Welcome to Figures & Speech, Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys but might want to know more before they buy. From product reviews to informed editorials, these are most definitely the articles that’ll make you want to strike a pose.
It seems hard to believe now, but when NECA‘s first quarter-scale (read: 20 inches) Alien figure came out, it retailed for just under $40. And it was pretty much the last gasp of their first run of 18-inch-ish figures, as toy prices massively went up after the crash of 2008 and never really came back down. For a while, the company opted to only do larger figures at 12 inches, but after they noticed that Hot Toys were regularly selling high-end toys at upwards of $200, and they managed to test the market with a successful $90 Predator in quarter scale, they got back in the game, albeit this time sticking only to globally popular licenses, which is to say you may not see the likes of Sin City‘s Hartigan return to the format. They completely resculpted the original 1979 Alien xenomorph in quarter scale a couple of years ago, and now we get the first variant, a translucent version based on the original H. R. Giger concept for the creature that had to be abandoned when the translucence just did not work on camera. (Giger would finally get his wish for a see-thru movie monster when Species came out years later.)
He comes in a cool window box that features a backdrop image of the Nostromo corridor; if you take him out, this backdrop will become unusable due to the massive amounts of wire twist-ties puncturing it that hold the figure in place (I say he, and I probably need to correct myself. We have no idea what gender the creature is; since we never see a father, one might assume the warriors are spawned asexually from the queen). Weirdly, though, this figure isn’t quite optimized for mint-in-box collectors either, as all its back protrusions have to be attached. The 2008 Alien came slightly disassembled so it would fit in standard packaging; this one could fit right where it is with the tubes on, so it’s not clear why they’re separate, unless it’s simply too much to go that extra step in packing.
Each back protrusion has a differently shaped peghole so you know which one goes where. On mine, the lower left one has a bit of an issue staying all the way in.
As you can see, the figure is cast in a translucent cream color, with a dark wash to make the details pop and a shiny finish to make it look wet and glistening. It’s not just a simple repaint/recast.
As you can see, it is also quite posable. The new xeno lacks the thigh cut joints of the old, but more than makes up for it with double-jointed knees, ball hips/shoulders/ankles/wrists/neck/elbows/mid-torso, upper bicep cuts, well-concealed mid-foot hinges, bendy tail, and opening mouth with an inner jaw that slides out. It can get in a variety of action poses:
Yep, that’s the original tag-teaming the Hulk. Why don’t we take a closer look to compare?
The new one is taller, more intricately sculpted and better articulated (note the cut joints on the hips off the old one). The old one’s primary advantage is it has big front fangs, while the new one has its outer-mouth teeth almost completely retracted under the lip, and its inner jaws in a shut position. This is an aesthetic choice I would not have made, but it does help keep them looking different.
And vive le difference, oui?
Here’s a comparison from behind:
Look particularly at the sculpting of the head underneath the dome, and you’ll get the best sense of how NECA detailing has come along.
But is it really translucent, as promised? Well, a lot depends on the lighting. In many of these pictures, you don’t see the effect because the figure is front lit. Back light it, and you get the real picture.
A good backlight makes the details of the wash pop even more.
And it’s a good thing it has all that articulation, because it’s extra tall and a shelf I had sized SPECIFICALLY FOR NECA quarter-scale figures is too small unless it crouches.
If you have not yet bought the black version of this sculpt, you’ll likely want this one to offer the most variety. If you’re any kind of Alien fan, you’re going to want some version of this sculpt. If you’re a collector of all things xenomorphic, bear in mind that this concept figure is going to have a smaller production than most, so even if $104.99 seems steep now…it’s only gonna get steeper later. Act now and you won’t be pissed off.
Images: Julia and Luke Thompson for Nerdist
Luke Y. Thompson is Nerdist’s weekend editor, and a bona-fide xenophile. Find him on Twitter @LYTrules.