Friday, October 31, 2014

McFarlane Toys' 10" Daryl Dixon Figure from "The Walking Dead"

I don't review action figures very often, but since tonight is Halloween, I am going to look at McFarlane's 10 inch Daryl Dixon figure from The Walking Dead.  Daryl (played by actor Norman Reedus) is my favorite male character in this gritty, gruesome and addictive television drama.  When I saw how accurate this figure is to Daryl's character, I knew he'd have to join my collection.  As an added bonus, it's nice to have this fearless crossbow hunter around to patrol my woods on such a spooky night....

10" Daryl Dixon meets a Gentleman.
I bought my Daryl figure quite a while ago from Toys R Us, and I think I paid around $35.  He is still readily available from many online stores for between $30 and $40.  

I had about five figures to choose from when I was shopping, and it was interesting to see the variation in the facial painting.  A few of the Daryls had a lot of dirt splatter on their faces, and there was also noticeable variety in the darkness and density of the beard.  I have been known to agonize over doll decisions for ages, but I actually didn't have any difficulty in choosing this particular Daryl.  Of the five figures available to me, this one seemed by far the best.

He comes in a very attractive window box with appealing decorations from the show:

I particularly like the close-up of Daryl's face that wraps around the lower corner of the box:


All sides of the box are decorated with text and photographs.  In some of the pictures, it's hard to tell if it's a photo of the figure or of the real actor.

The back of the box has three more photographs of the figure and some smaller pictures of the other action figures in this wave.

The majority of the Walking Dead figures are only 6 inches tall and have several points of articulation.  It's hard to see their faces in these tiny pictures.  I have seen many of these figures at the store, and don't think they have the same level of realism as the larger versions--which is understandable.

At the bottom of the box, there's a teaser ad for the 6 inch Daryl figure that comes with a motorcycle. I actually have this Daryl, too, and can show you his face to serve as a comparison to the larger version:

6" Daryl Dixon figure
6" Daryl Dixon figure.
6" Daryl Dixon figure
He looks a little angry.
Also at the bottom of the box is a short paragraph explaining how this figure was designed from a 3D scan of Norman Reedus himself:

That explains the realism.
Daryl and his accessories are encased within a plastic clamshell that is set against a decorative cardboard backdrop:

The backdrop has a grey and sepia-toned picture of a prison--the setting for most of The Walking Dead's Season 3 and part of Season 4.

There are a few plastic twist-ties helping to hold Daryl and his accessories in the plastic clamshell, but it's easy to get everything out.  Daryl comes with his signature crossbow, three loose arrows, a hunting knife and a poncho:

I'll show you Daryl's weaponry first:

The crossbow is made out of plastic and feels lightweight.  It has a complex, realistic design, but doesn't have any moving parts.  I read that the crossbow Daryl uses in the show is a Stryker StrykeZone 380, but I am probably the farthest thing from an expert in this that's all I know.

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon crossbow

I was secretly hoping that this thing would be operational at some level, but I knew it wasn't likely.

The sides of the crossbow have some molded detail, including a handle and a tiny trigger.  The sides are also painted with various shades of green in a vaguely camouflage pattern that looks like it has been worn away over time:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon crossbow

The front of the weapon is convincingly decorated with silver areas that look exactly like scuffed metal:

This bow has a flexible vinyl strap with realistic textures and details:

There's one arrow permanently loaded into the crossbow, and three additional loose arrows:

There's a plastic quiver attached to the front of the bow.  This area can hold all of the extra arrows:

Here are the arrows in place--the shafts snap into little half-circle holes at one side of the quiver, and the (blunt) tips slide into the protected opposite end of the quiver:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon crossbow

Daryl also comes with a small plastic hunting knife:

Daryl can hold this weapon in his right hand, and it can also be stored in a sheath that hangs at his waist:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon
Come at me, bro.  I dare ya.

Now let's take a look at the full figure:

Daryl only stands about 9 inches tall (slightly less, actually), but I suppose the assumption is that if he stood up straight, he'd be about 10 inches from head to toes.

His head is turned left and his eyes are also glancing to the left:

I think the facial features are extremely well done.  He's obviously recognizable as Normal Reedus.  As an added bonus, I also think he resembles John Marston from Red Dead Redemption (another favorite of mine):

His painted blue eyes are very small, but they're positioned well enough that he can look right into the camera:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon

My figure has very few light brown dirt spots on his face, which I like.  He also has a fairly faint stubble-like beard and dark eyebrows.  Notice that the eyebrows are pixelated at the edges when you look at them up close:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon

The eyes are extremely hard to see, but they're painted grey-blue with a thin black rim and a small dark pupil:

The shaded coloring and uneven texture of the skin look very realistic to me.  I feel like I can see individual skin pores when I zoom in: 

Daryl's left and right profiles are quite different. His molded hair has more layering on the right side of his head, and from this side his mouth has a very faint smile. On the left, the hair is more uniform in length and the mouth is pulled down into a tough-looking frown:

I think his best angle is a partial right-sided profile:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon
Rugged but kind.
This figure has a neck joint, but its movement is extremely limited.  When the head shifts from side-to-side, the neck joints looks uneven and angular:

This figure only has three other points of articulation--both shoulders and the waist.  The waist joint barely moves at all, but the arms can rotate a fair amount.  I will look at the articulation and the outfit at the same time.

Daryl is wearing a bunch of layers on top.  His signature winged leather jacket vest is made out of flexible vinyl and is actually removable.  

The details on this vest are great, and include the lace-up sides, complete with metallic-painted eyes:

Under the vest, Daryl has two more shirts that are molded to his body.  One of the shirts is a greyish-brown button-down with leather sleeves, the other is a blue collared shirt:

Daryl's wears this outfit in the television show, but I think of it as having a blue shirt (with or without leather sleeves) and the grey-ish shirt underneath.  I guess they just wanted to mix things up a bit.

It takes some stretching and maneuvering to get the vest off, but here it is on its own:

Here is what Daryl looks like with the vest removed:

Daryl's right arm is bent at the elbow with the hand in a trigger-holding position.  This arm can rotate up towards the head, but cannot move past the head or behind the body at all:

When the arm is lifted, you can see the molded and painted detailing on the leather sleeves:

Daryl's left arm is also bent at the elbow, and is held out in front of his body a little bit.  His left hand is positioned to hold the crossbow.  This arm can lift up to the head...

...and can even pass right by the head and move into some very unnatural-looking positions behind Daryl's back:

When the hand hits Daryl's waist, that's as far as it will rotate.

From the front, Daryl's two hands look pretty different.  The right hand (trigger hand) is painted to look dirty, but the left hand has a yellowish cast with a large painted wound.  To me, the left hand looks very pale and zombie-ish in comparison to the right:

I think the shape and detail in the right hand is amazing:

The left hand has great detail in the fingers and fingernails, but the color just isn't as good as it is on the right:

There's also an obvious seam across the knuckles of the left hand:

The back side of the left hand is painted really well:

Daryl is wearing molded brown pants with lots of rips and holes:

I think the molded wrinkles and creases in these pants are fantastic, but the rips and holes are not as realistic.

The hole over Daryl's left knee, in particular, doesn't look very convincing.  For starters, that knee should be much, much dirtier:

Also, I don't find the frayed edges of the hole very believable.  They look too thick and stiff:

Here are the pants from the back:

Daryl has a red handkerchief positioned to look like it is hanging out of his back pocket, but again, I don't find the texture or painting on this detail to be particularly convincing.

Daryl's long pant legs hang down and over the tops of his yellowish-brown boots:

There's a seam at the intersection of the pants and the boots:

This ankle seam pulls apart quite a bit--making it feel like the feet should be removable. I pulled pretty hard, but was unable to get either of the feet to come off.

The bottoms of the shoes have a zig-zag tread:

After I finished inspecting Daryl's outfit, I wanted to see how the crossbow would fit into his hands.  The right hand's grip was extremely stiff at first.  In fact, the thumb and forefinger were painted together and had to be pulled apart before I could even try to get the crossbow in position.

I had a really hard time getting the crossbow into Daryl's hand.  Part of the problem was that the crossbow feels very light and fragile, so I was reluctant to use a lot of force.  The other problem was that Daryl's vinyl fingers were too stiff to pull apart and grasp the handle.  After a lot of effort, I finally got the handle wedged in between the thumb and fingers like this:

With the butt of the gun up on Daryl's shoulder, I wasn't able to get his finger on the trigger, or get the left hand into place supporting the bottom of the weapon:

With the butt of the gun under Daryl's arm, I was able to get a slightly better hand position:

With the finger almost on the trigger:

The problem with this arrangement was that there was absolutely no flexibility in the pose.  If I moved Daryl's arms at all, everything would slip out of place.

As I battled with this crossbow again and again, Daryl's hand began to relax into a more open grip (it also lost some paint...):

 From looking at the pictures on the box, I knew it was possible to pose Daryl with the crossbow pointed down, and with the fingers all in their correct position:

And, I did manage to (finally!) get the fingers relaxed enough so that I could put the butt of the gun above or below Daryl's arm and still get the hands into their correct positions.

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon
Crossbow pointed down, fingers in place.
Crossbow pointed up...fingers still in place!  Yay!

Here are a few picture of the different poses Daryl can now strike with his trusty crossbow:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon

He can hold the weapon in front of him or sling it over his shoulder with the strap:

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon

I decided to look at the poncho accessory last because the box states that I had to remove Daryl's head in order to get this piece of clothing on:

I didn't want to risk trying to write a review of a doll with a broken head (or no head), so I decided to do everything else and then attempt the decapitation.

It took a bit of effort to pull Daryl's head off and I was pretty nervous about breaking it.

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon

With the head gone, the poncho can be placed over Daryl's shoulders.  Putting the head back on then secures the poncho in place.

The poncho is bright and realistic, and it looks great on Daryl:

For these pictures, I actually just balanced Daryl's head on top of the neck.  I wasn't sure I wanted to wrestle the head off again when I was ready to remove the poncho.

Once I was done looking at the poncho, getting Daryl's head to snap back in place was really hard.  The only thing that worked for me was to put the head in roughly the right position on the neck, turn Daryl upside-down with his head against the floor, and then push down on the body with all of my weight.  And even that method only worked about the fourth time I tried it.  I'm not likely to put that poncho on ever again.

When I was finished reviewing Daryl, he asked if he could do a quick patrol of the house, checking for zombies and other monsters.  I get the sense that it's hard for this guy to relax.

McFarlane 10" Daryl Dixon

Daryl came across Ghoulia first.  She was stumbling around looking for her glasses, and I think her unsteady gait (and blue skin...) put Daryl's senses on high alert:

Daryl meets Ghoulia

Fortunately, Ghoulia was able to explain her situation before Daryl impaled her.  

Despite Daryl's eagerness to get back to his patrol, Ghoulia somehow managed to sweet talk him into guiding her home first:

Ghoulia flirts with Daryl

Next, Daryl was sure he'd found a worthy target when Once Upon a Zombie Snow White lurched into his crosshairs:

However, as she turned and rushed towards him, Daryl noticed her starry eyes and infatuated smile and his instincts told him that she had no intention of hurting him...

Daryl meets Snow

...just hugging him a lot and following him around everywhere.

Hm.  Maybe I should have pulled the trigger??
After he managed to distract Snow long for enough to sneak away, Daryl came across a zombie who was actually causing some serious trouble terrorizing all of the plants in the house:

Daryl meets small zombie

Although this wasn't a very thrilling hunt.

Too easy.
 At last, a real threat emerged from one of the dark corners of the room.

Floating quietly over the floor, The Gentleman wielded a single scalpel, polished and ready to cut out Daryl's heart.

Sideshow The Gentlemen figure

Sideshow The Gentlemen figure

Despite his tracking skills and well-trained ears,  Daryl didn't even hear this ghostly demon sneak up behind him...

Daryl whirled around to face his attacker, temporarily stunned by the size and proximity of The Gentleman.

This momentary hesitation gave The Gentleman just enough time to neatly pluck Daryl's crossbow right out of his arms:

Just as the situation began to look hopeless, though, someone rushed in holding an elaborate and ancient-looking blade...

Buffy!  Quick!
This distraction was all Daryl needed to regain his focus!

As Buffy struck from behind, Daryl grabbed his crossbow and finished off The Gentlemen with his trusty hunting knife.

In the aftermath of their adventure, Daryl and Buffy eyed each other admiringly...

Some soft music started playing in the background....
And a little connection beagn to form between these two rugged, lone warriors.

Daryl and Buffy 4ever

...until a certain jealous zombie came along and completely ruined the mood:

Ok, now I'm gonna kill her.
Bottom line?  I think of action figures as being highly articulated.  This Daryl Dixon collectible is advertised as an action figure, but he's really more of a static display piece.  Although his arms and neck move a little, he has a very limited variety of poses.  If I think of him as a figurine or a statuette, he's incredible.  He bears a striking resemblance to Norman Reedus, and wears highly detailed clothing that is accurate to The Walking Dead television series.  Everything from the color of his dirt-stained skin to the tiny laces on his leather jacket are incredibly realistic.  When I took Daryl to the dark woods for my cover shot, I was startled to look into the camera and see such a vividly real face staring back at me.

The accessories that come with this set are are well-chosen and look great, but they are a huge hassle to use.  Daryl Dixon is rarely separated from his crossbow on the television show, and so he should not be without it in the toy world, either.  The miniature crossbow in this set is highly detailed and reasonably loyal to the weapon from the show.  The frustration with this accessory is that it took a really long time to fit it correctly into Daryl's hands.  Even now that the hand is bent into a more accommodating position, it still takes some time to get the crossbow positioned well.  The other major accessory, the poncho, has similar issues.  While this piece looks amazingly real and is accurate to the show, the hassle of getting Daryl's head on and off is prohibitive.  If you own this figure, I'd recommend picking which look you enjoy the most and sticking with it.  The knife is a small accessory, but I like that Daryl can hold it, and that it can be stored in a flexible sheath at his waist. 

For me, the striking realism of this figure overshadows the lack of articulation and the frustrations I had with the accessories.  I love to collect souvenirs that remind me of my favorite television and video gaming experiences.  For this purpose, it's hard to imagine a more satisfying replica of Daryl Dixon in this price range.  Furthermore, for a figure that can barely move, Daryl was surprisingly fun to pose and play with.  He's a definite if any of the dolls in my house would ever let him leave.


  1. Haha, that was unusual but really funny :D
    And yes, the figure looks great, even he reminds me a bit of Mr DiCaprio :)

    I love the photos with Snow White snd Ghoulia :D

    But what the heck is that white bold doll thingy??? It's creepy!

    Happy Halloween


  2. hahah! Holy crap, Em, OUTSTANDING review. I love the photos you took of this Daryl, and especially the other doll sizing comparisons becoming a fun photostory. He is so crazy realistic. I would not have expected that level of detail in a $35 figurine! Love it! Happy Halloween!

  3. Ha ha! Another Daryl lover! I've looked at these "figures" at TRU a few times, but came to the same conclusion that they were too expensive for being glorified "display pieces". You mentioned the motorcycle figure, but it looks like you've still got him MIB. I found some of what has to be the same figure (minus the chopper) at Walgreens recently for just $12, so if you're wanting to evaluate one without taking your original out of the package, that's an option. :)

  4. What a great and unique review! I can't get over the detail of this doll. Amazing! Once again, your posing and creativity with the mini-photostory is just so good...I love your humor and I love that doofy Zombie Snow White, lol. Happy Halloween! Did you dress up the animals? I think we need a blog post about that if you did! :)

  5. Kick some zombie butt, Buffy! Actually, I have always wanted Once Upon A Zombie Rapunzel.

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  7. Ha, I liked it when Buffy came along and saved the day...but I have an Angel action figure and I don't think he'd be a bit happy to see how Buffy and Daryl were looking at each other. - Jocelyn

  8. Impressive amount of detail on that figure - I've seen the smaller figures, but never the ones in this size range.

    For all that the figure doesn't have much articulation, you certainly managed to use what was there to create a fantastic sense of dynamism in those various zombie-fighting (or friending) photos!

  9. My only problem with Daryl is that I follow the comics...where he dose not exist. Other then that he is a good looking figure.

  10. I have that Daryl check out my YouTube channel to see my Daryl on his chopper review

  11. I just ordered I realized I have been a Walking Dead fan for quite a while and owned no merchandise except my comics, season one of the TV show, and two pairs of socks. I'M A TERRIBLE FAN!
    Great cross over fanfic though. Made me laugh. XD

  12. I love the photo story at the end with your various zombie dolls.

    It's amazing how closely the figure looks like the actor, but if if was done from a 3D scan of Norman Reedus, it makes perfect sense.

  13. I'm catching up on some of your old posts and this one is great! I'd say Daryl's best matches are Buffy (the whole fellow-warrior connection) or Ghoulia (she's a genius, so with her brains and his weaponry and fighting instincts, they'd be an almost unstoppable pair!).

  14. Awesome post. This is such a useful tool for writing. It helps me with my story writing. You are truly to be commended. Your blog posts are very good about.

  15. I have to say, every time I come back to your blog, I find something I haven't read before! I thought the little photo story at the end was brilliant! I miss your posts and hope you return soon! Hope all is well.

  16. I love the little drama at the end! At my house there's currently a romance between Flynn Rider/Eugene and the first edition Lammily :-).