Zombie Planet

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Ridureyu is back tonight with a look at some cute little zombies - take it away, R!

Vending machines! Where would we be without them?  For decades they have formed a little gauntlet of candy and cheap toys guaranteed to drive parents CRAZY as their kids cry out for a quarter (or two or three, adjusted for inflation).  I remember going absolutely nuts over those sticky hands, and also picking up some (unbeknownst to me) MUSCLE, Ultraman, and Fist of the North Star bootlegs sold as "Creatures from the Stars."  Nowadays, grocery store vending machines are far more sophisticated - any product you'll see is guaranteed to be licensed (just look at all the Spongebob stuff), but every so often something unique still slips through.  And some properties, like Homies Creepy Freaks or Capsule Critters, are little showcases for toy artists.  One new line that straddles the line between piggybacking off trends and creativity is Zombie Planet.  

Nine different zombies in a variety of paint jobs 9sort of, more on that later), for fifty cents each!  I have an aunt who loves zombies, collects things, and has been a little down in the dumps lately, so I went out of my way to snag her a full colored set.  And in the meantime, I accumulated...a lot... of these little walking dead dudes.  So, how do they measure up?  Let's find out!

Trivia Question: When was the first vending machine made?  The answer will be at the end of this review!

Sculpting - ***
I've decided to judge these based on what they are - cheap vending machine figures.  They really shouldn't be expected to line up with expensive roleplaying miniatures or custom indy minifigures.  And yet, they actually look about as good as those prepainted Dungeons & Dragons minis that have been around for almost a decade!  Each one of the nine little zombies is pretty well-designed, with two issues that, combined, take off a star.  One is that it's a little hard to tell if some of them are "zombies" or "victims," although as far as I can tell they're all supposed to be zombies.  The other is that some of the figures, particularly Brain Dead Britney and Long Gone John have trouble standing on their own. This does vary from figure to figure, though.  Now, let's look at the specifics!

Brain Dead Britney was a cheerleader back in her former life - and she still is! Only now, one of her pompoms is a severed head, and the other is a bloody, mangled mess!  Britney doesn't appear to be visibly decaying, but with what she's carrying, I doubt that she's just a normal high school student.

Surfrot Sean just wants to catch some waves, but he's got a problem - he's dead!  This one is a little creative, with one arm as a bloody stump and the other actively being eaten by a tiny shark.  His board looks like it's been bitten in half, too.

Stop 'N' Grind Greg is something that any living dead display needs: a fat zombie! It's kind of silly how the casting calls for The Walking Dead apparently specify young, skinny people, when a good old brains-glutton would fit perfectly.  Greg is disheveled, obese, barefoot, carrying junk food, and he wears a mullet.  It could be that he's not a zombie, but just from that trailer park six miles down the road.

Decay Ray is one of the more "classic" zombies in this set, more like Return of the Living Dead than some other properties.  He's clearly been decomposing for a while, and looks like little more than a skeleton with some dried skin holding him together.

Gross Out Granny is another one that made me wonder if Zombie Planet included victims - she just looks so terrified!  But no, she's a zombie, just one with a frying pan. The detailing is pretty good with her, surprising for a cheap vending machine toy.  After taking care of my grandmother for a few years, it breaks my heart to see elderly people in distress - but if she wanted to eat my brains, I'd definitely get the shotgun.

Dead Zone Dave is the resident "nerd zombie." You know, wearing a white, button-down shirt with a pocket protector, has glasses, normal nerd stuff.  According to Hollywood, that is.  You could almost mistake him for a living human except for his weird posture, and some of the nastier rips in his clothing.

Long Gone John, like Decay Ray, is pretty far gone - and the closest thing this line has to a "fragile" figure, as his spine is pretty thin.  He's also apparently a Rock 'N Roll zombie, because I think he's carrying a microphone, though it could be a finger.  This guy is another "classic" zombie, even with the mike in his hand.

Zombie the Clown - why is it always clowns?  This guy is more of a thug in a clown suit than the rotting nightmare from Zombieland, but the effect is pretty good, regardless. I personally would have gone for something creepier, but Zombie the Clown is a big, muscled, bulky monster of a zombie in a clown suit.

And finally, Rigamortis Rick used to be a doctor.  He's even wearing that weird head reflector doctors haven't used in about thirty years.  One of his legs is messed up pretty badly, giving him a "limping" posture that fits quite a few movie zombies.

There is some copyright branding on the back of every zombie - an odd company logo that looks like a clock, and is rotated differently on almost every zombie I own! Even some doubles seem to have the clock hand facing a different way, which is odd.

Paint - Fully-Colored: **** Paint Wash: ***
The paint in this series is sloppy, but this is a good thing!  The messier these guys look, the more they resemble decaying corpses.  And for figures like Brain Dead Britney, a splotch of black paint on the face just makes her look less like a survivor and more like the walking dead.  Overall, the paint does what it needs to on these guys, making them distinct, and filling in most of the details (a few small things like Greg's fast food aren't painted)  They're also pretty heavily paint-washed, just to bring out that "zombie" look some more.  An odd little detail is that both Long Gone Johns I've seen fully-painted are less glossy than the others, as if the figure was painted to look dustier and dirtier.  Interesting if that was on purpose.

That's for the fully-painted ones, at least.  About one-third of the figures you'll get from a vending machine will be fully-painted, with the rest divided among five different color schemes.  Those are: brown with a heavy black wash, gray with a heavy black wash, off-white with a heavy black wash, brownish-yellow with a heavy black wash, and yellowish-green with a heavy black wash.  The yellow and green paint jobs can be a little harder to tell apart, but if you hold them together the difference becomes obvious.  The brown paint scheme is my favorite, as it gives the figures that "fresh from the grave" look.  Off-white and the yellow/greens are pretty good, too, with really only gray seeming a bit odd, as its black wash usually isn't as heavy.  For what it's worth, they did a good job picking paint variants, although I think we would all personally prefer the colored figures.  This is probably a way to keep costs down enough to charge only fifty cents for these figures, though, so that's fine. 

Articulation - Bupkis!

Accessories - Bupkis!
What did you expect?

Value - ****
For fifty cents each, this is a really good deal.  I included a picture next to some samples from MUSCLE, OMFG, and a Dungeons & Dragons miniature for scale. These little guys are small, weighing in at about an inch, and they fit in far better with RPG miniatures than most straight toylines.  But if you were running a D&D game, wouldn't you be happy to have some zombie variety for your next encounter? of course, to get a full set, you'd either better be ready with a roll of quarters, or just go to eBay - full colored sets go for anywhere from $4 to $7 there, depending on the seller and shipping prices.  That's a lot cheaper than it could be.  Unfortunately, they are too small to fit in with October Toys' Z.O.M.B.I.E.S., as well as the new S.L.U.G. Zombies at Toys R Us, but I guess we can't have everything.

Overall - ***1/2
I really can't complain about these little guys - quality comparable to professional toylines in supermarket vending machines?  That's awesome!

Where to Buy - 
You might get lucky with a local vending machine (I found one at an IGA), or you could always turn to eBay.  As I said, sets aren't very expensive, although that does take away the fun of popping in a few quarters and getting a random toy.

TRIVIA ANSWER: The first vending machine (that we know of) dates back to the 1st Century BC, and was a holy water dispenser designed for Greek temples.  The weight of the inserted coin would trigger a mechanism that opened a drain in the bottom of the machine, releasing some holy water before the coin fell off the pressure plate and returned the stopper to its place.

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Ridureyu.

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