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Zombie Lab
by yo go re

We're not planning to review all the Zombie Lab figures in numerical order, we promise - it's just that the best zombie stories all start slow and build.

For someone who grew up on GI Joe and The Transformers, the fact that the Zombie Labs toys don't include bios for any of the characters is disappointing - there's an art card showing the character in some kind of natural situation (Marian's depicts her lurking by an open door, ready to kill the zombie on the other side), but the back of the card only has the chapter of the ZL story that corresponds to the wave; Marian is part of Wave 1, so she gets Chapter 1, which not only doesn't mention her, it also doesn't even feature any setting where she could logically fit in. But hey, that allows us to make up our own story for her!

Marian Carlson had a perfectly good life: a stable job, close friends, everything she thought she wanted. But when the undead began to plague the living, everything changed. People were afraid to go out, even before a curfew was enacted. The roads between her apartment and her work were blockaded; not that it mattered, since the company had opted to temporarily close, telling everyone not to come in. After the phone service failed, she tried going to her brother's house, but it was empty. The entire neighborhood seemed abandoned. But the sounds she could hear from the house next door said differently.

Unlike Dr. Banner, Marian's sculpt actually manages to look like her art. She's a young woman, with her hair pulled back into a professional-level ponytail - that is, she doesn't just have all her hair drawn back and tied up, like a normal human being would do it, but rather the front half is separated out in a way that would require a personal stylist (or way too much time on your own) to get correct.

Marian's clothes are just as "cultivated casual" as her hairstyle. She's wearing a brown leather jacket, a white belly shirt, and blue jeans with rips in the legs. They're not natural rips, developed from a lifetime of wear and use, but four perfectly strait, parallel, manufactured rips in each thigh - in other words, she paid money for "distressed" designer jeans. Girl, you got too much money to throw away! This zombie apocalypse is gonna help you get your priorities straight! There's one cool little feature, though: to turn her shoes into boots, there are light tan pieces on her ankles that represent the upper portion of the boot. It doesn't work perfectly, but it's inventive.

The Zombie Lab figures were sculpted and engineered by Boss Fight Studio, in the style of Vitruvian HACKS - remember, it's a Character Kit System, it's meant to be used for more than one toyline. And it's not like this is just the plain body with some paint on it, it's new molds. New molds that still have the same plentiful articulation! We're talking a balljointed head and neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows and wrists, a balljointed torso, balljointed hips, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. The arm holes in the jacket are a little too large, so we can see flashes of her shirt through the sides no matter what position the arms are in. The forearms on my figure were on the wrong sides, but because the HACKS body is modular, it was simple to pop them out and swap them (and the hands, too, so they wouldn't be on the wrong sides of the body).

Marian gets a slew of accessories for zombie-killing. She's wearing a police officer's gun belt, so she gets a pistol to fit in the holster there - assume the brother she went to visit was a policeman, and she found this in his home. The meat cleaver could have come out of his kitchen, and the fire axe and machete were... in his tool shed? All three of those are bloody messes, suggesting she's been on a rampage.

And honestly, that's this figure's biggest flaw: she's way too militant for this early in the story. Yeah, we're complaining about the intersection of release order and backstory, which should tell you that the toy itself is aces! The articulation is plentiful and well designed, the accessories are appropriate to the setting, and the sculpt is so good that it makes you angry Hasbro ever let the Boss Fight crew go in the first place. Does it really matter whether she's carting around weapons before things really went to hell? Of course it doesn't. Especially when you're in charge of telling the story.

-- 10/12/18

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