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King of the Dead

Lord of the Rings
by yo go re

I guess there really is no rest for the wicked.

Like his people, the King of the Dead Men beyond Dunharrow is a cursed soul. King of the Dead In ages past, he and his army had renounced their pledge of allegiance to the King of Gondor and fled to their mountain homes. Since that time, they lay bound by a curse to the shadowy depths beyond Dunharrow as bodiless spectres, awaiting the chance to honor their broken oath. Only a true King of Gondor can wield the power to release the dead King and his ghostly multitudes from this curse. Thus for many an age they have haunted the Paths of the Dead, awaiting the one who can set them free.

As far as titles go, The Return of the King is a pretty big spoiler. J.R.R. Tolkien wanted to call it The War of the Ring, but his publisher overruled him. By that point in the massive novel, Aragorn had spent approximately 45,000 pages hemming and hawing while being told by other characters that he needed to accept his destiny. They might as well have titled the third book "The Good Guys Win and Here's How: a Middle-Earth Guide to Putting on a Big Show While Hobbits Throw Things into Lava."

Your motives are so transparent! Peter Jackson has said that he hates the Army of the Dead, and only left it in as a service to the book's many fans. Still, for something he didn't want, the effect turned out quite nicely. The spirits had the look of aged and decaying old men, but their flesh faded in and out to reveal the spectral bones beneath. Overall, it was a very clever, very creepy way of showing their supernatural state, and not something at all easy to re-create in a solid action figure.

ToyBiz found a decent way to do it, though - the King of the Dead is sculpted as the dessicated old man, but painted with details that make him look skeletal. The figure doesn't have many paint apps, since he glows in the dark - just that standard yellow-green with a dark wash - but that allows the sculpt to stand on its own.

The King of the Dead is wearing his latticework breastplate over a shirt that looks like it is made from animal skins - since he and his people lived wild in the mountains when they were alive, that makes sense. His boots have sculpted laces, and his tunic looks more like burlap than chain mail, poor fellow. He also has a large two-piece cape, or maybe it's a cape and a scarf. Both lay easily on his shoulders, and both can be removed. The cape features real string ties at the neck.

You kids get off my lawn! In addition to his 4" glow-in-the-dark sword, the King of the Dead has a removable helmet/crown. Styled just like the one worn in the film, the headpiece fits on the figure perfectly, but is easy to remove. ToyBiz didn't put any action features in the figure, so he's just a glowing old man who moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees, boot tops and ankles.

The King of the Dead is an easy figure to find, and is a prime example of why ToyBiz is the best company in the industry today: an affordable figure with good movement, an accurate sculpt and a good paint job. He's also such a minor character that no other company would ever have gotten around to making him. Now thanks to ToyBiz, you don't need the sword Anduril to command him.

If you could cut out one part of LotR, what would it be? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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