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!
In the latest annual financial report from Swedish holding company Embracer Group, the purchase price for its newly acquired Middle-earth IP has been revealed as US $395 million. This is nearly double what Amazon paid for the TV rights to LOTR, and includes everything outside those TV rights — movies, music, merch, games and theme parks.
According to Variety, Embracer also reports “several world-class products” from The Lord of the Rings are in the works. These include the already announced new Warner Bros / New Line Cinema deal for several new films, and an original online MMO RPG persistent world game set in the Third Age from Amazon Games.
It should be noted that Middle-earth Enterprises (MEE) were already making big moves before the acquisition. The newly licensed Magic: The Gathering card game The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth, five new video games including Gollum Game and a new Weta Digital LOTR game, as well as merch trademarks for Rings of Power were all in process before the Embracer acquisition of MEE from The Saul Zaentz Company.
Interestingly, the Embracer annual report says there was a cash payment of $267 million for Middle-earth Enterprises, implying that the extra $130 million could be performance-based rewards or stock in the new owner. Saul Zaentz, the enterprising filmmaker, music producer and deal maker, owned the rights that enabled all the films and games over the last 50 years. Rumors last year had the rights valued at $2 billion, nearly 5x the actual acquisition price. This may be how much Embracer expects to make from Middle-earth. For comparison, Peter Jackson’s Hobbit and LOTR films have made nearly $10 billion in box office, home video, games and merch.
Middle-earth returns to card decks worldwide with the new officially licensed The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth sets. Wizards of the Coast, owners of Magic: The Gathering, streamed a first look at many of the LOTR cards, mechanics, characters and artwork arriving in June.
It’s time to embark on a different sort of journey as Magic presents characters, locations, and epic moments from the epic fantasy novels of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth™ is packed with exciting new cards and a few marquee keywords and mechanics to review. So, gather your Fellowship, pack your lembas, and let’s head out to learn more about the new set.
For old fans returning to Magic: The Gathering, many will appreciate this announcement – Wizards has licensed artwork from Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings, as “Secret Lair” variant cards!
Frodo himself, Elijah Wood, got a sneak peek at the cards!
Some of our favorite Tolkien fans – Don Marshall, Trisha Hershberger, and Nerd of the Rings!
Some of the cards have generated immense conversation on social media, which is a signing of increasing popularity. These LOTR decks are selling extremely well on pre-orders, and tons of fans can’t wait to get their hands on them. Wizards of the Coast provided this quote to Kotaku about the fresh artistic interpretations of Middle-earth:
Diversity:The Lord of the Rings is about the different peoples of Middle-earth coming together to fight Sauron, finding strength in their diversity. Fans of all backgrounds have been enjoying these stories, characters, and locations for decades, and we wanted this set to reflect on that broad inclusion. Originality: The goal of this set is to express the story and setting of The Lord of the Rings through Magic: The Gathering Countless prior efforts have painted vivid pictures of this world, but our goal is a modern take on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, lovingly crafted for an ever-expanding fandom.
Get Aragorn with Anduril, and the rest of The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth card packs, everywhere June 23, 2023. Support local game shops and pre-order with them.
Staffer Demosthenes here with a quick update on behalf of Justin.
First, there will be a expansion featuring cards based on Hildebrandt Tolkien artwork in November. Second, the Bakshi Secret Lair will only be available from The Wizards of the Coast website — so if you want it go looking there!
Finally, Amazon also has a number of special booster packs for pre-order. The big Booster Box is currently unavailable, but you can still pre-order small packs (of 15 cards) at the time of writing. Hopefully I got that all correct! Oh, and there’s a lot of discussion of the new MTG LOTR cards happening on our Discord so feel free to drop by and join in at discord.gg/TheOneRing.
Amazon Games, developers of the acclaimed New World online RPG game, are heading development of a new multiplayer The Lord of the Rings video game.
Embracer, the fresh new owners of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, are licensing the Middle-earth MMO gaming rights to Amazon Games, whose first and only game, New World, was a big bold swing into a crowded massive-multiplayer-gaming space against Grand Theft Auto, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, No Man’s Sky, and of course LOTRO.
This new LOTR MMO game will be a persistent open world Middle-earth set in the third age, but not based or connected to Amazon’s billion-dollar The Rings of Power TV series. Development is currently planning to launch on PC and console.
Reviews for Amazon’s New World currently sit at 6/10 on Steam with 200,000+ reviews, and a Metacritic score of 70. Metacritic is basically Rotten Tomatoes for video games, averaging review scores from professionals and the community. From what we have read, New World was praised for good modern graphics and multiplayer engagement, but with a limited set of innovative game mechanics.
This new game is unrelated to the cancelled LOTR online MMO game that was being developed in China. Amazon is building this in-house with its team from an earlier acquisition of Double Helix, a successful studio responsible for many franchise spinoff games like Enter the Matrix, Star Wars Episode III, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, Killer Instinct, G.I. Joe, Silent Hill, and more.
Fans may welcome a next-gen Lord of the Rings MMO experience, as one of the common knocks on the hugely successful (and still updating) LOTRO is the dated graphics. Amazon Games will have their work cut out for them to differentiate from Peter Jackson’s cinematic world, Standing Stone Games’ deep lore gaming in LOTRO, and the future secrets from The Rings of Power. LOTRO is still one of the best reviewed MMO games, even after 16 years of fresh expansions.
A few weeks ago, Daedalic invited TheOneRing.net and others to a special hands-on playthrough session of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, followed by a Q&A session with Tolkien lore expert Damiri Knapheide. With almost an hour of playtime across many levels, I had the chance to see a bit of the world they have created, and the lovely chat with Damiri did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for a full playthrough on release day, May 25th.
As a casual gamer on the best of days, I was not the easiest guest for our hosts to guide through each level – we had many a laugh at my ineptitude with various controller skills, but I was still having a blast, and didn’t feel like I was in over my head or wouldn’t enjoy the game at my own speed and skill level. The gameplay is focused on stealth, but I was here for the story driven experience – seeing Mirkwood and Mordor through the eyes of talented artists, who clearly have a passion and deep respect for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
The team chose as their backdrop the period of time between Bilbo’s escape from the goblins in The Hobbit, and when the fellowship enters the Mines of Moria in The Lord of the Rings. What happened with Sméagol/Gollum in those years? The books tell us a few tidbits of information, for example through Gandalf’s exposition and in the Appendices – this game connects those dots into a coherent story. The dual (dueling?) personalities are at the forefront in this game’s morality system, with many opportunities to choose different actions and responses based on your preference for whether you feel like Slinker or Stinker (Sam’s words) at the time. These choices affect the game play significantly – we were told that one level is completely different based on your morality choices to that point.
I was impressed with the narrative department at Daedalic, represented in this session by Damiri Knapheide. It’s a tough job with many people watching carefully – complex rights issues around books (some usable, some not), movie and media representations, and a very particular fan-base. Damiri’s passion and knowledge were obvious to me, and I definitely look forward to having more opportunities to chat with him informally in the future if the opportunity arises. Even in the brief hour I had to wander in their game, there were scores of subtle background nods to the wider corpus, and backstories for prominent lore figures that were alive at this time.
With an estimated 25-30 hour playthrough time and the chance to play multiple times making different choices in the morality system, I only had a glimpse of all the game has to offer. A challenge with a game of this nature, squeezed in between two fixed points in time and character development, the question remains – can Daedalic tell a good story, where your choices have an impact, and yet end with the same Sméagol/Gollum as we know him when he meets up with Frodo and Sam in the books? I look forward to finding out.
Be sure to check out the new story trailer on YouTube.
Here is today’s press announcement for the game release:
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum™ Slinks Out of the Shadows on May 25th
The story-driven adventure across Middle-earth arrives this May for PC and consoles— Sméagol will swear it on the Precious!
Hamburg, Germany, March 23rd, 2023 – Today Daedalic Entertainment and NACON announced that their highly anticipated adventure game, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, will release to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox on May 25th. A version for Nintendo Switch™ is planned for later this year. Based on the beloved TheLord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, the fantasy game takes players on an epic journey across Middle-earth, starring one of the lore‘s most compelling characters: Sméagol – *Gollum, Gollum*.
Check out fresh gameplay from Middle-earth, with insights from the developers inspired by the iconic lore. Daedalic and Nacon will stream a special showcase at 06:30 pm CET on Twitch today.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a story-driven action adventure. Embark on a perilous journey as Gollum, chasing the only thing that is precious to you. Climb, leap, and sneak your way past dangers or into advantageous spots. Gollum is skillful and sly, and torn by a split personality. It is up to you to decide whether to yield to the darker side of Gollum or trust the kinder gentler hint of Sméagol.
Co-published by Daedalic Entertainment and NACON, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is developed by a small team of passionate Tolkienites at Daedalic Entertainment in partnership with Middle-earth Enterprises. The game will release on PC, PlayStation®4, PlayStation®5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch™. A physical edition for consoles will also be available.
NACON is a company of the BIGBEN Group founded in 2019 to optimize its know-how through strong synergies in the video game market. By bringing together its 16 development studios, the publishing of AA video games, the design and distribution of premium gaming devices, NACON focuses 30 years of expertise at the service of players. This new unified business unit strengthens NACON’s position in the market and enables it to innovate by creating new unique competitive advantages. https://corporate.nacongaming.com/
About Daedalic Entertainment
Daedalic Entertainment publishes and develops high-quality games for all platforms. The company has a diverse line-up of high-quality titles, including classic adventures, RPGs, and strategy and multiplayer games. With an international team of around 100 employees, Daedalic is currently developing a new line-up of innovative games across consoles, PC, and mobile platforms.
Based in Hamburg, Germany, Daedalic is one of Europe’s most acclaimed publishers and developers. With a total of 32 awards in the German Developers Award (including multiple accolades for ‘Studio of the Year’) and 12 German Computer Game Awards for genre-defining games such as Deponia, Edna & Harvey, Silence, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth, The Long Journey Home, and State of Mind, Daedalic is a record holder for the two most prestigious game awards in Germany. Recent publishing hits include Barotrauma, Unrailed!, Iratus: Lord of the Dead, Partisans 1941 and more.
Daedalic is currently developing The Lord of the Rings – Gollum. The story-driven adventure tells the story of Gollum from a perspective never witnessed before in any storytelling media, all the while staying faithful to the legendary books of J.R.R. Tolkien.
About Middle-earth Enterprises
Middle-earth created by J.R.R. Tolkien is the definitive, deepest, richest and most beloved fantasy world of our time. As its stewards and custodians, our goal is to consistently deliver a wealth of great content in both new, and known formats; to ensure Middle-earth’s rightful place as the world’s leading fantasy IP and brand, forever.
Inspired by our deep appreciation for the fictional world created by Professor Tolkien, we are dedicated to working with those providing highest quality products in accordance with best green business and sustainability practices, including fair trade, equality in the workplace, and a commitment to protect our earth, its wondrous beauty and the viability of every living creature. Middle-earth Enterprises has been producing and licensing films, merchandise, services, and live stage productions based upon The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books, for more than four decades. www.middleearth.com.