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Attack of the Living Dead
by Poe Ghostal

While the days of long action figure biography text and power ratings seem sadly long gone, Mezco makes a passing effort at providing some context for their new "Attack of the Living Dead" line:

The Armageddon Epidemic has spread out of control. The breach of the "After Life" matter has infected the majority of mankind. The attack of the living dead is seemingly unstoppable. All hope is lost for the world we once knew. We can only pray that some of us will survive to carry on.

It's an adequate set-up, though it would be good to know a little more about this "After Life" matter and the origin of the zombie menace in general. Back in my day, for a toy line like this we'd get three zombies, an evil scientist who created them, and at least one weapon-toting zombie-slayer. Now we don't even get a bio card. Who were these people before they became zombies? Did they get pulled in by one of those deals where the researchers post a sign around college dorms offering $50 for four hours in a lab? What's the "After Life" material?

I suppose it doesn't matter - the entire "After Life" notion is nothing but lip service to figure fans, or maybe just to differentiate the figures from the Dead/Living Dead franchises. Still, as someone who loved those bio cards as a kid, I might have appreciated something more to go on than "Zombies are awesome!"

The AOTLD line comes in a bewildering array of variants. At retail alone there are twelve figures: each figure comes in two different colors and each color has two different head variants. The retail versions are pale (pinkie) and colored (blue or brownish green); there will be also be online exclusives in black-and-white and glow-in-the-dark.

Action figure connoisseurs have to chose their variants very carefully, especially here. You have to consider both color and head shape. For Jake, I decided on Color Phase II - the green color scheme with the fully-fleshed head (the Phase I variant head has an exposed skull with maggots crawling out of the eye socket). Why, you ask? I thought Jake looked more interesting in green (the pale form seemed a little too much like a sickly hospital patient - not particularly fearsome), and the fully-fleshed head was both meaner-looking and reminded me of Evil Ed from Evil Dead II. I might have considered the pale version with the "Evil Ed" head had its eyes not been smeared with blue eyeshadow, making it resemble a slightly more terrifying clown.

In any event, the sculpting and paint applications are top-notch. Jake was sculpted by Ralph Cordero, a make-up and special effects artist whose resume includes The Toxic Avenger and George of the Jungle. Cordero's design gives the zombies a slightly comicbook-style appearance without going too far into the cartoony; these are zombies straight out of the old pre-Code EC Comics from the '50s and '60s.

Figures that can move are definitely preferable to the plastic statues a lot of companies make these days. Sure, it's nice to make displays with your figures, but more importantly, I prefer to feel like the thing is a toy, not a collectible. A "collectible" is one step away from a knick-knack or a piece of junk; a toy can inspire the imagination.

Jake does well in the articulation department. He has a balljointed head and shoulders; pin joints at the elbows; and swivel joints at the biceps, waist, thighs, knees, and calves. I'm not sure why Mezco didn't give Jake the usual balljointed hips and hinged knees, though I suspect it had something to do with keeping costs down. It's also possible that Jake wasn't designed for those sort of joints, since he looks very similar to the zombie that was included as a pack-in BAF with Mezco's Goon line.

Jake's accessories include a dismembered lower torso, a human head, and a brain. Yum.

I tend toward faddishness, and my latest fad (in case you couldn't tell) has been zombies. AotLD is a combination of today's advanced action figure design and those old gross-out toys of the 1980s (times 10), making for a wonderfully disgusting set of action figures from Mezco Toyz.


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