The Hobbit DVDs, Books, Action Figures, Board Games, and Toys
The Hobbit Book
I read The Hobbit book years ago, when I was a teenager. I’m reading it again now, and I think I’m actually enjoying it even more as an adult. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, was written by J. R. R. Tolkien and was published in 1937. It’s a prequel to Lord of the Rings, which was published in trilogy form in 1954 and 1955, as The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. After the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings and made edits to the original Hobbit story so that it would better “fit” with the Lord of the Rings. Although The Hobbit was written largely as a children’ story, it became a hit with adults, too. The book was written in a fairly simple language that juveniles can follow. And while kids and teens love the exciting plot and the strange creatures and characters of The Hobbit, the novel examines some themes and symbolism that are, for the most part, lost on most children. The Hobbit book is available in several versions, including the typical paperback, activity books, a movie scrapbook, a storybook based on the new movie, a 3-D popup book, and illustrated versions, including one with illustrations by Tolkien himself.
The Hobbit Book:
The Hobbit Movie
As far as I know, the first Hobbit movie came out in 1977. This version is animated and was produced by Rankin-Bass, the same folks who produced Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty, the Snowman. The Hobbit was first aired on Sunday, November 27, on NBC. I remember it well. Orson Bean supplied the voice for Bilbo, John Huston was Gandalf, Richard Boone was Smaug, and Hans Conried was Thorin. I liked the movie okay, but I didn’t like the fact that it was a musical version.
I do think, however, that this is a great movie for kids. In fact, I’m going to show The Hobbit DVD - the 1977 version - to my grandkids before I take them to see the new Hobbit movie. We’re going in two weeks, and I can hardly wait. I think the old animated version of the book will be a good introduction for the grandchildren. It’s simple and easy to follow, so they’ll get a good idea of the major plot and the main characters before viewing the new release, which is much more complicated.
The Hobbit DVD:
The Hobbit Characters
Even if you’ve never read The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, and if you haven’t seen any of the films, either, Tolkien’s amazing imagination is evident from just looking at the action figures or reading about The Hobbit characters. Some are very human like, while others seem to have been created in some dark nightmare.
The main protagonist is Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit. What’s a hobbit? A hobbit is a race of small individuals that closely resemble humans. An adult hobbit is about three feet tall, or about half the height of an adult human, so they’re sometimes referred to as “halflings.” Their facial features are human, except that they have pointed ears. You never see a hobbit wearing shoes. The soles of their feet are thick, and the top portion is covered with hair or fur. Hobbits are fun-loving little beings that enjoy food, good times, and music. Hobbits do not normally seek adventures of any sort, and in fact, “adventuring” is looked down on in the hobbit community. Hobbits live in underground tunnels that have been made into comfortable homes.
The elves are also very human like. They’re man-sized, with long hair and pointed ears. Generally speaking, they’re a very physically attractive race. They have their own language, Elvish, but they also speak regular English. The elves are divided into two groups: the wood elves and the high elves. The high elves are kind, very wise, and courageous. An elf lives forever unless it’s killed in battle.
In The Hobbit movie and book, the dwarves play a huge part. The dwarf race is also human like in appearance, although they’re short, obviously. The adult males sport long beards. As a race, the dwarves are a mix of good and bad. Some are greedy and ill-tempered, although some are brave and helpful. Generally, they’re known to be crafty tricksters.
Galdalf the Grey is also human in appearance. Gandalf is an aged wizard with gray hair and a long gray beard. He usually wears a tall pointed hat and often carries a staff. The wizard is powerful and wise and often displays a droll sense of humor. At times, Galdalf seems almost omniscient.
There are also human characters in The Hobbit and in Lord of the Rings. In the Hobbit, the main human is Bard, the one who kills the dragon. There’s also Beorn, who proves helpful to Bilbo. In Lord of the Rings, the main human character is Aragorn, who eventually becomes king.
Now, for the non-human-like The Hobbit characters. There are goblins, evil beings that are occasionally referred to in The Hobbit book as “orcs.” The goblins love war and spend much of their time crafting weapons and instruments of torture. Instead of riding horses, the goblins ride wargs – big wolfish creatures. We have some trolls, too. Tolkien’s trolls are big, argumentative, and stupid, with voracious appetites.
One of the most famous antagonists in The Hobbit is an old dragon named Smaug. Smaug is what you’d typically think of as a dragon, except that his hide is embedded with jewels. Smaug sleeps on a pile of gold, jewels, and other valuables, guarding them closely. Another creature that plays an important role in both books is Gollum, who once owned the ring.
Behind most of the evil in The Hobbit is Sauron, the dark lord that created the ring. Sauron is capable of powerful magic. In the book, readers don’t actually “meet” the evil necromancer, but he is mentioned in the pages.
The Hobbit action figures are now available in stores and online, but they’re selling out quickly in some places, and the movie isn’t even playing in theaters yet! As an adult, I’ve never before collected action figures, but I sure wish I had. I used to buy Star Wars action figures for my nephews, and if I’d bought myself one every time I’d bought them one, I’d have a slew of vintage toys that I could sell now for a tidy profit. I’m betting that The Hobbit action figures will someday be collectibles, so I’m purchasing my own stash now.
Hobbit action figures are available individually or in sets. The Hobbit characters that are available as action figures include Bilbo Baggins, a clear Bilbo Baggins that represents invisible Bilbo, Gandalf the Grey, Thorin Okenshield, the goblin king (the Great Goblin), Grinnah, Gollum, Legolas, Tauriel, Dwalin, Kili, Fili, Balin, and Bolg. There’s also a figure of Fimbul, an orc, along with his beastly battle mount, a warg.
The action figures have movable joints and are very detailed, displaying specific features that closely reflect their counterparts in The Hobbit movie. The faces are recognizable, as are the clothing and the weapons. Associated accessories are also included with some of the figures.
The Hobbit Action Figures:
The Hobbit Board Game
The Hobbit board game was designed by Reiner Knizia, and the artwork was done by John Howe. This is a new game, different from the 2001 version of The Hobbit board game. This one is designed for two to five players, with each player playing the part of a dwarf. The dwarves have to help Bilbo get Smaug’s treasure from the ancient dragon. The game is recommended for ages thirteen and up.
There are other board games based on The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, too. The one made by Lego is sort of a combination memory game and model that you have to build. You can create different versions of this game, and the instruction booklet tells you how. This game includes 389 Lego pieces, four character figures, dice, instructions, and a book of rules.
Pressman Toys also has a cool board game based on The Hobbit. With their game, up to fifteen players can play at one time. With this game, the first part of the journey to Smaug is reenacted. Players earn points by solving riddles. They also encounter enemies along the journey, so, of course, they have to engage in battles. Recommended ages are eight years and up.
The Hobbit Board Game:
The Hobbit Toys
In addition to the action figures and board game, other The Hobbit toys are available. Some of the most popular are produced by Lego. Most include the Lego building pieces, character figures, and extra props. With these toys, kids can create several scenes from The Hobbit movie and Lord of the Rings, including Gandalf’s arrival in the Shire, the attack on Weathertop, the escape from the Mirkwood spiders, Gollum’s riddles for Bilbo, and the arrival of Gandalf and the Dwarves at Bilbo’s home.
I think one of the most sought-after Hobbit toys is going to turn out to be Sting, the famous battle sword. The deluxe version is eighteen inches long, and the blade part glows. A motion sensor in the sword also signals the toy to make sounds. There’s also a Dwarven battle axe that’s fifteen inches long and made of plastic and foam. It’s pretty detailed, with a simulated wood handle and “gold” embellishing.
If your kid wishes to become a hobbit, you can help him or her out with a costume! You can even buy hobbit feet! The feet are made of latex that’s textured to resemble skin, and the feet also have “hair,” just like real hobbit feet. They even have toenails. Add these to a homemade or purchased hobbit costume, arm the kid with the Sting sword, and he’ll be all ready to defeat evil.
Here’s one that I think even many adults would enjoy: a detailed 3-D puzzle of Hobbiton. It’s made by Wrebbit and includes 363 pieces. The completed puzzle displays village buildings, a stream, and an arched stone bridge. It’s recommended for ages twelve and up, but I’m sure both my nine-year-old grandkids would enjoy working on it, and I’d enjoy helping them with it. The finished puzzle is sixteen inches long, almost twelve inches wide, and almost five inches tall.