The Dragon has been sung back into its lair: DragonCon is over for another year. For five remarkable days, geekdom had a chance to gather again and celebrate together – and TORn staffers deej, Madeye Gamgee and greendragon were able to be with them. Read on, for greendragon’s thoughts on the event.

I’m sure the first question on many people’s minds will be, ‘How was the safety of the event?’ My overall impression was very good. At check in, everyone (be they attending fans, professionals, exhibitors, or guests) was required to show either proof of vaccination or of a negative Covid test, before receiving their pass. Masks were required at all venues – and from what I saw, this was carefully enforced. It must be said, I was not at the Con late at night; and some folks reported that ‘DragonCon after dark’, when perhaps drinks had been consumed, saw masks being discarded. But in the High Fantasy Track room, and at An Evening at Bree, I didn’t see anyone unmasked. Masks were even – gasp! – up over noses, as well as covering mouths. Many cosplayers had found fun and creative ways to coordinate their masks with their outfits – and of course masks are an integral part of many costumes anyway.

Numbers were restricted this year – fewer than half the usual attendees were allowed; and it has to be said, it was wonderful to be able to cross the skybridge between hotels, or get in an elevator, without waiting for half an hour. 35,000 is still plenty of people, so the con did not feel empty – and there were still long lines for An Evening at Bree, and full panels at many of the tracks. (Numbers in track rooms were also reduced, to allow more space; and no standing was allowed.) Rooms were carefully cleaned – each track room had an hour of deep cleaning during each day, as well as a deep clean overnight, and between panels mics were given new covers and surfaces sanitized. As Madeye Gamgee put it, ‘…all the pandemic mitigation standards were followed and seemed to work.’

On the downside, the parade seemed strange without the watchers along the street; that is perhaps something which didn’t work so well with reduced crowds. I know lots of folks missed the fan tables – and that’s a good opportunity for me to remind you that there is new TORn merchandise (shirts, socks, bags, masks, waterbottles, etc.) available online!

TORn's design, featuring quotations from Tolkien: 'Shadows are fleeing ... and merry our meeting. Be of good hope!' We see an image of a smoking pipe, and TORn's logo below. The bottom of the design features another quotation - 'Hope is Kindled' - and the date, 2021. The design is show on a pale grey t-shirt.

Do take a look at the various designs available at TORn’s online Spring store – and thanks for supporting the website!

As mentioned above, lines were long and the room (with the limited capacity allowed) full for Friday night’s An Evening at Bree. The Brobdingnagian Bards got us off to a great start, with toe tapping music playing from the very start, as guests arrived. We had wondered if we should try to limit dancing this year – but you just can’t keep the denizens of Middle-earth off their feet, and soon masked folks were swirling and skipping. Others enjoyed sitting in groups at tables, enjoying a drink from the Prancing Pony bar at the back of the room. After the Bards’ rousing set, the costume contest took place. It was a delight to see the usual extraordinary creativity and talent we’ve come to expect from this contest – big thanks to judges Constance and Laura, who had the unenviable task of selecting winners. Best in show was Lacey Santos’ amazing Smaug, Queen under the Mountain – complete with incredible embroidery, and Arkenstone in hand.

An amazing Smaug cosplay - a long, burgundy gown, with train edged with hand embroidered runes in gold. The dress includes scaled 'armour' epaulettes  in gold and burgundy, a flowing cloak, and  horned crown. The cosplayer has an illuminated Arkenstone in her hand, and long 'claw' fingernails.
Lacey Santos’ Best in Show winning costume (photograph by Geek Behind the Lens Photography)
The sash of the Smaug cosplay dress has Tolkien's own sketch of Smaug embroidered onto it. We also see rhinestones and beads hanging from the shoulders of the dress.
Embroidery detail (photograph by Lacey Santos)
Best in Show winner in her Smaug gown is shown with her plaque award from DragonCon. On either side of her are costume contest judges Laura (L) and Constance (R). All are wearing masks over nose and mouth.
Best in show with judges Laura and Constance (photograph by Geek Behind the Lens Photography)

Musician Beth Patterson was new to Bree this year, but we hope she’ll be back – her two sets were wonderful, and kept everyone in high spirits. We ended the night with some recorded music, allowing us to bring fan favourites Emerald Rose back to Bree. TORn is always very glad to host An Evening at Bree for DragonCon’s High Fantasy Track; as Madeye Gamgee said, ‘It felt like a joyful reunion of old friends and fellowships.’ We look forward to next year; meanwhile, you can check out DragonCon TV’s coverage of this year’s event in the video below.

For those of you who couldn’t attend this year – or who did attend, and want to keep the geeky fun going – there are all kinds of panels, geeky fun, and special guests, to be found at dragoncontv.com. You’ll need to pay $10 for access; and that will enable you to watch TORn’s panel celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring. You can find that under Fan Tracks (Saturday), at the 4’59 mark.

All in all, I think a good time was had by all, and I applaud the DragonCon organisers and many volunteers for all their hard work. Going back to that question of safety: I personally stayed away from big crowds, and was on the floor of the con much less than I would usually be, only going to specific events and otherwise staying out of the melee. When I was there, however – at Bree and for panels, as well as catching up with friends – I did not feel unsafe. Of course, when 35,000 people gather in one place, it seems inevitable that some, after the event, will test positive for Covid; but, to quote Madeye Gamgee again, ‘Assuming there aren’t any major super-spreader outbreaks connected to the weekend, DragonCon may have proven that a return to some form of a live convention is possible.’ And that is an encouraging thought.

The Dragon awakens! After a Covid-enforced hiatus last year, DragonCon is back in Atlanta this weekend – and TORn will be there!

The organisers of DragonCon are doing their best to keep everyone safe, requiring attendees to show proof of vaccination or of a negative Covid test, and to wear masks. Numbers will be scaled back (though given how massive DragonCon’s crowds usually are, the venues may not FEEL uncrowded), and there are no fan tables this year. This means TORn staffers deej and greendragon will not be in their usual spot, selling shirts and other merch. BUT – you can find them around the Con, and you can find merchandise online!

TORn's design, featuring quotations from Tolkien: 'Shadows are fleeing ... and merry our meeting. Be of good hope!' We see an image of a smoking pipe, and TORn's logo below. The bottom of the design features another quotation - 'Hope is Kindled' - and the date, 2021. The design is show on a pale grey t-shirt.

TORn’s ‘Hope is Kindled’ design, which was revealed at the end of 2020, seeking to cheer us all in the days of pandemic, can be found at our online Spring store. We’ve also brought back fan favourites ‘Keep Calm and Read Tolkien’ and ‘Coexist’ – which you can order on shirts, mugs, masks, and even socks! Check out all the goodies in the store here; and thanks for supporting the website!

Regular DragonCon attendees will be glad to know that Friday night’s ‘Evening at Bree’ is happening this year. Live music will be provided by The Brobdingnagian Bards and Beth Patterson, and there will of course be a costume contest – sign up for it at the High Fantasy Track Room. An Evening at Bree will be in the Hilton Grand West ballroom, 8.30pm, Friday night.

Tolkien panels in the High Fantasy Track include (of course!) TORn’s panel about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series. What do we know? What spy reports can we share? Friday 2.30pm is the time to discover those secrets, in the High Fantasy Track Room (Marriott L401-403); when staffers deej, greendragon and Madeye Gamgee will share all they know – and speculate about stuff they don’t know…

On Saturday at 5pm there will be a streamed, pre-recorded panel featuring the above staffers, and a rare sighting for TORn founder Calisuri; this panel is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the release of Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of the Ring. Calisuri spills the beans about a very special invitation he received, to see some amazing footage in Cannes…

At other times during the Con, you can find entertainment such as Madeye Gamgee discussing the Second Age, greendragon talking Arthurian Adaptations, and deej considering Tolkien’s influence on Stephen King’s The Stand. Find full details in the High Fantasy Track’s schedule for the weekend!

We’re excited to see folks at the Con, and to share some Middle-earth fun with you all. We’ll miss those of you who can’t attend; we’ll raise a drink to absent friends! Cheers, Gaffer!

Well, we’re back – with Episode 2 of our collectibles themed podcast. (If you missed it, you can find Episode 1 here.) In this episode, we talk about the importance of having a clear concept of what you want your collection to be, what you want in that collection, and being open to when a special piece crosses your path. We think this topic is important when collecting, because it’s very easy to feel the need to have everything, and thus get overwhelmed and burned out. We hope you enjoy the podcast – and we’re already working on episode 3!

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious Podcast Episode 2: A Focused Collection”

Today’s the day! Our friends at Weta Workshop’s latest Master Collection statue goes up for order today at 2 p.m. PST. This is yet another amazing statue from the Master Collection line, as we’ve seen for several years now. This superb looking piece recreates the sequence where the Hobbits have to get off the road as the Nazgul track them. All we know right now is that this piece will be limited to 500 pieces world-wide. Price and shipping timeframe won’t be unveiled until this goes live; so we absolutely suggest standing by, ready to order this piece as soon as it goes up, because there is virtually no chance this makes it through the day.

Last year during Comic-Con, our friends at Weta Workshop unveiled a pretty sick looking statue of the Cave Troll from the Mines of Moria sequence. Flash forward a few months later, it has arrived – and we’re going to take time to look over this awesome collectible. This thing is massive, detailed, and is a piece that folks will want to stop and look at in your collection. The folks at Weta absolutely nailed this one, and as a huge fan of that Moria sequence, I’m beyond happy to own this piece. As always, we hope you enjoy the review and the pictures of what will be a grail piece for fans of The Lord of the Rings.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Cave Troll of Moria Review”

Our next review is going to take a look at the two most recently delivered figures from Iron Studio’s 1:10 The Lord of the Rings statue line. These awesome pieces capture the sequence we see at  Balin’s tomb in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. So far fans can snag Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, Armored Orc, Swordsman Orc, Archer Orc, and of course the Cave Troll. As you will see in this review, they’ve done an excellent job of capturing Middle-earth’s odd couple, Legolas and Gimli, as well as creating a couple of great collectibles. If you’re a fan with limited space and budget, then these collectibles will be right up your ally. Currently, Legolas and Gimli are listed as in stock from our friends at Sideshow, for $140 each. The rest of the line set is currently on pre-order.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Iron Studio’s Legolas and Gimli 1:10 Statue Review”