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Ellen Ripley

Alien Resurrection
by Artemis

Something about the Alien series just seems to attract action figure suck. Not the xenomorph itself, fortunately, which by way of its status as a sci-fi/horror icon has attracted all manner of manufacturers eager to produce high quality figures and statues. But I know a shop where you can still find some of the figures from the Aliens line, all in improbable day-glo colours, with idiotic alien and Colonial Marine variants never seen in the movie. It's kind of like Batman in that regard - make a movie for sophisticated adults, get a toy line for brain-damaged five-year-olds. Alien: Resurrection - being a bit on the dumb side itself - was never going to escape the curse.

The Future: an old enemy, the perfect predator. A zealous assembly of scientists and officials conducting the experimental wedding of human and alien genes... a band of renegade space smugglers and the mysterious appearance of a woman linked to an alien species dangerous beyond calculation! The result is a peril reborn and more shockingly monstrous than ever before!

More shockingly laughable than before, if they're talking about the Newborn - don't get me started, really don't. If only they'd gone with Sigourney Weaver's idea, and let her just have sex with the alien... no? Well, each to their own. This isn't a recent figure - a bookshop nearby has an odd habit of producing long-forgotten toy lines on its merchandise shelves, as if they discovered they were built on the ruins of an old toy shop and are slowly mining its cobweb-strewn basement - but it's not so old that you can forgive it, not by any stretch of the imagination. Still, I didn't yet have a Ripley figure, and buying a crummy figure is far from the most personally embarrassing thing I'll do for Ripley - trust me, you don't want to know - so until I win the lottery and can get the really expensive power loader one that keeps beckoning me to bankrupt myself, this'll have to do.

It must be said, this isn't a terrible figure - it's mainly guilt by association, and if you'd seen the brightly-coloured aliens on the back of the packaging, you'd know what I mean. Ellen Ripley (technically "8") is roughly in the 6" scale - though her wide stance causes other to-scale figures to loom over her somewhat - and so far as cheap figures go, is sculpted decently. She's in her plain (and by this stage heavily dirtied) sleeveless jumpsuit, sculpted well enough in broad strokes though lacking a lot of the fine detail, and her stance, though a bit stilted (in a "generic action pose" kind of way), is reasonably dynamic. Quality of materials is a big issue - the different washes on her legs, compared to the vest, make them different colours, there's a really noticeable variation in skin tone between her neck and face, and she's got the telltale plastic shine from head to toe.

Her face, credit where it's due, it a decent Ripley likeness. The plastic quality is abysmal, and the paint's no great shakes, but looking past that there's a clear resemblance in most areas of her face. As well as the plain details of size and proportion of features, she's got quite a Ripley-like intent gaze - it looks a bit glazed (like the plastic) when taken by itself, but Sigourney does underplay Ripley's expressions when she's tense (Ripley, not Sigourney), and combined with the action stance she'd fit pretty well into Resurrection, or the latter stages of Aliens, where she's become accustomed to ass-kicking duties being sent her way, and more or less taking it in her stride.

Articulation is the big five, and nothing more: swivel neck, shoulders, and hips in a V layout. Aside from moving the arms up or down a bit (not much, or they'll look weird) and turning the head this way and that, there's nothing you can do to vary her posture. On the mildly plus side, she stands stably with her legs in their default position.

This line dates back past the start of the decade, back when accessories were routine, so Ripley gets four. First up are two guns, which fit into her hands fairly well, being purpose-designed for it - the flamer is for the right, the rifle for the left. Both are decently sculpted, with flashy futuristic designs suiting Resurrection's era, but they're cast in plain grey plastic and have no paint apps, which really sells them short. Still, with the preset pose she'd look an idiot without them, so on they go.

What she can do without, thankfully, are the other two accessories, a hatching egg and an infant Queen. Both are substandard by any stretch of the imagination - 20 years earlier, any Star Wars figure would have been embarrassed to be seen with them - but for the sake of completeness, let's cover them. The egg is green (wrong), with bright green goop around its opening (also wrong), and the facehugger is brightly flesh-toned (vaguely right, but it looks awful). The Queen is black with a bright green streak across its crest and underbelly - some contrary impulse evidently forces action figure manufacturers to adorn xenomorphs with bright colours they simply don't have - and is unarticulated. There, that's them done - now into the drawer with them, never to see the light of day again.

As I said above, this isn't the worst figure ever made - it's not even the worst in my own collection (though I've been known to buy some utter shite if it's discounted heavily enough). In a Power Rangers toy line, for instance, it would probably fit in fairly well - but coming out of Alien Resurrection, a film that, for all its adolescent missteps and fundamental failure to understand the mature subtext of the series, was thoroughly sophisticated in its visual presentation... it's just difficult to imagine someone seeing the film, and deciding this was the kind of action figure that needed to be made of it. At least Batman is a children's character in some of his incarnations, so you can understand (if not forgive) the production of kiddie-oriented Batmen to accompany something as ruthlessly adult as The Dark Knight. This is just way, way off-target.


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