I've never been big on the Expanded Universes of the Alien and Predator franchise. I read a couple of the books and comics, and they were okay, but they just never seemed to capture the suspense and tension of the original films. The art never really did the creatures justice, in my opinion, despite roping in some impressive talent, including Sam Kieth, Killian Plunkett and Mike Mignola. Nevertheless, I found myself intrigued by NECA's Aliens: Genocide two-pack, which includes both a black and red Alien, mainly because I just think the idea of a rainbow of Aliens is pretty awesome. It reminds me of a videogame, where different
characters or enemies with different abilities or traits get palette-swapped, i.e. the ninjas of Mortal Kombat or the Yoshis and Koopa Troopas in the Super Mario series.
Their Queen is dead and the hive has been left to flounder on its own. On a world bereft of its only guiding force, a schism is taking place. Two strains of xenomorph, formerly united by one all-powerful Mother, now divide their forces for a world-shattering, acid-drenched civil war.
In the Genocide comic, there are two warring tribes of Aliens, one black and one red, in an obvious analogy to ants. Like ants, the Aliens have a hive, drones, a Queen. However, the idea of a "tribes" of different colored ants fighting is a bit of myth. Fire ants will attack black ants, but they aren't two factions of the same animal, but rather completely separate species. I suppose the two Aliens could be separate species, but I doubt it, since they're 100% identical except for their color.
The sculpts of the two figures are exactly the same, and both are repaints of the single-packed "Xenomorph Warrior" figure.
It's an update of the Cult Classics Alien figure released several years ago, but it's much much better. NECA has said it's a new sculpt, but it's heavily based on the CC figure, mainly due to the superfluous bicep cuts, which made sense on that figure but now are rendered redundant by a better-integrated joint above the elbow. The fact that it seems mostly based on a previously released figure isn't a bad thing, because for all its faults, the CC Alien had a wonderfully detailed sculpt. Every skeletal, bio-mechanical detail on the creature is duplicated wonderfully here.
The main draw to this set is the paint. One Alien is black, the other red. The black version is done with a metallic silvery black with a wash to bring out the details, while the red is a matte red with a dark wash. Both figures get silver for the claws and teeth, and gray
for the stretchy bits on the jaw (fun fact: those were created with condoms!). Pay close attention to the teeth, as this seems to be the most variable spot on the figures. Less is better than more, because you can always bust out the metallic silver Sharpies to fill in missing paint, but it's much harder to get rid of a sloppy overlap.
More people will be attracted to the black Alien, since it works as a "default" version without getting into the arguments of whether or not the Aliens from the film were blue or brown. Like Han Solo's Hoth outfit, the fanboys will forever bitch about those two colors. The reality is that the Aliens were brown, but much of the lighting in the film caused them (and everything else) to appear blue on screen. NECA's first version is brown, and a blue version is coming, but the black is perfect for those who can't choose a side. Personally, I like the red.
Where this thing really shines over its Cult Classics predecessor is in the articulation. There's been a lot of talk of breakage, which we're not disputing, but I have the single-pack brown release and these two, and all the joints work fine for me. Some of the joints were stuck initially, but 10 minutes in the freezer freed them up. There's a hinged jaw, a balljointed neck, balljointed shoulders, peg biceps (rendered redundant by the) double peg-and-hinge elbows, peg and hinge wrists, a balljointed torso, peg and hinge hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, balljointed ankles, mid-foot hinges, and a bendy tail.
The hips over a much wider range of motion than the previous V-cut versions, and the elbows can now be moved without breaking the figure, since the fin structures are now smartly sculpted entirely onto the forearms, rather than attaching at the elbow and wrist. In a fun easter egg, the dorsal spine on the back of the figures can be removed to allow the head to tilt back for hunching and crawling poses.
There are no accessories to speak of, but then the Aliens aren't known for their tools. These figures are both straight repaints, but they're such good figures that I'm down for as many color variations as NECA can come up with. Would I buy a Rainbow Alien? Probably. And I'm not even gay. But man, imagine how much gay Alien fans would love it!
This is NECA's first foray into the Expanded Universe of the Alien franchise, and hopefully it won't be their last. Even though I never got too into the EU, I'm still down for funky Alien designs, and NECA has expressed interest in going the same route they've moved toward with their Predators: Kenner homages. If I had NECA versions of the Panther Alien, Mantis Alien, and Wild Boar Alien, I think all would be right with the world. But these guys are a very cool start.