Friday, January 31, 2014

Toy Fair 2014: A Grim Future For Hobbit Toys

Last year, around this time, we featured the first images of several new figures from The Hobbit toy line from The Bridge Direct for the second installment, The Desolation of Smaug. On display were all the remaining dwarves not yet produced (Nori, Ori, Dori, Gloin, Oin, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur), Radagast the Brown, Azog and his Warg and Bolg (pre-Weta last minute movie make over) for the 3 and 3 quarter inch scale. 6 inch figure additions included Azog and Radagast.

As December rolled around and the film came and went, those action figure release plans didn't exactly come to pass. So what did show up on retailer shelves? A 3 and 3 quarter inch Mirkwood Hero 5 Pack with only 1 new figure (Thranduil), a repackaged 6 inch Legolas and two new 6 inch figures of Azog and Radagast. That's 3 new figures for those keeping score...a little shy of the 19 figures released for the first film. Bolg squeaked by as part of the first film's 2 packs. No dwarves, no smaller scale Azog and absolutely no sign of the Smaug dragon the Bridge crew was encouraging us to shout for in February of 2013.

Now February of 2014 draws near and UK toy fair has past. Our crew did get a look at The Hobbit display, but you're not going to like what we saw.

It may not look like it at first glance, but since the 3 and 3 quarter inch Azog and Radagast were never released, they would technically be the only two new figures. Could The Bridge Direct be planning to only release 2 new figures come this December? It's a very big possibility. Let's weigh the facts.

- Bridge Direct are obviously having a hell of a time working with WETA. We had been told in the past that getting reference images had been increasingly difficult. Evidence of this can be found in the Bolg figure who sports a different look than his theatrical counterpart. There was also a pre-order up in Europe for an Azog figure that looks faaaar different than the one we saw in the films. That figure would become Yazneg as WETA completely changed the character's look before the film's release. It's worth noting that figure never made it to the states.

- Upon making my appointment for Toy Fair this year, I was told there wasn't very much to photograph in the Hobbit section. The images above reflect this. An actual quote from The Bridge Direct's PR team reads "The Hobbit line is very limited now (due to retailer demand)." Stores clogged with clearanced Hobbit figures may speak to that retailer demand.

- Despite the missing dwarves and other items that didn't see release this past December, The Bridge Direct did crank out a Thranduil that came as a complete surprise. It is entirely possible further surprises are on the way.

Are the chances good we'll witness a turn around and start seeing a parade of The Hobbit figures the likes of which would make the creators of Toy Biz's Lord of the Rings line applaud? No. Chances are not good at all. Could this poor showing possibly be all we'll see come December, in new packaging? Sadly, all signs point to yes...but we can still hope.

Keep watching for more Toy Fair reports as there is still a ton of stuff to get through.
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  1. 3.75" Azog & Radagast are available for sale in Europe, Amazon UK. Had the two shipped to me in US

    1. ...Annnnd that means there are no new figures. Guess we'll know for sure in 2 weeks.

  2. Another company is picking up the ball. You'll see at the Fair...

  3. I don't even know why I visit this site. Complete joke.

  4. Like someone mentioned above, the 3 3/4 Azog and Radagast WERE released in the UK by The Bridge Direct's sister company, Vivid. This being the UK toy fair it is not surprising at all that we are seeing figures that are already on the shelves there.

    There are unproduced figures shown in those pictures, Fili, Kili and Dwalin. Sure we saw them and others at SDCC last year so we still may not get them, but there is something we have not received at this point shown there. Kili would seem like the main dwarf that would be made based on DoS because of his side story and love interest with Tauriel. Fili will sell well next to him. I'm a bit surprised we would see a Dwalin without Balin.
    The thing that is worrisome is that there are no 6" figures shown at all. Many collectors seem to prefer the 6" line because they tie in with the old 6" Toy Biz LotR figures.
    Right now we are all just in limbo because toy companies don't want to reveal their main products until NY toy fair in Feb. Uk toy fair is just a sneak peak of better things to come..
    Though, at this point I'll still be surprised if we get any new figures and not just repacks at this point. TBD has totally dropped the ball on this license.

  5. Fili/Kili were already released along with Dwalin/Balin as part of the first wave of two packs for the Unexpected Journey line. Bilbo/Gollum, and Gandalf/Bolg rounded up that line up. So no new figures were on display.

  6. Did you guys see the new(2014/taba) LEGO hobbit sets? could you describe them??

  7. Weta is not at fault here it Peter Jackson and his two lady's who constantly change there minds right up to the last minuet