As a young boy, perhaps 8-10. My first exposure to anything Tolkien was at age 5-6, when my father rented the 1977 Rankin-Bass Hobbit film. We then watched the animated Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King, so when the trilogy came out - it was a wonder.
Favorite Tolkien character:
Although I am tempted to say Gandalf, I am more inclined to pick Bilbo Baggins. In The Hobbit, Bilbo was struggling between two sides of himself - the Took and the Baggins - a struggle which I can very much relate to. Further, his desire to sit comfortably at home with his books, his food, his garden and all the other comforts of home instead of going off into the Blue on some mad adventure is one which I struggle with as well. For these reasons and others, Bilbo is the most relatable character to me.