#1539: Xenomorph

XENOMORPH

ALIEN: COVENANT (NECA)

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

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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#1499: Carter J Burke & Xenomorph Warrior

CARTER J BURKE & XENOMORPH WARRIOR

ALIENS (NECA)

It’s been a little while since I’ve given Aliens its proper due.  Even longer since I did it by looking at some sweet NECA figures.  In fact, the last NECA Aliens figures I looked at were the re-releases of Hicks and Hudson.  As awesome as those were, there wasn’t a whole lot new to them.  Today’s review is different.

Though the Alien franchise’s most prominent antagonists are the titular creatures of each film, they’re more of a chaotic, not exclusively evil entity.  The real antagonists of the story are mostly employees of the duplicitous Weyland-Yutani company.  Perhaps their most vile operator is Mr. Carter J. Burke, who serves as a major draw of today’s set of figures.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Burke and the Xenomorph Warrior were released just about a month ago as part of the “Hadley’s Hope” two-pack, which is part of NECA’s overarching Aliens line.  These two join the Marine Two-Pack, as well as Vasquez and Frost under the 30th Anniversary banner.

CARTER J BURKE

“I’m Burke. Carter Burke. I work for the company. But don’t let that fool you, I’m really an okay guy.”

Don’t let the quote above about not being fooled fool you: he’s not really an okay guy.  Fortunately, the same isn’t true of his actor Paul Reiser, which is why we have this figure.  Apparently, after being informed during a Q&A that all it would take to get NECA to make a Burke figure was his sign-off on the likeness rights, Reiser made it a point of contacting them and making sure this figure became a reality.  Good on you Paul!  Burke is seen here in his casual attire he sports on LV-426, which is sensible, since he’s there for most of the movie.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  Burke’s sporting an all-new sculpt, and it’s up to par with the rest of the line’s offerings.  Structurally, he reminds me a little bit of Bishop, although they’ve definitely gotten a bit more comfortable with the use of overlay pieces integrated with articulation.  The head has a pretty solid likeness of Reiser.  They’ve gone with a panic-stricken Burke, which I think really works for the character, in the same way that it worked for the first Hudson.  I know some collectors wanted a more sly expression, but I find I prefer this.  Burke’s paintwork is pretty decent overall, apart from a few small nits.  The biggest flaw is the plaid of the shirt ending just a bit too early, thus leaving some un-painted white exposed.  It’s not the end of the world, and honestly isn’t that noticeable if you’re not looking right at it.  Beyond that, the paint’s pretty solid all-around.

XENOMORPH WARRIOR

Apparently, the humans don’t move so well at retail, so Burke needed an Alien to keep him exciting.  I have a lot of Xenos, so they don’t always thrill me, but I’m okay with it if there’s a good gimmick, which I think this one has.  It’s another concept figure, based on pre-shooting design for the Aliens Xeno Warriors.  It’s really just the same design, but with a dome on the head.  For the actual film, the domes kept breaking due to the more strenuous tasks performed by the aliens, so they were ultimately removed, creating the design we all know now.  It’s a neat little what-if.  The figure stands about 8 inches tall and has 39 points of articulation.  This Xeno makes use of a number of parts from the Series 1 Xeno Warrior, but not as many as you might think.  The head’s been tweaked to add the dome, the torso’s been tweaked to make the back fin a permanent piece, the hands, pelvis, upper arms, and upper legs are new pieces to add articulation.  It all adds up to a figure that looks rather similar to the prior figures, but is much sturdier and a lot easier to pose.  I loved the old figure, but this is definitely an improvement, and I look forward to seeing more Xenos built on this same base body.  The paintwork on figure is rather similar to the black Genocide alien’s.  It works for me, and I’m just happy it’s cleaner than prior Xenos.

Neither figure really comes with any character-specific accessories, but the set does also include the Hadley’s Hope town sign, which is a pretty awesome backdrop piece, and just a fun idea in general.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set from my usual go-to for NECA stuff, All Time Toys.  I knew it was hitting, and I made a point of stopping by to grab it.  Burke’s obviously the star here, and he turned out very nicely.  The Xeno’s actually one of my favorites from NECA, and I’m happy to add it to the shelf.  All around, and awesome set, which I’m thrilled to add to my collection.

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#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.

#1201: Gorilla Alien

GORILLA ALIEN

ALIENS (KENNER)

gorillaalien1

Due to some adverse reactions to the small quantity of merchandise put out for Alien, its sequel Aliens got no merchandise at all at the time of its release.  Instead, fans of the film would have to wait six years, when a failed pitch for a cartoon based on the property resulted in a line of action figures from legendary action figure makers Kenner.  Sure, they were super goofy, and ‘90s out the wazoo, but they were certainly better than nothing.  And you can hardly debate that the line was entertaining.  One of the more intriguing aspects of the line was that handling of the titular creatures.  Rather than simply release a bunch of generic Alien Warriors, Kenner followed the example of the Dog Alien from Alien3 and created some other, non-human-host-based Aliens.  One of the earliest examples is the figure I’m looking at today, the Gorilla Alien!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

gorillaalien2The Gorilla Alien was released in the first series of Kenner’s Aliens line, as one of the three initial Aliens.  The figure stands roughly 5 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation (7 if you count the extra shoulder movement granted by his action feature).  In terms of design, the Gorilla Alien really doesn’t stray from the classic Xeno look all that much.  Really, it just takes the Aliens design and bulks it up a little bit more, to showcase the slightly larger frame of a Gorilla.  The sculpt on the figure is pretty decent; the proportions are rather exaggerated, but it’s a ‘90s figure, so that’s somewhat expected.  He features a ton of really great detail work on the body, with each little bit of the Xeno being carefully outlined.  They even managed to work in the levers for his arm-swinging action feature by The head is a little less impressive, due to being made out of hollow rubber in order to facilitate the “acid spraying” feature (you dunk the figure under water and squeeze the head to fill it.  Then you take it out and squeeze it again to shoot “acid”).  It’s still a perfectly acceptable sculpt, but it just is a noticeable step down from the rest of the figure.  The paint on the Gorilla Alien is actually pretty neat.  The figure’s molded in black plastic, with a nice metallic blue brushed on to help accent all the sculpted details.  Each of the three aliens in the first series had their own color scheme (the Scorpion was brown, and the Bull was red), and I think the blue was the best by far.  The Xenos just look best in blue.  The Gorilla Alien was packed with a metallic blue facehugger, which my figure is sadly missing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I first got into the Kenner Aliens line, I was really only focused on the Marines, but over time I’ve really wanted some more Xenos for them to fight.  I got a good helping of the Xenos through the 10th anniversary Aliens Vs. Marine two-packs, but the Gorilla Alien was sadly not one of the chosen aliens for that set.  I ended up finding him at Yesterday’s Fun this past summer, and was quite happy to finally be able to add him to the collection.  He’s not anything revolutionary, but he’s a solid figure, and he fits well with the rest of the line.

#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.

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

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

ALIENS MINIMATES

alienqueenmm1

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.

alienqueenmm12

#0993: Nostromo Crew Minimates

DALLAS, LAMBERT, BRETT, & XENOMORPH

ALIEN MINIMATES

Nostromo1

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

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

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

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

DALLAS

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

LAMBERT

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

BRETT

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

XENOMORPH

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

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#0923: TRU Aliens Minimates Series 2

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

ALIENS MINIMATES

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

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

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

ELLEN RIPLEY & SCREAMING XENOMORPH

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

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

SGT. APONE & GLOWING ALIEN

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

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

PVT. DRAKE & EXTRA-DAMAGED ALIEN

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

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#0832: Pvt Frost & Burning Warrior Alien

PVT FROST & BURNING WARRIOR ALIEN

ALIENS MINIMATES

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“What are we supposed to use?  Harsh language?”

— Private Ricco Frost

One of the frustrating things about many of the toylines based on Aliens is the overall lack of any of the human characters.  The film has quite a rich cast of colorful characters, and only a small handful of them ever made it into plastic form.  Most lines avoided humans all together, and those that didn’t, such as Kenner’s line from the 90s, quickly abandoned the film’s actual characters for characters of their own creation.  Fortunately, through the efforts of both NECA and DST, the lack of character selection from the film is quickly being resolved.  Today, we’ll be looking at one of my favorite Marines, Pvt Frost, as well as another variant of the titular creature.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Frost and the Alien are part of the second specialty series of Aliens Minimates, which started hitting stores in late December.  Currently, both figures in this set are unique to this assortment.

PVT FROST

FrostXeno10Despite technically being one of the more minor Marines and only appearing in about a quarter of the film, Frost is actually a kind of memorable guy.  I mean, sure, he’s not Apone, or even Drake, but he manages to get quite a bit of dialogue, and a lot of his lines are fairly memorable.  He’s probably the most humanized of the secondary Marines.  Which makes him being the first character to die, after an hour of waiting, all the more gripping.  Frost’s figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation for a Minimate.  He features the same armor pieces we’ve seen several times before on the various Marines.  Like his series-mate, Crowe, his shoulder lamp is not removable, which is a bit of a letdown after the Series 1 Marines, but not the worst thing ever.  The armor parts are still very nice pieces of work, which quite nicely replicate the Marines’ armor from the movie.  Frost has probably the best paintwork in this whole series.  There are one or two instances of bleed over, but other than that, everything’s pretty clean.  His face is a pretty great likeness of Ricco Ross, and the line work is really sharp.  He’s even got a bit of the armor graffiti we see in the film; a heart with an arrow through it and the name “Heath” in the middle.  This was in honor of Ross’s girlfriend Heather, though I suppose in universe Frost might just be a really big 10 Things I hate about You fan.  Or he’s really into candy bars.  Regardless, it’s nice to see the armor graffiti hasn’t been forgotten.  For accessories, Frost includes an extra hairpiece, the standard issue pulse rifle, a flame thrower (w/ flame attachment), and a clear display stand.  The flamethrower is a new addition to the line, and it looks really great.  Of course, packing Frost with the flamethrower is a bit like packing Thomas and Martha Wayne with a handgun, but let’s not dwell.  It’s just awesome that Frost got two whole weapons!

BURNING WARRIOR ALIEN

FrostXeno12Hey look!  Another Alien!  It’s okay though, guys, this one’s actually totally new and unique!  Yay!  Yes, it seems the DST is well aware that people might get bored buying essentially the same Alien Warrior over and over again, so they’re trying to mix things up.  Since this Alien’s packed with a flamethrower wielding character, this figure is made to look like it’s on the receiving end of the weapon.  Sculpturally, this figure is the same as all of the prior Alien Warriors, with one slight change: not it’s got little flame-y bits on the shoulders (which are re-used from the Marvel line’s Dark Phoenix), in order to make the figure look like it’s really on fire.  The one downside is that these extra pieces remove the elbow movement entirely, but at least they’re removable.  In addition to the two new pieces,  the majority of the figure is molded in translucent orange plastic, to give the figure the appearance of being ablaze.  All of the usual Alien details are still there, but now there’s a slight flame pattern over them.  The end result is maybe not a spot-on recreation of a burning Alien, but interesting nonetheless.  The Burning Warrior Alien includes a newborn alien and a clear display stand.  I’m definitely glad to see the newborn showing up multiple places, because it’s a good piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Frost and the Burning Alien, like the other two sets from Series 2, were part of a slightly delayed Christmas present from my parents.  Frost is probably the best basic Marine so far.  The painted details are all really sharp, and he has a great accessory complement.  Pretty good for a seemingly minor character.  The Burning Alien certainly isn’t going to be an everyday Alien, as he’s quite scene specific, but it’s a really fun variant, and a great way to keep the Aliens in this line interesting.  This is easily the best set in Series 2.

#0831: Pvt Crowe & Attacking Warrior Alien

PVT CROWE & ATTACKING WARRIOR ALIEN

ALIENS MINIMATES

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“You always say that, you always say ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this drop’”

Pvt. Tim Crowe

I love me some Aliens, and I love me some Minimates. So, I’m pretty pumped to have the second series of two-packs from the line. The line tends to follow the model of 1 Marine, 1 Alien for at least two of the sets in each series (and all of the sets in the TRU-exclusive series). Some of those sets are a bit more colorful and exciting, with some of the more prominent Marines being featured. However, some are just sort of fill space, just like some of the marines and aliens in the actual film. Today’s set is one of those.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two are one of the four sets in the second series of Aliens Minimates. Crowe will presumably remain unique to the specialty assortment, but only time will tell if this particular Alien will show up elsewhere.

PVT CROWE

CroweXeno2Man, if you thought Wierzbowski was scraping the bottom of the barrel, at least his name was memorable. Crowe’s claim to fame is that he is both seen on-screen AND has a line or two of dialogue, however is never both on-screen and speaking at the same time. Crowe stands roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Crowe uses the same helmet, chest piece, and boot add-ons as all of the other standard Marines so far. Crowe’s shoulder lamp, it should be noted, is not removable like the Series 1 Marines, which is a slight letdown, but not a major shortcoming. The general sculpt of the pieces is still pretty great, and a very nice translation of the armor shown in the film. Crowe’s paintwork is decently handled overall, but has one glaring issue, which I’ll get to in a second. The general application is pretty clean, and the basic work is on par with the prior Marines, if perhaps a bit more muted in color. The armor lacks any sort of customization, which is slightly disappointing, but hardly a change, given that Dietrich, Drake, and Apone all lacked those details. The face is a decent enough likeness of the late Tip Tipping; he certainly looks more like his on-screen counterpart than the other more minor Marines. Now, about that glaring issue: do you see Crowe’s sleeves, or more accurately, his general lack of them? Yeah, that’s not quite right. The Marines in the film all have various different states of how they keep they’re sleeves. While most opted for an around the bicep look, Crowe’s are generally seen pulled down to his wrists. So, they aren’t quite right here. But, aside from that, he looks fine. Crowe is packed with a standard issue pulse rifle, an extra hair piece for an un-helmeted look (re-used from Marvel Minimates’ Indestructible Hulk), and a clear display stand.

ATTACKING WARRIOR ALIEN

CrowXeno3Yep, it’s another Alien. I mean, it’s totally fair, what with them being the title characters and all. You kind of expect there to be a lot of them (156 of them to be properly cannon for the second movie), but they do tend to get a bit…same-y. This one is essentially identical to all of the other basic attacking Aliens we’ve gotten. That’s not bad; it’s a good sculpt, with a lot of fun details, and the paint adds a lot. This figure does have one minor difference: the tip of his tail is a light grey, as opposed to the usual black. I don’t know that this is based on anything in particular in the movie (unless it’s supposed to represent the Alien’s stinger tail, which is how Gorman is injured in the novelization and the initial film script), but it does make him nicely different from the others. This figure is also different in terms of accessories. In addition to the usual display stand, the Alien also includes an alien egg in both open and closed orientations. The pieces are a tad light on detail, but still cool, and certainly a fun accessory.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with the Ripley & Newt set, this pair was part of a slightly delayed Christmas gift from my parents. It’s probably the least exciting set from this series (well, excepting the Hudson & Vasquez set, since they’re both straight re-releases), but I still like it. Crowe is essential to completing the Marines, and is a solid ‘mate, even with his slight inaccuracies. The Alien is still as good as every other time we’ve gotten it, and the slight change makes it a valid variant, I suppose. Plus, those eggs are definitely a plus.

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