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Attack of the Living Dead
by yo go re

I was on the fence about Mezco's "Attack of the Living Dead" figures, until I read Poe's reviews of the figures. Yeah, the toys looked good, but the review convinced me the quality was there, as well. Since I couldn't find the ones I wanted in stores, I put a set of the figures on my Christmas list that year, as a longshot - imagine how surprised I was when my family came through! Poe's already reviewed Jake and Earl, so that just leaves one zombie outstanding: Hellen.

Actually, that might be a poor choice of words - Hellen can't stand. This zombie chick is sculpted permanently on her knees, which, coupled with her lace negligee, seems somewhat exploitative, doesn't it? Well, sure: but don't zombie movies (and horror flicks in general) have a long and proud history of being cheap exploitation? Hellen isn't acting subservient, she's embracing her heritage!

Hellen, like her two fellow AotLD brothers, was originally available in four versions: two different color schemes, each with a pair of variant heads. This one is from the exclusive Mezco Direct black and white set, which pays homage to the film that inspired the entire trend. There was even a "radioactive" glow-in-the-dark set, but only Club Mez members could order that one. The set was sold in a white cardboard box with a label on the front depicting the three After Life subjects clawing at a boarded-up window. Inside, they rest in a tray, with all their accessories arranged around them.

The figure's general build and shape suggest she'd be a young woman, but her skin looks much older - it's probably just a result of her being dead, not evidence that she was a cougar in life. Every bit of her from scalp to soles is marred by thin wrinkles, and she has a smattering of warts on her limbs. If you stat examining her, you'll find all the injuries that probably led to her death: she has horrible gashes on her thighs and left shoulder, a long cut running down her right breast, and her throat's seemingly been slit. If you move her hair aside and look at her back, you'll see the skin has been stripped away, as has most of the muscle, leaving exposed ribs and spine.

Rather than forcing you to choose between one of two heads, this set includes both. Hellen's "Phase I" head, depicting her after just a little exposure to the After Life matter, has sunken cheeks and eyes, and her jaw hangs slack. The "PhaseII" head is more exaggerated, with larger cheekbones, a stronger brow and an unsettling grin. Both have rooted hair, which for these exclusives is white with black stripes, rather than the original black.

Since she's on her knees, Hellen ends up just a little over 4½" tall. Although she doesn't have any joints in her legs, don't assume this is a McStatue - quite the contrary! Hellen is surprisingly poseable, thanks to the hinge/swivel combos found at her head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, torso and waist. And if you want to get technical, the elbows have a swivel on both sides of the hinge, not just one. She may not have any hips, knees, or ankles, but she's still more expressive than the average DC Direct figure. Have her crawling forward. Make her hunch down over her food. Pose her upright, like she just heard the sound of someone approaching. There's a lot you can do, even with the solid legs.

This box set includes all the figures' accessories, as well, which means that Hellen gets a severed arm, a mangled human torso (with removable squishy guts!) and two pools of blood - one for the half-eaten corpse, the other for her to kneel in. Since this set is grayscale, the blood is black, rather than red. Once you hand out the accessories to their proper owners, there's still one more left in the box: a human heart. Hey, free extra!

As we've mentioned repeatedly, this box set is straight black and white - no color to be found anywhere. Now, not "NECA TMNT" black and white, but a nice mix of gray, black, white and grey. The paint apps are good, with as much care given to the accessories and clothes as to the actual figure. In fact, all three zombies look really good, so I'm thrilled I got this set when I had the chance - with only 300 sets available, it sold out fast.

The entire Attack of the Living Dead line is a terrific example of a rare kind of toymaking these days, and I'm sorry that Series 2 never got picked up: it would have given us three new zombies and a witch doctor. Still, if you have the opportunity, these three are a good set. You can still get most of them from Mezco's online store (even the GitD set), so consider skipping a few GI Joe repaints and adding some variety to your collection.


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