As if AMC’s “The Walking Dead” wasn’t big enough, thanks to McFarlane Toys it’s about to invade an entirely new area of your local toy store. Move over, Lego and Kre-O: “Walking Dead” brick building sets are here! Or will be, this October.
The entirely new line of toys will debut at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, eventually hitting stores this Fall. And the concept is a pretty simple one: instead of cartoony figurines and blocky playsets, what if buildable toys looked like high-end collectibles? That’s exactly what Todd McFarlane, owner of McFarlane Toys, was aiming to do when he moved from the specialty shop to a new area of Toys R Us.
“Why can’t the art simply be better and cooler in that aisle?” McFarlane said when MTV News talked to him over the phone.
According to McFarlane, this is the mindset he brought when trying to tackle action figures for brands like “Halo,” sports figures (NBA and MLB), and yes, “Walking Dead.” Now he’s trying to tackle the same problem, but with figures that are a little over an inch tall.
And it seems like he’s solved that problem. The figures and associated sets will all work smoothly with any Legos or other brick brands you have hanging around, but will look decidedly different from the brightly colored worlds of Emmet and friends.
Instead of pirate ships and more kid-friendly landscapes, the “Walking Dead” starting sets will include Daryl Dixon and Chopper, the Governor’s room (complete with light up aquariums and tiny, floating zombie heads) and a deluxe set with the prison tower and gate… A gate which can be knocked down when the zombie herd gets too overwhelming.
To fans of “The Walking Dead,” mention of these settings and items are enough to send a giddy tingle of anticipation down your spine — something McFarlane was well aware of when he decided to kick off his building sets with the property.
“It’s just a huge phenomenal brand right now,” McFarlane noted on why he chose AMC’s hit show to kick things off. “Even better, not only is it a big brand, but one of the things I think is important about the show itself is that there is a big character recognition quota. And the character library is fairly deep.”
To that end, in addition to the building sets you’ll be able to pick up blind bags of figures for $2.99 each, including most of the TV show’s cast, and assorted zombies. Initially you’ll be able to get Daryl Dixon, Michonne, The Governor, Carl Grimes, Riot Gear Walker, Michonne’s Pet Walker, and Herd Walkers.
But as the line expands, McFarlane said you’ll see plenty of favorites like Bicycle Girl and the Well Zombie, and if you pick up the construction sets will get additional figures, like the Governor’s zombie daughter Penny. But don’t worry, if you’re just trying to build a 100-strong zombie army, McFarlane has you covered.
“We’ll let you know when you pick up a bag if it has got a zombie or a human in it,” McFarlane said. “I don’t want to frustrate people who want to build a zombie hoard that they keep tripping over humans and go, ‘Gosh darnit this is my 15th sheriff.’ ”
Often, high end construction block sets from Lego and others can run well over $100-$200. So are the “Walking Dead” sets, sporting even more detail, going to break the bank? Of course not, that was clearly a rhetorical question: the company has that aspect on lock, too.
The sets will run in the $10-$50 range — with the exception of the Prison Tower, which will cost $64.99. McFarlane teased that part of keeping the line cheap is that sets may work together to create bigger scenes and scenarios (plus, of course, whatever you can dream up with extra blocks and figures).
“[The retailers] go, ‘Todd I don’t want anything over $40 bucks’, and you just try and figure out what that means,” McFarlane said. “Can you make as much cool stuff [cost] $40? Oh and by the way, if two of your $30 items happen to click together, it’s technically a $60 item… But we’ll let the consumer figure [that] out.”
The sets and individual figures will be available exclusively at Toys “R” Us starting in October – just in time for the Holidays. If you’re at San Diego Comic-Con, though, you’ll be able to preview the sets at McFarlane Toys’ booth. And chances are, after that, they’ll have a treasured place in your living room.
Finishing an anecdote about a man who’s Lego Millennium Falcon stayed hidden away for fear his friends would know he was playing with kid’s toys, McFarlane said, “I want to get it out of the bedroom. I want it to be a piece of art.”
You can check out more pictures of the initial sets below: