It has been fifty years since the Professor sailed into the West, and the Tolkienverse is still thriving. Which is great news for any who wish to pass along the passion as part of their holiday gift-giving, or perhaps pass along that personal hint to your favorite Father Christmas. It’s time for the OneRing staff to gather our collective guidance and bring you our annual Holiday Gift-Giving Guide: the Middle-earth Edition! We’ve pored over a lengthy lineup, narrowing our recommendations down to twelve, one for each day that you and your true love may be mingling under the proverbial pear tree. May you find your Arkenstone somewhere on the list!
For book lovers
Let’s start with something to warm every book purist’s heart: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded Edition. This is probably the consensus number one pick across all of our TORn staff Fellowship. Just released on November 14, and available broadly from your favorite source for books, this updated edition sees Humphrey Carpenter going back to his original typescripts and notes, restoring more than 150 letters that were excised from the 1981 edition to achieve what was then deemed a “publishable length.” Fortunately our appetite continues to grow for more content on Tolkien and his world in general, and especially commentary on his writings. Anyone for an expanded “Letter 131”, hearing more about a plot summary of the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, or getting Tolkien’s vision for publishing his “Tales of the Three Ages”?
2. Our senior staff member greendragon tends to split her time between America and her home in Scotland, which also boasts one of her favorite sources for unique and beautiful Tolkien-themed gifts: Oscha Slings. And Oscha has just released a number of new items on their website. greendragon enthuses: “In past years, I’ve picked one of their shawls and a throw as gifts; this year, however, I’m excited because their clothing line is back! The Oscha Wear range includes t-shirts, hoodies, and more, in a variety of sizes and styles – and there is even a range of baby grows! Oscha’s woven pieces are incredible, and are an investment; but now you can add some of their stunning designs to your wardrobe at a lower price point. T-shirts for all the Middle-earth fans in your life this holiday season! (If you ARE up for splurging, to treat yourself or that special someone, check out Oscha’s new Imladris design. I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor, after seeing this…)” And don’t forget to check out their Middle-earth Mug collection!
3. It’s the 20th anniversary of TheReturn of the King! We’ve even got some staffers – such as deej and Madeye Gamgee – heading to the Land of the Long White Cloud next month in search of Kiwi celebrations. But those are a bit tough to fit into a stocking. No fear! New Zealand Post has once again got you covered. Having already marked the last two years with commemorative collectibles celebrating The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, they’re now ready to help you complete the set! Check out some amazing RotK pieces – coins, stamps and pins – that will put you in the mood to celebrate the Days of the King! Beautiful stamps show images from the final movie in the trilogy, complete with ‘hidden messages’ – an iconic line from the film hidden in each design. Or along with some of us staffers, you might prefer to receive for the holiday season a set of the stunning coins. There are four in total, depicting Meduseld, Gondor, the Beacons, and Gandalf crowning Aragorn. They tie together beautifully as a set, and would be a wonderful addition to any collection.
4. Staffer Justin has been enthusing lately about Wizards of the Coast’s entry into Middle-earth through its massively popular Magic: the Gathering line. Last June the Wizards released a highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. For gamers, the “Universes Beyond” card set has integrated Magic’s deep and strategic game-play with settings from Middle-earth (and not just the movies). With the holidays upon us, November 3 saw a new release to expand the set, including a special collection of four Scene Boxes that portray iconic LotR moments, each scene combining six borderless cards that together create a large scene that you can display on the included easel. New booster packs offer the chance to score alternative art, courtesy of the classic 70’s era Hildebrandt brothers, or some very funky “poster art” cards that have some of us humming The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins as we open our boosters. Fun!
5. The OneRing’s “Collecting the Precious” champion, Elessar, has passed along a couple of favorite gift-giving treasure troves, starting with our friends at Weta Workshop. Weta has been prolific with a host of new offerings aligned with the 20th anniversary of the PJ films, and you can find an array of figures, environments, prop replicas, t-shirts, art posters, etc. on their site. Elessar has highlighted a collection of them designed to fit many budgets, from new entries in Weta’s mini-epic and mini-statue lines like the King of the Dead, Sauron and Treebeard; to additions to their classic figures like a stunning Gondorian Fountain Guard; all the way to the threatening new environment, The Black Gate. Plus, Weta typically offers some great Black Friday promotions, so keep an eye out!
6. Elessar has also had his eye on a growing list of companies offering new Lord of the Rings lines, like Diamond Select Toys. You’ll find dioramas (like Aragorn), a collection of blind box mini-figures, and action figures galore (like a Nazgûl) on their site. Plus they have some terrific new offerings that you can pre-order now for delivery in early 2024. (I would be remiss should I fail to mention my man Sam in that lineup.)
7. Judging from our social media feeds as well as our own obsessions on the OneRing staff, Rivendell has been a glorious new addition to the LegoLord of the Rings universe. Boasting 3 stunning sections, 15 mini-figures, and over 6,000 pieces, you’ll need (and want) to find a generous space in your home to keep Elrond and company on permanent display. Bonus points for any who add on one of the special lighting kits available from multiple vendors like Lighttailing and Light My Bricks.
8. It’s back to the books for Madeye Gamgee, this time with a glorious new edition of The Hobbit. Published in September, the book features over 50 sketches, drawings, paintings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and with the complete text printed in two colors. The additional art pieces from the author – although exhibited and published elsewhere – have never appeared within the pages of the book itself. You can find the hardback edition broadly, or for a book this beautiful, you may want to splurge on the special deluxe boxed edition, which comes with two poster-size, fold-out maps revealing all the detail of Thror’s Map and Wilderland, an illustrated 88-page booklet, and a printed art card reproducing Tolkien’s original dust jacket painting.
9. Staffer Mithril has some kingly gifts to suggest. First up is the Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck from Insight Editions. Written by Casey Gilly and illustrated by Tomás Hijo, Mithril describes this as “like getting a mini gallery of art and a Palantír in a box.” It’s available at HerUniverse.com and on Amazon. If you’re in the mood for some Middle-earth inspired ornamentation on a more standard card deck, take a spin over to the King’s Wild Project or Theory11 for some amazing embellishments for poker night.
10. Our friends at Badali Jewelry have expanded their licensed offerings to a multiverse of fandoms, but their Middle-earth collection has always been like the Three-Farthing Stone in the Shire: right at the center. Check out their array of offerings like the Arkenstone, Shieldmaiden earrings, or their Palantir Locket. Staffer Mithril is a particular fan of their latest line of the Nine “Rings of Men”, with notable affection for the Ring of Númenor. Pick out your own Ring of Power! Captivate your friends! Watch out for shieldmaidens with swords!
11. Staffer Tanya keeps an eye out for sources of attire fit for hobbits, elves, Rohirrim, and other Middle-earth denizens. Three in particular have caught her eye and heart this year. She writes of Linennaiveas offering “several options for Hobbit costuming, focusing on creating dresses using natural fibers. It currently has a Black Friday sale at its website, which assists with the slightly higher pricing for quality work.” Next up is Holy Clothing, a regular shopping spot for my own Rosie. Tanya writes that they’re “an ethical clothing brand out of Asia that pays their tailors fair wages, and gives 15% of their profits to charities. They have dresses named ‘Arwen,’ ‘Eowyn,’ and ‘Tauriel,’ and I admit I am eyeing up this excellent cloak for my own Christmas list.” The final entry on Tanya’s shopping list is Scarlet Darkness: “they have a variety of extremely affordable outfit options that are still perfectly acceptable at, say, a congregation of Elves at DragonCon, or your local renfest. (I might have used this site for DragonCon myself!) The pricing is very fair, and the quality holds up through all your Hobbit parties or journeys into the west.” Another clothing site option you may want to check out comes from Mithril: Her Universe, which has a new line of Middle-earth fashion. “Their clothes have great details and are always high quality and comfy to wear. Check out this Fellowship Cardigan. With both front and back filled with LotR graphics, it would be great for cozying up by the hearth in style.”
12. Rounding out our “Durin’s Dozen” in this Holiday treasure trove is a unique gift spotted by one of our OneRing founders, Calisuri: a set of four pewter shot glasses each attired as one of our favorite hobbits! From Nemesis Now, and available from a number of sources, including Walmart and Amazon, the glasses come in an attractive gift box. And while they won’t hold a full pint, you still might consider getting one!
13. Ok fine. How about a “Barliman’s Dozen” then. We’ll add one more bonus entry to this year’s list, particularly fit for any fan with knitting needle facility: The Fellowship of the Knits book. Who couldn’t use a handy set of “Watchful Eye” mittens this winter? Or a “You Shawl Not Pass”? Thanks again to Mithril for the suggestion – it might be worth learning to knit!
We’ve teamed up with our good friends at Oscha, who are exclusively licensed to make a range of Middle-earth™ inspired goodies, to giveaway this beautiful throw!
Inspired by the classic illustrations of Middle-earth, this stunning pattern was hand drawn by Oscha’s designers and shows Mordor™ to The Lonely Mountain™, and from the Belegaer™ sea to Forodwaith™: the length and breadth of Middle-earth.
If you’re a regular TORn follower, you’ll have seen Oscha’s treasures before – we’re huge fans of their stunning work. We’re also very excited that their Oscha Wear range is back, including clothes for Men, Women, Children and a range of baby grows! Check out the entire collection here. Just in time for holiday shopping!
The giveaway for this gorgeous throw is open worldwide; Oscha will choose a winner a random, and will ship to that lucky person wherever in the world they may be!
As you all know, the Magic The Gathering The Lord of the Rings cards have been a massive hit among fans. The collector booster boxes are going for a nice sum of cash on the market. Right before Comic-Con, I snagged a box and opened it. In this video, you’ll see all the cool cards I got – including a $200 Bag End Foil! I will definitely be tracking down another box.
So as you’re all aware, the MTG The Lord of the Rings cards are all the rage and getting fans excited as can be. Well, I am no stranger to this and have purchased a few things myself. In this first video, this newb will be opening up and going through my Food and Fellowship Commander deck. This is just the first MTG video you’ll see from Collecting The Precious. I’m addicted to the art of these cards, and will be getting more for sure.
We got to ask Wizards of the Coast artist and art director Ovidio Cartagena about the new officially licensed The Lord of the Rings expansion cards for Magic: The Gathering.
Was there any particular aspect, creature, or perhaps landmark of Middle-earth that you haven’t seen from other artists, and have always wanted to bring to life through your own art? The Scouring of the Shire and the Battle of Bywater were very interesting to me. The whole plot involving Old Toby, and the discovery of trade between Saruman and the Shire, always caught my attention.
Naturally, the destruction of something so warm and innocent like the Shire appears to be, and the corruption of many hobbits, is something that I wanted to show in detail in Magic’s adaptation of the books.
Has Tolkien’s own artistic style been an influence for you in your work? Oh yes. We looked at Tolkien’s artwork during the development of The Lord of the Rings. I was very lucky to work with artists who were also influenced by these works. Tolkien’s work is incredibly clear and has a definitive shape language that is unmissable: you’ll know whose hand made it if you look at the work.
What other Tolkien artists inspire you? The Hildebrandts were very influential for me growing up. Their talent seemed endless, and I was a big fan of their work on the LoTR calendar and the Marvel Masterpieces cards from the ’90s. It’s incredible that I get to say that I’ve worked in a set that also features the art of the Hildebrandts. I remember making illustrations for a Lord of the Rings calendar of my own, back when I was 18, a college art project, so it’s fair to say that LoTR and many of the Tolkien artists were a pretty big influence to what I do.
How much freedom were you all given to work on these characters? We had a fair amount of freedom at the beginning. Interestingly, we didn’t have limitations placed before working on concept art. We had a lot of freedom to develop characters, environments, motifs and so on. At the end of the concept art process, we put together a guide that would help artists illustrate our vision for The Lord of the Rings, and Middle-earth Enterprises reviewed the guide and gave us their feedback. I was very nervous at first, but their reaction was positive and that began a great creative partnership between us. Most of the art you see in cards was based on that guide.
What was the process for the artist to submit work, to get to work on these cards? Artists were selected on their capacity to deliver on one or all of the four parameters I set for the set’s visual direction: Epic (scale and scope), Legendary (attention to lore), Storytelling (attention to characters and their relationships), Pastoral (what our heroes are fighting to protect). Ekaterina Burmak, Magali Villeneuve, Tyler Jacobson, Jesper Ejsing, and many other greats lent their enormous talents and unique styles to create Magic: The Gathering’s Lord of the Rings.
What pressures are there to depict Bilbo in a world where two actors defined the character so thoroughly? Bilbo is a very interesting character. And eccentric, too! I remember reading the Council of Elrond, and Bilbo initially volunteers to take the ring to Mount Doom… this is a true adventurer (who also happens to be attached to “his” ring) even after all these years. The design for the character was done in a card illustration by Anna Pavleeva, and we tried to put in his years of lived experiences, a bit of mischief and, of course, the confidence of a daring adventurer who wouldn’t shy away from an epic quest at 111!
How exciting is it to be in this new phase of Middle-earth adaptations? How do you consider your work alongside spheres of TV and new films? It is hard for me to speak of a “revival” of The Lord of the Rings, because it seems like something that has had relevance for most of my life. But it is fair to say we’re seeing an increased focus on LoTR in the mainstream. I am, however, very excited about seeing different takes in media for The Lord of the Rings. There are so many things to explore in Middle-earth! The work we did for the Magic: The Gathering set was an epic endeavor in itself, and I’m very proud of how it holds up to the literature and the adaptations done in other media. I got to live in the time and place of the War of the Ring for a while as I directed the set, and the project gave me a chance to keep coming back to the books I love so much.
We paid attention to a lot of details and there are more than a few easter eggs to consider! The whole team pitched in with lore knowledge, and the passion we poured into the project will definitely show in the card set!
How do you apply more modernized styles of art/composition to illustrate the works of a writer like Tolkien, who dealt mainly with antiquities? I think Tolkien’s work will endure a lot of cultural changes, way beyond our lifetimes. There have been modern crane shots and dutch angles in the interest of dramatizing the events in the War of the Ring. We’ve used the skills and tricks of illustration to bring ourselves inside Tolkien’s rich world, as if we had been there. One of my conceits at the beginning of this massive project was that every illustration was a frame or painting commissioned right after the War, to document the events therein. Since culture hasn’t stopped, and techniques have evolved along with widespread visual language resources, our approach is to let the worldbuilding draw the viewer in.
Who is your favorite Middle-earth character, and why? It is between Boromir and Denethor. It is easy to dislike these characters, but it is often missed that these were strong and great men with a great deal of knowledge. They’d been fighting and witnessing the rise of Sauron’s power, and were desperate to regain the greatness that Númenor once had. Denethor gave almost the air of a wizard due to his sharp intelligence, and wore chain mail under his elegant robe which meant he knew the importance of strength. It is interesting to speculate what Boromir would have achieved in better times – but he did not choose to be born at the edge of a Great War.
What’s your favorite piece for this new collection? It is very difficult for me to pick a favorite piece because every artist gave us great work. I’ll just give a couple of shoutouts to folks who added personal greats to their portfolios:
Gray Highsmith, who was one of the concept artists – they helped design the costuming and motifs of hobbits.
Tyler Jacobson, whose epic ambition and incredible abilities gave the world a Battle of the Pelennor Fields painting worthy of a castle wall. He was also the designer of our Sauron, a truly unique take!
Magali Villeneuve, whose massive talent embodied the soul of The Lord of the Rings, and her vision brought these awesome characters to life.
Alexander Mokhov, who really came into his own as a Magic illustrator with his work in this set.
About the new The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ arriving June 23, 2023
The Lord of the Rings has come to Magic: The Gathering, and it’s time to take familiar favorites on a whole new journey there and back again. In the upcoming set The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™, players have the chance to join the Fellowship in adventures filled with valor, courage, and second breakfast. Play your favorite moments of the third age or turn Middle-earth on its head and surrender to the temptation of the Precious. Either way; Middle-earth is in your hands.
The set has two primary launch windows—June 2023 and a holiday launch in November 2023—and is the first full set release as part of Universes Beyond, bringing the iconic world of J.R.R. Tolkien to life within the Magic frame. The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth is modern legal and comprised of Draft, Set, Collector, and Jumpstart Boosters, four Commander decks, a Starter Kit, a Bundle and Gift Bundle, Scene Boxes, and Secret Lair drops. For more information on which specific products are coming in June 2023, check out this article on DailyMTG.
The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth will also come to Magic: The Gathering Arena with all of the same cards as the tabletop release. The set will be legal in Alchemy and Historic formats and receive the same support as a full release, including a preorder, Mastery Pass, and cosmetics.
If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for your favorite Tolkien fan, you’ve come to the right place! The staff of TheOneRing.net have put together a list of our favorite items of the year, with price points for every budget. And while it’s nice to know that 2-day shipping exists (thanks, Amazon!), shipping delays around the holidays are inevitable, so we recommend starting your gift shopping now. Not to mention that the perfect item you’ve been looking for could sell out!
From our Fellowship to yours, TheOneRing.net would like to wish you all a peaceful and happy holiday season.
Mini Epics: Witch-King of the Unseen Lands Limited Edition by Weta Workshop: $44.99
I’ve been a fan of Weta Workshop’s Mini Epics line since they started releasing them, but this might be my favorite one so far. The attention to detail on these little guys is so…epic! And like all Weta collectibles, they were designed by the same artists that worked on the films. “Peeking through the mortal veil, we glimpsed the mighty Witch-king’s true visage, immortalized now for all to fear in Mini Epic form.”
Not only is this Witch-King fear-inducing , he’s also kind of cute! Click HERE to pre-order.
Realm of Middle-earth Moonlit Throw by Oscha: £96.00
It’s no secret that I’ve always been a huge fan of Scottish company Oscha’s Middle-earth range. Their designs are so beautiful; you can choose a throw, shawl, mug, or bag, if you’re not in the market for a baby sling or baby blanket. (Though I have to say, the baby blankets make great wall hangings!) This year I’m highlighting their ‘Realm of Middle-earth’ pattern, on the ‘moonlit’ colour scheme throw. Who doesn’t like a good map from Tolkien’s world? This would look beautiful on any sofa or bed. Do yourself a favour and check out Oscha’s entire collection; you’ll be glad you did! Click HERE to order.
Hobbit Mini Gandalf Hat by Stansborough: $79
It’s great to know that small, family run businesses creating sustainable and ethical products (such as Oscha, above) can thrive; and as one of the best, I’m thrilled that Stansborough in New Zealand are still going strong. They are the folks who made the magical Elven cloaks for The Lord of the Rings movies, as well as Gandalf’s scarf in The Hobbit movies, and further fabrics for The Rings of Power! Once again, they have fabulous scarfs, throws, caps, etc. – and even Gandalf’s hat! My choice for the gift list is the mini Gandalf hat; I already said this in another homepage post, but I think it would be an adorable tree topper. Own a little piece of genuine New Zealand goodness; check out Stansborough’s website. Their treasures aren’t cheap – but the standard is so high, they’re worth every penny! Click HERE to order.
Collectibles from NZ Post: prices vary
NZ Post continue their celebration of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy with 20th anniversary collectibles for The Two Towers. Their products are beautiful, and would be treasured by any collector. I particularly love the Limited Edition stamp presentation pack, and this stunning art print. The new range of pins would be wonderful stocking stuffers! There are three, all great designs and very attractive presentation; again, very collectible. Choose from Eye of Sauron, Gollum, or Mount Doom.
The Fall of Númenor: And Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth by J.R.R Tolkien and edited by Brian Sibley: $34.99
My ‘must have’ this year is “The Fall of Numenor” edited by Brian Sibley, who expertly weaves together all the Second Age story strands into one, cohesive timeline custom-made for the fans of Tolkien who want to dig deeper into the lore, but without having to scour numerous other volumes. Add to this the glorious new watercolor and pencil drawings from Alan Lee, and this book becomes the perfect Holiday gift for new and existing Tolkien fans. Click HERE to order.
The Lord of the Rings Jewelry Collection by Enso Rings: starting at $44.99
Enso has a collection of silicone rings inspired by The Lord of the Rings. The Shire Leaf ring is perfect for anyone who dreams of the simple life. This ring celebrates the idyllic, peaceful home of the Hobbits with a leaf etching on Distressed Ashy Green and Black Pearl. Click HERE to see other designs and to order.
The Silmarillion (Illustrated Edition): Illustrated by J.R.R. Tolkien: $39.00
For the first time ever, a very special edition of the forerunner to The Lord of the Rings, illustrated throughout in color by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and with the complete text printed in two colors. The Silmarillion fills in the background which lies behind the more popular work, and gives the earlier history of Middle-earth, introducing some of the key characters. Click HERE to order.
The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring 2000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle by Ravensburger: $44.99
Join the Fellowship in their quest through Middle Earth to rid the world of Sauron’s One Ring. Pursued by Ringwraiths, the Hobbits Frodo, Samwise, Merry and Pippin are aided by the Wizard Gandalf, the Ranger Aragorn, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf and Boromir. The Watcher nearly prevents their perilous trek through the Mines of Moria, where Gandalf confronts a Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Galadriel provides comfort, but Saruman’s Uruk-hai pursue. Will the Fellowship make it to Mordor? An immersive illustrated map of Middle Earth, this “The Fellowship of the Ring” puzzle is a Ravensburger exclusive, perfect for any Lord of the Rings fan! Click HERE to order the FotR puzzle, or HERE for their ‘Two Towers’ puzzle.
Wee Tanya recommends:
The Lord of the Rings Apparel and Accessories line by Her Universe: prices vary
I am a huge fan of costuming, but can’t always put on a full elf outfit at work. The brand Her Universe currently has a range of all-gender Lord of the Rings apparel, including cloaks, hoodies, leggings, t-shirts, and a fantastic blouse with Fellowship broach embroidery on the collar that can keep us Tolkiening along in a more subtle way. If you can’t find an specific item that you want, the Her Universe LOTR line is also sold at Hot Topic. Some of my favorite items include the Middle-earth map button-down in men’s sizes, the dress that is suitable for a Ren Faire or Hobbit dance party, and the Loungefly bag. Click HERE to order.