When you trade in 7″ scale action figures, factoring in dioramas and playsets usually seems unlikely. An in-scale display can get big very quickly, and that blows up the production costs, which in turn increases the retail price, to mention nothing of the fact that many toy collectors treat space as their most precious commodity.
It doesn’t always reflect in their retail products, but NECA has always had an eye for backgrounds and dios (a look at any of the stunning custom backdrops they use for their convention display cases is compelling proof of this). But once in a while, a diorama piece becomes essential to a property… and the Space Jockey– that fossilized creature discovered by the ill-fated crew of the Nostromo in Ridley Scott’s Alien— is a piece of cinematic iconography that has to be represented in toy form, if an Alien toy line is gonna feel complete.
NECA already paid tribute to the massive set piece in their Cinemachines series, but now they’ve revisited the creature in a big way… literally! The massive Space Jockey foam diorama is a one-off release intended for display with the 7″ scale Alien figures, and it’s an incredible addition to the line, in terms of both size and aesthetic.
The Space Jockey stands (or sits, I guess?) just over a foot tall, and its iconic, bio-mechanical chair extends almost two feet long. It rests on a circular base which is instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, which is just begging to be climbed on by the Nostromo crew in their pressure suits.
One of the logistical concerns of this piece is materials. Obviously, it’s a massive piece, and were it to be cast in plastic or resin, the end result would not only be incredibly heavy, but so expensive all but the most affluent of collectors would be shut out from owning one. Instead, NECA opted to render the Jockey in foam rubber with a thick rubber exterior to give it a texture in line with the Alien action figures. It’s a smart choice, keeping the weight under control (considering its size, the Space Jockey is surprisingly light), and allowing NECA to release this diorama for just about $300.
I had my doubts about the foam, which brings with it a few major issues. The first pitfall is a softening of a sculpt, but NECA overcomes this concern thanks to the rubber exterior, which packs in lots of intricate detail straight from the Jockey’s on screen appearance. Every facet of H.R. Gieger’s design is accounted for, be it the skeletal rib cage and insect-like head of the creature, the fusion of the Jockey into its chair, or the bio-mechanical chair itself. The sculpt even features the hole in the right side of the Jockey’s torso, from which a chestburster emerged.
The paint work on this piece is incredible, giving it a surprisingly realistic illusion of bone and worn metal which belies the light foam rubber the dio is made of. The blending of the bone colors of the Jockey fading gradually into the deep, black washed copped of its chair perfectly captures the subtly creepy ambiguity of where the creature ends and the mechanics begin.
While this sculpt takes a few practical liberties with the design– the telescopic front of the chair is shortened, and the chair overall is reduced in size slightly– it still looks great alongside NECA’s Alien figures, making the perfect centerpiece for a shelf display. The sculpt is packed with all the right weirdness based on the original film design, and the size still dwarfs the 7″ action figures very well, leaving it a truly imposing mystery, worth exploring for any ship crew that should discover it.
One of the concerns over this piece is its life span, as many foam rubbers tend to disintegrate over time. NECA has assured the specific material they use will not degrade in this way, and having handled the Jockey in person, I tend to think they’re right. The outer layer of the piece feels thick and sturdy, more so than many foam pieces I have seen in the past. It doesn’t even carry that cheap vinyl smell that you get with low-end foam props like the ones sold for Halloween costumes. This material definitely feels unique. And the Jockey, while being NECA’s first Alien themed diorama, is far from their first foray into foam rubber. The Gremlin and Alien Egg prop replicas have thus far stood up to the test of time, as have the 1:1 scale Harley Quinn and Batman statue figures. We probably won’t have a definitive answer as to this material’s life span for some time, but it certainly feels sturdy and stable enough to stick around for the long haul.
I can’t think of many display pieces more essential to Alien iconography than the Space Jockey, and I’m thrilled NECA found a way to bring it to their toy line. It looks great on its own, and even better in a display with the Pressure Suit action figures surrounding it. The size and detail of this sculpt, paired with that iconic movie moment status, make the Space Jockey a brilliant centerpiece for any Alien collection. If you want to add the Jockey to your display, you can order it now from NECA’s eBay store, Big Bad Toy Store, or many of your favorite online sellers.