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The King of the Dead Polystone Statue
The King of the Dead Polystone Statue
In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King the King of the Dead leads the oath-breakers of the White Mountains who betrayed Isildur at the time of the War of the Last Alliance. They are cursed to walk the Path of the Dead until such time as the true heir of Gondor returns and they can fulfill their oath by going to battle for him. Aragorn gives them the chance to redeem themselves when he leads them against the forces of Sauron besieging Minis Tirith.
The King of the Dead (KoD) comes in a royal blue box denoting he's from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The foam spacer is well designed and there was no breakage. His sword blade is packed separately and inserts into his right hand easily. This statue is different from most in that it ships attached to the base rather than the base being packed separately. This seems to have saved some space in the package thus allowing the box to be smaller. Although I have heard of some people receiving him broken free from the base due to this packing technique. But having the base permanently attached avoids the frequent problem some collectors seem to have with getting the statue's metal pins to line up with the base holes, and it prevents the catastrophe that can happen if, like me, you sometimes forget the base is separate and lift up the statue only to have the base fall off and hit something else. Sometimes just the carpeted floor (whew!), sometimes another statue (ouch!).
WETA's Gary Hunt is credited with sculpting KoD and he's responsible for such greatness as King Elessar, the Easterling and the bronze Gandalf, among others. The King has his nose which has been a great controversy in some forums, but it is screen accurate for the character (at least in this form). I would probably have preferred him to be nose-less, it would make for a creepier look, not that this guy isn't plenty creepy as he is.
His pose and expression capture the fury and frustration of the character. One arm raised for defensive balance, he has that angry, I've-been-trapped-for-millennia look on his face as he aggressively lunges with his sword outstretched. The robes, which are never fully seen in the film, have a dynamism not seen in a lot of the LotR statues. It looks like he is swiftly turning to face an adversary (or perhaps Aragorn) and the robes and his chain mail are swinging around to catch up. However the pieces of his robe stick out and look like they might be easily broken off. It might be tempting to try and turn the statue by simply pushing on one of these robe pieces, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Another great aspect of the sculpt is that everything looks very old. The texture on his cloak, the frayed edges of all the robes and their heavily worn look give an air of decrepitude that evokes the tragedy of the character. The skeletal rib cage design of the chest armor is executed very well and adds to the gauntness of the statue. The hair, which is a notoriously difficult piece to sculpt, is well done and also contributes to the illusion of movement. The sword looks like metal, beat up and scarred as if it had been through innumerable battles over the centuries.
My one concern with the sculpt is that there was no effort to sculpt a hole in the top of the scabbard. In fact the scabbard top is painted the same color as the rest of it, so there was no attempt to even make it seem like there's a space in there for the sword to go.
As with the sculpt, the paint applications are also designed to elicit a feeling of agedness. The crown appears to be bronze or copper and the cheek guards and crown tips have that faded pale green color of old copper. The chain mail shirt also has this paint scheme. The chest armor has some intricate decoration that is well done. It's contained inside the designated areas with no slop outside the design. The age effect is also evident on his gauntlets which look like old leather that used to carry an elaborate design, but the design has faded through the years. The scabbard is all one color, as mentioned above, and even the leather straps and belt holding it on are all the same where some variety might have been called for. Also the tassels on his robe are supposed to be gold it seems, but the painter wasn't always successful in isolating the tassel from the robe. This has been a consistent problem with the paint applications on many of the LotR statues.
But the life of the statue is the head, and that is where the paint succeeds extremely well. There are patches of skin peeling from his face with pink showing through the green that makes up most of his skin. The white of his teeth are skull-like and the beard has that nasty yellow color that you see only in very old men. But the best work has gone into the eyes. They look milky and old, yet still convey the anger and attitude of the character. Eyes can be hit and miss on a lot of the statues, but here they've hit it right on, even though their appearance is very different from how normal eyes would look.
Winner by a nose....! Many people collect only "good guys" or only "bad guys" which puts them in a dilemma with the King of the Dead. He does end up fighting on the side of Light, but his appearance (and attitude) is definitely more in line with the evil characters.
The execution of the statue is well done although some might have preferred the more skeletal look. But he'll look right in place next to Aragorn or with the other evil ones; including the Morgul Lord, the Witch-king and Sauron. He is one of the more dynamic statues in the line, a significant character and a cool design. I'd say he will make an excellent addition to any collection. And for a short time he's available as a Second Chance offer directly from Sideshow Collectibles.