Season 3 of AMC’s The Walking Dead is still several months off, but with Season 2 hitting Blu-Ray and DVD soon, the general excitement for Rick Grimes and his group of survivors is staying just as strong with fans. Now, McFarlane Toys is about to bolster the ranks of their figure line based on the series with 5 new releases for their series 2. This go-around, a second Rick Grimes figure, Shane Walsh, the Well Zombie,the Bicycle Girl Zombie from Season 1, and the RV Zombie make up the assortment. We saw photos of the planned figures at this year’s Toy Fair, but now we’re privy to the real-deal and so are you! Read on as we bring you an Exclusive First Look at Shane Walsh and the Well Zombie from McFarlane Toys’ The Walking Dead Series 2, followed by an interview with Todd himself!
Shane Walsh – Rick’s partner and loyal friend has become the antagonist of season two. Shane will be featured in tactical attire with his newly buzzed haircut. Love him or hate him, we can’t wait for his next move.
Well Zombie – A rotten, bloated zombie surprise resting at the bottom of Hershel’s water well that the survivors eventually attempt to hoist out by using Glen as bait. This is by far one of the sickest looking zombies seen yet on the series, and our figure is one dead on, stomach-churning replica.
MTV Geek: With Series 2 of the TV series-based figures, the assortment has been upped to five, from the previous four, in Series 1. Was this brought on by the fan demand of series 1 exceeding expectations?
Todd McFarlane: A little bit of that. Whenever we come out with a new line, sometimes we’re a little cautious up front and you could argue AMC was too when they only put up for six shows that first season, right? Everybody sort of put their toe in the water and then after that the success will basically dictate how you move forward. A four figure assortment in the toy business is kind of thin, but at the same time we didn’t want to put out too many at the beginning and then find out if it was a success then we used up all our best characters in series 1. You have to make these characters stretch a little. We know we have lots and lots of zombies to pull from, but we don’t have a limitless amount of human characters to pull from. we have to be a little cognizant that we sort of roll them out at a decent pace.
Geek: Rick makes another appearance in series 2, this time in civilian clothes. Is the plan to keep him in each assortment to help anchor the line, or did it just work out that way?
McFarlane: We look at Rick as the Batman of line. He’s the Master Chief, if you will. You’ve got that one “A” guy that people are gonna buy no matter how many other characters are out there. Y’know, you’re always gonna buy Shrek or Donkey, so we’ve put him out there as the sheriff and we know he’s the number one guy that people see as the leader. So, we need a Rick Grimes but he still has to be different enough that previous fans will want to pick him up again by having a difference in him visually.
Geek: The Shane figure looks incredible. In the photos, he appears to have a ball-joint neck, but no other discernible articulation that we can see. Did his dynamic pose warrant this, and if so, will we be seeing more figures along this line in the future?
McFarlane: There’ll be a descent amount of articulation, but the problem comes from there being two ways to make a toy. The first is the “sandwich guy” that you see with a lot of toys where you put the articulation in and you let the customer sort of get them into whatever poses they want. Then there’s one, which is more what we’re doing with Shane, where we put him in the “A” pose, the “dynamic pose”, and then give him articulation so it’s fun to move around and whatever else, but he doesn’t look quite as impressive as he does when he’s in the “A” pose.
So, the articulation will be there, it’s just that when you move the arms around he doesn’t hold the gun quite as intensely and he doesn’t have sort of the same attitude with it. It’s more for goofing around by moving your toy around while on the phone or in a business meeting or something than for “Hey, I’m gonna put him in this goofy pose and put him on my shelf.”
Geek: When making these figures, especially with the lead actors, how much of the figure is digital scan, 3-d sculpting, or traditional sculpting?
McFarlane: We did head scans of all of the actors except for Jon Bernthal, who plays Shane, since he’s schedule just never worked out. When we did the head scans I made sure to get a full range of emotions from them, from supper happy all the way to rage. I explain to them that, “Just because you’re a happy-go-lucky good guy this season, when we come back to make a figure of you, you might be a villain for all we know given the wants and the needs of the studio. So, I can come bug you every time there’s a character change, or in this one sitting here, if you don’t mind, can I get a full range of looks and emotions so that I just have them in the library and I won’t have to bug you?” And there pretty good because they’re actors and they can give me everything that I’m looking for in terms of the range of emotions that they’re going to bring onto the TV show.
It’s a way better use of my time to just get the actor’s heads, because for the bodies from the neck down I get all of the actor’s sizes and weights down and then hire body doubles to come in. We have big scanning machines and I can use the body doubles all day long and I’m not infringing on the valuable time during the shoot or at the soundstage or whatever. I can have the body doubles mimic all of the poses we want based on what’s been on TV or what’s gonna come up on TV and then when you attach the real actor’s head it’s pretty convincing.
We do a lot of the sculpting now and a lot of the extra details digitally. Once you finish in digital you still output it and go into traditional hand sculpting to get the super hi-def detail in it, but we’re leaning more and more towards getting it about 80% there in digital and 20% traditional.
Geek: This time, the TV-based zombies all feature far more awesomely gore-driven action features like those seen in the comic-based series 1 zombies. Do you feel you have more freedom from retailers to do the figures the way you want now that the first TV series line has been so successful?
McFarlane: I wouldn’t necessarily say there are any restrictions from the retailers. The retailers concerns are that at retail it’s reasonable looking and that you’re putting the age appropriateness of it on the packaging. Once you get it home and you’ve opened it up, after factoring in that it’s age appropriate and that it’s from The Walking Dead which is this mature show, then if it happens to do some crazy stuff then that’s in the confines of the consumer’s house and not at the store level.
Some of the “fun factor” that we add to the zombies, you don’t get to see it until you get it home. We describe it on the box, but we don’t actually show it. If you get to take the zombie apart and dissect it when you get home, that’s cool, but we just don’t put it like that at the store level– it’s just a zombie guy walking around. We have to keep it benign at the store level so someone doesn’t complain that we’re doing something that’s distasteful.
Geek: Speaking of action features, have any ideas been axed due to being too extreme or just impossible to incorporate into a figure?
McFarlane: Not really. At the beginning when everybody was sort of getting married to each other, and I perfectly understand, AMC hadn’t done any big licensing for any show and so it was all brand new to them and they wanted to be a little careful with it. Now, with the success of everything that they do, if anything they’re starting to throw some crazy ideas at us! Everybody’s now, “How can we do crazy zombie stuff?” — and still make it good clean fun and just have a chuckle at it when it’s all said and done.
Geek: If you were forced to pick a favorite figure out of the series 2 assortment, who would it be?
McFarlane: I would pick the Well Zombie, but that’s just because I have this sort of fetish for fat-looking toys, since there’s so much plastic! I mean, I go,”There’s a tall skinny guy, tall skinny guy, tall skinny guy, and then there’s the big mondo fat dude and I get all this extra plastic for the same price?” I’ve always liked those guys, but that was true when we were doing all the Spawn toys. The ones that always sold were the ones that looked like they were crushing the package because they were twice as big as somebody else. I was that kid that would always pick the Hulk over Spider-man because I’d be like,”Cool! He’s three times the size of Spider-Man and I paid the same price? I got a good deal on it.”
The Walking Dead second series of deluxe 6-inch figures is slated for release in October 2012, just in time for Season 3 of the show on AMC. For more on McFarlane Toys’ The Walking Dead series of figures, or their many other toy lines, be sure to check out their official website! Todd McFarlane is also randomly tossing out images and news on his Facebook and Twitter as well, so follow accordingly.
Stay tuned to MTV Geek! for all your McFarlane Toys and “The Walking Dead” coverage!