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Alien Queen

Aliens
by Monkey Boy

It's... finally... here... (heavy breathing)...

Okay, okay... I'll stop freaking out. It's just feels like it's been forever. To say this figure has been long awaited would be a serious understatement. After it was announced, it seemed like a million years before we got any pics of the sculpt in-progress. Then it seemed like a million more years before we saw the finished product. Understandably, progress was a bit delayed when Kyle Windrix's brother Craig tragically lost his battle with cancer (the sculpt is credited to Kyle and Chris Gawrych), but now, at long last, after many hurdles... it's finally here.

When NECA announced the Queen, it wasn't exactly surprising news; they'd had the Aliens license for a while, and they had announced a string of large box sets, including Spider Mohawk from Gremlins 2 and ED-209 from Robocop, but it was still news to get excited about. The main question on everyone's mind: How would it compare to McFarlane's Queen from their Movie Maniacs line?

I had a McFarlane Queen, and while I was happy to own a large-scale Queen Alien figure, it was lacking in a lot of ways, even back then. The paint was too drab, the posing was awkward, and the metal pegs permanently sticking out of its feet were less than ideal. So I was pretty confident that NECA could deliver something better.

And they have. Let's just get that right out of the way. This thing wipes the floor with McFarlane's in every way. The first thing you'll notice, when you see the box it comes in, is the size. It's gigantic. It dwarfs Mohawk, and ED-209. It's basically pre-assembled; though the box states "Some Assembly Required," only the dorsal spines need to be attached to the figure's back.

I don't have my McF Queen to compare it to, since it fell apart a long time ago, but I'd say it's probably roughly the same size. I recall McF's Queen being more heavyset, with thick limbs, while NECA's spindly, waspish proportions feel more screen-accurate. I'm not actually sure if Kyle worked on the McF Queen, since they never credited their sculptors, but if he did he's come a long way between then and now.

This beast is a beauty. The sculpt is... well, as right out of the film as any action figure I can think of in recent memory. It helps that it's so large: there's lots of room for detail. From her marvelous crown to her "high heel" feet, every inch of this figure is striated or ribbed or plated. I could really look at this figure in the round for an hour and not catch all the details.

The paint is mainly a deep blue with a heavy black wash, not completely dissimilar to McFarlane's. It seems to be neater in its application, particularly in areas like the crown, with its alternating black-and-blue strip pattern. There's also a lot of gold and silver metallic accents over her exoskeleton, which are prominent but not overdone, and help to add some nice variation. Like the McFQ (and the actual movie Queen), NECA's Queen has clear teeth and tendons in her jaw, which is a nice detail.

When you start to move the old girl around, things really get crazy. She is articulated out the wazoo! I'm not even sure I've found all her joints yet, but I'll try to log them all here. One of the coolest aspects of the McFQ was the balljointed "face" joint, and NECA's Queen includes that as well. It really lets you get some dynamic, personality filled head poses. NECA's Queen also gets a hinged jaw, which is awesome, and something the McFQ was sorely lacking. Another cool touch is that the entire crown piece slides forward to conceal the face, mimicking the way the Queen's face can retract back into the crown as we see in her first scene in the film.

There are peg and hinge joints everywhere: mid-neck; where the neck meets the chest; the shoulders, elbows and wrists of all four arms; the hips; the digitigrade legs (both the knees and the ankles); the ball of the foot (what most people think of as the "ankle" of a digitigrade leg); and at the toes. There also seems to be a balljoint at the torso, though it doesn't have much movement, and there's a peg where the tail meets the body. The tail itself is bendy along its entire length.

The dorsal spines attach to the back via tiny barbels, meaning there's a double balljoint in each so you can position them however you want. All of the joints on my Queen moved freely but not loosely, and luckily there were no stuck joints, as I'm not sure she'd actually fit in my freezer to get them unstuck. The articulation is all well hidden, and she can take a wide variety of poses while still looking natural.

She is top-heavy, however, and any figure of this size with this much articulation is going to benefit from some support. She includes a clear plastic base, with two metal rods of different sizes that plug into it that allow you to either have your Queen rearing up or leaning forward, low to the ground. There's a clear plastic claw that fits on the top of the rods, and they have little balls on the tips that correspond to sockets right behind the secondary part of arms, allowing the rod to stay firmly in place.

Funny thing, though: for what it's worth, she can stand on her own, if you position her just right. I actually discovered this by accident, but it is possible to position her legs to support her weight if she's upright enough. I didn't leave her in that position for very long though, and I can't attest to how long it would be before she took a dive. Not to mention that without a base to support her, her joints would likely loosen under her weight over time. So the inclusion of the stand is welcome, but it's kind of cool that she technically doesn't need it.

There are two more accessories: a retracted inner mouth, and an extended one. They plug into the back of the mouth, and you have to line up the peg with the hole since it's an irregular shape. This is probably my only minor gripe with the figure: I'd prefer an actual retracting mouth, rather than interchangeable versions that need to be constantly switched out. They're also hard to plug in tightly, and ride pretty high in the mouth.

However, it's an almost negligible quibble in a figure that otherwise pretty much crushes every one of my expectations. NECA's Queen isn't cheap, but it is worth every penny.

-- 12/28/14


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