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Amanda Ripley (Compression Suit)

Alien: Isolation
by yo go re

SPACE PANTS!

I still haven't played Alien: Isolation, but I enjoyed NECA's Amanda Ripley figure enough that I was inspired to get the other variation they made of her. Unfortunately, whomever NECA employs to stock my local TRU does a crap job of it, so it really has taken me this long to get her.

Amanda wears an EVA suit several times during the game - at the beginning when she and her crew need to spacewalk from their ship to the space station, in the middle when she has to perform a risky jump, and at the end when it's time to leave. So this isn't some random one-off appearance for her, it's a toy that represents a fairly substantial chunk of the game. Not that there's anything wrong with the occassional one-scene wonder, because those can be fun; we're just saying that the suit gets more play in Isolation than it did in Alien.

Speaking of the original film, the sculpt of this figure is mostly identical to the Kane, Dallas and Ripley figures from earlier series (figures I never got because, again, whoever is supposed to stock my store doesn't). That re-use is perfectly fine, though: the Nostromo was a Weyland-Yutani ship, the Torrens was a Weyland-Yutani ship... of course they'd both have the same style suit! The original movie's spacesuit was based on designs by Jean "Mœbius" Giraud, and the game's shared that lineage. There are sections of the suit that appear quilted, some that are laced together, some that are canvas, and yet it all comes together into an aesthetic whole. Studded pads on the shoulders look like armor, while the padding on the underside of the forearms and the front of the shins looks like thick cloth. Weirdly, the suit has pockets on the thighs and the butt - would you even be able to use those while wearing big bulky gloves like this?

The space suit isn't a direct copy of the previous toys, however: a few minor changes have been made to set Amanda apart from her mother's coworkers. What sort of minor changes? Well, the "belt box" that hangs on her waist is wider, and the backpack that carries her air bottles has been beefed up, as well. Like we said, minor, but it does show that technology has changed in the 15-year gap between stories.

The head is new as well. While the previous version was full uncapped, with just her hair pulled back in a ponytail, this one is wearing the tight brown head-sheath that (in a real space suit) is known as the Communications Carrier Assembly - that's the thing that has headphones and a mic so the astronaut can talk to the rest of her team.

The suit's helmet is a separate piece. Two separate pieces, in fact - it splits in half right below the clear section, so you can get in there and adjust the pose of the figure's head. The seam really is hard to see when the helmet is assembled, which is nice, but getting it in place to begin with is hard as hell. I had to carve a bit of plastic out of the figure's neck slot and off the rim of the helmet before I could get it on even a little. Luckily for us, the head pulls off easily, which does make things a little simpler. Two tubes of varying sizes run up from the backpack and plug into holes in the helmet.

Other than the removable helmet-halves, Amanda's only accessory is the Spearhead Armoury .357 revolver. (When the figure was first shown off at SDCC 2015, she also had the large flashlight Dallas came with, but that didn't make it to the final product.) The .357 is a made-up gun, similar in style to a Chiappa Rhino 50DS or a Mateba Model 6 Unica, and is the only pistol in the game. Like the pockets, I'm not sure how useful it would be in this suit, what with the giant gloves and all. How's she even supposed to get a finger into the trigger guard?

The articulation is as good as you'd expect a NECA toy to be: she moves at the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, waist, chest and neck. Most of those are either swivel/hinge joints or true balljoints, though the sheer bulk of the suit means the pieces will only move so far. And really, having both a chest and waist joint is superfluous, but it does let her bend over farther than just having one of them would allow, and thus allows for more realism in (comparatively) dynamic poses.

Whenever people ask for more human figures, NECA says that the human figures don't sell as well as the Aliens do. And with the Alien: Isolation, you can really tell that's true! Series 6 included jumpsuit Amanda, Spacesuit Amanda, and an Alien, and the only thing that sold out at my poorly stocked Toys Я Us is the Xeno. If I'd ever been able to get the earlier Alien space suit figs, I might not have picked up this Amanda, which would be a real shame. Even not having played the game, I know NECA did good work here.

-- 05/08/16


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