Back in the 1970s I was in college when one day we got a reading assignment in freshman English, a reading assignment that would rock my world - 'J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit'! I was entranced, enthralled, and just downright excited. This book had a gripping fascination for me and was a step above the other science fiction and fantasy books I had been reading at the time. I couldn't wait to dig in to 'The Lord of The Rings' trilogy. It was awesome and I couldn't put the books down. For many years afterward I would make an annual pilgrimage to the world of Middle Earth. Then came the announcement that the books would be made into movies! WOW. At the time, the only thing 'Lord of The Rings' (LOTR) fans really had to hold on to was Ralph Bakshi's animated version. The movie was OK and still fun to watch but we wanted more. And Peter Jackson delivered, in such a stunning fashion that it will remain a landmark achievement. But for us toy lovers it wasn't enough. Now, understand that it's no new thing for toy makers to hang on to the coat tails of popular culture, and offer licensed products for popular television shows or movies. The Louis Marx Company had been doing this since the 1950s. And then of course there is the 'Star Wars' franchise. But now it was OUR turn - we Tolkien fanatics could have our day in the sun!! And what a day it was. Beginning in 2003, Play Along Toys would release a line of toys called 'Armies of Middle Earth Lord of The Rings' (aka AOME LOTR).
The standing figures were basically just under 3" high and extraordinarily detailed and painted. The sculpting was top notch and the painting was so good that only advanced hobbyists or professional model builders could have surpassed it - and these were just production line toys!! The line had several series:
- Warriors and Battle Beasts. One figure atop one beast (horse, warg, etc)
- Soldiers and Scenes. A three-pack of figures
- Warriors and Weapons. Figures with a large set-piece like a battering ram or catapult
- Figures with Environment. Essentially a diorama in a box. Figures in a diorama setting
- Lord of The Rings Deluxe Environment. Same as above but better and more details
- Super Deluxe Playset. LOTR playset on steroids - a beautiful Helm's Deep set-up
For today's blog we present the first Dark Rider in the 'Warriors and Battle Beast' series released in 2003. And of course there's plenty of photos. When you have figures of this quality, they deserve photographic character studies of this nature. Hope you enjoy!
****** Additional Info added on 4 Dec 2010 ******
Dark Rider on Horseback
Issued by: Art Asylum / Play Along Toys
Item #: 48001
Issue Date: 25 Jul 2003
Issue Price: $7.99