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Magic: The Gathering Secret Lair pulls scenes from Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings

Respect to the OG big screen Hobbits and elves.

Image credit: Middle-earth Enterprises

In case you missed the last month of Magic: The Gathering news, the popular trading card game is in the midst of full bore Lord of the Rings mania. An entire card set served as a love letter to J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy classic, joined by a quartet of solid Commander decks, a slew of special treatments and a one-of-one The One Ring card currently super inflating the price of boosters.

The latest part of this celebration is a four-card Secret Lair drop hearkening back to 1978 and Ralph Bakshi’s cinematic interpretation of the Fellowship’s journey to Mordor. Publisher Wizards of the Coast chose four scenes from the experimental animated film over the arguably more popular Peter Jackson live-action film as the centrepieces for the More Adventures in Middle-earth drop.

Pulled from the recent Tales of Middle-earth set, these four cards can be purchased together in foil or standard print and feature a quartet of scenes pulled directly from the film. Frodo and The One Ring itself grace Slip on the Ring, while Gandalf appropriately appears on his uncommon rarity Friend of the Shire creature. The Lady of Lothlórien’s spectral visage is on the Mirror of Galadriel, while Bakshi’s version of the idyllic Shire can be seen on its eponymous land card from the set.

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Bakshi’s animated Lord of the Rings feature is remembered as much for its sprawling and fantastical animation - serving as the imaginative basis for many people’s vision of Middle-earth (including Peter Jackson) - as it is the weird and experimental rotoscope battle scenes and, er… creative solutions he learned over a lifetime as a filmmaker.

More Adventures in Middle-earth is the latest in MTG’s special line of reprinted cards with alternate art, often featuring guest illustrators and silly themes but more recently housing crossover products with Fortnite, Street Fighter and, obviously, the Lord of the Ring as part of the Universes Beyond imprint. According to a Polygon article, Wizards of the Coast partnered with the Tolkien estate to find the perfect moments to immortalise in cardboard.

Tales of Middle-earth has landed exceptionally well with both players and those asking ‘uh, so what is this card game with Frodo and Sam on it?’ It’s a fairly unmitigated success for Wizards of the Coast’s first set fully dedicated to an outside universe, largely due to Lord of the Rings’ timeless popularity and the care and genre comfort showed by MTG’s design team. It remains to be seen if the trading card game will try to tackle something like Marvel or Star Wars next, Perhaps this fantasy classic lightning can’t be bottled twice.

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