This one is going to start on a sad note…
Kyle Windrix is a famous toy sculptor. He got his start with McFarlane, but nowadays works for NECA. Craig was his brother, and by all accounts was a really incredible person. He was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer last year, and as a result NECA sculpted this figure in his likeness as a tribute to him – Aliens was his favorite movie. A portion of the sales will also be donated to the Windrix family.
Although for a while it looked like the cancer might go into remission, Craig Windrix passed away on February 6, about a week or two after the figure debuted on store shelves. NECA’s offices shut down for twenty-four hours in mourning – this relative of a staff member was such a great guy that the whole company had to take a day off. Even though I don’t know the Windrixes, something about this resonates with me. Maybe it’s because of the losses my family has seen in recent years.
My own family actually has not lost anybody to cancer. We’ve had alzheimer’s, heart attacks, cirrhosis of the liver, scuba diving accidents, and parasitic worms, but not cancer. While I cannot personally relate to the cancer aspect, grief is universal – I guarantee that anybody reading this review has lost somebody, perhaps recently. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Windrix family in the wake of this tragedy. Now, this is still a toy review, so let’s start talking about the toy!
“I felt that whether this became a product or not, we wanted to do this to make him smile.” -Randy Falk, director of NECA
Sgt. Windrix is packaged exactly the same as other figures in this line. Notably, the blurb on the back is generic for the movie, not for this figure. Although some info on the figure’s background or even the life of the fictional Sgt. Windrix would have ben interesting, it could also have turned out cheap or tacky.
Back when this figure was first announced, and before Craig’s ordeal was really known, a lot of people in the collecting community asked why NECA was making an “unknown” before the main marines from the movie. And after info came out, a few people still asked. Aside from the incredibly obvious answer (come on, have you no heart?), this figure does serve a purpose apart from its role as a tribute to the late Mr. Windrix. Even if you have no connection to the real-life situation, this figure can serve as a good generic/original marine character. NECA has made Predators based on the old Kenner toy line and a batman movie, so this is close to getting a video game space marine. But really, this is a tribute to a real person, and it’s better to honor it as such.
The likeness on Windrix’s face is fantastic, which makes perfect sense. This is not a figure sculpted from movie stills and promo shots. The model for it was right there. He was a pretty good, normal-looking guy, which helps the figure as a generic toy just as much as it is a tribute. I can say without reservation that Sgt. Windrix looks heroic. NECA’s sculptors fashioned Craig’s face with a steely, determined gaze, contrasting the wild and screaming marines we already have. Windrix can hold his pose in casual conversation just as well as combat. Although the figure was initially sculpted as a surprise to the whole Windrix family, Kyle did get to work on his brother’s likeness for the final product.
Most of the rest of the figure is made of re-used parts, with the exception of his arms. Craig Windrix has long sleeves, and telling from he sergeant insignia sculpted over the left arm, we are going to see it again when Sgt. Apone comes out.
The regular paint is just fine – Craig’s likeness is excellent, and the uniform is painted just like on Hudson and Hicks. However, he’s also got a lot of custom decals on his armor. In the movie, the actors playing each marine (except for Michael Biehn, who was hired as a replacement for James Remar) got to customize their armor. Craig Windrix’s armor is thus decorated with symbols that meant something to him and his family. His right and left sleeves are taken up with his rank, the American flag, and the colonial Marines symbol from the film. He also has Hudson’s can opener. But the rest of the symbols are Windrix-specific. In summary:
Underneath his name is a heart that reads DAO. Dao Pham was his girlfriend.
On the back of his right shoulder pad is a caricature of Craig’s face. This is the logo to 5,000 Miles of Craig, a charity support site set up to help him and his family.
Just below the face is a penguin with an ice cream cone, in tribute to Craig’s favorite restaurant.
And on his lower back is a bowling ball and set of three pins. This is to honor Craig and Kyle’s father, who passed away the previous year. Their dad loved bowling – he bowled all the time, and after he retired, he practically lived on the lane. The bowling ball has their dad’s initials on the ball, and now I want to go fly to Las Vegas and give my Dad a hug.
Sgt. Windrix has the same articulation as the other marines – He’s got a ball-jointed head, torso, and ankles; ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows, wrists, and thighs; double-hinged knees; hinged toes; and swivel biceps. You can put him in pretty much any pose you want, no problem. NECA is pretty good with human articulation, and the formula that they’ve found is very solid.
Sgt. Craig Windrix comes with the standard Marine shoulder flashlight, motion tracker, and removable welder attached to his belt. But he also comes with a new weapon – a flamethrower! It’s kind of funny how tiny space marine flamethrowers look compared to real ones, but this is film-accurate. Of course, real-life marines use much more advanced weaponry when they need to burn things, and flamethrowers have been banned, anyway. They were in Aliens because there was a single flamethrower in Alien. Except in the original movie, it was jury-rigged because there were no other weapons on the space ship, and Ripley never got to use it on the alien, anyway. In Aliens, flamethrowers accounted for at least two marine deaths, though Ripley got to use one to roast some eggs real good. Anyway, the weapon is awesome, and plenty of collectors have found flame attachments from other toys that fit really well.
This toy costs about $20, and I have covered how awesome NECA’s pricing is many, many times before. Many times.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Just like with the other marines, watch for the small parts on his flashlight. It isn’t too fragile, though, so there really isn’t anything potentially wrong with this figure.
WHERE TO BUY:
Guys, life is short, and you never know what’s going to happen. Craig Windrix was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer during a routine checkup. No warning signs, no family history, no possible reason to suspect that something like this could happen. A friend of mine recently died in her sleep – young, in her thirties, with no warning that it could end like that. My mother passed away suddenly while she and my Dad were scuba diving on their 40th anniversary. Point is, you need to value what you have. Value your lives and the lives of those you love. If I say anything more, I am going to get very religious, so I’ll leave that to an open invitation if people want to talk about it.
This figure is a really touching gesture from a friend to a friend – again, it was initially produced as a surprise to the Windrix family. As a mass-market toy, much of the profits are going to supporting them. It really says something about a man when he has touched so many lives that something like this can happen. I was really hesitant to buy this figure at first, because I didn’t feel qualified to discuss it. And I still don’t think that I am, but it is more than worth it. And if you can, go visit 5,000 Miles of Craig to donate in the ongoing fight against cancer!