This review is very much a blast from the past as I go ultra-retro with a look at some of the oldest zombie miniatures in my collection. These five minis that you see in the two photos above were all made by Citadel way back in the late 1970's. They are all in true 25mm scale and all include integral metal bases. In those days, slottabases had not been invented. and scale creep had yet to infect Citadel as badly as it has nowadays. In addition, the only non-historical wargaming figures you could buy were for fantasy role-playing games in general and Dungeons and Dragons in particular.
Once I decided that I was going to build a zombie horde in earnest I looked at my collection of fantasy figures to see what would work in a contemporary setting. Companies like Citadel, Grenadier and Ral Partha, along with others that have long since passed away, all had contenders. Admittedly, they all needed work doing on them. Repainting them was an essential, as my painting skills in those days was no more than adequate. Plus, they needed rebasing, which meant sticking them atop slottabases. Do you know, when slottabases first came out (I'm sure it was Games Workshop who introduced them) I hated them? I resisted sticking figures onto them and would cut off the slottatabs and glue the figures to pieces of plasticard. I also disliked thick metal bases. I wanted my figures to be as close to the ground as possible without having their height raised considerably by sticking them on a goddamned slottabase! Over the years my opinion has mellowed until now all of my figures MUST be stuck on a slottabase. For one thing, if all of the figures are on them then that doesn't affect the height of the actual figure. Everyone is in the same boat, so to speak. For a second thing, you can really go to town on making the bases scenic. My default flavour for bases is what you see above - a collection of grey rubble indicating a war-torn urban setting. For most of the games I play nowadays that works just fine.
So let's look more closely at the figures. First up, at the far left of the photo, is what could be the oldest zombie figure in my collection. He came out long before the other four in the photo and was part of the Citadel D&D monsters collection. Despite being a fantasy figure, with a new paintjob, he fits in very well in a contemporary setting. His face is almost skeletal like with the skin pulled tight to the skull. I've left his eye sockets without eyeballs, which isn't such a big deal for a zombie as they seem to use hearing as their primary sense. Blood has run down from his eye sockets to pool in his neck area. He has a nasty bite wound to his right arm, in addition to wounds to his right shoulder and centre of his back. He's a nicely sculpted figure and I still like him. I'm sure that he was made in the late half of the 1970's.
The next four figures in line are probably from the very late 1970's or very early 1980's. Citadel began producing armies of fantasy figures in those days with lots of variant heads for a particular figure in the range. It was this policy that stopped me in my efforts to buy every single figure they produced! The zombie with the meat cleaver has had his right arm bent slightly so that he holds the cleaver in front of him instead of to one side. He too is bald-headed but his head is not as skeletal looking as the previous zombie. His clothes are ragged and hang in tatters but the only blood I have added to him is on the blade of his cleaver.
The zombie in the middle is one that I have multiple versions of. I particularly like him because his intestines are flopping out of his stomach cavity. See, I've always been a gore hound! I also liked this model's head a lot, which is why I chose him for my contemporary zombie horde over the others I own. Note that his right eye is hanging out of its socket and a large piece of hair has been ripped away from the back of his head. Nice and gory!
Speaking of nice and gory, the zombie to his left has suffered severe damage. His head is a complete mess as pieces of flesh have been bitten or torn off, although amazingly, his eyes remain intact. He carries a large carving knife, that also has a bloody blade. There is a small bullet wound in his upper right chest with a massive exit wound only partially visible between his shoulder blades.
The final figure in this group has been painted in the bright orange garb of a prison inmate. Because he is in a crouching pose he appears to be the smallest figure in the group. The knees of his trousers are holed and bloodied and he has an assortment of wounds to his torso and right thigh. From the state of his wide open mouth it looks like dental hygiene was not high on his list of priorities!
I would imagine that these figures will be extremely difficult to get hold of nowadays and I would not like to place a price on them. If anyone has seen them on sale on any of the auction websites, do let me know how much they went for. They are small when placed alongside the more common 28mm scale figures that are so prevalent today but that does not matter to me. As I keep on saying, humans come in a vast array of sizes and shapes in real life so why worry about a few millimetres in a miniature figure?
Finally, in another dig at Citadel and their parent company, Games Workshop, I must say that these figures and most of the ones in my previous review are far superior to the horrible plastic zombies that they sell for Warhammer today. Just look at how perfectly proportioned these five figures are. Now take a look at the current GW plastic zombies and weep!