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Hot Toys Aliens Snap Kits

   

"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."

We have a new guest reviewer tonight, Travis Sallenbach!  He's looking at yet another Hot Toys Alien product, but this time they're quite a bit smaller than the usual Hot Toys produces.  Take it away, Travis!

Hot Toys has been making a BIG name for themselves recently in the west, with Sideshow importing their 12" scale kits collectors have been clamouring for them! If you were lucky enough to get the kits direct, you know what kind of great value they really are, or if youíre like me and missed out, now youíre faced with eating the triple or worse secondary price. One line from Hot Toys that hasnít been getting as much attention is their 4" scale snap kits. Theyíre starting to get more acknowledgement in the west, but they are not all that easy to come by, other then a few online stores and ebay. Iím very much hoping Sideshow will eventually pick up the rights to distribute these kits as well, I am sure they would sell as amazingly well as the 12" kits do!

These are the Aliens snap kits that Iím reviewing here, from the corresponding movie of course. The case breaks down as this, 10 different figures, 6 Aliens, and 4 Marines, Ripley, Apone, Hicks and Drake.. A case is guaranteed to have a full set, plus you get 2 extra figures that can be either duplicate Aliens, or Marines, excluding Ripley. To buy individually, youíre pretty much rolling the dice as to what you get, like most Ďcoin figuresí these are in blind packages, so the only way to ensure a full set is buying the case. I recently bought a full case and have the full set to review, so Iíll get right to it! I decided rather then go through each figure in the scoring, I would split it into 2 categories, Aliens and Marines, talking about stand out points of each.











Packaging: ****
This is some of the best and most ingenious packaging Iíve seen offered! It almost qualifies as an accessory, albeit for the 12" figures. Each kit is packaged in a 1/6 scale Alien egg, a very nicely detailed egg I might add, with a good sculpt and nice paint work for what it is. Itís packaging you wonít just toss away, and that will enhance any 12" figure display you might have! The egg is wrapped in an adhesive band with the snap kit series label, you canít open the egg without removing the band, so you wonít know what figure you get until you break the seal. Some may not like this idea, shelling out the cash for the figure, only to see itís already one you have, I like the idea though, like gambling, only with toys. Inside the egg are instructions for figure assembly, which is pretty straight forward, but still a handy reference for some. The actual figure is in a plastic bag with vacuumed sections for each part, ensuring no damage happens until you get it home at least. The box for the case is quite nice too, bright colourful design, the back folds to create a kind of retail set up, and the eggs are packed very well with cut out cardboard sheets to prevent them from moving around.

Sculpt: Aliens **** Marines ***Ĺ
 For a 4" figure the detail capture in the Alien is quite impressive! Standing very comfortably and without shame next to itís 7" and 8" counter parts by other companies. I say Alien, because it is one sculpted figure with different paint jobs. The only actual difference is the lower jaw on the 3 battle damaged Aliens that is open, and has the inner mouth extended. The hands, feet, and head are all in perfect proportion, well for a carnivorous interstellar bug anyways. The sculpt is also the warrior Alien from Aliens, not the original design, or the different variations from the other movies, which tells me there is someone paying as close attention as I am, and should probably get out more as I should too. My only minor gripe on the Alien, is the tail. Itís supposed to be a softer plastic/rubber with a wire inside for posing. However, the plastic is quite stiff, making the inner wire pretty useless, and is prone to breaking if you try too much to change the shape. The point that counters that, is each tail does take on itís own shape once you get it uncoiled from the package, and some movement is possible, giving each Alien a little of itís own character.

The Marines are what initially made me buy this set, the sculpting on them is very impressive, even more so for this scale. The characters, Ripley, Apone, Hicks and Drake are definitely recognisable, even by casual fans. The head sculpts may not win too many look alike contests compared to the actors, but theyíre not all that far off. The most recognisable likeness is Ripley of course, not a dead ringer for Sigourney by any means, but anyone who has seen the movie will spot her instantly. The likeness that most surprised me was Hicks, call me crazy, but I see more then a passing resemblance to Michael Biehn, itís as close as I could imagine in this scale.

The bodies are very well done as well, good proportion for t he most part, the armour is all very accurate and well done, and the hands work perfectly will all the accessories. There is some reuse between Hicks and Apone, both using almost the same body and hand sculpts, the addition of the lock on Hicks chest armour though is a HUGE plus. Drake and Ripley use completely original body sculpts obviously, both relating very well to their on screen counterparts. Drakeís sculpt incorporates the smart gun arm, which I will get into more in the accessory section.

Why the half star off? I am always disappointed when the sculpt can interfere with the posability, especially of a figure that is meant to be posed a variety of different ways. The way theyíve done the arm articulation can make it frustratingly difficult to get Hicks and Apone to hold the rifle properly, I fought with Hicks a lot during the pictures for this reason.

Paint: Aliens **** Marines ****
The Aliens are all very well done, with 3 different accent colors, a metallic blue, dark red/brown and light brown. Itís all exceptionally well done, and completely slop free. There are silver accents on teeth, claws, and some of the body which is also very tight and well executed. The paint looks nice, not toy like, much more organic and free flowing, which can be a rare thing, even for larger size figures.

The Marines have amazingly clean details all around, with this size you would expect some slop, but thereís not even that, itís incredibly tight, from hair lines to eyes, to uniform details, all painted exceptionally well. The skin tones are more on the toyish side, being the cast plastic rather then paint, but thatís pretty acceptable. Think akin to G I Joes and youíll have a pretty good idea. Some of the smaller more intricate detailing is very very well done, like the heart on Hicks chest, or the 40mm grenade rounds on the armour. The camouflage is also a really nice touch, and very well done, both on the uniforms and armour, and itís not an easy typical pattern.

Articulation - Aliens **** Marines ***Ĺ
All of them, they are very well articulated, with ball joint neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, and feet, with pin and swivel elbows, and knees. Add to that a ball joint in the base of the Aliens tail. Itís all useful articulation as well, which is a big thing for me. Wasted articulation is always annoying, especially on statue like figures, you get an ugly cut line you can never move, or it will either ruin the pose, or look worse, not lining up with the details. I am a big fan of lots of articulation though, I would MUCH prefer to be able to pose the figure in the way I want to display it, then have it pre-posed and only be able to display it one way. So these guys were a huge hit in that category! The Aliens have the ability to stand tall and menacing, or be more crouched and bug like, and virtually anything in between. The articulation isnít as good as the Marines have it, but itís more then enough to work with and create some pretty dynamic poses.

The Marines are much like current Star Wars figures, only slightly improved. They can hold darn near any pose you want to put them in within reason, and look as natural as a 4" toy can. Some limitation with Drake exists, but thatís just the nature of the smart gun, and really thereís only one pose youíd want him in for the most part while holding the gun, ready to splatter acid and brain goo all over the wall! Again, I took off half a star for the difficulty of basic poses, ie 2 hand rifle holding. It was a kinda sore point with me, and I do hold grudges slightly.

Accessories: Aliens ** Marines ****
Hereís a category I felt the Aliens were lacking a fair bit in. They do come with stands, and quite nice stands, good sculpt, and the work great! But since the figures can stand very well on their own, theyíll pretty much end up in the big bin oí accessories, not leaving anything to use with them. Granted, thereís arenít really too many accessories you could put with an Alien, theyíre clumsy with guns, look funny in helmets, and if they get a hold of a flame thrower run. But a couple little things would have been nice, an in scale egg or face hugger would have been perfect, easy to do, and really would have improved display/diorama possibilities.

The Marines came to play hard. Having a barrage of weaponry each! Ripley comes with her flamethrower and M40A1 assault rifle (accept no substitutes) strapped together, a motion tracker, and a sling for the flame spewing bullet shredding monstrosity. Apone comes with both a flame thrower, the M40A1, slings for both and a helmet. Hicks comes with the M40A1, tracking device, helmet, and his shot gun with boot/holster. This is the coolest accessory by far! The boot comes apart in half, and sandwiches the shotgun, making it possible to display him with the shotgun actually on his back, stowing it away for safe keeping, or out in his hand, for close splattery action! Drake comes with a headset with eye piece, the smart gun, and an articulated arm that has a ball joint that attaches to his armour. Itís a pretty nice set up for this scale, it does take a little playing with to get it right, but when you do, it looks really right! A side note on the arm, Drake was a duplicate figure I got (Vasquez custom here I come!) And on the second figure, the ball joint did snap off in the armour, so be VERY careful with it. The Marines also all come with the same stand the Aliens come with.

Fun Factor: ****
Who doesnít love Aliens and Marines? Itís a great franchise, fun as hell to watch, even funner to play with! I felt like a kid again with these guys, building them up, posing them, and yes I admit, playing around with them too. The possibility for a pretty cool diorama and customization is big too, which for me is a big part of collecting. I donít get down on the floor and play anymore, well, not while anyoneís watching at least, so I do other things to play with my figures. These are NOT kids toys though, no kid has the patience to assemble them, or really the strength TIGHT joints, if I didnít already mention that. Plus, they are on the delicate side even when assembled, a tumble down a log for would probably be the end for most of them, and then you have to have an action figure funeral and no one wants that.

Things to Watch Out For/Assembly -
Thereís really not anything you can watch for, being in blind packaging, but luckily there doesnít seem to be anything you need to watch for, all of my figures were perfect out of package, well until I got my hands on them anyways. The build isnít all that tricky, but the name is slightly off, they should be called grunt-and-groan,-swear-a-few-times,-think-you-hear-a-pop,-but-not-really,-so-try-again-until-the-stubborn-ball-slips-in-the-joint-and-youíve-lost-all-sensation-in-your-thumb kits, but that would be harder to fit on the box I guess. I do have a few tips and cautions, go SLOW on these guys, they are small, and so are the ball joints, and are prone to breaking if you are rough, just as poor Apone, whoís neck post I broke off, or one of the Aliens who will limp forever on his crazy glued leg. The ball does not want to fit in the joint, and looking at it next to each other, you begin to question if physics will even allow it at all. One thing I found helped GREATLY was using a lubricant on the joints, I used a silicone lube that wonít be hard on the plastic, coated the balls, and they did pop in much easier. My thumb is still sore from the assembly though, a pair of mechanics gloves helped a little in the end when I thought of them. You might also want to keep an exacto close at hand, some of the joints, especially the neck on the Marines is just too tight, so use the exacto to cut the ring at the joint down a bit. Also, a tube of super glue should anything go awry, by Murphyís law, if you have it ready you wonít need to use it.

Value: single figure * to *** case ***
Unfortunately, theyíre not the cheapest or easiest to find figures out there. I found my case on ebay, and there seems to be only 2 or 3 sellers offering them. I paid just over $100 shipped for mine, which seems to be a pretty good price. Single figures sell from $9.99 to $39.99 and not all are available for single purchase. BigBadToystore.com has the case for $139.99 and is currently sold out. Like I said, hopefully Sideshow will pick up on these too, and distribute to the west.

Overall: ****
I couldnít be happier with these guys, fun kits, fantastic packaging, and extremely well executed figures! I would urge any big fans of the Alien franchise to take a long hard look at these, t hen buy them. Collectors of sci-fi, and G I Joe sized figures will also love em!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ****
Sculpt - Aliens **** Marines ***Ĺ
Paint - Aliens **** Marines ****
Articulation - Aliens **** Marines ***Ĺ
Accessories - Aliens ** Marines ****
Value - single figure * to *** case ***
Fun Factor - ****
Overall - ****

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Figure from the collection of Travis Sallenbach.

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