Peril Unlimited Zombie

Braaaainns....braaaaiinnnnns! Ah, zombies. I love them. Nothing quite like the horror of your dead relatives coming to literally suck out your brains. Whether they're brought back to live by a virus, or radiation, or just plain old hoodoo, these monsters have been a staple of horror films for more than 40 years.

But up until a few years ago, you couldn't find a zombie action figure to save your life. While license like Saturday Night Live, A Christmas Story and Popeye were getting action figures, there wasn't a zombie to be seen. Fans were clamoring though, and companies listened...probably too much, but at least they listened. Now, just about every company still standing has some sort of zombie line, or at least a smattering of zombies in other lines.

Sideshow stepped in a couple years ago with some 12" zombies in a line appropriately called The Dead. They've released three figures so far (with one variant), and I'd say the odds we'll see a fourth figure as an exclusive to SDCC this summer are about 99.999%. The potential for cool zombies in the sixth scale market is tremendous though, and a new company called Peril Unlimited has decided to make their own foray into that area.

Mike Jones is the guy behind Peril Unlimited, and he's started a line called the Zombie Army Builder Program. He's just released the first figure in the line, in two versions - bloody and clean. I'll be reviewing the bloody version tonight. This first guy is a limited edition of just 500 figures, inclusive of both versions. Let's see how he stacks up!

Packaging - ***
Peril Unlimited is a small company - a very small company. And being a small company with their very first product means that keeping costs down is critical. Usually, this is accomplished with very basic packaging for early releases like this. But PU proves that basic doesn't have to mean it can't be cool and creative.

The zombie comes to you not in a box, but a bag. A body bag. It's a black plastic bag, made from fairly thick material, with the words "Yolo County Coroner" printed on the front. Is this a cheap package? No doubt about it. But it's also one of the more creative and inventive ideas I've seen in this category in ages.

In fact, they could stick with this package for awhile, particularly if they make one change - give us a opening down the front. Oh, a zipper would be ideal of course, mimicking an actual body bag, but that's probably starting to push the idea that the package is cheap for them to produce. Instead, how about a cut line down the front, a place where the plastic is thinner that's designed to be cut easily and very straight? That would give me a flap on the front to better simulate an actual body bag, and I could actually use this packaging in my display!

The zombie himself is also wrapped in a clear non-stick plastic bag inside, to help avoid damage or paint rubs. While he's limited to just 500, there's no COA or marking on the bag or figure to indicate that, or his number in the edition.

Sculpting - ***
This zombie doesn't have any extraneous head wounds. Nobody shot him or clubbed him or otherwise did any extra damage to his head that the simple act of deterioration didn't already cause. This means the head has that sunken, slack, bony appearance of someone that's been dead for awhile, but there's no gaping open wounds or missing pieces...yet.

There's some terrific detail work around the eyes and mouth, with some nicely included wrinkles and creasing.  Most of the texture you see though is actually the paint, not the sculpt, although it's hard to tell that in photos.

The teeth are a little softer and less defined than I would have liked, but the lips and teeth are well done.  The size of the head in relation to the body is about right, although the neck joint can look a bit wonky at certain angles.

One of the things that detracts a bit from my own overall sculpt score is the hands. These are clearly standard issue action figure hands, and not specifically sculpted for this character. While they are certainly serviceable, this is one area where Peril can up the ante with future releases.

Paint - ***1/2
While I like many things about this figure, the most impressive for me was the paint work on the head. The skin on the head has a very cool, very realistic texture due to the paint, not the sculpt. I never really considered it before, but you CAN tell the difference where the texture is coming from, and it's very rare for us to see it being added by the paint. There's very itty bitty lumps, crackling, and rough spots on the skull and face. It's not excessive, but just enough to be quite realistic. It reminds you of body that's been buried, and just dug itself up out of the ground. I talked to Mike a little bit about how he did this. He actually added very fine dirt to the paint itself, along with a touch of glue, that created this effect. He hand painted each one of the figures, making it very much like the quality work I've seen with pre-production figures.

The hands are bloodied up the same way, but the slick plastic used by the factory here makes it a little tougher for the dirt to stick. You'll find it rubs off if you aren't careful, but even after handling him for the photo shoot, I didn't have any noticeable issues.

My one issue with the paint is on the teeth.  They've gone with a yellowing that's a tad bright for me, looking more like he's been snacking on crayons than flesh.

There is a difference in color between the flesh tone of the body and the rotted skin of the head.  This is really only noticeable at the neck, where the two meet.  I don't have too much of a problem with it, but your mileage may vary, and shirts with higher collars might be a good idea in the future.

Articulation - ***1/2
The body is a standard sort of Hot Toys or Dragon knock off. It has a similar number and type of joints, and the joints are nice and tight. The body itself is quite light weight as well, and makes the figure stand 12 inches tall, fitting in pretty well with most other currently common sixth scale lines.  He's a little short next to Sideshow figures, but only about a half inch, and since he's just some guy turned into a zombie, his being a little shorter than somebody else isn't nearly as big of a deal as when you're dealing with licensed products.

While this body is still a bit lanky, the articulation worked better in most cases than a similar Sideshow body.  The ball jointed neck has an excellent range of movement, and the hands appear to be completely compatible with the Hot Toys hands.  The chest even has a clicky joint, so that it can hold deep poses forward and backward.

Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit is initially quite basic. There's jeans, a sweatshirt, and a pair of athletic shoes. While it's a basic outfit, the quality is quite good. The jeans are made from a slightly thicker denim material, but it's still appropriate for this scale. The sweatshirt is a bit baggy, but that's how the usually hang on me too. It's just one of those things us skinny guys have learned to live with - sweatshirts are made for fat people.

The shoes look like something from one of those Japanese hip hop licenses, or perhaps one of the designer series of Asian figures. The sculpt is very good, and the rubber is quite soft. The details in the soles and uppers is very impressive and realistic, and the quality is quite a bit above what you might expect.

There are two versions of the figure - one normal, and one bloody. The normal version has no damage of any kind to the clothing. This is useful for folks looking to customize their figure, looking to put their own spin on it. For those of us who have no talent for such things, there's the bloody version.

The bloody version has cuts and rips at various points in the material, both the shirt and jeans. From looking at the photos online and then comparing to my own, I can tell you that these are unique to your character, and not done in any sort of set pattern. These look good, but they do reveal that the body underneath isn't 'zombiefied'. It's a minor quibble, but you might want to add some blood yourself to the body underneath to hide the obvious bright plastic.

The blood that's added is also done in a more random fashion. For example, I've seen photos where there's a lot of blood down the front of the shirt, but mine has a very, very bloody right shoulder. This personalization is a nice touch, and also indicates that all this work is done by hand.

There's plenty of blood too - so much in some spots that it actually glues the material to the body underneath. That's not necessarily a bad thing either, depending on the location. I did break the bond free in some spots (and it's not that hard to do), but in others I left the material attached, much as it might be in real life if you had that serious of a wound, so that the material would have to stretch and contort as you pose the body in different ways.

Just like on the head, the paint used for the blood was mixed with actual dirt, and this gives it a gritty feel and appearance. This works particularly well on the shoes, where it looks like there's even a little moss mixed in there, the kind you might find in potting soil. As I said in the earlier Paint section, I'm very impressed with the realism and detail.

Accessories - Bupkis
Nope, he's got nothing in this department. He's a generic zombie, so generic accessories might have worked with him, or some extra oozy brains for him to munch on would have been nice. I'm not too surprised that there isn't anything else, considering the size of the company and that this is their first release, but it will effect the overall score.

Fun Factor - **
Don't get me wrong - kids could have a blast with this figure if he wasn't quite so fragile in the paint department.  I love the hand painted, crackled cool paint job, but it wouldn't withstand the rigors of a kid.  For me, this category won't count toward the Overall.

Value - ***
Sideshow charges $45 for one of their 12" zombies. They come with some accessories though, including a display stand, but are made in slightly higher amounts than this. Considering that this figure is the first item from a very small company, it's quite surprising that they came in under the price of the Sideshow figures, even if there is slightly less here.

Now, let's not forget that the undamaged version sells for ten bucks less, only $30! I'm betting the unbloody version will be wildly popular with the customizing crowd, who are going to want to turn this guy into the kind of zombie they want anyway, and will be happy to save the ten bucks in the process.

Things to Watch Out For - 
While the paint work is cool with the texture and dirt, be careful handling it. It can rub off if you get a bit too excited with him. And if you do, there's a whole lot of other issues you might want to watch out for...or discuss with your therapist.

Overall - ***1/2
While this figure has some issues, I can't shake off the fact that it's also just damn cool. The paint work was hand done by Mike himself on every figure - this is the closest most folks are going to get to hand crafted custom figure, certainly for this kind of money! He used some very creative techniques, like adding the dirt to the paint, that wouldn't be possible in most factory conditions.

Another big plus here is that while this figure has a distinct feel all it's own, it fits in nicely with the Dead line from Sideshow. Being able to add another zombie of similar quality to that collection is going to appeal to an awful lot of collectors, and I don't expect this first 500 figures to last very long.

It's great to see a new company hitting the market with actual product.  Not only that, but it's GOOD product, made with quality and care.  Peril Unlimited is starting out small, and not trying to do too much all at once, which is a very smart move.  I think we'll see them blow through these first 500 figures pretty quickly, and I'm really looking forward to what they put out next!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Accessories - Bupkis
Fun Factor - **
Value - ***
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Just head over to their ebay store and grab him! Their regular website should be up and running soon as well.

Related Links -
If you like zombies in general, check these out:

- my review of Cult Classics 4 that included the plaid shirt zombie from Dawn of the Dead and the zombie fighter Shaun from Shaun of the Dead; and the Cult Classics 3 Flyboy Zombie from Night of the Living Dead.

- then there's my review of Earl, from Mezco's line Attack of the Living Dead.

- check out the Marvel Legends monster boxed set that included the zombie from Tales of the Zombie.

- SOTA recently released the Land of the Dead figures.

- and don't forget the cool (but expensive) zombies from the sixth scale Dust series.

Somehow I never reviewed any of the Sideshow The Dead products, but you can hit their site to check out:

- Patient Zero (), Subject 5 (), and Subject 57 ().

- or you can snag some nifty clothing with the trademark bloody hand, like T-shirts ().

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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