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Gandalf the Grey

Lord of the Rings
by Shocka

Ian McKellen was one of the highlights of the Lord of the Rings film; McKellen shined as he brought the famous Gandalf character to life. Unfortunately, McKellen was tragically gunned down by the police after he tried to rob a liquor store and had to be replaced by Shaquille O'Neil for The Two Towers, further adding to the tragedy that was the second Lord of the Rings film. Fortunately, we still have our happy memories of the original Gandalf to enjoy, and this figure is an excellent representation of a fine actor in a fine role.

Gandalf the Grey, a charismatic, witty, and mysterious wizard, joins the Fellowship and uses all of his powers to help Frodo across Middle-earth to destroy the One Ring.

Gandalf the Grey stands 6½" tall (7½" including his nifty wizard hat) with an excellent sculpt that captures both the awesome likeness of the actor and the great power of the character. Gandalf's facial sculpt is great - although the expression isn't perfect, it's definetely Gandalf and it works for many different poses. The paint application backs it up - everything from his long wavy hair to his tiny belt buckle is perfectly painted and detailed. Gandalf is sculpted in his grey robes, all of which are a soft-rubber plastic fitting over his plastic body. Looking at the pictures, it looks as though Gandalf isn't very articulated due to the big robe fitting over his back and arms - Toybiz seems to have thought of this and made it a removable accessory, giving Gandalf a nifty 12 points of articulation.

This amount of movement doesn't seem like much compared to Spidey Classics or Marvel Legends, but Gandalf isn't a character who flings himself from buildings or throws around tanks - his power is of the mind and magic rather than the muscle. This isn't to say he can't swing his staff or sword, as we saw in the movie, and the figure accurately reflects this - his upper body has a fair bit of articulation including balljointed arms and impressive swivel-jointed elbows so he can really move. Although yo might have raved about the articulation on Sauron, I like Gandalf's articulation better - this is a really well designed toy. In addition, because this is a children's toy as well as a collector's figure, Gandalf is highly durable, so he'll stand up to heavy play or a topple from your shelf - very impressive.

Gandalf includes all the nifty accessories you'd expect of such a high-mighty kick ass wizard - he comes with his removable robes (which make him look mighty impressive in that "YOU - SHALL NOT - PASS!" pose), his bag of wizard-stuff and his wizard hat. The bag fits onto him over his arm and under his beard nicely, but the hat doesn't fit quite as well; it pops off his head easily and doesn't stay on during play - fortunately a small piece of blu-tak on the back of Gandalf's head will keep it on for the long haul. Gandalf also has a sword, which works a lot better than many of the other LotR swords because it is simple; sculpted from hard plastic with a simple silver-black color scheme, it doesn't bend out of shape or feature annoying paint smudges from over-detailing. Finally, Gandalf's coolest accesory is his staff: painted with simple wood detailing with a clear crystal on the top, it's a great little accessory which plays into the nifty action features.

Unlike most of the cheap FotR figures, Gandalf the Grey has two action features that actually work. First off, bending his left arm at the elbow makes the crystal on his staff light up bright green, a nifty little effect that illuminates the figure in the dark. Although I think the color should have been light blue instead of green, I'm told the green is more accurate to the book or movie or something. Whatever. The downside to this features is that Gandalf can only hold his staff in one hand due to the little wiring-bits that make the crystal light up in his hand, although he can still wield the sword in both hands.

The other action feature involves pressing the lever on Gandalf's back to make him swing the staff - this would have been much more appropriate for the other arm so he can swing the sword, but as it is it allows him to slam the staff into the ground, like in the Bridge of Khazakstan, or you can just put the sword in his other hand. Aside from taking away a bit of articulation, these action features show off what action features can do for a figure - they illuminate the play value, poseability and creativity, giving the figure more value rather than just killing some of the articulation.

Overall, this is a fine figure and one definately worth owning, especially for all of the you Lord of the Rings fans. This figure and Sauron are my favourite FotR toys, by far - they show ToyBiz's creativity for making good toys which was all but lost with most of the crap from this line.

Gandalf kicks ass.

-- 04/10/03

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