No, it doesn’t reside in the depths of the Misty Mountains, or mutter “My precious, my precious…” in the dark.
However, the possible fate of a particular toad from Malaysia, that gets its name from everyone’s favorite duplicitous, conniving, yet lovable, precious-coveting character from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, is concerning scientists after becoming the latest to join a list of animals at great risk of extinction.
Earlier this summer, TORn staffer greendragon had the great pleasure of going across to Edinburgh to meet with the good folks at Oscha Slings, a Scottish company who are our fellow licensees with Middle-earth Enterprises. This company, created by a father and daughter who are both big fans of Tolkien, makes beautiful fabrics, primarily for baby wraps, but also for wonderful throws, scarves and bags.
The company started after daughter Zoe fell in love with using a baby sling with her own children. She wanted to support parents who like the ‘baby wrap’ way of carrying (or even ‘wearing’!) an infant, and felt that most fabric designs were based on what the children would like, rather than what parents might like to wear. There was a gap in the market for elegant fabrics, and so Zoe and her graphic designer father began creating celtic, mythical and art nouveau weaves. As big fans for Middle-earth, they were delighted to be able to secure a license from Middle-earth Enterprises, and so begin dreaming up amazing designs, in a variety of art styles to represent the different races of Tolkien’s realm.
All of Oscha Slings fabrics are designed in Scotland and woven in England. They source their materials in the UK as far as is possible, and always make sure that anything they use is cruelty free, as organic as possible, and uses no harmful chemicals. (The company feel strongly that being as ecologically friendly as possible would be approved of by the Professor.) They have an army of fans, and when you see their incredible work, it’s not surprising! Many of the baby wrap fans are also Tolkien fans, and they are very vocal about what they want to see; one fan even designed a Mithril pattern for Oscha Slings! They have very active fans on Facebook, and 35,000 members in their international fan-run community – they’re no strangers to passionate fan bases!
Oscha also have plenty of items for those of us who don’t have babies to transport! Fans have even been known to hang their fabrics on the wall, as beautiful tapestries. Others have ordered smaller pieces of the fabrics to use for their own quilting projects.
We’re hoping to have some goodies from Oscha Slings for fans to look at (and maybe even take home) at DragonCon and New York ComicCon this year. Meanwhile, you can check out all the gorgeous items available at Oscha Slings here.
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks… Since March 19, characters from Middle-earth, and other roles played by the same actors, have been battling it out to claim the title Champion of Middle-earth March Madness 2018. We started with four brackets comprising roles from The Lord of the Rings movies, other roles by those same actors, roles from The Hobbit movies, and alter-egos for those cast members. The brackets were mixed, to give actors a chance of coming up against ‘themselves’ – and indeed in Round 3 we did see Christopher Lee’s Saruman go up against his Count Dooku, and Lee Pace’s Ronan face his majestically-eyebrowed Thranduil.
Boromir fell in the first round, defeated by Gimli, but Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark did make it all the way to Round 3, where he was conquered by eventual semi-finalist Samwise Gamgee. Sam made it the furthest of all the hobbits; Merry and Pippin both went out in Round 1, and Frodo fell to Aragorn in Round 2. Both Martin Freeman’s and Ian Holm’s Bilbos were knocked out back in Round 1; they had tough battles, being drawn against Gandalf and Faramir respectively.
The elves fared rather better, with Galadriel, Elrond and Thranduil all getting through to the Elite Eight (though Legolas, alas, could not get past Aragorn in Round 1). Wizards Saruman and Gandalf joined the elves in Round 4; but poor Radagast was beaten by Dwalin way back in the first round. In the world of men, only Aragorn managed to get as far as the Elite Eight; Dr John Watson, Sherlock Holmes, Dr ‘Bones’ McCoy, Rudy, and Carl from Van Helsing all joined Eddard Stark in being vanquished in the Sweet Sixteen round.
Last two standing – here we are at the Middle-earth March Madness FINAL for 2018. Two – well, not men… – enter, one leaves; who will be Champion this year?
In the Final Four, we saw Samwise Gamgee take on Gollum, and Gandalf face Elrond Half-elven. Both Sam and Gandalf have been Middle-earth March Madness Champions before – twice, in the wizard’s case – but for the other two, the heady heights for the Final Four are new.
The contests were tight; Sam took an early lead in his duel, but by the second day, old Stinker had pulled ahead. Gollum finally went on to win that battle convincingly, claiming over 60% of the vote.
In the second pairing, it was neck and neck right down to the wire, with less than 1% in it at times. In the end, however, elvish power triumphed over Maiar magic, and Half-elven came home with 54.35% of the vote, to Gandalf’s 45.65%.
So this year will definitely see a NEW Champion crowned! Gollum faces Elrond in a fight to the finish. Can tricksssy deviousness overcome the power of a high elf? Will Smeagol help out, making it two against one? You decide!
The Final voting is open NOW. Polls close at 10pm EST on Thursday 5th April; only two days to vote for the Champion, so don’t delay! Last chance to play along with Middle-earth March Madness this year; and don’t forget to check out the ‘exit polls’ on Facebook. Whom do you want to see crowned…? VOTE NOW! [The Final] [Final Four] [Elite Eight] [Round 3 Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]
Just two rounds remain in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness – we’re down to the final four, facing off against each other in the Semi-Finals! Who has the strength to rule over all?
Let’s take a look back at the Quarter Finals – where none of the battles was as tight as might have been predicted. In a pairing which presented voters with a tough choice, the stout-hearted hobbit overcame his long-shanked foe; Aragorn was defeated by Samwise, with the Ranger unable to claim much more than a third of the vote. This result may surprise some, but then, Master Gamgee has always proved to have hidden strengths and depths.
Division II saw Galadriel going nuclear on Gollum, but still losing to the tricksssy one! Who would have thought that one of the River-folk could overcome a high elf, and a margin of two thirds to one third?
The mighty Maiar match was also not the closely fought duel one might have expected; it must indeed have been Gandalf the White who entered the lists, as he thrashed Saruman, taking over 85% of the vote!
Finally, in Division IV two elves faced off; a high (but half) elf against a woodland dweller. Thranduil may have ridden in on his war moose, but in the end, it was Elrond who came out victorious, claiming about three quarters of the vote.
And now we are down to just FOUR. Samwise vs Gollum – there’s no love lost between these two! Will the faithful gardener be able to overcome ‘Stinker’, or if he lets his guard down, will Gollum defeat the ‘stupid, fat hobbit’? Will it just devolve into a contest of name calling?! You decide!
Gandalf vs Elrond – will the wizard finally teach Half-elven a lesson, for failing to throw Isildur and the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom at the end of the Second Age? Or does Rivendell’s ruler have a trick or two up his voluminous sleeves? It’s up to you – VOTE NOW!
And then there were eight… It’s Quarter Finals time in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness – and Round 3 was a decisive round indeed. The people have spoken, and made it clear that alter-ego interlopers shall go no further; every duel in the last round was won easily by the Professor’s creations.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock) put up the best fight, taking a third of the vote against Elrond. Only two other non-Tolkien characters managed to climb over 20%: Karl Urban’s Leonard McCoy (Star Trek) fought hard but was no real competition for Galadriel, with the high elf in the end claiming more than three quarters of the vote. Alas, another Sean Bean character bites the dust prematurely; Eddard Stark (Game of Thrones) clawed his way to almost 29%, but could not hope to defeat the valiant Samwise Gamgee.
Martin Freeman’s John Watson (Sherlock) was thrashed by Gandalf, and David Wenham’s Carl (Van Helsing) received a similar humiliation at the hands of Gollum. At least, however, they made it into double figures; poor Rudy (Sean Astin) could only manage 7.13% against Gondor’s king. Aragorn’s triumph in that pairing will come as no surprise to anyone.
It was perhaps the ‘schizophrenic’ contests which were most interesting in this round; Christopher Lee faced himself as both Saruman and Count Dooku (Revenge of the Sith), and we wondered which way Lee Pace fans would vote, when having to choose between Thranduil and Ronan (Guardians of the Galaxy). Once again, the Middle-earth characters reigned supreme; Count Dooku couldn’t even manage to wrestle 9% of the votes away from Saruman.
So here we are at Round 4 – denizens of Tolkien’s realm all the way! The choices are tougher now; does Sam stand a chance against Strider? Will Gandalf and Saruman throw some break-dance moves in their fight, and will Saruman come out victorious? (Is he facing Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White? – you decide!) In the mighty battle of the elves, can Thranduil of the woodland realm possibly pose a threat to Elrond Half-elven? And is there anything the tricksssy Gollum can do, to give him a chance against Galadriel?
Quarter Final voting is open NOW, and runs until 10pm EST on Saturday 31st March. The Semi Finals will then start on Sunday 1st April. You can also take part in the ‘exit polls’ on Facebook, if you want a second chance to voice your opinion! Who looks set to take the ultimate crown this year…? VOTE NOW![Elite Eight] [Round 3 Bracket] [Round 2 Bracket] [Round 1 Bracket]