Alien Big Chap
Hot Toys

Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

   "The 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 guest author."

Jeff Parker is two reviews tonight, and the second is the latest Alien from Hot Toys - take it away, Jeff!

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 scary monster.

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!
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot ToysAlien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

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.

This movie 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’!

We 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 why?
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 magazine, 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 figure 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!

I don’t 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).
So, 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 happy too.

Packaging - ****
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 will!

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 classic box.

I’m sure Mr Giger would approve!

Sculpting - ***1/2
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.

Paint - ****
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!

Articulation - ***
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 hands.
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 two favourites.

Accessories - ***1/2
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.

Outfit - N/A
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!

Fun 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!

Overall - *** 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.

Where to Buy -
Sideshow had him up for $149.99, but he is long sold out there, but you can try-

Alter Ego Comics -  $134.99 Pre-order 

Big Bad Toy Store - $139.99 In-stock

Urban Collector - $139.99 In-stock

Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys
Alien Big Chap sixth scale action figure by Hot Toys

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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