Merchandise Monday | Merlin 2012 Annual

I recently did a rewatch of the Merlin television series (thanks Netflix!), and that prompted me to dip my toe into the fandom surrounding it. I discovered that there were books, action figures, and special annuals for the series that I was completely unaware of.


A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and ordered the Merlin annuals on Abe Books. However, the thing about Abe Books is that you never quite know what you’re going to get. I’ve had friends order books—looking for a particular edition—and the one they were shipped turned out to be a different edition than what was advertised. Since the Merlin annuals actually have quizzes, crosswords, word searches, and more, I knew there was a good chance that I would receive a book that had been written in. But I was also getting them at such low prices that I couldn’t complain.


My first shipment arrived containing the Merlin 2012 annual, and I started going through it page by page. When I first noticed writing, I shrugged my shoulders and was only slightly disappointed. Then I realized that I loved it! The kid (or grownup, who knows?) who had the book before me really knew their Merlin lore and had much keener eyes than I do; without their help, I don’t know that I would ever have found the differences between the very similar photos of well-loved scenes.

The thing I loved most was reading their answers on the Knight of Camelot quiz. I felt like I was getting to know them! I often picked different answers than they did, and it was interesting to compare myself to this person from the past who probably lived across an ocean from me (all of the books were sold by UK sellers).

I’ve scanned the pages below, and I hope that if you are a fan of Merlin, you will join in the fun and share your responses in the comments. The book’s previous owner turned out to be the most like Gwaine, while I am a combination of Sir Leon and Lancelot. What knight are you?

Merlin2012Annual_Page22 Merlin2012Annual_Page23

Eventually, the other three annuals arrived, and I was both happy and sad. I was happy that they were in such good condition, but also a bit sad that I didn’t get to share the book with a mysterious friend.

Do you like getting used books with scribbles from past owners in them?

To see our previous Merchandise Monday items, check out our Merchandise Monday Category!


Merchandise Monday | Minas Tirith 3-D Puzzle

If I’m being honest, I’ve been wanting to do a post on this next bit of merchandise ever since we Travelling Geeks decided to do Merchandise Monday. I had been holding off until I finished it, but I realize that I have made so little progress, that I might as well share it now! (Who knows? Maybe a little bit of constructive peer pressure will spur me on to completion!)


I remember seeing the 3-D Lord of the Rings puzzles in stores years ago, but for some reason, they never sparked my interest. However, my friend Britta recently sent me some LEGOs, and it put me in a building mood, so I thought it would be fun to try one of them.

These puzzles tend to fetch a high price online, but I found someone selling this Citadel of Minas Tirith for only $10! I snatched it up and couldn’t wait to begin. When it arrived, I realized that it had never been put together, so there were many of these small pieces with pink dots and lines that needed to be removed as they were not part of the final puzzle.


I thought I would be a good architect–one who does all the necessary prep work before pushing ahead on a project–so I took at least an hour and a half to track down all of the unnecessary pieces and remove them. (See those two plastic bags in the first photo? Those are all of the discarded bits!)

Well, I was going to have something to show for my first day, so I found The White Tree and the surrounding green pieces that make up its monument and, though I should’ve gone to bed earlier, I pieced it together and felt accomplished!

So here’s the thing…no one told me that Minas Tirith is the hardest of the LOTR 3-D puzzles. And the “instructions” count on you having figured out a lot of the puzzle before even offering any help. I’m proud to say that I’ve gotten a bit farther. But not much. Some of the ground work and roof bits and towers have started to come together, but I’m a long way from finishing.

You know what I wish? I wish that you, our fellow readers (and many of you are Tolkien fans), could come over and we could do a LOTR movie marathon while putting together this puzzle! Like Frodo and his quest, I can’t finish this alone!

I know that dream is unlikely to come true, so in the meantime, you can make me feel better by telling me about fandom projects that you started but had trouble finishing. Or, EVEN BETTER, give me hints and tutorials on how to finish this puzzle!

Merchandise Monday | Shire Necklace

I felt like it would catch any of our loyal readers off-guard if I didn’t share another Tolkien item for Merchandise Monday! If you missed any of our recent items from Middle-earth, here are some handy links for you:

Alice – Merchandise Monday | Legolas-s-s

Maria – Merchandise Monday | Herugrim Letter Opener

Lily – Merchandise Monday | Samwise Painting by Joe Gilronan

Today, I’m featuring a Christmas present I received from Valdis at Middle-earth News. Last year, her theme for the presents she gave the news team was jewelry specifically chosen based on our interests. Knowing that I’m a hobbit at heart, she picked a necklace with a piece of a map of the Shire so that I could always find my way home.


I’ve received many compliments on this necklace, and I’m always glad to see people know the reference! I always make sure I wear it on important occasions like Hobbit Day, Tolkien Reading Day, and movie marathons.

What piece of a Middle-earth map would make the most sense for you? Share your second home in the comments below!

Merchandise Monday | Herugrim Letter Opener

Another Monday, another Merchandise Monday! If you’re curious about our previous Merchandise Monday posts, go and check out our Merchandise Monday category. For more information about where and why Merchandise Monday started, head over to our friends, and creators of this series, Fangirls on the Road!

Now, without further ado, here is this week’s item: A Herugrim letter opener.


This beauty is one of many sword letter openers from The Noble Collection. I’m a big fan of merchandise items from The Noble Collection because they are not your average cheap plastic items that look as if they’re falling apart just by looking at it. Items from The Noble Collection are, indeed, noble.

One of my all time favourite things they offer are their The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit sword letter openers. I know I’ll never own life size replicas of the swords so these letter openers are an inexpensive and space-saving alternative.


Of all the LOTR and Hobbit sword letter openers available, King Theoden’s sword Herugrim is my absolute favourite. So, of course, I didn’t need to think twice when I saw that Herugrim was on sale on a while ago. There is only one sword I’d love to own more than Herugrim and that is Boromir’s sword. Sadly, Boromir’s sword is not available as a letter opener (Yet?) Please Mr. and Mrs Noble Collection, please create a letter opener of Boromir’s sword!

Anyhow, I can’t complain, my Herugrim letter opener is beautiful and among my most prized possessions in my Tolkien collection!

Want to purchase your own sword letter opener? Go and check out the LOTR letter openers and The Hobbit letter openers!

Merchandise Monday | Samwise Painting by Joe Gilronan

If you’ve noticed a bit of a trend with our Merchandise Monday posts, you might have come to the conclusion that we have a thing for Tolkien and Middle-earth. Was it Alice’s Mallorn Leaf Brooch? Maria’s Red Book of the Westmarch? Or my Bag End Miniature? Well, you wouldn’t be wrong, and today, I’m continuing the trend!


I guess I have to introduce it by starting with an anecdote. It all started in January of 2012. As a new reporter for Middle-earth News, I was assigned an interview with Tolkien artist Joe Gilronan. We emailed back and forth and really got along, and of course, how could you not fall in love with his artwork? I remember asking him (just as a personal aside) if he was going to start doing more paintings based in the Shire since The Hobbit movies would be coming out soon. He said yes, and over the following years, he has done some great work!

As time went on and the website got more readers, I thought it was time to do a new interview. Joe also offered up a prize for Hobbit Day, so we did them all in conjunction. Around this time, Joe said he would like to send me a painting. Obviously, I told him that would be AMAZING, but I was trying desperately not to sound greedy. A few months later, this painting of Samwise (Joe knew he was my favorite character) gardening at Bag End showed up in my mailbox.


As you can imagine, I freaked out and didn’t stop talking about it…pretty much ever. I went and got it professionally framed, and now it hangs in a place of honor, always reminding me of my friend and our shared love of Middle-earth!

Fans can keep up-to-date with Joe Gilronan on the following websites:




Fine Art America

Do you own (or create) artwork based on Middle-earth? What is your favorite subject matter?