Aliens was the best Starship Troopers movie. Just kidding! But yeah, there are some similarities. The movie also has a lot of Vietnam in it – the fact that two out of three space marine toys we have from NECA look scared out of their gourd kind of communicates that. Wow, I’ve hit a rabbit trail before the review even starts. Dialing back now.
Wave 1 of NECA’s Aliens line included Hicks, Hudson, and a Xenomorph Warrior. Helmeted versions of both humans have been promised in separate two-packs with battle-damaged Xenos, and I actually held off buying Hicks to wait for this. Hicks, by virtue of being the only marine to make it out of the movie alive (Alien 3 does not exist. Never happened. Nuh-uh. Waaaaaah), is the “main character” from the marines.
Of course the movie really is Ripley’s story, but Hicks kind of serves as a generic “hero”-type character, a blank slate onto which the audience can project. Thankfully, Michael Biehn is a good actor, and managed to inject a lot of life into the role. So although he’s not as memorable as some characters, Corporal Duane Hicks is still a pretty good guy.
Hicks has had a few toys before NECA’s, though none of them got the likeness right. Kenner’s figure was the most “normal” of all the marines (like I said, he’s the bland guy), and McFarlane made one that didn’t use his face at all. So NECA’s offerings come as a pleasant breath of fresh air. The battle-damaged Xeno speaks for itself, of course – it’s in mid-splatter, just like NECA’s Gears of War “Headshot” Locust from earlier in the year. Anyway, on to the figures!
The two figures come packed in a tremendous clamshell, much like NECA’s other offerings of this type. It takes up a lot of space, but most of that is put to use. The figures are displayed well, and protected. Technically the paper backing is a backdrop, but it’s fairly indistinct and I did not notice it until it was too damaged to use.
SCULPT: Hicks: ***, Xenomorph: ****
As I said, Hicks is Generic McGenericson. At first, the likeness felt a little off on his face, but then I remembered how generic Michael Biehn looks, and it’s fine. He is in permanent-screamy mode, though the expression could be horror, excitement, or giddiness. It depends on the angle. If you look carefully, you can see his hair under the helmet – the helmet is a separate piece glued on top of his head – which is a nice touch, though it makes the headpiece feel like it rests too high over his hair, instead of smooshing it down the way it would in real life. Most of the rest of his body is shared with the other Hicks and Hudson, and looks great. I do have a slight beef with his upper arms, which are bare – the top pieces just don’t look right. They lack the sculptural detail of his biceps and forearms, and stand out by looking “doll”-ish. It’s kind of a weird effect. As good as this figure is, it’s not perfect.
The Xenomorph mostly shares parts with other Aliens, with the obvious exception of the head. It’s been caught in mid-headshot, with my guess being that this is the Alien that took a shotgun blast to the mouth (“Eat this!”). The front part of its head is blown away, with acid splattering everywhere, its inner mouth twisting freely in the breeze, and a chunk of its upper skull flying off behind it. The effect is awesome, and really looks like they blew up one of the toys. Sure, it’s a really scene-specific look, but you need at least one dead or dying Alien in a big battle scene, right?
The Xeno also has another acid blood splatter on its chest, which could be the result of machine gun fire, or just a spare piece of shrapnel or buckshot. It helps differentiate the figure even further from the other normal Aliens we have seen so far. And just like the others, it’s got that soft rubber sheath over the hips, and a removable dorsal spike on its upper back. Hilariously, both tubes stretching from its jaw to its shoulders are intact.
PAINT: Hicks: ***, Xenomorph: ****
Dutch Schaefer has spoiled me. See, the Schwarzenegger figure uses flesh-colored plastic, while this one has flesh paint caked on. Now that I have seen how realistic the former looks, the latter just seems sloppy. The flesh tone is a little inconsistent between shoulders and arms, too, subtly lighter and glossier on the former. But other than that misstep, Hicks’s paint job is outstanding. His face is very well-detailed, from the hair under his helmet to the stubble on his chin, to even his teeth. None of those apps are sloppy at all – and the paint on his uniform is great, as well. All of the actors got to customize their body armor before filming, except for Michael Biehn. He was stuck with James Remar’s design, complete with the impractical and dangerous padlocked heart on his chest. Painting a bullseye on oneself is a bad idea for a soldier, you see. But the heart is there, with the padlock as an extra sculpted element. He’s also got some Kanji on his back, though it will probably be obscured by all of his gear. And finally, his USCM tattoo is present on his arm.
The Xenomorph Warrior represents a fourth color scheme for these friendly monsters. The original was brown (the color in the movie), the two-pack had silver-black and red, and now we have black with blue accents. Theoretically, this matches the next single-carded Xenomorph Warrior, though it’s odd that we got this one before the regular figure, while the upcoming Hudson will have a brown one. It’s no biggie, though. Of course, aside from its sleek black-and-blue tones, the Xenomorph also has some tan for the insides of its mouth, and a heaping helping of neon green for its acid blood! The blood is done very well, ith differing shades of green to help make it look more liquid. It almost seems to glow, and really stands out against the creature’s dark body. It’s a real testament to the artistic skill at NECA that they can pull off something this good with only a few colors.
ARTICULATION: Hicks ****, Xenomorph: ****
Hicks has ball-jointed wrists, ankles, torso, upper biceps, and head, ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows, and hips, and hinged double knees and toes. The articulation is excellent, and he can take just about any realistic pose you want. His head is also removable, which is very helpful for those accessories.
The Xenomorph has ball-jointed hands, hips, torso, and head, ball-and-socket shoulders and double elbows, hinged feet and double knees, swivel biceps, and a bendable tail. His articulation is just as good as any other Alien in the line, and mine so far feel solid enough to take a variety of pain-wracked, spasming death poses. If you use the tail for support, you can put this guy in just about any state you need!
The Xenomorph comes with nothing. Hicks, on the other hand, has a pulse rifle, shoulder-mounted flashlight, motion tracker, belt-clipped electric lock pick, shotgun, and shotgun holster. When you load him up with all his gear, he almost looks ludicrous – but that’s realistic for a marine. Some of his pieces, like the pulse rifle, flashlight, and tracker, are the same as the ones coming with other marines (hi, Hudson), but the others are new. That shotgun in particular is his favorite possession, and he keeps it “for close encounters.” It looks great and fits well in his hands, though you may need to have him wield it one-handed for a few poses.
The holster is made of soft plastic, and slips easily over his shoulder once his head is removed, The shotgun fits snugly inside, and it snaps shut. However, the soft plastic is very brittle, and mine snapped within minutes – note how the strap looks broken in these photos? Well, it is! Be very wary of your holster.
At $39.99, you are paying roughly $20 a figure – so basically, you’re paying for two toys with little to no discount. It’s a good price, especially considering how much other companies charge for similar product, but it isn’t so low as to be super-duper outstanding.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
The Xenomorph looks like it has fragile parts, though the gore in its head actually feels flexible and durable. Hicks’s shotgun holster might be fragile across the board, or it may only have been mine. Don’t risk it, be careful with the thing.
WHERE TO BUY:
If you couldn’t tell from the “Toys R Us Exclusive” sticker clearly visible on the packaging, this is a Toys R Us exclusive. So, for the best price, check your local TRU! Mine had a shelf lined with these, so hopefully they won’t be too hard to find.
This set did not impress me as much as the Predator Final Battle two-pack, but that does not mean I’m having buyer’s remorse. Hicks is perfectly servicable – he’s actually very good, but I’ve been holding NECA to an even higher standard these days – and he comes with a lot of great gear. The Xenomorph is also fantastic, and I’ll be using it in many Alien and Predator displays from now on. If you want the set, buy it. But if it hasn’t already piqued your interest, having it in-hand likely will not change a thing.