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Bub

Day of the Dead
by yo go re

We may sound like we know what we're talking about all the time, but that's because of research. Most of the movies we review toys from I've never seen. Some of them I watch later, but for the most part, I know these characters from the toys, not the films. And that's not changing right now.

They came as the night fell, invading our homes and feeding on the flesh of our families. Within hours we were outnumbered. They occupied the places we once perceived to be shrines - wearing our clothes, wearing our faces. They forced us into a world without rules. A world without government. world without lies. To the best of our abilities we ignored it at first, lost in the safety net of established routine, obsessed by all the lttle things that made us human.

In the third entry in George Romero's Living Dead series, the zombies outnumber the living humans 400,000 to 1. Survivors are forced to hide out in fortified enclaves, such as a nameless underground military base hidden in the Everglades. Inside, a group of scientists search for a way to stop the re-animation process while being protected by a small band of soldiers. The lead scientist, Dr. Logan, is nicknamed "Frankenstein" due to his unothodox experiments. He believes that the zombies can be made docile, and Bub is his star pupil.

Bub's skin is the bluish-gray we've come to associate with Romero Zombies over the years (which was developed because in the first movie, he didn't have the budget or skill to do anything better). The figure is sculpted with the appropriate receeding hairline, but his head seems too tall and ovoid: it should be rounder, and his mouth more distended.

As you're well aware, military uniform regulations were pretty lax in 1985, so Bub is wearing dark jeans, a plaid shirt, and a denim jacket. Fashion! The sculptural detail on his clothes is great, with exactly the kind of exaggeration we've been talking about in the Batman '66 reviews: because the clothes are sculpted with more and deeper wrinkles than the movie costume ever sported, they paradoxically look more "real" than they would if they were a direct copy. The sleeves of his jacket are pretty torn up, but it's only on his leg that we see any exposed skin. The legs, by the way, look surprisingly skinny - like he's got on hipster jeans. But then again, it's not like "relaxed fit" was the style at the time, either. Bub was sculpted by Jean St.Jean, so you know things are going to be good.

The figure's articulation is unimpressive. His head looks like it should be a balljoint, but it's actually just a swivel. He has swivel/hinge shoulders, but no elbow joints. His wrists might be balljoints, or just loose swivels. He has a chest hinge and a swivel waist, which are a nice combo, but there are fully zero joints anywhere in the legs. This figure was apparently released in 2008, though, which is the same time that NECA was doing this, so Bub isn't too far behind the curve.

In the film, Bub was kept chained to a wall in Dr. Logan's lab. To duplicate that, this figure comes with a large (4½" wide, 7⅝" tall and 3⅛" deep) display base depicting a slab of wall and a bit of the lab floor with a sluice grate at the back. There's a single footpeg to help hold the figure in place, and a real metal chain connects him to the wall. In fact, it connects him permanently: the one on stage right is a lobster clasp, so it at least can be undone, but the other one is non-removable. The chain runs through a rubber loop on the back of Bub's neck, but it's too small to fit the clasp through, so he's never getting more than 6" away from the wall.

Bub gets some really nice accessories: to begin with, he comes with two right arms; since there's no elbow joint, it takes two arms to have one straight and one bent. The bent arm has the fingers curled, so that he can either salute Captain Rhodes or hold the included razor against his cheek (it's too small for the hand to actually grip, but there's a peg on the handle and an unobtrusive hole in his fingers, so he'll "hold" it securely). The shoulder has a nicely sized balljoint at the end, so swapping the arms out isn't dangerous - it's just hard to get the right leverage when he's permanently attached to his base.

He also comes with his M1911 pistol, and a tape recorder with headphones. The gun is fine, but the headphones are problematic. They're molded to fit his ears, helping keep them in place, but that doesn't mean much when the cord doesn't split low enough to actually allow his head to fit between them. I had to carefully take a blade to the cord to open it up before Bub could actually listen to his rockin' tunes. It's a nice accessory, but it needs help before it'll work.

Finally, he has a bucket filled with rewards; gooey, red, visceral rewards. The grue inside the bucket is sculpted expertly, and the whole piece gets a decent paint job, but it's all brought low by the fact that the handle of the bucket is a molded part of the body. That surely saved them some money, and it looks fine from certain angles, but in general it's more annoying than anything else.

Bub was produced by Amok Time, which is kind of nuts: they're an online store, not a toy company. I definitely remember ordering from them way back in the distant mists of time (ie, 2009). It would be like if Entertainment Earth or Big Bad Toy Store suddenly announced they'd bought the rights to a real movie and were making their own toys based on it. Crazy! George Romero has said that Day of the Dead is his favorite of the series, and though it doesn't have as strong a commentary to it as Dawn of the Dead, it's a fine choice. Bub is the world's first sympathetic zombie, and this toy has quality needed to stand next to the zombies that NECA and SOTA have made.

-- 10/06/13


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