Jakks Pacific did a poor job promoting their SLUG Zombies. The first time anyone even noticed their existence was when they were already on clearance, and though we tried our best to spread the word, it was already too late by then. At that point, Series 2, 3 and 4 were still fairly easy to get ahold of, but Series 1 had long disappeared. But if you're very good, well-behaved, and make sure to eat all your vegetables, sometimes the toy gods smile upon you.
Series 1 was a little bit different from what came after. For instance, there were no humans, only zombies. And while the figures were available in three-packs or in a coffin-shaped 12-pack (with different figures available exclusively in each), they also shipped alone in blind boxes. Imagine my surprise when some of those solo-packs appeared in the clearance markdown bin at Books-A-Million!
[Note: in order to best show off the details, the images in this review are at twice actual size. --ed.]
Previous Job: Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty
Likes: Gold, Scarab Beetles & His Mummy
Dislikes: Being Cooped Up in His Sarcophagus
Favorite Food: Hearts of Romaine, Kip & Brandon
King Guts is a great looking zombie... mummy... zummie... whatever he is. His arms are held wide, and he's slightly knock-kneed. He wears sandals and a skirt, and has bandages wrapped around his arms. He's been dead longer than most of the other zombies, so he's really more bone than skin. His eyes are set deep in their sockets, and you can see all his ribs. He wears a big headdress, and even gets the fake beard that identifies the pharaohs.
Previous Job: Deadliest Captain of the Seven Seas
Likes: Pirate Booty
Dislikes: English Red Guards
Favorite Food: Earthworm Gumbo
The pop culture references began early, because there's no way Cap'n Scurvy Jack is anything other than a zombie Jack Sparrow. Like, to the extent that you could throw just a little bit of paint on the figure and it would pass for undead Jack standing in the moonlight. He's got the hat, he's got the coat, he's got the bandana, he's got the dreadlocks - his beard is a single goatee instead of two little braids, but the idea is right there. He's lost a boot somewhere along the way, and his clothes are tattered. A few of his teeth are missing, and he's brandishing his sword in his right hand while his left hangs limply. He does not include a jar of dirt.
Previous Job: Detective
Likes: Brain-Teasing Mysteries
Dislikes: His Wandering Eye
Favorite Food: Fish & Lips from Baker Street
Here we see the unfortunate down side of copyright law.
While there could be no more perfect name for this character than "Sherlock Bones," it's already been used for a movie, a manga, a children's book and a real-world pet detective. And probably a dozen other things, because it's such an obvious pun. This is a pretty nice figure, wearing the stereotypical deerstalker cap and caped overcoat, and standing in a rather dynamic pose with his legs bent and his left hand raising a magnifying glass. Inspector Bones' head is nearly as skeletal as King Guts', and while the line about disliking his wandering eye doesn't seem to make any sense at first, it does once you notice one orb has fallen out of its socket and is resting on the bowl of his pipe.
Previous Job: 16th President of the "Z" World
Likes: Reading by the Fireplace
Dislikes: Theater Seating & Eating in Public
Favorite Food: Organ Smorgasbord
Is it possible to call "too soon" about something that happened 150 years ago? It could be worse, I suppose: Grave Lincoln could have a wound in the back of his head, rather than just being generally decayed. His pants and coat are torn, his right shoulder pokes through his sleeve, and his right foot seems to drag behind him (which may explain why his shoe on that side has fallen apart to reveal his toes). The look on his face is vacant and mindless, but he's still got his beard and his stovepipe hat, aka "the only way we recognize him at all." The line in his bio about the theater makes sense, but what do you think "eating in public" has to do with anything? Also, it just occurred to me that "the 'Z' world" is supposed to be a pun on "the free world." Yeesh, guys! These jokes are awful!
Previous Job: Astronaut
Likes: Space Walking & Cosmic Bowling
Dislikes: Holes in His Spacesuit
Favorite Food: Macaroni & Knees
Neil Armgone looks like something out of Heavy Metal magazine. A typical "astronaut in trouble," he has punctures
in his suit on the leg and shoulder, and his helmet has fully cracked open. We know zombies don't need air (they can survive fully submerged in water, after all), but do you think being in a vaccuum affects them at all? Neil's eyes bulge out, and he's got a pretty advanced case of "old-man lips." Befitting his name, his right arm is missing below the elbow, but it's molded so close to his torso that it's hard to notice at first; it just looks like he's holding his arm at a weird angle. We get to see the bony fingers on his remaining hand, and there are a decent amount of "spacesuit-y" details on the body, like the tech packs on his chest and back or the straps near his joints.
Previous Job: 3rd Degree Brown Belt - American Freestyle Tae Kwon Do
Likes: Old Kung-Fu Movies & Flyswatters
Dislikes: Washing Cars & Painting Fences
Favorite Food: Fiery Feet Fajitas
The Corroding Kid is not only a clever design, it's also a clever name - it's just close enough phoenetically to "Karate Kid"
for your brain to make the match when it's said out loud. Undead Daniel-san is depicted here in his pose for the crane kick, balancing on his right foot while his left leg is bent and in the air. But in this case, it's just his leg, because his left foot has broken off and remains on the floor - no wonder he looks so befuddled! Putting both feet together was brilliant from a design standpoint, becauseit increases the surface area in contact with the ground and helps keep the toy balanced and standing. He's going to be S.O.L. if he tries to kick Johnny in the face, though.
Previous Job: Head Cheerleader
Likes: Long Shambles on the Beach
Dislikes: Math Class
Favorite Food: French Fried Fingers
Rigamortis Lourdes' name works better
if you realize it's pronounced "LOR-dis" and not just "Lords." This is about as perfect a zombie cheerleader as you could hope for: she's wearing her uniform (tank top, pleated skirt, tall socks and shoes with pom-poms on them), her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and she's in as much of a "high V" cheering pose as she can manage. There are bites on her arm and leg, and a dopey look on her face. According to her shirt, she's cheering for Team Z, and instead of carrying pompoms, she's holding two severed heads - ex-squadmates, maybe? They both look as decayed as she does, so we know they're not fresh kills.
Previous Job: Sheriff - Coward County
Likes: Texas Hold 'Em
Dislikes: Texas Hold-Ups!
Favorite Food: Pork & Beans with Toe a'la Mode
In a later series, Gutslingin' Grimm might have been one of the human Hunters, but here he's a cowboy who's been shot to hell. Since his bio says he used to be sheriff, he's got a star pinned to his chest and he's holding a six-shooter. He's been shot seven times: three in the chest, two in the left thigh, one in the right shin, and one through his hat; being the only lawman in a lawless town is a tough gig! He's got cowboy boots with spurs, and his right foot is turned inward. That gives him kind of a narrow stance, so be careful he doesn't fall over. His mustache is huge, dangling down past his chin and bumping against the bandana that's tied around his neck.
Previous Job: Notorious Mob Boss
Likes: Pin Striped Suits & Bags of Loot
Dislikes: Tattle-Tales & Tight Spaces
Favorite Food: Spaghetti with Eyeballs, Extra Sauce!
Hey, look, a figure with some scenery! Jon B. Gone is an old-timey gangster, clawing his way out of a wooden coffin. He's wearing a fedora, and the right sleeve of his suit coat has been torn away. There's a big bite on his right arm, and his hand is basically just bones. The detail on the face is particularly nice, with a slack jaw and heavily lidded eyes. Other than the arm (and, you know, the whole "being buried" thing), Jon doesn't seem very zombified; he could almost pass for human. His intact left arm is reaching forward, either trying to grab a passer-by or to look for help getting out of his box.
Previous Job: Pizza Delivery Guy to the Stars
Likes: Collecting Small Green Toys
Dislikes: Bad Tippers & Living with His Parents
Favorite Food: Duh, Brains!
It kind of makes sense that a pizza delivery boy would be in danger of getting zombified: they go to unfamiliar neighborhoods mostly at night, so even if he saw the walking dead coming, he might not have
known the best way to escape. Brain-Eatin' Brandon looks mindless, of course, and his leg pantleg is torn down the front. He's carrying a pizza box in his right arm (there's a slice of pizza sculpted on the lid, so there's no mistaking what kind of box it is). And what type of pizza is it? Brains, duh! There's a big intact brain just sitting on top of a pizza like the world's second-least-appetizing topping. Presumably there's a pizza under there; there's some type of goop spilling out, at least.
Previous Job: Nuclear Power Plant Manager
Likes: Public Safety
Dislikes: Freshly Waxed Floors
Favorite Food: Pizza Delivery Guys
Despite the references to nuclear power
in the bio, and the nuclear symbol molded on the front of the barrel he's emerging from, Decayin' Dom is clearly a reference to Return of the Living Dead's Tarman. A bald zombie, covered in slop, climbing out of a metal drum? Not a lot that could be! Most of him is still submerged, so we only see his body from the waist up, but he's posed in such a way to suggest he's pushing himself up and out. He has visible ribs and a chunk of skull missing to reveal his brains, and is sculpted with whatever viscous liquid this is dripping off him everywhere. So gross!
Previous Job: Icelandic Explorer
Likes: His Battle Axe & Baby Seals
Dislikes: Sitting on His Hat
Favorite Food: Brain Broth & Breadsticks
Erik the Dead doesn't look particularly zombie-ish: sure, he's bedraggled and lumpy, but that could described any viking, couldn't
it? There is a big bite taken out of his left bicep, but again, what viking couldn't have that happen to them and keep fighting through it? He has an axe and a horned helmet, and a beard big enough to reach his waist. His posture isn't great: he's pigeon-toed and has his elbows tucked in at his sides, which looks super awkward and not at all suited to shambling around. Erik needs to look more dead, look more decayed, and have a better stance to really be an outstanding SLUG.
Those are the 12-pack figures, with the pirate, the detective, the cowboy and the viking being only available there. If you want the four remaining characters, you'll have to get them from the three-packs (along with some duplicates of ones you already have).
Previous Job: Undisputed Heavyweight Champ
Likes: Pigeons & Knockin' Suckas Out!
Dislikes: The Corroding Kid
Favorite Food: Pancreas Pie
Wow, a boxer named "Mighty-Bite Mac"
with an ear in his mouth, who love pigeons? I wonder who this is supposed to be! (Actually, the working name for the character was "Bite Tyson," so it could have been even more blatant if the lawyers hadn't stepped in.) His pose is decent for both a zombie and a pugilist, with his toes turned in and his his elbows held at his sides. His face is lumpy, from his many gights, and there are bites taken out of his shoulders, calves, and even one of his boxing gloves. Let this be a lesson to you in the zombie apocalypse: punching zombies is not an effective survival strategy.
Previous Job: Mailman
Likes: Sunny Days
Dislikes: Dogs, Holidays & the DMV
Favorite Food: Small Intestine Sandwich with Extra Pickles
Piece Mail Pete was mentioned in Series 4, as an enemy of Ferocious Frankie the zombie dog. His pose is a lot like Mighty-Bite Mac's, but the two really look nothing alike. Pete's still wearing his letter carrier's uniform - shorts, a buttoned shirt, and a safari helmet - but they've become tattered. Part of his left shoe is missing, revealing his toes, and one eye bulges out, while the other is heavily lidded. Apparently he's still making his rounds, because he has his mail bag slung over his shoulder: but instead of parcels, magazines and envelopes, he's got bones, feet, and other bodyparts.
Previous Job: New Jersey Police Dept.
Likes: Guts & Ammo
Dislikes: Donuts - They're Overrated!
Favorite Food: Boobery Pancakes with Scrambled Legs
Officer R.I.P. is one of the strongest figures in the entire line - not "in Series 1," in the entire line. He's wearing his patrol uniform, so either he died wearing it, or he had been buried with honors and later resurrected. His glasses are sculpted really well, and his jaw hangs kind of slack. He's much more zombified than most of Series 1, with complete exposed ribs on the right side and a left shin that's been degloved. He's still armed with his gun, though he's too mindless to use it, and there's a severed hand in the handcuffs on his waist. His necktie remains pristine, somehow.
Previous Job: All-Star Quarterback
Likes: Lourdes, Pre-Rigamortis
Dislikes: Unnecessary Roughness
Favorite Food: BBQ Brain Brisket
If Headless Halpert is any indication,
then the SLUG zombies cannot be killed by head injuries - not just because playing football encourages severe real-life brain damage, but because he's carrying his own severed head under his right arm. It's like he went to pull his helmet off after a play, and his head just came with it. This is a very wide figure, thanks to the big shoulder pads and the fact that he doesn't tuck his arms in. His right foot turns inward, as though the ankle is broken, and his ripped jersey reveals that he is apparently #0 - the number is sculpted both front and back.
The SLUG Zombies really were a fun little line, even if it never took off the way it should have. Maybe if Jakks had done more to promote the toys - for instance, making it so anyone knew about them before it was too late to save them - it would still be rolling along today. On the other hand, there's something appealing about a finite line, one where you know it's possible to collect everything and not have to worry about more coming in the future. But still, we'd love to see someone buy the rights and Kickstart some of the unproduced designs.