Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tonner's "Zombie Boy" and Mezco's "Frozen Charlotte"...on Halloween

The power is on back here in Maine, but my thoughts are with those who are still struggling in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.  That was a beast of a storm.

Because of the storm, it will be a dark, damp, mild evening here in the Northeast--perfect weather for Halloween.  It seems like a good opportunity to show you two of my creepy dolls.  I can't do a full review of either of these dolls: Tonner's Zombie Boy can't be moved around very much and my Frozen Charlotte arrived in a badly damaged box.  Nevertheless, these two are here to help get you in the mood for a spooky night of ghosts and zombies:

"Zombie Boy" by Tonner Doll.
Zombie Boy is a doll made in the likeness of Rick Genest--a real-life fashion model whose body is covered in tattoos that make him look like a decaying zombie.  If you are unfamiliar with Rick, he stars in this cool commercial, and also in Lady Gaga's (slightly least for me) "Born This Way" music video.

Tonner made the "Zombie Boy" doll for the 2012 SDCC (San Diego Comic Convention) in a limited edition of 500.  The dolls, now sold out, retailed for $159.99.

The box is white cardboard and has a black and white image of the real Zombie Boy:

I was almost afraid to open the tissue paper.  I have to say, I've never owned a decaying zombie doll before.  He comes with a certificate of authenticity that is signed by Rick Genest himself.

The signature reads, "Rico the ZoMbie" and is cleverly placed so that the fly printed on the certificate takes the place of the "o" in zombie and a tiny spider acts as the dot on the "i."  Very cool:

Here he is:

Yikes!  The doll is both creepier and more realistic than I expected:

There's a little note inside that warns about the delicate nature of the applied tattoos.  Apparently, some of the designes are painted on the doll (those on the front of the face) and the rest are a bit like the Create-A-Monster Design Lab tattoos.  That makes me very nervous about this doll's long-term durability, but I've heard that you can spray a matte sealer all over him and get the tattoos to last longer.  Sounds like a good idea.

He comes with a typical waist grip Tonner stand, but he doesn't seem to need it at all:

I'd be cautious about using a stand anyway, just because of the worry that it would rub away some of the tattoos.

He comes dressed in a pair of black leather jeans and (almost) matching boots.

The jeans are made of a soft fake leather and have a faint distressed pattern in the fabric.  The sewn details are very nice and include four working pockets:

The tattoos stop at the waist of the jeans in front, but on the back of the doll, part of the tattoo extends down towards the tail bone area:

Both the sides of the jeans and the sides of the boot have buckled straps as decoration:

The boots seem intended to match the jeans but are made out of a stiff vinyl.  They have an almost green tinge to them in comparison to the pants.  The soles are made out of dense black foam.

Each boot has a long zipper in the back that makes it very easy to get on and off:

The boot construction seems a bit cheap to me, especially in comparison to the awesome pants.  The boots do allow the doll to stand beautifully on his own, though, and that's a huge plus.  

The general theme of the tattoos is that they show bones and guts protruding from under rotting flesh.  What strikes me is how parts of this macabre display are beautifully and artistically done.  

There's a big biohazard symbol on his chest.
There's a torso joint on the Tonner 17" male body, so the tattoos have a small break in this area.  The seam is well concealed on the front.  Here's a closer look at some of the intestine tattoos:

I find myself wanting to piece together actual anatomical details in this jumble of decay.  I imagine that I can pick out the distinct texture of the colon, and then maybe some small intestines sagging down  in the center.

The back takes more artistic license with the anatomy and has intricate little fleur-de-lis designs representing the vertebrae in some areas:

The tattoo below the torso joint on my doll seems slightly crooked--it leans off to the right:

Both upper arms are decorated with the same design--a human head with a snake head surrounding it.  It looks like a snake head hoodie:

The inside of one lower arm has the words, "the saw is family" in a gothic font.  That, I believe, is a quote from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie.  

The lower arm has more embellished anatomy details:

Little maggots appear throughout the various tattoos.  Playing "find the maggot" with this doll would be pretty fun.  I'd hate to meet Rick Genest in person because I'd probably get caught up playing this game with the real tattoos and loose track of the conversation.

Find the maggot!
The hands have some exposed bones on them, and then each finger has a letter to spell out a word.  The fingers on the left hand spell "dead."  If you look closely, the first "d" looks a bit like a lowercase "b." I'm pretty sure it's supposed to spell "dead," though, since "bead" doesn't make a lot of sense in this context.

The right hand spells "evil."

There is some worrisome peeling on one of the hand tattoos:

The hands remind me of the show Lost, where Charlie has tape on his fingers that spells out a word.

The head is the best part of this doll.  I find it fascinating.  I can't even imagine coming up with this design--it's such a neat mix of creepy and cool.  The combination of that skeletal smile, the furrowed brow and the darkened eyes is haunting.  

I'll show you the head from all angles.  Notice the sinewy neck with exposed vertebrae.

He reminds me of The Gentlemen, from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Hush.  Great episode to watch on Halloween....

There's a huge centipede crawling along the edge of his left ear and a small carrion beetle (?) just underneath the same ear.

Find the maggots!
The applied tattoos go right up to the neck joint, so you have to be really careful moving the head around.  Too much movement in any one direction will wear away the tattoos.  You can see that they're already flaking a bit right at the joint:

This is strictly a display doll.
The top of the head has several more bugs and some exposed brains.  The exposed brains on Rick Genest's real head tattoo are a bit more accurate.  The back of the doll's head looks a lot like a cracked skull to me:

Depending on how the light catches the doll, it can be pretty obvious where the applied tattoos end and the painted tattoos begin.

Here you can clearly see the edge of the applied tattoos (the ear is painted):

Find the maggots!
It's almost too easy to find the maggots on the top of his head.

Those are more convincing exposed brains.
The eyes are very dark blue and beautifully painted.  I think Tonner was right to put a lot of detail and care into the painted eyes.  A doll with tattoos this extreme could easily look like a cartoon or a joke.  As it is, the realistic eyes stare out and grab your attention--much like the eyes (and smile) of the real Zombie Boy radiate a personality beyond the darkness of the ink.

They missed the mark a bit with the eyebrow piercings, but it's very hard to see this in real life.
This is a cool doll.  I'm not sure what possessed me to buy him in the first place, but I have to say that he's a striking and unique addition to my collection.  Aside from some concerns about the appearance and longevity of the applied tattoos, I am surprised by how much I appreciate everything about this doll.  He is a commanding presence on the shelf.

My other creepy Halloween friend is Mezco's Living Dead Doll, "Frozen Charlotte."  I have wanted Charlotte for quite a while, recognizing that she is one of only a few Living Dead dolls that aren't too graphic for my personal tastes.  I found her for a steal on eBay (she can retail for well over $200 these days) but quickly found out that she was discounted for a good reason.  She looks fine at first, tucked away in her coffin-shaped cardboard box:

The front of the box displays her original retail ($24.99) and has the following description: "Fair Charlotte was a frozen corpse, and a word she no more spoke, her flesh had become like fine china, and just as easily broke."

The back of the box revealed some problems.  The plastic wrap was stuck to the cardboard (melted onto it?) and there were big areas of brownish yellow staining.  And a bad smell.  And something sticky.

I snapped this quick picture of Charlottes in her pink tissue paper display before throwing the whole sticky, stinky box out and washing my hands eight times.  Yucko.

Charlotte's ear muffs are cute, but they have some scary-looking mold growing on them:

There's even a stain on one side that looks like blood.  That's a bit too realistic for me, thanks.

The red mold from the ear muffs stained one side of Charlotte's face, and even a Q-tip of bleach couldn't get it off:

Poor pale Charlotte doesn't photograph very well against grey, so here she is against a dark blue (skating pond at night?) backdrop:

She looks a little crazed with that wild hair.
She is wearing a pale blue fleece winter coat with matching mittens and a pair of white ice skates.  Her outfit matches the impressive blue crack on the front of her head:

Crazy Charlotte.
I love the design of the coat.  It has an old fashioned look to it with a fitted waist, fur accents and two rows of tiny white buttons running down the front.

Charlotte wears her white hair in a simple high ponytail with bangs.  

The bangs are a mess, and I was unable to get them to behave with simple brushing.  I might have to resort to the hot water bath.

The ponytail is coarse and came out of the box pretty messy.  Unlike the bangs, the ponytail can be tidied up with a brush:

The hair is rooted in a single row at the hairline and then swept back to cover the white scalp:

When Charlotte lunged for my head, hoping to suck my life essence, I noticed that she has a small hole in the palm of her hand.  Maybe this is so she can hold things?  She didn't come with any accessories to hold, though.

Charlotte's ice skaes are adorable.  They're made out of soft white vinyl and decorated with white fake fur and tiny little pom-pom laces.

The skates slip off easily thanks to a long slit in the back:

Yuck--more mold inside the skate:

Underneath the skate on her left leg, Charlotte has another painted blue crack:

The design of these painted cracks is pretty simple, but it's very effective in conveying the idea of shattered frozen skin.

The pale blue coat has a long single line of velcro down the front for easy removal.  Charlotte isn't wearing anything under the coat (a bit of a disappointment) but has blue painted underpants.  From this angle, you can also see that she has another painted crack running down the left side of her neck:

Her body has 5 points of articulation: neck, shoulder and hips.  The body has a simple shape and definitely reminds me of a Madame Alexander doll:

In addition to three painted blue cracks, Charlotte has some blue shading around her joints and on her torso:

She can do some nice front-back splits, but considering the ease with which she cracks, I'm not sure this is such a great idea...

Charlotte's blue features and slightly upturned eyes give her a mournful, ghost-like appearance.  She's an unnerving mix of cute and tragic.

The quality of this doll is a mixed bag.  The dress coat is adorable and well-made and the ice skates are wonderful.  The painted cracks are nicely done and the overall design concept of the doll is creative.  The hair is a mess and has no restyling potential.  The body is stiff and has very simple articulation.  I have to keep reminding myself that this was originally a $25 doll and that Mezco never meant for her to be selling for over $100.  At the original price, and because of the fan following and collectibility of this series, the quality is fine.  

In the end, I can't really give this doll a fair assessment because the condition of her packaging was so gross, but I guess maybe on Halloween, gross packaging is acceptable.

I hope you've enjoyed meeting this spooky duo.  Of the two, I prefer Zombie Boy, partly because he represents a real-life enigmatic character and not a dead child, but also because the artistry and detail make him an excellent showpiece.  He provides a stark contrast to my sweet and beautiful Cinderella-dominated collection.  Charlotte has her own odd appeal.  While I'm not apt to purchase any more Living Dead dolls, I can see why people get hooked on these little nightmares.  The dolls walk a fine line between suggestively haunting and downright gross, and Charlotte strikes a balance I can handle.

Happy Halloween! :)


  1. I love Rico; and of course, your reviews!
    Sorry Charlotte was such a stinker, couldn't help it, LOL!

    1. LOL! That'll be her nickname from now on, I think. ;)

  2. I bet your Cinderella's just love him, the bad boy to their princess persona! Too bad about Charlotte, if she was in better condition she would be really cool I think.

    1. I think you're right--the Cinderellas can't help but be drawn to the darker side of Rico. The result of Prince Charming overload, perhaps? :)

      I haven't given up on poor Charlotte. A boil wash and some more cleaning and she'll be better, I hope.

  3. ! wonder what Ghoulia would think of Zombie Boy...

  4. I wonder what Ghoulia will think of Zombie Boy.

  5. Great review! I like both dolls but, as you pointed out, they really are in different leagues.

    1. Thank you, maricha! That's a great way of putting it. Zombie and Charlotte are definitely not in the same category--it's probably unfair for me to compare them!

  6. Great review! I like both dolls but, as you pointed out, they really are in different leagues.

  7. I loved seeing both of these dolls! Thank-you for sharing your pictures.

  8. First, I have to say that I'm glad that only the power went off in Maine and nothing more (and that it's back on now) I'm surprised about the scale of the disaster Sandy caused.

    And now back to the review, I really enjoyed it! :D
    Both dolls are not really my taste of dolls. I'm fascinated about the details of the tattoos on Zombie Boy. I couldn't imagine living like that in real life! I'd play find the maggots on myself all day xD
    Charlotte looks cute, if you compare her to other living dead dolls (most of them are just too creepy for me, imagine having such a doll in your room while you're asleep at night.. no thanks)
    I'm sorry about the durability of the tattoos on zombie boy (but that matte sealer option sounds good) and Charlotte's stinky box but these are still nice dolls, and represent a cool contrast to your sweet Cinderella dolls :)

    I may have a suggestion for a review, how about a review on a Moxie Teenz doll? When I first heard of them I wasn't interested at all (mostly because I'm not interested in Moxie Girlz) But I have them in my head for a while now and saw that Moxie Teenz and Moxie Girlz are really different. I'm more and more interested in Moxie Teenz and since I saw two of them in stores recently (I didn't have enough time to take a good look at them though) I'd love to read a detailed review on one of them so that I can decide if I want to buy one or not.

    1. I love the Moxie Teenz!! They're probably my favorite MGA dolls. I did a review of one of the newer rooted ones, but I should really review the originals because they're the best by far. They're also on clearance here and are an incredible value. I sent you one. ;)

    2. Omg, I totally forgot you did that review on Tristen! I knew someone did that but I couldn't remember who, that's what happens when you read lot's of doll blogs! xD
      I can't believe you've send me a MT doll :D
      Thank you so much Emily, you're amazing! :D

  9. Wow Emily. That is the most detailed photographic coverage of Zombie Boy. Great photos and a very fine review.


    1. Thank you, Kevin! Zombie Boy is VERY fun to photograph. :)

  10. Zombie boy is awesome!but sorry - Charlotte is way,way behind the league!

    1. Yeah, I agree. Zombie Boy is way better than I expected, Charlotte worse. I haven't given up on Charlotte yet, though. I think if I fix the hair, she'll be better.

  11. I don't usually comment, but I really enjoy your reviews. I also wanted to mention that if Frozen Charlotte does have mold, you might want to be careful about adding her to your collection. Mold spreads very easily and can be difficult to remove from textiles and other porous surfaces.

    1. Yikes. :-O Thank you so much for the warning. She's actually quite far away from my collection right now--mostly because she smells. I'll keep her that way until I can arrange some kind of disinfecting procedure...

  12. I've been loving your reviews after some major archive binging-it's nice to see some doll reviews that aren't Youtube videos. A question you might be able to answer, based on your reviews-with the Disney Store limited edition dolls, can you remove the outfits, or are you stuck with them? I'm eyeballing one, but hesitant as it'd be my first big doll purchase.

    1. Good question! I have Rapunzel, Merida and Cinderella and they're all in their original boxes so it's hard to tell. I untied Cinderella's torso and peered at the back of her dress--she has velcro! A promising sign for the clothes being completely removable. Maybe someone else can verify this? :)

  13. OMG Congrats on getting a zombie boy. He's wonderful. I've been eyeing the zombie boy for a while...but too pricey for me ...

    I notice you can see the decal edges...i wonder if you can hide them with a matt varnish. You could probably also help protect them with a matt varnish.

    1. I think that's a great idea, invie. I'll have to do some research about what kinds of sealant are safe. I wonder if the awesome Tonner Doll Hospital has a recommendation? He wouldn't be worth the money if his tattoos came off. :(

  14. I love your reviews. I love the detailed tattoos on Zombie Boy ( sorry about the peeling), he is such an unique doll.

    1. Thank you, Starr. He is very unique. Many of my students have elaborate tattoos or are tattoo artists themselves, so I have an interest in this part of our culture. No tattoos myself, though. ;)

  15. Hello from Spain: I had not seen this guy before. He is a zombie ... I like the look so monstrous. We keep in touch.

  16. About Charlotte's mold problem. You could use a generous spraying with Lysol to kill all of it (green apple is the least overpowering of their scents). Persistent smells (ex.moth balls, leather, musty etc.) are often completely gone if you put the stinky item out for a few nights in one of those mesh laundry bags so it doesn't attract attention. I used to restore old dolls for friends and these tricks (gotten from my mom) worked for me every time. Come to think of it a bit of lemon juice and direct sunlight also kills mold but that's more useful for clothing than dolls as the sun sometimes fades their face paint.

    1. Thank you for the tips, maricha! I have to say, I've never sprayed a doll with Lysol before! It seems much safer than bleach, though. Thank you for the scent suggestion, too. Some of those smells are too flowery for me.

      Oh, dear. The thought of putting poor Frozen Charlotte out at night in the cold makes me feel bad! Still, if I'm ever going to enjoy her, I need to get rid of the smell. It's funny, the creepiness of her smell and mold makes the creepiness of her design seem like no big deal! :)

      Thanks again for the great ideas!

    2. You're very welcome! I hope Charlotte can soon join your other dolls.
      I'm partial to Lysol because it kills mold and germs even when you still see stains so at least you know the item is safe to handle for further treatments no matter how bad it looks.(That's why hospitals used it originally,my mom was a RN, that's where she learned about it.)
      If the mold leaves a stain behind on a doll after the Lysol spraying the least risky option to get rid of it is using one of those acne gels with benzoyl peroxide. Even without using sunlight to accelerate the bleaching action they eventually get the job done. It's extremely rare to see any sort of fading of face paint if you avoid sunlight-except on old Barbies.

  17. tbp maybe you could get a makie doll just type in 99.99 plus vat
    they are cool. you can createe a custom online or buy a ready made one by others. or you could customise it online and make it look like you!

    1. Oh! I have been looking at those! Someone introduced me to them and I have been visiting the site and designing a few characters. It's really fun! I haven't placed an order yet, but I am very tempted! Do you have one?

    2. no, I dont. Im saving up for a vocaloid hatsune miku pullip doll. Im not sure I can take care of her though because im only 10 and im scared im going to open her head and lose all of the pieces so I might get a mini taeyang black butler sebastian.
      Its easy to remember the names so I can easily write my xmas list on the go.
      1)mini taeyang black butler sebastian
      2)hatsune miku shoulder bag style 9
      3)reeses peanut butter cups

  18. Have you seen Noel Cruz's repaint of the Zombie boy doll? It looks stunning:

    1. Thank you for that link--Noel's work is incredible and that Zombie Boy is no exception! He's alive!

  19. Awesome dolls! I love Zombie Boy's tattoos. :) It's too bad you got Charlotte in such poor condition. >.< (Then again, you're lucky you got her at all; she and Maggot are two of the most sought after main line dolls.) She's still a cutie.

    1. I know! I found it very hard to criticize Charlotte because I know how rare she is and how high her price can get. I haven't seen Maggot yet, though. I might have to go search a few pics...

    2. I found Maggot! I don't love maggots, but her sailor dress is fantastic and I can see why she is popular. Another nice balance of cute and creepy. :)

  20. 10/10 of Rico.. He looks gorgeous and make me want him

  21. LOVE the Tonner, he is perfect for Halloween. Although I am not attracted to Gothic dolls myself, the Monster High Scaris Cats are nice because they remind me so much of the female kitties on Broadway, plus I owned 2 Persians growing up and one thought he was a Siamese. I DO have tattoos, though nothing that graphic (Comedy/Tragedy and bunches other to do with music and theater arts) and would love more. Tattoos are addictive as I can see these dolls can be . . .

  22. They are terrible things.

  23. believe it or not this is the thing that got me into living dead dolls! im going to get one soon
    maybe vincent vaude or gregory
    but i really want to know how big they are
    they look huge in some photos but charlotte looks tiny in yours
    can you tell me how big she is please?

  24. I've got a few Tonner dolls, character dolls only though (Harry Potter, Captain Jack Sparrow, etc), so Tonner sends me those frequent e-mails with their promotions. When Zombie Boy came up I though "Who would ever buy that?". And now I know! LOL!

    As for Charlotte, she is beautiful! I love the whole idea of the Living Dead Dolls line, but most are too creepy for me to consider owning. Charlotte is one of the exceptions. The only one I actually have is their Edward Scissorhands, which I adore!