?Zombies have become the horror fad that never dies (pardon the pun). It began with the rebirth of the zombie movie with 28 Days Later on through to the revival of the classic zombie in the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake to parodies such as Shaun of the Dead; it then spread to books, such as The Zombie Survival Guide and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; and most recently, television with The Walking Dead. And that doesn’t include videogames, where zombies have found steady work since the dawn of the medium.
Why, the zombie infestation of pop culture has spread almost like a real zombie infestation!
Of course you can’t have a popular geek-oriented phenomenon like zombies without toys. There have been quite a few undead action figures over the years, but here are 10 of the best.
10) Zombie Santa
?Nothing says Christmas like a Catholic-saint-turned-capitalist-mascot-turned-undead-monster! Toy manufacturer Cast-a-way Toys created a very small run of this Zombie Santa figure. The figure is similar to the Mego figures of the 1970s and comes complete with Santa outfit (including beard and hat), a shotgun (presumably how he shot his eye out) and a bunch of bugs to eat his decaying flesh. Evidently Santa spent his Christmas at Ground Zero.
9) Zombie Monster, Real Ghostbusters
?Possibly the first zombie action figure ever made, the Zombie Monster was one of several such classic creeps made in the early days of the Real Ghostbusters toyline from Kenner. Given the bone necklace and leaves, it would appear this was more a classic voodoo zombie than the Night of the Living Dead-inspired brain-eater. Like all RG toys, it had a lot action features — the hair raises up, the arms reach out and the eyes, in Internet hipster parlance, “derp.”
8) Maximum Zombies, Minimates
?Maximum Zombies is a new sub-line for the popular Minimates toys by Diamond Select. Part of the appeal of Minimates is the ability to swap parts to make custom creations, and what could be more natural than mixing and matching zombie body parts? What’s more, you can always mix the figures with any of Minimates’ numerous other lines, such as Ghostbusters. Maximum Zombies currently features a doctor, a biker, and a guy who looks suspiciously like an undead Billy Mays and appears to have stuck his mouth in a DualSaw?. Many more are in the works.
7) Zombie Viper, G.I. Joe
?Perhaps it’s a bit premature to put this figure on the list — because it hasn’t even been released yet — but the sheer awesomeness of a zombie in the G.I. Joe line demands attention. Cobra has been in the habit of creating Vipers for every occasion, from Jungle Vipers to Laser Vipers to Kitchen Vipers (yes, Kitchen Vipers — they cooked for Cobra Commander), but the Zombie Viper squad has to be one of Cobra’s least desirable units. The figure even comes with interchangeable mutated arms. Whether you think zombies fit in with the G.I. Joe universe or not, Hasbro has created what may be the best 3.75-inch zombie figure ever.
6) Patient Zero, The Dead
?Patient Zero here is chosen simply as a representative of Sideshow Toys’ line of high-end 12-inch figures known simply as “The Dead.” The decaying Zero was the first of a line that now features such memorable zombie archetypes as “The Babysitter,” “The Street Prophet,” and “The Punk.”
5) Zombie Spider-Man, Marvel Zombies
?Marvel Comics capitalized on the zombie fad with a series of comics set in an alternate universe where zombies had overrun the earth. A lot of fun was had by turning the world’s greatest heroes, with all their attendant powers, into horrific brain-chewing beasts. Marvel Select produced action figures of the zombified Hulk, Spider-Man, and Captain America. The best of them was Spider-Man, who featured a removable leg. “Is he strong? Listen bub — he’ll eat your brain and drink your blood!”
4) Build-a-Zombie, The Goon
?Mezco Toys had a brief but memorable period around 2005 when they were producing some of the best action figures on the market, including lines based on Hellboy and Eric Powell’s The Goon (as well as the #1 item on this list). Borrowing a page from Toy Biz’s handbook, the short-lived Goon line featured a “build a figure” of a Powell-style zombie. Not only did the Build-a-Figure concept make perfect sense for a zombie, but several of the characters came with accessories that could be used with it — for example, the Goon’s axe fit in its skull, while Frankie’s knife could be jabbed into its eye socket.
3) Remote Control Zombie
Accoutrements is the company who looked at a crowded toy market and said, “You know who people want an action figure of? Sigmund Freud.” They’ve made a name for themselves by producing odd, quirky toys, and they’ve had no shortage of zombie-related product — and the best is this Remote Control Zombie. Just press the button on the brain-shaped remote control and he lurches forward in search of cranium-based sustenance. Fun fact about this toy: it moves at about the same speed as a real zombie!
2) Dismember-Me Plush Zombie
Forget tickling Elmo — wouldn’t you rather tear him to pieces? Well, do that and you’ll just ruin your niece’s favorite toy and your in-laws won’t let you come over anymore. Instead, get yourself ThinkGeek’s Dismember-Me Plush Zombie! Its arms, legs and head can be removed, while his torso is barely held together by a few wisps of intestine. Also includes a brain for when he gets the munchies. It’s like putting a Pound Puppy in the Pet Semetary! The idea of which just made me sad.
1) Earl, Attack of the Living Dead
?While a lot of toy companies have produced licensed toys based on movies like Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and The Walking Dead, there’s really no reason a zombie toy line has to be licensed — zombies aren’t copyrighted. Taking that to heart, Mezco created Attack of the Living Dead, a highly-detailed, well-articulated action figure line consisting solely of zombies. Though the line was short-lived and featured only three figures, it gave us the obese, disgusting Earl. This vomit-inducing monstrosity featured an articulated, removable jaw and a huge gut with removable intestines. Worst of all, perhaps, is the realistic purplish bruising along the rolls of fat. Maybe think about eating a vegetarian’s brain, Earl.