As Poe always says, there aren't enough negative toy reviews out there. Mostly, as fans, we're smart enough to avoid things we know we're going to dislike. I take it as a bit of a duty, then, whenever a sub-par figure comes into my possession, to take a look at it.
Once great kings of Men, the Nazgūl were corrupted by the magic rings given to them by Sauron the Dark Lord. They became formless creatures, frightening specters, slaves to the will of the Dark Lord who sent them out as agents of his will to scour the lands of Middle-earth for the One Ring. To most they appeared as black-robed figures on horseback, projecting about themselves an overwhelming aura of fear. Frodo, however, saw the Ringwraiths in their true form when he placed the One Ring on his finger at Weathertop. They appeared to him as wretched husks of their former selves, tall and thin, drawn and sapped of their mortality till all that remained were pale, twisted masks of the will of Sauron.
Peter Jackson's Ringwraiths were great designs, true to J.R.R. Tolkien's vision, yet actually frightening and impressive in their own right. Forces of malevolent darkness, they stalked Frodo relentlessly. They turned out to be even cooler when the young Hobbit, in a moment of panic, slipped the ring on his finger and saw the creepy wraiths bearing down on him.
Since the Nazgūl figures were so good, it stood to reason that the "Twilight" Ringwraiths would follow suit. Nope. The Twilight version does pretty much everything wrong.
The sculpt, while decent, isn't as good as the black robes of the king's "real world" counterpart. Of course, there's no way to duplicate the way the wraiths flickered and shredded on film, so the figure just has an exaggerated, angular sculpt. The sleeves of the figure's robes are each molded from two pieces: one for the upper arm and one for the forearm. They don't match up, so they don't look like sleeves.
While the Ringwraiths had no faces in those empty robes, the twilight version does indeed have a head, which means you can't build an army of nine - this is one specific king, not a generic fill-in. The facial sculpt is nice, true to the movie, but the large, pointy crown is made of soft plastic and prone to warp in the package, leaving your Twilight Ringwraith looking less "intimidating" and more "pathetic."
I'm not crazy about the paint job, either: ToyBiz opted for a white/gray/blue scheme, covered with a light dusting of sparkle paint - yes, this servant of evil shares fashion sense with strippers and middle school girls. Not that there's a difference between any of the three. The twilight realm in the film always seemed more black and white, and the figure would have been better off with a grayscale paintjob.
Twily, here, has an action feature, as most of the LotR figures do. Squeeze his legs, according to the package, and he stabs forward with either his sword or his morgul blade. According to the package. In practice, it doesn't work: both blades are far too soft, flimsy and bendy; squeezing the legs makes the arm move a little, but not nearly as much as the "real" Nazgūl's.
So we've got a figure with a mediocre sculpt, silly paint, bad articulation, sad accessories and an action feature that just gets in the way of the toy. It's everything that everyone has always accused ToyBiz of doing, finally come true. Fortunately, judging by the figures that were released along side and after this figure, we can easily see that the Twilight Ringwraith was a rarity. That's a good thing, but it would be better if this toy had never made it to shelves.
Why do people enjoy picking on ToyBiz? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.