2020 marks several significant movie milestones, including the 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and the 45th anniversary of Jaws. Joining Empire for their 40th celebration, albeit a year late, is Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi masterpiece, ALIEN.

DSCN3575Originally slated for release last year, NECA’s Alien 40th Anniversary figure series was delayed, partly in order to finalize licensing for several new characters, including Brett (played by Harry Dean Stanton), Parker (Yaphet Kotto), and finally, the approved likeness of John Hurt as Kane. Wave 1, exclusive to Target stores, is out now and consists of Ripley (in jumpsuit), Dallas (in spacesuit) and a unique “Prototype Suit” figure of Big Chap.

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Wave 2, which will be available from most all retailers later this month, will debut Brett, Parker and a bloody Big Chap, while Walmart’s Wave 3 wraps up the celebration later this year with figures of Kane (in spacesuit), Ash and a standard Big Chap.

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Wave 1 is a great place to start for those late to the NECA Alien action figure collecting party. All three figures have been released before, but the trio has been given all-new collector-friendly 40th Anniversary packaging (LOVE the retro Kenner Alien art!) and upgraded paint deco. Fans also receive some cool new accessories and even updated articulation, as in the case of the Alien (which uses the new Ultimate Big Chap’s body; read my review HERE).

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When it comes to gear, Ellen Ripley is the winner of this wave. While I’m not too fond of her slightly spooked expression, Ripley’s awesome accessories erase all hard feelings. Her makeshift flamethrower makes a return, complete with shoulder strap for carrying. New items this time around include the cobbled together motion tracker and Jones the cat… with his cat carrier!

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Jones and his cat carrier is awesome. Not only can Ripley tote it around as she runs to the Narcissus escape pod, but the entire thing opens up so you can stow little Jonesy inside! 

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The Nostromo crew wearing their deep diver-like spacesuits were amazing action figures when NECA originally released them and they look even better now. At least that’s the case with Captain Dallas; his suit greatly improved over the original courtesy of many small paint deco additions. I’ve included many comparison photos in the gallery below, but a couple of examples include an improved “Dallas” chest logo and the addition of paint highlights for the Weyland “wings” on his shoulder armor. These may seem like minor things, but they all add up for a more realistic looking figure.

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The biggest improvement, however, comes with Dallas’ head sculpt. Comparing the old and new Dallas sculpts is like night and day. Accessories for Dallas include a flashlight and a laser pistol that can be holstered on his leg. Acid blood or not, you’d think the Nostromo crew would have wised up and used these guns against the Alien…

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Speaking of the Alien. for their final Alien 40th Anniversary Wave 1 figure NECA presents the beast as an off-white, semi translucent figure to replicate the “prototype suit”. This was the original idea behind the Alien in the movie, HR Giger writing in his diary that “One should be able to see the skeleton, the blood circulatory system, the organs etc”. Alas, numerous prototype suit designs failed to capture the proper transparency, not to mention that the material used was prone to tearing. Check out this piece for a great article on the Alien prototype suit.

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NECA’s Prototype Suit Big Chap is a unique take on the Alien. It’s one that I missed out on the first time around, so I’m happy to finally have it in my collection. While the look to the original appears to be the same, the new 40th Anniversary version utilizes NECA’s new Ultimate Big Chap body.

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If you’re a collector that missed out on NECA’s original Alien action figures, this 40th Anniversary wave is like a gift from Toy Heaven. Even if you have all these figures, NECA is making it quite tempting to pick them all up again. If not for the awesome retro packaging (one of the rare cases where I would keep a figure in pack), then for the added accessories (Jonesy and carrier!) and improved deco (Dallas). No matter how you cut it, it’s a win-win scenario for Alien fans. 

Scroll on for more photos!

Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor

Review Samples Courtesy of NECA