The Bridge Direct is making a smart move with their Hobbit toy line, by offering both 3.75″ figures and a second line of 6″ scale figures, the perfect extension of the amazing Lord of the Rings collection by Toy Biz.
The Hobbit toy line really took me by surprise. Bridge Direct basically came out of nowhere with this toy line– looking at their product list they have lots of younger-aged kids toys, so color me surprised their first major step into the action figure market would turn out this good. The smaller-scale Hobbit line was by and large brilliant, and by the time I had all of them I was so in love with this line, and the return to Middle Earth, that I picked up the 6″ scale Series One as well.
Not unlike Marvel Legends and Masters of the Universe Classics, the 6″ Hobbit series feels tailor-made for collectors. Each of the five figures sports excellent sculpting filled with even more meticulous detail than their 3.75″ counterparts, and the increased size lends itself to even more accurate portraits of the actors. Likewise, the paint apps have more room to shine on these figures, and they are excellent across the board, from the beautiful, subtle washes on the chain mail armors to the just slightly mottled finish on Bilbo’s jacket, which conveys a felted look without mixing media.
Like the 3.75″ figures, there is a very strong sens of scale here, and each of the characters of varying size match up to one another… and also fit in perfectly with the LOTR figures, making these new guys look and feel like they’re cut from the exact same cloth Toy Biz used a decade ago. The first assortment makes sense, keeping the spotlight mostly on the major players of the beginning of The Hobbit. So we get Bilbo Baggins, the dwarf warrior Thorin Oakenshield, Legolas Greenleaf, wood elf Tauriel and Gandalf the Grey.
The elves are both very good figures, with wonderful portraits of Orlando Bloom and series newcomer Evangeline Lilly. Each figure is well articulated with a ball socket head, swivel waist, ball shoulders, hips, elbows and knees, and articulated wrists and ankles. It’s an impressive display of moving parts, applied to each figure in this series, although some points of articulation– especially the hips and waist on these skirted elves– get inhibited by the sculpts of their armor. There’s an amazing amount of detail packed into the costumes of both elven warriors, and I love how this Legolas looks ever so slightly younger than his LOTR counterpart, while still sporting his iconic gauntlets, and of course his bow and arrow. Both elves get very nice looking bows, unstringed, and a quiver that plugs into their back. The arrows in the quiver are separate pieces, but are glued in place and hence no removable. While I miss the removable arrows from the Toy Biz days, I cannot begin to recall how many of them I lost over the years, so fixing them in place isn’t as big a dead as you might expect. Both elves also include a pair of knives– Legolas can store his in a sheath on his quiver, while Tauriel has to hold hers.
Thorin is one of our new heroes, the dwarven leader of the party of 13 that accompanies Frodo on his adventure. His figure looks great, with a wonderful portrait of Richard Armitage, bedecked in his shaggy cloak and very intricate armor. Thorin actually include more articulation than any version of Gimli we saw in the LOTR line, despite fitting in to the same scale perfectly. Thorin includes a pair of swords, both with sheaths, as well as the wooden shield resting on his arm, which is also removable.
Gandalf the Grey was the toughest figure to buy in this series, not because he’s bad, but because his appearance is so similar to the LOTR look that Toy Biz already released. However the new figure of the wizard is outstanding, with a stunning portrait based on Ian McKellen and a gorgeous sculpt packed with detail. From the coarse fabric of Gandalf’s cloak and robes to the gnarled twists of the wood on his staff, every detail of this figure is well executed. Gandalf is plenty poseable, with all the great articulation featured on his fellow figures, and his height is perfect, towering over the Hobbits and dwarves, and just inching out over the head of Legolas. Gandalf includes his staff, his sword complete with sheath, a removable cloak and his iconic hat, which fits snugly on his head without impeding the headsculpt underneath.
Bilbo Baggins rounds out the assortment, and he might be the best figure in this already stellar series. With an amazing headsculpt modeled after Martin Freeman, everything about this figure, from the shaggy mop top and hairy feet to the adventurous smirk on his face just screams Bilbo, and he’s jam-packed with the same great range of articulation as his larger colleagues. Bilbo is depicted in his red overcoat, which has a nice mottled paint app that gives it an illusion of texture, and rests very realistically on the figure, despite his multiple layers of garb. The Hobbit includes his backpack and canteen, which can be slung over either shoulder, as well as his sword Sting, complete with its scabbard.
It’s been a long time since the heyday of Toy Biz, and I truthfully never thought I’d see another company step up and release mass retail Tolkien figures of the same quality, detail and value as their seminal Lord of the Rings collection. But Bridge Direct has proven me wrong, with a new line that not only matches, but often exceeds the quality of the LOTR series with a set of amazingly sculpted, gorgeous looking and just plain cool action figures. The Hobbit toy line has sold me on Peter Jackson’s return to Middle Earth, but I am just as sold on Bridge Direct as the next major player in the action figure world.