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
|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
|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 - ***
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
- Fully-Colored: **** Paint Wash: ***
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
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.
What did you expect?
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.
really can't complain about these little guys - quality comparable to
professional toylines in supermarket vending machines? That's
Where to Buy -
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.