Reviews

ASMUS LOTR ARAGORN (SLIM VERSION) REVIEW

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“I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

Strider-1300

Much like the character, who went from being the ranger Strider, to Aragorn of the fellowship, to King of Gondor, his 1/6th counterpart has also had several incarnations. Sideshow Collectibles released a rough one in 2006, and ACI a pretty nice rooted hair version in 2014. Asmus originally released their own full version of Aragorn in 2014. That version had sculpted hair and came with a bow, quiver, some traveling gear, and a special stand. Asmus occasionally releases what they call “slim” versions; new, often improved versions of previously released figures with fewer accessories or special items.   The new, slim version of Aragorn is what I’ll be reviewing here.

 

Aragorn-Asmus-contents-1800

WHAT’S IN THE BOX

• Aragorn with rooted hair sculpt dressed in clothing from LOTR including undervest, vest, leather long coat and boots and Evenstar pendant
• Elvin cloak and Lothlorien brooch
• Interchangeable hands including pairs of relaxed, weapon holding, fist
• Belt and sword/dagger sheaths
• Forearm bracers
• Pipe
• Metal Ranger sword and utility knife
• Metal Elvish dagger
• LOTR branded stand

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SCULPT – 7/10

This is apparently the same sculpt used for the original Aragorn release with the addition of rooted hair. Let’s start with the good; as with Asmus’ Legolas, the actor is there. Viggo Mortensen is present in this sculpt. At some angles, the likeness is great, some of the shots here I think prove that. But straight on, something…or several somethings…are a little off.

There seems to be a “sharpness” to the features that don’t quite ring true. The chin protrudes a bit too much, the eyes may be a bit too deep but it may be the paint that lets it down a bit. It’s minor; the eyebrows could be a bit thicker, the scruff/beard filled in more, the eyes bluer. But little things count and it adds up to this being a little less than perfect. If you have the skills to fill in the beard and thicken the eyebrows a bit, it may really help the likeness.

Almost every figure with rooted hair requires some work to get it looking good. For some people, this is part of the fun – “customizing” it a bit. Others I’m sure would rather it just look right straight out of the box. Asmus treats it’s hair with a coating of…something…to try to keep it in place in a “styled” manner. The coating makes it stiff and “crunchy”. I understand why it’s done, it does hold the hair in place and can be shaped. Other figures, such as ThreeZero’s Sandor Clegane, have softer hair, which ultimately needs some kind of “product” to control and shape. So there are some things I like and things I don’t about it, but with some work, it can look good. I ended up cutting a few strands to have them hanging in his face and combing out some of the hair at the bottom.

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CLOTHING/ ACCESSORIES – 7/10

Asmus almost always shines in its clothing and generally in its accessories. For the most part, Aragorn’s duds hold to that trend. The shirt material is fine. The leather material for the undervest and coat looks nice and the color is good but feels a bit too thin, especially with the outer long coat. This coat has wires in it which allows for some great motion poses but could have benefitted from being a just a bit thicker, which may have helped it fall more naturally too. Both are weathered with some mud spatters which look ok for a mass-produced product but could stand some customizing to make it look more natural.

The forearm bracers – which were originally Boromir’s but worn by Aragorn after his death – are very nicely detailed. The sword and Elvin dagger are extremely nice and are full die-cast metal. For the price point of this figure, they are a great value. The heaviness of the sword seems to make it tricky to keep the sheath from tipping forward, sometimes to the point of the sword falling out. This may be something I’m doing wrong with the positioning of the hangers that connect it to the belt but I can’t seem to make it more stable.

There are three pairs of hands; open palmed, weapon holding and fists. Three right hands have fingerless gloves and the three left hands include the Ring of Barahir, given to him by Elrond.

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There is one exception, however. That being the boots. Although I don’t own it, I understand the original, full version of Strider had soft leather boots. Done well, and where appropriate for the figure, these are always a better choice for movement and posing. Barring that, hard, molded two-piece boots – the upper boot being separate from the foot part, or a softer, pliable plastic – work well. The last choice, in my opinion, is the hard molded one-piece boot, which is what we have here. The inflexibility of these limits posing without the support of the stand. Legolas, who was just released, has two-piece molded boots which look and function well. Granted, the design of Legolas’ boots lends itself to two-piece but unless it’s a huge cost-savings to keep the price low, I don’t know why these couldn’t have been done similarly.

Strangely, there are no feet included and while the leg has a built-in peg, there is no peg socket for it in the boots that I can see. They simply fit tightly over the calf and that’s all that’s holding them in place. They don’t fall off, but I can’t help but think it may help the stability a bit to have a socket of some kind.

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ARTICULATION – 8/10

This would likely be a nine out of ten had it not been for the aforementioned boots. They make it very difficult to pose Strider in many active poses (without the use of the stand) – the kind that would work well with the dynamic shapes you can get from the wired coat. And the kind I get out of Legolas without resorting to a stand.

Beyond that, Aragorn is very balanced in more stable, flat-footed poses. Arm and leg movement is good from the standard KP01A body that is used by Asmus. Waist movement is good and typical of most 1/6th bodies.

Double jointed knees and elbows allow for good movement and the wrists move well with a slight limit when the bracers are on. The sculpt is neck-less (which I usually prefer for posing) and allows for plenty of movement.

 

PRICE POINT  – 10/10

The retail price for this version is approx. $175. As licensed figures go (from companies that actually pay for those licenses!) this is a good price. The overall quality of the rooted hair sculpt, clothing, and the inclusion of the metal weapons makes this version a pretty nice value. The missing bow and quiver are notable, and I likely would have paid an extra $25-$35 for those items were they included, but for the price of some much lesser quality, unlicenced figures you still get a lot.

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OVERALL DESIGN – 8/10 

The rooted hair definitely improves on the original Asmus Aragorn sculpt, but just a bit short in some respects from perfect (or as close as any 1/6th sculpt can get). Clothes-wise it’s almost to the high standard of Asmus’ usual clothing and the wire in the jacket is a nice touch (unless you hate wires). The hair is manageable and can look good with some work. The body is very poseable, but the footless boots prevent it from holding more dynamic poses without some kind of support. For the price, the weapons are very nicely done.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with him and he looks good with the rest of the Fellowship (sans Gimli and Boromir for now) although I will be on the hunt for a quiver and bow and I’ll be touching up the facial hair as well.

aragorn-asmus-LongVerdict

 

wptrevor

Trevor is a New York based Creative Director and owner of The Brand Counselors. He has a growing collection of 75+ 1:6th scale stock and custom figures (and more and more Lego sets). Toy photography melds his childhood dreams of comic book illustration and film directing with his design talents and – in his mind – justifies the money he spends on these things. He has been featured on CNN.com and Spoiler Free Movie Sleuth. When he’s not shooting, he enjoys kayaking with his wife, catching up on good TV and building seemingly endless custom figures.

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