I’m liable to be a little biased when discussing this toy, as the Governor’s aquarium room is my favorite set in the whole Walking Dead series. I even asked for the last Blu-ray set for Christmas just to get the floating heads tank it came in (I have zero clue when I’ll ever find the time to watch those episodes again).
That said, as happy as I am to have a playset replicating the location, it is not without its problems…though it may also feature unexpected bonuses for the right kind of collector.
Among the action features promised are “authentic scene props” and “Realistic Gore.” I’m not sure how either of those statements passes the truth-in-advertising test, as these micro-replicas in solid plastic hardly feel authentic, and the show’s gore is knowingly over-the-top. More importantly, the major “gore” effect – a miniature bucket of guts – is not fully painted, leaving large spots that reveal the yellow plastic beneath.
However, compared to the last McFarlane building set – Daryl and his chopper – this looks way more like an actual Lego set, though it is almost entirely comprised of 1 by 6 and 4 by 6 plank-like tile pieces, and 1 by 1 and 2 by 2 blocks in a muddy color with the occasional bit of black wash. For Lego customizers, this set could be quite useful if you’re looking to build a cabin in the woods, or torture room diorama.
The governor’s chair is actually made from a surprising number of pieces, just as Todd claimed it would be.
It even has an action feature of sorts – it reclines! Governor Philip isn’t exactly poseable, though – unlike the blind bags, he has no leg or waist articulation.
The most fun subversive Lego-esque blocks are the clear ones you get to put zombie heads inside. My hand is added to give you a sense of scale – these sets really are smaller than you think.
Once you have the heads in the blocks, though, the tank assembly is the most irritating thing to put together. Not because of bad fitting – one thing McFarlane has done incredibly well with these sets is made bricks that fit tightly together. Rather, the black borders are designed to only show a certain way, and based on the ones I got in my set, you cannot line them up in the pattern the instructions suggest. This took me a while to figure out.
Also, because the light-up feature involves two separate light bricks…in the final assembly, there are switches on both ends of the tank, one of which cannot be got at unless you remove the whole setup from the diorama. This seems unnecessary – one longer brick with one switch would surely have been doable. Thankfully, secured by only three studs in the floor, it’s easy to move in and out.
The set gives you the option of replacing some of the smooth plank-tiles with ones that have a stud on them, so that if you want to add, say, Michonne attacking the zombie daughter, you won’t need the clear figure stand. The zombie girl attaches to a stud like most of the figures, as does the lamp table and the two crates – only the Governor’s chair and the bucket of guts are unsecured, to be moved anywhere you like, or Kragle’d into permanence as you choose. Beyond that, the only other action feature is that the door opens and closes.
Once you finally get the thing together, through a fairly monotonous tiling process, it really is a cool little set, reminiscent of the Day of the Dead dioramas I often see in folk art stores around October. It makes me think McFarlane should pick up the Saw license, as several companies have done Jigsaw and Billie the puppet, but this feels like the only way to actually make the trap rooms as affordable playsets – certainly the bathroom from the first movie would be a must-have.