Michael Biehn was 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: 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."
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. 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 (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. It's an even better sculpt of than we got on Kyle Reese a few months ago.
NECA used to be known for their "dead" fleshtones,
but they improved that years ago. 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. There's a little bit of bleed here and there, such as along his hairline, but it's only really noticeable when you get ridiculously close. Otherwise, the paint work on the camo coloring look great, and the tampographed graffiti on the armor is finely detailed and well-executed.
Hicks has a balljointed head with plenty of range, a balljointed upper torso, balljointed shoulders, swivels at the bicep, swivel/hinge elbows, balljointed wrists, balljointed 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, double-hinged elbows are better than double-hinged knees, but we're 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.
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. Ash's shotgun, Dutch's rifle, and now Hicks' 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. The strap of the pulse
rifle tends to hold the shape it comes in when you open the figure, though it's pliable enough 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, 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.
NECA has outdone themselves with this line. While it's true Hicks 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 he might not come with either the shotgun or the pulse rifle, so bear that in mind.
In any event, for around $20 (perhaps less at Toys Я Us - we were given this one for review by NECA, so I don't know the price), 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.
Pvt. Hudson | Cpl. Hicks | Xenomorph Warrior