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Arwen and Asfaloth

Lord of the Rings
by yo go re

The Elven Princess known as Arwen comes to the rescue of Frodo Baggins after he is stabbed by the Morgul blade of the Witch King. She puts the young hobbit on her horse, Asfaloth, and rushes him to Rivendell. Only Elven medicine can save the life of the gravely wounded Ringbearer.

Arwen is about 6⅝" tall, and is seen here in the outfit she wore when she first met the Hobbits; that being a mixture of purple breeches, two-toned grey skirts and an ornate bodice (not the slinky, white, backlit number she threw on for Aragorn). Costume designer Ngila Dickson designed the costume to show Arwen's empathy with the human world, so it's basically an Elven version of a human riding outfit. A mixture of pvc and actual cloth, the various layers of costume still allow a wide range of movement.

Push the button on her back, and her Everstar lights up. What's an Everstar? I don't know. But it sits right between her... shoulders... and glows. Ooh, pretty. Glowy. Moving on.

[Take it away, Poe: "The movies' 'Evenstar' (not 'Everstar') seems to be an adaptation of the books' Elfstone, a green gem that had the light of the sun within it and showed anything viewed through it as young and full of life. It once belonged to Arwen's paternal grandfather, but he took it with him to the Undying Lands; after that, it was either brought back to Middle-earth by Olorin, or it was re-created by the forger of the Rings of Power; either way, it was given to Arwen's maternal grandmother, and eventually passed down to her that way." Whew! --ed.]

Unfortunately, Arwen does not come with the sword she wielded so defiantly in the movie (named Hadhafang); the set does, however, include a figure of Frodo, looking sick and pale beneath his green cloth cape. Frodo is only articulated at the neck, but is a more appropriate scale than the other Hobbits, and can be removed from the saddle so you can create a scene of the elf girl when she was still looking for the band of travelers.

The sculpting on Arwen is quite good - she's actually got the figure of a real woman, not the wasp-waisted waifs normally seen in action-figure land. From a certain angle, she sort of resembles Alanis Morissette as God, but rest assured; thanks to the magic of Gentle Giant's "RealScan" technology, she really does look approriately Liv Tyler-ish (but a hand sculpt would still be better). Arwen's hair is billowing out behind her as she rides, complete with two thick, well-detailed braids.

Arwen has normal articulation at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, and hips, plus a few extras: taking a page from McFarlane Toys' book, the legs feature ratchet-type joints covered in rubber to create invisible joints. In order to allow Arwen to actually ride Asfaloth and yet still look normal in a standing pose, there is also a swivel joint just above mid-thigh.

Asfaloth (meaning "sunlit foam" in Elvish) is almost 7½" tall, and is excellently detailed. The saddle, straps, and bridle are all modeled directly from their on-screen versions (in truth, an elf wouldn't have used a bridle and bit, just an ornamental headstall; when questioned about this in a letter, Tolkien admited the error and promised to fix it in future editions, which he did). The saddle blanket and sheepskin pad have been painted very well, and the saddle itself has the look of worn and cracked leather. The horse has its own action feature, as well: press the large button on the horse's flank, and its front legs flail, simulating a gallop away from the pursuing Ringwraiths.

The horse's legs are articulated at the hip, the knee (not the rear legs, though), and the ankle, though the front legs won't stay in position if you move them yourself (due to the galloping action). There is also a ratchet joint in the middle of the horse's neck (again covered by PVC), so you can make his head pull to the side if you so wish, just like when Arwen was trying to escape the forces of darkness by cornering sharply around trees. His mane and tail are also molded from PVC, and sculpted to look as if the wind were whipping through the hair as he runs.

With unequaled attention to detail on both the horse and its rider, and including a figure of the movie's main hero, this is a set not to be missed. Sure, Frodo is goofy lookin', and Arwen doesn't have her sword, but she's dead sexy and Asfaloth is wicked cool. One of two horse-and-rider sets, Arwen and Asfaloth are ready to ride to the rescue of your Fellowship.

-- 01/23/02

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