Every so often, a toy collector finds himself irresistibly compelled to spend an astronomical amount of money on what can only be charitably called a "collectible." Loyal OAFEnet readers will know that this compulsion led me to purchase the Hot Toys 12" Celtic Predator, from the film Alien vs. Predator. Even loyal-er OAFEnet readers will know that while my initial review was quite glowing, I would later drop some follow-ups here and there on our message boards, alluding to problems with the figure: metal paint scraping off easily, thin bits of plastic breaking, kinks in the metal springs meant to represent "hoses"...little things, but a lot of them...enough to make me feel like I had wasted quite a large sum of money.
So why would I do it again? And on a figure from the same company, no less? Well, looking at the Hot Toys Alien Warrior figure (from the second film in the series, Aliens), I hope that maybe some part of you, dear reader, understands. The thing looks awesome. A 16" monstrosity based on the best design of the creature (part H.R. Giger, part James Cameron, part Stan Winston),
fully poseable...how could anything go wrong? And for over $100, there's got to be some expectation of quality, right?
Well, not exactly. Right out of the box, there were problems. Paint had stuck to the interior plastic tray of the package, and when the figure was extricated, it elected to stay in the tray rather than adhere to the figure's rubber body suit. Additionally, a thin glossy coating on the figure's head was peeling right out of the box, and even gingerly handling the head caused more to scrape away. The icing on the cake? The figure's right leg snapped apart at the knee with little or no pressure.
I'm getting this part out of the way early, because I'm no longer in possession of this particular figure. Nonetheless, it will have some bearing on my opinion of the overally product. Sideshow Collectibles (the official distributor of Hot Toys in the U.S.), although apparently experiencing a serious backlog in their customer service department, did eventually respond to my issues, and agreed to supply me with a new body and right leg for my figure (although since I purchased the figure through a separate retailer, I was responsible for shipping costs; all told, a total of $14). How does the new body compare with the old one? Well, that's the part where the review comes in...
As I said, of all the designs of the xenomorph creature from the Alien film franchise, the warrior from the second movie is my favorite. I enjoy the ridged head rather than the smooth dome of the original movie (and every subsequent film up until AvP: Requiem), and I think this marks just enough of a departure from the "guy-in-a-suit" look of the original film. After Aliens, each successive design was less and less humanoid, which got to be a little much.
This figure captures the design pretty well in its sculpt. It's a bit narrow in the chest, but that's about the only issue I have with it. The figure's main body, including the tail and parts of the head, as well as the elbow and knee joints, are encased in rubber, though there's no real difference in the look of the material. It all holds detail very well, and this here alien is exploding with detail. Tubes and pipes and ridges are all over this guy, and it all looks quite amazing. Incidentally, I honestly never realized there were so many vaginas on this guy. Seriously, the back of this guy's head, as well as the end of each of the tubes protruding from its back, features a certain arrangement of folds that would feel right at home in the pages of Penthouse. It's interesting that while this guy is basically a giant phallic symbol, most toy companies choose to censor the areas where the genital symbolism skews in the other direction. Pussies.
Getting paint to stick to rubber is no easy task. Even on a figure that costs in the triple digits, it's a crap shoot. As I mentioned above, my first alien warrior suffered heavily in this department, with paint scraping off the black rubber suit, particularly in the area of the ribs. There was also the issue on the head with the gloss coating. Thankfully, the replacement body features a much nicer paint application, with no serious scrape-age (other than a tiny bit on some of the head ridges...but I can deal). Still, just because the paint doesn't suck right out of the package doesn't mean it isn't still easy to scrape off. When handling this figure, I recommend doing your major touching on an area like the arms or legs, so as not to disturb the delicate paint/rubber balance. You'll also want to position him somewhere where he isn't going to fall,
since he has no display base and the consequences could be disastrous if this guy does a face plant on a tile floor.
The paint itself is pretty nicely applied, although if there were any real "slop" it wouldn't stand out much on a figure whose colors are essentially a liberal airbrushing of blues, blacks, and sickly grays. The whole thing gets a nice gloss coat to make the figure look extra slimy, but like I mentioned, be careful with that head. The feet and bendy pair of hands were also quite tacky, and though the paint seems to have settled a bit since the initial opening, they're still dust magnets.
With the rubber body suit, it's difficult to determine the exact articulation count of this figure. The figure comes in parts, and attaches at the main balljoints (shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles). All other joints are covered in rubber. Even so, it's pretty apparent that he has balljoints in the neck and chest, pegs in the biceps and thighs just above the hinged elbows and knees, and a bendy tail. Most of the joints are fairly good, though a couple are a bit loose,
and some are very tight. With the way this guy's knee came apart the first time, I recommend handling with extreme care.
For accessories, all we get is an interchangeable pair of hands. The extra hands, plastic and pre-posed, are much better than the default hands, rubber and "bendy" with a wire armature in the fingers. There aren't really many positions you can put the fingers in that don't resemble the plastic hands anyway, and as I said the bendy hands feature some pretty sticky paint, so I suggest leaving them in the box. It would have been nice to get an alien egg or a face hugger, but you know, it's not like this figure costs and arm and a leg or anything, so why should we get more accessories?
Oh, and I almost forgot: there's an action feature. Push a knob forward on the underside of his head, and its jaws will open wide while the "inner mouth" extends. It's a nice addition, but opening the figure's mouth causes the rubber "tendons" on his jaw to stretch to an obscene degree, so I really would save the demonstration for when it's absolutely necessary.
It may seem like I'm being quite hard on this figure, but really if there's one thing I really want from an outlandishly expensive toy, it's a measure of durability. Any figure that costs this much deserves to be handled with extreme care, but right out the package this guy had more issues than 99% of the $10 toys I usually buy. Sideshow's customer service department, though overwhelmed, was extremely helpful, and now this guy can be the centerpiece of my collection like it deserves to be. However, while it's very fun to look at him, and very tempting to want to really cut loose and play around with him, I would seriously advise against it. Put him on the shelf, dust him every now and then, and re-pose him once in a blue moon. I've learned my lesson on toys: if it seems like it costs too much, then it probably does. Prepare to be underwhelmed.