30 June 2012

'Hobbit' Stars Confirmed for Comic-Con 2012

It was recently confirmed on The Hobbit films’ Facebook page that the cast and crew will not only be attending this year’s Comic-Con – which comes just one week after the cast and crew hold their wrap party –  but they will also be showing fans new footage from the films.

The official announcement reads:  “Join director Peter Jackson, producer Philippa Boyens, Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis and Richard Armitage for a special look at the upcoming film on Saturday, July 14th, in Hall H.”
The world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be held in Wellington, New Zealand on November 28; the film will be released in theatres on December 14.

25 June 2012

Lord of the Rings LEGOs!!

Yesterday, I went back about ten years in time and revisited my childhood LEGO Maniac persona. Excitedly, I purchased three of the five available sets in-store from Toys 'R Us and quickly rushed home to set them up.

The "Attack on Weathertop" set was the most fun to build. I love LEGO's attention to detail - miniature statues on the top and bottom floors, a rat (not pictured) to spice up the scene, the fruits and vegetables near the campfire, and the One Ring in Frodo's hand. There's even a trap door up top, which I thought was very neat!

Next, I built the "Shelob Attacks" set. Building a giant spider from scratch was fantastic, and she even came with a roll of string to spin a web or wrap up some tasty Hobbitses. Unfortunately, Sam's back is turned, but if it weren't, you'd be able to see the Phial of Galadriel in his hand. So cool!

And last but certainly not least, the "Gandalf Arrives" set. Simple, but fun.

23 June 2012

Want to Win a Ring from the Original Ringmakers?

If you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings films, then you’ve seen the incredible work the crafters at Jens Hansen Jewellers have done. Have the films left you desiring your own Ring of Power? Well here’s your chance to win one!  

What You Could Win
  • A silver movie ring made by Jens Hansen Jewellers
  • A silver chain – the same as Frodo’s
  • The official Certificate of Origin, which proves that you own the real movie ring.
How to Enter
  • You must be following them on Tumblr
  • Reblog their advertisement (as many times as you’d like)
  • Check out their website, theringmaker.co.nz, for a special page, where you can sign up for their newsletter containing special offers for those on Tumblr

This competition ends on 12 July 2012, at which time a winner will be announced. 

21 June 2012


In this month's LOTRO Quest (put together by the amazing Bandoras), we all met up at the Rabbit Room of the Bird and Baby in Michel Delving. From there, we ventured north to Tinnundir, stopping along the way to check out various landmarks and discuss some of the wonderful lore of Middle-earth.

(Click to enlarge photos)

Our first group photo in the Rabbit Room

Waymeet: Hobbit trailer park, or gypsies?

Picking on Ted Sandyman

At the statue of Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took, inventor of the game of golf

Out of nowhere, we were attacked by a pack of wolves - and deer!

  We met Ronald Dwale (aka Tolkien) in Dwalling

 Greeting other players once we arrived at Tinnundir

 After arriving at Tinnundir, we decided to swim to Annúminas

 The Tomb of Elendil

 And one last group photo to end a wonderful evening!

20 June 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-Ray Sometime in Mid-2013

During yesterday’s Holiday Parks Association of New Zealand Conference, head of Tourism New Zealand Kevin Bowler revealed that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will make its Blu-ray and DVD debut in mid-2013.

Included in the Blu-ray and DVD sets will be a New Zealand tourism feature (directed by Peter Jackson).

“Internationally, we really want people to make the connection The Hobbit films were filmed here in New Zealand,” said Bowler. “Our research has found that there is a very high level of awareness to that fact, which is much broader than in what might be called... the geeky community.”

While a specific release date has not been confirmed, Bowler hopes that this will encourage even more tourists to visit the country. (A year after the release of The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, surveys discovered that six percent of New Zealand tourists had been persuaded to some extent by the Lord of the Rings films; one percent of these arrivals were specifically because of the films.)

At least 300 journalists will arrive in Wellington for the November premiere of An Unexpected Journey (typically, Tourism New Zealand brings in about 400 journalists per year).

“If that was to happen next year, we'd have 150,000 people floating around the country because of the first Hobbit film, which is great.”

15 June 2012

3D Hobbit Puzzles to Be Released This Year

Photo Source: Wrebbit Puzzles
Coiledspring Games, a company who for the past twenty years has been making 3D jigsaw puzzles – including iconic puzzles based on the Taj Mahal and Big Ben – has announced that they are working with Wrebbit on an exclusive range of Lord of the Rings puzzles, to be in stores just in time for the December 14 release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The company has previously released a few Lord of the Rings-themed puzzles, including a 400-piece Saruman’s Tower (Orthanc), a 700-piece Golden Hall (Meduseld), and an 815-piece Minas Tirith citadel. These puzzles are made from special, high-tech foam and can stand on their own without the assistance of glue. They retail between £20 and £40 ($31 to $62), and Amazon and many local jigsaw retailers have already signed on to carry these products.  

“We are delighted with The Lord of the Rings 3D jigsaws and are sure they will be enormously popular,” said Coiledspring Games director Roger Martin, “especially in the run up to the much anticipated first prequel film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

“More importantly, we hope families really enjoy working together to build these wonderful puzzles.”

11 June 2012

Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend

This past weekend was, I believe, the final beta weekend for Guild Wars 2. I received a copy of the game just in time to take part in this event. Where I have little experience in reviewing video games and also didn’t get to play all weekend long as I’d hoped, I’m just going to post some screenshots and share just a few of my thoughts on the game so far.

(Click to enlarge photos)

Though there are five races to choose from - Human, Norn, Asura, Charr, and Sylvari - only three were accessible during the beta event (Human, Norn, and Charr). Then, there are eight professions accessible to all races. They are broken down into three categories:

Soldiers - Guardian and Warrior
Adventurers - Engineer, Ranger, and Thief
Scholars - Elementalist, Mesmer, and Necromancer

Additionally, you will have to make a few biographical choices for your character to determine their initial personality, which can be affected later in the game by decisions your character makes or the dialogue you choose. Personally, I love having that option; I become more engaged in a video game if I am allowed to make my own decisions. I'm more likely to stop playing if I'm forced to play a character whose actions or decisions I disagree with.

Anyway, I decided to play a Norn Thief (that's me on the left). Another important aspect to me is physical character customisation. Maybe it's just because I'm a female player, but I like to take the time to ensure my character looks good and that I feel satisfied playing them. The physical customisation in this game is phenomenal, and there were so many options I probably spent at least twenty minutes or so just playing around with various combinations before I finally made a decision.

The graphics and artwork really impressed me.

 I really like 'Fight to Survive.' After awhile of playing, I got the impression that my health - which I initially thought was decent - was actually not very good at all. Even when I was at the same level or higher than my opponent, they seemed to be able to sap my health too quickly for me to keep up with healing, especially during instances. 'Fight to Survive' gave me a second chance to stand my ground, and by the time I'd gotten back on my feet, my healing skill would be fully recharged and the battle would turn in my favour. I also liked that when anyone around me fell, I could walk over and revive them. (Unfortunately, the few times I did end up dying, nobody saved me.) 

Some of the artwork displayed during the (brief!) load screens.

 Later, I decided to make a second character - this time, I went with a Charr Necromancer, whom I named Thaura (my feminised version of Thauron, the Quenya form of Sauron). 

That's me on the left!

What I liked: Impressive graphics and artwork, short load screens, excellent character customisation, engaging storyline, memorable characters, interactive environment/NPCs, professions accessible to all races, ability to toggle between armour and town clothes (and dye them at will), group battles, ability to revive fallen companions, ability to choose dialogue to enhance personality, level ranges displayed on map.

What I didn't like: Health seemed to drain too quickly, objectives disappeared from my tracker if I left a quest area...but really, nothing else I can think of at the moment. (Regrettably, I did not have a chance to try any crafting, so I don't know how that works.)

Overall, I am very impressed with Guild Wars 2 so far. Where it differs quite a bit from LOTRO, it did take a little getting used to initially, but I loved every minute of it. While I will always think that $60 is extremely high for a video game, it is definitely one worth purchasing.

(The release date is still unknown; rumour has it we could see the game in stores somewhere around the 26th-28th of this month, but NCsoft has stated that the date has not been set yet, and will be determined based on the results of the beta tests.)

09 June 2012

Christopher Lee Records Second Metal Album

Christopher Lee, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, is marking the milestone by releasing his second metal album, titled Charlemagne: The Omens of Death, which the actor describes as “100 percent heavy metal.”

“I’ve done my bits and pieces and they are heavy metal,” he said. “I’m not screaming or anything like that, but it is definitely 100 percent heavy metal.”

The actor’s first metal album, Charlemagne: By the Swords and the Cross, was more along the lines of symphonic metal and was met with critical acclaim.

On BBC Radio 5’s “Up All Night” programme, Lee talked about his history with the genre.

I was first introduced to metal when I sang with a band called Rhapsody. But what I sang was not heavy metal. I sang with a tenor. Then I worked with Manowar as a narrator, I think it was in Germany, and again, that was not me singing metal. I became fascinated by this, cause in terms of the history of music, it’s fairly recent really. And if it’s properly done and you can understand the story and you can understand what the people are singing and you have the right bands and the right singers, I think it’s rather exciting.”

In 2010, Lee received the “Spirit of the Hammer” award at the annual Metal Hammer Golden God ceremony, which he described as, “a most amazing occasion for me, very exciting, and something I’d never had happen to me my whole career, my whole life, in terms of awards. I have received quite a few. But I was interviewed … by Tony Iommi, who founded Black Sabbath. And I hadn’t heard them, but I made it a point [to]. I thought it was extraordinary.”

While Charlemagne: The Omens of Death does not yet have an exact release date, is expected to become available this summer (followed by a musical based on the album coming in 2013). In the meantime, you can listen to samples from two of his songs on Amazon.com.

05 June 2012

LOTRO: Riders of Rohan Expansion Coming This September!

Turbine has officially confirmed the release date of the Riders of Rohan expansion. Available for pre-order now (in three varieties), the game will become available on September 5. Watch both the cinematic trailer and teaser below:

Some of the new features include:

The Rohan region – Nearly twice as large as Moria, the Rohan region will offer hundreds of new quests, new gear, new deeds, and more. Additionally, the game will now feature a level cap of 85.

Mounted combat – With the announcement of the RoR release date, Turbine has also promised a new combat system unlike anything previously seen in an MMO. With mounted combat, players will be able to team up with a fellowship to challenge groups of enemies, stomping, trampling, kicking, and charging them in the new combat system.

War-steeds – These steeds are faster, stronger, and better trained for battle than normal mounts. War-steeds’ skills can be advanced over time and their appearance is customisable.

Continuation of the Epic Story – Follow the epic storyline to witness the breaking of the Fellowship at Amon Hen; form an alliance with the Ents of Fangorn; and aid Éomer in his attempts to ward off the growing Shadow.

Which version should you buy?

The expansion is available in digital download format and comes in three editions: Base, Heroic, and Legendary.

Base EditionFor $39.99, the Base Edition will get you the expansion pack upon its release, plus the Steed of the Eastemnet (an exclusive Rohirrim mount) and the “Friend of the Mark” in-game title.

If you pre-order between now and September 5, you will also receive a Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak and a Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape appearance.

Heroic EditionFor $49.99, the Heroic Edition offers the same as the Base Edition but with the following additions: a Hauberk of the Eastemnet (Rohirrim cosmetic chest piece) and the Evendim, Moria, and Lothlórien Quest Packs (over 650 quests, 10 fellowship instances, and two raids).

By pre-ordering this edition, you’ll also receive a Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak, The Outrider’s Token (25% XP boost for all characters on the account, up to level 75), and the Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape appearance.

Legendary EditionFor $69.99, the Legendary Edition contains even more exclusive content: the Steed of the Eastemnet (available immediately, with matching War-steed appearance available upon RoR release), Armour of the Eastemnet (full set of Rohirrim cosmetic armour), “Friend of the Mark” in-game title, a 6th inventory bag (15 additional storage slots), Crystal of Remembrance (adds one additional legacy to your legendary weapon), and exclusive Rohan content (earn a mounted combat deed which will grant an exclusive skill for your War-steed).

Pre-ordering between now and September 5th will get you a Rohan Elite Guard Statted Cloak, the Outrider’s Token, and the Rohirrim Soldier on Landscape appearance.

For a side-by-side comparison of all three editions, visit Turbine’s Riders of Rohan page.

Hobbit Premiere Date Announced

At long last, the premiere date for the first of two multi-million dollar Hobbit films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, has been announced. On November 28, the world premiere will be held at The Embassy theatre in Wellington. It is hoped, according to a spokesman for the film, that the principal cast for the first film – among them Sir Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, and lead Martin Freeman – will be in attendance.

The event will be similar in scale to the Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King world premiere (held in 2003) and will include a street parade as well as public entertainment. The Wellington City Council has set aside $1.15 million for the premiere.

"We're very proud that The Hobbit was made in Wellington and we'll have a celebration to remember, said Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

While it is unclear how The Hobbit films will impact Wellington on an economic level, Prime Minister John Key believes the premiere will be extremely beneficial; the Return of the King premiere contributed about $9.5 million in new spending to the city’s economy. Thousands of fans are already expected to come to Wellington for the premiere, which will greatly impact the city’s hotels and restaurants.   

"We cannot think of a more perfect way to send The Hobbit off into the world than to celebrate with a huge party here in Wellington, where the journey began,” said director Sir Peter Jackson.