CORPORAL DWAYNE HICKS & PRIVATE WILLIAM HUDSON
“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 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).
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.