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LotR - The Two Towers
by yo go re

Ancient beyond reckoning, Treebeard the Ent was one of the last of his dwindling kind, the long forgotten tree shepherds of Fangorn Forest who once strode throughout the woods of Middle-earth. A wise and slow to act people, the Ents were persuaded by Treebeard, after his fateful meeting with Merry and Pippin, to awaken and lend their long slumbering might to the fight against the darkness threatening their world.

This figure is HUGE!

The first thing that will strike you about Treebeard is just how humongous he is. Even looking at him in the box won't give you the full picture - once you get him home, you have to do some minor assembly that makes him even taller. 17⅜" all told. Give a Star Wars figure Mandarin Spawn's double sword to hold above his head, and he couldn't trim Treebeard's branches. A Simpsons figure riding on the original GI Joe's shoulder would have trouble looking Treebeard in the eye. He's gigantic!

With such a huge canvas upon which to work, ToyBiz's sculptors really gave Treebeard their all. The detailing on this figure is unsurpassed, with every inch of his body covered in bark, moss, or some other arboreal item. His feet look like roots emerging from the ground of some ancient forest, doing a grand job of simulating toes. His legs look like large trees themselves, which at some point grew together to form his hips. His long arms hang down to beneath his knees. At his shoulders, smaller limbs have sprouted and snake toward the sky with even a few tiny branches growing thereupon.

Treebeard's face is just as detailed as the rest of his body. The eyes are styled like two great knots, and a combination of moss and loose bark (molded from a softer plastic) comprise his facial hair. A few of the tiny, leafy branches form his hair. These branches are thin and fairly flexible, and the leaves bunch together naturally. One limb resembles a bit of a swirl of hair, and there are a few bright orange lichens growing above his left eyebrow.

ToyBiz took advantage of Treebeard's scale to beef up the articulation. While there aren't insane amounts (he moves at the shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips and knees), nearly all the points are swivel/hinge joints, with only the biceps and hips relegated to standard pivots. Wherever the figure moves, the edge of the joining pieces have been designed to resemble cracked and broken bark, just like a real tree would look if it suddenly bent in such a way.

When I started playing with the figure, I thought his right arm was broken - it just hung loosely at his side. A quick glance at the back of the box (duh) revealed that this was intentional; move a cleverly hidden branch, and it acts as a lever to swing the arm up for "Hobbit-lifting action!" Treebeard's main action feature, however, is his voice.

John Rhys-Davies provides the voice for the big animated Treebeard, giving him two roles in this Geek Holy Grail film trilogy and cementing his place in popular culture. Press the green branch on Treebeard's shoulder, and his eyes light up, his mouth moves and his moustache wiggles as he says one of five phrases:

  • I am no tree! I am an Ent!
  • "Treebeard" some call me.
  • I told Gandalf I would keep you safe, and safe is where I'll keep you!
  • Burárum! Don't be hasty.
  • Little Orcs; Burárum.

The two that use the Entish word "burarum" are difficult to decipher if you don't know what he's supposed to be saying, and the "don't be hasty" line is only in the Extended Edition of the film. And the geeks are already complaining about how the voice sounds. So while the figure looks good, it only sounds so-so. Still, it's very cool. In fact, the only thing keeping it from being the Toy of the Year is that it's about $10 more expensive than it should be.

-- 12/10/02

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