My second ever review for Geek Ink was McFarlane’s Merle Dixon figure. Now it’s time for part two of the act: Merle’s younger brother, Daryl. Played by Norman Reedus, Daryl was created for the TV show, never appearing in the original comics (although occasionally you hear mumbles that he might make an appearance at some point). He rapidly became a fan favourite and a figure was released in the very first series of 5” Walking Dead figures. Sadly, it was marred by an awkward pose and the almost non-existent articulation that characterized the early figures. This didn’t stop it selling out almost immediately, pushing its price through the roof on the secondary market. I wasn’t able to get one, and actually I’m fine with that, because Daryl Dixon 2.0 is a fantastic figure, superior in every way to the first one.
The figure comes in a sturdy, collector-friendly box. The clear window shows off the figure, bike, and weapons so you can have a good look at the contents before buying if you’re getting your Daryl at a brick-and-mortar retailer. The rear of the box has a picture of Daryl and the bike along with other figures from the series, including the large 10” Daryl figure that came out the same time as this set. It’s overall a bit bland, but suits the grungy, post-apocalyptic world of the show. The inner plastic tray slides out easily enough, and the figure and accessories can be safely replaced for storage if so desired.
The face can make or break a character piece. This figure is a spot-on representation of Norman Reedus. The sculptor really nailed his likeness. It’s amazing work, especially considering how small a human head is at this scale. The rest of the figure is in line with the improvements of the more recent releases in this range. The sculpt is clean with no flash and barely noticeable mould seams. Daryl wears a sleeveless shirt and vest, suitably detailed with buttons, wrinkles, seams etc. He even has a tear in his jeans over the right knee.
Thanks to him being designed to ride the bike, this figure probably has the best articulation of all the Walking Dead figures since the very start. He has a ball and socket head, ball-joint shoulders, ball-joint elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, hips that swivel front and back, as well as to the sides, ball-joint knees, ball-joint ankles, and finally ankle rockers. Joints are tight without being too stiff, and hold poses with no problems. I can actually get him to kneel and remain balanced, something not a single other figure in this range can do (and in fact very few of my other figures can do either). I’d like to see McFarlane implement this hip assembly on all following figures as it really gives a great range of motion.
Let’s start with the small accessories. Daryl gets his trusty trademark crossbow and a small hunting knife. The crossbow is a great item in its own right, and even has three bolts fitted to the bottom. You don’t get any loose bolts though. The knife is quite simple, but it fits neatly into a sheath on his belt and adds a little extra character to the basic figure.
And, of course, there’s the bike.
I couldn’t quite remember how Daryl got the bike, but apparently in season 2 of the show, Daryl mentions to Dale that the motorcycle was originally Merle’s (“Keep your dirty, oily rags off my brother’s motorcycle”). There was some minor controversy about the SS symbol seen on the fuel tank onscreen in the show. For some weird reason McFarlane made specific mention of this being represented in the pre-release press info. This caused such an uproar that in the end the markings were removed. A more cynical mind might suggest that this was a deliberate publicity stunt… Personally, I like the final product to represent the “as seen on TV” item as close as possible, but I’m hardly going to weep over a couple of nazi lightning bolts (which also could’ve caused additional problems for any plans to export the set to Europe). I can probably scrounge some spare decals to add them myself if I was bothered, but I doubt I’ll ever go to the trouble.
Anyway, this is a superb model of Daryl/Merle’s bike, and probably the biggest accessory for any figure I have. I’m afraid I don’t know much about motorcycles, but I would assume it’s a Harley Davidson of some sort or another. It’s very detailed with a full engine, cables, pipes and kickstand, right down to the valves on the tyres. The seat even has a representation of the tape that’s been used to patch it. The headlight is a separate clear part.
A pair of loose saddle bags are included that fit over the rear passenger seat. Mine were a bit warped and I can never quite get them to sit properly even after heating and bending the plastic. A small black disc plugs into rear wheel for added stability, which helps if you want to pose Daryl in full riding mode. Alternatively, Daryl can have one leg extended to support the bike, which is how I have him. Lastly there is a weapon clip on the front forks that the crossbow fits into. It sits a little low, but still clears the front wheel.
The only real issue I had with the set is that Daryl’s hands are moulded a too closed to easily use the bike’s grips. The only way I could get him to hold the handlebars was to first warm his hands in hot water, then carefully ease them onto the grips. Once astride the bike, the final result looks fantastic.
The paint apps are really solid, being cleanly applied throughout. The figure’s eyes and beard are neat and line up correctly. Daryl is mostly dressed in drab colours and each item has a suitably grimy finish as you’d expect from someone who spends his days covered in zombie guts. The silver-grey angel wings on the back of his biker vest are present and correct (sub-text anyone?) although I can’t quite decide if they’re paint or a tampo.
The bike is mostly black and silver. The engine is actually a different silvery colour which is a nice touch. An oily wash was applied to the engine which helps the smaller details stand out. There is an overall brown drybrush that, along with a few chips and scuffs, gives the bike a suitably used look. The SS runes are, of course, missing, but the skull decals also applied to the bike are included.
I have very few issues with this figure. It’s easily the best figure in the entire McFarlane Walking Dead 5” line. I’m also part of the Daryl Dixon fanclub, and this is a wonderful representation of the character. I would have been happy with just the retooled Daryl figure (and if McFarlane has any brains, they should re-release it on its own), but the bike makes this figure just that bit more special.