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Shaun of the Dead

Cult Classics
by Monkey Boy

Shaun of the Dead was a movie I had almost no expectations for, and it ended up being one of my favorite movies of all time. It had everything: wit and humor, tear-jerking Kleenex moments, and lots of zombie gore. As NECA's Cult Classics continues to chug on with Series 4, we SotD fans finally get a figure of the film's protagonist to add to our action figure ranks.

As is usually the case with a line as varied as Cult Classics, only one of the characters in a particular series really calls to me. This time it's Shaun (and before him, the T-800 exoskeleton, Frank the Bunny, and Mohawk the Gremlin). But the other figures in this series, shown on the back of the clamshell, are worth noting: Bruce Campbell's Elvis from Bubba Ho-Tep, a zombie from George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, and Chucky from Child's Play 3 for some reason. Also on the back of the clamshell is a note to parents that these movies are rated R, and that for more information they can consult a website about film ratings. Maybe I'm just getting old, but it's nice to see a company that markets toys for adults taking a little responsibility, even if the print is really small.

Shaun is sculpted in his iconic pose from the movie poster, and all it takes is a quick look at the card insert to see that something doesn't jibe. Shaun the figure's name tag is on the figure's left breast, while poster boy Shaun's name tag is on his right breast. The figure is actually accurate to the movie, and the image was flipped for the poster, but it brings up an interesting quandary: When recreating an iconic pose, what's more important, being accurate to the source material or to the iconic image itself? For its line of Napolean Dynamite figures, McFarlane chose to favor the movie poster by giving their Napoleon figure the moon boots he wore in the poster instead of the loafers he wore in the movie. Interesting to see that NECA has taken the opposite approach here.

The sculpt itself is pretty good. The face is a bit thin, but actor/writer Simon Pegg's likeness is clearly visible in the head sculpt. The rest of the sculpt is just your generic, somewhat out of shape, slightly dumpy 9-to-5er in his work clothes, and NECA has pulled it off well. It's not a common look for an action figure, but it looks good here, especially the nice touches like the way the ill-fitting tucked-in shirt bulges out over the waist a little.

The paint is good, which is a relief because with NECA you never know until you finally see the finished product. There are washes everywhere to bring out detail, but they're not overdone. The head's a little shiny, but it's not too bad. There are some really nice tiny details, like the almost microscopic text on the name tag and the movie-accurate tie pattern. Shaun's also got red on him.

The figure's articulation isn't very surprising, but it works well for what it is. The head and shoulders are balljoints, and they are all exceptional, especially the shoulders, which look like simple peg joints but have a very wide range of motion. The arms have peg joints at the end of the shirt sleeves, and there are also pegs at the left wrist and waist. Below that, absolutely nothing. Meh.

Shaun does pretty good for accessories, featuring his cricket bat, an interchangeable hand holding a bouquet ("To a Wonderful Mum"), a record, and a base. The cricket bat fits in his hand nicely, though it seems a bit thick. The bouquet hand explains why one wrist gets articulation while the other gets the shaft, and it pops on and off easily enough. The base is nice for the most part; it's a bit of patio strewn with silverware and broken bits of vinyl records. In a neat little nod to the movie, all the readable records feature the label "ELECTRO".

In one corner of the base is an opening record crate, and while it's a nice idea, it's really the single low point of the figure. It's covered with flame stickers that, while they are technically accurate, there's a girl in the garden are poorly applied and peeling in many places right out of the package. Inside the crate is a removable pile of records. These are emblazoned with strange, phony stickers on the record sleeves. One reads Music to Kill Zombies By, while another called Cult Classics Greatest Hits features a tiny photo collage of figures from Series 1-3. It's cheesy and lame, and I would have preferred blank record sleeves over these fake labels myself.

The oddest of all is the separate record/sleeve accessory, which features a sticker label for an album called I Want My Money Back by Evil Adam. It's odd because, unlike the other label stickers, Evil Adam actually is a real metal band and I Want My Money Back is the title of their demo. This record was not, to the best of my knowledge, ever featured or mentioned in Shaun of the Dead, and the reason for its inclusion is a mystery, at least to me.

Other than the sticker issues, this figure is a great and unexpected addition to the Cult Classics line-up. As a regular Joe, Shaun isn't the most likely candidate for an action figure, and probably won't hold much appeal for anyone other than a hardcore fan of the movie. But, I ask you, who isn't a hardcore Shaun of the Dead fan?

Before we leave, we have a question for you. What's the better sequel title: Dwight of the Dead or Faye of the Dead? 28 Daves Later?

-- 08/13/06

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