Since NECA launched their outstanding Aliens action figure line, there was a disappointing caveat we were all aware of ahead of time– Sigourney Weaver, who starred as Ellen Ripley in all four films in the franchise*, was not interested in giving her likeness rights for an action figure based on her character. This meant, as cool as the line could possibly be, Aliens would always be lacking as a toy line. But by some combination of skill, luck and sorcery, NECA changed Weaver’s mind, and with that action, guaranteed the Aliens collection could include its main star.
Fast forward a year and a half later, and the first figures of Ripley have finally hit retail, as part of the very great, Alien themed Series 4. This lineup, based on Ridley Scott’s original film, includes two versions of our hero, as well as the ill-fated Captain of the Nostromo, Dallas. Dallas is a fine figure, in his pressure suit to match stupid idiot Kane from the previous wave of figures. He sports a very strong portrait of Tom Skerritt, great paint apps to realize his unique white and pink pressure suit, and an all new helmet without the melted face plate that Kane included.
But let’s be honest– much like the movie, the true star of this wave is Ripley. NECA really stepped up with both figures, but Ripley in her iconic jumpsuit makes for such a fantastic, awesome action figure, I’d be remiss to not consider her one of the best toys released this year. The portrait is impeccable, one of the most accurate sculpts I’ve seen from NECA. Every detail of Ellen’s on screen appearance is accounted for, from the bodice-like lacing at the back of her jumper, to the Nostromo patches on her shoulders. It’s a truly gorgeous sculpt, and the articulation is just as great.
Ripley is fully poseable with all the articulation you’d expect from a modern era NECA release. Her ball neck joint packs in a great range of motion, especially impressive considering her big hair, and a smart soft rubber overlay on the figure’s torso covers up all the thoracic articulation. All the moving parts converge to allow Ripley to strike a number of poses, both with and without her included flame thrower, her weapon of choice (or at least necessity) and she attempts to survive her encounter with the alien creature aboard the Nostromo.
While much of Ripley is monochromatic due to her jumpsuit coverall, the full figure is painted, offering both the opportunity for some subtle washes to enhance the detail, and a uniformity of texture which adds to the realism of the figure. I love the heavy wash on Ripley’s weathered shoes, as well as how the bright logos and green undershirt pop against her drab jumpsuit.
The second Ripley figure in the line is also a solid release. Based on the climactic scene of the first movie, this figure depicts Ripley in her all white pressure suit. While the suit– another reuse of the Kane sculpt– is intentionally basic with its one-color design, NECA’s figure still packs in all the appropriate nuances, such as the markings on the fingers and backpack. While the suit is all white, it still employs multiple tones, adding both a sense of realism and subtle dynamism to the figure, which is about as eye-catching as an all-white toy can be.
Ripley’s suit correctly features a new helmet type, with no overhead light, which adds to the distinct nature of this figure. She also includes the grappling gun she uses to fight the Alien, another all new sculpt that serves as an outstanding accessory that she can hold perfectly in her right hand. Like the other pressure suit helmets, this one is removable in two parts, allowing Ripley to appear un-helmeted as well. This is one of the few drawbacks of the design of this figure.
While Dallas featured his cap to prevent his hair from reacting to the shape of the domed helmet of his suit, Ripley did not wear such a hat. This means her headsculpt features hair shaped to wrap around the curve of the helmet, making it look awkward when the helmet is removed. It’s rolling a hard six, for sure, but I feel that NECA made the right choice opting for the sculpt that looks best with Ripley’s helmet on, as we see this version on screen the most in the movie.
Both Ripley figures also come packed with their own unique sculpts of Jonesy, the cat whose perpetually knack for running away moves the film’s plot along more than once. Jumpsuit Ripley includes a standard Jonesy, while the pressure suit variant features the cat hissing, with its fur and tail all puffed out. Whether you consider him a plot device or one of the very few surviving characters in the Aliens franchise, Jonesy certainly feels like an important addition to the toy line, and it’s cool to have both versions of the cat in the collection.
One last thing worth pointing out– Aliens Series 4 is the first wave of these figures to come from NECA’s current factory, and the overall quality on these new figures is light years ahead of previous waves. Gone entirely are the frozen joints, tacky paint and brittle parts that plagued many of the Series 3 figures. Both Ripleys and Dallas are among the sturdiest and most durable toys I have ever seen from NECA, which is an equally great sign for the future of this awesome toy line.
If I had to choose one film series I loved above all others, Aliens would be a serious contender. So I guess I’m an easy mark for NECA’s toy line, too, but I don’t care. Regardless of your sentiments toward any of these movies, it’s impossible not to respect NECA’s determination to make a Ripley figure a reality. And it’s even harder not to appreciate that the end result of that struggle– from likeness rights to sculpt to production– has resulted in some of the very best toys we’re likely to see this, or any year.
Aliens Series 4 is available now at NECA’s eBay store, as well as Toys R Us and other fine retailers. Guys, I’m telling you– do yourself a favor and check these figures out.
*If you think the AVP movies count, I’m sorry. They don’t.