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!
NZ Post releases final The Lord of the Rings trilogy stamp and coin collection
NZ Post is proud to release special edition stamps, coins and limited-edition prints to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
To be released November 1st by NZ Post, this is the third, and final, of three 20th anniversary collections – having previously released issues commemorating The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
NZ Post Head of Stamps and Collectables, Antony Harris says, “Like the previous two special edition releases, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will be just as popular among Kiwis and international collectors.
“There will be a lot of interest from around Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the world, as this collection marks the final milestone in the history of such an iconic series of films,” Harris said. “The previous two stamp releases have sold across the globe like nothing we had ever seen before.”
The Lord of the Rings is a series of three epic fantasy adventure films based on the novel The Lord of the Rings by British author J.R.R Tolkien.
Harris said, with only eight weeks until Christmas, any items from this final release would make an ideal gift – especially for family and friends living overseas.
The special edition stamps, coins and prints are being released in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
The artist behind the stamps and pins is New Zealander Sacha Lees, who began her career at Wētā Workshop working on The Lord of the Rings trilogy as an illustrator, creature designer and airbrush and concept artist.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 20th Anniversary stamps will be released on Wednesday 1 November 2023. To order and read about the collection visit collectables.nzpost.co.nz
Once again, these products from NZ Post are stunning. The eagle (or elf!) eyed among you may notice that these stamps also contain ‘hidden messages’ – keys lines from the movies, somewhere in each image. The coins are equally beautiful; you can see the Beacons and Meduseld ones below. There is also a Gondor coin, and one showing Gandalf crowning Aragorn, the returned king. See these, and take a closer looks at all these fabulous pieces, by visiting NZ Post’s website now.
Funko have taken the collectibles world by storm. Every time you look, there seems to be a new addition to the range, which you just have to have! Today, we can exclusively reveal a new figure they are adding to their REWIND collection – one which we know for sure will be of interest to The Lord of the Rings fans.
If you are not already familiar with Funko’s REWIND range, here’s the official word about it:
In collaboration with Blockbuster, the retro entertainment products offer collectibles and packaging fashioned around the iconic home video retailer’s design, allowing fans to tap back into the joys of the prime VHS era. Expanding the collectibles footprint, Rewind figures differ from the typical Funko Pop! aesthetic, celebrating the nostalgia and overall creativity of the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. Fans have the opportunity to relive the cherished memory of renting a movie on a Friday night with family and friends with a collectible encased in VHS-type packaging (unique to the IP) and a membership card designed to mirror Blockbuster’s memorable design.
The latest addition to these products is the dark lord himself: Sauron. Here’s what we know:
Description: Wield the power of the One Ring™ and expand your The Lord of the Rings™ collection with REWIND Sauron™! REWIND collectible comes in VHS-inspired packaging with a matching character card! There’s a 1 in 6 chance you may find the chase of Sauron™ with Eye of Sauron™. Vinyl figure is approximately 3.7-inches tall. Collectible case is approximately 5.85” H x 3.6” W x 1.65” D. Chase variants are shipped at random. Receiving a chase with purchase is not guaranteed.
If you can’t wait to get your hands on this fearsomely cute version of the Lord of the Rings himself, the good news is that you can find Sauron now at Funko.com.
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!
If you’re a regular reader here at TORn, you know by now about composer and sound engineer Jordan Rannells’ immersive audio soundscape of music and ambient sounds, bringing to life Middle-earth. His soundscape is designed to be listened to whilst reading The Lord of the Rings – and in fact, is timed perfectly to fit with Andy Serkis’ recording of the books.
The Hobbit and The Silmarillion
Following the success of his Long-Expected Soundscape, Rannells is at it again! This time he’s tackling two more of Tolkien’s works, in epic scale. Read on below to find out what Rannells told us about his latest projects.
A new kind of Middle-earth experience for Hobbit Day
Jordan Rannells composed an original score, designed sound FX and recorded nature ambience to match all 60+ hours of Andy Serkis’ The Lord of the Rings audiobooks. Each moment is timed exactly so that when you hear Serkis describe Grond tearing through the gates of Minas Tirith, you hear it happening; when the eucatastrophe happens, we hear its theme; when the water of Wellinghall rains down around us, we hear it come and go. It is so simple to put the Soundscape together with the audiobooks, but you can also listen without them and just escape to Middle-earth any time you need to. Listen to the wind in the grass on your way to Edoras; hear the turmoil in the score as Boromir confronts Frodo; duck as the wings of the fell beast fly over you.
Rannells uses Dolby Atmos to achieve the highest level of 3D immersion possible, using the latest technology and sound design tools used in big franchises like Marvel, Game of Thrones and more.
Now, after spending a year and a half designing his first soundscape experience, An Unexpected Soundscape and A Soundscape of Eä are on the way. The Hobbit and The Silmarillion are next on Rannells’ journey, as he seeks to complete the Legendarium in this new immersive adaptation.
Listeners will be able to hear the dwarves as their barrels crash by; catch whispers of Gollum and the spiders of Mirkwood; witness the Coming of Tuor to Ulmo, and even the creation of Arda itself. New challenges present themselves in bringing the up-close-and-personal world of The Hobbit to your ears, such as recording movement and footsteps for each of the dwarves. Then, in the opposite direction, large scale and epic abstract sound design are required for moments in The Silmarillion.
Find out more about Rannells’ epic undertaking on his website. You can also experience the first chapter of the Long-Expected Soundscape on his YouTube channel. Celebrate those Baggins’ birthdays surrounded by the sounds of Middle-earth!
An exclusive sneak peek at some of the wild new playable cards in The Lord of the Rings x Magic: The Gathering holiday updates, courtesy of Wizards of the Coast. You’ve never seen Magic cards like these!
Announced at MagicCon Vegas this weekend, the hugely successful MTGxLOTR is getting a new creative expansion including these new borderless poster art cards. These playable cards include all the necessary details, from the cost at the top right to the effect description hand written. These new cards will be available randomly in the new Holiday Collector Packs.
We got the opportunity to ask art directors from Magic: The Gathering, Sarah Wassell and MTG Hall of Famer Mike Turian, about these new wild designs.
What inspired this path of creativity in the cards?
Sarah Wassell – “The LOTR poster art style is specific to a style of band poster that emerged during the counter culture movement in the US in the 1960s (Seymour Chwast, Pushpin Studios, etc etc. There was a three book LOTR set published with amazing cover art by Barbara Remington that was a cult hit on US college campuses in the 1960s. This surge of interest fed directly into cultural moments with stadium rock bands referencing Tolkien in their lyrics in the 1970s. It’s incredible, the far-reaching effect of LOTR on fantasy and art and music, and we loved taking the space to honor one of the more surprising areas of Tolkien fandom through these “band posters.” And we love the chance to turn Magic cards with all their rule and mechanics into full poster art—it’s such a mind-bending way to approach a format that is so rigid that the elements can disappear through familiarity. “
These look unlike any other MTGxLOTR cards so far. Are they part of a broader artistic trends you are seeing come up?
Wassell – “Hopefully, the broad trend is that we continue to surprise and delight fans! Our goal for Magic art is to always work from a place of passion for the storytelling and characters and find new ways to visually express the lore of the set through connections to pop culture and all kinds of unexpected, nostalgic, or beloved ways of depicting the Magic sets we love so much.”
What has been the biggest surprise so far since initial release of LOTR?
Mike Turian – “The biggest surprise for me is just how the 1 of 1 Ring took on a life of its own. When we were making the card, that was always the vision behind doing a singular card to celebrate Magic and The Lord of the Rings coming together, we wanted to create something that would capture the imagination of fans and bring a piece of the novel to life. Still though, to see how it really did take off was something spectacular. And then, to actually have it pulled out of a pack, and ultimately end up in the hands of a superstar celebrity musician who loves playing Magic, I can’t imagine a better ending to that story!”
How do you find such creative artists?
Wassell – “We try to stay engaged in what is popular and exciting with fan art and pop art. We research art history and then approach our searches from current working artists who are inspired by exciting moments in art’s past. Mostly, we try to start from the source material of our internal world building team and game designers to amplify the exciting moments in a Magic set through the art that excites and inspires all of us in our day-to-day online and IRL journeys.”
The new packs for The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth Holiday Edition release November 3. Look for pre-orders through your favorite local game store.