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Alien & Predator

Movie Maniacs V
by yo go re

Ever since the first line of Movie Maniacs hit shelves, fans have been dreaming about what figures they'd like to see McFarlane create. A lot of these suggestions were little more than flash-in-the-pan characters ("God, I just saw this movie, and it was so kewl! We should get a toy!") or just terrible ideas. I'm sorry, but not every movie - no matter how entertaining it may have been - needs to be translated to action figure form.

There have been a few perennial favorites, however: Hannibal Lecter's always a big one (Anthony Hopkins didn't want a serial killer's likeness on what he perceives to be a child's plaything) as are The Shining's Jack Torrence (neither Stephen King nor the estate of Stanley Kubrick wish to license their creations) and Hellraiser's Pinhead (the rights were owned by too many companies, supposedly). Some other popular choices were those two intergalactic killers, the Alien and Predator.

Part of Movie Maniacs V, yet delayed by the west coast dock strikes, the Alien and Predator set is arriving nearly two months after its cinematic brethren, and more than a month too late for the traditional Halloween release. Still, it was worth the wait.

Packaged together in one giant box, the pair face off across a textured base. Though the two aren't really facing one another (just in each other's general direction), they are easy to get out of the packaging - McToys seems to've switched to a softer twisty-tie, which is easy on the fingers.

The Predator first appeared in 1987's Predator, of course, and is an outerspace posterchild for the NRA. In a culture based on sport hunting, the Predators' goal is to conquer the most dangerous game. Of course, I'm not sure how sporting the hunt is when you're brandishing highly technological weapons and advanced cloaking technology. Probably about the same as taking a semi-automatic after a deer, huh? Cold, dead hands indeed, Chuck.

The Predator is up to McFarlane's usual high sculpting standards - from textured skin to battle-scarred armor, he's 7" of stalking might. McToys made the choice to sculpt on the raised netting of the Predator's uniform, which is a nice detail, though it's lacking adequate black paint in some spots. He's got a string of trophy skulls slung over his shoulder, and a necklace of the longer, thinner bones of which we're mostly full.

Above the neck, the Predator is even more impressive. His recessed eyes, unique fanged mouth, and the thick, ropy tendrils falling from his crab-like head all look appropriately menacing. Though there was some concern about the quality of the paint aps, everything looks great; his eyes are a dark gold-bronze, the skin is yellow and brown, and his fangs do indeed look like bone. He's got a few sharp hairs poking out above his eyes and back the length of his skull.

Bucking five years of Movie Maniacal trend, the Predator is actually fairly articulated (something that McFarlane employee Steve "the Victim" Hamady always said he wanted to see in a potential Predator figure), with balljointed neck and shoulders, as well as more standard swivels at the elbows, wrists, waist, hips and ankles.

The Predator doesn't come with all the weapons I would've liked to have seen, but he's still packing. His shoulder-mounted cannon moves at two points, the blades on his right forearm slide in and out of their sheath, and the panel on his left arm flips open to reveal the self-detonation controls. Still, a spear or that glaive thing would've been cool.

The xenomorph alien has always confounded me. I know the Predators do what they do as hunting, tearing people apart for trophies. But the Aliens are just mean - they kill anyone they don't impregnate, and just to kill. It's not like they eat them. They just tear holes in people and wander off. What's the point?

In any case, the Alien is one big terrifying beast. This one is from the first Alien, as you can tell by the smooth, translucent head. He stands somewhat hunched over, but is more than 9" tall with his legs fully extended; that's damn big. With his feet flat and his knees bent, he's just over 8".

As with the wonderful Predator, the Alien is one mega-articulated Movie Maniac. He's got 19 points of articulation, including six balljoints. The body is gloss black with silver highlights and little orange speckles. The figure is cast from translucent black plastic, which gives it the sort of ephemeral look that Giger originally wanted in the movie. Its teeth are a menacing silver, as is the inner jaw.

McToys has expertly captured every crease, ridge and tendon Giger designed into his creation. The ribs look like a hollow shell floating above silver ligaments. The tubes on the creature's back (not a part of the original design, they were added by Giger to help the actor in the suit maintain his balance) are covered in tiny ridges and twist out perfectly.

While the Alien doesn't carry any weapons, it's certainly not defenseless. There's a stinger at the end of its whiplike tail (for the figure, the tail is bendy and flexible), it's got sharp claws and acid blood. Don't worry though - McFarlane didn't fill the toys with real acid, probably since their figures are always so prone to breakage. Pfft. Those guys. Always cutting corners.

Press a tiny lever on the underside of the Alien's head, and its wicked inner jaw shoots out of its mouth. The top of the Alien's head is a clear, smoky plastic, which shows off the cranial detailing beneath, including the real human skull that Giger built into the costume. Though molded from a separate piece and intended to be removable, the skullcap is glued on, so you'll have to work carefully to remove it without damaging the toy.

The original (and much coveted) Alien toy from 1979 had a similar feature. That figure was the first toy based on an R-rated movie (followed by Freddy and Robocop), making it sort of the grandfather of the Movie Maniacs line. The Aliens (and Predators) have most recently shown up from Kenner, though with nowhere near the detail this pair has.

The set comes with an electronic display base that measures 11" wide by 6" deep. There are three facehugger eggs on the base, one of which has just opened to release its terrible cargo. Flip a switch on the bottom of the base, and the two sealed eggs glow brightly, revealing the silhouette of the 'huggers within. The eggs can be taken apart so that you can have three tiny little terrors scurrying about instead of just one.

Each of the facehuggers is molded from a single piece of soft flexible plastic, so while they do move, they don't have any joints. Their stomachs looks just as cuneal as in the films, which brings me to an interesting point: the sexuality of H.R. Giger's artwork.

Actually, I'm surprised that the Alien films aren't considered a seminal (heh) feminist work: the facehuggers (and the eggs) are obviously vaginal in nature, and they create new life; the evil killer aliens, meanwhile, have long, cylindrical heads and spit a hot, sticky, harmful substance. Symbolism!

-- 12/19/02


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