The new season of The Walking Dead begins in a few weeks, and right on time, McFarlane Toys has released the latest series of action figures based on the heroes, villains and undead creatures of the hit show. The latest figures continue the welcome trend of the past set, featuring excellent sculpts loaded with detail and lots of articulation, and serve to round out the cast of our band of survivors, along with some of their newest foes.
Series 4 features three humans and two new zombies, each of which is a welcome new addition. Rick’s son Carl makes his toy debut, in an accurately scaled figure of the boy. The figure features an incredible likeness of Chandler Riggs, giving a steely look that rests perfectly between determined and psychotic. Carl looks perfect, from his rumpled vest and jeans to slightly oversized boots, his omnipresent Rocket Dog t-shirt and a removable sheriff hat. Due to his young age, McFarlane wisely eschewed including a gun with the figure, but he does come packing a bag of medical supplies and the keys at the prison, two welcome accessories.
Andrea also gets her first figure, with another remarkable likeness to actress Laurie Holden, depicting her in her Season Three look. The wayward survivor sports a removable vest, a pistol which fits into a holster on her leg, a rifle and a pitchfork. Andrea’s would-be boyfriend, The Governor is the last of the human figures, and he’s a welcome addition. The leader of Woodbury includes an alternate head with an eyepatch– both heads bearing another great resemblance to actor David Morrissey. Dressed in his field jacket with a pistol, dagger and hunting knife, The Governor is every bit as imposing as he should be.
Two Season Three zombies finish off the set, a pair of riot gear zombies based on the purge of the prison that kicked off the season. While both zombies include an action feature– like each of their fellow undead– these are the first zombies in the TV line whose articulation does not suffer due to their play action. The fully articulated creatures share a remarkably detailed riot gear suit, which is textured and weathered wonderfully, each covered in well-rendered stains of various bodily fluids.
The heads are unique for each zombie– one includes a glued-on helmet with a blood-spattered faceplate, while the other sports a gas mask over his bald head. Each features a minor play feature based on some of the visual gags of the scene on the show… the helmeted figure features a slit under his jawline, which an included knife can be plunged into (since his face plate prevents shooting him in the head. The gas mask zombie pays tribute to the wonderfully gnarly scene in which our heroes tear off his mask, only to have his rotting skin come along for the ride. The skinless face underneath the mask is delightfully nasty and very well sculpted, and I commend the McFarlane design team on sculpting a face underneath the tear off mask, which looks great as well.
Each figure sports the same vastly improved articulation pattern of Series 3, with ball joint necks, swivel waists, ball shoulders and hips, half-ball elbows and knees, hinged wrists and ankles. It’s a good scheme that doesn’t impede the sculpts but provides enough movement for a variety of poses, and every figure is designed to hold their various accessories quite naturally, always a plus.
While the sculpts and accessories are great, the paint s where these figures suffer slightly. The quality and even tones of the paint vary wildly from figure to figure. Fortunately I found a whole case, so I had my pick of the litter when it came to paint apps. Some of the ones I left looked sloppy, with missed paint apps on the faces, un-aligned eyes and over-saturated washes being common culprits. Even with my mostly nice-looking Governor, one of his heads includes a missing chunk of paint under his jaw and some extra brown paint a millimeter away from his hairline. If perfect paint is a big deal to you, I’d suggest holding off until you find a set at retail that is to your liking.
I never thought I’d complain about too few variants of the core cast, but between this and the last series, I really feel like we need new versions of past, less well rendered main characters like Rick and Daryl to compliment the wonderful newer figures. The limited articulation, tendency for pre-posing and wonky proportions of some o those guys are beginning to stand out next to their more recent allies, so I’m really hoping we see new spins on both of them and Shane using the new and improved design aesthetic.
The Walking Dead Series 4 is hitting Walgreens, of all places, in an end cap display which features one of each zombie, two Andreas, three Carls, three Governors and two of the exclusive Rick figure released earlier. I never would have imagined Walgreens being the first to release a new assortment, which should hit mass retail in the next few weeks, but there it is. If you’re on the hunt for these figures, be sure to check the overstock shelves above the aisles– I’ve seen a few boxes resting, untouched, on the top shelf away from the toy department.