Living Dead Dolls
Living Dead Dolls were originally made by hand by Ed Long and Damien Glonek and sold primarily in their booth at horror conventions. Mike "Mez" Markowitz of Mezco Toyz happened to spot these ten-inch creations at a con, and a deal was struck to manufacture them for a larger audience.
The Series One dolls (Damien, Eggzorcist, Sin, Posey, and Sadie) were released in early 2001, with Series Two (Kitty, Deadbra Ann, Lizzie Borden, Lou Sapphire, and School Time Sadie) released in the Fall of 2001.
There were a few store-exclusive Living Dead Dolls in 2001, including a "Died and Doom" two-pack at Tower Records, a "Sinister Minister and Bad Habit" two-pack at Spencer Gifts (released in August), a variant "Sinister Minister and Bad Habit" two-pack (red costumes, released in October) at Toy2R in Hong Kong, a single-pack Penny exclusive at Toy2R and EasyFinder in Hong Kong, and yet another variant "Sinister Minister and Bad Habit" two-pack (white costumes, released in December) for Spencer Gifts.
Mezco has plenty planned for the Living Dead Dolls in 2002, including more series of LDDs, mini LDDs, block figure LDDs, Club Mez exclusive LDDs, and box sets of stationery. (The stationery will include a pencil sharpener: stick the pencil in the eye of an LDD to sharpen, then press a button on the back of the head to see the shavings come out of the mouth.) The mini LDDs come with nooses: when put around the neck of the doll, it becomes a clip to attach it to a purse or a backpack.
The single Living Dead Dolls retail for about $19.99 to $24.99 USD, but the two-pack exclusive sets are priced higher. The Spencer Gifts two-pack featured in this Spotlight retailed for $59.99 USD. The LDD are not sold in stores like Toys'R'Us, but can be found in comic book stores and specialty stores such as: Tower Records, SpencerGifts, Electronics Boutique, Hot Topic, and Suncoast. Many smaller online stores also sell them. (Some online stores sell them by the case.)
Part of the appeal of the Living Dead Dolls (LDD), aside from the "cute but twisted" formula, is their packaging: each LDD is packed in a box shaped like a coffin. The LDDs also come with death certificates to complete the concept. (The two-pack sets are packaged in "double wide" coffin boxes.) Each coffin has a clear plastic lid (for displaying them in the package) and a black lid which matches the coffin.
The coffins are lined with red/dark pink tissue paper: some collectors change the tissue paper to an acid-free white tissue paper, or to a fabric, but Mezco assures us that the original tissue paper will not harm the dolls or the outfits. As is traditional with Mezco products, the back of the coffins list development, design, and graphics credits.
Sinister Minister & Bad Habit
with a 12-inch GI Joe for size comparison
The Spencer Gifts exclusive Sinister Minister & Bad Habit two-pack was limited to about 4,000 sets. (The white versions, also a Spencer Gifts exclusive, is also limited to about 4,000 sets. The red version, exclusive to ToyR2, was limited to 999 sets.) To put this in perspective, there were about 35,000 of each Series One Living Dead Doll and about 40,000 of each in Series Two.
Each Living Dead Doll has a short verse on the box to explain the theme of the doll. The verse for Sinister Minister and Bad Habit is:
This gruesome twosome
have a dark obsession.
With an incense burner
and rosary beads, they
want your confession.
As you can guess from the verse, they come with a short string of rosary beads and an incense burner in addition to their death certificate.
Because these are dolls and not action figures, they have limited articulation: neck, shoulders, and hips. The RTM Toy Testing Lab Monkey was oddly pleased to see that they have navels.
There are many details on both Sinister Minister and Bad Habit, from the "love" and "hate" on the Minister's hands, to the hems on their clothing. (The very back of Bad Habit's veil is not hemmed, but the parts you can see from the front are hemmed.)
Both dolls have black shoes and socks (black for SM, white for BH). Bad Habit has white underwear painted on, while Sinister Minister is "going commando."
Their outfits have velcro closures, although SM has small buttons sewn onto the front of his coat. His coat can be removed: his undershirt is sleeveless and is attached to his pants. This appears to help the way his coat fits, since the shirt does not need to be tucked into the pants. The habit and veil for Bad Habit are one piece, opening in the back under the veil. An elastic band helps keep the veil on her head.
In addition to the elastic band, the veil is sewn onto BH's bald head, although perhaps "tacked" is a more appropriate word than "sewn," because the thread goes through her head in only two spots and is easily removed. That thread was not visible unless you lifted the veil and looked at the top of her head underneath it, so it does not detract from the display value of the doll. The thread is only an issue because you need to remove it before you can take the veil and habit off of Bad Habit to iron them.
Veil Before Ironing
Veil After Ironing (back)
BH After Ironing (front)
In the pictures above, which were greatly brightened to bring out the details, you can see that Bad Habit's veil portion of her habit is a bit wrinkled from being in the package. If you aren't planning to open your set, this isn't an issue. If you are planning to open yours, it is well worth the five minutes that it takes to iron out the wrinkles. Again, wrinkles don't hurt anything if you are leaving her in the coffin, but on display, she looks nicer without them.
The RTM Toy Testing Lab Monkey used a low heat setting to iron the habit, and did not use steam because the white parts of the habit are felt, and steam may have made the black from the fabric bleed into the white felt.
While many of the other Living Dead Dolls are somewhat gory, Sinister Minister and Bad Habit are not. They are, however, rather creepy. If not for their eyes, they would be cute, but the pattern in which the colors are painted on is somewhat hypnotic and mesmerizing. While you can't see it in these pictures, the eyes on Sinister Minister and Bad Habit glow in the dark. (To date, the only Living Dead Dolls with eyes that glow in the dark have been the exclusive dolls.) Fear not, gore fans: the red-costumed Toy2R exclusive set is gory. The eyes on the dolls in that set are red, and that Bad Habit is crying tears of blood. (The horns on the Sinister Minister in that set fall into the "cute" category, but the only word for those tears is "gory.")
Lou Sapphire is part of the second series of Living Dead Dolls and is another cute LDD. Although he is the devil, he is not gory. As you can see in the image above, the smudging around his eyes make him look like a tired little boy.
"Lou Sapphire" is a play on "Lucifer," just as Robert De Niro's Angel Heart character was "Louis Cyphre." Lou comes with a cane topped by a skull, his death certificate, and a contract for a soul. The contract has a blank to fill in your name and the wish that you are trading for your soul, as well as a line for your signature. The skull which tops the cane has the same red "gems" in its eyes as Lou has on his left hand for a ring.
No doll would be a devil without horns and a tail, both of which Lou has. The horns and tail are both velvety, and his tail is bendy. (For the curious, the tail is glued on to the doll itself, not to his pants.) Lou's black suit is made from a short-nap velour fabric, so that it is as velvety as his horns and tail. His jacket has sewn-on buttons but closes with clear snaps. His pants and shirt (which are sewn together like Sinister Minister's) close with a velcro strip in the back. Lou wears the same shoes (and black socks) as Sinister Minister, but they have red details to match his shirt.
As with the Spencer Gifts set above, the verse on Lou's box sets the tone for him:
A cane, a contract
Your hope quite grim.
Adopt this boy
And hell comes with him.
Lou can hold his cane by using the hole in the middle of the palm of either hand. The RTM Toy Testing Lab Monkey wasn't sure about this, but an email to Mezco revealed that, yes, the cane does indeed stick into his hand using one of the horns on the skull.
Living Dead Doll Links