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The Hobbit
by yo go re

Shhh! Nobody tell Mrs. yo that I'm opening her toys to review them!

A Sylvian elf, this daughter of Mirkwood is as deadly as she is beautiful. A favorite of King Thranduil and captain of the Woodland Guard, Tauriel's job to follow the orders of the king without question. However, Tauriel has a strong will and unyielding passion for what she believes is right. An expert fighter, she carries signature weapons including twin daggers and a bow and arrow. Like Legolas, Tauriel is extremely fast and agile in battle. Although she has lived many hundreds of years in Middle-earth, she remains one of the youngest of the Elven folk, and has rarely ventured beyond the borders of the great forest.

There was something of a nerd uproar when it was announced that Peter Jackson was adding a character to The Hobbit (back then she was named "Itaril"). Some cynical fans said that he was only doing it so they could stretch the story to three films, but let's apply Occam's razor and assume the simplest answer is the right one: they didn't add Tauriel because they needed to fill time, they added Tauriel because JRR Tolkien was terrible at writing women. Or remembering they existed. You know, the same reason Arwen had a bigger role in Fellowship of the Ring.

Tauriel (which in the language of the elves means "daughter of the forest") is played by Evangeline Lilly - aka Kate from Lost. The likeness is okay, but admittedly only so-so - it's on par with some of the likenesses ToyBiz created back in 2001. However, there are a few angles where you look at her and it's spot on, so things could be worse.

Her costume looks like it was made from giant leaves - the lines are probably meant to be wrinkles in muslin or something, but on this toy, it looks like she's wrapped her body in giant jungle leaves. She's wearing a brown bodice, leather bracers, and boots with a fancy pattern on the front. One of the cool things about the Lord of the Rings films is (like Rustin talked about) the way each race has its own sense of design - Tauriel's clothes definitely fall into the swirly, curving style of the elves. If you turn her around, even her hair gets in on the act, braided at the top and then twirling into a fancy curl down by her knees. Yes, really, her knees. Shorty's got some mad long hair, son!

Speaking of "shorty," the figure isn't as tall as you'd expect. She's only about a quarter inch bigger than Thorin Oakenshield - and aren't elves supposed to tower over dwarves? Well, Evangeline Lilly is 5'6" in real life, so this figure being 5½" tall is right on the money. Of course, actors and the characters they portray aren't necessarily the same height (just ask Tom Cruise and the apple crate he stands on in every scene), so it wouldn't have been so bad if Bridge Direct had cheated her up a little.

The articulation isn't quite as good as the ToyBiz LotR figures. She has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, and swivel/hinge hips, knees and ankles. The hip joints are really limited by her stiff skirt, so she can't get too dynamic, but the mobility of the upper body helps compensate.

Tauriel is an elf, so of course she's got a bow and arrows. Judging by the few pictures of the character that are online, she's meant to wear her quiver on her left hip, but the toy positions it in the middle of her back (of course, look what happened to Azog and Bolg for an example of how things can change). Plugging it into her back pushes the hair out and the chin down, unfortunately. The arrows are removable, if you pull on them very hard. Her bow doesn't have a string anyway, so it's not like she'll be able to fire them anyway. She also comes with her two daggers, but has nowhere to sheathe them.

The Hobbit was originally meant to be two films, not three - and as such, Tauriel was supposed to be in the first one, not in the second. That's why she found her way into all three toylines (6", 3¾", and Lego) in 2012, even though we all had to wait a year to finally meet her. Now that The Desolation of Smaug is out, though? Tauriel's a badass with a great place in the story, and it's nice to have her in our Middle-earth collection.

-- 12/14/13

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