Our friends at Weta Workshop were not at Comic-Con in San Diego last week, but that didn’t stop them from showing off some really cool stuff down in New Zealand, coinciding with the timing of SDCC. The items from the Collectibles Unleashed event ranged from their amazing Masters Collection series to those very fun Mini Epics. This year’s Masters Collection piece captures Frodo’s journey to destroy the Ring as he, Sam, and Gollum make it through the Dead Marshes. This stunning piece is a 25-inch tall multi-layer collectible that gives you a full view of what each character was going through during this moment. It is currently in low stock and I’m sure with only 550 pieces available it will be gone quite soon. Not due to ship until the first quarter of next year, fans have plenty of time to save up the $2599USD required; or you can use Weta’s awesome payment plans to help break it down.
The awesome folks at Diamond Select Toys have some cool new The Lord of the Rings collectibles for fans to add to their displays: their D-Formz figures (Series 1). These 2-3 inch tall figures of Aragorn, Gandalf the Grey, Frodo, Gimli, Legolas, Smeagol, and Gollum come individually blind-boxed for $8.99. If you would like, you can order a set of 12 blind boxes – thus at least increasing your chance to get all of the figures – for $107.88. These are in pre-order right now, but are due to ship in October; not too much of a wait to add this cool twist on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy to your collection.
Daedelic Entertainment yesterday announced that its The Lord of the Rings: Gollum game will be released on September 1 on PC and consoles.
The developers descibe the game as a story-driven action adventure that allows the player to take on a perilous journey as Gollum, chasing the only thing that is precious to him.
In order to survive the dangers on his journey through Middle-earth, Gollum has to sneak, climb and use all his cunning. He also has to deal with his more human side – Sméagol. It’s up to the players if they want Gollum to have the upper hand when it comes to making important decisions or let Sméagol take over. Gollum also encounters well-known characters from the books as well as a few new faces.
Beta version showcase: questions raised, questions answered
Reviewers also recently got a first look at the game through an event that — if not exactly hands-on — did provide the opportunity to watch a pair of devs playing through the early levels and pose a bunch of questions.
Overall the mood seems cautiously positive, acknowledging that the visuals are still a work in progress, wondering how well a stealth-focused game will hold up across 25 hours of gameplay, and intrigued about the potential of the internal moral choices mechanic. And the Lore-obsessed may find some reassurance in the knowledge that game licensor Middle-earth Enterprises seems to have put a tighter leash on out-of-canon inventions.
Gamespot’s Lord of the Rings expert Lucy James also provides a comprhensive yet easily digestible run-down of what the devs decided to profile. If you don’t actually know a lot about the game, this is a great overview.
Last week, I got a sneak peek at the Gollum game at a virtual event by Daedalic Entertainment. While the gameplay footage was still in a rough beta stage, we were given a sense for the stealth platformer techniques, saw some new images, spoke with the developers, and – most exciting – we were able to learn and ask questions about the LORE behind the game.
The Gamer’s Ben Sledge has a great write-up of impressions of the two devs putting the game through its paces.
It’s hard to tell how good the stealth aspects of a game are unless you’re actually playing it, but it all seemed to work well. Combat is discouraged – you’re a scrawny little thing, after all – but your “Deus Ex inspired” parkour can get you out of a scrape if some Orcs (or worse) spot you. The most interesting part was seeing how the Gollum-versus-Smeagol internal debates worked out. We only saw a low stakes option, as the pitiful creature decided whether to kill a beetle or not, but Haberstroh assured me that future decisions would be more impactful and actually affect the story and gameplay.
Sledge also put a few lore questions to Daedelic’s Tolkien expert, Damiri Knapheide about how and where they are filling in gaps in Tolkien’s work to tell their story.
The Girdle of Melian is not what I expected to hear come up in conversation, but apparently it will play a “big part” in the Mirkwood sections of the game. For those who haven’t read The Silmarillion, Melian’s Girdle is not a physical item, it’s a magical enchantment that surrounded Thingol’s kingdom of Doriath, preventing anyone from entering against the king’s will. In Daedalic’s Middle-earth, Thranduil brought this enchantment with him to the Greenwood, and it protects the forest, or at least his kingdom, to this day.
Personally, I agree it’s a bit of a stretch. If anyone in the Third Age is benefitting from Melian’s instruction, the text implies that it’s Galadriel.
Nerd of the Rings
Dig video-based reviews? Keen on knowing how well the game all fits into the Legendarium? Nerd of the Rings is the review for you.
NME is probably the most cautious regarding the long-term draw of the stealth mechanic for players.
Gollum is better off crawling through handy tufts of long grass and throwing rocks to distract patrols and get them out of his path. This lends a great portrayal of Gollum as a sneaky, slimy backstabber; but even during the preview it feels a bit repetitive. There’s not too much variation on the tried-and-true stealth formula used by action games and as a result, there’s no guarantee that Gollum’s skulking won’t get stale by the end of the game’s roughly 25-hour runtime.
That being said, there is one interesting caveat: as displayed in The Lord Of The Rings, Gollum is a character in turmoil. Formerly a Hobbit by the name of Sméagol, years of hardship (and ownership of the one ring) birthed an alternate personality called Gollum. Throughout the game, you’re tasked with shaping the character through a series of moral decisions. This starts off humorous – Gollum convinces poor Sméagol to eat a beetle, claiming self defence. Later on, Daedalic Entertainment says players can expect bigger choices, such as choosing whether to betray allies or stay true to them.
Daedelic also posted a reply to common questions that they’ve received from fans over on Steam. We’ve reproduced their responses to the key ones below.
Q. When and how does the story of the game fit into the story of the books?
A. The story of the game largely takes place in parallel to the early chapters of The Lord of the Rings, from Gollum’s time in Mordor, his capture by Sauron and his interrogation by Gandalf. During this time, although very little is known about Gollum’s adventures, there was enough to give us an excellent outline and timeframe for the setting.
Q. Why did you choose Gollum as the main character?
A. We picked Gollum because he’s one of the most fascinating characters from the work of Professor Tolkien. A twisted Hobbit with two personalities, hundreds of years old; and with a rich knowledge of Middle-earth. Despite his looks he’s also an agile creature that can climb, leap and grapple his way past dangers or into advantageous spots. This makes for an epic adventure through exciting never-seen-before parts of Middle-earth, and leads the player to interesting moral choices, and varied gameplay, alternating platforming and stealth.
Q. Why doesn’t he look like Peter Jackson’s Gollum?
A. While all of us enjoy the previous adaptations of the stories Tolkien created, we wanted to create our own unique interpretation of the world and its characters. As such, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is original while being true to the literary source material.
Q. Who is the voice actor behind Gollum
A. Gollum is voiced by Wayne Forester.
Q. Is the game related to other The Lord of the Rings games or is it a standalone title?
A. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is not related to other adaptations of The Lord of the Rings.
The game picks up the story as it’s told in the books. The Daedalic team wrote the untold story of Gollum and therefore the players will encounter both new created characters and meet iconic characters!
Q. What type of game is it?
A. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is an epic Action-Adventure game with stealth and platform elements.
Q. Will the game be available in physical copies as well?
A. You will be able to purchase a physical copy of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Please visit your local or preferred retailer to know it’s availability.
A look at the various Lord of the Rings and Hobbit DVD sets currently on store shelves.
LATEST EDITION: The 2021 Remastered 31-disc 4K box set. $250
- 3 Hobbit Theatricals 4K
- 3 Hobbit Extended 4K
- 3 LOTR Theatricals 4K
- 6 LOTR Extended 4K
- 3 Hobbit Theatricals 1080p
- 3 Hobbit Extended 1080p w/ commentary
- 3 LOTR Theatrical 1080p
- 6 LOTR Extended 1080p w/ 4 commentaries
- 1 Bonus Feature (NEW) – 3 cast reunions + Cannes 2001 preview
Head on over to The Digital Bits where they have a long, deep review of this new set worth reading. Remember, the new 4K looks stunning but requires a new 4K disc player + 4K TV.
Can an equivalent set be assembled piece by piece? Let’s shop:
LOTR 4K (2020) $75
Includes Theatrical & Extended in 4K
– 9 Discs
LOTR Extended Edition BluRay 1080p Remastered (2020) $45
Includes Extended in Remastered 1080p
– Costa Bottes Documentary
– 15 discs
Hobbit 4K (2020) $70
Includes Theatrical & Extended in 4K
– 6 Discs
Hobbit Extended Edition Bluray 3D (2016) $60
Includes Extended Edition in 3D
– Extended in 1080p 2D
– 15 discs
For $250 you can get the new 31-disc box set with some pretty postcards + Cannes reel + 30 minute reunions…
Or for the same price you can get all 45-discs INCLUDING all the Appendices + Remastered 4K editions + 3D Hobbits!
Is it worth buying a whole new set just for the Cannes footage? Watch our reunion of that momentous occasion as we assemble Producers, Press, and Fan Blogs to remember what Lord of the Rings at Cannes 2001 was like.
For all the completionists out there, fill out your Middle-earth collection with the other versions of Peter Jackson’s movies.
LOTR Theatrical BluRay 1080p Remasters 3-Disc Set (2020) $20
LOTR Bluray + Appendices + Costa Bottes Documentary GREEN TINT edition (2012) $65
6-film Hobbit & LOTR DVD Theatrical Editions (2016) $20
A final reminder that Peter Jackson has said on occasion that he wants to do a 25th anniversary “Unicorn Edition” with all the extra stuff that we haven’t seen yet – Frodo turning into Gollum, Faramir & Eowyn’s wedding, and a warts-n-all BTS documentary that goes even deeper into the drama of making these films. No announcements have been made that this is even in the works, but PJ is a billionaire now, so anything is possible!
The awesome folks at Asmus Toys are up to some more fun with their 1:6 figure line from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. They’re very excited to announce that the next figure – or figures – is Gollum and Smeagol. Fans can get either of these very well done and seamless figures; or if you want both, you can get the luxury version. Either way you go, this is an absolute win for fans, as you’re getting what is the best version of Gollum we’ve seen done in a 1:6th scale figure. Fans ordering a single Gollum or Smeagol can expect to pay $130; or you can get the luxury version for $270. (This version also comes with a rock base.) This very well done figure will be shipping between April-June of next year; so you have time to save, or use Sideshow’s payment system to break down the price a little more.
Gandalf the Grey makes his debut in the line, with his staff and his sword Glamdring, and the other figure in the assortment is a customizable Uruk-hai, including multiple interchangeable heads and weapons. Each features over 16 points of articulation, and each comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Eamon O’Donoghue, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. These figures go up for pre-order tomorrow and with a price tag of $29.99.
Like last year, there will be no in-person San Diego Comic-Con this summer. That hasn’t stopped our friends DST from creating something very cool! This exclusive two-pack of Lord of the Rings action figures lets the cat out of the bag, showing Frodo in his completely invisible mode, wearing the Ring of Sauron. Standing right next to him is Gollum, who looks upset about someone stealing his ‘precious’. Each 4-inch action figure features multiple points of articulation, as well as detailed sculpting and paint applications. Limited to only 4,000 pieces, the pair comes packaged in a replica of an opening book, along with Gollum’s boat. Designed by Eamon O’Donoghue, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. This item can be pre-ordered right from Gentle Giant’s website for $49.99.