Pros: Cool base, nice detailing
Cons: barely moves, muddy paint job
Sam, a gardener from the Shire is Frodo's most faithful friend and trusted companion. He accompanies Frodo on his journey to the Land of Mordor to destroy the One Ring in order to save Middle-earth from the clutches of Sauron, the Dark Lord.
Samwise Gamgee was Frodo's friend, confidant, and possible lover. Really, I'm not making that up--there's apparently a lot of debate on this topic among Ring-heads; whether Tolkien intended the two main characters to be up each other. I don't really care either way, and it's not really relevant to the story or the toy, but you know how I just love to ramble on about tangentially related topics in my reviews.
At the time this figure was released, there were two mystically-themed films locking horns for box office and toy aisle glory. While I'm not about to lotr pass judgment on which lotr film was lotr better, I think there was a clear winner on the plastic and blistercard front; the Lord of the Rings figures had the edge in size, articulation, sculpt, accessories, playability, package design, and even new toy smell. Never underestimate the power of new toy smell.
Truthfully, this isn't a bad representation of the Sam we saw on the screen--he's seen here defending the Fellowship's stronghold in the mines of Moria. He's got the short pants, the paunch poking through his textured vest, and even a removable satchel and waterskin slung over his shoulder. Sam comes with a quite nice removable cloak/backpack piece that was molded from pvc, allowing it to hold its shape while still being semi-pliable to mimic the cloth it represents. His accessories include a frying pan, spoon, and sword (which could be quite easy to lose for younger players). RealScan technology means that his little Hobbit head even looks like Sean Astin.
Sean Astin, incidentally, is the son of Patty Duke (yes, that Patty Duke) and John Astin, best known for his roles on Night Court and as the Addams Family's Gomez. John Astin also played the Riddler on a few episodes of the old campy Batman show, though he's typically forgotten in favor of Frank Gorshin. Oh, and hey! Batman and Robin? Rumored to be gay. Frodo and Sam? Rumored to be gay! It's all connected! Back to the review.
To make up for the fact that you're only getting a 4" figure in what is essentially a 6" line, Sam comes with a quite ornate base; a recreation of the barricaded door that stood between the heroes and certain orcish doom, the base measures 6 x 5 x 3 1/2". The stone floor is strewn with bones, and there are arrows imbedded in the wall. The high point of the base lies behind the axe-blocked double doors:
There is a hole in each door, with an orc's head and hand bursting through. Connected to a seesawing lever, the body parts move when you hit them. Thus, when you press the button on Sam's back, he swings his weapons and wails on the intruder. The orc itself (well, what there is of it) is quite detailed and well-painted, though the rest of the base is rather flat and muddy. There is, however, a tiny desiccated dwarf corpse attached to the side of the base, which is a quite nice little bonus.
The articulation on the figure is okay, but nothing really spectacular--he moves at the neck, shoulders, waist, and hips. There are also supposedly joints where his limbs emerge from his clothes (forearms and shins), but those are all glued firmly in place. Another Sam figure has recently hit the market--in a two-pack with Frodo and the boat they used to reach Amon Lhaw, that figure is a bit shorter (and thus a bit more in scale) and has better articulation, which is the reason for my odd Bottom Line. Do I recommend this figure of Sam? Yes, if you really like the base; otherwise no, but simply because the two-pack version has more playability.
Overall, Sam isn't a bad toy--it's just that there's a better one out there you can get.