Amazon Studios’ “The Lord of the Rings” Second Age series has been notoriously secretive during the 18-month production, but inside info is finally trickling out of the billion dollar series thanks to anonymous Spy Reports coming out of New Zealand. We have been able to verify most of today’s report as currently accurate per sources that are involved with the Production.

Most of these Spy Reports have come to us in short form bullet points, and are shared as such below [with additional context and editorial in brackets from Staff Writer and weekly host Clifford Broadway]. Our spy hotline is still the same after 21 years and our DM’s are open on twitter & instagram! To celebrate the hard-working artists and craftspeople working with such passion way down in New Zealand we shed light on their efforts and help include them in the embrace of fan enthusiasm. As with previous intrepid filmmakers tackling a version of Tolkien; the fandom fully indulges our unbridled curiosity with an open hand while shouting support from afar—a grand tradition of an engaged fandom.

Lore, Legal Rights & the Tolkien Estate

First off, we are hearing that the Tolkien Estate is very happy with how things are progressing. Seems they really are more involved in this Production than with any previous LOTR adaptation ever [including the Bakshi version in 1978 and the six Middle-earth films from Peter Jackson; per the terms of the newest deal] and are thus enjoying the creative process. The overall plan for the show has instilled confidence in the Production and more story rights have been assigned to the show.

  • *CONFIRMED* for the 1st time EVER: elements & passages from “The Silmarillion” and “Unfinished Tales” are licensed by Amazon Studios for this adaptation [we broadly speculate those are sections of the book relative to Númenor and Rings of Power including full rights to stories licensed in the Appendices of “The Lord of the Rings,” which already mention Númenor and much more. Actors had posted instagram pics from Silm over the last 18 months.]
  • Amazon DOES have merchandising rights
  • Three lore experts / Tolkien scholars were on set for a time during production
  • Tolkien Estate is said to be very happy with how things are progressing

Production Details

  • Men, Elves and Dwarves have their own sequestered production units for the different Free Peoples [this intriguing bit rather suggests the narrative might be constructed across wide time jumps or told from pockets of different historical viewpoints, perhaps even an anthology approach rotating characters from the various Free Peoples all reacting to the same thing, or just not cooperating with each other in Season 1: but over what timelines we still do not know].
  • Scripts are only digitally shared among actors and crew under draconian control mechanisms to track any persons who could access them
  • There is a fake production team shooting decoy footage on fake sets unrelated to the real Production – [thus making some “reports of location sightings” false leads by tricksy hobbitses and we must admit this is very clever indeed! Peter Jackson never used decoys!]
  • Main unit wrapped shooting in April 2021; while many actors are back in the U.K. or are now on other productions
  • J.A. Bayona’s episodes are a standalone entry point to the series [like a feature film]
  • There are more incredible directors and big stars yet to be announced
  • LOTR & Wheel of Time are sharing crew & directors
  • They are aiming for a mid-2022 release [that is only one short year away and must mean the pressure on Post Production must be remarkable]

Men, Elves, Dwarves & “Early Halflings”

Welcome to the Second Age of the Middle-earth Cinematic Universe, full of corruption, wandering, and a lack of alliances.

  • Some Halflings are dark skin precursors to Shire-hobbits quite possibly “one of three somewhat different breeds” maybe Harfoots; [described by Tolkien in the Prologue to LOTR ‘Concerning Hobbits’ pg. 12: “they were browner of skin,” and also “they moved westward early,” alluding to a time in their Wandering Days, or perhaps earlier when they kept no records of their journeys over the Misty Mountains westward (which may explain a little of why any early antecedents of pre-Shire migration hobbits would appear here in the Second Age instead of Third Age narrative)]
  • Sir Lenny Henry portrays one such early halfling [Harfoot]
  • Celebrimbor the ringmaker has been recast
  • Tom Budge was in that role
  • Certain creatures are referred to as Ice Trolls because they can’t be called Cave Trolls (Warner Bros. licensing restriction)
  • Nudity is sparse and not sexualized— contrary to earlier concerns: but rather this artistic choice represents very dark thematic material suggestive of concentration camp-type visuals of victims, a harrowing portrayal of the corruption of the Elves by dark powers to ultimately become Orcs
    Editors note: if this plays out fully it will may well be one of the most ambitious things undertaken by this production and perhaps by anyone attempting to adapt Tolkien
  • Elves will have short/ shorter hairstyles [cue the Twitter threads, both pro and con, and the voting polls, and endless constellations of lovely fan art, so please bring it fans; I’m here for it]
  • Sauron/Annatar will not be revealed in Season One [going with the oldest axiom of show business “Always leave them wanting more.”]
Tom Budge was Celebrimbor the ringmaker, now being recast and reshot

Tune into #TORnTuesday as Quickbeam breaks down all these juicy spy reports in detail. Subscribe on YouTube! We still have a long way to go until Amazon’s LOTR TV show releases, so if you hear anything drop a note to spymaster@theonering.net

Our friends at Asmus Toys just keep turning out some of the best 1:6 figures you’ve seen, of the many beloved characters from Middle-earth. We want to make you aware that there are two more figures out now that folks can order. Fans can buy the incredible-looking Elven Warrior and Elven Archer figures, and start recreating The Battle of the Last Alliance. These very detailed figures can be ordered right now, and ship from our friends at Sideshow Collectibles in the next couple of months, for $190.

Here’s what the folks from Asmus Toys have to say about these awesome figures:

“ One by one, free lands in Middle-earth fell to the power of the Ring. But there were some who resisted. A last alliance of Men and Elves marched against the armies of Mordor, and on the slopes of Mount Doom they fought for the freedom of Middle-earth.

 

Asmus Toys are proud to introduce the latest releases from their The Lord of the Rings 1/6th scale collectible line: Elven Warrior & Elven Archer!

 

From the Battle of Dagorlad, where they stood along side Elrond and Gil-galad as the forces of Sauron drew ever closer. These elite High Elven soldiers instantly wowed audiences in the First Age prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

The team at Asmus Toys have shown their commitment to delve deep into the world of The Lord of the Rings by giving collectors a chance to own some of the lesser known heroes of the story. This pairing perfectly accompanies the existing Elrond release and allows for so many more display options for those who desire an expanse of both main and background characters.

 

Both products come with brand new, beautifully crafted gold armored attire! Standing at approximately 30cm tall, with over 34 points of articulation; they also include an Elven shield and spear, long sleeved hooded chainmail and removable helmets which reveal a different head sculpt for each figure!

 

The ‘Elven Warrior’ carries a devastating double-handed Elven blade, which tucks away nicely into a rear worn scabbard. With an abundance of accessories, it’s hard to know which weapons to display this guy with!

 

What ‘Elven Archer’ would be complete without their Elven longbow? At around the same height as the archer, its length gave them the greatest shooting range, allowing them to take down enemies from afar. This accessory is accompanied by an elegant quiver and a mighty ten Elven arrows!

Sixty-four began the contest; in the end it came down to just two costumes, in TheOneRing.net’s March Madness 2021: the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth. Aragorn’s Strider garb took on Legolas’ ‘hero’ outfit – and the voting was fast and furious. Thousands of votes were placed – this final round saw the biggest turn out by far. The lead swung back and forth between the two costumes; but in the end, there could be only one. This year’s Grand Champion is…

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Champion 2021”

‘We come to it at last – the great battle of our time….’ From 64 costumes at the start, we are down to the last two; which of those will be the Grand Champion of March Madness 2021, the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth? Here are the results of the Final Four:

Round Six – Grand Final

Strider took on the Witchking. It is said that no man can kill him; but the clothing of a ranger could defeat the wraith’s robes. By a margin of only about 150 votes, it is Aragorn who strides into the final.

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Grand Final”

And then there were four! We move out of the regional divisions and into the Semi Final of this year’s March Madness, the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth. Here’s how the table stands now:

Round Five – Final Four

So who triumphed in the Elite Eight? This was a nail biting round; this very post was drafted with certain costumes as winners, but then there was a late surge in voting and a couple of outfits made a comeback!

Beginning with the Humans and Maiar, a fully armoured Eomer was taking on Aragorn in ranger garb. This duel had the widest margin in the Quarter Final, with just under 60% of the vote going to Aragorn’s outfit. He’ll meet the Witchking in the Semi Final; in the Villains region, the Balrog was finally defeated, with the epic helm and long robes of the Witchking claiming about 10% more votes.

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Semi Final”

Quarter Final time! Only the Elite (or Elegant?) Eight remain in the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth; one final round in the region divisions. Here’s the latest table:

The bracket for Middle-earth March Madness 2021, showing the costumes which have made it into the Elite Eight round.
Round Three – Sweet Sixteen

Let’s take a look at the Round Three results; starting with the Villains this time. The Mouth of Sauron was no match for the Balrog, only managing to muster a third of the vote; and the regular Witchking took 70%, to crush his Twilight self. This means we’ll see the ruler from Angmar taking on the demon of the ancient world in the Quarter Final; and just to prove that there are Balrog cosplays, here’s a brilliant one from a TORn staffer:

TORn staffer Rasputin created an amazing cosplay as a Balrog showgirl - complete with sparkly costume, and horned headdress with red and orange plumes. And what looks like wings...!
Staffer Rasputin looks incredible as a Balrog showgirl
Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Quarter Final”