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Big Daddy

Now Playing: Land of the Dead
by yo go re

Despite their names, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead do not take place in immediate chronological order - it's not like the world went from first outbreak to 400,000:1 odds in the span of about 18 hours, you know? There are long, unknown stretches of time between each film, time enough for things to change. Even things you wouldn't expect.

For one thing, the zombies in Land of the Dead showed an evolution of the type of learning Bub had displayed in Day. A lot of the zombies seemed to be going through the motions of their previous lives: the Butcher carried his cleaver, the band played their instruments, teenagers held hands, and Big Daddy hung around his old gas station, looking for cars to service. Bub at least had to be (re)trained by someone else - these guys seemed to have figured it out all on their own.

"Big Daddy" gets his name from the coveralls he wears - more specifically, from the nametag on the jumpsuit he wears. Of course, the sign on the building read "Big Daddy's Gas and Repairs," so it's possible that's just the logo of the business, not a personal identifier, and thus would be the equivalent of calling him "Sheetz" or "Kum & Go." On the other hand, maybe he owned the place, and it's named after him.

Actually, Big Daddy's jumpsuit calls to mind another horror icon in a workman's uniform - and other than the nametag and the color, every detail is the same: the collar, the cuffs, the covered up zipper down the front, the pockets on the chest and hips, the elastic waist... they're all just a coat of paint away from being a terrific Michael Myers custom! The sculpt of the wrinkles on his suit make it look quite baggy, but the figure's large size means we get some really nice detailing in the stitches and seams.

Big Daddy was played by Eugene Clark, whose most iconic look was calm and stoic, but that's not what this toy shows. It's got the appropriately decayed face, but his mouth is open, which really throws off the likeness - this could be anybody. The open mouth does serve a purpose, though: it shows the angry bellows that were his rudimentary attempt at communication.

The articulation, frankly, sucks. Big Daddy stands nearly 7⅜" tall, but only moves at the neck, shoulders, and wrists. Really, guys? That's sad.

Just like the other two Land of the Dead zombies, Big Daddy was originally to come with a large brick wall display base, but that got dropped. Instead, he comes with two accessories and one interchangeable hand. The difference between the hands is minor: one has the index finger extended, the other has it curled slightly. Yeah, super pointless. The accessories include a Steyr AUG machine gun that he snatched off one of the raiders and continued to carry for the rest of the film, and the jackhammer he picked up in the city. Unfortunately, both options for hands are too big to hold the gun (only three fingers fit around the grip), and he's not poseable enough to hold the jackhammer properly. It's nice that they tried to give him some cool things, but at this point, I'd rather they'd just given him a gas pump.

Of course, he also comes with a few pieces to finish off the Build-A-Victim that Butcher and Machete started. He's pretty big, so he only gets the head and right arm. The final figure doesn't represent anyone specific from the film, but boy does that face look like Ron Rifkin (Alias' Arvin Sloane)! This was a really cool gimmick for a series of horror figures to come with, and we're sorry no other companies ever copied the idea.

SOTA's Land of the Dead line is, sadly, not very good. Even by the standards of the time, the figures are pre-posed and awkward, and just having a cool zombie-victim BAF isn't enough to make up for their other shortcomings. And yet we're still disappointed that it was only three figures instead of four, because then we might have gotten the movie's other memorable zombie, Number 9 (Butcher's softball player buddy). But still, after seven years, the aftermarket prices have dropped enough that Big Daddy - the real star of the movie - is available at prices commensurate with his quality.

-- 10/17/14

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