Ever since NECA launched their Aliens toy line, there were two things I wanted to see, above everything else. The first was a figure of our hero, Ellen Ripley, and NECA has certainly done her justice, with the release of multiple variants since they scored likeness rights from actor Sigourney Weaver. The second, seeing Pvt. Vasquez, the badass smart gunner played by Jenette Goldstein, captured in plastic. It took nine waves of figures, but Vasquez is finally here… and to say she was worth the wait would be an understatement.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. While Vasquez is clearly the crowning jewel of the latest wave of Aliens figures, she’s far from the only highlight. Joining our gunner are fellow Marine Pvt. Frost and the Albino Alien, a concept figure based on a new version of the Xenomorph which surfaced in the first draft of James Cameron’s film script.
So we’re really all over the place with this lineup, even though it’s thoroughly ensconced in the realm of Cameron’s sequel. I’m going to break these figures down in reverse-terms of excitement, just because I can. So let’s start with Frost.
Private Frost, as played by Ricco Ross, was the first of the Colonial Marines to die in the film, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t missed. He had one of the best lines in the movie (), and his armor decoration– including a heart around the name ‘Heath’– inadvertently sparked an LGBTQ fanship decades before that would become part of the geek mainstream*. NECA has done a bang-up job on his action figure, from the excellent portrait of Ross to the new tooling used on Frost’s pistol holster and satchel. My only nitpick is this– for most of the film, Frost wears his sleeves rolled up to quarter-length, while his figure opts to display his with sleeves rolled down. It’s not a major difference, and using the rolled-down sleeves allows NECA to save on tooling dollars, but this still feels like the one thing that doesn’t ring 100% accurate about this figure… at least for an Aliens die-hard like me.
Next up is the Albino Alien, a “concept figure” who never made it to the film itself. This variant of the Xenomorph Warrior eschews the glossy-black exoskeleton of the creature for an equally-gross white and pink deco. The result is a maggot-like finish, which highlights this Xenomorph’s role as the hive-builders for the Queen. The discolored creatures would be creepy enough in these pre-gestational colors, but the addition of a 5″ long, bendable probiscous– in lieu of the typical second inner jaw– sends this figure over the edge into nastiness. The Albino is a smart reuse of parts, merged with an abandoned concept from one of the early, unfilmed drafts of the movie itself. I love whenever NECA digs deep into a property’s history to produce an action figure, and the Abino Alien is another perfect example of this.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m saving the best for last, and in this case it’s Vasquez. It’s usually cliche to say how NECA has outdone themselves with each new figure, but there’s no getting around it this time– Vasquez is just that great. Our first Marine smart gunner sports a fantastic portrait of Goldstein, as well as an incredible replica of her machine gun, which is perfect from the weapon itself, to the body armor, to the steadicam which connects the two.
Vasquez is packed with personality, from her determined expression to the iconic scrawling of “El Riesgo Siempre Vive” on her chest armor. Every aspect of the layout of Vasquez’s on screen appearance is perfect replicated here, and it makes me eager for the day when NECA can make a figure based on her partner Mark Drake. In the meantime, Vasquez is perfect, one of the most intricate and detailed figures I have seen in this scale in a long time. From the wires on her gun rig, to the articulated eyepiece on her headset, every bit of this Marine is perfectly rendered.
For all the detail NECA packed into this figure, I do wish they had included the iconic “Adios” deco on the side of her smart gun. While the lack of that decoration doesn’t take away from the overall impact of this figure, it does leave her feeling just-shy of total screen accuracy, despite all the obvious attention to detail the team at NECA did manage to pack into her.
This might be the singular best wave of Aliens figures NECA has yet to release. While part of that statement may be based on my partiality to Cameron’s Aliens as may favorite installment of the franchise, it’s hard to look at an action figure like Vasquez as anything but perfection. Frost was a pleasant surprise addition I honestly did not think we’d see in NECA’s toy line, and the Albino Alien is a cool figure which should connect with true nerds for film production.
You can pick up the latest wave of Aliens now at specialty retailers. They’re all well worth the purchase.
*For the full story on why that particular bit of set design was inadvertent, check out Ricco Ross’ episode of Matt Gourley’s great podcast I Was There Too when he explains what that heart is really all about.