Knickerbocker’s The Lord of the Rings Action Figures (1979)

LOTR Frodo 1979

LOTR Gandalf 1979

LOTR Aragorn 1979

LOTR Sam 1979

LOTR Gollum 1979

LOTR Ringwraith 1979

LOTR Aragorn 1979-2

The merchandising campaign for Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings was extensive but poorly managed, as unfocused as promotion of the feature itself. The action figures were underproduced and I don’t remember seeing a single advertisement for them. Even if the line had been on the shelves in force, it would have been lost in the clamor for Star Wars, BSG, Micronauts, and giant robots.

Knickerbocker Toy Company, at the time “the world’s largest manufacturer of the popular Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls,” was founded in 1922 and went out of business in 1982, “battered by losses.” The LOTR gambit didn’t help.

By the way, if you want to own one of these guys—or buy me one for Christmas—the specimens above went for between $300 and $600. You can see close-ups of all the figures here. The Ringwraith is pretty impressive.

UPDATE (4/5/14): I finally found a carded figure, Aragorn, with a price tag on it. $3.75 is way too high, even with the extra markup you’d expect at a drug store. The high end on the Galactica figures was about $1.99, and $2.99 was the high end for the Empire figures.

UPDATE (7/14/14): Adding another price tag for the same figure. Same store, much lower price, and it doesn’t look like a markdown sticker.

LOTR Aragorn 1979

LOTR Aragorn Price

12 Responses to “Knickerbocker’s <em>The Lord of the Rings</em> Action Figures (1979)”

  1. 1 RetroArtBlog December 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    As a kid at the time I loved the Bakshi, animated LOTR.
    I recall that I was surprised to see these figures on the racks at CHILD WORLD or some other toy shop.
    They weren’t common because, if they were, I would’ve gotten all of them!
    I only had Frodo, Samwise and Gollum.
    For some reason i recall that they were a bit pricey compared to other toys appealing to me at the time so, perhaps, the larger figures were available physically but not economically.
    Ugh, what a short-sighted kid i was!
    …and near-sighted to boot.

    • 2 2W2N December 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Interesting about the price. I love seeing toys with the original price tag(s). I’d like to do a recurring feature with price comparisons on different lines. Catalog comparisons are one thing, but prices in toy stores (with markdowns, etc.) give a better reflection of changes in the market.

  2. 3 Jason December 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    I never saw any of these in the upstate NY toy or department stores.

    Also, Aragorn looks so not-badass in that t-shirt and shorts getup. They could have at least included a heap vinyl cloak.

  3. 6 Mike Moore December 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    Just bought mine and my kids Hobbit tickets for Midnight Thursday…

  4. 7 Don Gates December 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    The Ringwraiths are actually still very creepy in the animated LOTR, especially that twisted way they walk and moan while in their hooded forms.

  5. 8 Apostolos Mastorakos June 14, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Ringwraith is such an obvious Death Dealer tribute,unless it was designed by Frazetta as well,it would make sense :

  6. 9 J May 12, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    what I wonder is why Frodo head is on backwards

  1. 1 1979 Heroes World Catalog and the Lord of the Rings Action Figures Trackback on April 30, 2015 at 8:53 am
  2. 2 The Lord of the Rings Action Figures Ads, 1979 | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on April 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm
  3. 3 The Lord of the Rings Vinyl Sculpture Banks: Gollum and Aragorn (Tolkien Enterprises, 1978) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on September 23, 2015 at 2:43 pm

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