we featured the first images of several new figures from The Hobbit toy line from The Bridge Direct for the second installment, The Desolation of Smaug. On display were all the remaining dwarves not yet produced (Nori, Ori, Dori, Gloin, Oin, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur), Radagast the Brown, Azog and his Warg and Bolg (pre-Weta last minute movie make over) for the 3 and 3 quarter inch scale. 6 inch figure additions included Azog and Radagast.
As December rolled around and the film came and went, those action figure release plans didn't exactly come to pass. So what did show up on retailer shelves? A 3 and 3 quarter inch Mirkwood Hero 5 Pack with only 1 new figure (Thranduil), a repackaged 6 inch Legolas and two new 6 inch figures of Azog and Radagast. That's 3 new figures for those keeping score...a little shy of the 19 figures released for the first film. Bolg squeaked by as part of the first film's 2 packs. No dwarves, no smaller scale Azog and absolutely no sign of the Smaug dragon the Bridge crew was encouraging us to shout for in February of 2013.
Now February of 2014 draws near and UK toy fair has past. Our crew did get a look at The Hobbit display, but you're not going to like what we saw.
It may not look like it at first glance, but since the 3 and 3 quarter inch Azog and Radagast were never released, they would technically be the only two new figures. Could The Bridge Direct be planning to only release 2 new figures come this December? It's a very big possibility. Let's weigh the facts.
- Bridge Direct are obviously having a hell of a time working with WETA. We had been told in the past that getting reference images had been increasingly difficult. Evidence of this can be found in the Bolg figure who sports a different look than his theatrical counterpart. There was also a pre-order up in Europe for an Azog figure that looks faaaar different than the one we saw in the films. That figure would become Yazneg as WETA completely changed the character's look before the film's release. It's worth noting that figure never made it to the states.
- Upon making my appointment for Toy Fair this year, I was told there wasn't very much to photograph in the Hobbit section. The images above reflect this. An actual quote from The Bridge Direct's PR team reads "The Hobbit line is very limited now (due to retailer demand)." Stores clogged with clearanced Hobbit figures may speak to that retailer demand.
- Despite the missing dwarves and other items that didn't see release this past December, The Bridge Direct did crank out a Thranduil that came as a complete surprise. It is entirely possible further surprises are on the way.
Are the chances good we'll witness a turn around and start seeing a parade of The Hobbit figures the likes of which would make the creators of Toy Biz's Lord of the Rings line applaud? No. Chances are not good at all. Could this poor showing possibly be all we'll see come December, in new packaging? Sadly, all signs point to yes...but we can still hope.
Keep watching for more Toy Fair reports as there is still a ton of stuff to get through.
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