being available at Hot Topic, but I just ordered a few from eBay.
The Series 2 assortment didn't have many of my favorite characters (most of them will appear in Series 3), but I thought Dust Brain looked pretty cool. I also thought that Blech Beard was an interesting concept, so those were the two that I ordered.
Series 1 Madballs seemed to be kind of hit and miss. How did this series hold up?
Company: American Greetings
Size: 3" in diameter
Price: $6.00 each on eBay
Looks: Dust Brain - 4/5; Blech Beard - 2/5
Both toys have really impressive sculpts with numerous interesting details that make you want to examine them closely. Dust Brain's sculpt is a vast improvement over the original. The vintage version had wrapping over the nose that made it seem less like the living dead it was trying to represent. This one exposes the nose and gives the toy an appropriate corpse look.
Blech Beard also has a great sculpt. The zombie aspect is played up, and there are lots of nice little touches that make him interesting, like the fishing hook lifting up the eyelid.
The main difference between the two is the paint apps. Dust Brain has clean and sharp paint apps and nice washes to give him texture. There are some details that aren't painted, but they aren't all that necessary and overall he looks great.
Blech Beard is a paint app disaster, though. I appreciate the paint wash technique in the teeth and eye patch as it gives the toy an interesting crackled effect. But everywhere else the washes are just glopped on. Also, there are significant sculpting details that needed to be painted, like the fishing hook in the eyelid and the cord attached to the eye patch. It's really a shame that they ruined a great sculpt with this atrocious paint app.
Accessories: 0/5 (both)
I know what you're thinking: What kind of accessories can be useful for Madballs? Well, just try to display them and you'll realize that these toys really need some sort of stand. They have a tendency to settle on one side or the other and I would like to be able to display them perfectly upright. The stand doesn't need to be complicated, something resembling an upside-down plastic bottle cap with a character-specific decal would work. I used GERMS tube stoppers for the pics here and they worked well.
Value: 4/5 (both)
$6 for each Madball isn't a bad deal. Paying for shipping hurts a bit more, but the retail price of these toys is certainly reasonable.
Coolness: Dust Brain - 4/5; Blech Beard - 3/5
Madballs are certainly really cool toys and these new versions are fantastic upgrades of the originals while keeping the classic look and feel. Even new characters like Blech Beard fit in with the line really well. Blech Beard loses some coolness due to his horrible paint apps, though.
Overall: Dust Brain - 4/5; Blech Beard - 2/5
While the sculpts for these new Madballs are impressive, the paint apps seem to be all over the place. Dust Brain has sharp paint apps and nice washes, but Blech Beard's paint apps are inexcusably bad. Because of this, these new Madballs aren't able to live up to their full potential. Don't trust the promotional pics of these toys (in which the paint apps all look great); try to see them in person before you buy.