Zombies and geeks tend to go together like fat kids and fudge brownies, so it comes as no surprise that Jazwares World War Z line has been one folks have been anticipating since the announcement of their slow, lumbering approach at Toy Fair 2013. With the release of the pre-order images on Entertainment Earth, that anticipation....well...suffice to say it has subsided a bit. Do the actual figures in person redeem the line? Let's find out with a closer look at the Civilian Zombie and the Special Forces Zombie...
Elements working against the line...
1. Soft sculpts- It's been a growing practice that even the biggest of toy companies are adopting. Soften the sculpts..cut back on articulation and limit those paint aps. Jazwares followed suit with zombis that, while not horrible, could use some fine tuning.
2. Articulation- Yes, those are V hips you see on these zombie plastics. Anyone in the industry would have waved the company away from this archaic articulation, but apparently that message via Raven was never sent. YOU HAD ONE JOB, SAM!! So...the newest members of your undead collection can't pose so well. It's not like we want them in Kung Fu poses. Knees and ankles add a little more fun to the mix, allowing for the old standard "foot dragging behind the undead" pose, but you'll still consider it a challenge to get your Civilian Zombie to stay standing. I will give credit for having elbow, wrist and mid-torso articulation in there as well. It doesn't look like Jazwares went cheap on the line as much as someone led them astray in design.
3. Scale- This is a point only the toy collectors will consider..most likely. The World War Z line is in scale with nothing. The reported 6 inch size comes out somewhere between 5 1/2 and 5 3/4, making them shorter than the Marvel Legends you may have been looking to pit against them on your shelf space. Standard scale for horror figures has been 7 inches for some time now, so it's a shame this line has taken on a scale all its own. Even 5 inch would have been better, putting them in scale with the growing legions of the Walking Dead line from McFarlane.
4. Likenesses- You've seen the movie and are excited to own some figures from your new favorite zombie epic? Sadly, these are not the Zeds you're looking for. As Paramount applied pressure to keep their zombie designs secret until the film's release, Jazwares opted to create a series 1 that, more or less, pays tribute to the spirit of the movie, rather than mirror the movie straight up. That's a polite way of saying you'll find these characters no where in the film. Even the lead character Gerry Lane in no way resembles Brad Pitt, and that was on purpose. Instead, you'll be able to add a white, suburban dad to your ranks of those toys resisting the undead horde. I like to imagine he was enjoying his sons playing soccer on a cool mid-day when the zombies attacked. At least he brings some nifty anti-zombie weaponry to the mix!
So...why should you even think twice about buying this line?
ZOMBIES!! If you love zombies, you can't say no. If you collect zombie action figures and have been searching high and low for a loose/complete Zombie figure from the Tales from the Crypt line (sorta like me..no..wait..exactly like me), then you can forgive a somewhat poor showing out of the gate....because you HAVE TO HAVE MORE ZOMBIES!! Compared to past releases of zombie plastics, while these rotting folks won't be found in any scene in the film, they have their merits. In the Special Forces Zombie, you get swappable parts allowing your other figures to experience "The Change" from human to infected first hand. The horror. In the Civilian Zombie, you get the quintessential undead complete with concave torso, multiple bite marks, exposed bone and torn clothing.
Another driving force for purchase is collectibility. Let's flash back to series one of The Walking Dead from McFarlane. We were not entirely impressed and to be honest, right up til the "Rooker and Michonne" wave, the sculpts had not improved, but this didn't stop the prices of series 1 from climbing, and certainly haven't made it any easier to find these at retail. I see World War Z as the line you pass up the first time...then maybe the second time..and then when they are all gone from the pegs you are complaining to your buds you can't find them anywhere. This is a line Jazwares is very much looking forward to expanding and now that the film is released, we'll be seeing those key zombies from the film on the pegs in no time. I believe it will all come down to price. If the retail price is indeed $19.95 as we heard early on, this will be a tough sell. Should the price fall closer to $14.95, it could mean the difference between buying one and buying the lot.
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