Paolo Parente's Dust
Unmensch Experiments

For years horror fans have been begging for some zombie action figures.  Now, not only do we get some, we get lots!  At this year's SDCC I saw not one, but THREE different zombie lines on display.

Of course there was Sideshow's sixth scale The Dead line, an in-house property.  Then there are the Land of the Dead figures coming from SOTA.  But what about Dust, the fascinating comic book from Paolo Parente?  Yep, that license has got some zombie figures now too!

Dust is an interesting sci-fi WWII story, in which the Reich use alien technology to turn the tide in their favor.  The Axis and Soviet block nations manage to steal enough of the technology to create an uneasy cold war, and all three have vast and powerful war machines developed from the alien knowledge.

The Reich also does some experimenting, and comes up with a 're-animation' serum.  Soldiers of the SS who take this serum are automatically re-animated upon their death to continue fighting.  These are the Unmensch!

Merit (a U.S. distributor for many sixth scale manufacturers) had the figures on display with a number of other Russian, Allied, Japanese and German soliders based on the story at SDCC.  The zombies are a limited run of just 666, and they only had five available with them at the show - I was just too tempted to pass them up.

There's also a sixth scale cybernetic ape for the monkey lovers - Markus is his name I believe - and they have a series of 1/24 figures and vehicles as well.

The sixth scale stuff is supposed to retail for $45 - $50 each, but finding it might be tricky.  I have a couple suggestions at the end of the review.

Packaging - ***
The artwork for the box is straight from the comic, and has a great visual pop.  The style is great, and works well on the all white background.  They could use a little more descriptive text, and the box is a little flimsy (mine was smooshed in transit), but the box doesn't waste space, and it's very collector friendly.

Sculpting - ****
There are at least two different head sculpts for these.  They are inserted randomly I believe, so you might not be able to know in advance which one you're getting, at least if you're buying from an online source.

Both head sculpts are beautifully undead though, so I wouldn't spend a lot of time worrying about it.  I know that I went back and forth several times at the show trying to decide which one I like best, and I could have gone either way.

The head sculpts have lots of rotting, bleeding flesh, with zombie eyes (appropriate for an action figure for a change!) and textured skin.  The two hands have complex metal-like sculpts, adding to the undead meets robot appearance of the figure.

The huge ball has a real chain attaching it to the cuff, but I don't think it's actually removable.  There's a ball joint at the wrists, to position the large ball slightly, and I don't think this allows you to actually remove the ball from the cuff.  I wasn't going to try to hard anyway. since I hate it when my toys make that snapping sound.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint work on both the head and the hands is excellent, with a nice use of various finishes to highlight different areas of flesh, metal and blood.

The hands are particularly impressive.  Sure, they are a dull color, but getting plastic to appear as weathered, rough metal isn't all that easy.  The sculpt isn't the major influence in getting that appearance, it's the paint.

The head paint works well, and brings out the rotting face nicely.  There could be a little more detail around the teeth, but the pictures don't do the detail work justice.

Articulation - ***1/2
If you've picked up bbi, Dragon or Hot Toys sixth scale figures in the past, you'll be familiar with the basic body style.  Tons of useful articulation, with a very lightweight design.

There's all the joints you expect in a sixth scale figure, with a couple minor exceptions.  The zombies have a ball jointed neck, but unfortunately the range of motion is a little limited.  The specially sculpted hands have much more articulation than you're used to though.  The ball is jointed at the wrists (with a ball joint - how appropriate) and the left hand is jointed on every finger, including the thumb.

The weight of the arms is a bit of an issue though.  They are so heavy that the number of poses they can take are somewhat limited.  High in the air or down by his sides pretty much sums it up, though you can get creative in having one arm support the other.

The large arms also pop off fairly easily, if you'd like to replace them with something else.  Not sure why you'd want to do that, but it's an option I suppose.  The pop off at the wrists up inside the cuffs, so all you need to do is add hands.

Accessories - **1/2
This is the one category where the figure falls somewhat short of other sixth scale offerings in this price range.  Part of that is probably doe to the limited nature, and part is due to the cost of the large, sculpted hands.

He does come with four removable 'nuts' that fit on the stone cuffs.  You can put them on or not, it's really up to you.  If you don't, the underlying pegs are sculpted to appear as stone, so there it doesn't look like something is missing.

There's also a large wrench, which rhymes with Unmensch.  He can wield it in his left hand, and use it to crush skulls or fix tanks.

Outfit - ***1/2
The outfit consists of his coveralls, boots and scarf.  All of the clothing is dusted - literally - with a powdered substance.  Pat him and it will actually rise up off his clothing, like he's been in the desert a little too long.  That's a great touch, and I won't feel bad when he gets even more dusty sitting on the shelf.

Each overall has a unique number stitched on the back, 1 through 666.  The stitching is excellent all around, and the outfit is tailored well - not too tight, but just the right baggy appearance that you expect in a zombie fashion.

Fun Factor - **1/2
This isn't one of those 'fun' figures, if you know what I mean.  He poses well enough, and if you have a kid into sixth scale monsters, he'll enjoy him.  But I don't see a whole lot of play time coming out of this particular character.

Then again, he does have that giant spiked ball to smash up those lame Ken dolls...

Value - **1/2
The regular release figures are supposed to retail for around $45.  That's a pretty good price, considering how low the run number is - only 666.  And remember, each zombie has his own number on his back.

I did not grade this on what I paid, since they only had numbers 1 - 5 at the show, and were charging a premium for them.

Things to Watch Out for - 
I noticed that the paint on the head is a little easy to chip off - my zombie now has a few spots on his forehead.  Be sure that if you're packing him back up in the box, you put the plastic bag back over his head to protect the paint from damage.

Overall -  ***1/2
The comic is a unique sci-fi twist on an old war, and has some very visually interesting characters.  For fans of zombies, these are a rather unusual and funky version, well worth checking out at the price point.

Don't ignore some of the other characters though, including the female figures.  Let me just say yowza, and leave it at that.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - **1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
That's a bit of a sticky wicket.  I picked this guy up at SDCC, but they only had 5 with them.  With such a limited number produced, you won't find them at a lot of online retailers.

You can buy them from Paolo Parente's site however, which might be the best bet.

Related Links -
I don't have any useful reviews for similar products yet, but how about these:

- this is Paolo's site on the subject of Dust.

- this is Merit's site, where you can see info on this line along with others, and find a retailer.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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