NECA 18" Alien

NECA Alien 18 inch action figure

One of the greatest monster designs of all time was the original Alien, designed by H.R. Giger. I will never forget sitting in the theater in 1979 and seeing this film on opening weekend, and both the creature and movie will have a permanent place in my top ten lists.

We've gotten an awful lot of Alien toys over the years, although most of them have come in the last fifteen. Thirty years ago when the movie was released, there was no such thing as a 'collectible' market for toys (although there were collectors), and any toy that was made was assumed to be made only for children. Thus, when Kenner produced an 18" Alien based on the creature from the very R rated film, parents freaked (as they are often want to do) and the ensuing outrage eventually forced Kenner to pull the big guy, as well as cancel their plans for a 3 3/4" line.

In the early 90's, Kenner finally got the chance to produce Alien action figures, and it's been a hopping business ever since, with just about every toy company out there taking their shot at the franchise. Since then we've gotten all kinds of Aliens from every movie, but there's one Alien we've never seen again - the 18" action figure version from the original film. We've seen statues and maquettes in this size, but no action figures that I know of. Now NECA steps in with the release of the big bad, in all his full glory, and you can pick it up for the price of just about $40.

Before we get into the meat of the review, I also wanted to mention that in some of the photos you may be wondering where the back tentacles are. That's because I completed forgot to attach them before I started shooting! It's the mad cow. I tried to only use those where the back wasn't prominently featured from the early shots, and rounded out the set with quite a few more of the back.

NECA Alien 18 inch action figure

NECA Alien 18 inch action figure package
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure closeup
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure jaw
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure

Packaging - **1/2
This is a BIG figure. And yet he comes in a relatively small box...something you might get the usual 12" plastic figure in, just a little deeper. How is that?

Because he comes in pieces, baby...pieces. All the tentacle-like pieces come separately, to be attached by you, but that's probably no surprise. He also comes cut off just above the knees, and you need to force the legs on. This also means there's a cut joint above the knee, which is mighty nice to have.

Because of this, the presentation in the box isn't great. You can get a feel for the sculpt and paint work by checking him out through the window, but his truly impressive size and well designed articulation won't be apparent until you see him free of the twisties.

And oh yes, there are twisties. Twenty four of them, to be exact. And these aren't new, fancy, easy to open twisties , oh no, these are old school, break out the wire cutter twisties. Be prepared to spend a few minutes getting him out of the box.

Sculpting - ****
If the figure looks familiar, than you must have seen the NECA 7" Alien. Yes, it's based on the same sculpt, blown up to quarter scale. And it looks even more beautiful in this scale. It is common for a sculpt to lose detail as the size of the figure increases, but that is not an issue here.

Did I mention this figure was Big? Yes, it warrants the capital 'B'. This is a figure scaled to 18" = 6 feet, so the figure itself actually stands almost 22" tall straight up. Even hunched over, he comes in over 19" tall, but I did find that seemed a little small compared to other 18" scaled regular humans. Another inch would have been perfect, but I'm still quite happy with his size. There is a photo with a sixth scale Donald Trump to show the difference with a 12" figure, and the Teague in the second to last photo is the NECA 18" version.

The figure is also predominantly solid plastic - no rotocast arms and legs here. He's very solid, and that hard plastic holds the detailed sculpt extremely well. It also means that the hard, solid legs should be able to hold up the weight of the torso over time without wilting. I've got my fingers crossed.

And the figure does stand great on his own. The sculpt and articulation are designed to work in concert, making some seriously beautiful music. The hand sculpts are right out of the film, and the detail work on the various body parts is impressive.

This is the original Alien, so you can see through his clear skull to the interior bone. This dome has what *might* be a plastic seam down the center, but it's so tight and so buffed out, that it also just might be the V ridge at the top of his head, molded to look that way. The various internal proportions - head, hands, arms, legs, torso, feet - all look screen accurate to me.

Paint - ***1/2
Alien purists - and you know who you are - are going to find reasons to fault this figure. Either the metallic gray/black body won't be quite enough gray, or black...or metal. The vein pattern on the interior skull won't be exactly right, or the shading on the doom won't be enough/too much. None of these things seem to be issues to me, and I've watched the movie about 267,398 times since it's initial release (in fact, I just watched part of it again last night one Encore), but an extremely detailed comparison of this figure to the actual suit is bound to bring out some flaws.

For me, and I'm betting most folks, any issues with the paint in terms of technical details are really very minor, and are not going to ruin one's appreciation for this exceptional figure. The shading and highlighting on the body looks terrific, and areas that require an extremely fine and clean application, like the interior skull, have it.

If I didn't have a couple specific issues with my paint job, this would have been a four star category. Unfortunately, there are a couple nits on my figure that got negative attention. First, I have what appears to be white paint slopped onto several of the 'fins' on his tail, near where it connects to the body. It looks like someone was painting something else, and bumped it several times with another brush in their hand.

I also would have liked a slightly better application on the silver teeth. Mine isn't quite as clean and consistent as it could be, particularly for a specialty market figure.

Finally, there's the interior jaw. The detailing and wash are a bit more heavy handed on this area, making it look less realistic and more toy-like than the rest of the figure. It's visually jarring enough that I don't plan on displaying him with the jaw extended at any time.

Other than the work on the interior jaw, these issues are most likely specific to my figure, and hopefully aren't a consistent issue across the run.

Articulation - ***
The most articulated large scale Aliens we've seen have been the excellent Hot Toys versions. The use of a rubber 'suit' over the ball joints at key areas like the hips allow them to have a tremendous range of movement and still look movie accurate. Of course, they also cost 3 times as much as this figure, and are only sixth scale, not quarter scale.

The figure has a good ball jointed neck, which tends to tilt downward a bit better than backward. In the hunched pose, I really wanted to bring his head back a bit more, but was restricted in doing so by the sculpt. Still, it tilted to the sides and turned quite well for this style figure. The soft rubber 'hoses' that attach from his head to his torso do not restrict the movement of the head in any significant way.

The shoulders are ball joints (post/pin) on the torso side, with a straight cut joint on the arm side. This gives the shoulder a better sculpted appearance while giving him a good range of movement for posing.

The elbows, knees and ankles are all pin joints, but very tight pin joints. This is important since this is a solid, heavy figure. You don't want him wilting over time, or getting loose knees and ankles. Both the knees and ankles are also 'clicky' style pin joints, giving them even greater strength in a set position. I've had him standing, crouched, for about 48 hours now, and there's no sign of any joint fatigue.

He has cut joints at the wrists, above the knees and at the hips as well. The cut joints were necessary at the hips to maintain the great looking sculpt, and they actually work better than you might imagine. I was able to get him in a variety of stances, including standing up completely straight just like the old Kenner toy!

His chest is a ball joint that allows for tilting, turning and leaning forward and back. It helps a tremendous amount with the posing, giving extra life and realism to what otherwise would be rather static stances.

Let's not forget the tail, which is bendy of course. The bendable nature works quite well too, and I was able to get it into several very good poses. The figure stands great on his two solid feet, so that you don't have to use the tail to support his weight. That gives you a much wider range of possibilities in terms of posing the deadly appendage.

Last but not least, there's his mouth. The jaw is hinged so it can open wide and you can pull out the inner jaw/teeth. This works okay even without a mechanism to extract and retract the hidden mandible. The mouth doesn't close quite as far as on the 7" version, and in general the articulation doesn't work quite as well, but considering the size and price, I'm very impressed.

Accessories - Bupkis
Nope, nothing here to see. But considering the price and the character, I'm not complaining too loudly. Let's face it, there's a limited number of things to complement the figure (facehuggers and eggs tend to be the most common), so not getting a bunch of extras and keeping the price so low was a smart move.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Do you know kids that love monsters? Then they'll love this guy. Yea, he's supposed to be a 'collectible', but you could play with him with little concern or worry about breakage or damage. Well, as long as you're not talking about the damage to your kid's psyche. If movies have taught us anything, it's that kid's that are fascinated by monsters grow up to be psychotic social misanthropic serial killers. Then again, movies also teach us that you can: escape from any room through an air vent; a kid's special hidden genetic powers are always activated by puberty; and evil aliens are always killed by either a) a common virus, b) water or c) Slim Whitman music, so I'm not so sure they're telling us the whole truth.

Value - ****
Usually, figures end up in that middle of the road area when it comes to value. Why? Well, because you usually get about what you pay for. Sometimes it's a little less...sometimes a little more. But for the most part, it's in that ** - *** star range.

And then once in awhile you get a REAL value, something that is giving you quite a bit more than you normally can get for that kind of money on today's market. This figure is a perfect example of that. A huge figure, made from solid plastic, with an intricate sculpt, excellent paint, and terrific articulation - all for under $40 at some retailers? And this is a specialty market item on top of it? Wow.

Consider this - Mattel wants you to pay $30 for a 12" almost statuesque rotocast DC figure at mass market. And this - the same retailer selling the 18" Hellboy 2 rotocast figure for $60, is selling this Alien for just $37. This is one of the best values I've seen in ages, and while the use of the same sculpt as the 7" figure helps, you have to admit that it's pretty impressive that they were able to do this figure at that kind of price point.

Things to Watch Out For - 
As I mentioned, I had one Hell of a time getting the legs attached without any gap. I finally did it using boiling water for a minute on the hard pegs, and I was able to force them on.

Overall - ***1/2
Don't get me wrong - this is an outstanding figure, and is currently the best 18" action figure we've gotten this year. I'm betting he's going to be one of the best action figures we get all year, especially at this price point.

Unfortunately, I had those few paint issues that hold him back from the perfect four stars. I can't give him that rating with the white paint splotches on the tail - it's just too obvious. Still, I'm betting that this is not a consistent issue, and odds are that you'll get one without the problem. Take away the minor paint complaints, and you get a full four stars from me.

NECA is also doing a great job in this first half of the year of making themselves a contender for the Best Company of the Year. With this Alien and the exceptional TMNT figures, they already have two major feathers in their cap for 2008. Both this Alien and the comic based Turtles are figures that fans have been craving for a long time. I'm certainly thankful that NECA stepped up and too the risk, getting them out there for us.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Bupkis
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ****
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
You have plenty of online options with these fine sponsors:

- new sponsor, ShowPiece Collectibles has him in stock for $42.

- Urban Collector has him for about $37, which is a fantastic price!

- CornerStoreComics has him for $39.

- Time and Space Toys has him for $40.

- Alter Ego Comics has him listed at $40.

- Entertainment Earth has him at $48.

- YouBuyNow is also at $48.

- or you can search ebay using the sponsor

Related Links -
I've had no shortage of Alien related reviews:

- if you're looking for cute, check out the guest review of the Alien Cosplay figures, or check out the Mez-itz.

- if small appeals but not cute, then try the Hot Toys snap kits.

- if something in the sixth scale world is what you're looking for, then it's the Hot Toys figures for sure. I have a guest review of the Avp Requim Warrior, the PredAlien, my review of the Power Loader as well as a guest review, a guest review of the Aliens version, the AVP Alien, and a terrific comparison of the two Warriors. There's also the 12" Medicom version, but Hot Toys has pretty much made that one obsolete.

- I also have guest reviews of some of the marines, with a separate look at Hicks.

- Mcfarlane did a 12" Grid Alien, along with the smaller Alien vs Predator, the AVP Warrior Alien, the Dog Alien, and the cool Queen Alien.

- I've reviewed some of the busts and statues, like the Signature Series Queen, Signature Series Alien, the Alien3 Chestburster

- NECA also did the 7" line of AVP: Requim figures, that turned out great.

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NECA Alien 18 inch action figure
NECA Alien 18 inch action figure

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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