For the seventh series of toys based on AMC’s The Walking Dead, McFarlane Toys sort of changed up their formula. Instead of leaning heavy on new A-list heroes, what we get here are updates of two survivors, Michonne and Carl, alongside a new zombie and one of the show’s (short lived) human villains, Gareth. I passed on the nice looking new versions of Rick’s son (whose new figure portrays the more grown up Carl of Seasons 4 and 5) and Michonne (rocking her pirate shirt from Season 4), but I had to bite on the new zombie, the Mud Walker.
While he continues the trend of walkers being as much statues as action figures, the Mud Walker is sort of great. This is one of the grossest, nastiest looking zombies we’ve seen from McFarlane, all rotting flesh and crawling worms and exposed bits of skeleton, and it all adds up to a figure whose creepy-crawly texture fits the theme perfectly. The muddy paint apps are very interesting, with a high gloss finish that actually conveys the appearance of wet mud instead of dirt, and these earth tones play very well against the zombie’s blue jumpsuit and the bits of red blood scattered throughout the figure.
The Mud Walker’s gimmick is a waist cut, allowing his to be displayed standing on his muddy base… or plugged into it at the mid-torso, to give the appearance that he’s rising out of a fairly deep pit of mud. The effect is neat, and the walker looks quite menacing, even at half-staff. As we’ve seen with many of the McFarlane zombies, the Mud Walker is mostly pre-posed in a shambling lurch. He does feature cuts at the shoulders and elbows, a waist swivel, hinged hips and hinged knees, but due to the precarious sculpt of his legs and feet, many of these joints are fairly useless. His ball neck serves the figure much better, and I’m happy to have the arm articulation, as it at least allows the zombie to adjust his reach forward toward his next would-be victim.
Gareth, the leader of the cannibals at Terminus at the top of Season 5, is the only new human in this series. His inclusion seems odd– there was nothing overly visually striking about this bad guy, and he only stuck around for a handful of episodes– but he’s still a well done figure. The portrait of actor Andrew West is good, and I dig the pile of viscera he includes as an accessory, a reminder of his less savory tendencies on the show.
While he’s fully articulated to match other human figures in this line, Gareth’s bulky jacket leaves him feeling a bit stiff. I guess he doesn’t need to get into too many highly acrobatic poses– he’s just a creep who eats people– but in effect there isn’t much of anything the figure can do but stand and look menacing.
Were it up to me, I’d have chosen a more iconic villain to include in this series. Give us Martinez, who had a lot more screen time and would compliment The Governor… or Dawn Lerner, who would be visually dynamic as another character in uniform, while balancing out the gender representation in this series. Those seem like better ideas to me than Gareth, although since he’s the one we got, I’m glad McFarlane handled him well enough.
I like both of these Walking Dead figures, even if I don’t love the latest series overall. I’m happy to see McFarlane Toys experiment a bit with how their waves are structured, but I am happy Series 8 will swing back toward the old model, helping us complete the core cast of survivors rather than focus on “villain of the week” types.