Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Queen Facehugger (NECA Toys)

Twenty years ago, Kenner made an Aliens toyline, based on an abortive idea for a Saturday-morning cartoon, Operation: Alien.  You know, what with the violence and all.  But the toys were neat!  Taking a cue from Alien 3’s dog alien, the toyline asked, “What would Aliens look like from other hosts?”  And thus, you had scorpion, gorilla, bull, snake, mantis, rhino, panther, crab, and spider aliens, to name a few (this isn’t even ackowledging the winged queen, giant face hugger, king alien, and so on).  It was a great line, and  turning point for my personal toy collection as a kid.  Suddely, I had been introduced to hyper-detailed, non-cartoonish monsters.  Yeah, these were my McFarlane, in a way.  And so, NECA had already homaged the Kenner Predator line, and finally followed suit with the Aliens.  The first set of Kenner-tribute Aliens includes the Gorilla Alien, Mantis Alien, and Queen Facehugger.

The Giant Facehugger figure was one of the stranger ones in Kenner’s line – and that’s saying something, considering that it was released alongside the Snake Alien! It wasn’t just a scaled-up facehugger, it had a uique body structure, including a working mouth. It seemed to be more of a standard spider than an egg-layer, designed to catch and cocoon prey more than anything else. it was also heavily action feature-reliant, with the body even shaped to contain its springs, switches, and string. But it worked, although those springs tended not to last over the years. When NECA chose to remake it, they renamed it the Queen Facehugger, and went ahead. So, how would they manage this?

The included comic barely showed off the Giant Facehuggers, but maybe that was a good thing – the two full-body shots in evidence were completely off-model from each other or the toy, and unlike the obvious explanatiosn for other Alien variants (different hosts), nothing was given for the Facehuggers. They were just there. By renaming it as the “Queen,” NECA has sort-of given an origin to these creatures.. kind of. I’d still love some biographical info.

PACKAGING: ****

The Kenner Aliens have… well, Kenner-reminiscent packaging!  It looks great, shows off the toys, and is just a fantastic piece of work all around.  The other figures on the back are a hilarious tribute, too!

SCULPT: ****

The original figure, while recognizable as a facehugger, was more than a little stylized. With a chunky body to house its spring mechanism, and a tiny piglike mouth with tusks, it was certainly recognizable as a facehugger, but really looked like its own kind of spider monster. In fact, if not for the egg sacs, it didn’t really resemble a facehugger. This one, on the other hand, is instantly recognizable fro the start, even though it by no means is a carbon-copy of standard facehuggers. It does resemble the Queen Facehugger from Alien 3, only it’s still distinct and different – compare them side-by-side, and you’ll see the differences.

Even though it’s its own design, and the furthest from the Kenner original, the Queen Facehugger is utterly fantastic. This sculpt is incredibly detailed, with everything from tiny fingernails to flesh folds to little spines on its carapace. It’s beautifully-made, and would look great in any color scheme (hint, hint, NECA: repaints!). Unlike the others, this figure is entirely new tooling. And every ounce of this figure is fantastic, looking as good as any high-end collectible you might find on the shelf.

It also comes with a Beta Queen Facehugger, which is pretty much a smaller copy – but its uniquely-sculpted, with no detail lost in the smaller scale. NECA’s fantastic work is basically doubled thanks to this accessory/second figure. Fantastic work!

PAINT: ****

The original figure was translucent red with a black paint wash, nd although the new one is not trnaslucent, it does mirror the old figure. It’s atually got the most complex paint job in the entire set, with genuine detail work all over! The result is something that would sound ludicrous on paper (“let’s make it RED!”), but in practice looks like an organic creature, and is absolutely in line with other Aliens. The paint really helps the exquisite sculpt stand out!

And of course, the Beta Queen’s paint is pretty much identical to the regular one. It looks more like a paint wash than on the larger figure, and there is now a tiny bit of slop, but it’s still a fantastic job – in fact, it’s now just on par with other commercial figures, rather than leaps and bounds ahead of all of them. Again, this is a big point in its favor.

ARTICULATION: ****

The original figure’s articulation was pure gimmick, and no other facehugger has been really “articulated” since. To refresh” the original Giant Facehugger had legs that opened and closed like a trap (controlled by a switch), a swivel tail, an extendable hook at the end of her tail (on a string, controlled by a switch), and mobile jaws/inner jaws controlled by the same two switches. The mechanism was cool, but brone to breakage. The classic one in this photo set can’t oproperly open its legs or retract its tail, for that matter. Since then, Facehuggers have been floppy rubber, bendy-tailed, or a mixture of the two. Even he mini Beta Queen ha a bendy tail and nothing more. So, what about this one?

The Queen has ball-jointed legs. They are skinny and spindly, so check each one individually in case there are stuck joints. They’ve got a good rnage of motion, and you can change its pose with some reasonable degree. it’s impressive that NECA even tried putting in such tiny, skinny joints.

In practice, you’ll want to position thema ccording to the curvature of each leg – so while there is motion, there isn’t a huge range. I found a pose that works, and have stuck with it, which is probably what should be done in all cases.

Other than that, the tail is bendable, and sturdy enough to support the facehugger’s weight. It’s necessary to get it standing and not just leaning back with its legs in the air, and the tail movement gives you decent variety.

ACCESSORIES: ****
The original figure did not come with any accessories, as Kenner had stopped including little facehuggers with their Aliens in the prior wave. That said, this one comes with a Mini-Me – a Beta Queen Facehugger, aka a Queen in scale with the regular figures! Even though it’s in toy colors, you can see how it’s more closely modeled on the Facehugger from Alien 3, and kindasorta in scale with humans in the line. Its only articulation is its bendy tail, but its legs are positioned quite well – in fact, pictures of the Beta have been littered throughout this review, and it’s surprisingly hard to tell the difference between them! It’s more of a second figure than a pure accessory, and that’s just fine.

As for the comic… why aren’t there scans of it here?  Because I, uh, misplaced it.  Nah, I didn’t bother because scans can be found HERE. The Queen Facehugger comic has some of the worst art imaginable – its facehuggers have smooth, elongated bodies, and eyes. Eyes! The design seems to change from panel to panel, too. Yeah. Well, these aren’t high literature, right?

VALUE: ****

At about $22, you get a figure that has much less plastic than the other two in this series, though both Queens are very well-made. It might not feel like much for your money, but you’re paying for detail on 100% new tooling, which is certainly an issue..

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Watch those spindly legs – don’t break the joints, and don’t let the Queen’s weight warp them.

WHERE TO BUY:

They are currently heavily in stock at Toys R Us!

OVERALL: ****

It’s fitting that one of the most unique Kenner figures gets an equally unique NECA remake. Even among Facehuggers, there’s just nothing like this on the market. The Queen Facehugger is a fantastic figure, and its Beta buddy is exceptional. They are a little small, but they’re good, solid toys – and certianly a unique thing to add to your Aliens diorama.

NECA’s Aliens offerings in 2016 were outstanding.  It was an anniversary year, of course, but even then, the sheer number of concept art aliens, non-canon variants, and “ultimate” figures was like a fanboy’s dream.  And capping it off with these fantastic pieces has resulted in some of the few toys that absolutely live up to the hype.

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