TOY VAULT LORD OF THE RINGS

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Toy Vault was founded in 1998 by Jonathan Huston, and based in Kentucky, USA.  Holding licenses for Firefly, Monty Python, Godzilla, The Princess Bride, Dark Crystal and Labyrinth among others. They focused particularly on plush items board games and action figures.

 

The company produced Lord of the Rings action figures under the "Middle Earth Toys" branding, from 1998-2000. They actively pursued the license, and were fans of the genre and book. Their figures are the first to be based solely on artistic representations of the books. They would also be the second ever licensed action figures by the Tolkien Estate. The first being the 1979 Knickerbocker line, based on the Ralph Bakshi film.

 

Middle Earth Toys planned many figures and had other ideas to implement, that never came to be. Timing may have been a major issue, as the Peter Jackson movies released toward the end of the line and Toy Biz took over that movie likeness license. Something that Toy Biz and Toy Vault have in common is that they had one of the best prototype painter in the business working with them. Eddie Wires was instrumental in the paint schemes of both lines of toys.

Series 1 Sept 1998

The first series line-up consisted of Gandalf and the Balrog with several variants of each figure. Both figures were released with unique card art painted by Daniel Horne and were also re-released (albeit in slightly different form) as part of the mass market wave Toy Vault released in 1999.

Originally Gandalf the Grey and the Balrog of Kazad-dum were to include pieces of the bridge in the mines of Moria that they fought upon in Fellowship of the Ring. The two pieces would be able to join together to recreate the battle, but these were eventually dropped due to cost constraints.

 

Series 2 Feb 1999

The second series of figures had an early change in the line-up. It was originally going to have Frodo and the Lord of the Nazgul, but difficulties with the Nazgul and the early completion and favorable look of Ugluk caused Toy Vault to make the changes. The second series continues the theme of a good and an evil character and also has several versions of each character. For this series the versions were trimmed to three each and subsequent series kept that number rather than the four that were used in the first series. Variations of these two figures were later released with the first series as a mass-market wave in 1999.

 

Mass release Series 1 (TRU)

This series consisted of the first four figures done by Toy Vault but released in less decorative card art and sold through mass-market retailers like Toys R Us and KB toys. They are featured more generic names than they had in the regular releases and did not include the light-up features that the first series had. These also had a generic cardback that was common to all figures in this assortment.

 

Series 3 Sept 1999

The third series of figures had a complete change from its initial line-up to the final one. Eowyn and the Lord of the Nazgul (who had moved from the second assortment) were going to be the third series. The first change was that Gimli would replace Eowyn and then Gollum was chosen for the Nazgul, who would see release as a deluxe figure in the next assortment. This series marked a change from character specific card art to a common style of art which had blister carded figures with ring shaped inserts delineating the character version and accessories.

 

Oversize figure series 1 Mar 2000

The Lord of the Nazgul was a figure that had been planned from the beginning, but due to the complex nature of his design he was pushed back from his original series (series 2) through the next and into his own one as a deluxe figure.

 

Series 4 Sept 2000

Series four was the last set of figures from Toy Vault's Middle Earth Toys line and at one time had Elrond slated in place of Galadriel. The final line-up for this was Galadriel and the Barrow Wight. After this series there were plans for another mass market wave of figures which would have been re-issues of the figures that were produced since the first mass market wave, but these never reached fruition.

SCULPT AND CONCEPT CREDITS

Arnie Swekel

For Middle-earth, he's created the artwork for Galadriel, and Tom Bombadil, Boromir and Legolas.

Sam Greenwell

For Middle-earth, he's sculpted Elrond and co-sculpted Lord Of The Nazgūl with Daniel R. Horne.  He sculpted The Samaritan, with some help from Alex Ross, and worked on sculpting Winged Victory.  He was slated to also sculpt The Old Soldier

Daniel R. Horne

For Middle-earth, Daniel has created the artwork and control art for Gandalf, the Balrog, Uglúk, Gimli, and Saruman.  He's also sculpted Gandalf, Balrog, Saruman, Uglúk, and Gimli.  He co-sculpted Lord of The Nazgûl with Sam Greenwell.  He also worked on Boromir.

Todd Lockwood

For Middle-earth, he's created the artwork and control art for Elrond, Lord Of The Nazgūl, Barrow-wight and Hill Troll.  He also be created the artwork and control art for Aragorn and Samwise.

 

Raven Hood

 

Roger Robinson

For Middle-earth, he created the artwork for Boromir.

Liam Sharp

For Middle-earth, he created the artwork for King Theoden

Barsom Manashian

For Middle-earth, Barsom sculpted Eowyn.

Ron Peters

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