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    JeffSaylor's Avatar
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    ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1

    "Check It Out. I Am the Ultimate Badass! State of the Badass Art!" - Hudson...



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    James Cameron's 1986 sci-fi masterpiece ALIENS is one of my all-time favorite films. Like Star Wars, Predator, Blade Runner and ALIEN, I've seen ALIENS more times than I can count. ALIENS is a childhood classic that I NEVER tire of watching. It's so strange - when a movie like that is so ingrained in your life - you can't even comprehend what it is like to have not seen it. Recently, however, I was shocked to discover just that... and from a most unexpected source. My wife, who I thought was pretty geektastic, had not seen ALIENS. After a few seconds of contemplating a divorce, we sat down to correct the situation with a viewing of the far superior Director's Cut (it's all about those Sentry Guns). As I suspected (I had no doubt), my wife liked the movie, further proving to me just how truly awesome ALIENS is. For a film almost thirty years old, ALIENS still amazes... old AND new audiences alike.


    NECA has had their finger on the pulse of pop culture collectibles for years now, especially on great films from the '80s, because let's face it, most of modern cinema's coolest films have come from the '80s. That's not a biased statement (well, maybe a little), but just look at all these wannabe remakes and reboots lately: Conan, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing, etc, etc. Despite all the advancements in filmmaking, they just can't compare to the real thing. Back on topic, NECA taking on ALIENS was as natural a choice as peanut butter and jelly. They were made for each other. Where McFarlane opened the door wide for these type of toys, NECA has raised the bar to a level of authenticity and detail unparalleled on an action figure priced under $20 (and many priced above that). ALIENS Series 1, hitting North American retail next month (June), is an example of just how far NECA has come with their film figures. Consisting of two major movie Colonel Marines, Corporal Dwayne Hicks and Private William Hudson, and rounded off by an alien menace, Xenomorph Warrior (Brown), this 7-inch scale series of figures is everything this ALIENS fan had hoped for.


    Sealed in NECA's typical clamshell packaging, ALIENS Series 1 immediately captures your eye with the movie's enduring stark white logo. Emblazoned across the top, "ALIENS" reels you in closer to check out the characters from this cult classic; Hicks, Hudson and the Alien all prominently displayed for clear viewing.


    Equally effective is the subtle background graphic. At first glance it appears as just a nice blue hued backdrop to the figures. Closer inspection, especially once the figures are removed, reveals NECA's clever use of their Hadley's Hope hallway diorama - the same cool display shown at Toy Fair. Personalized, each figure features a unique card insert specific to that character. Stylishly digitalized photos of the actual figure grace the sides and back, while the lower front insert declares the character's name. If I was a collector that didn't keep up with toy news and saw these on a shelf, I'd flip out. Heck, I think I'll be grinning ear to ear when I do see these in stores. It's going to be a glorious time to shop Toys"R"Us.


    Of last note, be sure and check out the credits on the bottom of the packaging. After my recent NECA studio visit (see HERE), I have newfound respect for all those involved in making these incredible figures possible.


    Once awakened from Cryo-Sleep, Hicks and Hudson awe with a wide variety of accessories. Expected with each figure is the primary infantry weapon of the United States Colonial Marine Corps: the M41A Pulse Rifle. This scaled replica - like its on-screen counterpart - never ceases to excite me with its familiar, yet futuristic military aesthetic. While the gun's small size makes it difficult to properly display a "99" ammo readout, NECA did go all out on authentic detailing - even including an attached rifle sling so that the weapon can be carried when not in use.


    Each figure also includes a USCM issued portable welding torch. This piece of equipment comes already attached to the figure's utility built via a peg and hole system. I'm throwing it out there so you know it's removable. Unfortunately other bits of gear, such as their sheathed combat knives, ammo packs and locators, are not removable. It's these little pieces of equipment, however, that go a long way in defining each soldier's personality - something I'll talk more about later on.


    Aside from a Pulse Rifle and torch, Hicks packs his Ithaca Model 37 "Stakeout" pump-action shotgun ("I like to keep this handy... for close encounters "). Included is the weapon's holster that can be slung over Hick's shoulder. Collector's can stash the shotgun in the sheath (it closes via peg and hole) or have it in Hick's hands to recreate the famous shotgun in the Alien mouth scene (though this will look much cooler with the upcoming Marine vs. battle-damaged Alien 2-pack). Some of those personal touches I was talking about earlier include the padlocked heart on Hick's chest armor, combat knife (Hudson's is different), the harnessed ammo and various other armor flourishes ("Born Again" with bullet hole, "Lifer" and the kanji script on his back). The intricate little personal details are incredible.


    Hudson is no slouch either. In addition to his Pulse Rifle and torch, Hudson includes a TNR Shoulder Lamp attachment and hand-held motion tracker. The former simply plugs into his back armor, while the tracker can be gripped firm in Hudson's left hand or slung over his shoulder. The detail on the motion tracker is amazing, NECA zooming in and featuring a small screen with multiple targets zeroing in ("It's reading right man, look!"). Like Hicks, Hudson's armor comes adorned with tons of personalized graffiti including skull and crossbones, cartoon eyes, and the messages "Contents Under Pressure", "Dispose of Properly" and "Louise". He even has the sardine can opener on his groin armor.


    All that wonderful gear wouldn't work if it didn't have an equally wonderful figure to put it on. Hicks and Hudson stun with some of the coolest camouflage I've seen on a figure. I thought the camo on NECA's Predator Dutch was impressive, but the pattern and color work on the Colonial Marines is breathtaking. Like the film, the camo patterns are a mishmash of jungle (armor pieces) and desert (BDUs) designs. It works so well for a future soldier look, but I sometimes wonder: why the conflicting camo? So they're constantly ready for any environment?


    All that cool armor conceals - except for the exposed arms - some of the most extensive articulation I've seen on a NECA action figure. Ball-joints abound on these figures. Gears of War 3 came oh-so-close to being perfect, but ALIENS nails it with the ability to have the Marine's easily fire a weapon two-handed. Heck, you can display these Marines in about any pose you can imagine. Here's the rundown (that I could find):

    - Ball-jointed head
    - Ball-jointed shoulders
    - Swivel upper forearms
    - Swivel-hinged elbows
    - Swivel-hinged wrists
    - Ball-jointed waist
    - Ball-jointed, hinged thighs
    - Double-hinged knees
    - Ball-jointed ankles
    - Hinged Toes


    Finally we come to those knockout head sculpts. While I do wish Series 1 came with helmets (a personal preference - helmeted figures are coming in the 2-packs), I will admit that the portraits truly shine without them. Hicks is my favorite, featuring a calm and collected expression. It's actor Michael Biehn all the way. His neutral expression leaves plenty of room for display purposes, something that I find Hudson's head sculpt slightly limits. Don't get me wrong, I believe NECA's sculptors totally nailed Bill Paxton's perpetually wigged out expression. It's "Game Over Man" to perfection. I'm just more of a neutral expression kind of guy when it comes to my figures for display purposes. I have to say, however, that the freaked out expression is quickly growing on me. After watching ALIENS again for the umpteenth time (and my wife's first, LOL!), the unhinged look does define Hudson's character very well. As I said, I'm growing to like it, but don't bother listening to me - most collectors I've talked to LOVE it.


    Last but certainly not least we arrive at the Xenomorph Warrior, or the Alien Warrior, or simple 'ol Alien as I like to call it. It's not that the Alien is any less impressive than Hicks and Hudson, it's just that those two figures - being all-new - have so much more to talk about. Not to be confused with NECA's past Alien Warrior release, this new and improved version features an all-new sculpt and tons of added articulation. While I do not own the first Alien Warrior to compare it with (I have the AVP:R version, which is similar), I can say that this new release is absolutely stunning. Standing 9-inches tall, the Series 1 Alien Warrior features brown highlights, a look that I think most fans will find the most film-accurate and pleasing. Future releases include blue highlights (Series 2), as well as black and red (Aliens: Genocide 2-pack). Note the word "highlights". The figure itself is cast in black plastic while the brown is used very effectively as almost a reverse paint wash - bringing out all the raised boney details. The only other color is a pop of cold steely silver for the teeth, something that brings me to my next topic: articulation.


    The cool thing about Aliens for me has always been their long phallic head and menacing jaws. NECA nails that look with a pair of teeth that firmly clamp together for a perfect "sneering" look. These teeth also open up wide revealing that iconic inner set of teeth. Where many Alien figures in the past have relied on a lunging inner jaw action gimmick, NECA eliminates all the unsightly buttons and levers yet still allows the inner teeth to be pulled out. You'll need a pair of tweezers (or really tiny fingers) to get them out, but I'd much rather do that than sacrifice such an amazing sculpt.


    Another nice touch is the addition of a bendy tail (which helps greatly for balancing) and the ability to pop off the top dorsal "fin" to allow the Alien's head to tilt back. The Alien Warrior features:

    - Ball-jointed head
    - Hinged mouth
    - Extending inner jaw
    - Ball-jointed ratchet style shoulders
    - Swivel upper forearms
    - Swivel cut right before the elbow
    - Hinged elbows
    - Swivel cut right after the elbow
    - Swivel-hinged wrists
    - Ball-jointed waist
    - Ball-jointed, hinged thighs
    - Double-hinged knees
    - Swivel ankles
    - Hinged Toes
    - Bendy tail


    Just, wow. Like the Colonial Marines, all the joints on these figures are nice and tight. As mentioned, the Alien towers over the 7-inch Marines at 9-inches tall when fully erect, though I had so much more fun posing this creature in tons of crawling attack stances. I can see why NECA is re-releasing this figure in so many color variants: It simply rocks as an action figure.


    Speaking of re-releases, who wouldn't want to see this entire series in NECA's Quarter Scale? Or how about 12-inch Marines and an 18-inch Alien Warrior? My mind reels with the thought. As is, the 7-inch scale ALIENS Series 1 is where it's at. Like NECA's extensive Predator series, an ALIENS series has a lot going for it. I can easily see this line 10 waves deep: way more Colonial Marines, especially Smart Gunners, a Sentry Gun set, androids like Bishop before and after being ripped apart, and Aliens from all the movies. If ALIENS Series 1 is any indication, fans are in for tons more - these figures are some of NECA's best yet. Game over? Far from it.




    Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor

    Review Samples Courtesy of NECA


    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1-new-22.jpg   ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1-1alienmouth.jpg   ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1-1hhheads.jpg   ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1-1hicksuse.jpg   ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1-1hudsonuse.jpg  

    ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1-1gearmarine.jpg   ADVANCE REVIEW: NECA's ALIENS Series 1-1packback.jpg  
    Last edited by JeffSaylor; 06-01-2013 at 09:47 AM.

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