Last year we introduced you to the SLUG Zombies, fun little MUSCLE-style toys from Jakks Pacific. Each series has 16 characters: 12 of them can be purchased in three-packs, and others are available in the coffin-shaped 12-pack, while eight figures overlap between the two; four of them are only available in the three-packs, and four different ones are only in the coffin. So if you want a complete set, you're going to get some duplicates - but when they're this cool, are you really going to mind?
[Note: in order to best show off the details, the images in this review are at twice actual size. --ed.]
Previous Job: Chicken Farmer/Entrepreneur
Likes: His Secret Ingredients (You Don't Wanna Know!)
Dislikes: The Health Department
Favorite Food: Deep Fried Fibulas
They may have named him Extra Crispy, but there's no mistaking the fact that this guy is clearly "The Colonel" - you
know, Colonel Duck Bucket (and his bucket o' ducks). Yes, the white-suited founder of everybody's favorite bird-based-restaurant apparently did not die of pneumonia in 1980 as the liberal media would have us believe - either that, or zombism has a longer gestation period than we thought. He has a knock-kneed, unsteady stance, suiting a shambling undead, and wounds on his right shin, left thigh, around his right side, and a gash on his scalp. There are other places where his clothes are torn, but those could be chalked up to the simple wear and tear of being a walking undead. The coolest little feature is that he's got a bucket under his arm - and it's filled with bones and brain matter (just like KFC's Famous Bowl)!
Survival Skill: Being Himself
Likes: His Hairy Chest, Making Zombies Pay
Dislikes: No-Good Zombie Scum
Favorite Quote: "I Can Shoot Down Zombies Just By Yelling BANG!"
Well, no two ways about it: this is Chuck Norris. It's Chuck Norris straight from the poster for Invasion USA.
Sure, he's been given a perm, and his belt buckle is an eagle head, rather than snake skin, but there's no mistaking who this
survivor hunter is supposed to be. His bio even references the Chuck Norris Facts, because this is the year 2005. For legal purposes the toy is named Johnny Two-Guns, but for all we know, that was his character's name in the movie. In every movie. And even though the figure is molded entirely in pink plastic, you can still recognize his jeans and jean shirt. Double-denim vengenace!
Previous Job: Mr. Galaxy
Likes: Lifting Heavy Stuff
Dislikes: Socks That Fall Down
Favorite Food: Anything You Can Eat With a Straw!
The Deadlifter is, in the terms of Weird Al Yankovic, a "style parody" - not a reference to one specific thing, but rather
a generic bit of fun. His design tells you an entire story in one shot: he was once a weightlifter, and after becoming a zombie, his rudimentary intelligence led him back to the gym; he tried to perform an activity he remembered, but it was incompatible with his advanced state of decay, and his arms pulled out at the shoulders (like the old SNL Phil Hartman sketch). Between his natural bulk and the size of the weight at his feet, this is one of the biggest toys in the line. They used his large size to good effect, giving him simple (but accurate) details, like the clasp on his weight belt or the bulge of his calf muscles.
Previous Job: Sushi Chef
Likes: A Sharp Set of Knives
Dislikes: Bad Tippers
Favorite Food: Californian Roll
At first, Squeamy Sashimi doesn't seem very zombie-ish. Okay, he's got the awkward, inhuman stance down pat, but he doesn't
have any visible wounds - maybe he's just drunk. It would certainly explain his half-lidded eyes. And his one missing shoe! He has sunken cheeks, but those just make him look elderly, not deceased. Same goes for the tattered pants and the fraying edge of his apron. The only thing that gives him away (other than being cast in bright green plastic, of course) is that his wooden serving tray has three severed fingers on it. Of course, there's also one normal little roll; did he get attacked in the middle of preparing? Maybe this all started because he ate a bit of bad fish.
Previous Job: Super Slugger
Likes: Swinging His Bat, Both On & Off the Field
Dislikes: Sports Analysis, Peanut Shells
Favorite Food: Membranes-N-Mustard
"Basehit Bones" is kind of a lame name, until
you realize it's supposed to be a pun on "Casey Jones" - as in, Mighty Casey crossed (for lack of any last name) with the famous engineer. Basehit is batting using his own severed leg - and, since turnabout is fair play, is using a bat as a prosthetic. Now, the knob of a bat would never be secure enough to support a figure, so Jakks got clever: the end of the bat is resting on home plate, allowing it to act as a large, flat support to help keep him upright. He's wearing a batting helmet, but it's for a lefty, not a righty - careful, guy, a brain injury would be really bad for you. His name is etched into the back of his jersey, right above his number (26, referencing baseball's 25-man active roster).
Previous Job: Neighborhood Nuisance
Likes: Being the Boss
Dislikes: His Incompetent Crew
Favorite Food: Gallbladder Bisque
If you just look at Louie Fingers by himself, what he's referencing isn't exactly clear: he's wearing a pinstripe suit with a bowtie and is carrying a mallet. What is he, a mob enforcer? Well, no. Louie has
a bowl cut - maybe it would help if we told you that Series 2 had a bald zombie, and Series 4 has one with frizzy hair? Starting to get the picture now, you chowderheads? This is Moe, of the Three Stooges! That's the "crew" his bio mentioned! And of course, he enjoys being the boss, because (in the words of Homer Simpson) "Moe is their leader." I don't know why they chose "Louie" for this toy's name, rather than something more suggestive of what they were going for (Morris, Morrie, Joe... something like that), but at least the "Fingers" part is well-chosen; his left hand is extended in a zombified approximation of the old "poke 'em in the eye" gesture.
Previous Job: Vegas Performer, Hairstylist
Likes: Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwiches
Dislikes: His Old Music Teacher
Favorite Food: Cartilage Casserole
So, here's a question for you: is this Zombie Elvis,
or is it a zombie Elvis impersonator? The set may identify him with the delightfully clever "Singer Mortis" name, but the spangled jumpsuit and bouffant hairdo are too iconic to disguise as anything else (well, anything other than Captain Marvel Jr., of course). The pose could easily pass for one of Elvis' hip-rocking dance moves, but there's still no question that he's a zombie. His right arm has snapped off below the elbow, but since it was the hand holding the microphone, he's now holding the severed arm with his left hand. If this is Elvis, it's the young, thin version, not the older, chronically constipated one. He has his big sideburns, and his mouth is open to sing. Or moan, as the case may be.
Previous Job: Pro Wrestler
Likes: Funny Photos of Kittens, Smashing Things
Dislikes: The Macho Mangler
Favorite Food: Brain Matter Mash-Up
The Macho Mangler, for those wondering, was a figure in Series 2 - he was based on Hulk Hogan, which is why The Towering Terror, here, is based on Andre the Giant. He's got the curly hair, the sideburns,
the potato-shaped physique behind the one-strapped unitard... he could use a little extra height (he's the same general size as all the other figures in the line), but otherwise the design is fine. Towering Terror's singlet is showing signs of wear, and he has wounds on his scalp, left shoulder, right forearm, and the back of his right knee. The left arm is posed like he's ready to choke slam someone, and his face is contorted into a strange rictus. While most of the figures in the 12-packs are also available in the three-packs, there are always a few exclusives: Towering Terror is one of the exclusives in this set (along with Squeamy Sashimi, Louie Fingers and Singer Mortis), and is ultimately the reason I got it rather than picking up a few random offerings here or there.
Survival Skill: Her Unwavering Wit
Likes: B Horror Movies
Dislikes: Mini-Golf, Crying Children
Favorite Quote: "Totally Not Cool!"
This girl is Double-Barrel Carol, and while she may be intended as a generic hunter, filling the "hipster/fake-geek-girl"
archetype, that's not how we view her: with her big glasses, her skirt and her kneesocks, she looks like Velma from Scooby-Doo. But add to that the figure's tank top, her ammo belt, her big loosely tied boots and her choice of a shotgun as a primary weapon, and now she looks almost exactly like the famous "Zombie Hunter Velma" fan art. Now that we have said it, it must be canon! Her hair is longer, and she has a fishnet glove on her left arm, but there you go: we've solved the mystery. Who knows, maybe if the SLUG line continued and expanded into things like aliens and monsters the way Jakks envisioned, we could have gotten Fred-enstein and The Daphne from the Black Lagoon.
Previous Job: Magician
Likes: Bunny Rabbits, Hats & Hacksaws
Dislikes: Hecklers, Bad Crowds
Favorite Food: Vegetarians (They Taste Better)
The idea of a zombie stage magician is fun, but his name - Tragic Magic - really seems like a "first pass" joke, you know?
Like it was the first thing anybody on the design team came up with, and they never went back to write anything better. Off the top of my head, here are five better names: Lance Hurtin', David Pain (or Slain), Icky Jay, Crisp Mangle, and of course, David Pottersfield. Boom. Lawyered. He's wearing a traditional stge magician's outfit - a full tuxedo, including top hat and tails - and has big bites taken out of his right calf and left bicep, plus more tears in his jacket. His haircut looks a bit like Harry Houdini ("Scary Boo-dini." That's six.), and he's holding a severed rabbit's head that he probably just pulled out of his hat. It's a very cartoony bunny, suggesting this magician may have killed Bugs.
Previous Job: Martial Arts Master
Likes: Nunchucks and Ninja Stars
Dislikes: Bullies and Bad Guys
Favorite Food: Kung Pao Appendix
I may not be as big a Bruce Lee fan as Monkey Boy is, but I'll still take a zombie Bruce Lee any day of the week!
You don't need us to tell you that's what Jeet Kune Dead is supposed to be: he's wearing the track suit with the stripes on the limbs, he's got the haircut, he's wielding nunchucks, all that. His left hand has broken off at the wrist, but it's still holding on tightly to the weapon; so when he swings it, does that count as a punch? Jeet Kune Dead is definitely looking the worse for wear, but he doesn't have any visible bites. Perhaps the infection in this reality is Walking Dead/Living Dead style, and anybody who dies can come back, whether they've been bitten or not. Because let's face it: there's no way a zombie could even get close to wounding Bruce Lee, unless it had superpowers.
Previous Job: Video Store Clerk
Likes: His Ability to See Through Skulls
Dislikes: 9-to-5 Jobs
Favorite Food: Surfer-N-Turfer
Look, it's a zombie with superpowers! That's what those in the biz call an "ironic echo." And what we as toy reviewers
call "Zombie Superman." More like this Zombie Superman than this Zombie Superman. And his face kind of looks like Ronald Reagan, which would probably make Frank Miller happy. There are bites on his limbs and by his mouth, but we can't imagine who would be strong enough to break the skin. While he has clearly defined boots (and trunks, and a belt), there's no visible seam anywhere that would suggest the end of sleeves. So either he's nude from the waist up, or his costume has built-in gloves. He has a large Z logo on his chest and his cape, which may be why they called him "Zero Hero" - we assume it was meant to stand for Zombieman.
So, like we said above, buying the 12-pack leaves you short four figures. To get the remaining quartet, you have to buy some of the three-packs - but that does mean you'll end up with duplicates. There are two exclusive zombies, and two exclusive hunters.
Survival Skill: His Boy Scout Training
Likes: A Quiet Night at Home with the Misses
Dislikes: Telemarketers, Clutter
Favorite Quote: "This Could Get Ugly..."
Riled-Up Riley comes in a pack with Extra Crispy and Zero Hero. I bought that set even before buying the 12-pack,
partially because of Colonel Duck Bucket and Zuperman, but mainly because "Riley" is quite obviously Shaun (of the Dead). I mean, he's got the goatee, the work shirt, the necktie tied around his forehead, and is even armed with a cricket bat! Now I'm sad that we never got Zombie Ed to go with him. And though it's never actually said in the movie, a poster from Shaun's DJ days reveals his club name was "Shaun 'Smiley' Riley" - this figure get its name comes from that wee bit of trivia! He strikes a very defiant pose, the same one that a lot of the old MUSCLE figures had. Nice throwback, that!
Previous Job: Garbage Truck Driver Turned Dumpster Diver
Likes: Free Stuff
Dislikes: Roaches & Life Coaches
Favorite Food: Spleen Soup
Both of the exclusive zombies come in the same three-pack, which is nice. It's especially nice if you want to double up
on Chuck Norris, because Johnny Two-Guns is the one who's hunting them. Trashcan Sam is, obviously, a zombie in a garbage can. If SLUG Zombies got released twice with different names the way Garbage Pail Kids used to be, his second name would probably be "Dustbin Daryl" or something. All we can see of him is his head, shoulders, right arm and left hand. He has a backwards baseball cap with a Z on the front. There's a banana peel stuck to his arm, a fish head falling off his shoulder, and several roaches running all over the place. Clearly he was hiding under the garbage and jumped out when somebody came by.
Previous Job: Nurse at No Mercy Hospital
Likes: Syringes, Staples & Blood Rags
Dislikes: Birds, Water Sports
Favorite Food: Trachea Truffles
If they were going for some kind of reference with those dislikes, none of us know what it is. Decrepit Katie seems to just be a regular zombie nurse character, not a reference to anything specific. Like most of the zombies, she's knock-kneed, but since her feet are smaller (and the right foot is turned so far to the inside), she has trouble standing up for long: she leans just a little too far forward to really be stable. She has multiple bites on her limbs, and appears to have a chunk of someone's skin sticking out of her teeth.
Survival Skill: Loves to Swing an Axe
Likes: Junk Food, Badminton
Dislikes: Noisy Eaters, Bad Table Manners
Favorite Quote: "If You ain't Busy Killin', You're Busy Dyin'!"
Woody the Wrecker comes with Basehit Bones and Jeet Kune Dead, and is pretty obviously based on Woody Harrelson as "Tallahassee" in Zombieland. Blatantly so. Now, Tallahassee isn't as iconic as Shaun or Chuck Norris, but this is definitely him. He's got the cowboy hat, the boots, the holster strapped to his left leg... he's even armed with a pickaxe! The face doesn't look anything like anybody, but the rest is spot-on. And considering that he loved Dale Earnhart so much, it's appropriate that he comes in Series 3.
The SLUG Zombies line went on clearance shortly after we found and reviewed them, but it seemed to just be a seasonal thing. Sadly, Halloween has come this year with no sign of SLUG Zombies Series 5 or 6, so it seems like the line is dead (no pun intended). Jakks made some figures that were a lot of fun; maybe if they'd done anything to spread the word about SLUG, it would have been the success it deserved to be.