#1539: Xenomorph

XENOMORPH

ALIEN: COVENANT (NECA)

“Ridley Scott returns to the universe created, with Alien: Covenant, a new chapter in his groundbreaking Alien franchise.  The crew of the colony ship Covenant, bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world.  When they uncover a threat beyond their imagination, they must attempt a harrowing escape.”

…Okay, I’ve been putting this off for about as long as I could.  Let’s do this.  For my eighth post-Christmas review, I’ll be asking an important question: is it possible to enjoy an action figure based on something you utterly despise?  I’ve pondered this question before, amusingly enough, in the same franchise as this review, and from the same toy maker even.  I mean, I was able to enjoy four whole Alien 3 figures, right?  Surely Alien: Covenant isn’t that different, is it?  Well, yes and no.  The thing about Alien 3 is that it existed before I even got into the Alien franchise.  I knew it was coming before I even started Aliens.  I had fair warning.  It’s just sort of done.  And, the way Aliens ends, Alien 3 is very easy to ignore.  Moreover, as much as I dislike the movie, I’ll be the first to admit that not *everything* about it sucks.  Things like the quadrupedal Xeno I can certainly get behind.  Alien: Covenant?  Well, I had to experience it new, which definitely sucked.  It’s a sequel to Prometheus, a movie that I enjoyed more than I expected, but an incredibly flawed one nonetheless.  At the end of Prometheus, I actually had this little twinge of hope, that maybe Scott would be taking his characters in a different direction than the earlier films and trying something new.  Silly me.  Covenant takes what I liked in Prometheus and gives it a fiery, explosive death, and takes everything I didn’t like about it and sticks it front and center.  And then it sort of tries to reinvent the wheel by reintroducing audiences to one of the most distinctive monsters of all time in a way that assures you beyond the shadow of a doubt that everything clever Scott did in the original Alien was an accident.

…I’m getting very sidetracked.  I should probably talk about the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Xenomorph is part of NECA’s Alien: Covenant line, released to coincide with the movie’s theatrical run.  The figure stands 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 37 points of articulation, plus a bendable tail.  This Xeno sports an all-new sculpt, modeled after the Xeno seen on screen in Covenant.  To NECA’s credit, they’ve crafted a very good recreation of the creature seen in the film.  Every detail looks spot on, and everything is very sharp and well defined.  The figure’s articulation is pretty decently worked in, and he’s just as posable as his brethren from the other movies.  The paint’s pretty solid too.  The fine details on the head are all well outlined and clearly applied, and there’s decent accent work that shows off the sculpt pretty well.  Viewed just on its merits as a plastic recreation of the thing we see in the movie, this figure is nothing short of exceptional.  And there lies the rub.  I could go on for a very long time about what I didn’t like about Covenant (I’ve already gone on too long, frankly), but nothing frustrated me more than the design of the Xenomorph.  It’s like someone looked at the original design and said “how can remove everything unique, interesting, and genuinely terrifying about this design?”  Simply put, this alien looks like a skinned human with a Xeno head stuck on top.  Is that pleasant?  No.  Is it gross? A bit.  Would I want to run into this thing? No.  Is it scary? Not really.  There’s too much going on, and it’s all far too familiar to me.  Remove the head, and you’re left with a monster that would look at home in any slasher film of the week.  It’s really generic.  And I get that they designed it this way on purpose, so that it would still look alright when brightly lit (which is most definitely not true of the Xenos seen in Alien or Aliens; they look downright goofy when seen in regular lighting).  So bravo, you created Aliens you can look at in daylight.  But why, though?  Why?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure came from Super Awesome Girlfriend.  I had mentioned to her that the Books A Million in the mall where she works had a decent selection of NECA Aliens figures, and when she went back, the Covenant figures were all they had left.  She knew I didn’t like the movie, but she really wanted to get me something Alien-related, so she got me this one.  It’s a thoughtful gift, no doubt.  It’s not her fault that the movie sucked.  Nor is it NECA’s, or even this figure’s.  Like I said, just as a figure of the design in the movie, this figure is solid.  And I’ll put it on the shelf with my other NECA Xenos, and be content.  But I really wish the movie had been better.  And I really wish the design were better.  And I really wish Ridley Scott would learn to quit while he’s ahead.

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#1427: Lambert – Compression Suit

LAMBERT – COMPRESSION SUIT

ALIENS (NECA)

After two weeks, I’ve finally finished up with the Star Wars reviews.  Well, for now, anyway.  I feel certain there’ll be more to come.  Of course, I’ve been writing about nothing about Star Wars for two weeks, so I sort of need to ween myself off of things.  So, how about a review from *another* sci-fi franchise that was launched in the late ‘70s?  Yes, today I’m setting my sites on Alien, and taking a look at another of the Nostromo’s ill-fated crew, Navigator Joan Lambert.  Yes, Joan is really her first name.  Take it up with James Cameron. Onto the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lambert was released in the eleventh series of NECA’s Aliens line.  She’s the only movie based figure in the assortment, and the fourth member of the Nostromo crew to see release in the line.  The figure stands about 7 1/2 inches tall and she has 24 points of articulation.  Lambert is seen here wearing her compression suit, which she wears during the mission to explore the derelict ship on LV-426.  While Lambert is perhaps the least prominent of the three crew members during that sequence, but it’s still a more visually interesting design than what she wears around the ship, and it also completes the away team trio.  And, most importantly, it also gives NECA an excuse to get another use out of their awesome compression suit mold.  This marks the body’s fifth use, following Kane, Dallas, Ripley, and Amanda, and it’s still very much one of my favorites.  There’s also an all-new head sculpt, which is one of NECA’s best yet.  Unlike Kane (who’s lack of likeness was hidden by a facehugger) and Dallas (who was close but not quite there), Lambert’s likeness really is dead on. Like Hudson before her, Lambert’s panicky personality has been captured in this figure’s expression.  It’s a really great recreation of Veronica Cartwright’s scrunched up, screaming face from the film.  The head’s wearing the cap from the film, which is fantastically detailed and matches the rest of the suit’s detail quite nicely.  There’s a second head included, which has her without the cap and with a much calmer expression.  While it’s not quite as dead-on a Cartwright likeness as the other head, it’s still a solid likeness.  I just wish I had a non-compression-suited body to put it on.  As far as paint goes, Lambert is pretty decent.  There’s a little bit of slop here and there, but nothing major.  The weathering on the suit, particularly the metal parts is really nice, and her face is particularly lifelike.  Like Dallas and Kane before her, Lambert is packed with a removable helmet, a flare gun, and a flashlight.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve fallen a little bit behind with my NECA Aliens purchases, I must admit.  I knew Lambert was being released, and I totally meant to order one, but just kept getting sidelined.  I ended up getting a gift certificate to All Time Toys earlier last month, and decided to use it to grab this figure, since they had her in stock.  There’s not a whole lot new to this figure, but that doesn’t at all stop her from being an awesome figure.

#1307: Amanda Ripley

AMANDA RIPLEY

ALIENS (NECA)

“15 years after the disappearance of the commercial towing vessel Nostromo, the ship’s flight recorder is discovered floating in deep space. Its owner, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, immediately dispatches a team of representatives to Sevastopol Station to retrieve it. Among their number is Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, the Nostromo’s warrant officer.”

It’s no secret that Aliens is my favorite movie of pretty much all time (though Guardians Vol 2 has given it some serious competition, not gonna lie).  As I was -6 when the film was released, I never saw it in theaters.  I instead caught it many years later when it was released on DVD.  On the DVD, the default version is the director’s cut, which adds 16 minutes of footage.  There’s a lot of simply cut lines, but a few whole scenes, and by extension underlying subplots, were cut.  The removal of Newt’s family and the other scenes at the colony is the biggest excision, but not far behind it is the removal of the pre-inquest scene where Ripley discovers the fate of her daughter, Amanda, who died during Ripley’s 57 years away from Earth.  All we get is a name, a picture, and her age at time of death.  28 years later, we got Alien: Isolation, a game centered on Amanda and her quest to find out what happened to her mother.  Real shocker here: she runs into a Xenomorph along the way.  Who could have foreseen that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Amanda Ripley was released in Series 6 of NECA’s Aliens line, which was a whole series devoted to Isolation.  There were two Amanda figures in the set; this one depicts her in her main jumpsuit-ed look, which she’s sporting for a good chunk of the game.  There was also a figure of her in her compression suit, which I never got around to picking up.  This figure stands about 7 1/4 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  As it was supposed to be nearer in the timeline to Alien than to Aliens, Isolation took a lot of its design elements from the first film.  By extension, each of the three figures in Series 6 borrows liberally from prior NECA Aliens figures.  This Amanda figure is built using about 95% of the parts from the Jumpsuit Ripley figure from Series 4, along with a new head and upper arms.  The designs of the jumpsuits are close enough that this makes for a pretty decent recreation.  If you want to get super nitpicky, the pattern of the seams and “belt” on the pelvis section is incorrect, and she’s missing the leather pads on her shoulders.  However, it’s hardly noticeable; you have to be looking for inaccuracies (which, I as a reviewer am paid to do.  Oh wait, no I’m not.  There’s no money in this.  It’d be nice, though, wouldn’t it?).  The new pieces blend well with the old, and make her sufficiently different from her mom. The head does a suitable job of capturing Amanda’s likeness from the game; it does seem a tad on the small side to me, though.  Amanda’s paint work is decent, but it does have a few issues.  The overall application is pretty solid, and the colors all seem to match what’s seen on the screen.  She’s got painted skin, which I don’t like quite as much as the molded skin, but I guess it’s alright.  There are a few scuffs on my figure, and she’s got a weird splotch of discoloration on her forehead.  Overall, though, she’s really not bad.  Amanda is packed with a flamethrower (the very same one included with her mother), as well as her self-assembled motion tracker, and her backpack.  A great selection of extras all around.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The first Amanda Ripley figure I bought actually wasn’t for me, but was instead for my brother Christian.  My exposure to the game was watching him play through it, so I thought it was only proper he get the figure first.  Other things took priority over getting an Amanda for myself, so I just never got around to grabbing her.  Last summer, the day before Movie Stop went out of business, several of us went to see what was left.  Poor Amanda was one of about three NECA figures left, and I ended up getting her for something like 90% off.  She’s a pretty solid figure, thanks in no small part to being built on the same body as one of NECA’s best.  It’s just a shame we never got a Worker Joe to harass her.  Guess I’ll just have to make due with the Xeno….

Hey, look at that; I managed to go this whole Alien-themed review without mentioning my seething hatred for Covenant.  Good on me!

#1094: Aliens TRU 3

KANE, PHANTOM XENOMORPH, HIVEWORLD RED ALIEN, HIVEWORLD ALIEN, LT. GORMAN, & ATTACKING ALIEN WARRIOR

ALIENS MINIMATES

alienstru3a

After almost two weeks of Star Wars coverage, I’m switching over to another popular sci-fi franchise (and perhaps my favorite sci-fi franchise at that), the Alien franchise!  I’ll be taking another look at the ever growing Aliens Minimates line today, with that latest round of Toys R Us-exclusive ‘mates.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The six figures covered today are all from the third TRU-exclusive series of Aliens Minimates.  Currently, five of the six figures are exclusive to this set, with only the Attacking Alien Warrior being a repeat, though there will also be a slightly differently deco-ed Kane available with the upcoming Space Jockey set.

SPACE SUIT KANE & PHANTOM XENOMORPH

alienstru3eAlthough the whole line is under the Aliens banner, that doesn’t stop DST from including sets based on the first movie from time to time (as a matter of fact, the entire third specialty assortment was Alien themed).  Kane’s shown up as a ‘mate before in the 35th Anniversary set, but this time around, he’s wearing his pressure suit, an important look for the character.  The figure uses the base Minimate body, and as such stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He has add-ons for the helmet, torso, belt, upper legs, shin coverings, and wrist bands.  These pieces are shared with the other pressure-suited characters from the third specialty assortment, but Kane’s my first look at the pieces.  They do a very nice job of translating the movie look into ‘mate form, and there’s definitely some great detail work here.  The generic upper leg pieces look a little strange compared to the more detailed pieces, but they work well, and you do have to draw the line somewhere.  The paintwork on Kane is pretty great, actually.  The design of the helmet doesn’t allow space for anything more than the basic head under it, so Kane’s cap from the film is just painted on, but it actually looks pretty decent.  The face appears to be the same one used on the first Kane, but it’s lower on the head this time, which makes it look a bit better.  The rest of the details are all pretty sharp, and I appreciate that the quilted pattern goes all the way up his chest, rather than stopping at the armored piece.  Kane was packed with a sidearm, a flashlight, and a clear display stand.

alienstru3dThe Phantom Xenomorph is pretty much the same figure as the Xeno included in the Crew of the Nostromo set, but molded in smokey grey tinted translucent plastic.  To that end, he’s a little over 2 1/2 inches tall and has 16 points of articulation.  As far as variants of the Big Chap go, this one’s pretty fun, and certainly a bit more exciting than the slight head variations we’ve gotten before.  His only accessory is a clear display stand.

HIVEWORLD ALIENS

alienstru3bRemember when NECA did these guys?  Well, it’s pretty much the same principle here.  They’re based on the two warring factions of Xenos from Aliens: Genocide, and are really just another inventive way of getting two more Xeno variants out there.  They both use the standard Xeno parts, with the Red one using the “screaming” head, and the black one the closed-mouth one.  The Red Xeno is nice and vibrant, and definitely sticks out.  That being said, the Black Xeno isn’t just a straight rehash of what we’ve seen before; rather than straight black, he’s actually a very dark blue, much like the black drones were in the actual comic art.  It’s a subtle change, but it at least makes him a little different.  These two include clear display stands and nothing else.  If I’m honest, that’s a little bit of a letdown.  I had sort of hoped these might be along the lines of the Red vs Blue Spartan set from the Halo Minimates line, where a number of different pieces would be included to build all three variants of the standard Xeno (closed mouth, screaming, and inner mouth extended), but I can see how that might have not been cost effective.

DRESS UNIFORM LT. GORMAN & ATTACKING ALIEN WARRIOR

alienstru3cLt. Gorman makes his first appearance here, albeit in a more obscure uniform.  The standard Gorman’s going to be packed with the upcoming APC, so this set includes Gorman in his dress uniform from when he and Burke go to meet Ripley about returning to LV-426.  Gorman’s mostly a vanilla-mate, with only a belt add-on.  He’s missing his hat from that scene, but I don’t believe there’s a proper hat available to re-use, and new tooling obviously wasn’t an option.  This figure is mostly carried by the paintwork, which does a pretty good job recreating Gorman’s look from early in the film.  I’m not sure the head really captures William Hope, but it’s a fair attempt.  It’s worth noting that, like both Apones, Gorman’s patch still incorrectly reads “USMC”, not “USCM” like it should.  It’s a minor issue of course, but it might be nice for DST to catch that one of these days.  Gorman includes a handgun and a clear display stand.

We’ve seen this Alien Warrior several times before, starting with the Aliens vs Marines army dump set that kicked off the line.  It’s a pretty standard Xeno, so it’s hard to complain about it showing up again.  It being packed with this version of Gorman seems a bit odd, since he didn’t wear his dress uniform on the planet, but I suppose the Alien is here to make the set a little less stuffy.  The Alien includes two eggs (one opened, one closed) and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this whole set at my local TRU a couple of months back.  They’re a bit of a mixed bag really.  Kane and the Phantom Xeno are by far the winning set here, in terms of both execution and excitement factor.  The Genocide pack is decent, but the lack of any sort of extras makes it feel like a bit of a missed opportunity.  Gorman and the Attacking Alien are perfectly fine, and it’s cool to finally have a Gorman, but nothing about this set is particularly exciting.  All in all, I’m glad to have this series, and there’s a lot to like, but they don’t have the same “wow” factor as previous series.

#0993: Nostromo Crew Minimates

DALLAS, LAMBERT, BRETT, & XENOMORPH

ALIEN MINIMATES

Nostromo1

“In space, no one can hear you scream…”

Well, unless you’re talking about Lambert, in which case everyone can hear you scream. Constantly. With no end in sight. Ugh. Okay, perhaps that was a bit harsh. May what Lambert was really screaming about was the lack of any action figures. Well, scream no more Lambert, because Diamond Select Toys has got you, along with Brett and Dallas, covered, thanks to the awesome set of Minimates I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Dallas, Lambert, Brett, and the Xenomorph were all released together in the Hastings-exclusive “Nostromo Crew” set, the second Alien-themed boxed set from DST.

DALLAS

Nostromo2 Dallas, captain of the Nostromo, is the one <human> member of this set who isn’t a stranger to action figures. In fact, he’s the one character who’s shown up in just about every major scale that Alien merchandise has been offered in, and he’s even got another Minimate on the way. This ‘mate shows Dallas as he spends most of his time on-screen: in his Nostromo crew uniform, wearing his signature jacket. Dallas is constructed using two add-on pieces, for his hair and jacket. The hair is a re-use from Marvel Series 31’s Captain Marvel. It’s a well sculpted piece, and it’s appropriately ‘70s enough for the look Dallas is sporting in the movie. The jacket is the same basic jacket piece we’ve seen several times before in this and other lines. It’s a pretty generic piece, and it works great for Dallas. The painted detailing on Dallas is really awesome. The face has a spot-on likeness of Tom Skerritt, and the rest of the body features a ton of fun little details. I like that he’s got the little Weyland/Yutani logo on both his jacket and his shirt, and I really appreciate the dedication to getting the lacing on the front and arms of his jacket just right. Dallas is packed with a spare set of arms, allowing for a sans-jacket look, as well as a small pistol, a flamethrower (with a flame attachment), and a clear display stand.

LAMBERT

Nostromo4Lambert is the Nostromo’s navigator. She’s also one of the three members of the crew to go out on the surface of LV-426 and is one of the longest lasting members of the crew. As such, it’s a bit surprising that this is the first time she’s ever made it into action figure form. Maybe all that screaming deterred people. Lambert is seen here in her attire from when she’s on board the ship. It’s not the most exciting look ever, but it’s the one she spends most of the movie in, so there’s that. Lambert has add-ons for her hair and her vest. The hair is re-used from the T2 line’s first Kyle Reese figure, and it’s admittedly a bit off for Lambert. In the movie, her hair was a fair bit more close-cropped than this piece depicts, and she would probably have been more suited with something like the piece included with Cpl Hicks. The vest is the same piece as Dallas’s, and it works perfectly fine here. Lambert’s paint isn’t quite as exciting as Dallas’s, since it doesn’t feature as many fun details. That being said, it’s still high quality. All the details are nice and sharp, and she looks pretty much as she’s supposed to. The face is a bit on the bland side, but there’s a fix for that I’ll get to in one second. For accessories, Lambert includes a flamethrower (no flame trail this time), a pistol, an extra head, and a clear display stand. The best piece by far is the extra head, which depicts Lambert with the frightened look she has on her face for most of the movie’s runtime. Where the normal head is a bit bland and expressionless, this head is pitch-perfect for Lambert.

BRETT

Nostromo3Brett is the lowest ranking member of the crew, and the first casualty of the full-grown Alien. He’s kind of a tragic character really, being little more than a working class yes-man who just wanted to be paid his fair share. Like Lambert, he’s never gotten an action figure before. This figure depicts Brett in pretty much the only thing we ever see him wearing: a uniform with a Hawaiian shirt over it, and a Nostromo-branded baseball cap. Brett gets add-on pieces for his hair/hat, jacket, and the lower part of his shirt. The hat comes from the first series of Walking Dead Minimates, and it’s a pretty good fit for Brett. The jacket was used on Star Trek Legacy’s Picard ‘mate, and it offers a slightly different jacket from the other two figures in this set, in order to differentiate that Brett is from engineering, rather than the bridge. Brett also gets a hand holding a cigarette, which helps add a nice extra bit of character to the figure. As far as paint goes, Brett’s is pretty great. The face isn’t quite as spot-on as Dallas was, but you can still definitely see a lot of Harry Dean Stanton in there. The rest of the body has a lot of other fun details as well, and I’m particularly pleased with how well the Hawaiian shirt turned out. I also really like the fact that there’s a fully detailed waist under the extra bit of shirt, which is fully distinct from Dallas’s. Brett includes an extra set of arms for displaying him without the jacket, as well as an extra normal hand, a pistol, and a clear display stand. It would have been nice to get the little stunning device he had while chasing the newborn, but what he got is reasonable.

XENOMORPH

Nostromo5Well, I suppose you can’t really have an Alien set without throwing in at least one figure of the title character, can you? So, here’s the third of the four versions we’ve gotten of the Big Chap. Structurally, this is more or less the same figure as the Xeno in the first Alien boxed-set, which itself wasn’t too far removed from the various versions of the Xeno we’ve gotten from the main Aliens line. Aside from the slight inaccuracy on the hands (which are three-fingered like the Aliens design, rather than six-fingered like the Big Chap is supposed to be), the various pieces are all very nicely sculpted and are quite accurate to the source material. The one change to this figure from others is the jaw. Other versions of the Big Chap have all had an open jaw, but this one is closed. A minor change, to be sure, but one that adds a nice bit of variety. The paintwork on this Xenomorph is also pretty similar to what we’ve seen on other Xenos. The details are nice and sharp, and the figure has a cool glossy sheen. The dome is now more of an amber hue than other versions, which actually looks really cool, and allows you to better see the underlying skull. It’s hard to say who some of the accessories in this set were supposed to go with, so I’m going to lump the newborn and facehugger in with the Xenomorph. In addition to those two pieces, the Xeno also includes a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I kept meaning to pick this set up, but not having any Hastings stores anywhere near me meant getting this set would be a little bit of a hassle, so it kept getting put off. With Hastings’ announcement they were filing for bankruptcy and closing down all the MovieStops (one of which I have near me), I decided to take advantage of the ensuing sale to pick up this particular set for a little bit less than its original value. Dallas is a very well-done figure. It’s immediately clear who he’s supposed to be, and the small details really seal the deal. Lambert isn’t the star of this set, but she’s certainly a solid ‘mate. The extra head in particular does a lot to make her even more worthwhile. Brett is a really fun figure, and probably my favorite in the set, even if he’s not quite as good as Dallas overall. Still, he’s a fantastic addition to the crew. The Xeno doesn’t really do anything new or exciting, but he’s still just as good as any of the prior Xenos have been. All in all, not a bad set. I’m glad I finally got one.

Nostromo6

 

#0923: TRU Aliens Minimates Series 2

ELLEN RIPLEY, SCREAMING XENOMORPH, SGT. APONE, GLOWING ALIEN, PVT. DRAKE, & EXTRA-DAMAGED ALIEN

ALIENS MINIMATES

AliensTRU2a

Well, it’s been almost a week since Alien Day, and I’ve started to miss those scary acid-bleedy monsters. So, how about another Aliens review? And, for extra fun, why not some more Minimates? Yeah, that’ll be cool, because I just got this brand-new set of them from Toys R Us. Let’s have a look at them!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These six were released as the second Toys R Us-exclusive series of Aliens Minimates. The pack breakdowns are Ripley and the Screaming Xeno, Apone and the Glowing Alien, and Drake and the Extra-Damaged Alien. Typically, I review Minimates one two-pack at a time, however, all but one of these figures are slightly tweaked versions of previously reviewed ‘mates. Rather than drag them out for the better part of a week, I thought I might as well get them all out of the way, since there’s not much new to review.

ELLEN RIPLEY & SCREAMING XENOMORPH

AliensTRU2b

Ripley’s the real star of the franchise, so it’s not a huge shock that she’s also the human with the most variations. This Ripley is a slight tweak of the Alien 35th Anniversary boxed-set version, reviewed here. The only difference between the two figures is the facial expression, which is a slightly cleaned up version of the Hive Assault Ripley from Series 1. The new face definitely helps her resemble Sigourney Weaver a bit more, resulting in a AliensTRU2eslightly superior figure. That said, the issue with the incorrect hair is still present, and is made more glaring by the fact that this is the second time we’ve seen it happen. Aside from that issue, she’s a pretty solid figure, just like her predecessor. Ripley includes a flamethrower (no flame trail, though), Jonesy the cat, a facehugger, and a clear display stand.

Not to be outdone by Ripley, the Big Chap goes for his fourth variation. This one’s a combination of two of the prior figures: he’s got the paint scheme from the “Crew of the Nostromo” set, with the head from the first set (albeit with the inner mouth removed). Not really much to say about this one, other than to say it’s just as good as all the other Xenos in the line. The figure includes a closed egg and a clear display stand.

SGT. APONE & GLOWING ALIEN

AliensTRU2c

Well, I was wrong. In my review of the Series 1 Apone Minimate, I said he’d likely only get one Minimate appearance, and here he is with his second Minimate. Lucky him. Like Ripley, the only difference between this Apone and his prior ‘mate is his facial expression: he’s turned in his more collected (if still pissed off) expression for a more intense, teeth gritting one. This Apone’s clearly from his final moments in the hive, as he’s caught in a firefight. The resemblance to Al Matthews is lessened a AliensTRU2fbit by the new expression, but it’s not hard to figure out who it’s supposed to be, and the expression is worth the tradeoff. The rest of Apone’s details are identical to the last release, right down to the transposed letters on his USCM patch (it says “USMC”). Apone is packed with his baseball cap, an M41A Pulse Rifle, a newborn alien, and a clear display stand.

The other half of this set is the one truly new figure in this series: the Glowing Alien. No, you didn’t miss a scene in the movie; no aliens ever appear like this. He’s just a fun variant cooked up by DST. Sculpturally, he’s the same as any other Alien from the line (his head is the “Screaming” version). What sets him apart is the clear green plastic he’s been molded in. The figure isn’t just clear green, though; if you let him charge in sunlight for a while (and I mean a good, long while), he lives up to the adjective he’s given by the front of the box and does a bit of glowing. The Glowing Alien includes another egg, also closed.

PVT. DRAKE & EXTRA-DAMAGED ALIEN

AliensTRU2d

Okay, I had kind of figured that Drake might get a second ‘mate, and this one gives me pretty much exactly what I expected. This figure’s more or less the same as the Series 1 Drake; like Ripley and Apone, he just gets a new expression. Instead of the sly grin of the last figure, this one’s mid-yell, that honestly feels a bit more appropriate for Drake. Sadly, Drake is still lacking the flack vest under his armor, instead just sporting the normal fatigues. It wouldn’t be a big issue, if not for the extra pieces included. Drake comes with an extra head, sporting the acid burns he gets at the end of the hive attack. AliensTRU2gAt that point in the film, Drake had ditched his smartgun and its harness, which is when we see the flack vest. Of course, everything about this series points to them being put together as quickly as possible, so there probably just wasn’t time to do a new torso detailing. In addition to the extra head, Drake includes his smartgun, a hat without the headgear, a flamethrower (w/ flame trail), a newborn alien, and a clear display stand. It might have been nice to get a hairpiece without the hat, since Drake loses the hat at the same time as the harness, but he has enough extras that I don’t feel gipped.

We’ve gotten a number of Battle-Damaged Aliens over the course of this line. What makes this one different? He’s Extra-Damaged! No, but really, there are different blood splatters. Seriously, you guys probably don’t get how big a deal that is, but I’ve got like four of these already, all with the same damage. Some variety is much appreciated. Other than the slight change in blood splatters, this figure’s the same as the one included with Vasquez. The Extra-Damaged Alien includes another egg, open this time, and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

On Alien Day, NECA released a re-deco of their Aliens Ripley figure through Toys R Us. I was busy during the day, but my Dad was nice enough to stop by a TRU during his lunch. He didn’t find the Ripley figure, but he did find these three sets. They’re not a bad consolation prize. Sure, there’s not a whole lot of newness to them, but each set has at least something exciting, especially for an Aliens geek like me!

#0771: Glow in the Dark Alien

ALIEN – GLOW-IN-THE-DARK

ALIENS MINIMATES

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Long before Minimates, the frightening titular character of ALIEN found its way to toy shelves in the form of the legendary 18-inch Alien figure, courtesy of Kenner Toys. The figure was quickly pulled from shelves, no doubt due to the nightmares it caused for many an unsuspecting child, and has become one of the bigger grails of toy-collecting. Now, 35 years later, DST pays tribute to that figure with this San Diego Comic Con exclusive!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BigChapGiD2As noted in the intro, the Alien was released at this year’s SDCC, as part of the greater Aliens Minimates line.  I don’t often talk packaging, but I will here.  For many figures, the package is just the way to transport the figure from the store to the costumer in a nice, flashy way. However, this figure’s packaging is actually a pretty important piece of the figure. The basic layout of the packaging is more or less the same as the single packaging for the Aliens vs Marines Army Dump case, but it’s been done up with graphics meant to replicate the original 18-inch Alien’s box. It features that bright ‘70s blue, the old Kenner ALIEN logo, and an assortment of screen shots from the film. The Big Chap’s a little crowed in there, but the box does a great job of giving a nod to that which came before.  While most of the Xenomorphs we’ve seen so far have taken inspiration from the second film’s design for the creature, this one, like the 35th Anniversary Boxed Set, takes influence from the creature’s very first appearance in 1979’s ALIEN. It’s not leaps and bounds of differences from the later design, but it’s enough that even moderate fans of the films could probably discern between the two.  Like his second film-based brethren, the Big Chap has sculpted add-ons for his head, hands, tail and feet. All of these parts but the head are the same ones used for all of the other aliens. Those parts were good on all of the others, and they continue to be good here. The only minor nit is that the hand should technically be different to be accurate to the Big Chap design, since these use the Aliens three-fingered design, rather than the ALIEN six-fingered design. However, at this scale, that’s a minor issue. The head was initially used on the 35th Anniversary set Alien, and it does a very nice job of replicating the movie’s domed look. While the 35th Anniversary version had the dome glued in place, this version leaves the part loose, so that you can remove it to better see the cool skull design below. It means that the dome doesn’t always stay in place the best, but that feels like a reasonable enough trade-off.  The figure’s paintwork is where his main draw comes into play. The BigChapGiDPack1main detailing of the body is similar to the previous aliens, but the silver is a bit brighter, which certainly sets him apart. The other main draw is the paint on the skull under the dome, which is glow-in-the-dark, as the name of the figure indicates. It requires a bit of “charging” under a light source, but once that’s done, it makes for a pretty eerie effect. The figure’s only accessory is a clear display stand. However, as with all of the prior aliens, the number of sculpted pieces more than makes up for the lack of extras.

 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Frequent readers of the site will recall that I did not attend SDCC, so I clearly didn’t pick this guy up there.  No, I actually ordered him from Luke’s Toy Store after the event.  I was actually pretty excited for this figure; the Aliens Minimates in general are a pretty exciting thing, but I liked the whole tribute bit.  This figure isn’t exactly new or anything, but it’s a fun variant of an already great figure.

BigChapGiD7

 

#0613: Ripley – Compression Suit

RIPLEY –COMPRESSION SUIT

ALIENS (NECA)

RipleySS1

No movie toyline is every truly complete without a bunch of variations of one of the film’s main characters. Sometimes they’re manufactured by the toy makers, resulting in strange neon colored variations, aimed at capturing the attention of small children (which has been known to work…occasionally). However, there’s been an increasing trend towards variations that are accurate to the source material. NECA is pretty big on these, especially when they get ahold of a major actor’s likeness rights. When they managed to get Arnold Schwarzenegger’s likeness from Predator, they released five variants of the character right off the bat. Now that they’ve gotten Sigourney Weaver’s likeness from the Alien films, and it looks like they’re going to be approaching her figures a similar fashion. I looked at the first version of her the other day, and now I’ll be looking at the second version, from the very same series.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

RipleySS2Ripley was released in Series 4 of NECA’s Aliens line. The series is devoted completely to the 35th Anniversary of Alien, so all of the figures are from that particular movie. The figure stands about 7 ½ inches tall and features 24 points of articulation. The first Ripley figure depicted her in her jumpsuited look, which was her primary look from the movie. This one is based on her look from her final confrontation with the creature, while in the Narcisus. It’s not the look most would associate with her for the movie, but it’s a strong second, being from a rather pivotal scene of the film. As an added bonus, it gives NECA another opportunity to use the compression suit body into which they’ve put so much work. Surprising pretty much nobody, the figure uses the same pressure suit body as Dallas and Kane (she also has the same hands as Dallas). Ripley’s suit was just a slight bit more streamlined in the film, so she doesn’t sport the front piece of armor (not sure what it actually is) and she also doesn’t have the holster strap for the flare gun. The helmet is RipleySS3similarly streamlined, being pretty much the same as Dallas’s, but without the head lamp. Under the helmet is a Ripley sculpt that is completely different from the one on Jumpsuit Ripley. It’s different, but I honestly can’t say if it’s better or worse than the other sculpt. It’s still got a pretty good likeness of Weaver, and the hair has been sculpted to more properly fit within the helmet. This ends up making the figure look a bit more goofy with the helmet off, but she looks great with the helmet on, which is the preferable outcome. Ripley’s paintwork is a little more simplistic than the other two compression-suited figures, but this is once again accurate to the movie, where Ripley’s suit is only used within the confines of the ship. Though it may be more simple, it’s hardly a bad paint job. In fact, it’s probably one of NECA’s best. While the suit is all white, NECA has made sure to include some slight variation in color and finish, providing quite a bit of dimension to the figure. The head also features some incredibly clean work, with no slop or bleed over, and some nice smallerRipleySS6 details. Ripley includes the harpoon gun, which figures prominently into the last moments of the film and has both opened and closed-hook harpoons, as well as another version of the film’s other survivor, Jonesy the cat, this time in a frightened pose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ripley is the last piece of the Series 4 set I ordered from Big Bad Toy Store. While I think the other Ripley is still the standout of this set, this version is incredibly solid. Like Dallas, she makes use of the strong compression-suit sculpt we saw on Kane, but doesn’t suffer from Kane’s drawbacks. Also, and this applies to this whole series, the paint here just seems like a huge leap forward compared to the previous three series of figures. All in all, this a fun figure, and definitely a must for anyone who’s an Alien fan.

RipleySS8

#0612: Dallas – Compression Suit

DALLAS – COMPRESSION SUIT

ALIENS (NECA)

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While Alien may not be quite up to the same level as its sequel Aliens (at least in my mind), it’s still a tremendously well-made film. One of the greatest aspects of the movie was its incredible design work. H.R. Giger’s main creature design tends to get a lot of the focus, but the film also had some awesome work on the human side of things, such as the incredibly memorable space suits, worn by three of the main characters during the exploration of the derelict ship. NECA first brought the suit design into their Aliens line in Series 3, where it was worn by the ill-fated Kane. Now we’ve gotten another of the trio, with the Nostromo’s well-meaning captain, Dallas.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dallas3Dallas was released in Series 4 of NECA’s Aliens line. Like all the others in this series, he’s from Alien, and is meant to somewhat commemorate the film’s 35th anniversary last year. The figure is about 7 ½ inches tall, and he has 24 points of articulation. As noted in the intro, Dallas is presented here in his Compression Suit look. It’s a pretty distinctive design, and a few of the character’s key scenes occur down on the planet, so it was well chosen. Rather unsurprisingly, the majority of Dallas’s sculpt is from Series 3’s Kane figure. Seeing as the suits in the movie are just palate swaps of each other and they’re bulky enough to hide the figure of the wearer, it would be silly for NECA not to use the parts they already had sculpted. The re-used parts are just as good here as they were on Kane. The body features a ton of texture and detail, and the add-ons for the armored parts add a nice bit of dimension. Dallas gets an all-new head, and, though you might miss them at first, a new set of hands. The hands are pretty much the same as the ones on Kane, except the poses are reversed. It’s a nice touch and it allows for a neat bit of variety. The head is a fairly Dallas4decent sculpt; the Tom Skerritt likeness isn’t as spot-on as the Sigourney Weaver was, but it’s passable (though, I can’t help but see Tom Hanks in that face. Not sure why.) In general, the head feels a little less defined than the rest of the sculpt. Fortunately this is fairly hidden by the helmet. Speaking of the helmet, it should be noted that it has the same two piece design as Kane’s. The bottom portion is the same piece (though it sits a little closer to the torso than Kane’s does) while the top is a slightly tweaked piece, showing an undamaged version of the helmet. Paint is where Dallas really gets a leg up on Kane. While things certainly aren’t perfect (especially when it comes to the face) the amount of bleed over is a lot lower, and the detailing and texturing looks superb. And the biggest improvement: he’s not sticky! Yeah, Kane was rather tacky is some areas, which isn’t a good thing, but Dallas suffers from none of that, showing that NECA’s really committed to learning from their mistakes. In addition to the removable helmet, Dallas also includes the same flare gun and flashlight that we saw with Kane.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Dallas was part of the set of Series 4 figures I ordered via Big Bad Toy Store. I can’t say the guy was super high on my want list, but I’m pleased to have him. He takes what was good about the Kane figure and improves what was bad, resulting in an overall very solid addition to the line. I can’t help but feel it’s a little unfortunate that he got placed in this series, as I’m sure a lot of people will end up overlooking him in favor of the two Ripley figures he’s packed with. And that’s too bad, because he’s really one of the best figures the line has offered so far, at least as far as quality is concerned.

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#0610: Ripley

RIPLEY – JUMPSUIT

ALIENS (NECA)

RipleyJS1

As faithful readers of the site know, it’s no secret that my favorite movie of all time is Aliens. So, it’s probably not a huge shock to find out that I’m rather fond of Alien, the film Aliens sequel-izes, as well. Granted, I don’t view it with nearly as much reverence as its sequel, but I appreciate it for what it spawned, and I think it’s a tremendously well assembled film. When NECA made their announcement that they had managed to acquire Sigourney Weaver’s likeness rights, they quickly followed up by confirming that the first Ripley figure in their Aliens line would be based on her debut appearance in Alien. Now, that figure is finally here, and I’m really excited to see how it turned out.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

RipleyJS2Ripley was released as part of Series 4 of NECA’s Aliens line. Series 4 is the first series in the line not to feature any figures from Aliens, as well as the first series not to feature any of the titular creatures. There’s no need to fret, though, because a) Series 5 will be making up for both of those things, and b) Series 4 suffers in no way for the lack of either of these things. NECA has taken advantage of Alien’s 35th anniversary, and has offered three figures based on that film’s designs. This particular Ripley represents her in her main jumpsuited look, which she sports for most of her screen time. The figure stands just shy of 7 ½ inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. It’s refreshing to see a female figure that isn’t dwarfed by her male counterparts (in fact, she’s taller than Bishop, and the same height as Hicks), and it makes this an accurate depiction of Ripley as portrayed by the 6 foot tall Sigourney Weaver. Ripley has a brand-new sculpt (in fact, she’s the only figure in this series to get one) and, simply put, it’s phenomenal. She has great proportions, tons of detail, and the articulation is very nicely worked into the sculpt. When NECA did Bishop in the last series, I had a few issues with overlay piece used for the torso part of the jumpsuit. I was somewhat concerned about those issues cropping up here. Fortunately, NECA has made sure they didn’t, and have tweaked the overlay part to be two pieces, allowing for a more form fitting look and avoiding the slight diaper-like appearance of Bishop’s waist. The overlay allows for a bit more dimension, and they’ve done a wonderful job of sculpting the collar of her uniform shirt so that it just barely shows RipleyJS4under the jumpsuit. Now, we all know that NECA can do an awesome job on the body, but the real pull here is that, for the first time ever, we got a Ripley that’s actually allowed to look like Sigourney Weaver! So, how’d they do? If I’m totally honest, when I first saw the sculpt, I was a little underwhelmed. Sure, it bore a resemblance to Weaver, but it seemed off. After taking the figure out and viewing the sculpt in three dimensions, my opinion’s changed greatly. This is definitely Sigourney Weaver. At least the face is, anyway. The hair, I’m not 100% sold on, though I’d chalk that up to the impossibility of perfectly replicating something so fluid in a solid medium. Also, this may seem like a weird thing to comment on, but I’m really impressed by the hands. Like, I looked at them and immediately thought “wow, those are Sigourney Weaver’s hands.” It’s something that’s really minor and easy to overlook, but it really adds a lot to the figure. Ripley’s paintwork is, while not flawless, pretty darn good. Application is nice and clean, and there’s some great detail work on the patches on her jumpsuit. The face is pretty decent for the scale and the price point, but the edges on the eyes are just a little off, and there’s a little scratch on her nose. Nothing too major, though. She does seem a little on the clean side, but it’s fair to say she’s supposed to be from earlier in the film, and would therefore be a little less messy. Ripley includes two accessories: a flamethrower and Jonesy the cat. Both pieces are excellent additions to the figure. The flamethrower is superbly sculpted and painted and fits quite nicely in her hands. Jonesy is pretty decently sculpted and features ball joints at the neck and tail, allowing for some decent movement.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been patiently waiting for this figure’s release ever since it was announced. I picked her up, along with the other two figures in the series, from Big Bad Toy Store, as soon as they got her in stock. This figure is fantastic. It does a wonderful job of translating the character from the film to three dimensions and gives us our first shot at a character that the line couldn’t be complete without. Sure, it’s not the version from Aliens that I’ve been oh so anxiously waiting for, but it’s more than enough to hold me over until that figure comes along. NECA has done a tremendous job with this figure, and they’ve set the bar pretty high for the Aliens version in Series 5. Here’s hoping that one’s just as good!

*Ripley also has the added notoriety of being the 3000th unique figure to be added to my collection!  That’s a big number!

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