Review: Survivor The Walking Dead by Griffin Miniatures
For the longest time there was a set of pictures floating around the zombie miniatures community of a breathtaking group of zombie “greens” (preproduction models). The range was to be produced by the man behind troubled Harbinger magazine. When the mag unexpectedly folded it generated a lot of bad blood in the gaming community and gave rise to the sad assumption that the figs would never see the light of day.
Then one day while cruising the Lead Adventure Forum I read a post from someone who had seen and even purchased a prerelease set of the finished minis from Griffin Miniatures. I eagerly contacted the owner to enquire if he had any sets left and he did. I eagerly ordered one and settled in to wait for my treasure to make its way across the Atlantic.
In a little under a week I had my package, a cool videotape-style plastic clamshell packed with foam and excellent-looking minis. Upon closer examination, I was surprised to find that although the minis were cast with tabs for slottabases, no actual bases were included. I assumed this was an oversight and e-mailed Mark a couple of times about the issue. He eventually agreed to send me the bases, but when they finally showed up they were odd hexagonal-shaped ones that reminded me of the bases for the old Ral Partha models for BattleTech more than a modern tabletop game. Rather than pursue the matter further I just ended up using surplus slottabases from my GW backlog. I later read in Vampifan’s excellent review of this set that he didn’t get any bases either, so I wonder if they aren’t included on purpose for some bizarre reason.
Customer service oddities aside, the zeds themselves are absolutely first rate. The fifteen of them span a wide range of character types, from businessmen to biker and from nuns to hookers. My personal favorite is probably the roller-blading girl zombie, still plugged into her iPod. Unfortunately her lunging pose, while dynamic, makes here extremely prone to falling over, so I had to glue a quarter to her base.
The detail is truly impressive, and nowhere more so than in the brutal damage sustained by many of the undead. Griffin has frankly raised the bar here, with several sporting massive through-and-through wounds are just amazing feats of craftsmanship. I have no earthly idea how they manage to cast these minis, but it’s an impressive bit of work. The fireman-type impaled on a signpost would be the standout of any normal zombie mob, but here he’s clearly upstaged by the big butcher and his three giant hideous exit wounds. Nothing does a better job of driving home the idea that these things are DEAD, and thus not subject to the frailties of normal humans.
Also included in the package are five survivors, who are rather more of a mixed bad than the zombies. I’m not a fan of combined zombie/survivor packs, since when I’m interested in a range of zeds it’s primarily to bulk out my ever-growing horde, not add to my already-ample stock of zombie hunters. The Griffin survivors run an interesting gamut, from a shotgun-wielding priest to a Goth chick with a baseball bat. The priest (who reminds me of Samuel L. Jackson and the wrench-wielding redneck are both excellent minis, with each button on the priest’s cassock and every wrinkle in the redneck’s overalls perfectly sculpted. The fireman is also decent, though I find his half-squatting pose a bit odd. The two women are perhaps the least-successful figs of the whole set. Their faces have an odd, unnatural cast to them and there’s just something unpleasant about the two of them that made me leave them until the very last when painting the set.
I’m not sure just what scale these minis are supposed to be, but they’re substantially bigger and beefier than most of the other 28mms in my collection. I’ve heard them described as 32mm, but I not quite sure how to measure them myself. Look for some scale comparison shots in the upcoming new test stage of the Master Zombie Database. Suffice it to say that they stand out noticeably on a tabletop with other 25/28mm minis, but not to such an extent that they’re unusable.
What is impressive given the size and heft of these minis is the quite reasonable price of 35 GBP. Especially considering the no-doubt laborious casting process, that’s a pretty impressive deal in a world where one can easily pay 3 GBP each for substantially smaller quality gaming minis.
Griffin says that these figs are intended to accompany a zombie-fighting game of the same title, but they’ve been saying that for a couple of years now with no release date in sight, so perhaps it would be best to just treat them as a stand-alone set.
I really like these zeds despite the scale issue. The incredible damage modeling is the best I’ve seen on the market so far, and the gamut of characterful costumes and poses really helps give them individuality. I wish the survivors were sold separately instead of being included in the pack, but they’re still good minis that will find a place in my games. Griffin has a bit of a customer-service problem, but I suspect that’s the consequence of being a cash-strapped one-man shop. I certainly wouldn’t let a few minor problems stop you from adding these to your collection.
UPDATE: 5/9 Multiple people have confirmed to me that this set somehow ships without any bases as standard. In twenty years in the hobby I have never seen this happen before. Caveat Emptor, I suppose.
Pros: Industry-leading zombie damage, good personality, decent value
Cons: Some odd-looking survivors, unusually large scale, questionable customer service
Final Verdict: 4/5
MSRP: 35 GBP
Source: Griffin Miniatures
Popularity: 32% [?]
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