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Éomer in Ceremonial Armor

Return of the King
by yo go re

For two years now, there has been one film merchandise line to rule them all, one literary-based juggernaut to bind them. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films have proven not only wildly popular, but also wildly successful at adapting one of Western literature's most recognized works into a fully engaging entertainment property.

Since the beginning, ToyBiz has been the company behind the toyline for the films, giving fans well-designed action figures from every stage of the story. With good sculpts, plenty of articulation and decent action features, the figures have been a very solid offering from the start.

Nephew of King Théoden of Rohan, Éomer was a captain in the King's cavalry. When Théoden chose to rally to the defense of Gondor and ride to Minas Tirith, Éomer accompanied him, hurling his spear and swinging his sword against the forces of Mordor in the battle to protect the White City and the hope of all Middle-earth. In the aftermath of battle, when the bitter pain of lost friends tinged the pure blowing of the victory horn with sadness, Éomer stood alongside his companions in his finest armor, honoring their memory with hope for the future they died to protect.

The line is entering its third year, so the packaging has once again changed color: while the basic design is still intact, the color is now a deep blue, following Fellowship's green and Two Towers' red. The image along the top of the card changes with each line, as well - first we saw the Fellowship crossing the hills of Middle Earth, then Sam and Frodo being led by the twisted little Gollum. The new silhouette portrays Aragorn leading Legolas, Gimli and Gandalf across the fields on horseback.

We got an Éomer figure in the Two Towers line, taken from his time roaming Rohan with his loyal company - the figure was good (except, as I'm sure Poe would say, for his chicken legs), but he is now no longer the outcast, no longer wearing the same old clothes, so repackaging the same figure on a new card wouldn't cut it. Clad now in an ornate suit of armor, Éomer looks entirely regal. He's wearing the same breastplate, but has traded in all the chainmail for soft cloth, and his bracers are stamped leather rather than cold steel.

Proving that ToyBiz is more than capable of delivering a high-quality sculpt, Éomer's armor is as intricately detailed as anything McFarlane Toys has given us. The chest piece looks like leather over metal plate, and chain mail can be seen poking out the sides. The torso may be the same as the first figure (not having it, I can't say for sure). The padded sections look like they've actually been stitched together and there are many tiny embellishments, all sculpted beautifully.

The figure's likeness isn't the best we've seen in this line, but it's also not the worst. Karl Urban is represented well here by an average RealScan sculpt: not as detailed or stylized as Phil Ramirez's work, but still distinct. His hair falls down over his shoulders (with a bit of space allowed for his cloak), though the painted beard is a bit choppy. You may have to examine several Éomers before you find the best likeness.

Éomer's cloak hangs nicely on his shoulders, and its border is detailed with a fine gold and silver pattern. The paint apps for that design are all crisp and clear, and the sculpt of the cape is realistic, right down to the ties holding it back. It's flexible PVC, so it will move as you pose him. The figure moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. There is an additional point of articulation at the waist, though it is given over to Éomer's action feature: twist his waist and release for sword-slashing action - very simple, yet very well-suited. It's much better than the ones were were getting thre years ago, when giant buttons on the figures' backs caused their arms to flail (or what have you). This is comparatively simple and unobtrusive.

No soldier would be complete without his weapons, so Éomer includes Gúthwinë. Patterned after the weapon designed by Weta, the sword looks not like some imaginary "fantasy" sword - intricate, ornate and encumbered by its own superfluous design elements - but like a real northern weapon of the age. It's a simple design, but it's certainly appropriate. The sword's sheathe is nicely designed, as well, hanging perfectly at Éomer's waist. The name, Gúthwinë, comes from the Old English guð ("battle" or "war") winë ("friend"). Surely such a weapon would indeed be a good friend in battle!

This is a very good figure - he's plain enough to fill the ranks of any dark ages battle (Beowulf, anyone?), but also detailed enough to stand and be recognized at the forefront of your LotR collection.

-- 09/16/03

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