We learned about this press release from Sideshow Toy at Xenite.org:
In what is surely one of the most creative theatrical licensing deals ever, Sideshow Toy of Westlake Village, CA has partnered with Weta Workshop of New Zealand to develop multiple lines of polystone collectibles based on the upcoming film trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. What makes this deal so unique is that it may be the first time a U.S. based toy company has partnered with the special effects company that created the effects for the licensed film property. The Sideshow / Weta collaboration will be responsible for the development and marketing of five lines of polystone collectibles: statues, busts, miniature weapons, miniature armor, & wall plaques.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is a New Line Cinema production and is based on the J.R.R Tolkien classic fantasy series of books. The films are currently in production in New Zealand with the first film; “The Fellowship of the Ring” slated for December 2001 release. Peter Jackson, a native New Zealander, whose credits include “Heavenly Creatures” and “The Frighteners”, is directing the trilogy. The international cast features Sir Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Liv Tyler, and Elijah Wood.
The Sideshow / Weta partnership bring together two respected and talented organizations. Sideshow is the creative force responsible for the highly praised line of figures based on the Universal Studios Classic Monsters. The Sideshow team has been recognized for its ability to consistently achieve character likenesses in both collectible toys and statues. Weta is New Zealand¹s foremost Effects facility, which was established fourteen years ago to support New Zealand¹s fledgling film and television industry. Among Weta¹s credits are several of Peter Jackson¹s earlier films, and also television¹s popular Xena and Hercules¹ series. Weta is comprised of a group of artists united in their love of art and film from blacksmiths to leatherworkers, skilled prosthetic technicians, miniature makers, painters to wigmakers, casting and molding experts, engineers and swordsmiths.
The Weta Workshop has been immersed for four years in the conceptualizing, creation and the on set operation of the creatures, miniatures, armor, weapons and special make-up effects for the three epic films. Weta¹s focus has been to create a unified look throughout the three films while capturing the very essence of the books that are held so dear by millions of readers around the world.
It is the same Weta designers and technicians that have created the different armies and creatures within Middle Earth that have chosen to create the high quality collectibles under the Sideshow / Weta brand. The integrated experience that these designers and technicians have had in the creation of the films and their unique relationship with the actors and director will result in the most authentic figure and miniature collectibles possible.