NewsWire: Figuratively Speaking with Toy Biz - Raving Toy Maniac
Raving Toy Maniac (RTM): Let's start with Lord of the Rings. Everyone wants to know, why is Strider a little late in his release?
Joann McLaughlin (JM): Strider is shipping now, and we'll continue to ship him into the next (third) assortment to help meet the demand for the figure. Viggo Mortensen has a lot of facial hair for the character of Strider, and unfortunately that hair makes it difficult for the laser scanning process to get a great likeness, and that has been the hold-up. In order to get the best and most accurate likeness for the character we've had to take a little extra time to make sure he looked right. Because of the extra work involved, he wasn't ready to ship with the initial shipments of assortment 1, but he should start to become more available since he is shipping now.
RTM: Did the Galadriel/Frodo 2-pack suffer a similar fate?
JM: Not at all. Galadriel and Frodo haven't been cancelled, but postponed to a future assortment (which we haven't worked out yet). The big reason is that the licensee decided that this toy might reveal too much about the scene it portrayed and they wanted to wait to release it until after the FOTR is in theatres. While it might seem ironic that books have been out for years, what they are doing is keeping the interpretation of the scene a secret for now. And by interpretation I mean how the filmmakers are expressing the scene. We'll get this 2-pack out, it'll just be a little more time before we do.
RTM: So after Fellowship has run its course in theatres, how will you keep the line going during the lull until The Two Towers comes out?
JM: We are looking at continuing with characters from FOTR until next spring or summer (of 2002). So we expect to release several assortments between now and then. Along with that there will be a video/DVD release of FOTR in the fall of 2002, and we have some things planned to try and go with that release.
RTM: Anything in particular?
JM: Why of course! This December we'll have the electronic Cave Troll released, and he's very cool looking. He has a great likeness to the Cave Troll you can see now in the trailers for FOTR. He's going to be able to swing his hammer down and he's a lot of fun. He's also done to scale with the other figures, so he'll be around 10" tall. For the video/DVD release we're hoping to have the Balrog. He won't be to scale (since he's around 40 feet tall!!) but he'll be bigger than the Cave Troll. And he's really cool as well.
RTM: How were the actors towards working with Toy Biz and making these figures?
JM: All of the actors were very enthusiastic and involved with their figures. They all provided tremendous input to their figures down to even the tiniest of details. Making the three LOTR films really created a very close-knit group between the actors, and they all were very interested in making sure that any of the merchandising from the film was done with the best attention to detail possible, and highest quality. These actors know their characters very well, and they knew every detail of their costumes from the months they spent wearing them. If the scabbard of their sword was a little off, they noticed and let us know so we could correct it. Elijah Wood was very interested in the action figures, as was Sean Astin down to insisting his water bag and sausages were added to his characters pack! Viggo Mortenson knew every aspect of his character inside and out, and Ian McKellan mentioned a scarf he often wore (but didn't always show up in our reference photos). Everyone involved was very passionate about making sure we did the figures the best we possibly could.
RTM: Was there any reason that the actor's names weren't on the packages for LOTR, like they were for the X-Men movie figures?
JM: It was a decision made by New Line Cinemas. They felt it was more important to emphasize the characters rather than the actors that played them. I guess it's like when a movie opens and they don't have all the credits at the beginning but get right into it (like Star Wars) - it helps you to get into the characters and story.