Poe’s Note: Two things: one, this is a sponsored review – NECA sent me these samples for free. Two, you’ll notice a small black stand in some photos, to aid posing. It did not come with the figure, but was borrowed from NECA’s Dead Space 2 Necromorph Slasher figure).
Michael Biehn James Cameron’s go-to guy for four huge movies (the two Terminator flicks, Aliens, and The Abyss), plus the Michael Bay-directed The Rock, but after that he never quite had that level of celebrity again. His IMDB page shows he’s been in a lot more than I realized, yet except for Grindhouse I didn’t actually remember any non-Cameron movies or TV shows I’d seen him in. Seems like Cameron could have at least tapped him for one of the many forgettable roles in Avatar. And how did he never voice a Marine in a Halo game?
Hicks has had four previous figures that I know of: one from Kenner, one from McFarlane Toys, and both a 12″ and a 4″ from Hot Toys. The McFarlane likeness was passable, but the other three ranged from bad to “we didn’t bother to license the likeness.”
Since they share many of the same parts, much of this review is going to tread the same ground as yesterday’s review of Hudson. In fact, I’m going to just cut-and-paste a few small bits here and there, mostly in case someone happens upon this review without reading Hudson’s first.
Packaging: The packaging incorporates the blue tones of the film and its associated marketing, which I appreciate. The graphics on the back use that fuzzy horizontal-line effect from the 1980s video technology used for the Marines’ video headsets in the film. Each figure has a big photo of that specific figure on the back, plus the cross-sell for the other figures.
Design & Sculpt: Again, most of this sculpt is shared with Hudson. The new parts are the biceps and shoulders, which are sleeveless, and the head. There might be other sculptural differences, but if so they’re very minor and not immediately evident to my eye.
As I noted in my review of Hudson, this sculpt is very detailed. Check out the hair on his forearms!
Since I’m not one of those screen-accuracy obsessive types, I can’t say whether it’s 100% accurate to the film, but given NECA’s own obsession with getting the details right on these movie lines, I suspect Hicks is close if not dead-on to the film. The only caveat is that the same body is used for both Hudson and Hicks, and since presumably both men don’t have identical body types, it’s like one of them has a build that’s just slightly off (my hunch is Paxton is a bit beefier than Biehn).
Hick’s head sculpt is perhaps even better than Hudson’s. The sculptor (occasional PoeGhostal.com guest Jason Frailey, as it happens, although Chris Gawrych and David Silva worked on the majority of the figure) did a great job here, even capturing the way Biehn tightens his lips during moments of tension.
Plastic & Paint: The paint applications on my figure are of the same quality as seen on Hicks. NECA used to be known for their dead-flesh tones but they improved that years ago, and the arms and head look good here. The painted flesh, with its matte texture, often looks even better than when they mold the limbs in flesh-color, which can sometimes end up with a slight translucent effect, especially on the head (I’ll talk more about that when I review Rambo). There’s a little bit of bleed here and there, such as along his hairline, but it’s only really noticeable on my gigantic hi-res photos.
Otherwise, the paint work on the camo coloring look great, and as with Hudson, the tampographed graffiti on the armor are finely detailed and well-executed.
Articulation: Hicks has a ball-jointed head with plenty of range, a ball-jointed upper torso, ball-jointed shoulders, swivels at the bicep, swivel-hinge elbows, ball-jointed wrists, ball-jointed hips that plug into a thigh swivel, double-hinged knees, ball-and-socket ankles, and hinged toes. It’s a ton of articulation for a figure of this size and price range, and the addition of bicep swivels is an improvement over Dutch’s elbow-hinges. Hicks’s elbow-hinges are a bit unusual, though, as they’re sculpted with a kind of angular cut so that the elbow “flesh” flows around the curve of the biceps.
All the upper-body articulation is great, but the double-hinged knees end up being a bit disappointed because you can’t really get the leg quite high enough to get into a proper squat pose. It’s not so much due to the armor as the fact that the joint just won’t go that high.
Given the choice, I would rather have double-hinged elbows than double-hinged knees, but I’m not going to knock NECA for that. This figure still has a lot more articulation for a license like this than we have generally come to expect at this size and price range.
Accessories: Hicks comes with his pulse rifle, his shotgun “for close encounters,” and a holster for the shotgun.
There’s something about the weapons NECA has included with their recent figures…they tend to look a little too small to me. I thought that about Ash’s shotgun, Dutch’s rifle, and now Hick’s rifle and particularly the shotgun. I can’t tell if it’s because the weapons are indeed a bit undersized, or if other manufacturers tend to make the weapons for their 6″-7″ figures inordinately large and out-of-scale and I’m just used to seeing that.
The strap of the pulse rifle tends to hold the shape it comes in when you open the figure, though it’s pliable enough that I suspect it will hold an alternate shape if you work at it. The holster for the shotgun is probably the most disappointing aspect of the figure. The sculpt and paint are fine, but the strap, again, tends to hold the shape it has when you open the figure, and since it isn’t actually on the figure in the package, it doesn’t sit right. Moreover…
Quality Control: …the strap broke at the bottom when I was putting it on the figure. Some super-glue fixed the problem easily, but be very careful when doing anything with the holster.
Overall: I knocked off a half-raven for the holster issues.
Again, I think NECA has outdone themselves with this line. While it’s true he shares most of his body with Hudson, they’re similar-looking enough that it doesn’t hurt either figure, and the sleeveless arms on Hicks help make him distinctive.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you want to wait for the helmeted Hicks in the two-pack, but I suspect he might not come with either the shotgun or the pulse rifle, so bear that in mind. That same site I just linked you to said both Hudson and Hicks will have a running change; Hudson will have a more aggressive face, but it’s not clear what Hicks’s change will be.
In any event, for around $20 (perhaps less at Toys R Us), you really couldn’t ask for a better Hicks action figure at this scale. While it may seem like a no-brainer to us collectors, NECA is taking a bit of a risk going into human characters rather than continuing to provide us with xenomorphs, so the better they sell, the more Colonial Marines we’ll get in the future. Maybe even Marines with smartguns.
Where to Buy:
Product Development: Randy Falk
Sculpt: Chris Gawrych, David Silva, Jason Frailey
Fabrication: Brad Haskins, Anthony Minichino
Paint: Jon Wardell, Geoffrey Trapp
Prototypes: Adam Smith
Packaging: Chris Longo
Set Design: Stefan Polkins
Photography: Stephen Mazurek