Alien Big Chap
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Jeff Parker is two reviews
tonight, and the second is the latest Alien from Hot Toys - take it
Firstly a big thank you to Mike for letting me bring my views on the
latest Hot Toys ALIEN to you, I’ve managed to get pretty much every
Xenomorph they have released so far, even the colour variations, but
this is the one we have been waiting for.
Well, there are aliens, and then there’s THE A L I E N !
I know I’m biased, and I know I’ve been over this what must seem like a
million times before, but for me, HR Giger's beast is the definitive
I admit I love the design of the Predator, he’s nasty enough, heck
cinema has given us no end of great designs from the benevolent ET and
the hordes of xtro’s in the Star Wars Cantina, right through to some of
the more recent nightmarish creatures from the likes of District 9,
Cloverfield and even Avatar. That’s without even thinking about the
classics from Universal and other B-movie features, I could fill most
of the next few pages listing alien after alien to fully prove my
point… but I’ll stop now. Put simply, THE big bad, the one that makes
the hairs on the back of my neck stand up is THE A L I E N!
Director, Ridley Scott knew he needed something different for his
movie, he had recently been blown away after seeing George Lucas’ Star
Wars, and he loved it’s dirty, beat up, lived in universe, and wanted
to translate some of what he had seen into his movie. So when Dan
O’Bannon turned in his ‘Space Truckers’ script, Scott had to find a
creature that could strike fear into the heart of a hardened
blue-collar workman. These were men and women that were seasoned
spacers, used to spending years away from earth, people who had ‘seen
it all’ and were not easily alarmed.
couldn’t use some ethereal, intellectual threat like in
Kubrick’s 2001! No, he needed a more visceral beast, a vicious, dirty
animal, this was a creature that had no emotions, it simply ‘was’!
got to glimpse the alien vessel it originated from (in terms of the
movie) but we were kept totally in the dark as to how it came to be
there. And when we finally got to see fleeting images of it, emerging
from the dark and shadows, it’s bio-mechanical nature led us to believe
there was a chance it had been ‘engineered’ rather than evolved… but
Needless to say, when I first saw it, as an impressionable (and
I have to admit) under age 12 year old, it quite frankly scared the
s*** out of me. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this!
I had been reading about it in Starburst
so I new it was a Sci-Fi movie (as if the title didn’t give that away),
but nothing quite prepared me for the ride, or just how freakin scary
it would be. So I left the theatre bleary eyed, shell shocked and a
little traumatised… but it was worth it.
Then a few months later
I found myself in a discount toy shop (funnily enough just a few yards
from the cinema I had seen ALIEN in), it was called Zodiac Toys (some
Brits out there might remember it), and my jaw quite frankly hung
loosely when I entered the store to see a shelf quite literally stacked
with figures of the ALIEN!
It was the now fabled Kenner ALIEN
and they were 99p each on clearance. Now bear in mind that a 3 ¾ Star
Wars figure was the same price at the time and it’ll make you realise
what a bargain I was looking at… however, 99p was still a lot of money
when you didn’t have it (remember this was 1979), but I did manage to
scrape enough together to buy one, of course there have been many times
since then that I’ve ruminated on if I’d had enough cash to buy the
lot… but I didn’t, so enough with the self torture!
need to tell all the Xenophiles out there that it was and indeed still
is a great figure, and it took pride of place in my bedroom for quite
some time. But then, with raging hormones, I entered my teenage years,
and all of a sudden he didn’t seem quite so important, so like most of
my Action-Man and Star Wars collection he got sold off to support my
then wayward lifestyle.
Since then, after entering my kidulthood
I’ve got many representations of the ALIEN, and many of my favourites
are from Hot Toys (I’m a sucker for that articulation).
finally here we are, after what seems the longest of waits, with Hot
Toys take on the most important one of them all. To say it has the fans
divided could be the 1/6th understatement of the year, but I’m pleased
to say I’m very happy with it, of course it still has its problems, but
unless you are a hardcore A L I E N obsessive, I think you might be
This figure just managed to shoehorn itself into the arse end of 2009,
and 2009 was quite a year for packaging. Not only did we get the
fantastic Buck Rogers in his wooden crate from Go Hero and the
innovative Bruce Lee as Kato from Enterbay, but Hot Toys hit us with
the amazing Iron Man line and we also got the fantastic, if not
somewhat ‘over the top’ Godfather box, so it goes without saying that
this needed to pull something out of the bag if it wanted to get
noticed… but pull something out of the bag they did, and notice it you
The outer box measures a full 19” in height and has an illustration of
the ALIENS inner skull running up the front and top, over which is a
layer of matte, semi-opaque (think thick tracing paper) plastic film,
obviously to mimic the cloudy dome that covers the creatures head. This
pulls/slides off of the top to reveal another inner black box, which
has a die-cut, side on, silhouette of the figure. This is in effect a
window with a sheet of clear plastic, showing the fully constructed
figure within. You now have to open the top of the box to slide the
black vac-formed tray out; the figure is laid on its side within,
protected by a formed clear plastic lid and an insert between its legs.
At the bottom of the tray is a second smaller tray that holds the extra
hands and base. You’ll’ also notice a large rectangular piece of black
card has been Polly-bagged behind the tray, this holds a fold out
diorama with a print of a corridor from the Nostromo to serve as a
backdrop for your figure.
All in all this is a beautiful bit of packaging, and though some have
beaten it in terms of production quality by using thicker or more
substantial cardboard, I have to say that for me, by way of classic,
and dare I say even understated design, then this is something of a
I’m sure Mr Giger would approve!
Now this is the area that will be a big bone of contention. You might
either be ecstatic to finally have a good, beautifully sculpted, well
painted 1/6th representation of the big chap for your display that
actually is in 1/6th scale, or you might find yourself incensed that
after your long wait, Hot Toys haven’t given you the 100% accurate
representation that you craved!
Well, I’m somewhere in the middle, but for me, my glass is definitely
over half full, and I’m mostly very happy. There are a couple of things
that bother me, which I’ll go into, but as an overall impression it
evokes the spirit of the beast very well.
So lets get what I don’t like out of the way first. My biggest gripe is
the seam and angled edge that runs around the bottom of the heads dome.
I have quite a few books that I’ve been looking through to aid me in my
review, like Giger's Alien (Titan 1989), HR Giger’s Film Design
(Titan1996) and www HR Giger com (Tashen 1996) and there are
a great many excellent reference shots of the creatures head within
these tomes, and in none of them does it have this chamfered edge. I’m
a big fan of Joseph Tsang’s work, and this figure shows some fantastic
observation in many areas, but in others it seems he has perhaps used
just a little too much ‘artistic licence’ (after all, this is the Movie
Masterpiece Series). My second gripe is with the teeth, the ALIEN has a
very distinctive mouth with needle sharp chromed steel teeth that curve
back into the mouth,
but the important thing about its final look is that the mouth needs to
be able to close quite tightly, and unfortunately this one can’t. A lot
of this problem arises because of its projecting inner set of jaws,
which seem to be upside down and are also the wrong colour. In the
movie they are a bleached bone/ivory colour with steel teeth at the
tip. Who can forget that iconic scene in the movie, where we get a
close up of the creature’s mouth, just before it plunges its inner jaws
into Parkers skull? It’s lips seem to tremble with rage before it
strikes, it then turns and in painful, deliberate, slow movements seems
to swim across the room towards the utterly terrified Lambert. If only
this figures mouth could mimic that shot… oh well! There are a few
other minor quibbles, like the fact the infamous ox jaw
spurs are missing some of their detail, including the teeth
that should run along the upper edge of the heel, and the spines on the
upper backs dorsal spike are too few and too short.
However, although relevant, these are the kinds of details that only
your hardcore fan-boy Xenophiles will pick up on, I’m sure your average
movie fan wouldn’t have a clue about them.
So, I’m pleased to report that even with these over sights… or perhaps
I should say these ‘embellishments’, Tsang has still turned in a
fantastic sculpt of the creature, I’d love to know if Giger has
actually seen this interpretation of the figure, as I have a strong
feeling he would like it, and it certainly captures the sinister,
unsavoury, disturbing and it has to be said vaguely erotic nature of
the monster very well.
Tsang has already worked on this A L I E N before, with his ¼ scale bust where he
used even more artistic licence by making the eyes meaner, and even
adding a new chest spike. The thing is, when you look at Giger’s work
he often adds elements and takes bits away as he sees fit for each new
piece of artwork that incorporated the creature. And when the physical
effects department built the suit for the 6’2” Bolaji Badejo to wear on
set it was supervised by the legendary Carlo Rambaldi and overseen by
Giger himself, but it became a pretty ad-hoc affair, utilising ‘found
objects’ and industrial pieces of hardware to capture the hybrid
mechanical look to some of its features.
It is virtually pointless trying to describe every part of this
creature’s physiology as I’m hoping my pictures will do the talking,
but Tsang has laboured long and hard over this, as you can see on his blog here.
The details on the body, with its complex mix of ribbed sinews, bony
ridges, exposed exoskeletal elements and engineered bio-mechanical
appendages really is a mind boggling task to construct, especially at
this scale. This is however a fantastic take on it, and having
scrutinised the figure next to my reference books there’s not a hell of
a lot you can find to complain about (well, other than I’ve already
mentioned, and as we know that only applies to us über geeks), and
he’ll look great emerging from the shadows on any shelf. If however you
are from the elitist Xenophile ranks, then the few areas where artistic
licence has been used might be enough to keep you from purchasing this
figure, if so I can respect your resolve, but you’re missing a treat.
I put this comp
shot together to show just how similar, yet very different
the sculpting can be by different companies, I’ll leave it up to you to
decide which is your favourite… but I love the ugly mother so much I’d
be happy to own them all (luckily I have quite a few). Thanks to Sabres
over on the Sideshow freaks board for posting some of the rarer and
‘more expensive’ ones I’m missing.
Well, what ever you think of Tsang’s work on the sculpting of this
beastie, you can not deny that he has over seen a stunning paint job.
Giger wrote in production diaries back in September 78 of how
disillusioned he had become during the making of the movie, as evening
after evening he found himself painting and re-painting the ALIEN suits
that had been spoilt during the days filming due to the buckets of KY
jelly, slime and mucus that Scott insisted the creature be dripping
with. Tsang seems to have based his colour palette very
closely on the actual prop suit that was auctioned in 2007
so it’s a dark grey/black base colour with a lighter grey used to lift
and highlight certain areas. To further enhance the details there is a
dark brown, dirty rust colour painted onto features like the shoulder
plates and ribs, it’s even airbrushed onto the rear breathing tubes to
give it a subtle, insect like striped appearance. The toe nails, finger
nails and teeth are painted in dark steel colour with the brown/rust
colour washed over the teeth to help key them into the skin colour.
These teeth should actually be a much brighter silver steel
tone, but to be fair I can live with this, as the finished effect works
well on the figure. The dome covering the head is lightly fogged with
an opaque dark airbrushed edge to knock back the visibility of the
skull within. This skull has tons of sculpted detail, which is all
heightened by some great paintwork that helps amplify all the labour
Tsang has poured into this, work that is hardly even glimpsed.
So, there is a slight inaccuracy on the colouration of his teeth, but
the over all paint job is so exceptionally executed, anything but a
full score would be plain wrong!
In the movie you only get fleeting, snatched glimpses of the creature,
and mostly when it is seen, it’s in dimly lit areas, and you only
really get to see it in a handful of poses. However, any fan of the
movie will tell you how iconic those poses are, and how they have been
seared, indelibly into our collective brains.
I bet that when you very first saw the movie (well, if you’re anything
like me) you strained your eyes, trying to understand what you were
seeing, and just thought ‘what the hell IS that thing!
Well, instead of trying to make this an over articulated mess, they
have tried to stay true to the spirit of the actual costume worn in the
movie, meaning his range is quite limited, but still good enough to get
him into many of those all important signature poses.
So, what we actually have is a pinned ball joint at the ankle, this
gives a great range of movement and can be twisted and manipulated to
give either lateral or tilting movements. The rest of the lower body
from the ankles right up to the abdomen is covered in a sculpted
silicone body suit. The knees can bend to about 45 degrees, as can the
hips in an up and forward motion; they can however only open up to the
sides by about 10 degrees each. The tail has a poseable wire at its
core and is welted to the silicone where it joins the body suit. The
abdomen/stomach has a good range and can bend forward by about 40
degrees and tilt to each side by about 30. The ribcage part, with its
rear breathing tubes and the flared shoulder plates is made of a rigid
plastic material that slots over the body like chitinous armour. The
arms, which are both covered in a silicone sleeve have a good circular
motion at the shoulder and can bend to about 45 degrees at the elbow.
The wrists are like the ankles a cut ball joint, and on mine could be
removed very easily, almost a little too easily and they are prone to
pull out at the slightest tug, or even when posing, but I’d rather that
than they be so stiff you sweat every time you want to swap out the
Lastly there is the neck; it seems to be a pop-on ball joint that
disappears into a cavity at the top of the rigid chest piece. This can
tilt forward well and a little to each side. Oh, and of course there’s
the ‘action feature’, as like all the Hot Toys ALIENS so far, his
tongue can be extended by pushing forward the small lever concealed in
the underside back of the head. I found the mechanics of mine worked
fine but are very stiff. So, as I said there’s a good but limited
range, and with a little perseverance you’ll get some great poses.
The funny thing is, in terms of robust construction, and the ability to
get into some more extreme poses then the first ALIEN Hot Toys ever
attempted, the original AvP
version still takes a lot of beating, so if you plan on
‘playing’ with your Xenomoph, I’d say that is still your best bet if
you can track one down. But in terms of aesthetic, then this and the ALIEN 3 dragon are my
I’m actually pretty impressed with the little haul we get here,
considering he could have just come ‘au natural’. We get a spare set of
bendy hands, a sculpted environment base and a printed card backdrop to
display the figure against. The stand is designed to purely be stood
on, it has no actual post to hold the figure stable, but I’ve managed
to get the figure standing in a variety of poses without any problem so
far, and the tail can always be used to add stability when needed. The
backdrop is printed onto stiff card and shows one of the corridors
aboard the Nostromo,
it folds into a half hexagon shape that has tabs bent inwards to form
feet. Over this is a card base that mimics the floor grating, then on
top of this you can place the sculpted base to add stability. It’s a
nice addition and gives some great atmosphere to the final display.
So, some cool goodies, however I’m still keeping him shy of a full
score as I would have loved an ALIEN egg with a face-hugger to have
been included, or perhaps even more importantly to the evolution of
this particular figure the chest-burster.
He’s as nude as the moment he erupted from Kane's chest!
Value - ***1/2
Seeing how prices have been creeping up of late, and taking into
account its size I was actually impressed at how much this actually
ended up being. By shopping around you can find him for as little as
$135, but $140 to $150 seem to be the most common prices. So taking all
things into consideration he seems like a figure that should be just
shy of a full score. I have to admit, left to my own devices, with my
heavy ALIEN bias I’d be tempted to give him a full mark. But by wearing
my ’critical’ head I guess I ought to trim him back.
However, had the details been just that bit more accurate, and had the
articulation managed just a slightly larger range of mobility I’d have
had no problem giving him that full whack!
Factor - ****
This category really is down to how much you love the creature, as with
its limited range of mobility this could never, and indeed ‘should’
never find itself in the hands of a child.
But for your more ‘serious’ 1/6th collectors this is one of those ‘must
haves’. Finally we have a true 1/6th scale ALIEN to display with your
other figures. You can squeeze most of the iconic poses out of him, and
we even get a dioramic back drop. But best of all, for those of you
with the excellent Hot Toys; Dallas
and Kane figures, we can now display them with the Big Chap
looming large in the background. It really doesn’t get better than
that, well, not for me anyway!
- *** 3/4
OK, OK, he’s not perfect, some of the details aren’t as ‘ultra’
accurate as we’d like. But the finished result is so impressive that
only a pedant could find the things at fault too distracting. I’m very
impressed that this actually manages to look like a miniature Bolaji
Badejo in the suit. The proportions, lengths of limbs and his
silhouette look near to perfection, which is more than can be said for
many other interpretations. But the deal clincher here is his scale, if
like me you are a devotee of all things 1/6th, then this is the best
option out there and I’d recommend him very highly.
I’m sure some of you who already own this piece will be thinking why
the hell didn’t I give this a full score, as it’s such an impressive
overall package with the newly developed body, extra hands, sculpted
base, large backdrop and cool box. While the hardcore Xenophiles will
be scratching their heads wondering how I can even bear to look at it.
Well, I’m just glad I’m not so obsessive that I can’t appreciate the
fine work executed here, so I’m just keeping him a whisker shy of a
full score, but I have a strong feeling it might be some time till
anyone actually does a better interpretation at this scale.
to Buy -
Sideshow had him up for $149.99, but he is long sold out there, but you
Alter Ego Comics
- $134.99 Pre-order
Big Bad Toy Store
- $139.99 In-stock
- $139.99 In-stock
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.