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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dead Ringers - Custom Zombie Sculptures

It is finally time for my review of the appropriately named Dead Ringers I wrote about a few months back. Being a collector of statues and busts, I could not resist the opportunity to have a statue of myself as a zombie. They are not exactly cheap, but in my opinion are worth every penny. Is the final product worth your hard-earned change? Sit back as I discuss with you the pros and cons as well as offer some pointers in case you decide to take the plunge.

I will first start by admitting that my review may be overly-enthusiastic. Again, being a collector of statues and busts and an obvious fan of zombies, I was eager to have a Dead Ringer made. The process is simple: You email several pictures of yourself from different angles to the sculptor, Philip Hynes. Make sure to include any specific details you are looking to have done. What type of injuries do you have? Were you simply bitten or have you had an arm ripped off and half your face eaten? What skin color do you want? Bloodless and pale or Romero Dawn of the Dead blue? Maybe classic green? What about a pose? Would you be a shambling zombie with a blank stare or a fierce one lunging to attack?
My request was to be a freshly turned zombie. I wanted one eye removed and my cheek torn exposing my teeth. I included a picture of a zombie from Land of the Dead as my inspiration. I asked to have one arm out stretched slightly and the other dangling freely. In my mind, I envisioned the care-free dead from Romero's Dawn who just wandered around aimlessly, lazily, and effortlessly.

Now for the actual product... The good? Detail is aplenty and the sculptor is truly talented. You can view muscle fibers beneath the torn skin. There are tiny teeth visible where my cheek is missing. There is texture in the hair. Clothing has a natural flow. And while the statue as a whole is somewhat (and intentionally) caricature-ish, everything is proportioned well. More good? The painter, Martin Whitmore, is talented also. Skin tones look great. Colors are natural. And creative applications with a steady hand are apparent. The areas where skin is missing have a gloss finish making the wounds look realistic and wet. The shirt I wore had a white and gray coi fish that Marty was able to reproduce perfectly. He was even able to paint the tattoo that peaks out from under my shirt. As a whole, I received a statue that I am thoroughly impressed with.

So what about the bad? There's not much, really. The few things I will point out are really not all that important but I want to be thorough in case anyone reading decides to buy one. There are a few areas where it is apparent that this is hand made. The rare and slight "imperfections" are really not worth basing a decision on, though. It's no different than buying a hand-made vase or piece of glassware. It's art and it should be expected. I only mention it for anyone who would want to compare their sculpture to something produced by the likes of Gentle Giant or Bowen Designs. But then we're talking about companies who fine-tune items for editions of hundreds and even thousands so a completely flawless item is a bit more expected.

Pointers before contacting Marty to start your Dead Ringer? Think about what kind of zombie you want to be. Grab some inspiration from your favorite films, paintings, or zombie-walk participants. As goofy as you may feel, don't be afraid to be expressive in the pictures you send. I imagine it would make for a more fluid and believable pose to have a more animated facial expression. Choose to wear clothes that you don't mind looking at for a long, long time. Clothing is a small, yet obvious, detail that I did not consider when sending in my pictures. Another obvious one is to make sure you are having a good hair day and are wearing jewelry you don't mind having immortalized. Finally, make sure to send me some pictures so that I can feature you and your Ringer on ZT!

Thanks to Marty and Phil for an excellent addition to my toy collection and for providing me with what is now one of my favorite pieces. You can pick up your Dead Ringer 'Groaner' bust or 'Shambler' statue by visiting Marty's site. Prices range from $150 to $250 depending on what you want. As a zombie fan and toy collector I think it is money well-spent. In fact, after seeing mine, my son wants one! So who knows... you may see a second review in the future!

Marty and his Dead Ringer:


  1. Kickass! I noticed your new FB profile pic the other day and had no idea that is was a sculpture! I just thought you'd underwent a really awesome zombie makeover!

  2. Your zombie looks AMAZING. I love it. I think I'm going to order one too. Thanks for the pointers. I'm going to put a lot of thought into what kind of zombie I want to be, and what to wear in the pics I send in.

    P.S. I'll email you tomorrow.

  3. ey this is perfec, I can start my own collection of toys, a Bush zombien and Clinton zombie and...wait, this is people is already a zombie, damn!


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