“I’m the ultimate badass!”
“Game over, man! Game over!”
…And that’s pretty much Hudson in a nutshell. Actually, no, it’s just the lasting impression he left in the movie, but there was more to the guy. It’s kind of easy to overlook, but Hudson actually has a full character arc in the movie. He starts out smartassing and trash-talking and strutting around about what a badass he is, only to freak out once everything goes wrong. But did you notice how he manages to pull himself together? Ripley chews Hudson out, he says “Yes, ma’am,” and then sets up the sentry turrets, saves newt from a face hugger, and puts up a really impressive last stand that made his death one of the saddest in all of the movies. Sorry, dude, we were all rooting for ya.
Anyway, William Hudson (William? Wait, that’s Bill Paxton’s name) has been made in plastic once before, for the Kenner toy line – of course, that one didn’t use any likenesses from the film, and he just looked like a generic space marine with a cyborg arm and a giant rocket launcher. So this is the first time that Bill Paxton’s Hudson got made into a toy. As far as I know, Mr. Paxton is one of two actors who has been killed by Aliens, a Predator, and the Terminator, so that’s pretty special. Since I doubt we’re ever going to see a Jerry Lambert or Random Punk action figure, Hudson here will have to stand in for all of them. NECA has made Hudson and Hicks as part of their Aliens Series 1, and honestly, Hudson is the more interesting of the two – not just because of the character’s personality and hilarious face, but because Hicks looks kind of like a blank everyman, though I’d be glad to grab a helmeted version of him when one becomes available. Anyway, on to the figure!
Just like the Xenomorph, Hudson comes in a basic clamshell, and is held in with a few twisty-ties. The package shows off the toy inside well enough for you to compare the paint with any others on the shelf, and the back shows off the rest of the series. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s servicable, and not hard to free him from his plastic prison.
I really have to give Mr. Paxton some respect for being such a good sport about the face… I mean, celebrities get to approve use of their likeness, which is why it took a long time to get Schwarzenegger-Approved Terminator toys, and there’s a lot of Johnny Depp merchandise that just won’t appear. And here’s Mr. Paxton, going “WAUUUGH!” in his inaugural performance. Of course, he really only took that expression when freaking out after the dropship crashed, and certainly not in any combat scenes… but the face is just too good. I’m sorry, it’s awesome. It looks a little cartoonish, but I guarantee that this is how he looked in the “Game over!” scene. And it’s really hard to see, but he’s even got that tiny little soul patch underneath his lower lip – the one you can barely see in the movie! Seriously, I didn’t notice it until I was looking over the photos, which kind of fits how you can barely tell it’s there in the movie. Nice one!
Hudson shares a lot of parts with Hicks -nothing that ruins the figure, just some of the basic torso parts. This works, since the two men have similar body types. Hudson’s arms are certainly unique, since you can see the bandage he had to wear after getting acid splashed on his left arm. his torso comes in several layers, ostensibly with a shirt underneath the unremovable soft rubber armor, and some web gear over that. His utility belt is stuffed with all sorts of little tools, and I honestly can’t ID most of them – I know he has lock-picking and hacking equipment in there, and one piece actually looks removable (it is, but not safely. You might tear the belt). You know, he’s loaded down with gear just like a real marine. He’s also got a can opener on his crotch, and that’s not a typo – the actors playing the marines got to customize their weapons and armor before filming, so Hudson’s crotch armor has a little can opener fastened to it! FYI, the only exception was Michael Biehn as Hicks, since he was a last-minute replacement for James Remar. FYI, Biehn hated the heart logo on hick’s armor, because it was like a bullseye. The more you know!
The paint really is fantastic in this figure, except for one niggling detail. Dutch Schaefer, the Rocky toys, and even some of the Predators have spoiled me on flesh-colored slightly-translucent plastic. Hudson has a more-traditional flesh-toned matte paint job on his face and arms, but now that I’ve seen how well NECA can do with the new plastic, it just looks flat and doll-like. If you don’t mind it, then pretend that I gave him four stars, because in every other respect this figure has awesome paint. There’s even a faint darker wash on his chin, where his stubble would be, or on his hairy forearms. The soul patch isn’t painted, but that helps with the “it’s so tiny you can’t see it’ factor.
The camo pattern on Hudson’s armor is probably a stencil, but you wouldn’t know from looking at it – it’s fantastic, and in so many layers and different colors that I can’t imagine the paint budget for this toy! he’s also got appropriate apps for all of the little decals that Bill paxton customized onto his armor – aside from the can opener (which is sculpted), he has his name, the stabbed skull and crossbones, “Louise” (Paxton’s wife, and I assume Hudson’s wife or girlfriend back home), cartoon eyes on his shoulder, and “Contents Under Pressure: Dispose Of Properly” on his back. Okay, that one’s kind of ironic. But the detail on his outfit is really great, including separate apps for his boot laces and grommets, for example. So really, aside from the flesh paint issue, Hudson is perfect.
A lot of reviewers have complained that Hudson’s articulation is “almost good,” but I just don’t see it. He has typical NECA human articulation, but generally with more range than most. 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. He can take most poses that a human could, and that’s most of what we want in a toy.
As for durability, all of the joints on mine are still strong, and nothing feels like it’s going to go loose. He kind of has a leg up on the Alien in that regard, sadly. The double-jointed knees allow a lot of poses, though double-jointed elbows would have also been welcome. And why aren’t his elbows that way? I’d guess that they don’t want to break up the sculpt too much, since something like that is easier to swallow with an Alien. Most of his articulation, especially the bicep swivel, is hidden, with only a few parts (elbows and wrists) obviously visible to the naked eye.
Hudson’s got gear! Okay, you could count the little removable tracking device-thingy on his belt, but I won’t, since it doesn’t seem like it’s meant to come off. Firstly, he’s got his pulse rifle – no, not a smart gun, Hudson didn’t use a smart gun. The rifle is movie-accurate, and its strap looks great in a few different configurations around his arm. Most importantly, the paint is accurate to the film – Hudson’s rifle was colored a little differently than, say, Hicks’s, and it’s one of those details that most people wouldn’t pick up (like the alien’s brown color). It’s not just that it looks good, it looks perfect for the movie.
Next up is Hudson’s motion tracker, which he used several times in the movie (most memorably when the aliens were coming through the ceiling). And yeah, it looks just like the slightly bulky rig from the movie. The strap also slings around his shoulder just fine, and looks natural whether it’s hanging there or held in his hands. The monitor has a tiny sticker showing the radar and impending approaching danger, which also helps you orient it in his hands. Speaking of that, the handle doesn’t quite fit in Hudson’s hand – he’s sculpted to hold the assault rifle – but it does work well if you’re patient. And his facial expression is perfect for holding the tracker and looking into it. “They’re close, man! What’re we gonna do?”
And finally, we have Hudson’s mounted flashlight, which plugs securely into his back, or can be held in his hand. Again, it’s a nice little piece that looks accurate to the film – it can also help hold up the motion tracker’s strap if needed. Sure, hicks was the one who held the flashlight in that famous scene, but Hudson’s just got the face for it!
Hudson is a $20 figure that, if released by anybody else, would have been $30 or more. NECA is incredible about keeping their prices reasonable, and even with Hudson’s detailed paint and tons of accessories, he’s still good!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Always compare the paint on the shelf – I picked the best one I could see. Other than that, watch the little dangly things on his belt, try not to stress the flashlight’s antenna, and no matter what you do, some of the paint on his hands will rub off on the assault rifle. You’re just gonna have to live with it.
WHERE TO BUY:
You can find this figure at retail – in fact, mine came from a Toys R Us! But I’d hurry and snag one before the supply dries up. If not, go ahead and try eBay or Amazon, or Big Bad Toy Store, since those are the best/safest places out there.
NECA continues to amaze me with its toys. Do I have some complaints about the flesh paint? Well, yes, but that’s like complaining that the car your dad gave you on your birthday wasn’t the right shade of red. Hudson is AWESOME, and the toy’s a great tribute to the character! I’m sure that we’ll get a calmer headswap eventually, probably with a helmet on, but this one will live on in history. When the sculpt was first announced, I honestly laughed at his face! I still do, but I think that NECA made a really great decision, and Bill Paxton was a good sport about it. It’s just sad that Hudson died in the movie, y’know?