#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.

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#0645: Hudson & Screaming Alien

“CPL” HUDSON & SCREAMING ALIEN

ALIENS MINIMATES

HudsonXeno1

The first series of Aliens Minimates covered a lot of bases in terms of major characters, but there were definitely a few key characters missing. Fortunately, the Toys R Us assortment and Series 2 are doing their part to fill some of those holes. The TRU series has added two new marines, including today’s focus, the shell-shocked Marine Hudson, who is packed with another Alien Warrior variation.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were released as part of the TRU assortment of Series 1 of Aliens Minimates. As of now, both figures are exclusive, but Hudson is already slated to appear in Series 2 at specialty stores.

“CPL” HUDSON

HudsonXeno2So, let’s get something out of the way right now: Hudson isn’t a Corporal, he’s a Private. The package totally gave him the wrong rank. But, I’m probably one of the few people to actually notice such a thing, so, whatever. Hudson is probably one of the film’s more memorable Marines. He’s got a fair bit of screen time, and, whether you like it or not, his panicky personality sets him apart from the rest of the crew. Anyway, he’s pretty important to the film and the line would feel very incomplete without him, so it’s good to see him turn up here. The figure stands about 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Hudson features additional sculpted parts for his helmet, chest armor, and boots. These parts are all the same as those used on the Series 1 Marines and Weirzbowski. This is sensible, given that the armor was standard issue in the film. Hudson continues the trend of the removable shoulder lamp, which is a nice option to have. His is a little looser than previous versions, but it stays in place alright. The armor is all stuff we’ve HudsonXeno3seen a few times before, but it’s no less impressive than it was before, and it still does a great job of translating the real deal into ‘mate form. Hudson’s paintwork is pretty decent, but it does have a few nits here and there. The basic armor detailing and underlying fatigues match up with the rest of the Marines, which is good. The chest armor has most of Hudson’s distinctive graffiti; it’s cleanly applied for the most part and helps set him aside from the others. Hudson wore a cover on his helmet in the movie, which featured a slightly different camo pattern and an 8-ball on the back. However, the figure just has the standard issue helmet. It’s not the worst thing ever, but it is just a little disappointing. The likeness on the face isn’t spot-on to Bill Paxton, but it’s a lot closer than the other Marines in the line, so that’s good. On the accessory front, Hudson has an extra hairpiece, a standard issue pulse rifle, a facehugger, and a clear display stand. The rifle and facehugger are the same ones we’ve seen before, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The hair is one of the standard male hairpieces, first used for Marvel Series 27’s Ultimate Iron Man. It’s too long to really work for Hudson, and it’s definitely painted too lightly to be Paxton’s hair. But it’s the thought that counts, I suppose.

SCREAMING ALIEN

HudsonXeno5Well, I guess it wouldn’t really be an Aliens set without another Alien, right? So, here’s this one. But this time he has a new hat—err, I mean, he’s screaming! That’s sort of different. Different enough when you’re dealing with army builders, anyway. For the most part, this figure is more or less the same as the other Aliens. It has sculpted pieces for the head, torso, tail, hands, and feet. The pieces are as well sculpted as always, so that’s good. This figure uses the “attacking” head, but it lacks the inner mouth piece, giving it the screaming appearance hinted at in the name. The figure’s paint is pretty much identical to all the prior Warrior and Attacking Aliens the line’s offered. There’s plenty of painted texturing and such, which keeps the figure visually interesting.  As far as accessories go, the Screaming Alien only includes a clear display stand. However, this is totally on par with prior Aliens, and it’s totally reasonable, given how many sculpted parts the figure has.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When it was announced that Hudson and Vasquez would be available in both this line-up and in Series 2, I had planned to just wait for the later release. Then I saw these guys at my local TRU and I caved. Big shock, right? Hudson’s a pretty good addition to the line. He has a few minor issues, but he’s an important character, and he’s good overall. I’m curious to see if the Series 2 release might fix one or two of the issues here. The Screaming Alien isn’t really that different from the other Aliens, but it’s different enough to add a little bit of variety to your horde of Aliens. And isn’t that the dream?

HudsonXeno4

#0371: Hudson & Scorpion Alien

HUDSON & SCORPION ALIEN

ALIENS (KENNER)

The problem with doing large theme weeks and the like is that as you near the end, you really run out of interesting things to say to introduce the figures. Then you have to write these weird meta intros talking about how you have nothing to say in the intro. (BEAT)

So, how ’bout them Aliens figures? Yesterday, I looked at one key Marine missing from Kenner’s first series of Aliens; today, I’ll be looking at the other. That Marine is, of course, Private Hudson, everyone’s favorite over-confidant marine turned whimpering mess! I’ll be taking a look at his proper US release from the Aliens Vs. Marine two-packs, along with the Scorpion Alien.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hudson and the Scorpion Alien were released in a two-pack in the 10th Anniversary Aliens Vs. Marine line. The line was released exclusively at KB Toys, and it was made up of repaints from the previous Kenner Aliens line.

HUDSON

Hudson is easily the selling point of this set. His Series 3 figure never saw a proper US release, leaving a Paxton sized hole in many fans’ Aliens collections. Hudson is about 5 inches tall and he features 6 points of articulation. He sports a new head sculpt, which doesn’t really have much in common with Bill Paxton’s portrayal of the character, but that’s not really news with this line. Hudson has a screaming expression, which fits okay with the character and does make him stand out a bit more from the other, more passive Marines. His sculpted helmet doesn’t match the one on Hicks, which is moderately annoying, but I suppose they wanted each of the Marines to have a unique look. From the neck down, Hudson’s sculpt is the same as Series 1’s Apone figure. Aside from the somewhat odd metal arm thing, it’s a pretty good starting point for a basic Marine, so I guess it works okay. It’s too bad he couldn’t get a unique sculpt like Vasquez, but if only one could get a new sculpt, Kenner made the right choice. Hudson’s paint work is on par with the rest of the Marines; it’s all pretty cleanly applied, and his lower half is molded in the same multi-colored plastic seen on all of the Marines. Hudson has one of the more diverse paint jobs in the series, though it’s not like it’s anything super exciting. Hudson includes a rifle of some sort (not a pulse rifle), and a large backpack thingy with three missiles to launch. Unfortunately, the backpack is a bit on the heavy side, which makes Hudson impossible to stand while wearing it.

SCORPION ALIEN

Believe it or not, against all odds and in spite of the name, the Scorpion Alien is not a Kenner original. It’s actually one of the main line’s closest attempts to capture the standard Xenomorph design. It also happens to be one of the best Aliens in the line, for what it’s worth. The figure is about 5 inches tall and features 5 points of articulation. This figure makes use of the sculpt from the original Scorpion Alien, released in the first series of the original Kenner Aliens line. It’s a decent quality sculpt. There are lots of small details and texture work, and the figure really has some nice dimension. It’s perhaps a tad wider than it should be, but not excessively so. The design of the alien is definitely based on the Xeno’s appearance in Aliens, though there have been a few changes made. The design as a whole is a bit spikier, and a lot of the design has been streamlined, I’d assume to present a more easily animated look. The figure is slightly pre-posed, and it can take a little work to get the figure to stand, but it’s not too difficult to keep the figure vertical. There was definitely a consistent theme to the paint work on the figures in the Aliens Vs. Marine line, and the Scorpion Alien is no exception. He’s molded in semi-metallic black/grey plastic with some silver accents to bring out the details. The silver on this figure is easily the most subtle of this line, which really does this figure some serious favors. The Scorpion Alien included no accessories, but he did feature one of the line’s coolest action features. When the button on the figure’s lower back is pressed, the figure’s upper half pops apart, as if the Scorpion Alien has just been shot by one of the Marines. It’s a fun action feature and it really adds quite a bit of entertainment value to this figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hudson and the Scorpion Alien are another piece of the large lot of Kenner Aliens figures I won recently on ebay. These are two of the figures I was most eager to get ahold of from the line, so I was definitely glad they were amongst the set. Hudson is an essential Marine and the Scorpion Alien is my personal favorite Kenner take on the standard Xeno design. All in all, I really like this set. Sure, Hudson’s slightly goofy, but he’s not a bad figure, and he’s packed with an outstanding Alien.

#0257: Private Hudson vs Xenomorph Warrior

PRIVATE WILLIAM HUDSON & XENOMORPH WARRIOR

ALIENS (NECA)

HudsonVsXeno3

It’s no secret to those who follow this site that I think the movie Aliens is one of the greatest movies ever made. As a toy collector, I want toys from just about everything, even bad movies! Heck, I even bought a bunch of the figures from James Cameron’s Avatar, before I came to my senses and sold them all off. So, it stands to reason that I would want all the toys imaginable from the greatest movie of all time, right? Well, that’s where things get tricky. See, there’s been a few toys here and there from the movie over the years, but a lot of them weren’t that great or they were solely focused on the aliens themselves. I don’t watch the movie for the aliens, I watch it for the awesome characters standing up to the aliens!

HudsonVsXenoI was thrilled beyond belief when NECA announced that they were making a line of Aliens figures and the humans would be one of the focuses. So far, we’ve only gotten two of the marines, but Bishop’s on his way in Series Three and NECA’s already confirmed that Riley should be showing up in one of the series after that.

NECA is a slightly smaller toy company, which means there can end up being quite a wait from series to series of a line. So, to keep the momentum going on Aliens, they’ve released three two-packs, scattered between the main releases. The two-packs re-use parts and tend to be re-releases of previously seen characters. Today, I’ll be looking at Private Hudson facing off against a Xenomorph that’s a little worse for wear!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released as a two-pack outside of the regular Series structure. It’s the third of the two-packs NECA has done for its Aliens line. These two were originally meant to bridge the gap between Series One and Two, but due to delays, they ended up coming out a little ways after Series Two, which actually makes for a nice bridge between Two and Three.

PRIVATE WILLIAM HUDSON

HudsonScreamingThis is Hudson’s second figure in the Aliens line. Both figures so far have depicted Hudson after the initial attack on the alien hive, as denoted by the bandage on his left arm. The Series One version of Hudson depicted him immediately after the attack, but this one depicts him as he appears in the last third of the film, when the aliens are attacking the remaining marine forces. The big difference is that Hudson has his helmet and his game face. He’s ready to fight. Hudson stands about 7 inches tall and features 30 points of articulation. From the neck down, the figure is more or less identical to the Series One release. So, I’ll be focusing on the new head sculpt. The big change is the addition of a helmet, a piece that was woefully from the Series One marines. The helmet is different from the one used on the second Hicks figure. In the movie, Hudson has a cover on his helmet, so I’m glad to see NECA pay attention to this detail. The helmet also sits better on Hudson than it did on Hicks, which makes it look less doofy. That’s definitely a plus. The actual head is pretty decent. The screaming expression makes more sense here than it did on Hicks, as Hudson did tend to be the more reactive of the two. Hudson’s scream here is less a frightened one, and more a “come get some” yell, which is pretty much spot on to Hudson’s look during his last stand. The paint work on this figure is alright. The helmet exhibits the best work, with all of Hudson’s graffiti cleanly applied. The face is a bit messier, with some harsh cuts between his 5 o’clock shadow and the rest of his face, and a fairly messy hairline. It’s not bad overall, but it could be better. Hudson includes a shoulder lamp, a welder, and a pulse rifle, all the same as the regular release.

HudsonComparison Hicks&Hudson

XENOMORPH WARRIOR

XenoShotThis is the sixth version of the basic Xenomorph in the line. Like the last one, this one is another exploration of the “just got shot” look. He stands about 8 inches tall and features 38 points of articulation. The figure is mostly the same sculpt as all the previous Xenomorph figures, which is hardly a bad thing. It’s a great sculpt, so I think NECA should milk it for all it’s worth. The key difference is the addition of blast effects to the figure’s upper torso to simulate the effect of the Xeno being gunned down by one of the marines. It appears that these pieces have just been glued onto the basic body, with no real changes to the underlying structure. The new pieces seem to be sculpted well enough, although the larger one got smashed in the package, which makes it look a little…droopy. You know, one in ten….uhh never mind. The paint is the key part of pretty much every NECA Xeno release. In this case, the Xeno has been given brown highlights, similar to those on the Series One version. They seem to have been applied cleaner, which is a definite plus, but both the Series Two Xeno and the Xeno packed with Screaming Hicks have convinced me that Xenos just look better in blue. Also, the blood spurts on this figure are more dull than the neon greens on the previous shot-up Xeno, which I feel robs the figure of the needed pop.

XenosShot XenoComparison

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In contrast to the other two-packs NECA released, I fully intended to pick this set up from the moment it was announced. I felt the screaming expression and helmeted look were more key looks for Hudson, and I foolishly believed that the Brown Xeno look was superior. Interestingly, I actually ended up putting off purchasing this one a bit more than the other two. In the end, my opinion about Hudson turned out to be true. I’m going to have a rough time picking which version of the character will be staying on the shelf once more marines arrive, as both are great interpretations of him. The Xeno is a serviceable Xeno variation, I suppose. It’s not as cool as the exploding head version packed with Hicks, and I’m not the biggest fan of the brown, but I suppose it could be worse. All in all, a pretty good set, but not quite as exciting as I’d hoped it would be.

#0102: Private Hudson

PRIVATE WILLIAM HUDSON

ALIENS (NECA)

Yesterday, I spoke of my love of the movie Aliens, and my excitement for NECA’s new line of figures from the movie.  In anticipation of the second series of the line, I’ll be doing reviews of the first wave.

Today’s figure is Private William Hudson, one of the lower ranking marines sent in to deal with the alien infestation of the colony on LV-424.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hudson was released in the first series of NECA’s Aliens line.  He’s based on the character’s appearance in the movie.   Specifically, he’s based on Hudson’s look in the scene right after the first attack on the Alien hive, right as he delivers his famous “Game Over, Man” line.  Hudson stands 7 inches tall and has the same 30 points of articulation as Hicks.  I’ve reviewed most of Hudson’s sculpt before, as he shares a good deal of parts with Hicks.  He has a newly sculpted head and arms, which is really all he needs.  His arms are similar to Hicks, but with his sleeves rolled down a little further, to make it accurate to how Hudson wore his uniform in the movie.  The left arm is also bandaged, so as to properly depict Hudson following the acid burns he receives during the hive attack.  The arms are nice, but the head on this figure is truly a thing of beauty.  They’ve sculpted Hudson to evoke his expression of panic when he delivers the “Game Over, Man” line.  It’s brilliant because it not only captures the expression well, but it also gets Bill Paxton’s likeness down perfectly.  The paint on Hudson is a bit better than the paint work on Hicks.  There’s far less slop, and the paint on the head shows off the head sculpt a bit better.  From some angles, Hudson can look a little cross-eyed, but it’s not very noticeable in person.  The detailing on the armor is up to the same level as the work on Hicks, with lots of those little details that really make the figure pop.  Hudson is accessorized with a pulse rifle, a welder, a motion tracker, and a shoulder lamp.  The rifle and welder are the same ones that were included with Hicks, but the shoulder lamp and motion tracker are new.  The motion tracker is really cool, and even features detailing on the screen showing the aliens moving towards him.  The shoulder lamp is well sculpted, but very difficult to get properly seated in the slot for it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with Hicks, I preordered Hudson and the rest of series one as soon as possible.  While I was more excited for Hicks because he’s my favorite character, Hudson is hands down the best in the first wave.  The head sculpt on this guy really pushes the figure over the edge.  I was a bit disappointed with the difficulty of attaching the lamp, but that hardly ruins the figure itself.