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  • Writer's pictureMephitsu

Review: Lord of the Rings Sauron (Build-a-Figure), Diamond Select Toys


One of the big (literally) selling points when Diamond confirmed their new 7-inch scale Lord of the Rings figures was the inclusion of Sauron, as a build-a-figure, split across the first three waves. This is not the first time Diamond have included a 'build-a' option in their Select line, with the Ghostbusters line a few years ago including two huge pieces in the shape of the rooftop from the original Ghostbusters, and then the entire frontage of the New York Firehouse.

Sauron does represent the first 'collect and build' figure for Diamond in the Select series so it would always be an interesting project to follow particularly to see if they could match the experts at Hasbro and of course the new BAF format at McFarlane in the same 7-inch scale.

As a collect and build figure, Sauron has no packaging. But nor are there any instructions or guidance on the build included - which does pose a couple of issues.

Sauron is split down into six components, and his mace weapon. You could finish the figure without the mace if you wished, negating the need to purchase the Moria Orc? Once all parts are collected then the assembly is very much common sense but not overly easy when we are talking about a Dark Lord with very spiky armour, and a degree of force needed to get the legs, arms and particularly the head to slot into place.

The cape is where instructions would have been desirable. I had the figure over a week and thought that Diamond had cut the cape wrong as it didn't fit over the neck joint and didn't line up with the shoulder armour. Then, by complete accident, I found a panel on the back, sitting under the two shoulder sections. If you remove the shoulders, this panel then clips off and under this v-shaped piece sit the exact size pegs to hold the cape. You thread this into place and then slot the panel back onto the body leaving the cape flowing as it should.

As soft goods go, the cape hangs well enough with enough weight in the material to keep it flat and straight. It includes stitched panelling on one sid with three triangular sections, each getting larger as you move down the cape. Each hem is stitched so there should not be any issue with fraying.

Visually, Sauron is stunning as well as being impressively sized at dead on 12-inches in height from armoured boots to the spikes on his helmet. He dwarfs even his own Nazgul and towers over Frodo.

The body is entirely cast in dark grey plastic and the sculpt of each panel of armour includes a beaten metal texture. There are layers over layers, each individually sculpted as panels overlap the one beneath and then the whole piece is painted to give a brushed but battle-scarred metallic armour finish. The single piece of detail outside the grey metallic armour is the One Ring on his right hand which is a bight gold contrasting colour against the rest of the figure. The ring is too small to have even a chance of seeing glowing runes, and up close it is quite crudely painted with a fair bit of gold bleeding onto what would be the finger.

Sauron is armed with his ferocious mace. Sadly here too we have issues. The first is the mace's condition on arrival which for me was badly warped across both the main shaft and the 6 spikes of the end section. This took a bit of patience, hot water and then fridge treatment to straighten out.

The second issue is sort of forgivable, but in the Lord of the Rings prologue, Sauron wields the mace in his right hand to sweep aside the armies of Man and Elves. Here, Diamond has only allowed him to use his left hand - the right reserved in a non-gripping pose and to display the One Ring. For those with an eye for detail, it is worth noting he does switch to holding the mace in his left hand in later scenes when the ring is cut from his hand by Isildur.

The third issue is a disappointment in that the left wrist joint is so weak it actually cant support the weight of the mace in hand. The wrist simply obeys gravity and when you raise the weapon in a more attack-minded stance, the wrist simply flops back down.

Articulation is standard by Diamond Select terms with 16 points of articulation. With single-joint knees and elbows, the arms and legs are not hugely expansive in terms of posing options and especially not with the weak wrist joints. The spiked shoulder armour to is not engineered to work with the joints so if you happen to raise the arm too high, these shoulder pieces pop off and go flying - leaving the cape then unsecured and dropping off also.

But sadly there is more, and the biggest issue of the lot. For whatever reason, Sauron has been sculpted with a rounded finish to the soles of his boots. Anyone knows that when you have a big figure, a stable base is key yet Sauron is far from stable in any pose as the rounding of the boots allows him to rock forward or backwards and fall over with far too much ease. The plastic is heavy and also brittle in places, so get the positioning wrong and your relatively expensive Sauron will be doing himself a lot of damage if he takes a shelf dive.

In summary, this is a hugely impressive piece visually with a depth of sculpting on the armour I have not seen on many other figures and a good finish in terms of paint and decor. The execution then lets him down. The stability in the feet and wrist are the biggest issues, with smaller issues like the shoulder armour that pops off regularly or the lack of instructions that leaves you scratching your head over the cape.

Thankfully all is not lost, and it doesn't take too much work to fix the figure - although we shouldn't really have to. The bent parts can be straightened, the wrist joint tightened, and you can also fix stability with a decent 12-inch figure doll stand. These small investments in time will leave you with a very visually impressive centrepiece for your Lord of the Rings collection - and the hope now is that the collection will grow some more and is not abandoned by Diamond without ever completing the Fellowship of the Ring as a minimum!

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About Me : As a child of the 70's and 80's I grew up in a golden age for action figures and in my youth bought and sold myself through collections of Star Wars, G.I. Joe (Action Force) and M.A.S.K. while also dabbling in He-Man, Transformers and Ghostbusters. Roll forward and I am now reliving that Youth with the action figures of today and am a collector and fan of the larger 6-8 inch figures from my favourite movie and TV licences - including the ones mentioned above, but also the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Doctor Who and the Aliens. I launched The Mephitsu Archives in 2015 with a view of creating a UK focused site or these figures where fans can pick up the latest action figure news, read reviews and get information on where to buy their figures and what is currently on store shelves. I hope I am delivering that to you guys...




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