“Shut up and take my money, Gandalf”: Lord of the Merchandise

The Wilde Hunt through the list of current licensees of Middle-earth Enterprises

ATTENTION: 100% done!

Christmas shopping is just around the corner and as the global pandemic does not seem to release its grasp on mankind in the foreseeable future many people will take the opportunity and spend time on getting presents for the loved ones. Now, even if this is not the case with you and the thought of Christmas could not be further from your mind this list of licensees of Middle-earth Enterprises might at least hold a chuckle here and there for you.

Middle-earth Enterprises owns exclusive  worldwide rights to motion picture, merchandising, stage and other  rights in certain literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien including The Lord of  the Rings and The Hobbit.

So, emotionally about 95% of all merchandise pertaining to Middle-earth comes from this particular company, “formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises, a division of The Saul Zaentz Company, headquartered in Berkeley, California.” 

Now, I am talking about licensees at the time of writing this for you, not former licensees which have quietly disappeared such as Middle-earth Furniture.

[Official licensees of Middle-earth Enterprises as of Nov 6, 2020.]

I’ll go through them alphabetically, just as MeE has them.

ASHLAND FLY

What could be more fitting to have than fishing flies. You know, Déagol and Sméagol, just fishin’ … Please note the original Tolkein novel.

If you know the story of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you know that the real adventure began when Smeagol and Deagol went fishing, and…caught a ring. 

Website: Ashlandflyshop.com 

ATHLON GAMES

Funnily enough, the link to Athlon Games was the link to Ashland Fly (at the time of writing) but I would presume the link is the one you can find below. Basically, Athlon Games is set to do another MMO set in Middle-earth, possibly tying in with the upcoming series, and not in direct thematic competition to the long-running and well-loved LotRO (see .) At least, that is what many LotRO fans are hoping. At the time of writing no reliable information on the game is available. [Addendum: I let MeE know about the wrong link; let’s see when they’ll correct it.]

Website: Athlon Games – Press Release on MMO.

BADALI  JEWELRY

82 products are to be found with Badali Jewelry, and yes, they do rings, cufflinks, ear rings, necklaces, you name it, they will be able to have it. Now, I would not dish out over $1K for the Gold Key of Thror but hey, it is your money to spend! And I do know them mostly because the amazing Britta Siemen is a huge fan 🙂 #TolkienTribe on Instagram rules!

Website: Middle-earth Jewelry, in silver and bronze

BARE TREE MEDIA

This is one of the more obscure names as the only product I could find with them was a stickers pack for the long since deceased (revamped) Blackberry – if you are a little older you may remember this once leading smartphone. However, they are, of course, offering quite a few other things these days … If you like the Mandalorian, for example, you might have seen these GIFs and emojis.

Website: Bare Tree Media 

DAEDALIC  ENTERTAINMENT

Well, this is something for me az a Germanz, of course. Daedalic is in Hamburg and one of the leading game developing studios we have and they are the ones doing Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Funnily enough, the company used to be owned by one of the publishing houses I work for as a translator but the Daedalic management simply bought their company back.

Please do not ask me what Gollum will do – they have not really said anything about the game so far. If I hear from them you will hear it first, of course! 

Website: Daedalic Entertainment 

ELECTRONIC ARTS

Now, this one is a bit tricky as Electronic Arts is well-known to have done some major games during the Lord of the Rings film trilogy hype. My personal favourite and a truly good game was Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth. BfMe – as fans call it – was so good and successful that BfMe II was published quickly after. But, and that was a huge but at the time, the EA license reverted back to Warner Bros. gaming in 2009, probably because WB was already involved in planning the Hobbit films and wanted to have all licenses back. Why Electronic Arts is on the list of MeE licensees really baffles me – if you know more about it, please leave a comment!

FANTASY FLIGHT GAMES

Quite a few amazing board and card games have come from Fantasy Flight Games set in Middle-earth and I can only hope they’ll do more! Not only because one of most successful game developers of the world is from Germany (Reiner Knizia) but because those games are really fun.

GAMES SYSTEM INTERNATIONAL

GSI provides “turn-based, strategy games set in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, including elements from ICE’s Middle-earth Role Playing”, so if you want go for Middle-earth Games that is your chance.

GAMES WORKSHOP

The moment you talk table-top gaming Games Workshop will come up for certain – one of the major companies in the world. They have been producing miniatures for decades, starting out as Tolkien fans, and will continue to do so. What has been most entertaining for me on tournaments the German Tolkien Society organised with the help of great table top fanatics, though, are the names they give their colours to – “Snot Green”, “Leadbelcher”, and “Plaguebearer Flesh” are just way too gorgeous. As I was the German translator to Battle Games in Middle-earth I have very fond recollections of this particular hobby 🙂

GRUMPY GEEKS

Having the right tee to wear meeting fellow Tolkienists seems to be of quite some importance with a number of people. So hey, Grumpy Geeks got you covered (haha, pun!)

HOBBITON MOVIE SET 

Yup, even if you are the Hobbit Set you need to have a license. 

KINGS WILD PROJECT

Playing cards. Yes, playing cards. Announced this year, this is a work in progress – looking forward to it. There is a video on how Frodo Baggins is going to look like.

LEGO

There was a certain game set in a certain film trilogy world. Who knows what the future will bring but LEGO: The Lord of the Rings is a thing. And yes, there also was a Hobbit one, of course. Early 2019 the games were removed from all digital storefronts; well, there have to be new rules & regulations for the upcoming series…

MOYLAN’S

A brewery. I am all for it. 

BALROG BEER. I MEAN … 

MIDDLE EARTH COLLECTION

At the time of writing the collection is no longer online but it was quite cute when it was there – little dioramas set in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

MIDDLE-EARTH HONEY

Those Kiwis really know how to be busy bees and sell it. Yup, there is honey made in Middle-earth. Looks nice, right?

MIDDLE-EARTH WATER

Did I mention these Kiwis know how do these things? Yup, there is sparkling water. By the way, those peeps are also doing the wines!

MIDDLE-EARTH WINES

And I would certainly love to try their Sauvignon Blanc.

MINT BROOK MEADOW TEAS

A proper cup of tea can make any horrible day a better day. So it is only natural to get Hobbit Teas – the Bilbo Baggins Breakfast Blend sounds about right for me.

MITHRIL MINIATURES

This is probably the longest-running merchandise license in all of Tolkiendom (if any of you know of another that has been running for 25+ years please let me know. I saw Mithril figurines at the beginning of the 90s in my local rpg and tabletop shop in Cologne.) I do not know how they do it but they have my respect and their metal miniature figures are absolutely great; somehow the company who seems to be one of the largest producers of such figurines in the world ended up in County Cork in Ireland.  By the way, they seem to have a great clearance sale all the time 🙂 Oh, and yes: “32mm & 54mm scale figures are influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien’s books.” [my emphasis]

Saruman would have been happy to produce so many wargs so quickly. 

NEW LINE CINEMA

Uhm. Okay. Self-explanatory, right? 🙂

OSCHA

There are many ways in which to carry your kid and, yes, there are baby wraps, ring slings, baby carriers – and Oscha has all of them

QUNYUN THREE ZERO

I have not been able to find any Tolkien products with this company (yet, obviously!) but they are well-known figurine producersGame of Thrones fan have certainly had their fun. Try to imagine Númenor this way 🙂

ROYAL SELANGOR

You can never have enough goblets but somehow I believe it is the chess set that will raise most eyebrows and banknotes being waved … 

The battle for Middle-earth begins. Aragorn and Galadriel lead a band of Ents, Wizards and Hobbits against Sauron and Shelob’s horde of Saruman, Gollum, Dragons and Orcs. Cast in pewter, with copper plating to distinguish the opposing armies, play takes place on a chessboard of wood and pewter marquetry.

RIVENDELL BYCYCLE WORKS

I have to admit I did not know about this specialist bicycle company that has been selling old-school bikes since 1994 from Walnut, California. Interestingly enough, they got their name from the next company … Their story is up on their blog.

RIVENDELL MOUNTAIN WORKS

Now, the company was founded in 1971 – bearing this name until this day – but Middle-earth Enterprises (or better, Tolkien Enterprises at the time) was only founded in 1976. The company ownership changed hands in 1981 so that would possibly be the date, then. 

They came up with the Jensen backpack which seems to be the thing for a large number of mountaineers out there. Decent backpacks are important, the Fellowship knows!

SHIRE POST MINT

“We need coin” may be the most often used term in any roleplaying game ever when the crew is starting out on the first adventure. So, if you need coins going to Middle-earth, then you should be just fine with the Shire Post Mint. Or to Westeros, Scadrial, Hyboria, and/or Mars – you can get them in copper, silver, gold. You know, mints go crazy, right?

SOPHISTICATED GAMES

Could possibly be the most fun licensee I know and I am not saying that just because I translated some of their excellent work into German – they have brought out some truly great games I can only highly recommend. 

STANDING STONE GAMES

For more than ten years now Tolkien fans had the opportunity to dive into a gaming world based on the books – started by developer Turbine in 2007 Lord of the Rings Online has shown surprising stamina in a highly competitive part of video gaming. After a few turbulent happening around 2016 with game ownership moving from Warner Bros. to Daybreak Games Standing Stone Games (many of them former Turbine staff) have taken over running and developing the game to continued success. The latest add-on “War of Three Peaks” has just come out. Let’s hope for many more years!

TREEBEARD DESIGNS

Furniture. I am trying not to read too much into the name of the company – Hroom!  Anyway, if you are looking for some handmade work this is the place to go to.

US GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.

“U.S. Games Systems, Inc. has been the premier publisher of tarot and inspirational decks since 1968.” So if you happen to have seen the Lord of the Rings tarot that is probably the reason for this particular license. 

VOLANTE

It is all about the clothes, right? Volante seems to have you covered and I can imagine they will be coming up with more of those.

WB GAMES

Shadow of Mordor has been one of the most successful games for the video gaming arm of Warner Bros. 

WB SHOPS

LOTR Shop : Hobbit Shop. Go nuts.

WETA

Weta Workshop has a lot going for it, particularly collectables in recent years. 

WINELORD

I am a little at a loss as this is Middle-earth Wines (see above.) However, I have to say that WINELORD sounds way cooler 😉 

P.S. The two companies running Middle-earth inspired wine and water are called Winelord Ltd and Premium Waters Ltd. but have, of course, taken on names that are more fitting *g*

WOODEN  WONDERS

I really loved seeing their chicken coop when it came out and this is certainly one of the most entertaining pieces of merchandise you can get. And I want a playhouse in my size! 

Please note

There are, of course, other people offering Tolkien-related merchandise and there is even more that has long come and gone – just to mention a few:

– all Deciper related products (trading card game + roleplaying game)

– Arwen/ Aragorn salt and pepper shaker

– all the lovely things the Ralph Bakshi film brought forth. You can spend twenty grand right now on eight figurines

– etc. etc.

According to German law I have to infom you all links to enterprises/ artists are [unpaid advertisements.] 

Photo credits: all respective rights’ owners.

Marcel Aubron-Bülles

A Tolkien fan for twenty-five years (and more to come...) Founding chairman of the German Tolkien Society, Co-Founder of Ring*Con, Co-Founder of the ITF, host, presenter and fantasy expert