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Box o Zombies

The Educational Worth of Zombies

Nov 1, 2012



Box o Zombies is precisely what the name conveys...a box of zombies. Specifically, each box contains six highly detailed 2.5" plastic zombie figures available in two colours - pale purple or sickly green. Shawn Recinto, founder of Immersive Realms, explains how he came up with the idea to create these zombie figures while watching his sons play with their toy soldiers. He describes, "I saw them playing with the little green army men, defending their sister's doll house from a zombie invasion, the zombies were substituted with a bunch of lego guys". Shawn then decided to look online for zombie figures and found most of the figures were cute or simply not scary enough. It was then Shawn proposed the idea of creating zombie figures to his colleague and artist Ryan Blake and from there the box o zombies was born.

The highly detailed zombies from box o zombies designed by Shawn Recinto and artist Ryan Blake are definitely far from cute. All zombie figures - namely, the crawler, the principal, the nurse, the schoolgirl, the rocker and the lunch lady - are perfectly eerie and equally distinctive...each figure possessing its own grisly characteristic.


 
I initially had the intention of writing a review of Immersive Realm's box o zombies from my son Ronan's perspective. My five year old son sharing my appreciation for the macabre and grotesque, I knew, would be the perfect candidate to review these zombie figures. After all, the only thing Ronan loves more than monsters, ghouls, and ghosts are zombies! He has watched several zombie films and television shows (again and again) and in particular, appreciated the 1990 remake of the well-known classic 'Night of the Living Dead'. Ronan is a full-fledged zombie fanatic and insisted on a zombie theme for his fifth birthday party, and even attended a zombie summer camp. I can definitely say for certain that Ronan is schooled on everything and anything zombies and I will even go so far as to call him a zombie expert.
 
I felt, in the end, however that writing how Ronan enjoyed box o zombies would be predictable - almost to be expected. So, I decided to write this review instead for parents and adults who wonder what educational value (if any) the box o zombies holds. I wrote this review for the parents and adults who simply cannot appreciate box o zombies for its intricacies, brilliant artwork and the fun it would bring their children. For those of you wondering if your kids will learn anything from playing with box o zombies or wonder how you will justify zombie toys to other parents who may judge, this review is for you...and without further delay, here are some points worth noting regarding the educational worth of box o zombies in no particular order...
 
1) Box o zombies encourages creative imagination 
 
Kids can exercise their wildest imaginations when playing with box o zombies. Kids can act out various ways how to survive a full-out zombie attack. They can devise numerous strategies to use when fighting the zombies, and how to go about deploying these strategies. They can even take on the role of the zombies themselves and envision how zombies would act in certain situations. Box o zombies will teach kids how to think...outside of the box so to speak (hehe). Just like in drama class where improvisation is practiced to encourage creativity and imagination, box o zombies can function in the same way. 
 
2) Box o zombies helps surpass fears
 
Taking on the role of the zombie can ultimately teach kids how to surpass their fears. Various articles and studies discuss the beneficial aspects of role-play in context to the formation of empathy. In this particular case, box o zombies allow the kids to take on the role of a zombie. Role-play encourages kids to understand the mind of a zombie when they pretend to be one - thus, empathy in practice. Taking on the role of a zombie means kids will no longer see the zombie as the 'Other', the uncontrolled monster to be feared.  In the same way, role-playing killing the zombies in various situations also helps kids feel empowered. If kids are fearful of zombies, box o zombies allows them to take control of what they fear. 
 
OK, if you are shaking your head in wonder and thinking 'where in the world is she coming up with all these theories?', simply google 'role-play and overcoming fears' or 'role-play and empathy' and you will find various articles on the topic. Alternatively, feel free to discuss the issue with psychologists/psychiatrists or academics who have researched the beneficial aspects of role-play thoroughly (ahem, ahem...me).
 
3) Box o zombies encourages artistic skills
 
Box o zombies is composed of paintable figures. Your kids can customize their zombies whichever way they choose. Painting the zombies will encourage and help develop their artistic skills and not to mention their fine motor skills. And it goes without saying, art is tantamount to learning and expression. If you are one of the pundits or naysayers who still doesn't think art is important to education, well, I am not going to bother explaining why it is...there is no hope for you.
 
So, if your kids likes zombies and you are  worried getting them zombie toys will have no educational benefit or value for them whatsoever, think again! Just because zombies are grotesque, creepy, gratuitous and morbid, it does not mean they cannot be educational. I probably wouldn't take it so far to suggest that you allow your kids to bring box o zombies to show and tell (although I would :P) or to start lobbying that public education should start incorporating the study of zombies into the system (the study of zombies in popular culture is already part of higher education curriculum by the way for those of you who are still living in the stone age)...I am only suggesting that if you cannot appreciate box o zombies for the work of art that it is, and for the fun factor it brings, at least take into account its educational value. We all want toys that encourages the growth and development of our children's braiiiiinsssss...well, guess what, so do zombies :P

Video Review: For those of you who are interested in hearing what Ronan has to say about the box o zombies (from the perspective of a young zombie expert!), I will be releasing a video review soon :)  Stay tuned.



References
Box o Zombies Official Site
Photos on this page courtesy of Box o Zombies