The Walking Dead is a bleak show. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly more to it than that – it’s not just bleak, it’s also depressing, hopeless, and nihilistic. But mostly bleak. You see, the “walking dead” referred to in the title aren’t zombies, they are ordinary people. And long after the last walker shuffles off to its second grave, the people will still be strangling each other for ratings. It’s a great metaphor for life, too. If you like someone, they will be brutally murdered. If you don’t like someone, they will be brutally murdered. If you lve long enough, you will lose half your limbs and talk on a crazy phone. Okay, maybe it’s a little one-sided… but you know, McFarlane Toys made a not-LEGO set out of one of the most amazingly sadistically depressing moments in the show ever. In any show.
Fact: Rick Grimes’s wife is dead. Other fact: She died differently in the show than in the comic. In the comic, she got shot in the back during the Governor’s assault on the prison, fell over, and crushed her newborn baby to death. In the show, she died in childbirth, and the baby survived. Now, I know that makes the TV show sound a little happier, but wait, there’s more! You see, shortly thereafter, Rick has a minor breakdown and goes to look for Lori’s remains, I guess for some closure. So he kills a few zombies that are still wandering around the prison, gets a cathartic experience, and goes into the boiler room where they stashed her body. Instead of Dead Lori, Rick finds some smeared blood and juices, and a few bite-sized Loribits on the floor. He follows the trail of blood over to the boiler, where he finds a single zombie so overstuffed that its belly is bulging, and it lacks the energy to get up or do anything. because it ate Lori, you see. The show wanted you to look at the zombie that totally ate Rick’s wife. With slow, loving closeups.
So, Rick shoots the zombie because HOLY CRAP, TV SHOW. And then a phone rings. There haven’t been phone lines in months. He answers, and thus begins a plot arc of the show where Rick hallucinates communicating with Lori by carring an old, disconnected phone around and talking to it. Ya feeling happy? Well, now McFarlane Toys has immortalized this cheerful moment of sunshine with one of their pseudo-LEGO playsets! And, uh… if you can ignore the subject matter, it’s actually pretty awesome.
This is a $20 set, so it’s not huge, but it has more going for it than Daryl’s Bike. First off, I want to point out that the box art is a CGI mockup of the set, not the set itself. These playsets look great in person, and it is odd that you dont actually get a product photo.
Notably, the instructions contain a correction – it’s just changing the order of a couple of pieces, but following the revision will make your life easier. This set isn’t terribly difficult to make, although a few parts are somewhat unclear. Move slowly, and have a LEGO separator handy in case any pieces get stuck.
When assembled, it’s big enough for a few small figures – to be honest, the set could have used some more “flooring,” as it is hard to maneuver people and zombies around on the narrow walkway it has. I do like the pegs sized perfectly for TWD foot clamps, though.
The level of detail in this set cannot be described in words. Things like the junk unrder the desk or parts of the boiler you can’t ever see (they are hidden behind other parts) have details, and it is amazing to think that this is techncially just LEGO with texture caps and a few special pieces. Pay close attention to color when assembling parts, though, so similar pieces don’t end up mismatched.
And that’s about it, really. If you want, you can to bolster this diorama with a brick backdrop, or some more flooring – though the flooring won’t match – so this makes the Boiler Room one of the best factory-sewer-ish terrain pieces I have ever seen. Just… just try to cheer up, okay? This is possibly the most depressing toy I have ever seen, but it’s got more potential than wife-eating sadness. It honestly works for a lot of things – subterranean monsters, anything Lovecraftian… Or, even better… a certain clown written by Stephen King. We all float down here.