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All-Star Zombie & Shadow Flower

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
by yo go re

Are you ready for some porksball!

All-Star Zombie is always the first one on the field, and the last to leave. He uses suppression fire to hold the Plants at bay, and his Tackle Dummies are the best offensive linemen around.

In the "hey, let's copy Team Fortress 2" world of PvZ: Garden Warfare, the All-Star Zombie is the Heavy: big and slow, but can soak up damage and deal out damage like nobody's business. And to be fair, it's not like TF2 invented the mighty glacier archetype, merely perfected it. It's a good class to have in a shooter game, where the main character attribute is a slider with "speed" at one end and "damage" at the other. It's kind of funny, though, that he's based on the original PvZ's "Football Zombie," which was actually one of the faster zombies; most of them just shambled around, but he ran. Still soaked up a lot of damage.

There are lots of different versions of the All-Star in the game - hockey, golf, baseball, rugby, cricket, etc. - but this is the original football style. He's wearing his red and white uniform, which is pulled down from one shoulder, allowing his pad to poke through. The paint is very nice, with dark airbrushing around all the edges, his name and number (26) on his back, and a team logo of some sort of... white alien(?) in a star on his chest. [Dr. Zomboss --ed.]

In the original PvZ, it was the helmet that gave the Football Zombie his strength, because without it, he was as weak as any other. It's painted just as nicely as his jersey, with the logo on the sides, a stripe over the top, and a crossbones on the forehead. He has the "one small eye, one giant eye" combo common to the zombies, and a bit of turf hanging from his faceguard. That was always seen on the promotional images of the Football Zombie, but finally appeared in-game here.

The articulation is good, but slightly odd. He has a balljointed head and swivel waist, which are both fairly normal, as are the swivel wrists. But then the shoulders are balljoints where they enter the torso, but have hinges immediately below that. Don't worry, they're entirely covered by the sleeves, so you won't see them at all.

His weapon of choice is the Football Cannon, which shoots around 400 footballs a minute. Yes, his ammo is footballs. Of course it is. His gun apes TF2's "cobbled together" aesthetic, appearing to be made from a pass throwing machine, a cheerleader's megaphone, and a big steel drink bucket. Nine footballs come out of the bucket, wrap around the side, and feed into the launcher. It's hard to get him to hold both handles at once (they're very thin and flexible, and his hands are closed tightly), so the simplest thing to do is pull the hands off the wrists, put them on the gun, and then plug them back onto the arms. Holding the gun makes it hard for him to stand up, so he includes a clear disc base - but you can't get both his feet onto the pegs at once.

The Shadow Flower works from the darkness, righting wrongs and singing songs - her mask disguises her true Sunflower heritage.

The Sunflower is the Plants' healer, but can also damage zombies. Naturally, the Shadow Flower is a variant of the normal version, and her main attack has been modified so it has a shorter range, but a faster rate of fire and higher damage up close - perfect for medics who aren't afraid to get on the front lines. Hanging in the back is for chumps! Get up there and help the people who need it!

The differences between the Sunflower and the Shadow Flower are just color-based, which suggests to us that DST is planning to release plain versions of the characters later. Even the Shadow Flower's mask (rendered as real cloth in the game) is just done as a stripe over the eyes. The paint on the sunflower's face is very complex, with airbrushed highlights suggesting her glow.

Her only articulation is a balljoint for the head. She's got two little "hands," and to keep her standing, there are four small bars concealed beneath the leaves at her base. You might think that's a conceit of the toy, but it's taken right out of the game - those are her roots! Some brown paint would probably help make the connection clear.

When these toys were first solicited, they were going to include two little extras: for the All-Star, his Imp, an explosive super-fan he can punt at enemies and blow them up; and for Shadow, the Heal Flower, basically a healing station. These were cut before release, but Diamond has re-solicted "deluxe" versions of the figures, which will come with the absent accessories. But this set was just $14 at TRU, which is alreay an awesome price for what you get. The packaging also says there's an "Xbox booster code inside," but nothing I could find.

The only hurdle to the enjoyment of the Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare figures is how difficult they are to find. You can get Jazwares' totally meh minifigures easily, but the superior DST ones were gone faster than fast.

-- 06/17/15

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