This is a guest post by Jason over at Zombies and Toys.
Zombies. We all love zombies. Some of you reading this are new fans of our undead brethren while the rest of us kind of grew up with them. I, like the majority, grew up during the first zombie uprising of which one George Romero is responsible. Some of my earliest memories are of standing on my front porch late in the evening after all the lights in the neighborhood homes were off, wondering what I would do if I saw a handful of slowly moving zombies shuffling up the street.
The original Dead Trilogy of Night, Dawn, and Day were watched constantly in my home. I still can’t believe my parents allowed me to view them at such a young age. The only thing I loved as much as daydreaming about zombies was playing with toys. Any and all toys. It’s hard to think of a toy from that era I didn’t have. Of course, there’s the obvious ones: Star Wars, G.I. Joe, He-Man, Mego, Legos, Transformers, Go-Bots. But let’s go a step further. How many of you remember Starcom, Bravestar, Air Raiders, Battle Beasts, Centurians, Max Steel Robo Force, Inhumanoids?
So now let us fast-forward 25 years. In the age of the internets, what else is a self-proclaimed geek to do but ramble on about his two favorite childhood memories? That brings us to Zombies & Toys. Or more appropriately for what you are about to read, Zombie Toys. Put on your seatbelts. What you are about to read is my completely biased and totally opinionated list of top five zombie toys (or collectibles for you intellectuals out there).
#5 – NECA
Fifth on my list of favorite zombie toys is admittedly broad. I’m going to just say “NECA Toys”. NECA has impressed me more and more over the years with the release of some of their figures. NECA first had my attention with their Shaun figure from Shaun of the Dead. After I saw (and inevitably purchased Shaun), my attention drifted to their Cult Classics line. Like Shaun, sculpting and likeness was dead-on (ha, ha) and paint applications were clean. Let’s see what else NECA encompasses:
We have already covered Shaun so let’s take a look at what other delights NECA brought us from Shaun of the Dead. There was a 12” talking Shaun as well as a Shaun and Ed Winchester two-pack. Worth mentioning as well are two more SOTD items we were teased with. First, there were images and even a listing on their site for a Zombie-Ed figure. The biggest tease for me was the promise of a Shaun mini bust. NECA… oh, NECA, why did you show us such a wonderful collectible and not deliver?
NECA also has a line of figures falling under their Cult Classics line. We have seen three of our favorite zombies offered via the Cult Classics all from Romero’s Dawn of the Dead: The Hare Krishna Zombie, Plaid Shirt Zombie, and Zombie Flyboy. Also rumored but never manufactured was a Zombie Roger.
While we’re talking NECA and zombie toys, they also manufactured a run of Resident Evil toys both from the newer games and remakes from the original. More recently, though not a zombie, they are releasing a toy of the main character from the game Prototype. While this character may not be a zombie, he does fight them.
Finally, there were some toys made of everyone’s favorite one-liner-spitting hero, Ash. We have an S-Mart Ash and a medieval Ash with interchangeable heads.
#4 – Dismember-Me Plush Zombie by ThinkGeek
OK… so it may not have a ton of detail. It may not be articulated. It may not be scary. Heck, it can’t even stand up on its own. But it is a unique, well-made, and FUN zombie toy. Toys are supposed to be fun after-all, right? Any zombie toy you can hug and can bring a smile to your face is good in my book. Besides, you can tear its limbs off!
For a plush toy, there are a bunch of little details that add up to make a great addition to your zombie army. One detail easily overlooked is that red velcro is used to attach the limbs and head. Oh, and the abdominal area separates and exposes not only the red velcro but also tiny guts! Fingers and toes are individually stitched and he is wearing a torn shirt and shorts. None of the details on the face are stitched but they do not appear to be cheaply added or easily torn. Another nice detail is the exposed brain protruding from a ring of blood. Some spiked hair and exposed ribs round out the details. This little guy is available exclusively through ThinkGeek.com.
#3 – Z.O.M.B.I.E. collectible figures from October Toys
My quest for all things zombie led me to October Toys’ site to purchase some of their Z.O.M.B.I.E. toys several months ago. Zillions Of Mutated Bodies Infecting Everyone. These collectible little guys are available in four colors: blue, green, white, and glow-in-the-dark. After speaking to the great folks at October Toys, it was disclosed that we may see more color options! This is the first series and each set is available for a very affordable $5. Yup, five chucks.
These guys made my list for a few different reasons and each reason on its own isn’t really enough, but combine them together and you have a huge score. Like our plush zombie, they’re fun; another group of toys my son has commandeered and will not give back. The pictures don’t do these little guys justice. For such a small piece, the details are incredible. You can see flesh hanging from faces, exposed bones, soap-on-a-rope, and the best… the monkey is holding a cat. Again, at a very affordable $5, I dare you to just buy one set. If you do, you’ll end up like me and purchase the remaining sets shortly after.
The similarity between the Z.O.M.B.I.E. toys and those old classics, M.U.S.C.L.E., is no accident. “We grew up as fans of toy lines like M.U.S.C.L.E. Men and Monster In My Pocket, so it seemed only natural to bring back something similar, but with a horrific twist,” explains Ayleen Gaspar. She also adds, “Society seems to have been experiencing a bit of a zombie renaissance in just about every popular media from cinema to video games, so why not toys?” They are not randomly packaged if purchased in sets, but they are available in a cool Chinese take-out package as randoms. This is very similar to the garbage can their pink counterparts arrived in.
So, they are fun, neat, affordable, detailed, different, addicting, have different colors, some glow-in-the-dark, are better by the handful, are great for kids, are better for adults, fit in your pockets, make great gifts, have collectible character cards, and are zombies. How can you possibly go wrong? Now all we need are more series. Which, by the way, we could see by early 2010.
Even better, October Toys is sponsoring this month’s contest at Zombies & Toys! Grand prize will be one of their Horde Packs with four runners-up receiving one color set of Z.O.M.B.I.E. toys! Each winner will also receive a set of the collector cards and some Zombies & Toys swag!
#2 – The Walking Dead statue and bust collection by Moore Collectibles
Everyone should be familiar with The Walking Dead comics by Robert Kirkman. These comics are hands-down the best ongoing zombie tale you can find. It even gives our favorite zombie films a run for their money.
The first items I’d like to bring to your attention are the statues. The main piece features the comic’s hero, Rick Grimes, with a crowbar in hand preparing to drive a hatchet through the skull of his assailant. Accompanying this statue is an add-on piece. This additional piece is of a legless corpse reaching out. One of the most appealing aspects of this line is that it’s supposed to be expandable. More zombie statues are to be released allowing you to create your own scene. A great idea if Moore would just release, well, more.
Details are great on these pieces from the textured rocks to the blood-stained clothes. I particularly like how the areas of injury have a sheen to them. The areas covered in blood or where the flesh is torn off all have a gloss coat giving them a realistic look. Speaking of realistic, it’s the little details that make the most impact. The fingers on the zombie’s right hand are missing but if you look closely, you can see the small pieces of bone jutting out indicating the fingers were ripped off. His left foot is missing its shoe and again the bones can be seen through the shimmering blood. The micro-busts showcase the same qualities. Exposed bones, detailed teeth, intestines hanging from under their ribs, every grimace-causing detail looks great.
There are four micro-busts released so far. All four micro-busts are zombies and they each have their name printed on the front of the base. The first two released were Vince and Nate followed by Ick, a Statuesforum.com exclusive. Ick is basically just a repaint of Nate. Andrew is the most recent addition and was released over a year ago. The busts are tiny, standing at about 5 inches tall but are a very affordable $25.
Why #2? Toys are fun and the great new sculpting and paint applications make newer toys look more like little statues but it’s still obviously a toy. These items from Moore Collectibles not only immortalize everyone’s favorite zombie comic in collectible form, but also look great at a very affordable price. A word of caution, however: Once you cross that line from “toys” to “high-end collectibles” it is nearly impossible to turn back.
#1 – The Dead by Sideshow Collectibles
How can this in-house line of toys not be number one? Sideshow Collectibles consistently brings us amazingly detailed 12” figures of classics like Star Wars and G.I. Joe. Their sculpts are always spot-on, the paint applications are always clean, and their accessories are unmatched in the industry. No detail is overlooked.
With nearly a dozen different characters available, Sideshow is on their way to amassing a zombie doll army. Oops, did I say “doll”. Some of these characters have exclusive versions which could mean anything from different hair or clothing color to exclusive accessories. Nobody is sacred. They have made zombies of baby sitters, priests, security guards, doctors, even Santa Claus!
The Dead figures come with real cloth clothes and extremely detailed accessories. Flesh is pealed from heads, jaws are missing, skin is torn. The details on these 1/6 scale figures will make you wince. Prices range from $50 to $80 so attempting to buy the entire set at once to catch up may get a bit expensive. Not to mention that first figure in the line, Patient Zero, fetches $400 or more on Ebay. To a completest, this may be hard to live without but each figure seems to top the last so I doubt anyone would regret jumping in.
As if this series could not get any better, Sideshow is bringing The Dead to their line of Premium Format collectibles. These mixed-media masterpieces are ¼ scale of detailed perfection. The debut character for this line is, again, Patient Zero. This incarnation has a dynamic pose that makes it look like he is going to walk off of his base and shamble for its owner’s brain. At $280 you almost wish he would so that you could charge admission! What home doesn’t need a nearly two foot tall zombie sculpture? I know mine does so expect an up-close and personal review (hopefully) this month!