The Countdown Collection

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Things to notice about the visuals: the golden King Block symbol in the lower right, the fiery template rather than the standard Moria one, and of course the visuals in these cards both popping out of frame and in this case even "overlapping" onto one another.

The Countdown Collection distributed during the Countdown to the King was a set of 22 cards produced as a lead-up to the release of The Return of the King, both the card set and the movie. 4 of these cards (0P50 - 0P53) were so-called Weta Book Cards, representing concepts from the Lord of the Rings books which did not make their way into the Peter Jackson films, such as Tom Bombadil. The other 18 cards (0P30 - 0P47) were historically iconic cards with brand-new culture template art, and some made to "pop-out" of the frame.


Countdown to the King Promotion[edit]

The stamp card issued the first week that players participated in the promotion.

The Countdown to the King promotion was ran by Decipher over 18 weeks from August 25th to December 29th, 2003[1]. For each week of the Countdown, purchasing $10 (or €10) of booster packs from Fellowship Block and/or Towers Block from participating retailers would earn players that week's associated card. In addition, collecting the first 6 cards would earn you a poster depicting all the cards in Fellowship Block, and collecting the second 6 cards would earn a similar poster depicting Towers Block. Players who managed to collect all 18 cards over all 18 weeks would additionally earn the four Book Cards and a collectible binder with enough space to hold the 18 Countdown cards.

Beginning in October 2003 (during week 8 of 18), the Countdown Collection was also offered directly from Decipher's online store [2]. Doing so would cost the same as it did to participate weekly ($180), and would include the following:

The Book Cards did not ship until May 2004[3]. This is at least partially due to the Weta trip happening in early 2004.

Card Templates[edit]

The card templates used by the 18 Countdown cards were created specifically for this collection, and were originally intended to be exclusive to it [4]. This exclusivity didn't last, however, as the art was later repurposed for the Legends Masterworks cards released in each set starting with set 12, Black Rider. There are some differences between the two sets of templates, most obviously for the Shadow cards (which have white text on a dark background for the Countdown and a more standard black text on light background for Masterworks), but also including minor alterations to the trim of various regions on the cards.

The Countdown Collection can be distinguished from Masterworks by the golden King Block crown icon in the lower-right-hand corner, just above the Collector's Info. Masterworks have no symbol there (unless they are also a Weta card).

Weta Workshop[edit]

Harry Wellerchew becomes Tom Bombadil.

The Book Card art subjects were all produced by Weta Workshop, the same special effects crew that worked on the films. Dan Burns, then Creative Director at Decipher, traveled to New Zealand and worked with Weta to produce the images used by the four Book Cards of this release and several others that were later introduced into the game, including The Weta Collection. In some cases the exact props used in the films were re-shot for later compositing, and in other cases concept art for characters that were planned at one point were consulted and the characters recreated with the same attention to detail used in the films. Many of the costume pieces involved were re-used where appropriate -- Tom Bombadil's cloak is a worn version of Gandalf the Grey's cloak, for instance.

See Weta Book Cards for more details and links.


Click through to any image to see its full resolution.


  1. Wayback: Where's Tom Bombadil?! - Decipher announces the Countdown Collection. [1]
  2. Wayback: The Countdown Collection: Now At The Decipher Store! [2]
  3. Wayback: Tom Bombadil Is On His Way! [3]
  4. Wayback: Interview with Joe Boulden, one of the artists at Decipher. [4]

Physical Products
Card Product Booster Packs
The Fellowship of the RingMines of MoriaRealms of the Elf-lords
The Two TowersBattle of Helm's DeepEnts of Fangorn
Return of the KingSiege of GondorMount Doom
ShadowsBlack RiderBloodlines
The HuntersRise of SarumanTreachery & Deceit
Starter Decks The Fellowship of the RingMines of MoriaRealms of the Elf-lords
The Two TowersBattle of Helm's DeepEnts of Fangorn
Return of the KingSiege of GondorMount Doom
ShadowsBlack RiderBloodlines
The HuntersRise of Saruman
Deluxe Starter Sets The Fellowship of the RingThe Two Towers
Draft Packs Fellowship Draft PackTowers Draft PackExpanded Middle-earth
Card Variants Print Runs (First Edition, A Revision, B Revision, Duplicate Version) • ReprintsFoilTengwarLegends (RF)Legends Masterworks
Tengwar Anthologies The Fellowship of the Ring AnthologyThe Two Towers AnthologyThe Return of the King AnthologyThe War of the Ring Anthology
Complete Packs The Nine Riders CollectionThe Wraith CollectionAge's End
Prizes League KitsDGMA PrizesTournament Prize SupportTournament Foils
Promo Distribution Oversized CardsMagazine InsertsDVD InsertsRetail Reward IncentivesEvent PromosThe Countdown CollectionThe Weta CollectionLOTRO Promos
Other Two-Player QuickStart SetRace to Mount DoomWeta Book CardsProduct Box CountsUncut SheetsSpacer CardsCustomizable League CardsHunters Design-a-Card Contest
Unreleased Beta Cards Of Very Little Importance (Beta)Fortune of Fate (Beta)Always a Baggins in Bag End (Beta)Maiden of the Golden Ale (Beta)Ripples in the Pool (Beta)Of Very Little Importance (Beta)It's the Beard (Beta)There are NO Dwarven Women! (Beta)
Non-card Product Merchandise HatsT-shirtsPinsPostersPostcardsBindersAd SpotsDice
Magazines Scrye MagazineInQuest MagazineFan Club Official Movie Magazine

Scrye TTT Player's GuideScrye ROTK Player's Guide

Unreleased Merch 2002 Toy Fair CalendarFilm Cell CardsOfficial Signed Cards
New Line Fax Proofs Lithograph ProofsBalrog Promo ProofMines of Moria Booster Pack ProofsMines of Moria Card ProofsMines of Moria Packaging ProofsMines of Moria Poster ProofToy Fair Calendar ProposalMines of Moria Sell Sheet ProofRealms of the Elf-lords Promo ProofsFilm Cell Card Proposal