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).
Y’know, when I first encountered Aliens in the late 1980s – mostly likely in edited-for-TV (or possibly unedited) form on the Movie Loft with Dana Hersey on TV38 – I was dying for toys from the movie. I’ve told this story before, but I did once see the 1979 Kenner 12″ Alien at a flea market for a whopping $200 and begged my parents for it (my parents, who had given me Fortress Maximus one Christmas, wisely stood their ground on this one). The only Alien “toy” I ever got as a kid was a tiny little gaming miniature that fell apart immediately. By the time the Kenner Aliens stuff came around, I did pick up a few figures (the Scorpion Alien, the Gorilla Alien and Bishop), but I wasn’t really into toys at that point.
How times have changed, eh? The list of manufacturers of toys from the Alien films include Kenner, Hasbro, McFarlane, Kaiyodo, Aoshima, NECA, and I’m sure a bunch of other companies I’m forgetting. But while we’ve had plenty of xenomorphs, we’ve only rarely gotten human characters. The
only time we’ve seen the Marines from Aliens was Kenner’s line, and those didn’t exactly have the best likenesses. [WRONG, POE! I completely forgot about McFarlane's efforts. McFarlane made two different figures of Hicks (version 1, version 2). They weren't very well-articulated. Thanks to Googum for pointing out my rather glaring oversight.]
NECA’s been making figures from the Aliens franchise for years now, but given that 2013 is The Year of Toys That Poe Always Wanted (super-articulated Godzilla ’64, Star Wars Black 6″, Dutch Schaefer, ED-209) it’s no surprise we’re getting the Marines, in addition to a new, super-articulated xenomorph.
NECA has kindly sent along samples of all three figures in the first series of their new Aliens line, and I’ll be reviewing them over the next few days. First up is Private William Hudson, ably played by Bill
Pullman Paxton, best remembered for his line “game over, man,” now often repeated by teenagers who heard it from older guys while playing Halo but have no idea where it’s from (I’m assuming).
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: NECA’s resident sculptor for much of their Alien and Predator work is Kyle Windrix, who’s been sculpting these sort of toys since the early days of McFarlane (and maybe before, for all I know). Windrix didn’t sculpt this figure – it was done by Chris Gawrych, David Silva and Jason Frailey. But I think Windrix’s philosophy of trying to make their movie figures as screen-accurate as possible has become a company policy at this point (at least for these two franchises).
That said, I am not one of those screen-accuracy geeks and I am not going to compare the figure to screencaps from the film in detail. Instead, I’m simply going to note that there are a ton of details on this figure. As I said in my review of Dutch, on figures like this NECA approaches a Hot Toys-like level of detail, albeit at a smaller scale. Check out the pics to see for yourself how detailed the figure is.
While I like Hudson’s likeness, I can also see that it’s perhaps a bit off in the shape of the top of the head, and perhaps the exaggeration of the features. So while I’m happy with it, I can see how someone might not be. That’s one of the weird, subjective things about toy reviewing — sometimes you and another collector can come to completely different conclusions about the same sculpt. You’ll have to decide for yourself if you’re comfortable owning a figure with this sort of expression, but I think it was the right way to go – fans of the movie who are casual toy collectors are going to love this figure.
And I do love that Bill Paxton signed off on that expression. He’s a good sport.
Plastic & Paint: The plastic appears to be standard for a NECA figure (some sort of mix of PVC and ABS, the latter probably for the joints). If you’ve handled a recent NECA figure then you know what this feels like. The armor is more pliable, allowing the leg and torso articulation to work without harming the figure’s look. That said, you do know when holding it that this is an adult collectible. While there’s plenty of articulation, it won’t stand up to much usage by a young child (unless that child is unusually careful with their toys, as I was…).
As with Dutch, I find the deco quite good. The paint applications have some great detail and very little if any slop. But what will impress you most is the tampographs – the little logos and images all over his armor. These are amazingly detailed and very well-executed, and a big part of what makes this figure’s design so impressive.
Articulation: Hudson 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. Hudson’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. It’s a bit hard to explain, and although I swear I’ve seen this on an action figure before I can’t remember which it was.
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. Personally, given the choice, I would rather have double-hinged elbows than double-hinged knees, but I’m not going to knock NECA for that. I will knock them for the difficulty in getting them to a squat pose, but that’s a minor quibble with a figure that has a lot more articulation for a license like this than we’ve generally come to expect at this size and price range.
I think my pics speak for themselves on what kind of posing options are available.
Accessories: Hudson comes with the iconic pulse rifle, a mounted flashlight and a motion tracker. They’re all very well fabricated with some great details, right down to the sticker on the motion tracker showing Hudson’s about to have company.
The flashlight attaches to his back through a small hole in the pliable armor that lines up with a hole in his back. The strap on the motion tracker is fairly loose and has a natural look when it hangs off him. My only complaint, and it’s minor, is that his left hand is designed to hold the barrel of his rifle, so it’s a bit tricky to get him to hold the trigger-like motion tracker handle in that hand.
Quality Control: One of the left hips on my figure was a little stuck but I got it going without any problems. If you get one and your figure’s hip is particularly immobile, try tossing it in the freezer for a few minutes before trying again.* I’m a bit concerned about the durability of the elbow articulation because the joint is so small and complicated, but my figure is fine so far. (I did have a small problem with Hicks’s accessories, but I’ll get to that in his review.)
Overall: I was tempted to deduct a half-raven for the so-close-but-not-quite-there leg articulation, but that seemed kind of petty given how much articulation is actually on the figure. Your mileage may vary.
For fans of Aliens who have always wanted action figures in the 6″-7″ scale, this is the figure you’ve been waiting for. It features an amazingly detailed sculpt, great articulation and fun accessories. At long last, all those xenomorphs you’ve collected over the years will have someone to
terrify fight. At this price point, you really can’t ask for a better product.
*Poe Ghostal not responsible for any figures that get broken in this manner – attempt at your own risk.
Where to Buy:
Product development: Randy Falk
Sculpt: Chris Gawrych, David Silva, Jason Frailey
Fabrication: Brad Haskins, Anthony Minichino
Paint: John Wardell, Geoffrey Trapp
Prototypes: Adam Smith
Packaging: Chris Longo
Set Design: Stefan Folkins
Photography: Stephen Mazurik