The planned diorama was to depict Merry spying on Bilbo in the Shire. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Lobelia Sackville-Baggins approaches Bilbo from a distance. Not wanting to deal with her antics, Bilbo quietly slips on his magical ring and disappears until Lobelia has safely passed him by. Bilbo then reappears and goes about his day, oblivious to the extra company hidden beside the road. According to the text, this event was the downfall of Bilbo's well-kept secret and a catalyst to forming the 'conspiracy' that was finally unmasked years later when Frodo tries to leave Crickhollow without his friends.
When completed (if that ever happens), Lobelia will be positioned near the bottom of a small rise continuing her walk down the lane towards Hobbiton. Bilbo will be positioned in the lane some distance behind her, holding his trusty ring in the palm of his hand with an obviously pleased look upon his face for having avoided the dreadful creature. Merry will be off the side of the road hidden amongst the brush and grass, not quite believing what he just witnessed. If done correctly, I think the diorama will depict the scene from the book quite faithfully.
This version of Merry (from the Merry and Pippin vs. Grishnákh blister) is the perfect mini for the job. He is already kneeling/hiding so no conversion was necessary. More importantly, the look upon his face, while originally sculpted to show fear of Grishnákh, seems to show surprise as well....perfect for my project!
I'm a firm believer of double-duty miniatures. As such, I did not want to paint and base Merry solely on the description of the Shire encounter. I also wanted to be able to use the model for additional encounters. I painted Merry in his Fellowship attire, including the Lothlorien cloak. The look was flexible though. To me, the color scheme could just as easily fit the well-tended fields of The Shire (for the diorama) as well as the wilds of Middle-earth (for gaming in general). The main alternate use of the mini would be for its intended purpose. The encounter that the blister was meant to depict occurred in Rohan near the eves of Fangorn Forest. It was easy to adopt the imagery Peter Jackson used for Rohan in the movies and tie it in with The Shire with just a little stretch of the imagination. The base could be cultivated winter wheat or natural grassland, both of which work for either use. Now, instead of just sitting in a diorama, I can pull him out and use Merry on the game table.
There is one part of the model that would preclude Merry from being in Rohan (as depicted in the book and movie) but it takes a sharp eye to find it. I'll leave that one detail open to guesses in the comments section.
Though the time frame of completion may indicate otherwise, I actually enjoyed painting this miniature. This sculpt predates GW Finecast and represents the good ole' days when GW LotR SBG products were worth the money. The lines are clean and the details crisp. If I remember correctly, I had very little prepping to complet before priming and painting. That's never the case with Finecast miniatures. Though I have plenty of GW LotR lead still to paint, working on this miniature made me miss the days when I eagerly awaited the next issue of White Dwarf to see what LotR goodies were coming out the following month.
Ending Note: I apologize for the photos. I tried a new lens on my camera for this session. While the lens does a great job in other areas, close-up photography is not one of them. The photos look very fuzzy and not at all sharp. I could have retaken the photos but I was feeling much too lazy, just like a fat hobbit!
Don't forget to provide your guesses below. I wonder how long it will take to spot it. As always, thanks for reading!