POWER LOADER (WITH RIPLEY & BATTLE-DAMAGED ALIEN)
You might think that with the onslaught of Aliens-based products in the last year or so, that I would be getting a little tired of reviewing it all. Well, you’d be wrong. Seriously, I’m just so happy to be a part of it all. In the last year, I’ve gotten not one, not two, but three versions of the Power Loader (granted, one of them was from 1992.) Anyway, the latest of the Power Loaders is from one of my favorite lines of all time, Minimates!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
The Power Loader (as well as Ripley and the Battle-Damaged Alien) is one half of the first deluxe series of Aliens Minimates, which hit around the same time as the second specialty series.
Okay, so “figure” isn’t quite accurate for the Loader. There is a bit of articulation (at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists), but as a whole it’s more of a vehicle than anything. Nevertheless, it’s undoubtedly the star piece of this set, so it gets to go first. Sculpturally, the Power Loader is 100% new pieces. No add-ons here, just a totally unique sculpt. At 3 1/2 inches tall, it’s admittedly a little under-sized, but that sort of thing is gernerally expected with Minimates, where scale is something of a loose concept. The sculpt does an admirable job of walking the line between being screen accurate and adhering to the ‘mate aesthetic. It’s immediately evident what it’s supposed to be, but they’ve simplified a number of the details and tweaked the proportions ever so slightly, for the sake of making it fit in properly with the ‘mates it’s been packed with. The sculpted details are more simplistic than, say, the recent NECA Loader, but hardly lacking. Unlike many of the vehicles released under the Minimates banner, the Power Loader very much emulates the basic ‘mates in terms of construction, with the arms, hands, legs, and securing bars all being removable parts. In theory, this allows for some interchangeability, but there aren’t any comparable items to swap with at the moment. It’s worth noting that you can swap out the arms with a normal ‘mate’s arms, which is kinda fun. The only downside to this construction is the tendency of the Loader to fall apart, which can be rather frustrating. It’s also worth noting that getting a figure placed in the Loader does require taking said figure and the Loader apart, and even then takes some careful tinkering to get everything placed right, so you probably won’t want to be swapping the figure out too much. The paintwork on the Power Loader is decent enough, though maybe not as cool as the usual work we see on ‘mates. All the basic color work is fine (though the yellow does seem a tad on the bright side), and the details such as the caution lines looks pretty sharp. I can’t help but feel that the yellow sections could use some sort of extra detailing, just to accent the sculpt a little better, and prevent the Loader from having so much un-broken yellow. The Loader is packed with a pair of control grips (attached to the arms in the film, but made separate pieces here so that the ‘mate operating it can actually hold them), and a clear display stand. If you want to get technical, I suppose you could also count the three alien eggs, and the facehugger, since it’s not like they specifically go with any one figure in this set.
You can’t very well release the Power Loader without having a Ripley to go with it, now can you? Okay, yes, you can. In fact, a lot of companies do. But not DST! Plus, if you want to get really technical, the Loader necessitates another Ripley, since she looks slightly different at this point in the movie than she does during the Hive storming scene that her first ‘mate was based on. That being said, the two designs are quite close, making this figure just a slight tweak of the earlier ‘mate. In addition to the basic Minimate body (which stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation), Ripley uses the same hair and watch piece that all of the Aliens Ripleys have used so far. The hair isn’t a perfect match for the film, but it’s pretty close, and it’s also consistent with the others, which is nice. As far as paint goes, a lot of this Ripley’s details are very familiar. The majority of the body has all the same detailing that the Rescue Mission Ripley had. Interestingly, the shirt sleeves are now molded in white with the skin tone being painted over them, as opposed to the reverse being done for Rescue Mission Ripley. The real change, though, is the figure’s expression, with is a little angrier, and a little more intense, and, most importantly, a little more roughed-up than her prior figures. I like that the damage to her face is consistent to the prior figure, but that she still mixes it up a bit, just to give us something new. For accessories, Ripley only includes a display stand. However, as little more than a glorified accessory herself, that’s not unreasonable, since she doesn’t really require much while operating the Loader.
I suppose it’s not really an Aliens set if you don’t get at least one of these little guys in there, is it? The Alien included in this set, dubbed “Battle-Damaged Alien,” is actually the same figure as the Attacking Battle-Damaged Alien included with the Wave 1 Pvt Drake figure, right down to the placement of the blood splatters. It’s too bad they couldn’t mix up the splatters a little bit for this one, since we got this same set of details several times. That said, this figure is still just as cool as any of the Xeno ‘mates we’ve gotten so far, just slightly redundant for someone collecting the whole line.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Okay, so first off, bad Ethan. Yes, it took me over six months to finally get around to picking up this set. I’m such an awful fan, aren’t I? I kept meaning to get them, I swear. These ended up being one of the things I got from my parents for my birthday, which was pretty awesome! The Power Loader is the main attraction, so a lot of this set’s success rides on whether or not it delivers. While it’s not perfect, mostly due to the issues with falling apart and some minor issues with the paint, the Loader is still a pretty fun little toy, and it goes great with the rest of the ‘mates. Plus, it’s kind of a necessity. This Ripley doesn’t offer much that’s new or different, but that’s not really surprising. Her purpose is really just save people the trouble of having to track down a second Rescue Mission Ripley to pilot the Loader, and in that respect, she’s pretty successful. The Xeno’s a bit of repeat, but that’s far from the worst thing.