"You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."
Science Officer ASH
2014 marks the 35th anniversary of Ridley Scott's watershed space-horror masterpiece Alien. Right in the middle of a certain space opera fantasy franchise, Mr. Scott took a hot trend and took it in a completely different direction than that of anyone ever named Skywalker. I was not around yet for the debut of Alien, but when I experienced it for the first time in my mid-teens, it instantly became stalwart of my movie collection. This is the movie that set the pace for a very successful Hollywood franchise, but ,in my opinion, nothing, in terms of sequels/offshoots, has ever eclipsed the original. Space horror always wins. So, in due style, NECA is celebrating the anniversary with new toys - yay! So far they have kept a lot things under wraps in terms of what we might get from the Nostromo crew (Toy Fair cannot get here soon enough), but they are kicking off the original with a much needed update to the original Xenomorph.
It is no secret that NECA has been crushing it with just about every license they have right now. From Gremlins to Assassin's Creed, they have upped the collector action figure game in sculpt, paint, and articulation. However, they seem to be enjoying the most success with their Alien and Predator licenses, and with good merit. NECA has been producing some really interesting figures with the debut of Dutch and the Kenner Predators last year to the Colonial Marines for the Alien franchise. To me, this shows a commitment to moving beyond the namesake "monsters" of the franchises, so I am going to continue to hold out hope for some Nostromo Crew goodness. However, there is no arguing that THE Alien is the star of the show and simply put, NECA has just unleashed the best toy version of the '79 Xenomorph to date.
Called "Kane's Son" by Ash and "Big Chap" by fans, this prototypical drone set the standard for all that would come after it, including the monstrous Queen from Aliens. So it is kind of ironic that the new toy would be built off of the great base body first utilized by the alien warrior from the second film. Fortunately for us, the sculpt and articulation on the base is really fantastic, and NECA does give us new parts where they are needed for differences between the first and second film's Xenomorphs. So, if you have any of the aliens from the first series or the recent two packs, you are going to be familiar with the articulation scheme. As it stands, I count well over 20 points and they include:
* Double elbows
* Float ab
* Hinge hips
* Double knees
* Rocker ankles
* Toe hinge
While Big Chap does borrow parts in places like his torso and arms, he does feature new hands, feet, thighs and, of course, a new head. To me, the original Alien design is the best. I think it is H.R. Giger at his finest and most unencumbered, and the horrific symmetry rightly sets the standard for all Alien realizations going forward. The head is the most different from the later alien incarnations, but I really like the translucent skull piece and NECA did a great job with the execution because you can just barely see underneath to the sculpt and paint detail below. This figure also has the splayed hands with weird six fingers and the more humanoid feet.
All of this comes together to make for an impressive figure and I think that it is the most striking Xenomorph they have made so far, even in the face of the red Genocide and the "Exploding Head" figures from the 2-packs. Frankly, if you are only going to own one Xeno figure, it really should be this one based on the importance it has to the franchise, but it is also the best-looking Alien figure NECA has made. We will reserve judgment until we see the final product of the Alien Queen, however.
Big Chap is hitting now as part of the Alien Franchise series two, along with Sgt. Windrix and the blue Xenomorph Warrior. We should find out what we will be getting in the next couple of series, but we know that Bishop is already on the docket for release soon. I REALLY hope that we will indeed see more Alien characters, especially that Nostromo crew in the coming year. I know Ripley will be a tough get, but I am sure they can make it work -- Jonesy is going to get lonely all alone with that space suit. As it stands, though, we have a great representation of the "Granddaddy" of the franchise, and this figure is a great way to start the celebration for the 35th anniversary of Alien.