A Tale of Two Arwens | Print |  E-mail
Saturday, 17 May 2008

Back a number of years ago, a fellow who ran a now sadly-defunct comic and game store gave me a display/promo box of the gorgeous Games Workshop Lord of the Rings miniatures - a set that included the fellowship plus Arwen and Saruman.  I've always loved the miniatures put out by GW for their Lord of the Rings game line, the game itself aside.  They're true 25mm minis unlike the grossly distorted Warhammer Fantasy Battle minis (more on that in another article), the detail is incredible and they cover the whole extended universe of my favorite fantasy novel(s) ever.  Not since RAFM's line of Lord of the Rings minis back in the mid 80's up until the early 90's has there been such a complete collection.  But there are others. 


Mithril Miniatures has produced their own licensed brand of miniatures as well since 1987.  Their range has varied in scale, from whopping great 54mm pieces for display (or if you're running a Middle Earth campaign in which Gandalf has consumed a potion of enlargement), down to their current "gaming" scale of 32mm, with some 25mm produced prior to that.


Like Games Workshop, Mithril produces the entire Fellowship and supporting cast, including Arwen.  When I received the Fellowship box from my friend at the comic store, I was elated to find the action-pose, Liv Tyler Arwen mini inside.  Later, as a gift from friends who had visited Ireland and taken a pilgrimage to Mithril's studios there, we received an Arwen miniature from that august company's line. 

So who produces the better Arwen?  Let's have a look...


First let's have a look at the Mithril offering.  This Arwen sculpture holds the Banner of the White Tree, the symbol of the city of Gondor, ready to give to Aragorn before he fights the last great battle against Sauron's forces.  The sculpting detail is clean but simple, lending itself to easy painting.  The miniature is two pieced, with a fitted base.  Although I like the simplicity of the paint job, for someone whose skills with the brush do lack occasionally I'd have liked more "stamped on" detail (such as a tree I could easily pick out in white on the flag she holds).  Face detail is sparse.  All in all a fine "show" miniature, or for gaming where Arwen (or another elf-maiden) might be needed on the board in a neutral or "defenseless" position.  It's a fine casting, and we had no trouble with any flash or rough edges at all.   



Next up, the (first) Arwen offering from Games Workshop. 

GW produces (through it's Citadel brand) many different poses for most of the notable characters of The Lord of the Rings.  There's a Gandalf fighting the Balrog, a Gandalf on Shadowfax, a Gandalf the White reborn, ad infinitum.  Likewise, there have been many, many "Arwen" figures released.  We recieved the "classic" pose, armed Florentine like her flesh-and-blood counterpart played by Ms. Tyler in the film. 

Like the Mithril offering, the Games Workshop is a "clean" design, with little surface detail.  What is there has had enough attention paid to it to hold on to paint, but if you're looking for a nook-and-cranny challenge, I would almost suggest the Mithril offering instead.  Still, it's not a bad piece, it just requires a little care and planning before painting. 


Unlike the Mithril miniature, I had to contend with a fair amount of flash on this (and other) miniatures from Games Workshop.  Fortunately none of it marred large surfaces, and most of it I could pick off with a fingernail. Still it's an annoyance, and I wish GW could have been bothered to clean up a promotional item designed to entice a vendor to actually carry the product line.


As mentioned this Arwen strikes a dramatic pose, armed with her two short-swords, ready to cut down some orcs or ringwraiths, so if you're planning on including her in any battlefield or dungeon crawl, she looks far less passive than her Mithril counterpart. 

So which is better?  That depends on your needs.  If you're looking for a book-conforming Arwen who appears in The Fellowship of the Ring and then again at the end of Return of the King, the Mithril example is what you want.  If on the other hand, you actually play The Lord of the Rings (or role-play in that universe that more closely mirrors the films rather than the books) then an "action" Arwen is what you'd want, so I'd say go for the Games Workshop mini.  Of course, I own both by dint of luck, and given how play can vary and how much I rely on miniatures when I role-play, using both interchangeably isn't jarring or "unrealistic".

All in all the slight edge is to the Games Workshop Arwen based on utility for Wargaming in general. 


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