In our ongoing Collector Spotlight series, we’re taking a closer look at collections and their collectors! This week, we’re featuring Tolkien Twin, a lover of Middle-earth movies, literature, and LEGOs!
We’ve gotten to know Tolkien Twin through the #TolkienCollection hashtag on Twitter. She shares great photos of her awesome collection, and we especially love it when she gets creative with our photo challenges. Isn’t it great how social media can bring people–particularly collectors–together?
You may be wondering how she came by her name: “The name Tolkien Twin came from my older sister,” she told us. “My twin had seen some Tolkien Collection photos online in April. She texted me and asked if I was going to put photos of my collection out there, but first I had to sign up on Twitter. I had been fretting about picking a “name” and my older sister said just use Tolkien Twin!”
Whether you have already seen photos of her collection online or not, you are in for a treat! Let’s get to know Tolkien Twin and her Tolkien collection!
When did you first discover Tolkien?
I came to the books via the movies. I had heard of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but was not interested in reading them or any type of fantasy. In December 2001, my nephew Dom–as part of his birthday celebrations–wanted to go see The Fellowship of the Ring. I unexpectedly and thoroughly enjoyed the movie–the story, the characters, the scenery, the special effects, the music–and at the end, I was happy there was more to come. I went later with my husband to see it again. When the FOTR DVD came out, I got it and later the extended version. After seeing The Two Towers movie (again with Dom), I finished reading FOTR and later TTT. When The Return of the King movie came out, I was trying hard not to read ahead–I didn’t want to know how it would end. But one day, I was looking through the book and inadvertently saw Sam’s last line at the end, so I knew he was going to make it. I watched and rewatched each movie, and as I read The Lord of the Rings, I came to see there was a lot out there besides the delightful Peter Jackson movies.
Since that introduction in December 2001, I have been to LOTR symphony concerts in Portland, Oregon and Minneapolis, Minnesota; to the NYC Radio City Music Hall movie/music events for FOTR and TTT; to the Burbank One Ring Convention in 2007, to other conventions with Middle-earth vendors, and to special late night viewings of the LOTR movies. The fans–we fans–are kind of the same in our passion for Tolkien’s world. That is why I think Tolkien Collector on Twitter is such a joy. It is an online museum, a great place to go to see something I know will put a smile on my face.
Do you remember what was your first Tolkien item?
My first items were a paperback copy of FOTR and the LOTR FOTR Visual Companion by Jude Fisher.
When did you first realize/decide that you were a Tolkien collector?
I would go to Barnes and Noble with the two sisters who also loved the movies, and we would buy all kinds of movie-related material but I was also buying Tolkien books. I probably realized I was a collector when I was telling my husband why I needed the Houghton Mifflin LOTR black 50th anniversary edition AND the red Houghton Mifflin edition and kind of wondered why was giving me a strange look.
Do you have one collection space for your Tolkien stuff or is it all spread out?
Our spare room is “my” room and all my Tolkien stuff is there. The bulk of my collection is in a few bookcases and I have more things in a couple boxes in the closet. I have copies of The Hobbit together, the LOTR books together, all of JRRT’s other material together. The art books, the books about JRRT are together–the books are kind of grouped by subject.
How do you decide what you want to collect? Does your collection have a certain theme? Are there some things that you’re just not interested in?
I don’t know if it qualifies as a theme, but I have a good selection of the movie material. And I try to get every book The Professor has written. I don’t seem to gravitate toward collecting the weapons, helmets, orcs or other fell creatures myself, but I enjoy looking at everything collectors have on Twitter. I bought the Lego Bag End and I was hooked.
Tell us about your collection and some of your favorite items!
Everything is pretty much right here–my favorite part of this room.
I have my Hobbit books together with the Lego dwarves in front of them. On the shelf below I have three of my LOTR hardcover books with the Lego Fellowship in front of them and they are held up by my “Arkenstone”–the Gandalf and Bilbo Bag End bookends. I love the detail in these figures.
I am still working my way through the History of Middle-earth.
If you look at some of these titles, you can see the method to the madness in the book organization–the subjects are kind of grouped together.
These are my movie book shelves containing different versions of the Peter Jackson films and other Tolkien-related DVDs. There are CDs of the wonderful Howard Shore music with the small Argonath bookends. The bottom shelf are the movie-related books.
Along with the bookends, my favorite pieces are the Weta “open” Bag End with the tiny rooms in the back. That is the most expensive single item I have. I have a soft spot for Bag End because that is where it kind of all started in The Fellowship of the Ring. It was my introduction to Middle-earth.
Not long ago, my sister texted me to let me know there was a Weta Faramir and asked if I would be getting one. I checked the website and once I saw the likeness to David Wenham and the intricate details, I had it ordered within twenty minutes. Sometimes you just know right away you have to add something to your collection. I was so happy that Weta had released a new figure from the LOTR movies–it gives me hope that they are not done with LOTR.
Here is my jewelry collection–most of it should look familiar! I wear the Ringer-tag necklace frequently. I last wore the Arwen necklace to a wedding this past July–a young woman at the table gave me a big smile and said she recognized it. After the 2009 FOTR film/concert in NYC there was an event in SoHo where Howard Shore, Doug Adams and David Salo gave a talk and that is where I picked up the I Love HS (Howard Shore) button and the Weta key chain (among other things).
These maps are part of a RPG. One day I would like to get these framed–at least the Shire, East Gondor and Rohan.
Another one of my favorite items is my Invisible Bilbo. My former boss, Bruce, went to Comic-Con International San Diego in 2012 and surprised me with Invisible Bilbo!
When I was a kid I never had any interest in Legos. A couple of years ago I saw a Lego Bag End set. In addition to Bilbo and Gandalf it had Balin, Dwalin, Bofur and Bomfur. After I put it together I started looking at other Lego sets so I could get all of the Company of Thorin Oakenshield. I got a few sets until I had all the dwarves. Then I bought a couple small LOTR sets–Gandalf’s Arrival at Bag End, The Wizard Battle with Gandalf and Saruman. On the Middle-earth News Twitter, someone had posted their Council of Elrond, and I knew I would have to get one. Then, I realized if I wanted to get all the Fellowship members, I had better get a few more sets, so I bought more sets until I had them all.
I have fifteen Lego sets now and just ordered three more–BOTFA which has a crowned Thorin, Dain, Bard and Azog; a Lake-town set with Bard and Bain; and a LOTR Black Gate set which has Gandalf the White, Aragorn in Gondor attire and the Mouth of Sauron. I am halfway through Goblin-town and when finished I will start the Mines of Moria. My favorite set is Bag End, but after that, I like the Lonely Mountain set because of the way Smaug looks and because of the way the king’s throne looks with the Arkenstone.
Which character do you most identify with and why? Do you own any items related to that character?
I wouldn’t say I identify with any of the characters, but I do like the warmth of Bag End and have bookends and a Weta “open” Bag End.
It seems like you acquired many pieces when they were first available (from Weta, Sideshow, and the like). Did you snatch them up quickly because you knew they would increase in value? Do you ever go look at how much some of your prime collectibles are selling for online? And, are you ever tempted to sell?
The Weta items I have are things I just loved at first sight. The bookends had such fantastic detail–I can spend a lot of time admiring the workmanship of those pieces. The same with the “open” Bag End. As soon as I saw the Weta Faramir statue I ordered it–sometimes you don’t want to wait too long or you miss out (like I did with the Tauriel statue). I never thought about any of the pieces increasing in value–just the way they make me smile. I can’t imagine selling any part of my collection.
What are some Tolkien collectibles that are still on your wishlist? What is it about those that makes them so special to you?
I would like to get the Weta Rivendell because it is beautiful. My older sister has one so I get to visit it. I would like to get the Tauriel statue, but that is no longer in stock. The new Elrond from BOTFA looks incredible, as does the old large Argonath–the one that has the three tiny canoes in the water at their feet, but it is also not available from Weta. I would love to have the Weta new, larger Minas Tirith. Most of all I would like to get Smaug the Terrible–the big Smaug from Weta. It looks amazing. I really need to win the lottery first though–since my husband and I are now retired I have to give a lot of thought to what I decide to buy. Another thing on my wishlist are the Barbie and Ken dolls dressed as Arwen and Aragon.
What do your friends and family think of your collection? How do you explain to non-collectors or non-Tolkien fans why you collect?
My husband is kind of amused and dismayed by it at the same time. He is pleased that I have a hobby that I am crazy about but on the other hand, we have moved a few times in the last decade or so and he knows what it’s like to pack and unpack it all. Some of my family like my collection but some don’t get it. I don’t really explain to anyone why I collect. I think most people just understand if you collect something it is because it sings to you.
Where do you go to find items for your Tolkien collection?
Most of the books were purchased from Barnes and Noble in downtown Minneapolis in Minnesota. Now that I live in rural Oregon, Amazon is my friend. I’ve bought items from Weta Workshop and The Hobbit Shop online. I have Lego sets from Lego online and from Target and action figures from other stores that sell toys.
Do you have any tips for other collectors? Like how to get a good deal, how to properly display/clean your collectibles, how to make sure you’re getting a quality product, etc. Do you catalog your items?
I don’t know how to get a “good” deal! At conventions with LOTR vendors, I don’t like to negotiate so I just pay what the sign reads. At the 2007 convention I suspect I could have gotten some better prices on a few things if I had been in the mood to bargain. My recommendation for buying is simply does it make your heart sing? If yes, go for it and it doesn’t matter if the value increases or drops because you have something you love.