Cult Classics
Shaun of the Dead Winchester 2 Pack

Got a little zombie problem? Then you know who to call! Shaun and Ed have plenty of experience dispatching the undead, and doing it in hilarious style.

We got our first Shaun back in Cult Classics series 4, and he was pretty damn good. Then there was the 12" talking version, who was pretty much just a blown up version of the earlier Shaun.

Now we get a slightly new take on the character in the 'Winchester 2 pack', along with his best friend Ed. The two pack is hitting stores now, and runs as cheap as $23 or so. If you find it in the store, expect to pay closer to $30, depending on the retailer.

Packaging - ***
Me likes the clamshells of course, and this one shows off the figures with almost zero waste. There's also some well done photos on the insert, and I like the zombie hand effect as well.

Sculpting - ****
These are the kind of figures that close ups don't really do justice. Zoom in closer than the human eye can see, and they tend to look too harshly sculpted, with hard lines and deep detail.

The reality is that in person that kind of deep detail shows up great, adding real personality to the figure. Both of these look terrific in normal poses, although I do like the Ed head sculpt slightly more than the Shaun.

Ed looks quite a bit like both the character and the actor. Don't believe me? Check out this shot for a comparison. Yes, there's deeper detail in the sculpted face, but as I said, as soon as you step back a bit you realize how that brings out the character in person.

His expression is decent, although he's a guy who tends to be a mouth breather, so the tightly closed mouth might look a little odd. Still, they've got the proportions down extremely well, the hair is styled well, and even the beard detail is as close as you can get in this kind of scale. One of my favorite features is the excellent work on his shoes, where there's some very realistic detail.

His body is heavy, but the sculpt and articulation have been designed to work well together. He stands great on his own, although he does have the display base that you'll probably use. He clocks in at 7 inches tall.

Shaun uses the exact same torso, legs and upper arms as the previous release. Oh, there's no tie or name tag, but it's the same body. It was great then, it remains great, and the leg pose is surprisingly adaptable to different looks.

The lower arms are sculpted to work specifically with the Winchester, and they work exactly as you expect. There's no 'almost but not quite' problems here, and for that I'm extremely grateful.

I'm torn on the head sculpt a bit. Shaun has his mouth open, which is actually an expression he had through much of the movie. I'm not sure it works perfectly with this particular pose though, and there is a paint issue that's interfering with my complete enjoyment of it. Still, I like it more than the original in some ways. The size difference in his skull between the forehead and chin doesn't seem quite as drastic, and while it's still quite a detailed sculpt, it isn't quite as severe as the original.

He stands fine on his own as well, but again, you'll like he display stand enough to end up using it for both.

Paint - Shaun ***; Ed ***1/2
NECA has had a rough year when it comes to paint. Were you frustrated when some of their figures released earlier this year were cast in skin tone and not painted? Yes? Then can you imagine how frustrated they were, when they never approved it to be that way? Yep, working with the overseas plants has been tough across the board, and it seems to only be getting tougher.

Thankfully, this set is looking much better, and the word is they're from a different plant than some of the problem issues - the Potter figures, or the Labyrinth figure - that we saw earlier this year.

The eyes are fairly clean on both of them, even on extreme close up. There's a bit more wash on the Ed face in close up than you might like at first, but you need to understand that when you back up a bit - as in real life - that wash really does help pull out the sculpted detail. If there's one issue with Ed in this category, it's with the beard, which is heavier appearing than in the film. That "I didn't save for a couple days" look is extremely hard to pull off in a production environment, and I've never seen anyone do it perfectly, but this version ain't too bad.

The paint work on the blood and clothing looks terrific, with enough being added for realism without going too overboard. I like the blood work on Ed a little better, because the splattering effect on his shirt matches up pretty well with what was in the film, and looks a bit more realistic than the heavier blood application on Shaun.

Shaun's face is generally well done, with very little slop and clean details and cut lines. I particularly like the blood running down the side of his face, which has a nice gloss to it (just like a wet substance would) that contrasts nicely with the matte finish on the hair, face and tie.

My only complaint with Shaun is that the paint work around the mouth is a little too consistent in color between the lips and tongue/interior. In person, it's hard to make out that he has his mouth open, and that he just doesn't have really weird lips.

Articulation - Shaun **1/2; Ed ***
One thing that has been impressing me with recent NECA releases is the attempt to re-engineer some of the joints to get better articulation out of the same few points. For the most part, they're succeeding.

Both characters have the all important ball jointed neck. Ed's works a little better than Shaun's, but both are a bit restricted by the collars. Still, they give the figures that little extra personality with just the right tilt.

Both also have ball jointed shoulders, NECA style. However, these don't have the extremely flat interior upper arm that hurt some early NECA figures. The range of movement is good, and the joints are very useful in getting the right pose.

Both also have pseudo ball joints at the elbow, where the pin from the lower arm fits into the upper arm. While the lower arm is a bit restricted by the sleeve, you can still use this joint to get quite a few good poses, especially on Ed. The upper body articulation on Shaun is really intended to get the arms in a pose holding the gun, and that's about it, whereas Ed can work with the shovel, bottle or controller pretty well.

Ed has cut wrists on both wrists, while only Shaun's left wrist is cut. Ed also has a cool ball jointed waist that allows the body to tilt foreword, backward and side to side, but Shaun doesn't get any waist joint - not even a cut. He's really designed for one pose, while Ed has several possibilities.

With that portly torso, it's even better to see that you can pose Ed with the controller in both hands. It took a little work to get it there, but I was surprised it was even possible.

Accessories - ***1/2
There's quite a few new accessories here, which is always a big plus for me.

There's the display base, with two pegs (one for each character of course) and assorted bric-a-brac sculpted onto the floor. There's the corkscrew, snack bag, etc., all done with an eye to detail. Unlike many figures who's bases I merely toss aside, this is the kind that I'll use whether the figure needs it or not, because it adds to the display.

Ed has a shovel and game controller, both nicely scaled. He can hold these in his hands, and in fact can hold the controller in BOTH hands at one time. The thumbs won't be in quite the right spot, but it's close enough.

The shovel has some blood stains added to the back of it, but on mine they looked like glossy black paint instead of red. He can easily hold the shovel in one or both hands.

And yes, Ed has one swappable hand for his left. The normal left is sculpted in an open handed gesture, while the extra hand is sculpted in a gripping fist. The hands swap on and off pretty well, with little chance for breakage under normal use.

There are two more accessories, and one clearly belongs to Shaun. That would be the Winchester, which is also extremely well sculpted and painted. It looks terrific in his hands, and is properly scaled for the most part.

There's also the Molotov cocktail, with a 'burning' rag already in the neck of the bottle. Be careful with the stickers here, as mine wanted to fall off pretty easily.

Value - ***
Pay $30 at Spencers for this, and you can chop off a full star. But pay $23 like I did, and you're getting two solid figures (with several accessories) for $11.50 each. That's an excellent value considering that the current going rate for most single specialty market figures is now up over $15 a pop.

BTW, when you see a huge difference like this between retail prices - $30 at Spencers and $23 online - it should be a tip off to you who is causing the ridiculous price increases. You might think that the rising cost of labor and oil is driving these prices up, but if I were a gambling man I'd bet that those cost increases are simply eating into the already small margins the manufactures like NECA, Mezco or Mcfarlane already had. I'd bet that the companies aren't getting much more from the retailers than they were at the old retail prices of $12 or so, but that the retailers are pushing the prices up to gouge as much out of the market as they can. That'd be my guess, and it's too bad, since it means the retailers will be the ones to kill the specialty market off.

Fun Factor - **
Okay, so the kids won't be asking for them for Christmas, but that's not really what these guys were meant for.  Your co-workers will enjoy them though!

Things to Watch Out For - 
If you're picking them out, get the best paint of course. I wouldn't worry too much about it though, because word on the street is that these are coming out of the better factory in China, where NECA has had far less paint issues.

Overall - ***1/2
I've been reviewing a lot of NECA product lately, largely because of all the specialty market companies, they're the ones really hitting it hard right now. I've been pretty hard on some of these recent releases too, but I'm happy to see that this pair bucks the trend in paint issues and quality. I'm happy with both the sculpts and the paint, and I also like the extra effort being put in to make the articulation that is here provide the most posing possible, giving you the best bang for your buck.

This gives me renewed hope that the future Potter stuff and the CC 6 figures will end up coming out with the kind of quality we want and NECA needs.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  ***1/2
Paint - Shaun ***; Ed ***1/2
Articulation - Shaun **1/2; Ed ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - **
Value -  ***
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
While this set will be hitting some stores (I'd try Spencers, FYE, Suncoast and Hot Topic), I'd stick with online options where it's still quite a bit cheaper:

- CornerStoreComics has it in stock for just $23.

- Amazing Toyz also has it in stock for the same low $23.

- Time and Space Toys has him at $25.

- Dark Figures has him in stock at $28.

- and if you're still looking for the Cult Classics 4 version of Shaun, Clark Toys has him in stock for $15.

Related Links -
I like my zombie reviews:

- my last was on the Peril Unlimited 12" zombie.

- 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.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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