Create Your Own Zombie Kit
Review by Prometheum5
Thanks to EMCE Toys for this kit!
EMCE Toys is a toy company from Farmingdale, NY that specializes in 'innovative toys.' One of EMCE's founders is Paul "Dr. Mego" Clarke, pioneer of Mego reproduction parts and research. EMCE Toys has teamed up with Diamond Select Toys and Mattel to produce things like the reissue Mego Star Trek and DC Super Heroes figures. They also produce original toys with a seeming focus on customization and zombies.
The Create Your Own Zombie kit was released in 2011. The package was designed to be an all-in-one starting point for making some custom Mego-style zombies. Sorry about the flash in the box photos, but the box is quite large and it would not fit in my photo setup.
Included in the Create Your Own Zombie kit is the following:
- Three 1/9 scale blank, headless Mego style bodies
- Five zombie heads in varying degrees of decomposition
- Two sets of zombified forearms, "freshly bitten" and "really rotten"
- Two sets of zombified lower legs, "freshly bitten" and "really rotten"
- Two sets of zombified hands
- One pair of zombified rotten feet
- One zombified chest prosthetic
- One lab coat
- One set of medical scrubs (shirt and pants)
- One brown suit with jacket and pants, dress shirt, tie, one pair black dress shoes
- Instructional DVD
The contents of the box seem generous, and I like the idea of a box of parts with directions that simply say 'make.' The contents proved to be a little lacking, but we'll get to that as I go through my experience.
Unfortunately, these are the three blank bodies I received in my kit. All three were broken in the exact same way. Mego bodies are held together with rubber bands, and those rubber hands require hooks to hold them to the body parts. On the arms, the hook hole is molded as an integral part of the rubbery PVC shoulder, which is quite durable. On the legs, the hip is rubbery PVC, but the hook for the rubber band is a harder plastic part that is inserted in the side of the hip, and on all three of my figures one of those hooks was broken. Before I could proceed, I had to remove the damaged parts and fashion new hip hooks from brass rod. Then, I had to fish all the rubber bands back inside the bodies and reattach them to the hooks, which was no simple feat...
Here's the hooks after being removed from the hips. These plastic parts hooked into a metal loop that was attached to the rubber band. Metal beats plastic.
Here's the brass rod I used sticking out of the hip after repairs. Metal still beats plastic.
Once everybody was repaired, I could start on adding custom parts and costumes. The assortment of replacement zombie bits provides good variety and enough parts to make three interesting figures. Unfortunately, while the detail of the zombie parts is good, the fit is not. The replacement hands and feet fit quite loosely on their pins, to the point that my heavily decayed zombie with the nasty legs and feet cannot stand unsupported.
I also had some difficulty getting the zombie forearms to fit at the elbows. The elbow area of the arms did not fit quite right into the cutout of the elbow on the upper arm, so I had to mash the parts in there. To make matters worse, the directions neglect to mention that there are, for no apparent reason, two different styles of joint pins. One can be removed from either end and has grooves to it locks in place, the other has a cap on one end so it can only come out one way. Guess which one I broke and had to repair?
After assembling my three zombies, I was left with a number of parts. I'm inclined to call this much leftover wasteful, but I guess there's no way to avoid it when making a kit with swappable parts. The heads would be good for other projects if I was planning to customize more Mego figures, but all the leftover fleshy limb bits just take up space. If I could recycle them, I would.
So, what have we actually accomplished? I made three figures using only the parts supplied in the kit. First up is Doctor Zombie in scrub pants and a labcoat.
The detail on the face sculpts is quite good. Instead of the hollow soft vinyl used for original Mego heads, the zombie heads are solid PVC so the detail is sharp.
Next up is Business Zombie. He's the most cohesive of the bunch, and my favorite of the three.
Then there's this tragedy. As you can see, he's naked. After making two well fleshed out zombies (no pun intended), I was left a whole third figure and just the scrub shirt to garb him in. The scrub shirt cannot actually be fit onto the figure without at least some cutting because there's no way to get the narrow waistline of the shirt around the shoulders.
I'm not a huge Mego expert or anything, but I'm almost inclined the detail on the zombie parts is too good. Mego figures were never this detailed, and it seems like they would clash with vintage figures.
After assembly, I painted my zombies and weathered their outfits. For this process I sprayed trusty, rugged Krylon gray auto primer on the parts that would be visible after the zombies would be dressed. From there, I airbrushed fleshy colors and used some filters and washes to add bruising and discoloration and the start of rot to the damaged parts. Then, I blocked in the details with a brush and used a little drybrushing and a lot of layers of washes to gradually build up shading and detail. The end results are suitably gnarly.
Here's Dr. Zombie all done. He's the freshest of the three, having taken a bite to the arm and a big chomp to his leg before turning. With abs that cut, I wonder what monster could have taken him down.
Business Zombie is looking a little more peaked. After painting, he's definitely my favorite. There was a lot of good texture and detail to the head sculpt to work with that makes him look scary and zombified without being too icky.
Patient Zero is the most decayed. My thought for him was that he was the first victim to come in and turned in the hospital, where he probably bit Dr. Zombie. You may notice that Patient Zero has no pants. There are only two pairs of pants included in the kit for three figures, so unless you pick up an extra set of Mego drawers, somebody's gotta be displayed in their skivvies. I threw a little color on the briefs to add interest, but it's not an ideal solution, especially since the plastic on plastic nature of the joints means the paint on the hips chip up in no time no matter how good of paint you use.
Adding further annoyance, this figure cannot stand on its own. The fit on the ankles between the zombie bits is so sloppy that there's no way to tighten the joints.
Having no pants also exposes the awkward lack of transition between the regular thighs and the rotten lower legs. You can see some chipping already started around the hip.
Together, these three make a motley crüe. For as much of a hassle as building the three figures is, they do look good as a shambling Mego-scale horde.
That is, until they tip over because the joints are loose.
The zombies look great terrorizing my only other Mego figure, Iron Man! Putting the new and vintage figures together highlights some of the weaker elements of the new figures, though. Iron Man is stamped 1974, and he has no broken parts or loose joints at all. Heck, the rubber bands are still even good after all these years.
Up close, you can see how else they differ. The vintage Mego figures are full of charm and innocence, made in a different era. The only thing the zombies have in common with Iron Man is that they both use rubber bands. The zombies are harsh, detailed, and modern. Not necessarily a bad thing, but worth mentioning.
The instructional DVD is pretty well done. It's 50/50 instructional video and an advertisement for EMCE's sister site, Fearwerx.com, that sells additional Mego accessories that can be used to further spruce up the kit. The instructions feature brightly lit shots of a guy working on a figure, and offer good advice for a novice customizer or painter. Following the directions directly from the DVD would result in a decent looking figure. The production values are alright, too, featuring some fun sound and clean editing work. They could have used a few more painted examples or at least different angles, though, because for a ten minute video there was an awful lot of recycled footage.
I gave up trying to make the green one stand. You can pick up the Create Your Own Zombie from Dr Mego directly on his site for $49.99. If you're new to action figure customizing or general hobby-ing, I don't think you should run out and buy one. The fit and breakage problems are just going to frustrate inexperienced builders. With some work, however, the kit can build up into some nice looking figures, and the extra bits can be used to add a zombie flourish to further Mego custom projects.
|Posted 13 September, 2012 - 20:30 by Prometheum5|