Yesterday marked the 128th anniversary of the birth of our beloved and favorite author: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. From humble beginnings in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Tolkien went on to live a life filled with love, adventure, and accomplishment. Along the way, while in his twenties, he began putting some of the stories from his rich imagination down on paper: stories of the triumphs and tragedies of Elves, heroic Men and powerful, ethereal beings that became the foundation of the rich, complex history of a place called Middle-earth: a world that millions would eventually visit, both on the written page and on the big screen, and come to cherish.
This weekend, you might take some time to sit down with your favorite poem, you might be in the midst of your annual read-through of The Lord of the Rings, or you might venture away from Middle-earth by reading stories such as Smith of Wooten Major, or Leaf by Niggle. You might even raise a glass and toast: The Professor! Better yet! Raise a glass *while* you’re enjoying his works. However you celebrate, please join us in a rousing: “Thank you, Professor Tolkien!”
We’ve had the chance to team up with the folks at Star Ace Toys to bring you a look at their Defo Real Nazgul Vinyl figure. These figures combine a very cool blend of real, with almost-animated, to create a very unique but awesome look. Star Ace isn’t messing around! These things are super detailed as well, and bring some incredible quality to the table. The Nazgul just went available from Sideshow Collectibles who has the deluxe version with the Morgul Blade. You can snag him for $68.
Our friends Jerry Vanderstelt and Weta Workshop have teamed up once again. This time it’s a very special piece you can only get if you ordered the Arwen and Frodo on Asfaloth as well as the Ring at the Ford statues. The print is limited to 150 copies, so it’s going to be very limited. Jerry sent over this video showing the process it took to make this great piece and we wanted to share it with you. Be on the lookout for a review of the Ringwraith statue we hope to have up soon.
As we previously teased about here on the front page, as well as on our various social media footprints, the Gandalf the Grey Mini Epic art print was set to be coming soon from our friend, Jerry Vanderstelt. Yesterday this went live, and is now available to all collectors. Fans can get this in paper giclee (18×24) all the way to canvas giclee (24×32). Depending on the size you go with, the cost will be $80 for the 18×24 paper giclee, $165 for the 24×34 giclee, and if you go for the canvas, a price of $435. No matter what you choose you’re getting some of the absolute best art out there.
During Comic-Con 2018, our friend Jerry Vanderstelt was at the Weta Workshop booth creating a beautiful art print of the Gandalf the Grey Mini Epic. I, as well as many others, asked Jerry if he could turn this into a print because we all knew folks would want to own it. Right now we have just a preview for you, cool behind the scenes, and a message from Jerry himself. Once this is officially announced, we will let you know so you can place your order.
Ok, so although some of you well know, I can officially now announce that I have a brand new piece of art coming very soon, in time for Christmas shoppers!
It is my Epic Mini stylized Gandalf art, entitled, “Gandalf the Grey”.
I will announce right here once I have an exact launch date. At that time, I will post a special promotional video with a very special guest introducing how all this came about, someone every fan of Weta Workshop and the world of Middle Earth will recognize . For now, here is the full art as well as the video link showing the painting process! This image is a very lo-res shot, but the actual print is super sharp. Sorry for the watermark, but it’s a must nowadays!
Collider announced earlier today that 23 year-old British actor Maxim Baldry “has landed a significant role” in the upcoming Amazon Middle-earth TV series. Baldry is perhaps best known so far for his role in the 2019 BBC/HBO joint production series Years and Years. According to Collider: “Character details are being kept under wraps along with plot details.” While that doesn’t give us a lot to go on, ok almost nothing to go on, we do know that the new series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, which narrows down, if only slightly, what “significant role” might imply.
We’ve been very lucky to team up with the great folks at QMx to show off and review the very first figure in their The Lord of the Rings Q-Fig line: The Witch-king. The Q-Fig line covers lots of license but it wasn’t until just after this past Comic-Con that it set its gaze upon Middle-earth. Now we, the fans, can add some of these awesome figures to our collections.
Right now the collection includes just the standard figures which will run you roughly $20. They also have a masters version which, from what I saw at Comic-Con, are a little bigger or involve more characters. The masters versions of the Q-Fig lines tend to run in the area of $99 to $100. No matter your choice, these things are great! For my fellow collectors on a budget, this is a great avenue to go and be able to bring a little Middle-earth into your collection.
Even within Tolkien’s own books, anniversaries are treated as special occasions. A chance for the characters to reflect upon the past that shaped them as they continue moving forward into the future. But for us Lord of the Rings fans, this October 11 (or October 10, if you’re in the Western world) is an anniversary of special magnificence. It was October 11, 1999 in New Zealand when principal photography commenced on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies, with the main shoot encompassing The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Back at a time when the internet had no Facebook, Twitter, or Wikipedia, back when VHS tapes were the preferred way to watch home movies, and when Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin were world leaders, an 18-year-old Elijah Wood and his castmates gathered together to begin shooting three films that most of the non-Tolkien fans of the time gave little regard to.
It’s interesting to look back at the schedule from those days because it wasn’t dictated by story or film order but by what locations were ready, who was available, and what the weather was likely to be like. In fact, while filming began with the four hobbit actors hiding from a black rider on the Wooded Road and ended 437 days later on the set of Minas Tirith, the order of what was filmed in between was more of a hodgepodge. (I’m always amused when people claim that the Grey Havens’s farewell sequence carries its emotional weight because of how much the actors bonded over the course of the project. In fact, it was shot rather early in the go, and when Ian McKellen was later asked how he kept from weeping in the scene, he replied, “This was only the second scene I filmed for the trilogy. I scarcely knew Frodo from Merry and adopted the safest course of expressing very little as I said goodbye to them.”)
Of course, the end of principal photography itself wasn’t really the end. Pickup shots would continue for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, with the latter even having some pickup shots filmed after its theatrical release to help fill out the extended edition. Peter Jackson, after shooting the final final footage for the trilogy, a shot of a couple of skulls rolling at the Paths of the Dead, commented that it was especially bizarre to still be shooting The Return of the King in 2004 after the film had won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
By setting aside the pickup shots, weather cover days, and various bits and pieces shot by some hard-working unit while most of the actors were busy elsewhere, here’s the general schedule The Lord of the Rings followed:
(Filming begins with Hobbit leads) The Wooded Road Farmer Maggot’s Field Buckleberry Ferry Bree Exterior (Viggo Mortensen arrives) Weathertop Isengard Deforestation
(Sean Bean Arrives) Anduin River Amon Hen Battle
Boromir’s Death Frodo’s escape from Boromir Ford of Bruinen Prancing Pony Interior Exiting Moria Approach to Lothlorien
(Ian McKellen arrives) Hobbiton Exteriors The Grey Havens Edoras Exteriors
(Ian Holm arrives) Bag End Interior Orthanc Interior Helm’s Deep
Helm’s Deep Continues Gandalf at Isengard Rivendell Exteriors
Helm’s Deep Continues Last Alliance (Prologue) Aragorn and Company at the Black Gate Caves of Orthanc Frodo and Sam in Mordor
Helm’s Deep Concludes Frodo and Sam in Mordor Concludes Frodo and Sam at the Black Gate Moria Interior Rivendell Interior
Paths of the Dead Interior (Cate Blanchett arrives) Lothlorien
Orthanc Exteriors Cirith Ungol
Anduin River Flooded Isengard
Breaking of the Fellowship Caradhas Voice of Saruman
Edoras Interior Battle of the Pelennor Fields
Fangorn Forest Concludes Moria Gate Minas Tirith
Special thanks to J.W. Braun, the author of The Lord of the Films. You can visit his website at www.jwbraun.com.
Our friends over at Asmus Toys have been celebrating Hobbit Day for the last week with an awesome giveaway. All you have to is go to the Asmus Toys Facebook Page and follow the directions. Five lucky fans will be given the chance to win one of their very cool Frodo slim figures. The contest ends this Monday, September 30th, so make sure you get your entries in now!
Talent, locations, infrastructure and a warm Kiwi welcome. According to Pam Ford from the Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development agency in this piece from Radio NZ, those were the determining factors in Amazon Studios’ decision, confirmed on Tuesday, to film the upcoming Middle-earth-based TV series in New Zealand.
Quoted in stuff.co.nz, showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay described New Zeland as indeed offering all of the criteria they were looking for: “As we searched for the location in which we could bring to life the primordial beauty of the Second Age of Middle Earth, we knew we needed to find somewhere majestic, with pristine coasts, forests, and mountains, that also is a home to world-class sets, studios, and highly skilled and experienced craftspeople and other staff”.
“And we’re happy that we are now able to officially confirm New Zealand as our home for our series based on stories from J.R.R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings. The abundant measure of Kiwi hospitality with which they have welcomed us has already made us feel right at home, and we are looking forward to deepening our partnership in the years to come.”
No doubt the prospect of a 20% to 25% rebate for every dollar spent also contributed to the ‘welcome’ factor. The good news for New Zealand is that Amazon will be spending approximately $1.0 billion of those dollars ($1.3 NZD) and will likely provide jobs that will spill over from the film industry to affect the rest of the economy for up to a decade.
Read more about the Auckland studios where filming will take place in our article from June, and be sure to listen to the full radio story linked above as it features our own staffer Garfeimao (Cathy Udovch)!
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