#1444: Aliens Mega Construx

COLONIAL MARINE & XENOMORPH

MEGA CONSTRUX HEROES

You know, there was a time when being an Aliens fan wasn’t so easy.  Back when I first saw the film (in the early ‘00s), the only real action figure options were courtesy of Kenner’s hardly film-accurate line from the ‘90s.  As late as 2012, I was excited beyond belief that we were getting things like Pulse Rifles included with some of Hasbro’s Pursuit of Cobra figures.  What a difference 5 years makes.  Of course, even with NECA’s plethora of product, I didn’t really expect to be finding new Aliens toys in the building sets aisle of my local Walmart.  And yet, here we are.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Xenomorph and the Colonial Marine are both part of the first series of Mega Bloks Construx Heroes.  The line is taking the basic concept put forward by the Halo Heroes line and applying it to a handful of other licenses.  Also featured in this first series are Picard and a Borg Drone from Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as He-Man and Skeletor from Masters of the Universe.  But those are hardly as cool as Aliens, right?

COLONIAL MARINE

Rather than focusing on one particular member of the Colonial Marines, Mega Construx has instead gone for a more generic Marine…sort of.  In actuality, he’s this odd amalgam of Hicks and Hudson.  He’s got Hudson’s armor graffiti, but Hicks’ shotgun shells and lack of sleeves.  In a pinch, he works as either.  The figure stands about 2 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  This guy uses the same standard construction as all of the ODSTs I looked at, but with more Colonial Marine specific parts, of course.  The lower legs are new, as is the head, and then he’s got removable chest armor and a helmet, which is pretty fun.  The detail work on the armor is pretty solid for the size and style.  It definitely looks the part.  I appreciate the removable nature of the helmet, though I doubt anyone will be displaying him without it.  This will at least make it easier to make other specific Marines should you want to do that.  The paint on this guy is pretty simple, but gets all of the important details down.  There are a few things left unpainted (like the helmet cam), but it’s pretty decent work as a whole.  The Marine includes his standard issue pulse rifle (which is super, super awesome), his shoulder lamp, a knife, and a display stand.

XENOMORPH

Like the Colonial Marine, the Xeno here goes generic army builder.  Of course, I’m hardly going to complain about that.  I don’t need named Xenos (I’m looking at you, Grid!).  The Xeno is a little taller than the Marine, at about 2 1/4 inches tall, and even gets an extra point of articulation at the base of its tail.  The Xeno uses largely new construction, rather than relying on clip-on pieces.  As with most Xenos these days, this one’s based on the Xeno Warrior as seen in the second film.  It looks pretty awesome, actually.  The Xeno definitely translates really well to the style.  The level of detail work seen here is definielt higher than I’m used to seeing on Mega Bloks, and I’m really impressed.  Also impressive is the paint.  They could have just left the figure solid black, but there’s a nice silver airbrushing, which further highlights the awesomeness of the sculpt.  The Xeno includes a pair of clip-on claw pieces, as well as two different face huggers, one crawling, and one that fits over the face of the Marine. That last one is seriously cool, by the way.  There’s also a display stand, so that’s cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These totally snuck up on me.  I genuinely found out about their existence about an hour before I got them.  They were actually my consolation prize from the day I tried and failed at buying the Force Friday figures early.  I gotta say, these two are pretty darn awesome.  I’d like to see a Ripley and maybe a few more specific Marines.

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#1317: Corporal Dwayne Hicks & Private William Hudson

CORPORAL DWAYNE HICKS & PRIVATE WILLIAM HUDSON

ALIENS (NECA)

“I’m Hudson, sir; he’s Hicks…”

Ever buy something you don’t actually need?  I know, I’m on dubious ground here, seeing as I run a whole site devoted to things I don’t technically need.  I guess in this context, I’m referring to figures that I more or less already own.  In terms of re-releases and the like, I tend to skip them.  Today’s review sort of violates that rule, in that there’s not *technically* anything new about either of the figures I’m reviewing here.  I’ve reviewed every single piece of both figures before (here, here, here, and here).

A little backstory: I got into NECA’s Aliens line on the ground floor, pre-ordering Series 1 a good couple of months before it hit shelves, and then picked up every single release up until Series 6.  This means I had both versions of marines Hicks and Hudson, who were in the first series and then each packed in a two-pack with a Xeno.  However, there are good number of people who didn’t enter the line until around Series 5 or so, when the Aliens version of Ripley was released.  This caused a significant jump in the aftermarket prices on both Hicks and Hudson, especially as more of the marines have been released.  Not wanting to leave fans missing two major characters from the movie, NECA’s taken advantage of the film’s 30th Anniversary to put out a special two-pack, which offers up both characters again at retail.  As I said, technically speaking, there’s nothing new to these guys.  So, why am I reviewing them?  I’ll get to that.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hicks and Hudson were released as a two-pack within the 30th Anniversary Collection sub-set of NECA’s main Aliens line.  They are meant to compliment Series 9’s Vasquez and Frost figures, and they started hitting in March, wedged between Series 10 and 11.

HICKS

Hicks is perhaps one of my favorite movie characters of all time, so by that grace, he gets to go first.  If you’ve read my two prior Hicks reviews, you’ll know that this figure stands about 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  You’ll also know that I’m a pretty big fan of the sculpt, particularly the body.  None of that has changed, apart from the body having slightly sturdier joint construction this time.  This figure has both the un-helmeted and helmeted heads of the single and double-pack versions of the character.  Of the two, my favorite is definitely the un-helmeted head.  It’s more calm expression works better for the character, and lends itself to a more recognizable Beihn likeness.  The helmeted head is okay, but I don’t care for the screaming expression, and I feel the helmet sits a bit too high.  The real, important difference on this figure is the paint.  While it’s just cleaner in general, the major deviation is how the skin has been handled.  The Series 1 figures hit at a transition point for NECA, as they moved from painted to molded skin tones, and due to the size of the production and costs associated, the Series 1 Marines had painted skin.  It was far from awful, but later figures, most notably the recent Ripley and Vasquez figures, had the molded skin.  For the re-releases, NECA’s brought Hicks inline with the newer figures.  It’s really just a simple change on their part, but it makes for a major change in the quality of the figure.  The likeness on both heads is greatly improved by the lack of extra paint, and he looks far more lifelike in general, thanks to how the light hits plastic vs. how it hits paint.  In addition to the pair of heads, Hicks has his M41A pulse rifle, his shotgun for “close encounters,” a holster for the shot gun, a motion tracker, and a removable shoulder lamp.  Most of these pieces are identical to the original releases, but the shoulder lamp has been tweaked to make it much easier to get it placed on his back (a huge issue with the original figures).

HUDSON

Okay, I feel a little bad for Hudson, having just proclaimed Hicks one of my favorite characters of all time.  It’s okay Hudson, I still like you too!  When I reviewed the original figures, I had some issues with Hicks, but for the most part I was pretty solidly happy with both versions of Hudson.  This guy is essentially the same: about 7 inches tall, 30 points of articulation, and a pretty kickass sculpt.  Like Hicks, he has both helmeted and un-helmeted heads.  Unlike Hicks, I don’t really have a favorite of the two, since I find the likeness on both to be pretty solid, and the issue with the high sitting helmet is avoided.  He’s got the same tweaks to the paint as Hicks; everything is sharper overall (though there was a bit of errant paint on his un-helmeted head), and he’s got the new molded skin tone.  If I thought the figures were good before, there’s really no topping them here.  Hudson gets one more tweak on the helmeted head; the original helmet detailing was rather generic, and was missing Hudson’s character-specific graffiti.  This figure adds that back in.  It’s one of those things you don’t realize you miss until you see it, and then you really can’t un-see it.  Now the older figure just looks wrong (I mean, he always was, but now it’s a more nagging wrong-ness).  Hudson has the M41A pulse rifle, motion tracker, and removable shoulder lamp.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t originally plan on getting these, since I had the originals.  Seeing them in person at All Time Toys kind of changed my mind, but I didn’t have the money to buy any figures, much less ones that were so similar to ones I already had.  But, then my Dad offered to get me an action figure or two in exchange for helping to put down a carpet at my Grandmother’s house (both a resourceful bribe and a reference to the fact that he bought me an action figure the last time I helped put down carpet.  I was 4 at the time, but the point still stands).  And I also wanted to buy something slightly bigger than the $4 Gambit figure to help support All Time after the Main Street Flood.  And I was killing time in Ellicott City.  So, these two came home with me.  I didn’t really have super high expectations of either figure going in, but I was very surprised to find just how much of an improvement both figures are over the prior releases.  They almost feel like different figures.  If you missed the initial releases, then you’ll be very happy with these.  If you have the originals?  Well, it’s hard to say.  I might have liked to get a few extras that weren’t seen on the prior figures (headset head for Hicks, non-bandaged arm for Hudson), but I understand why they weren’t included; it’s not doubt to avoid forcing those who have the originals into buying them again, just for a new piece or two.  Ultimately, even without any new pieces, I feel this set is different enough to warrant long-time collectors picking it up, but it really comes down to how much of a Hicks/Hudson fan you are.

Aaaand I just wrote over 1200 words about figures I already reviewed.  Wow.

#1191: Ripley & Newt

RIPLEY & NEWT

ALIENS (NECA)

ripleynewtneca1

Here we are at the finish line for the 2016 post-Christmas reviews.  I’m ending things the way I finished them: Aliens!  It’s hardly the Christmas season without a good helping of Aliens merch!

NECA’s a company generally known for doing the “impossible” when it comes to action figure licenses.  When they started off their Aliens line, Hicks, Hudson, and Bishop were the only guaranteed likenesses, and Ripley was most definitely not on the table.  That is, until she was.  But NECA swore up and down there was no way we were getting a Newt figure.  Not only was the likeness not available, but her unique sculpt would make her less than realistic for the line.  No way she was happening.  Until she did.  Yep, during last year’s big Alien Day celebration NECA and actress Carrie Henn unveiled the Newt figure.  She was set for a SDCC release, which made some collectors a bit worried, but NECA assured fans that everyone who wanted a Newt would get one.  They finally made good on that promise, albeit in a slightly roundabout way.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ripley and Newt were released as part of the “Rescuing Newt” two-pack, which is sort of the last major hurrah of the Aliens anniversary product.  It was originally supposed to hit in November, but was pushed back until right before Christmas.

RIPLEY

ripleynewtneca2While clearly not the main focus of this set, NECA used this as an opportunity to get the Aliens Ripley out there one more time, for fans who missed her Series 5 release.  However, for those of us that have been faithfully following the line, they made her different enough to not feel like a total repeat.  The first figure depicts Ripley towards the beginning of her journey into the hive, and this one depicts her closer to the end.  I’ve looked at about 90% of this figure twice before; she shares everything below the neck with both the Series 5 Ripley and the TRU-exclusive Kenner Ripley.  I loved the sculpt the first time, and I loved it the second time, and I still love it the third time.  NECA really nailed the details for this look, and I can hardly blame them for wanting to get as much milage out of these pieces as possible.  But enough about the old, what about the new?  Well, Ripley gets a unique head sculpt, which reflects her more dilapidated appearance late in the film.  The hair’s a lot more pressed to her head, the eyes more tired, and the mouth ever so slightly open, showing she’s catching her breath after kicking all that Xeno butt.  I gotta say, I was a little underwhelmed by the sculpt when I saw it in the package, but after taking it out and looking at it from a few different angles, I’e warmed up to it.  The Series 5 version is still my preferred look, and has the better overall Weaver likeness, but this one’s a solid runner up, and, if nothing else, fixes the minor issue of the neck looking a bit underscaled on the last two uses of this body.   As similar as the two may look, the paint work on this figure is also a bit of a change from her Series 5 counterpart.  ripleynewtneca4The basics are all pretty much the same, but the stains on her clothes have definitely intensified from the last figure.  In particular, I think the sweat stains on the shirt look a bit more realistic this time around, which now that I’ve typed it out seems like a very strange compliment to pay something, but there it is.  My one complaint about the figure is something I feel certain is confined to my figure: they pupils are off center from each other, which makes her look a bit cockeyed from certain angles.  It’s not the worst thing ever but you can see it a bit in the shots here.  This Ripley includes the same flamethrower/pulse rifle combo from the first figure, but this time she also includes a nifty flame effect attachment, which is a nice touch that could have very easily been overlooked (it’s also compatible with Frost and Windrix’s flamethrowers as well, which makes it extra fun).

NEWT

ripleynewtneca3Let’s be honest, nobody was really buying this set for the Ripley figure (okay, that’s probably not true….)  The real star here is Rebecca “Newt” Jorden.  The set’s named after her and everything. This figure is a pretty straight re-release of the SDCC version (which is exactly what we were all expecting and what most people wanted).  Of course, I never got the SDCC version, so she’s all-new to me.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is a pretty solid one.  The face sports a strong Carrie Henn likeness, and the hair’s pretty not-terrible, which is quite a compliment when it comes to long, sculpted hair.  The body feels a touch too lanky to me, but it’s not like it’s really far off, just ever so slightly.  The incredible level of detail seen on the clothes more than makes up for it.  Everything’s got texture on this figure, and it really looks like she’s the character from the movie.  The only slight inaccuracy I noticed is that the tear on the right shoulder of her shirt isn’t quite as large as it is in the movie, and let’s be honest, that’s reaching pretty far.  One area where things could maybe be just a little bit better is Newt’s paint.  It’s far from bad, but there are a few sloppy spots, especially on the transitions from skin to clothing on the knees and wrists.  Her shoes are also not really symmetrical, with a lot of the paint on ripleynewtneca6her left foot missing sculpted lines almost completely.  Of course, each foot is about half an inch in size, so it’s not like it’s the end of the world.  Apart from those issues, the work is generally pretty good, and she’s at the very least on par with Series 1-3 of the line, so she’s not going to stick out or anything.  The SDCC version of Newt included her doll Cassie’s head, Hick’s helmet (which she’s seen wearing in one scene), a flashlight (just like the one included with Bishop), and her citizenship award that the Marines get her name from.  For this figure, everything but Cassie was cut.  While the other extras were certainly cool, Cassie’s really the only essential accessory for Newt, and this way, those that spent extra money on the SDCC version still get a few unique items.  I mean, it’s gonna eat at me from now until the end of time that I’m missing those three pieces, but such is my life.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had originally hoped to be able to get the SDCC version of Newt after the con, as NECA usually finds a few ways of distributing their exclusives, but for a number of reasons, they were unable to do that this year.  This was sort of freaky, because there was something of a delay between the SDCC figure hitting and NECA confirming exactly how they were planning on getting more Newt figures out there, and I almost caved and bought a marked up Newt more than once.  Fortunately, they finally announced this two-pack, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.  This set ended up being a Christmas present from my parents.  It didn’t actually arrive in time for Christmas morning, but it made it just a few days later, which gave me one last little burst of present opening.  Yay!  This is a pretty great way of not only getting Newt to retail, but also offering up another chance for people to get Ripley.  Both figures are strong additions to the line, and I’m beyond thrilled to add Newt to my collection (and, as an added bonus, now I’ve got an extra Ripley to pilot the Power Loader!)

ripleynewtneca5

#1174: Armored Personnel Carrier

ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER (W/ LT. GORMAN)

ALIENS MINIMATES

apcmini1

Okay, I’m kicking off the second week of post-Christmas reviews the same way I kicked off the first: Aliens.  This time around, I’m turning my focus back to Aliens Minimates, because I just haven’t reviewed enough of either of those things in a while.  One of the advantages of the smaller scale of Minimates is the ability to produce vehicles and such to go with the figures.  Due to licensing restrictions, Marvel, DST’s flagship license, is strictly just the figures, but other lines are fair game, including Aliens.  That’s a definite plus, because the Alien-verse has some pretty awesome vehicle designs just begging for some cool toys.  One of my all-time favorite vehicles from the movies is the Armored Personnel Carrier, or APC for short.  I’ll be looking at the Minimate-ized version of that today!

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

apcmini3There are two versions of the APC currently available in the Aliens Minimates line. I’ll be looking at the regular version, which is the specialty release, but there’s also a battle-damaged version available at Toys R Us.  The APC measures 2 1/2 inches tall, 7 3/4 inches front to back, and 3 3/4 inches from side to side.  Both turrets rotate, as do all four wheels.  The top turret doesn’t slide up and down like it does in the movie, likely due to the size and price of this set, but it can be popped out and placed on the back, simulating its movement from the movie.  The door also opens.  It’s not as far as in the movie, but it’s enough that it’s a cool touch.  The apcmini7sculpt of the APC is pretty good.  It’s noticeably less deformed than some of the prior vehicles, which I’m quite pleased with.  Obviously, it’s downscaled ever so slightly, but not incredibly so; it’s quite a sizable vehicle.  The top of the Carrier is hinged, allowing access to the interior of the vehicle.  It’s at best an approximation of the actual interior seen in the film.  That being said, it’s totally acceptable, since the interiors we see on screen were a separate set that didn’t actually fit in the vehicle used for exteriors.  Any recreation by definition must make some concessions.  Gorman’s station is there, with a swivel chair and everything.  There are four more seats: the driver, right behind the driver, by the door, and apcmini4towards the back.  All four of them are removable, allowing for some extra space if need be.  There’s also a small weapons rack in the back of the vehicle, which can hold two pulse rifles and two flamethrowers.  It’s a little hard to get to (it can be removed with a bit of finagling), but still a nice little touch.  Paintwork on the APC is minimal, but well handled.  There are also a few small decals to help fill in a few more of the details.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

apcmini2Included with the APC is Lt. William Gorman.  Given that Gorman spends perhaps the most time in the APC of anyone in the movie, he’s a good choice.  This is Gorman’s second time as a Minimate, with the first being as part of the third TRU-exclusive series.  However, that figure was based on his briefly seen dress uniform, where as this one is based on his main fatigues look from the film.  He stands 2 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Gorman uses the standard Minimate body, with add-ons for his hat and belt.  Both of these pieces are re-used, but they fit very well for the character.  The paintwork on Gorman is overall pretty solid; he’s on par with the rest of the line.  The face is the same one seen on the TRU version, which is good for consistency.  The patch on his shoulder still incorrectly reads “USMC” instead of “USCM,” but at this point, I guess they just want all the patches to match.  More power to them.  Gorman includes an extra head, sporting the bandage he’s got for the second half of the film, as well as a handgun, and a clear display stand.  I wouldn’t have minded getting the jacket he has when they first arrive on LV-426, but I can’t say I’m disappointed by the selection at all. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since Aliens Minimates were announced, this was an item I was looking forward to getting.  When they finally showed off the prototype, my excitement only increased, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it since.  I ended up getting this set from my parents for Christmas.  I’m quite pleased with the final product, and it’s definitely become the centerpiece of my Aliens Minimates collection!

apcmini6

#1167: Ripley, Power Loader, & Alien Queen

RIPLEY, POWER LOADER, & ALIEN QUEEN

ALIENS REACTION FIGURES (FUNKO)

ripleyloaderqueen1

Alright, here we are!  It’s a new year and a new round of post-Christmas gift reviews!  As is tradition, the first review of this round is an Aliens review.  Heck, it’s even an Alien Queen review!  This marks three in a row.  Why do I have so many Alien Queens?  It’s like I like the movie a lot or something….

You may have thought I’d looked at every possible version of the Alien Queen and the Power Loader available, but you’d be wrong.  No, there’s always another out there somewhere.  This time around, it comes from Funko and their line of ReAction Figures.  Let’s see how this set turned out!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ripley, the Power Loader, and the Queen were released as a three-pack, and are the first figures from the Aliens ReAction Figures line.  No follow-up figures have been announced as of yet, but here’s hoping that’ll change.

RIPLEY

ripleyloaderqueen3You can’t do an Aliens line without Ellen Ripley.  Okay, that’s not true.  Several lines have been done without Ripley.  But they weren’t any good, so I call party foul on them.  Funko actually got us our first Ripley figure in a good long while when the released the ReAction version from the first movie, so it’s not a huge shock that their doing her second movie look as well.  Ripley is seen here in her “rescue” look that she sports for the last 45 minutes or so of the movie, which is easily her most distinctive look from the film and is the one that matches up with the Loader as well.  This figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and has the usual 5 points of articulation.  She’s an all-new sculpt and it’s definitely one of the strongest sculpts I’ve seen from this line.  In fact, I think she may be my favorite.  She captures the Kenner style pretty well, but also gets all of the important details from the movie down.  She also doesn’t suffer from the overly straight arms and flattened chest that plagued so many of the ReAction items.  The likeness on the head isn’t the spitting image of Sigourney Weaver, but it’s close enough to the general look of the character that you won’t be left scratching your head wondering who it’s supposed to be.  Similar to the sculpt, the paint on this particular figure is pretty good for this line.  It’s pretty basic color work for the most part, but it’s all pretty clean, and, once again, it does a nice job of aping the style that they’re going for.  Ripley doesn’t include any extras, but that’s mostly because this set also includes…

POWER LOADER

…the Power Loader.  It’s marked as being a “figure” on the package, but that seems like an iffy definition at best, if I’m honest.  That being said, it’s made of plastic, vaguely humanoid, and features a whole 4 points of articulation, so I guess that’s as good as anything.  This Power Loader is notably a bit more rigid than prior versions, largely due to being tailored to fit a Kenner-style figure inside.  It also does seem a bit skinnier than it usually is depicted.  That being said, the sculpt is actually pretty decent.  Obviously, this isn’t going to be competing with the NECA version for accuracy, but it’s certainly more accurate than the original Kenner Loader, and at least on par with the Minimates version.  I’ve looked at a lot of Loaders in the last year or so, so it’s gonna be hard to “wow” me, but this one’s certainly not bad.  The paintwork is pretty much what you’d expect.  Once again, closer to the Minimate version that the NECA one, but all the important colors are there, which I suppose is the most important piece.

ALIEN QUEEN

ripleyloaderqueen2You know how I mentioned reviewing a lot of Power Loaders?  Well, the same holds true for the Alien Queen.  In fact, a bit more so.  Here’s another one, I guess.  This particular Alien Queen stands about 5 inches or so tall and is also about 5 inches wide, and she’s got 7 points of articulation.  The sculpt on this figure is…different.  It’s got the silhouette of the Queen down pretty well, but beyond that it takes more than a few liberties.  This kind of looks like the Queen if you squint, I guess.  It’s not bad, I suppose.  It looks somewhat similar to the basic Alien’s sculpt, so I guess there’s at least some consistency.  That being said, I don’t know that I’m getting the Kenner feel from this figure.  She just feels like she’s from another line entirely when compared to the included Ripley.  Not bad, but different enough to be noticeable.  The paint on the Queen is decent, but nothing particularly spectacular.  She’s mostly done up in this dark metallic grey.  Being somewhat nitpicky, the grey feels off for the Queen, who tends to be presented in bluish hues.  I feel I’d prefer the figure that way, but I don’t know.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set was given to me for Christmas by my Grandmother, who does her very best to support my collecting habits.  I knew of this set’s existence prior to getting it, but hadn’t gotten around to picking it up, since I’ve got no shortage of Power Loaders and Alien Queens.  The Queen is the definite weak link here.  NECA’s incredibly amazing version has probably colored my opinion there, but it also doesn’t help that the *actual* Kenner Queen is far more exciting figure.  However, this set is totally worth it for the Loader and Ripley alone.  Nothing particularly new or ground breaking, but just a solid, fun toy.  Now, here’s hoping Funko gets around to some of the other cast members!

#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.

#1080: Pvt Ricco Frost

PVT RICCO FROST

ALIENS (NECA)

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“Guess she don’t like the cornbread either…”

I’ve seen Aliens a lot of times.  When you watch a movie a lot of times, your perspective on different parts and characters from the from the movie can change with each viewing.  Sometimes this is a cool line you missed in an earlier viewing, or a neat little moment of foreshadowing.  Maybe you missed a fun little character beat.  The thing that I gained from so many repeated viewings of Aliens is an appreciation for Private Ricco Frost. 

Now, undoubtedly, I’m sure a lot of readers are thinking “who’s Frost?”  He’s easy to miss on a regular viewing.  He’s just one of the many Marines not to make it back from that fateful trip to the Alien hive.  But, if you pay close enough attention to Frost, you’ll see that he’s easily the most realized of the secondary Marines, especially in the early establishing scenes.  He gets a lot of memorable lines, he’s humorous, and he has clearly established friendships with Hicks and Hudson.  He even finds himself at the front of many of the shots in which he appears, subtly pushing him as a main character.  Frost is, in many ways, the face of the secondary Marines.  Then, moments into the hive battle, he becomes the very first named casualty in the film.  Bit of a gut-wrench, right?  Well, it’s okay, we’ll get through that together, with this here Frost action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

frostneca2Private Frost is the second of the two Marines in Series 9 of NECA’s Aliens line.  The figure stands just over 7 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  Frost is built on the standard Marine body, which we haven’t actually seen since the second series of the line, way back in 2014. It was a really strong sculpt back then, and it still is now.  Frost uses the Sgt Windrix variation of the body, which has the sleeves rolled down over the arms.  If you want to get technical, Frost should actually have his sleeves rolled up ever so slightly to be truly screen accurate, but that’s the sort of detail pretty much no one but me’s likely to notice.  Frost gets a few new pieces to complete his look.  The most obvious, of course, is the head, which sports a decent likeness of Ricco Ross.  It’s not spot-on (I think it’s a little too thin, myself) but it’s very close.  Frost is notably the first Marine to feature a removable helmet, made possible due to his slightly closer cropped hair.  The helmet is very nicely textured, with the cloth covering being properly depicted.  It sits pretty well on his head, frostneca3though it pops off from time to time while posing.  Mostly, I just appreciate being able to display him both ways.  In addition to the new head and helmet, Frost also gets a new web gear sculpt on his armor, which removes the welder and knife attachments and adds extra grenades and a holster for his side arm.  Frost’s paintwork is very solid, and what we’ve come to expect from NECA for this line.  The basic details are nice and clean, and he even gets all of the appropriate graffiti on his armor.  Fun fact: the graphic on his back is not from the film.  When working on the figure, NECA reached out to Ricco Ross to place some detail on Frost’s otherwise blank back, and he asked for this graphic to be placed there.  It’s a very cool touch, and helps him stand out even more from the rest of the Marines.  Frost is packed with a flamethrower (the same one that came with Windrix), a handgun, his shoulder lamp, and, most importantly, the bag of all the other Marines’ ammo, which Apone gives him during the hive scene.  The only real piece missing is the pulse rifle, but that’s hardly a rare item in this line, and he comes with plenty of extras as it is. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Frost here at the same TRU where I got Vasquez.  As soon as NECA announced another Marine would be in Series 9, Frost was the one I was hoping we’d see, and his figure definitely does not disappoint.  As cool as Vasquez may be, this guy is kind of my personal favorite from this set.  Can you believe we live in a world where you can own not one, but two Private Ricco Frost action figures?

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#1079: Pvt Vasquez

PVT JEANETTE VASQUEZ

ALIENS (NECA)

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No one likes Aliens more than me.  Okay, that’s probably not true.  A lot of people like Aliens, and some of them are pretty devoted.  I’m pretty sure the original Queen model is still in the possession of a private collector.  I can’t really top that.  What’s my point?  Right, I like Aliens.  I like Aliens a lot.  I’ve been absolutely loving the plethora of new Aliens-themed merch this year.  After virtually none for most of my lifetime, it’s been a refreshing change.  I think NECA’s Aliens line is perhaps my favorite of all the Aliens stuff, since they’re killing it not just in terms of line-up, but also in the level of attention granted to each individual figure.  In honor of the 30th anniversary of Aliens, they’ve been pulling out all the stops, and giving us a couple of figures that had previously been thought off-limits.  One  of the most anticipated new releases is today’s focus figure, Private Jeanette Vasquez, perhaps the most pivotal character still left un-released.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

vasquezneca1Vasquez is part of Series 9 of NECA’s Aliens line, which has been entirely devoted to the anniversary of Aliens.  It’s been a little while since we’ve gotten an all Aliens set, so I’m pretty happy about that.  The figure is about 6 1/2 inches tall, which is about right for Vasquez’s height compared to the rest of the line, and she has 26 points of articulation, plus a moving eye retical, and 6 points of articulation on the smartgun.  That’s a whole lot of articulation!  Vasquez is sporting an all-new sculpt, and it’s a really impressive one at that.  Every time I think NECA can’t top themselves, they turn right around and do just that.  Seriously, this is easily one of the best NECA’s ever done.  Heck, it’s just one of the best action figure sculpts I’ve seen, period.  Her build is just right, the armor is perfectly translated, and the level of texture on things like the bandana is nothing short of amazing.  Perhaps the only slight issue might be the likeness on the face, and even that’s just a slight issue.  It’s more than clear who this is, but there are some angles where she’s just a little off.  It’s more than acceptable for a translation into sculpted action figure, though, so I’m not complaining.  This sculpt is really impressive.  The paintwork is pretty good too.  There are a few small details, such as the tear drop tattoo under her eye and the “Adios” written on her gun, which are missing, but everything else is phenomenal.  The headband stands out again, with the pattern being very well-rendered, but as a whole, she’s just a very sharp looking figure.  Even the eyes look good, and those throw most companies.  Vasquez’s main accessory is her smartgun, which is the same as the one included with the Alien Day Kenner Ripley figure, just with the arm attached.  Fortunately, Vasquez’s hands are actually molded for the gun, so she doesn’t drop it all the time like Ripley tends to.  Vasquez also includes a removable shoulder lamp (the same as the previous Marines), as well as a blast effect piece for her gun.  The blast effect is a lot of fun, and I hope we see more things like this with future figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ever since Vasquez was shown on Alien Day, I’ve been anxiously awaiting her release.  Unfortunately, she hit stores right as I was in the midst of a move, meaning I had no time to go looking for her.  So, I had to wait until things had settled a bit.  I found her at my new local TRU, which was very exciting.  Vasquez is a fantastic figure, the best of NECA’s Marines (no small feat, let me tell you).  I’m really happy to have her, and round out my Marines just a little bit more.  Now I just need a Drake to go with her…

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#1067: Queen Alien (w/ Bishop & Warrior Alien)

QUEEN ALIEN (W/ WARRIOR ALIEN & BATTLE-DAMAGED BISHOP)

ALIENS MINIMATES

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For everything else it gave us (and believe me, there was a lot it gave us), easily the most definitive thing to come out of 1986’s Aliens was the Alien Queen (or is it the Queen Alien?  No one seems to agree on that…)  Heck, she even transcends the movie itself.  She’s one of the most definitive things in the franchise!  Is she the most original concept ever?  Well, maybe not.  Compared to some of what we see in the first film, she’s a surprisingly straight-forward answer to just where all those eggs came from.  But she is pretty cool, which makes it pretty easy to over look the straight-forwardness.  She’s finally made her way into Minimates form, alongside the android synthetic artificial person Bishop, and one of the Queen’s drone-y underlings.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Queen and her compatriots make up the other half of the first deluxe series of Aliens Minimates, and act as a natural counterpoint to the Ripley and Power Loader set.

QUEEN ALIEN

alienqueenmm9Where the Power Loader was sort of a glorified vehicle, the Queen is a more straight figure.  Well, at her core, at least.  The figure is about 3 1/2 inches tall when stood at full height and has 16 points of articulation, counting the tail.  The Queen is built on the standard Minimate body, albeit with a unique set of upper legs, as well as a torso extender, upper arm additions and add-ons for her head, torso/neck/tail, hands, and feet.  If I’m being totally honest, it took some time for me to be sold on the Queen being built on the basic body.  For compatibility’s sake, I can understand the desire by DST to use the same basic parts here that they use for everyone else, and there’s no denying that *a lot* of work went into making her work as well as possible.  The Queen as seen in the film was quite spindly and lanky, so I think that using at least some of standard parts is reasonable.  The trouble seems to mostly lie with the arms and legs, and the lengths DST has gone to to make them longer than they actually are.  Simply put, the elbows and knees are just too close to the main body, which results in the articulation being a lot less useful than it would be normally.  It’s not as big a deal for the arms, but the legs can make keeping the Queen standing quite a mean feat.  Since DST was already re-sculpting the upper legs, it would have been nice if the new pieces were a little bit lengthened.  Ultimately, the final product isn’t bad at all, but it certainly takes some getting used to.  The paintwork on the Queen is ultimately pretty simple, even compared to the basic Aliens from the line.  For the most part, she just relies on the sculpted details, with a little bit of painted detailing on the lower legs, pelvis, and arms.  Fortunately, the sculpted detail is pretty great on its own, so it’s not really an issue.  The Queen includes four alien eggs (two opened, two closed), a chestburster, and a clear display stand.  She also has an extra tail to swap out with her normal one, which allows her to “impale” the included Bishop ‘mate, just like in the movie.  It’s by far the coolest of the included extras.

WARRIOR ALIEN

Apone&Xeno3Nothing to see here, move along.

You’re still here?  Review’s over!  Go home!  …Okay, fine, I’ll discuss briefly.  So, this ‘mate is the same as the Warrior Alien included with Sgt. Apone in Series1, which was itself the same as the Alien Warrior from the singles.  It’s a perfectly fine ‘mate (and far more versatile than the Battle-Damaged one included with the Loader), and I certainly won’t say to another.

BATTLE-DAMAGED BISHOP

alienqueenmm2Finally!  Bishop!  It’s about time!  Seriously, Bishop was like one of the only major missing characters from the film, so it’s great to finally have him here—Battle-Damaged you say?  Ah.  So, I guess we’ll just have to keep waiting on the normal one.  Well, half a Bishop is better than no Bishop, right?  In his damaged state, Bishop is really just the upper half of a Minimate, with add-ons for his hair and watch, as well as a piece that plugs into the bottom of the torso to simulate his guts seen in the movie.  While the guts aren’t as detailed as, say, the NECA version of this design, they’re still pretty cool.  I’m actually a little surprised DST didn’t just re-use alienqueenmm13one of the guts pieces from their Walking Dead line, but I’m certainly happy to see a character-specific piece in use here!  The paintwork on Bishop is quite impressive.  He’s got a full set of normal details, which are all clean and sharp, and then a bunch of milky-white paint in various splatters, depicting his “blood.”  It’s a pretty cool, quite unique look, and it does a reasonable job of capturing his look from the end of the movie.  Bishop includes a set of legs as well, for those wanting to display him bi-pedal.  It’s not enough to make him into a normal Bishop, mind you, but it does allow him to interact with the Queen’s extra tail piece, and appear as though he’s in the midst of being torn in two.  He also includes a clear display stand, should you wish to have him just standing about with a big stain on his front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like yesterday’s Power Loader set, I got these guys as a birthday present from my parents.  The Queen’s alright overall.  I have my issues with her, but the final product is better than I was expecting.  The Warrior Alien is a ‘mate we’ve seen before; no surprises there.  Bishop is, surprisingly, the set’s real star.  He’s just very well done, and makes me yearn all the more for that basic Bishop ‘mate.  Not quite as strong a set as the Loader, but still very cool.

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#1066: Power Loader

POWER LOADER (WITH RIPLEY & BATTLE-DAMAGED ALIEN)

ALIENS MINIMATES

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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.

POWER LOADER

powerloadermm2Okay, 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 powerloadermm5‘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.

RIPLEY

powerloadermm4You 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.

BATTLE-DAMAGED ALIEN

Drake&Xeno4I 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.