Which Orc is Your Favorite?

Wednesday , 16, January 2019 18 Comments

The monochrome version makes these orcs even more menacing.

Which interpretation of orcs across all media comes closest to your mental picture as your read Tolkien’s books?

I’m not a fan of Peter Jackson’s orcs and Uruk-hai, especially the Moria scenes in which orcs are climbing down columns and walls like so many spiders. Researching SPI’s board game, War of the Ring, I came across another old favorite, Gondor which was marketed as a companion game. On Boardgamegeek someone took a photo of the rule book with Tim Kirk’s cover art. Upon seeing this forgotten picture I realized why Jackson’s orcs never resonated with me as they never came close to projecting the same level of menace.




Here is Tim Kirk’s original:


When it comes to fantasy miniatures I wouldn’t mind owning some well painted Grenadier orcs, with the old Monster Manual pig snouts.  Just like Jackson’s orcs, the pig snouts do not fit my mental image of orcs but the early D&D nostalgia is too strong.

In you go to this thread and scroll down until you see the pig faced orc picture from the 4th Edition and prior Monster Manuals Squirrelloid’s post compares different orc interpretations. Disclaimer: I have no clue on what WYSIWYG is!



  • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:

    My favorite interpretation of orcs? One word:


    I love Tolkien’s world but the 40K world is so much fun.

    It’s definitely true that Jackson didn’t capture the menace and threat of Tolkien’s orcs. One of the many ways Jackson failed.

  • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:


    That’s my favorite interpretation. And Jackson’s lame orcs was only one of many, many reasons I hated those movies.

  • John S says:

    Always those early edition MM orcs for me, snouts and all. Those Grenadiers at the link are excellent.

  • masterhibb says:

    WYSIWYG = “What you see is what you get.” I usually hear it used in reference to text editors/inputs that e.g. show bold text as bold, rather than surrounding it with markup. In the thread’s context, it seems to mean models that are immediately recognizable as the specific unit they represent.

    Also, I had always figured the things crawling on the walls in PJ’s Moria were goblins. I can jive goblins pulling a stunt like that, and Jackson’s Middle Earth seems to use “Orc” “Uruk-hai” and “Goblin” interchangeably anyway.

    • Matthew says:

      I thought Tolkien’s orcs and goblins were interchangeable. In The Hobbit the creatures in the mountain are narrated as being goblins, but when Frodo is discussing Bilbo’s adventures with Gandalf they refer to them as orcs.

      • Scott Cole says:

        You are correct. The first part of The Hobbit was obviously a children’s tale up to Bilbo trading riddles with Gollum. Every child knew what a goblin was. I’m not a Tolkien expert but “Orc” was probably invented after the hobbit. That being said, I prefer separation of goblin and orcs into different species and credit/blame D&D for that. I have to dig back into Jeffro’s Appendix N and see if goblins are mentioned in there.

        • Matthew says:

          That’s what I thought. Though now that my memory has been jogged, I think that Orcs and Goblins are separated later on in TLoTR. If only to differentiate goblins as being a kind of Orc. I don’t remember the first time I saw the two races clearly differentiated but it was probably DnD.

          • Scott Cole says:

            We may have to take this dude’s word on the subject:


            To me, the Misty Mountain goblins that kidnapped the party in The Hobbit acted like goblins and the orcs that captured Merry and Pippin acted like orcs.

            Typing this, that is where I think the confusion comes in as when Merry and Pippin were prisoners of two different groups of orcs and Sam eavesdropped on orcs squabbling in the tower of Cirith Ungol there were definitely distinctions between two different breeds of orcs, one larger and one smaller (and not Uruk Hai). Snaga was one of the small, sneaky, goblin type.

  • PM says:

    WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get.

  • John E. Boyle says:

    Tim Kirk’s orcs, by a mile.

  • Never liked green orcs.

    In the linked thread, the ones right UNDERNEATH the Tim Kirk ones.

    Also, the LJN action figure versions:


  • Emmett Fitz-Hume says:

    So, that’s where my first comment went…

  • Daniel says:

    First orcs I remember seeing were Bakshi’s…when I was in kindergarten.

    Yeah, that’s going to leave an impression.

    First time I actually ran some orcs as a DM, it was out of a basic module, and a bit more pig faced than even the Monster Manual icon.

    What I remember most vividly, was the half-orc from B/X.

    The humanity!

    • Scott says:

      Never really got into Bakshi’s art, probably because it was frightening.

      Believe some manufacturers produced half orcs in the time before Warhammer.

  • Skyler_the_Weird says:

    When I think of Orcs I always think of Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way from the Hannah Barbera Return of the King cartoon but really those are the least like Tolkiens Orcs which I think of as those depicted on the Lord of the Rings calendar in 1973.

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