Zombie Initiative Toxo-Zombie
In my opinion, if you’re going to revisit the Eco-Warriors concept, you have to go all in and bring the Toxo-Zombie back as well. Thankfully, the GIJCC shared my opinion on that one. While I never had the original Toxo-Zombie, I thought the idea was pretty cool but felt the color scheme was pretty lacking. However, since Hasbro added some zombie parts to the brand’s parts library thanks to the 30th Anniversary Zombie-Viper, and a modern Toxo-Zombie was a no-brainer for an Eco-Warriors themed con set. While I think zombies are starting to become a little passé in pop culture, the Toxo-Zombie has been around since 1992, so it’s not like its inclusion here is a “Suddenly, zombies!” moment like what happens with other properties trying to cash in on the zombie craze. Add in the twisted way the filecard says Cobra uses them, essentially as undead suicide bombers, and I have to say, the Toxo-Zombie is a fine addition to the modern Joe line.
Understandably, the Toxo-Zombie shares the majority of its parts with the GIJCC Toxo-Viper figure. The torso and right side of the figure are completely unchanged from his set-mate Toxo-Viper. The upper left arm and leg are also the same 30th Anniversary Airtight parts the Toxo-Viper used, but to create the Toxo-Zombie look, he gets the lower arm and leg from the 30th Anniversary Zombie-Viper. It’s impressive at how well these parts, designed for a one-off figure in the 30th Anniversary line, work when combined with Toxo-Viper parts to recreate Cobra’s original zombie. While I do kind of miss the original angle of them being zombified from exposure to the dangerous chemicals they work with, using the Compound Z angle does tie them better to the rest of the Joe brand. In 1992, the Toxo-Zombie was just a little too hard for me to fit back in my “universe”, but with the creation of Compound Z, I can justify the Toxo-Zombie a bit better. The only new piece used to create the Toxo-Zombie is a Boss Fight Studio sculpted Toxo-Zombie head and they did a great job with it. While the original Toxo-Zombie head sculpt was a bit soft and therefore not terribly intimidating, this Toxo-Zombie looks like it shambled right off the original card art. The battle damage on the helmet is very well sculpted and the underlying zombie head looks appropriately undead, but it’s still got the Compound Z created zombie look as opposed to your more traditional, rotted-out zombie look. I think one of the reasons I was always a little disappointed with the original Toxo-Zombie is because the card art looked scary but the figure really didn’t. This new head really helps sell the Toxo-Zombie as an undead beast that Cobra sets loose on urban populations to create fear and panic. I do wish they could have done a little bit of battle damage on the torso armor as well, like on the original figure, but if I have to choose between an expertly-sculpted new head or recycling the 30th Anniversary Zombie-Viper head here to get damaged armor, I’ll take the new head any day.
The other area that always bothered me with the original Toxo-Zombie was his paint scheme. As an adult, when I heard a fan mention that they justified the light green and pink color scheme as a bleached out Toxo-Viper uniform, it worked for me, but as a kid, I just couldn’t get behind those weird colors. I mean, even the card art showed him still purple and green. Why wasn’t the figure wearing those colors? Thankfully, the GIJCC decided not to replicate his original color scheme and kept the standard Toxo-Viper colors. The purple and green on the Toxo-Zombie look just as good as they do on the Toxo-Viper. However, I think they used a non-metallic green on his armor and I like that. It ties back to the fan justification of bleached out equipment without going full neon. The Toxo-Vipers in brand new equipment still have a bit of a factory-fresh sheen on the metal. However, by the time they’ve been corrupted by constant exposure to Compound Z, the metal has degraded. It’s not damaged yet, but it’s also clearly not pristine equipment. The exposed flesh uses the gray and blue color combination that is proof of zombification via exposure to Compound Z. The paint on his face is especially well done. The eye has a cold yet angry stare and the gray and blue flesh stands out nicely against the green and red helmet. The teeth get painted a nice sickly shade of yellow and the pink inside of his mouth again helps the teeth to pop a bit more. I do kind of wish they could have a gone a more traditional gory zombie route here, like the original Toxo-Zombie did, but I understand that basing it around the established Compound Z idea means the Toxo-Zombie can’t be bleeding red like back in the day. I will however point out that somewhere along the lines, the Toxo-Zombies lost the green butt of their non-zombie counterparts. I’m glad that at least the Toxo-Zombies got it right, but I’m still a little confused as to why the Toxo-Vipers had green butts but the Toxo-Zombies didn’t.
Accessorizing a zombie character is always a bit hard. However, I think the GIJCC really struck gold when they came up with the idea of Toxo-Zombies being shambling suicide bombs. He’s wearing the same belt with pistol that the Toxo-Viper had to complete the look, but since it’s been established that zombies lack the ability to use weapons, it’s really there more as set dressing than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it’s there to make him look complete, but it’s not like I’m going to have my Toxo-Zombies running around with their pistols in hand. The Toxo-Zombie carries around the same bomb that Resolute Roadblock came with. While it doesn’t necessarily fit with the “living IED” idea established in the filecard and convention comic since I tend to think of an IED as something a bit more cobbled together than an actual explosive shell, it’s a decent enough stand-in that I’m okay with it. It at least makes more sense being included here than in does in just about any other time it’s been packed with a figure. To make it clear it’s a Compound Z bomb, the nose cone is painted the same blue we’ve seen used to represent Compound Z since Hasbro came up with it during the 30th Anniversary line. It’s a nice little bit of synergy between various eras of Joe product that you don’t really see all that much.
Overall, the Toxo-Zombie is great figure. The GIJCC maintained a great level of consistency between this figure and the standard Toxo-Viper. The zombified look works well as either a zombie created by constant exposure to toxic waste like the original figure’s filecard stated or as part of the Compound Z experiments. The modern Toxo-Zombie looks far more savage than his vintage counterpart and I think that’s really to his benefit. I never found the original Toxo-Zombie to look all that scary, where this is one very nasty looking zombie. I think the GIJCC really did an excellent job with what could have been a simple rehash of the 30th Anniversary Zombie-Viper. While I’m usually one of the first to call the GIJCC out on some of missteps, I have to say I’m glad they gave a figure that is such a footnote in Joe history (and an under appreciated one at that) such care and attention.