Dave Barry, as he does every year, has released a Holiday Gift
Guide. Most of the items are your typical Dave Barry fare – an aquarium
toilet tank and inflatable potty are good examples.
One item, however, stands out for me:

$22.98 plus shipping and handling from Things You Never Knew Existed,
4514 19th St. Court E., Bradenton, FL 34203-3799, 800-843-0762, www.johnsonsmith.com.


a very thoughtful gift for the impressionable youngster on your holiday
gift list. It’s a highly realistic talking plush doll depicting Gollum,
the fun, heartwarmingly lovable character from the
Lord of the Rings
movies. When you squeeze him, Gollum hisses one of four phrases from
the soundtrack.

Picture this: It’s night, and the child is in his or her bed. The room
is dark. The child is having trouble sleeping; perhaps he or she is
worried that there’s a monster under the bed. Finally the child dozes
off, and rolls over onto Gollum, who hisses ”My precious,” causing
the child to wake up, face-to-face with Gollum, thus forming a memory
that will be seared into the child’s brain for a lifetime of therapy.

However, this is not the end of the madness. There’s more.

Summer and I, after realizing that at least one person we know
definitely needs this for Christmas, decided to do what any
self-respecting Capitalist does; we checked to see if it was cheaper at
Amazon.com. It is, but unfotunately, it’s out of stock.

We did find, in stock The Return of the King Deluxe Talking Gollum.

One helpful reviewer – Johnny B from Hermosa Beach, CA – has explained this doll better than the manufacturer ever could:

Amazing sculpt… but it’s nicer if left in the box…

I love
Gollum/Smeagol… and Lord of the Rings. So I was very excited to see
how fantastic-looking this figure is. The face sculpt is just amazing–
the best likeness of this character you will find, at any price (better
than the deluxe statues!). And best of all, you get TWO interchangable
heads, one of a sweetly smiling Smeagol, and a twisted, gnarling
Gollum. You should know that the figure comes packed randomly, with
some wearing one head or the other. There is a storage space for his
extra head (and the fish he can grasp) in the base. The other great
thing is that he has 22 random phrases, including the full “Wish for a
Fish” song, all in Anthony Serkis’ real voice.

The beautifully
illustrated box really enhances the product.
Now for the down side (I guess this review is more Gollum than
Smeagol!). The two AA batteries that come in the talking base are
extremely weak and wear fast; when changed out to something better, his
voice is loud again… but you can’t seal the battery compartment
again, the screw holding it together won’t go back in. This happened to
two different figures for me. Also, beyond his great grasping hands and
articulated arms, he is not very poseable. His knees don’t even bend,
so he can’t do anything but squat. But the holes in his feet don’t even
line up with the pegs on the base, so it is difficult to keep him from
falling over. The legs pivot at the hips, but this is pretty much
useless. The head dosn’t tilt up enough, so that when he is squatting
on the base, in the only position he can hold, he looks downward… and
you don’t get to see his great face very well.

So, would I recommend
buying it, or not? I would say a qualified “yes” if you are determined
to leave it in the box. It looks best this way, but the downside is
that the fun is gone when the batteries run out (unless you open it up
and slide the base out to change them… but then the screw is broken
for good). I would vote “no” if you are looking for an action figure to
play with. It is really more like a statue with a little articulation
(but not where he could really use it, at the knees, ankles, and
elbows). But it sure does look great!

We’re taking the chance. Ask Summer about it in 7-10 days.