McFarlane building sets – or, as we’ve called them here for a while now, “Nipple-O” – are an interesting case of neither fish nor fowl. It’s clear he wanted to make Walking Dead playsets that couldn’t possibly be in scale to the regular figures, and rather than have another static diorama like Lost‘s Hatch set, he made them construction toys. Yet the Lego tie-in isn’t worth much – sure, if you want some grimy looking tiles for a custom Lego set, you’ll get a few, but the minifigs themselves don’t match, and the diorama sets also feature a lot of custom bits that can’t quite be called Lego-compatible at all.
Still, they’re doing well enough that Todd just announced a new boiler room set. Let’s take a closer look.
Individual figures come blind-bagged for $3.99. Unlike similar Lego figures, the bags don’t have a lot of excess air sealed in, so it’s easier to tell by feel who you might get (pro-tip: Michonne’s pet zombie is the bulkiest).
The first series doesn’t skimp on fan-favorite characters. Rick Grimes is available in a booster box set with three extra zombies, and package backs reveal that there will be a Merle Dixon soon.
Each figure comes in pieces, with the waist joint the tightest, toughest one to assemble. They are articulated, but some have more of a forced pose than others. Each figure comes with a clear stand that has one Lego-like stud (or nipple, if you’re Todd) on it, and is super-easy to lose – I lost Carl’s already. The figures don’t stand ON the stub like a Legoman – they’re too small for that – but have a clip on the side of one leg that wraps around it.
As you can see, they are quite small. More like Gashapon than Lego, really.
I was a little concerned about my Daryl – as you can see, the crossbow looks like it was ripped out of his palm with skin still attached. But he did fit together fine.
The likenesses on these are amazing for such tiny figures. I imagine they’d make pretty good RPG miniatures for your zombie-themed games.
But let’s now look at Daryl’s Chopper set…
The back of the box shows figures that aren’t out yet, like Merle and more walkers. The set comes with one walker, and a permanently seated Daryl.
Inside, a thick instruction booklet and bags of pieces.
In the spirit of The Lego Movie, I decided to try to make something completely off-book. Given how specialized the pieces are, it was tough, but I did manage to make a face:
As it turns out, the instructions themselves encourage customization, complete with “Todd’s Tips” on how one might clump bits of grass together, for example. A cool thing about the asphalt tiles is that the cracked ones can be positioned with the cracks lining up.
It can be a weird disconnect having things look gritty and McFarlane-y on one side, and Lego-ish on the back.
I must note, though, that these fit together better than Mega Bloks or Kre-O. For a company often called out for breakages, they’ve made a solid toy here. The blades of grass might pop out easily, however, so watch for those.
Now, let’s populate this sumbitch!
I lost the stand for Carl, but he gained a motorized skateboard when I put him on top of a Mega Bloks car that came free in my box of Lucky Charms that morning.
And just one more time, to emphasize the scale: that is NOT a full-sized Spawn in the pic below. It’s the miniature Spawn from the movie playsets, slightly smaller than Star Wars.
OVERALL: I never collected the regular Walking Dead figures because the first waves were kinda sucky and overpriced, and by the time they got good they became impossible to find. These are a nice alternative – the detail and paint is amazing, and what you’d expect from McFarlane, and it’s not hard to collect everyone.
I join, however, in the chorus of voices that wonders why this had to be Lego-like. Why not mini-dioramas like the Spawn movie playsets? Was it just a clever loophole? Would these not have worked just as well as snap-together kits? What suffers most is the figures having those stands that are so easy to lose – make them figures that could stand on their own without that clip, and I’d be happier.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love having this li’l set on display. But there’s still room for improvement.