- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2013

McFarlane Toys continues its crusade to bring AMC’s popular zombie television show to three-dimensional life with its release of The Walking Dead: TV Series 3 collection.

Containing another five action figures averaging 4 inches tall with some mandatory extras, the set delivers a trio of famed undead (read the gory details below), the samurai sword-wielding Michonne and a man who recently redeemed himself after some incredibly horrific behavior.

Figure profile: Paraphrased from the McFarlane Toys and AMC websites — Left for the dead by Rick Grimes and the rest of the group, the estranged brother of Daryl Dixon, overcomes the grisly loss of his hand to find sanctuary at Woodbury, a barricaded town of survivors under the control of the mysterious Governor. With Merle’s training and penchant for violence, he ascends the ranks to quickly become second in command but still looks for a way to reunite with his sibling.

Accessories: Our crazed survivalist comes with 20 points of articulation to help collectors build some memorable poses.

His key feature is a bayonet attached to a metal strapping case used to cover his handless right arm. It’s a contraption that would make Azog the Defiler jealous.

Merle also gets another knife and packs a pistol (that fits nicely in his belt holster) and an assault rile with strap.

The washed-out paint job highlights his very lived-in garb with a crinkled, unbuttoned shirt and rolled-up sleeves exposing his ribbed, dirty white undershirt, khaki pants and a pair of munitions pouches.

I’m also thrilled to report that McFarlane’s design team has finally delivered human figures that look like their acting counterparts (the 3D, laser-scanning process really worked this time).

Merle looks just like the grizzled actor Michael Rooker with permanent stubble, while a hooded and dreadlocked Michonne captures actress Danai Gurira’s appearance during the season-two finale “Besides the Dying Fire.”

Of course, equally important, his crew again delivers three memorable undead figures.

* Zombie Pet 1 and Zombie Pet 2 (sold separately) pay homage to Michonne’s extreme survival instincts. The armless and jawless pair demonstrates the resourcefulness of the heroine as she drags around this duo of rotting flesh air fresheners to mask her presence among the undead. Each has a collar and metal chain around its necks and a backpack to carry her stuff (Pet 2 includes a removable shotgun). And, just to notch up the grotesque, each pet’s missing jaw and arms are in the package.

Note: Attaching the jaws will require a microsurgeon to keep them in place. Also, good luck putting the backpacks on each fellow; it is a tense, soft plastic-stretching exercise in patience (slow and steady, deep breath).

* Autopsy Zombie (from the second season’s “What Lies Ahead”) — In a desperate search for Sophia, Rick and Daryl take out their frustration through a crude operation on a flesh-eater who may have digested the missing girl. The figure offers a pull-away shirt piece to reveal an cut-open (bloodied knife included) torso cavity with plenty of room to house both the included partial woodchuck skeleton and rotting hand. It is a demented masterpiece and second in grossness to only the Well Zombie from McFarlane’s TV Series 2 collection.

Price: $14.99

Read all about it: Yes, the television show continues to rack up record viewership numbers, and we can all thank the original source material continuing to be provided by undead maestro Robert Kirkman and his near decade-long run on writing the comic book.

Even though the Merle Dixon character only appears on the show, I’ll demand once more (before reporting you to the Governor) that anyone who watches the AMC series, go out and buy Image Comics’ massive omnibus editions (measuring almost 13 inches by 9 inches) starting with “The Walking Dead: Volume 1 Deluxe Hardcover” (averaging $95). It collects the first 24 issues in black-and-white splendor with more where that came from.

What’s it worth: McFarlane Toys latest homage to The Walking Dead are more than simply action figures, they are poseable, pop-culture moments in time.

Add Merle Dixon and Michonne to Deputy Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and Shane Walsh to now assemble a force to confront a host of macabre menaces such as Bicycle Girl Zombie, Zombie Walker and RV Zombie. The group begs for a collector to build an encased diorama to show off in an entertainment room. When does the Governor arrive, Mr. McFarlane?

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