautifully with a rather nice intro by Richard Taylor the co-founder of Weta and the man in charge of Weta Workshop. Along with this intro you get a very nice bio on Mr. Taylor and what his impact is at Weta. Next, and for the following one hundred and forty-seven pages is about the license that means to most to me in the whole world. That license is none other than The Lord of the Rings of course. Before the next several pages of different items from The Lord of the Rings we get a nice story of how this line of collectibles came to be by the amazing folks at Sideshow Collectibles and the amazing folks at Weta coming together to make these items. There’s more to that of course but you will need to get the book to get the rest of the details.

Within The Lord of the Rings section we get so much information about pieces we saw and pieces we never got a chance to own. Details as to why the simple black bases were chosen in order make the statues stand out on their own, or that when the Gandalf the Grey statue was created it was with the thought of the other members following the leader. There are countless items like this throughout the book on what went into certain pieces coming out the way they did. We also get a look at items that just never came to be which makes one sit and wish they had only to add to the collection. One of the first pieces we get told about is Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles and we see a small picture the only one in existence mind you of what this piece may have looked like. Lurtz one of the more menacing characters from the trilogy almost had two pieces during the time these statues were being made. He was to have a statue of him in his Uruk-Hai armor but because initial data coming in said The Fellowship of the Ring line was too heavy with Orcs/Uruks he was pulled. His statue would later becoming Ugulk Uruk-Hai Captain from The Two Towers range of collectibles. One final statue that folks until now have never gotten to see is the Pippin in his hobbit-clothed form. This statue would have captured Pippin cowering down after he’s knocked the bucket down the well before the Orcs attack The Fellowship in Moria.

Statues are not the only items Weta made for The Lord of the Rings in order to bring the world of Middle-Earth to life. They would also make items like busts and environments, which allowed collectors to add their favorite characters from The Lord of the Rings from that art form. As was the case in the statue section we shown and told about changes to items or items that would never come to be. One change was to the Prince Isildur bust were the head was moved to give the bust a better angle to see the face. Two busts that would never come to be are the Lady Eowyn and the Warg busts both of which would have only added to the bust line of collectibles. The environment line of collectibles like the others had items we never saw like Zirak-Zigil, Hobbion Factory, and the Moria Cemetery. However, we do get a great look at many of the environments that were made along with some of the environments Weta is making now. As we’ve seen over the last year or so Weta has made The Argonath, Prancing Pony, Bag End, Rivendell, and the Orthanc Pre-Ruin (which is not in the book) so that line is still going strong from Weta.

Now, Weta also made many other items from this license within these pages fans will get a chance to see items ranging from helms, plaques, weapon sets etc. So I won’t go on spoiling all those details for you. The book also covers the same detail for everything else Weta has done over the last ten years covering many of the films I listed at the start. All you have to do is pick up the book from Weta and your journey will begin.

As I said at the start of this review/look at what’s inside that this book is something I truly think all fans should buy. Again, the information and pictures alone are worth spending countless hours at looking over and over. So do yourself a favor spend the $25 this book costs and pick it up!

Finally, I want to give a big thank you to Tim Launder of Weta. Tim was generous enough to give me a copy when I was at the Weta booth during Comic-Con this year. I cannot thank you enough Tim for the gift. You helped make this Ringer very happy and helped make my Comic-Con 2011 pretty darn cool. I also want to thank Daniel Falconer who autographed my book. This was very cool of you and finally getting a chance to meet someone who I’ve exchanged emails with was something to remember.

As if my own words weren’t enough for you I asked three collectors to give me their thoughts on this book.

“Undeniably essential. Given the overall quality of the book – from paper stock to both the written and visual content to the sheer volume of collectibles covered – this compendium represents a unique and complete look at Weta’s world of interpreting fantasy into three-dimensional art. At $25 a copy, a collector can’t help but consider this a gift from the artists there to the fans of their work.” –Terry Smith

“One of the best reference books on collectibles I’ve ever read! Not only beautiful color photos of almost every item Weta released, but even unreleased products as well! Full of information about release dates, edition sizes, and dimensions, this is the definitive book for anyone collecting Weta or Sideshow/Weta pieces! And the price is among the lowest I’ve ever seen for a book of this quality! Immerse yourself in it and drift back over the last ten years of some of the best collectibles to hit the shelves!” –Lonnie Cummins

This is a “must have” for anyone who have Sideshow/Weta or Weta collectibles – be it only one piece, or only one franchise, or multiples from many lines. Most who collect these pieces know that Weta became involved in the collectibles market during the heydays of the LOTR phenomenon when their movies’ creative designers (for character, prop, costuming, and environment, etc.) teamed up with the marketing and distribution savvy of Sideshow. Since then, Weta has furthered their niche in the collectibles market by creating their own products from other movie and TV projects they’ve been involved in since LOTR. This is a beautifully photographed, lovingly produced book showing every Weta-related piece from LOTR to Dr. Grodobort’s. As a primarily LOTR collector myself, I was overjoyed when I discovered a section where all their products were listed, along with edition numbers, dates released, sizes, etc. — all the stats any collector-obsessive would be happy spending hours reviewing. More interestingly, the pages include pictures and information on those items there were entertained or prototyped, but never released. Giving us collector-obsessives more food for fodder in “what might have been.”

Again, a “must have” resource guide for any collector but also a beautiful coffee table book for anyone. – Rumi Dodson

[Purchase Today!]

After reading this if you’d like a chance to win one of three copies being given away by us here at TORn and by Weta please email me with your shipping info to The contest will run from today through Thursday, August 18th at 12am PST. Make sure to make the subject line Weta: The Collectors Guide 2011 Contest.