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The Hobbit
by yo go re

"Wait, I haven't read Tolkien in almost a week!"

A former member of the ancient Ziox cult, he fled the group when commanded to kill another member. He thought he had moved on, that that life was behind him... until the day he encountered a small, young adventurer. Now, through the woods and the caves of their strange land, they seek the cult's lost object of power before it can be reclaimed and used to take over the world.

Sorry, our bad: that's Rowsdower, not Radagast. Among any other problems we may find as this review progresses, the Desolation of Smaug line has echewed character-specific text for the back of its cards, opting instead for generic chatter about the film. So how are you supposed to know that Radagst was one of the five wizards sent to Middle-earth to encourage the inhabitants to resist Sauron, but that he got too caught up with the birds and animals and didn't bother to do much to aid the races that mattered?

Rowsdower Radagast was played by Sylvester McCoy, who is best known as the Seventh Doctor - and if you know that fact ahead of time, you can definitely see it in this toy's sculpt. This is a quite strong likeness, almost as good as the best of ToyBiz, and a certain improvement over the first series. There's nice detail in the hair and beard, too.

Since the only wizard we see regularly is Gandalf and he spends all his time hanging around tiny humanoids, it's easy to assume that the Maiar (the wizards' race) are meant to be super tall - but then here's Radagast, who's just a dumpy little guy. He's not even 6" tall, and has a bit of a gut. Suiting his "eccentric old hippie" nature, his design is very lopsided: though his robe has long, billowly sleeves, the left one has been torn away near the elbow; the lower edge of his inner robe is ragged; his pantlegs are uneven; and he wears two different shoes.

Costume designer Ann Maskrey wanted a look for Radagast that made him appear to be a part of the forest, so his robe was embroidered with patterns to make it look like bark. The sculpt of the toy captures that detail nicely, where it's visible. See, one of the corners cut on this figure is that the lower layers of his costume are completely smooth and undetailed. His pants and torso are just plain brown expanses. Imagine if Thorin Oakenshield had absolutely no detailing under his furry cloak - maybe we were just spoiled by ToyBiz sculpting things all the way down, whether it would be seen or not. His hat, in the film, was made of felt that had been plucked up to make it look like moss was growing on it; the toy's hat has the right shape, but it needs some texture.

The hat is removable, and underneath it his hair is twisted up into a small bird's nest, just like we saw in the film. And also just like we saw in the film, he's got bird poop streaked down the right side of his face. Unfortunately, it's not sculpted any different from the rest of the head; so really, there's just a patch of beard by his face that's painted a slightly bluer gray than the rest of him, and that's a bit disappointing. We demand more realistic poos!

In addition to the hat, Radagast comes with just one accessory: his staff. It's gnarled wood, with a large blue crystal at the tip. It's way oversized, though. Judging by the size of the prop in the movie, this is sized appropriately for a 12" or 18" figure. The rest of the staff is fine - it's just the top that's larger than it should be. It's a shame he doesn't come with his threadbare satchel, or maybe some animals to crowd around him.

Radagast has a balljointed head (not that you'd know it between the beard and the long hair); swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows; swivels at the right wrist, left forearm, and waist; and swivel/hinge hips, knees and ankles. The legs don't do much because of the robes - but if you pull open the robes, you're left with the unsculpted body, so that may be for the best. On the other hand, if you're just posing him, you'd never see those details anyway, and a kid who's playing with it wouldn't care enough to miss them.

Things don't look good for Bridge Direct's Hobbit line right now. They appear to only be releasing three 6" figures this year: Radagast, obviously; the same Legolas they released last year; and a watered-down version of Azog. At this rate we're never going to get the dwarves! Of course, last year I had to go halfway to another time zone to find a TRU that was carrying the figures, and this year they're in the local store, so maybe that's a good sign? Radagast is a figure that looks good, as long as you don't look too close, and stands proudly among the rest of the Lord of the Rings toys.

-- 11/14/13

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