Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Lt. Ripley (NECA Toys)

Ripley

“Alien is basically a slasher movie in space, complete with the Final Girl.”  Ever hear that before?  It’s said by idiots.  In essence, yes, Alien is like a slasher film, but the “Final Girl” wasn’t scripted.  All of the parts were written generic, and meant to be played by male or female actors – but up until the actors were cast, they were all dudes.  This is why everybody is on a last-name basis, it’s to keep them as cyphers.  Ripley’s survival was pure chance, but man oh man, it worked.  Just looking at the movie, you’d think her character would die – she’s nobody’s love interest, and she even acts “obstructive” to the nominal heroes when she tries to enforce quarantine.  Even though she was proven right, in most movies that means death.  The end result is a film where, if you don’t know the future – and her eventual action moviefication – you honestly don’t know if Ripley will survive.  And since she didn’t in some early versions of the film (the Alien was going to kill her and then mimic her voice for some reason).  Because this was the 1970s, that dread makes this movie genuinely scary, and the character genuinely fantastic.  Ellen Ripley introduced me to the concept of a female action hero, and look where it took me.  Ahem.  ANYWAY, let’s talk about this toy!

Ripley-Stalked

There have been a few Ripley figures before – the Kenner Aliens toy, which did not use Weaver’s likeness, and the Alien: Resurrection toy, which… is pretty uch in the same boat.  It looked kinda like Sigourney Weaver, but it wasn’t really the best.  And in the modern action figure era, there’s been nothing.  Sigourney Weaver has famously denied her likeness for Aliens merchandise, based on her personal beliefs about violence and guns.  She was the impossible figure for years, and somehow NECA got the rights.  They keep doing things like this, which are honestly incredible.

Ripley-And-Jonesy

Several Ripleys are out, most famously including the one from Aliens, but I have a soft spot for this design – Ellen Ripley as she appeared in the very first movie.  So, how does it hold up?

Ripley-Packaged

PACKAGING: **

Although it’s basically a good clamshell, sometimes this one isn’t secure – I’ve sene a few JOneseys rattling around loose in the box, and that is a big no-no.

Ripley-Watch

SCULPT: ****

Ripley is an ordinary human, albeit a recognizable celebrity.  There’s nothing exagerrated about her – in fact, Sigourney Weaver’s figure is normal, which is totally unlike 99% of female action figures out there.  But this toy recreates her perfectly, from her curly hair to her skinny build.  It’s Sigourney Weaver.  It’s Ellen Ripley.  It’s perfect.

Ripley-Ready

Cloth is hard to sculpt, especially if it’s just an ordinary suit, but this figure pulls it off quite well.  Asa mixture of plastic and flexible rubber, it blends well together, with surprisingly accurate wrinkles where they should be.  NECA’s sculptors are incredible people – honestly, professional toy sculptors keep pulling off things that, five hundred years go, would have earned the a spot among the great artists of history.  We live in an incredible time.

Ripley-Eggs

Just about the only sculptural “flaw” I can think of is her facial expression.  It’s too neutral – she looks like she died and got turned into a creepy mannequin.  I’m not asking for a crazy extreme pose, but just a little bit of emotion would have helped greatly.  It does match Ripley at the control console, because she seemed bored then, but most of the movie did not leave her in a listless mood.

Ripley-Face

PAINT: ****

Ripley does not need bright, flashy colors, nd the figure sticks to her ordinary, muted workman’s jumpsuit.  It’s essentially a simple paint job, if a precise one.  The illusion of cloth is difficult to paint as well as sculpt, and this figure does so pretty well. Though I’ll be honest, mine has no paint slop, but with NECA toys, it’s always best to check them on the pegs.  Personally, I ould have preferred flesh-toned plastic to flesh paint, because this gives her a less lifelike doll-like effect, but it’s still good in the end.

Ripley-Facehugger

ARTICULATION: ***1/2

Ripley has ball-and socket shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, and ball jointed head, wrists, ankles, torso.  It’s pretty standard NECA human articulation, which is good for more poses than it would see at first glance.

Ripley-Gun

Ripley’s articulation is hindered slightly by the rubber jumpsuit around her hips, though it isn’t bad – it’s comparable to Dutch’s pants.  Her hair does limit her head a little, and her hands pop off easily, but they also come back on without trouble.  Apparently, the Power Loader requires alternate Ripley hands, so this is a good idea, anyway.

Ripley-Flamethrower

ACCESSORIES: ****

Ripley comes with two accessories:  Her jury-rigged flamethrower, and Jonesy the cat.  Let’s talk about the flamethrower first.  It should be noted that it wasn’t standard issue on the Nostromo, they cobbled it together on the fly.  Despite this, it looks more-or-less like an intentional weapon, and you kind of wonder what tool made up its main body.  Both fuel tanks are visible and obviously wired in, which is a nice touch, though the weapon is really fragile.  Be careful witht he aforementioned tanks, and don’t bend the shoulder strap too much.  Ripley has some trouble holding it in both hands, though it is possible.

Ripley-Jonesy

But the next accessory is the star of this set:  Jonesy!  It isn’t the only version of Jones the cat we’ll ever see – there’s an agitated hissing one, too – but it’s Jones!  Jones is the ultimate survivor, making it through all the movies without coming to any Alien-related disaster.  In fact, the Xenomorph treats Jonesy with a little bit of curiosity, and then just ignores our awesome kitty friend.  And I have not used any pronouns because I can’t remmber if Jones is male or female.

RipleyHeadbonk

Jonesy is in a neutral, curious little pose, and has a ball-jointed head. (S)he stands all right, but not well on uneven surfaces.  It’s a great cat pose, though – I’ve seen mine looking like this quite often, and you can even pose Jones to do a little friendly head-bonking.  D’awwwww, I would rescue you from a self-destructing ship, too!

 

Ripley-HeadBonk

VALUE: ****

At about $20, you get a fantastic toy, and she even comes with an adorable cat!

Ripley-Jones

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

The flamethrower is fragile, and the right hand on my figure keeps popping off, though I can put it back on with ease.  Also, watch out for loose cats in the packaging – sometimes Jonesey falls out of the tray.

Ripley-Attacked

 

WHERE TO BUY:

You might be able to find her at Toys R Us – either there are none, or there’s a shelf full of them.  Good luck!

Ripley-Kick

OVERALL: ****

Sigourney Weaver was infamous for never, ever, ever wanting to release her likeness for toys that might involve guns, especially the Alien franchise.  What did NECA do?  Money?  Blackmail?  Did they save her life from muggers, only they were fake hired muggers, but Randy did an impressive kung fu impression, and Ms. Weaver fell in love with him, but he rejected her while standing alone framed by the sunset and the wind blowing in his hair, and said, “Sorry, toots, but that’s the hero biz for ya.  Can’t have any attachments.”  And then he put on sunglasses and turned to walk away, only pausing to say, “But we need the action figure rights.”

Ripley-Egghead

That’s probably not what happened.

Ripley-Relax

But however they did it, this has been a miracle.  Ripley has a few figures already – jumpsuit, spacesuit, sequel movie – with a promise for more.  The likeness is spot-on, the sculpting is excellent, the articulation is good, and the accessories include Jonesy!  We have waited over thirty years for this Ripley, and bringing her home gave me cause for the biggest sigh of relief ever.

Ripley-Vs-Alien

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