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Zombie Decal Kit

Luke's Toy Store
by yo go re

Like it says in our FAQ, we'll review anything sent to us. For instance, Luke's Toy Store sent us review samples of their Ninja and Gruesome Ghosts decal kits, and now their third exclusive set, which is all about the undead!

The Zombie Decal Kit will allow you to create 6 unique brain-hungry zombies to add to your Minimate collection. Plus, this kit comes with an additional 6 zombie faces that you can use with almost any other Minimate, for a total of 12 terrifying zombies! It's a fun and easy way to expand your Minimate collection. These decals have been designed so that anyone can apply them using only a bowl of water and sharp scissors or a hobby knife. After a little practice you can make a brand new zombie in as little as 10 minutes!

The Zombie Decal Kit is sold in a fancy envelope printed with a scene of the zombies on the front, along with the cute slogan, "when there's no more room in Minimate Hell, the dead will walk the earth." If you've purchased the first two kits, you know what to expect from this one; if this is your first time, you'll find two identical sheets of stickers (extras in case you mess up), instructions and tips on how to use the decals, and tricks to make your Zombimates more unique.

Like the Gruesome Ghosts, the Zombies have been designed to work with a specific set of Minimates - in this case, it's the 24 Season 1 set and the Back to the Future two-pack of Marty and Future Biff. Now, obviously, the decals will work with any Minimates of the right colors, it's just that they were created with those figures in mind. You have to admire that sort of creativity: got some slow-selling stock? Develop a bonus set to help it move. The kit includes a recommended mix-and-match assembly guide, because all the figures get changed up at least a little.

Luke's kits are water slide decals, which use the dextrose residue from the backing paper (rather than some external bonding agent) to adhere to their new surfaces. Since the labels are printed, they can get a very fine level of detail, and they're thinner than many other types of decals, so they won't blatantly rise off the surface they're stuck to - perfect for Minimates!

Each of the two sheets has 26 decals. The instructions have changed slightly: rather than soaking for a minute in tepid water, the pieces now only go for a 10-second dunk in hot water, then rest for 50 seconds. Apparently this helps prevent the stickers from cracking. I didn't notice a difference, but then, applying the labels was already pretty easy. You really don't even need a particularly steady hand, since the stickers don't immediately adhere: you have a few moments to get them centered. The quality remains as high as ever.

Each of the six zombies has its own little name, hinting at its personality - or at least what they were like in life. We begin with "The Cowgirl," a brunette wearing a star-spangled belly shirt. Well, maybe it used to be a regular shirt: the bottom edge is torn and shredded. Her only visible wound is a thin slash across her chest, though that doesn't seem like it would be enough to change her into a zombie. The head she's meant to have is bleeding from the eyes. Her mouth is open and her face is starting to look desiccated. She's got a bit of blood around her mouth, so she's been feeding.

"The Stock Broker" is a good example of how pieces get traded between the base sets: he's made from Jack Bauer's head and hands on David Palmer's body, so he manages to look like neither of them. There's a larger cut on his chest, which, in a clever bit of sticker design, has also cut off the bottom part of his necktie. He has a wound on his shin, so you can imagine him being bitten there by a zombie crawling along the ground. He's looking very angry, and his entire mouth is covered in red. Remember, you can give these zombies any of the accessories that come in the sets - it just seems appropriate that, even in death, a stockbroker would refuse to give up his briefcase and Blackberry.

The Biff Tannen of 2015 becomes "The Golfer," which doesn't require a big change - his clothes were already pretty hideous. He just gets Marty's arms, to give him a short sleeves, which really makes it look like a golf shirt. His face is the only one with gray eyebrows, and there are dark circles around his milky eyes. There's a cut on his head, and a bit of a trickle of blood coming from the corner of his mouth, but his major trauma is the hole that's been punched in his torso, revealing the lower edge of his ribcage (there's a smear of dirt on his back, but no more wounds). The only thing he's missing, honestly, is a golfclub, but you can kind of fake it with Biff's famous knucklehead cane.

The Stockbroker's opposite number is "The Detective," who has David Palmer's skin and Jack Bauer's casual taste in clothes. The Detective? Why "the Detective?" Is it because he vaguely resembles Shaft? He has an exposed shinbone and his guts are hanging out. There seems to be a bite out of his upper lip - did he pick just the wrong moment to give a dying loved one a goodbye kiss? He's also missing some teeth, which says he needs to try chewing on softer victims now that he doesn't have the mental capacity for dental hygiene. The color used for the skin on the face sticker is more orange than the actual head and hands, but brown is a very difficult color to create in the traditional four-color printing process, so we can let that one slide.

Next we have "The Kisser," and can we just say? Eeeeewwwww! Her entire lower jaw has been ripped off, leaving just a long, flailing tongue and a mess of tissue. Her upper lip is gone as well, and her nose would be missing if any Minimates had noses. That means we can see her teeth in that gross facehole, as well. The front of her dress is ripped open, but while she's splattered with blood, there aren't any wounds. She has the same weird shins as the Undead Nurse - what are those things, anyway? They're not bones, they're not clothes... I can't figure out what they're meant to be. Still, that face of hers draws all the attention away from whatever they are, so it works just fine.

And our final undead monster is "The Bully." He's built on the Marty McFly body, which isn't any shorter than the other figures, but the youthful haircut and the sneakers make him look like a kid. An evil, undead little kid. He still has a chunk of skin in his teeth. His shirt is unbuttoned to show us his hollowed chest. Like The Detective, you can see his entrails; like The Golfer, you can see his ribcage. Yes, The Bully is the most torn-up zombie in this set. He even has an exposed spine, carried over from the Gruesome Ghosts, and a decal that wraps around his forearm to make it look like he's lost a hand - the instructions suggest removing the figure's hand, cutting off the peg, then partially reinserting the peg to simulate a bone. Looks great either way.

The Zombie Decal Kit also includes a half-sheet of "Optional Zombie Details," with extra tips to add to the look of your undead army. Simple stuff, like drawing on dirt, veins and wear with a Sharpie or painting on blood. Feeling more advanced? You can cut the lower edge of the coats, or even drill holes into the Minimates. Me, I like ultra low-tech solutions: remove an arm and pretend the shoulder peg is exposed bone; twist a foot 90° inward and imagine the zombie has a broken ankle; hell, take the legs off entirely and pretend your zombie got bisected.

In case you want even more shambling undead, the decal kit includes six bonus faces, all damaged in unique ways. I chose to use two of the alternate heads in place of the ones intended for the patterns, and they still look fine. There are also two top-of-head dceals for bald characters, including one with a hole exposing its brain. It looks great with the "goatee" head! In order to use that one, I cut the peg off Jack Bauer's hair and stuck it in the head to create a flat surface. That also allows me to use the "brain" decal beneath the hair, as though the Stockbroker is wearing a toupee.

The Zombie Decal Kit doesn't quite offer the same value that the Gruesome Ghosts did - and we don't mean the way that kit was designed to make more figures. The ghosts made perfect enemies for the Ghostbusters Minimates at a time when they were lacking foes. Still do, in fact. But who do Minimate Zombies fight? There are no Army of Darkness or Shaun of the Dead sets, and the Marvel Zombies straight up ate anyone who wasn't superpowered. The zombies don't fill a hole the way the ghosts did.

But you know what? That has nothing to do with the quality of the set. The individual zombies look unique, which corrects one of our complaints about the ghosts, and they're fun to put together. They may not have ready-made enemies to fight, but these days, who wouldn't want to fight a horde of the undead? You can either buy the kit by itself for a cheap $5, or get the combo pack that includes everything you need. I wasn't too sure about the Zombies at first, but once they're assembled, they look awesome! Seriously, give these a try; if you don't get them under control now, they may just come for you after the apocalypse.

-- 02/07/10

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