Last month we had the awesome privilege of sitting down with Daniel Falconer of Weta Workshop. We talked about the last 20 years of collecting Middle-earth, and how things have changed over those years. We also chatted about current stuff like the new Strider Statue; the things to come; and the hopes for items we may see in the next 20 years. You all are going to love this lengthy conversation, as we pick Daniel’s brain and get into all the stuff he’s seen over the last 20 years at Weta Workshop. We at TORn thank Daniel for his time, and Weta Workshop for lending him to us for a couple of hours!
In the early 1990s, Russian director Roman Mitrofanov began working on an animated version of The Hobbit. The effort ultimately fizzled in the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but six minutes of footage survives and can be watched on Youtube to this day.
The footage functions more or less as a prologue that shows not much more than the destruction of Erebor and Dale by Smaug, and was clearly intended to be just the beginning of a complete adaptation.
It’s also full of delightful details such as the bells and the toy-market that Thorin Oakenshield describes to Bilbo during the Unexpected Party.
They built the merry town of Dale there in those days. Kings used to send for our smiths, and reward even the least skilful most richly. Fathers would beg us to take their sons as apprentices, and pay us handsomely, especially in food-supplies, which we never bothered to grow or find for ourselves. […] and the toy-market of Dale was the wonder of the North.The Hobbit
The bucolic imagery of Dale also includes a brief view (at approximately 2 mins 12 secs) of several people flying kites over the town square. If one squints just right (the quality is only 360p), one might construe one as having the shape of a dragon even.
Peter Jackson’s rendition of Dale shares many of the same details. Of course, this should not be surprising — they pull from the same source. But an inspection of the text of The Hobbit reveals no mention the people of Dale having kites or gliders. There’s nothing similar in The Lord of the Rings, either, not even when Frodo reminisces with Glóin in Rivendell.
This prompts the question: might Jackson — or one of his crew — have seen the Russian animation, liked the concept, and been inspired to use the kites in a similar fashion as a beautiful and poignant foreshadowing device?
Props to Ringer Raurenkili for the find.
One of my favorite lines our friends at Weta Workshop produce is the environments line. Why? Well, I’d love to actually visit Middle-earth, but being a fantasy world, that seems unlikely. I’d love to visit New Zealand – and that may happen someday, but getting there from Missouri isn’t cheap. So collecting these amazingly well done pieces of the places we love is as close as I can get for now; as I’m sure is the case for many of you as well. We now can add three new environment pieces to our collections.
The first is a massive Bag End with that awesome green front door that opens and closes. When you open this door, you’ll be able to peek in and see the main hallway. That’s not all though! It also has a light up feature, giving the feeling that Bilbo or Frodo is at home. You can pre-order this right now through December 22nd for $1,199(USD), with the edition size being determined by the numbers of orders placed. If you want something Bag End but maybe slightly cheaper, there is a hobbit hole sized piece of Bag End for only $99(USD). Both of these pieces ship during the fourth quarter of next year.
Come join the Southern California TORn staff and Tolkien fans on Saturday, September 18, 2021, as we celebrate Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ shared birthday in Griffith Park. The party will kick off at Noon, and run until about 6 pm. The biggest difference this year will be NO POTLUCK. Please bring enough food and drink for yourself and the group you will be attending with. As always, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, and maybe a popup for shade are all good things to bring in order to stay comfortable. We are returning to the Mineral Wells section of Griffith Park, which is near the Harding Golf Course. Please head to the Baggins Birthday Bash Facebook event page for directions and a map. https://www.facebook.com/events/193623342558178/
While this event is scheduled for Saturday, September 18, the dual issues of COVID restrictions and/or Wildfires could become an issue this coming week. Should LA County trigger a restriction of large gatherings or a Wildfire trigger evacuations in the region of Griffith Park, we will post a Cancelation notice to the FB page first, and if there is time, post here on the main website as well.
As for COVID restrictions, the LA County guidelines recommend masking outdoors only in the case of a Mega Event, and that has only happened once. We are recommending everyone have a MASK with them, ready to wear near groups of people and remove when eating and drinking. The outdoor setting should afford us more than enough space to social distance if it makes you feel comfortable. We would PREFER if everyone attending was fully vaccinated, but none of us are qualified to verify the CDC card, so we won’t be asking.
The folks over on The Digital Bits have unearthed a breakdown of Warner Bros. forthcoming “Middle-earth 31-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition”. If you’re a collector, you’ll want to have a read of this before committing your hard-earned.
The Digital Bits says that Warner Bros. are close to an official announcement. They also report the set will include “the Theatrical and Extended versions of all six Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films on both 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray (including the remastered Lord of the Rings films on Blu-ray).”
But, here’s the kicker.
They says that the new content is expected to be one Blu-ray bonus disc containing the 26-minute presentation reel shown at Cannes in 2001, and the Alamo Drafthouse cast reunion.
Further, The Appendices will not be included in this new set.
All that will set you back a total of 196 quid. Release is slated for October 26.
Staff reactions to the report are a bit mixed. Personally, I’m much more stoked for the Evangelion box sets that TDB mentions in the same article, while Staffer Earl suggests that:
So after waiting 20 years, the “ultimate” edition ends up having just the Cannes reel and some newly filmed reunion footage hosted by Colbert (hope it’s not some late night show format with his jokes and display of Tolkien knowledge)?
Uh oh! I sincerely hope that ain’t all.
To be honest, I’m inclined to think if this is it, then why bother with the 20th anniversary at all. But maybe this is great for truly hardcore fans who can afford to splurge on yet another version and can’t wait another 5 years.
If you are keen, though, check out the full, detailed breakdown over on The Digital Bits.
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!