Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Toy Review – S.L.U.G. Zombies Series 4 By JAKKS Pacific

Holy cow, JAKKS Pacific is cranking these little guys out! I can’t believe we’re already have four series and a Christmas set. Considering the line debuted at Toy Fair in February of last year and showed up at retail around May (I think) that’s impressive. When I first saw them I thought for sure they’d last maybe a couple of series and then be replaced by something else.
Of course, the end may well be nigh. I got the coffin set of twelve on clearance at Target for seven bucks and then purchased the one 3-pack I wanted a week or so later at the same Target for two. Hopefully this is just a part of Target’s usual crazy, year-end clearance blitz. Every year for the past few Target as a chain has aggressively marked down a huge portion of their toy section in order to make room for the next year’s toys. I don’t know what it does for them financially (though it appears to work), but it damn sure makes for a fresher and more exciting presentation when all of the retail chains do their resets in late January/early February. There is a huge difference in walking into Toys R Us or Walmart and seeing all of last year’s bent-up and familiar crap highlighted by just a few new pieces here and there and going into Target with their entire aisle (or more) of completely fresh merchandise. I don’t know that it makes me spend any more money there, but I do enjoy the trips more and it gives the impression (illusory though it may be) that Target has more new stock.
Anyway, Target put these on clearance as soon as they came in and I bought ‘em. Not that it really mattered because I would have gotten them anyway. These guys are awesome.
First Glance: One thing I love about the SLUG Zombies is that each new series is a surprise. Beau and I were talking about it on the Needless Things Podcast the other day and one of the things missing from modern toy collecting is surprises. Thanks to the internet (damn you, internet!) we now know not only what toys are coming out, we also have a pretty good idea of when they are coming out. But for some reason the SLUGs are sort of under the radar. I don’t see anybody reporting on them and while the official website is fun, it isn’t exactly chock full of information.
Anyway, this fourth series is just as fun as the others. Plus, there is what basically amounts to an Ash figure.
Sculpt: Obviously this is a different format from my regular toy reviews, as there’s no paint or articulation to discuss. But I am going to run down each figure briefly. I’m only missing one guy from this series because the 3-pack I bought actually had three figures that were not in the coffin. I would have bought the one with Play-It-Safe Sammy – a Zombie Fighter in a biohazard suit – if they had had it.
English Dead Guard
Me and Lil’ Troublemaker both love this guy because of the giant cannonball hole in his torso. He looks to me like the British guy from Pirates of the Caribbean, but I guess pretty much any British soldier could look like that. His name is the absolute worst fucking name so far in the series, and that’s really saying something. There is no effort whatsoever involved in the name “English Dead Guard”.
Moldy Moxie
The idea of a zombie on roller skates is pretty hilarious. As lousy as the names are on these figures, the designs are pretty awesome. Actually, Moxie’s name isn’t so bad. Now that I think about it, if we could just get all of the zombies on roller skates we might be okay. I doubt very much they’d stay upright for long. I shouldn’t have put that on the internet. Now Robert Kirkman’s probably going to steal it for The Walking Dead (damn you, internet!).
Jamaica Me Sick
This is apparently a fusion of Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley, so depending on your views on Haile Selassie I and the amount of marijuana you have on hand it may or may not be offensive. His previous job is “Guitarist for Jimmy and the Moaners”. His likes are “Voodoo & incense”, which seems off because as far as I know voodoo would be at odds with the Rastafari movement. This is another solid sculpt and a good celebrity parody figure, which is one of the trademarks of the line.
Buckskin Bill
I’m not sure why this Davey Crockett/Daniel Boone stand-in has a live raccoon on his head, but I’m also not sure why he is in modern times fighting zombies. I’m not complaining. JAKKS can go ahead and ignore eras as much as they want as long as we keep getting these goofy little pieces of plastic. Things would get boring pretty quickly if it was just modern times.
Dismembered Dennis
I love the SLUGs that are in boxes and stuff. This one is a bonus for being a zombie in three boxes.
“What’s grosser than gross?”
“Three zombies in a box.”
“What’s grosser than that?”
“One zombie in three boxes!”
HA!
Gangrene Gene
(3-pack)
 It’s a fucking Parrothead zombie. He likes “Parrots and gettin’ caught in the rain”, presumably because the “author” of these things didn’t want to say “Piná Coladas”. I don’t know if this is for copyright reasons or because that’s an adult beverage, but since you can buy jellybeans flavored like that I’d say the former. I do like the sculpt because it reminds me of Coconut Joe from Club Dread, which is an awesome movie.
2 Scoops-Too-Late-Steve
Terrible name. Great concept.
Picture it: All the little neighborhood kiddies see the ice cream truck sitting there at the end of the cul-de-sac. They rush toward it hoping for tutti frutti, a drumstick, or one of those red, white, and blue things. But when they arrive at the small, white truck there’s nobody in the window. They move closer, assuming the friendly neighborhood ice cream man – Steve – is restocking the freezers or something. There’s a bad smell, but maybe it’s coming from the nearby storm drain. Little Tommy Morris puts both of his hands on the little stainless steel counter at the bottom of the order window – the one with the napkin dispenser bolted to the left side and the little tray of spoons on the right. He pulls himself up until his chin is resting on the stainless steel, which has been made hot by the afternoon sun. Little Tommy tilts his head slightly to peer towards the back of the ice cream truck and starts to call out for smilin’ Steve, bur before he can make a sound a discolored hand lunges out of the shadows of the truck’s interior and grabs little Tommy’s left ear. The rest of the children – too shocked to move – watch as Steve moves into view.
Steve’s normally pristine white shirt has a dark, shiny stain on it that start at his neck and spread downward. His red bowtie is askew and slightly undone. The ice cream man’s face is pallid and sickly-looking. There is a slimy sheen on his skin that doesn’t look quite like sweat. Where his right eye was, there is only a red-rimmed hole with a terrifying blackness inside. Thick, viscous fluid is running freely from Steve’s open mouth, which is getting wider by the second. He is making a wet, gurgling noise that is getting louder and louder.
The children take in all of this in mere seconds, as that’s how long it takes for Steve to draw little Tommy Morris’ head up and sink his teeth into the boy’s skull, releasing a spatter of blood that lands on that no-longer-white shirt to mingle with the fluids already there.
Casey Bergen lets out a hoarse yell and it electrifies the rest of the children. Some scream before they bolt, most simply take off running as fast as they can. Chad Tatum simply vomits and falls to his knees, wailing for his mother as Steve the ice cream man works his way through Tommy Morris’ skull and draws him into the ice cream truck.
Ferocious Frankie
(3-pack)
I do not have a story for a zombie dog. Apparently JAKKS does, though, because that’s Gangrene Gene’s hand. Nice touch and the first example of any of these figures interacting with one another or having a shared background.
The Brain Eatin’ Barbarian
He’s less Conan and more just a generic barbarian with a few gross parts. I like his nicked-up sword.
Gruesome Gabe
Gabe has a perfectly good name, which is half relief and half disappointing. Honestly, part of the fun of talking about the SLUG Zombies is seeing just how awful the names can get. So this guy is a greaser. Notice that his combing is actually pulling his scalp back from his skull. Gross. Gabe’s favorite food is “Grilled head cheese sandwich and a maggot malt”. This is the most repulsive thing this line has produced yet. Not the maggot malt. I’d drink ten maggot malts before I would eat one single bite of any kind of head cheese.
Head cheese is the most disgusting thing I have ever had in my life. This guy I work with brought some in and was offering samples. I used to have this policy where I would try anything (food-wise) once. That head cheese ended that policy. When I have to describe it, I tell people that it tasted like what I imagine it would taste like if you dug a month-old corpse up out of the ground and took a bite.
Johnson
(3-pack)
This is obviously Lara Croft, but I can’t figure out for the life of me why she’s called “Johnson”. Unless it’s a reference to penises, which I suppose plenty of basement-dwellers have shown to the character in one way or another.
Leo the Lifeless
Leo’s name isn’t bad, just boring. He was a door-to-door salesman before he became a zombie. He knocked on the wrong door and ended up undead. Another pretty decent little story that was told in a single line.
Deranged Denise
The first child victim of the SLUG Zombies line. Denise is mostly disturbing for that reason. She’s decayed and nasty and clinging to her teddy bear, which is all the more disconcerting.
Decomposing Dan
Not much story here, though. He’s a zombie painter. He looks neat, but is nothing to get too excited about. Hey, we need zombies to stand in the back, too. Let’s move on.
Sawblade Sampson
I don’t want to mark out for this guy just because he is blatantly supposed to be Ashley J. Williams – Bruce Campbell’s character from the Evil Dead movies and Army of Darkness. But that’s exactly what’s going on. The fact that he has an electric kitchen knife instead of a chainsaw is absolutely hilarious, but it would seem to contradict his name. Whatever. This guy is great. Now we just need (name) and (name) from The Black Earth.
Color: The zombies are a sickly green hue and the humans are almost the same pink as the old MUSCLE figures that this line is so reminiscent of. I’ve noticed on some older figures that the green seems to be changing shades slightly over time. I think this is probably a defect, but as long as they don’t start deteriorating I’m okay with it. I like having several different shades of tiny zombies hanging around the Phantom Zone (I’m trying out names for my workspace/toy museum).
Packaging: There are two types of SLUG Zombie packaging so far – coffins and blister cards. 
The coffins each have twelve specific figures in them and the blister cards have three random figures. I originally thought buying the coffin got you all of the figures, but it doesn’t. There are sixteen figures in each series, so you’re going to have to buy at least a couple of blister packs if you want them all. The coffin of twelve is normally $9.99 and the three packs are normally $3.99, so it’s less than a dollar a figure for the big one and $1.33 apiece for the smaller packs.
The coffin itself is cardboard with a window in the front to show one of the figures so you know what you’re getting. I have to give JAKKS credit for that one. Some other toy companies might have had some nice, full-color depictions on the front and just let you assume you were getting fully decoed figures.
Once you get the coffin open, there is a plastic tray inside with the various figures arranged on it. This kind of amuses me for some reason. I like the way they just kind of stacked the guys up to make the space work. They’re not just jumbled in there, but they aren’t exactly organized and separated either.
Overall: This is such a great toy line that JAKKS is giving us. It’s affordable, there’s a lot of variety, and there is a great potential for future expansion if they ever use my idea to start doing red vampires, brown werewolves, and maybe do some glow-in-the-dark figures. I will keep buying them as long as they keep making them.

4 out of 5

These are available at Target and Toys R Us now. As of this writing, Target still had plenty of Series 3 & 4 on clearance. I highly recommend you pick some up just for fun.
-Phantom

7 comments:

  1. Hey Phantom -- Great site! I think "Leo the Lifeless" is a nod to Larry Fine of Three Stooges fame, just as "Louie Fingers" (from Series 3) and "Teddy Terror" (from Series 2) parody Moe and Curly. Thanks for keeping everyone in the loop about this awesome line, and good luck on your new podcast!

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    1. Thanks for the tip! I took a photo of the three figures together after you mentioned it. It's up over on the Facebook page:

      http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=556071087756345&set=a.556071081089679.141115.497939220236199&type=1&theater&notif_t=photo_comment

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  2. I don't get the Johnson name either, but it,s fun to include a buxom vixen monster slyer in the lot.

    Even more when she's teaming up with Ash from Evil Dead and Davy Crockett agains't zombie!

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    1. I really loved these figures. Too bad it seems that JAKKS has moved on and we won't be seeing any more.

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  3. Decomposing Dan is Norman Rockwell, but who would know historical figures, in comparison with B movie stars!

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    1. Not me, that's for sure! Although referring to Norman Rockwell as a "historical figure" might be stretching things a bit.

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  4. The thing I can't understand about S.L.U.G. Zombies going out of business is this, they are selling out of Zombie purse sized tissues, and making actual Zombie themed ammunition that is REAL. How do you loose money on a cheap nostalgic 80's toy that barely costs anything to produce that is ZOMBIE themed? During the PEAK of pop culture's zombie binge? During the Walking Dead and Zombie table top game craze? HOW?!?!?! Obviously this line was horribly mismanaged and the distribution was a simple nightmare, JAKKS should have had an option to buy right from them direct and attempted to get their product out (the new waves) to stores in a timely manner, before fans of the series collecting it got frustrated and quit. The company itself was very rude when you called them, and the Midwest simply did't exist in their eyes. Pretty sad end to what could've easily been 10 waves as planned. Someone got greedy or lazy, bottom line.

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