#1079: Pvt Vasquez




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.


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.


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…


#0652: Vasquez & Battle-Damaged Alien




The first wave of Toys R Us exclusive Aliens Minimates have the notoriety of being one of the few  series in recent years not to get any purely exclusive sets. Instead, the series is a “Best of” series of sorts, being used to bridge the gap between Series 1 and 2 of the main line. It also gives us our first look at two of the Marines who will be showing up in Series 2. One of the two is Smartgunner Vasquez, packed facing off against another pesky Xenomorph.


This pair was released as a Toys R Us exclusive set, though, as with Hudson, Vasquez will be appearing in Series 2 as well.

VasquezXeno2Vasquez is one of the movie’s two Smartgunners. We got the other half of the pair, Drake, in Series 1. However, Vasquez is definitely the more central of the two, so she was the one everyone was waiting for. Like Hudson, this same figure (more-or-less) should be turning up in Series 2 of the specialty assortments. Pvt. Vasquez features additional sculpted parts for her hair/headpiece, and her chest piece. The chest piece is the same as the one used for Drake, which is sensible re-use, since they had the same armor in the film. She still has the standard issue shoulder lamp, though it has some difficulty staying put, which is rather annoying. The hair/headpiece is new to Vasquez and…well, it’s not quite as good as I’d hoped. The hair seems to be too bulky and to sit too high to accurately depict the close-cropped hair the character sports in the film. If it were just a smidge on the smaller side, I think it would look a lot better. I’m also disappointed to lose the articulated eye-piece, as that was one of my favorite things on Drake. The thing about the sculpt is that it’s really hard to get an accurate read on the quality, mostly due to…the paint. The paint on this figure annoys me. It’s not sloppy. In fact, it’s quite clean and sharp. Her fatigues are nicely detailed, and her armor has most of the appropriate graffiti. I’m also glad to see they got her skin tone correct. I like having a diverse VasquezXeno7selection of skin tones. So, what’s wrong? Well, for starters, her hair is just the wrong color. Yes, Jennete Goldstien has red hair. However, she very definitely didn’t have it while playing Vasquez. The hair here is far too light to be accurate. Also, her face, while well-rendered, is too low-set, making the hairpiece look even higher up than it already is. Also, she’s got lipstick, which isn’t accurate, and her expression is far too friendly to ever be Vasquez. As far as accessories go, Vasquez makes out alright. She includes the smartgun, which is the same as Drake’s, and works just as well here as it did there. She also has a spare hairpiece, without the headset, but it has the same issues as the main piece. Lastly, she has the now standard clear display stand.


VasquezXeno10Oh boy, another Alien! Yeah, it’s cool that they keep making them available, but there’s really only so much you can say about what’s essentially the same figure over and over. So, like all its alien brethren before it, the Battle-Damaged Alien has sculpted parts for its head, torso, tail, hands, and feet. This one’s a little different from the last two versions of the Battle-Damaged Alien; he’s been given the closed-mouth head. That’s different enough. Aside from that, the rest of the pieces are all the same Xeno parts we’ve seen before, though that’s certainly not a bad thing. Have you seen the other Battle-Damaged Aliens? Good, then you’ve seen the paint on this one too. It’s Identical. I still wish that DST would mix up the blood splatters a little bit, but I guess that won’t be happening. This Alien includes a clear display stand AND a newborn Alien. Well, the newborn could really go with either of the figures in the set, but I figured, since Vasquez had other stuff, it made sense to put it here. It’s a fun little piece, with a surprising amount of detail. It’s a cool pack-in!


So, yeah, I was gonna wait on Hudson and Vasquez, but…I didn’t. That worked out okay for the last set. This set? I’m not gonna lie, it was disappointing. Vasquez is supposed to be the draw here, but she’s rather weak. After the slam dunk that was Drake, it seemed like this one should be no trouble for DST, but that didn’t prove true. Perhaps the Series 2 release could fix the hair color, at the very least, but it’s nigh-impossible that we’ll see the sculpt of the hair fixed. It’s a shame because, from the neck down, this is a tremendous figure, but that head really drags the whole thing down.


#0370: Vasquez & Night Cougar Alien



The initial offering of Marines in Kenner’s Aliens line is interesting. We got pretty decent Ripley and Hicks figures, but we also got Apone and Drake, two characters who are absent from the last two-thirds of the movie entirely, and a nearly unrecognizable version of Bishop. Key players like Vasquez and Hudson were absent, and when we finally got an additional Marine in the second series, it was ATAX, a character invented exclusively for the toyline. When the third series hit, Kenner tried to amend this, offering both Vasquez and Hudson, but it was too little too late. Retailers in the US were having trouble moving the Marines from the first two series, leading to the cases containing the Series 3 Marines to be returned and, ultimately, destroyed. A fair number saw release outside the US, but not in nearly the same numbers, leaving US Aliens fans out in the cold. Fortunately, the 10th Anniversary Aliens Vs. Marine came to the rescue, offering a proper release of all three of the Marines, albeit in altered colors. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the first of those, Vasquez, along with her foe, the Night Cougar Alien.


Vasquez and the Night Cougar Alien were released as a two-pack in the KB Toys Exclusive Aliens Vs. Marine line, which was done as a celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Aliens. Both figures made use of previous sculpts with all-new paint schemes.


Vasquez is definitely a key part of what make Aliens so great. She was a really fun character who added a lot to the group of survivors as they battled the Alien hoards (and Paul Reiser). Unfortunately, her role as smartgunner kinda got taken by Drake in the first series (both are smartgunners in the movie, but Kenner seemed set on each Marine having their own gimmick), so she ended up being a little more generic here. Vasquez stands just shy of 5 inches tall and features 5 points of articulation. I don’t know why she didn’t get waist articulation like the others, but it’s not there. Vasquez is a total re-use of the Series 3 Vasquez, who was actually the only of the Series 3 Marines to get her own body sculpt. While she’s not a pitch perfect Vasquez, she’s probably the most film-accurate Marine Kenner put out. Some of the details are a little on the soft side, but she’s definitely Vasquez, and I’m amazed by the lack of 90s-fication that was so present on the other Marines. The paint on Vasquez only furthers her as the most accurate Marine. In the more traditional colors, she’s pretty much spot on to how Vasquez looked in the movie. My one complaint would be that she’s definitely way too pale to be Vasquez. Other than that, her paint is pretty good for the time. She doesn’t really have any slop or bleed over to speak of. Vasquez’s smartgun gimmick was taken, so she doesn’t have one of those, but she does come with what I believe is the only example of a proper pulse rifle from the Kenner line, as well as some large missile launching thing that she has trouble standing with.


So, the Night Cougar Alien is another Kenner original. That being said, apart from a terrible name, it’s actually one of the better aliens, and it’s got some precedent. Its quadrupedal design is similar to that of Alien3 ’s Dog Alien. I am by no means a fan of the movie, but the design wasn’t bad. The Night Cougar is about 4 inches tall and 6 inches long, and it features 5 points of articulation (there’s a 6th, but it’s tied to the action feature.) The Night Cougar Alien re-uses the sculpt of the original Series 3 version, which was itself a repaint of the Panther Alien. It’s a pretty good sculpt. Some of the details, particularly on the torso are a little soft and basic, but they aren’t too bad, and the figure does offer a fair job of conveying some depth. The figure features a more conventional Alien design than the previous two, which makes this figure work a lot better aesthetically. The original Night Cougar featured some pretty bold red highlights. This figure opts for the more subdued look that all of these two-pack aliens have. While the King was kind of hurt by such a change, I think the Night Cougar really makes it work. It helps that the Night Cougar has the subtlest work with the silver highlights, which really makes the figure look its best. This marks the first Alien to have an accessory; it includes a missile that can be plugged into the figure’s back. When the figures front legs are pushed forward, the head ducks down and the missile fires. As far as action features go, that’s a good one.


Just like Hicks and the King, and Drake and the Arachnid, Vasquez and the Night Cougar Alien were part of a large lot of Kenner Aliens figures I won on ebay. Vasquez is one of my main interests in getting the lot, so there was definitely some pressure for this set to deliver. Fortunately, this set is one of my favorites from this series. Vasquez marks one of Kenner’s best efforts on a Marine, and the Night Cougar Alien is one of their better aliens, which makes this set a real winner!