I can't believe S.L.U.G. Zombies came out and ended five years ago! Since then we've seen more collector lines and actual, licensed returns of M.U.S.C.L.E. figures with licenses attached to them. But before them, we got this set of Gangrene Gene, Ferocious Frankie, Johnson for four bucks and we liked it. I had the unopened package sitting on a shelf since then... it seemed Halloween was a good time to crack it open.
While some of these were obvious parodies, Gangrene Gene is not obvious. It's a guy with hair, an earring, a Hawaiian shirt, and a lei. Is he a tourist? Maybe - he's got flip-flops. He's got a fancy drink with an umbrella in a skull, and a severed hand - the rest of which seems to be in the mouth of his dog. The flowery etching on his shirt is a little hard to see, but it's there - as are exposed bones in his legs and sunken cheeks over a thin beard. This seems like some guy left over from some not-quite-realized lounge or exotica revival of the late 1990s. Oh, memories.
The living human of the set is Johnson, a name I assume they went with because it doesn't sound like Lara Croft. Because this is totally Lara Croft. The raider of tombs is referenced here with twin pistols, a ponytail, and short shorts. The hair is a little different, as is the face, but it's hard to not see her inspiration with the gloves, the boots, and the backpack. This is clearly an adventurer of wealth and taste, plus she can stand easily on her own two legs - sometimes this is a challenge for skinny characters. It's good. If you like this sort of thing, you're in for a treat.
Rounding out the set is a distinctive choice with the dog, Ferocious Frankie. He seems to have Gene's missing hand in his mouth, along with mange and dino-damage. You can see exposed ribs and meat throughout, plus a handkerchief around his neck and a fairly well-preserved face. Most of these guys have messed-up jaws or decaying faces, but here you get a dog that looks like a dog... with a body that looks like it's been dead in the streets. He's almost as long as other figures are tall, resulting in a large enough figure that just doesn't sit right in the carded packaging. He's still neat, though.
When I first heard of this line I was really excited - I'm not a zombie fan as such, but I adore the figure format. The lines of aliens and monsters teased at Toy Fair 2012 never materialized, but Super7 brought out awesome licensed figures in the last couple of years. The Sucklord did his own indie figures. Numerous indie guys are doing their own dudes as well, and this line really kicked the door open for this format in the minds of collectors once more. Sadly they figure line was blown out cheaply at the end of 2012, and series 1 remained tough to find. A pity. I'm not saying this is a line for everybody, but they're charming and pretty cheap still. I hope the toy buyers of the world bring more of this kind of figure to their stores.
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