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Aliens UD-4L Cheyenne Dropship/M577 APC Vehicle

by Monkey Boy

NECA's first foray into the field of diecast vehicles is upon us. With the clever/cutesy name of "Cinemachines," this line plans to bring us fans detailed scale models of ships from sci-fi films including the Aliens, Predator and Terminator franchises. I can't help but draw a parallel to Galoob's Action Fleet, which initially focused on Star Wars but would eventually give us ships from those first two aforementioned franchises. Of course, those were plastic, and now are so hard to find they might as well never have existed. But still, pre-built models of iconic science fiction ships was a void that was no longer being filled, and so NECA has stepped in to fill it. Let's see how they've done.

I picked up the UD-4L Cheyenne Dropship and the M577 Armored Personnel Carrier from Aliens, but two others were released in the first series, from the first Alien: the Space Jockey and Derelict Ship. The military designs of James Cameron's Vietnam War allegory appealed to me more, so that's what I went with.

The Cinemachines are sold in bluish-gray window boxes with various gears, pipes and pnel lines printed all around. The vehicle is held in place by a snap-together clamshell, which keeps everything secure without blocking your view of what's inside. The back has blueprints and a long list of technical specifications about the vehicle inside.

Though the Space Jockey and Derelict Ship come in larger boxes, the Dropship and APC are a few dollars more expensive (because of moving parts).

The sculptural details are all pretty good, as you'd expect from NECA. Granted, they're used to sculpting more organic forms, but if you were worried they wouldn't be able to handle mechanical objects, you needn't have. I'd say these vehicles ultimately end up about ⅔ the size as Galoob's Action Fleet offerings, but they're more accurate to what we saw on the screen.

The Dropship in particular is well done, with lots of intricate details, whereas the APC is mostly just wide, flat spaces. Each has pretty cool little details though, like the missile arrays on the Dropship and the tiny ladder on the rear of the APC. (The big APC, not the tiny one in the image on the left there.)

The only real complaint I have is that the fit and finish could be a bit better. This is NECA's first time doing diecast vehicles, and it's not surprising there'd be a bit of a learning curve. A surprising amount of both vehicles is diecast, and there are lots of moving parts.

But not everything really fits together exactly how it should: the wheelbase on the APC, for example, feels a bit too narrow, and the wings of the Dropship aren't quite as flush against the fuselage as they could be when closed. It's not a huge issue, and it's one I only expect them to improve upon as the line continues, but there were bound to be some hiccups in the first entries.

The paint is mostly quite drab, although I suppose that's more the fault of the source material. Both vehicles are mainly a dark flat olive, though both get some nice highlighted detail where appropriate. Both also feature some metallic paint to simulate weathering, which is done well. Overall, the green is a bit darker than what I remember from the film, but the paintwork is well done.

As mentioned, both vehicles have moving parts, which is a nice touch. The Dropship's wings fold out, and the missile housings open and close. There's also an opening ramp on the bottom, with a peg that keeps it in place (until you press the "headlight" that triggers it). It stays closed much better than the Action Fleet Dropship's ramp, which relied on friction. Sadly, the landing gear of the Dropship does not retract, nor is it removable. The APC gets rolling wheels, a rotating turret on the front, and a sliding and rotating rear turret. Everything moves quite well.

As far accessories, what you see is what you get with the APC, but the Dropship has a little surprise: A tiny APC that can be held in the cargo bay and "launched" when the ramp is lowered! The wheels on the APC rotate, though they are quite tight. None of the gun turrets move, but that's not really expected from such a small piece. It's a very nice extra and I'm glad it's included.

While I expect this line to improve as it continues on, these initial offerings are not bad at all. They have the detail you expect from NECA, and they're offering something that hasn't been available since the '90s. Here's hoping this line keeps going strong.

-- 06/26/16

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