Lord of the Rings - Sauron
June 25, 2009

 - Project Date:May 25, 2004

Touted as the tallest Minimate to date, Sauron was the first Minimate available in The Lord of the Rings line. It was a Tower Records exclusive that you could buy at one price or combine with a LOTR DVD and buy at a reduced price.

These started out at around seven dollars a piece. Then went to five, then to three. Prior to Tower declaring bankruptcy they got as low as one dollar a piece. Each time the price dropped I bought a few more. I had a feeling it was the last three-incher that was going to be made.
There was so much potential in the Lord of the Rings Minimates. Take this guy for instance. The Big Bad, numero uno of the Second Age. Three piece cape, excellent helmet, pointy mace, All this detail, yet it maintains the minimalistic attributes that I (for one) love about Minimates. Even his gloves and boots have tampo applications.


I think the main problem with this line was timing. Sauron came out in May of 2004, the ToysRUs four-packs hit a month later, and the specialty market two-packs came the month after that. The problem is the last LOTR movie, Return of the King, hit theaters in December of 2003, five months prior. Sure, the extended DVD release hadn't come out yet, but LOTR had won its Oscars. Fans were moving on.

The Toybiz line of LOTR Action figures hung on for a while after the movies ended. Of course those had been available for years in mass market stores. I'm not an expert on that line, but I'd guess there were a couple hundred different figures made.

LOTR Minimates came too late and missed the boat. Frodo is headed to Valinor, and the Minimates are just sitting on the shore watching him go. There were probably a lot of factors that slowed the production. My first guess is the Art Asylum/PlayAlong collaboration that was necessary to get these made in the first place. Play Along had the LOTR license, while only AA could make Minimates. It added another link in the production chain that added more time for approvals and such.

Overall I think the biggest hurdle, was that they were simply started too late. They were announced in January of 2003. DST's Director Chuck Terceira commonly stated that it takes about a year from conception to store shelves. So even if all things went according to plan, these wouldn't have been out until after "Return of the King" was in theaters. Unless they were banking on a "Hobbit"-prequel, there wasn't time to get a lot of product out there.

It's too bad too. It's a great line of Minimates. People were hoping for Cave Trolls and Ents and all the various creatures of Middle Earth. Think of the army builders, orcs, Uruk-hai, Elves, Dwarves, Rohirrim, Army of the Dead, Easterlings, Gondorians, et cetera. Since almost all the characters were humanoid they'd easily fit into the Minimate style.

This last photo was to prove that Sauron really wasn't the tallest Minimate to date despite Tower's claim he was. Gene Simmons little hair bob put him over the top by the narrowest of narrow margins. Nitpickers rejoice! :)

Whoa, after re-reading that post, it sounds like I'm really down on these Minimates. I'm not, I really do like them. In the next post, I'll share all of my joy-joy feelings about 'em. I bet you can't wait.