Friday, January 09, 2015

Doll Collector: Balrog Battle Gandalf

Encased in packaging, Gandalf's survival in the battle with Balrog was assured.
My stepson enjoys collecting Transformers figures and his quest to find rarities takes him to many small stores both in New York City (where he attends college) as well as here in River City. The majority of these businesses have storefronts that give off the vibe of being "junk stores" with old posters and boxes covering the windows. Inside one is likely to find unopened, packaged figures piled up in corners and bins with dissembled parts of discounted toy lines.

Gandalf at rest and "the cat
stays in the picture!"
While to many these establishments can rightly be deemed junk shops, to fanboys and collectors they reek of the opportunity to locate that forgotten childhood figure or the final rare piece of a nascent collection. I, too, have been known to purchase the occasional figure, though my own collecting appetites tend toward comic books. Recently, however, while investigating one local store with my stepson (which from the outside, appeared to most certainly be a disguised drug house) I came across a figure of which I had not previously been aware, but was immediately smitten with, the Lord of the Rings Two Towers Balrog Battle Gandalf Action Figure with Electronic Sound Base. Ironically, the most recent "doll" purchase I made prior to this was also of an LotR character, Treebeard.

A fan of Middle Earth collectibles (more of an "appreciator of," really as I don't own much), I am always on the look out for interesting related items. It is just extremely difficult to casually come across them with any degree of ease. I have found myself disappointed by the lack of movie collectibles at regular stores such as Target with the success of Peter Jackson's adaptations; the ready availability (or lack thereof) of certain movie and comic book tie-ins is an odd thing. Some collectibles seem destined to never seen for sale in traditional stores while others (mostly kid-friendly Marvel and DC figures) flood the shelves, rarely ever diminishing in availability. (I know most things can eventually be had online, but it's not really the same thing as casually perusing through a variety of items in a store.)

Thanks to my stepson forcing me to take that detour to the previously unexplored junk shop in question, my Middle Earth thirst was briefly quenched by the purchase of the Talking Balrog Battle Gandalf Action Figure. The figure itself stands 6" in height, while the base has a button which, when pressed, declares "You shall not pass!" as in the film clip below.

As I've written in previous posts, I don't collect things as investments. While there are those who seek products and books (and just about anything) with a speculative eye toward potential resale value, my approach is much more self-serving. I buy what brings me an increment of joy. The advice to my stepson when he began collecting things (moving from Pokemon when younger to Bionicles and, eventually, Transformers), what to buy those things which brought him enjoyment. Though my own happiness is only marginally increased by periodically pressing Gandalf's base (which almost always makes me envision its use with underperforming students), coming across these odd trinkets hidden in remote boxes of smalls side street stores is a small pleasure in itself.

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