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. [You completely forgot about McFarlane's two different figures of Hicks. They weren't very well-articulated. --ed.]
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 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 we'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.
The packaging incorporates the blue tones of the film and its associated marketing. 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.
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 we know). Windrix didn't sculpt this figure - it was done by Chris Gawrych, David Silva and Jason Frailey. But Windrix's philosophy of trying to make his movie figures as screen-accurate as possible has pretty much 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. On figures like this NECA approaches a Hot Toys-like level of detail, albeit at a smaller scale.
While I like Hudson's likeness, 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 it was the right way to go - fans of the movie who are casual toy collectors are going to love this figure.
And you have to love that Bill Paxton signed off on that expression. He's a good sport.
The plastic appears to be standard for a NECA figure. 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...).
The deco is 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.
Hudson 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.
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 disappointing because you can't really get the leg quite high enough to get into a proper squat. Personally, given the choice, we'd rather have double-hinged elbows than double-hinged knees, but we're not going to knock NECA for that. We 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. 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.
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. The 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.
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 pricepoint, you really can't ask for a better product.
Pvt. Hudson | Cpl. Hicks | Xenomorph Warrior