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Alien Queen

Movie Maniacs 6
by yo go re

There are few movie sequels that are better than the original. X-Men 2 is one, as is the second Terminator. Of course, it's possible that T2's success can be attributed to James Cameron; after all, he is the man who took Ridley Scott's decent Alien and gave us the ultra-badass Aliens.

57 years after the events of the original movie, planet LV-426 has been colonized by The Company. When contact is lost, Ripley is sent to join the crew of Space Marines who are going to check on the inhabitants. It turns out that things aren't as bad as Ripley had feared - they're worse. Where previously she only had to deal with one xenomorph, there are now hundreds scurrying all over the planet.

The original Alien was not a science fiction film - it was horror. You could easily set the tale in any era with any dark force, and things would have been the same. Similarly, Aliens was less sci-fi flick than war movie. Cameron took all the ideas from the first film and expanded them.

If the Alien was a bug, then insect social structure suggested that there must be a hive and inside that hive must be a queen. When Ripley found her way down into the queen's chamber, she met one of the baddest monsters ever put on film. And as long as fans have been clamoring for an Alien figure for Movie Maniacs, they've quietly dreamed of a queen of their own. McFarlane Toys really came through this time, delivering one of the best boxed sets they've ever done.

Re-creating no specific scene from the film, this set is still wicked cool. The main draw, of course, is the queen: two feet long from tooth to tail, she stands more than 12" tall when stood up straight. Pictures just can't convey how huge this figure is: you're getting a lot of toy for your money. Absolutely every centimeter of this beast is sculpted to McFarlane's usual high standards, but by now we'd expect no less. In keeping with the rest of MM6, the queen mum is even articulated well.

In sharp contrast to the stunningly bad Matrix boxed set, this set is top of the line in all areas. The Queen moves at the head, neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, hips and tail. Even the two miniature arms sprouting vestigially from her chest turn. Her tail is bendy, allowing you to curl it around her however you like. The hip joints are extremely stiff, but that's not because they're glued in place (for a change) - it's to make sure that this big heavy monster doesn't tip forward over time.

To help the queen stand, there are two metal pegs in her feet. These keep her from being able to stand independent of the included base, but that's okay: getting her to balance well enough to stand would otherwise have been a nightmare. The base, representing the type of grate floors in the colony, measures 12⅝" x 4⅜" and has four free-rolling balls on the underside to make it easier to move.

If the set ended there, it would still be very cool. But Todd, always looking to make the best toys on the market, went even further.

The queen's base connects at one end to another detailed section. Measuring 8¼" tall, 6½" wide and 7¼" deep, this section of the base re-creates the scene in the film when the Space Marines make their way down into the base in search of the surviving colonists. They come across what looks like a graveyard, with those unlucky settlers cocooned into the walls of the facility.

The base has more of that grating on the floor, and various pipes and tubes line the wall. There's an electrical junction box and all sorts of loose wiring hanging about. One of the colonists is stuck to the wall with rubbery green tendrils of the aliens' secreted resin. She moves (after a few hours in the freezer) at the neck and right wrist, and she's just part of an accessory!

To fully simulate the scene from the film, this poor colonist (we'll call her Colleen, for expediency's sake) has "chest-burster" play action - press the big plunger on the back of the set and one of those terrible little beasties pops through Colleen's torso. It's truly a horror to behold, and really adds a lot of value to the set. Just move your mouse over the photo to the left for a demonstration.

Actually, it's the little things that make this set great - just like in the film, the queen has clear teeth. Her neck is covered with a soft, flexible rubber, though representatives of McFarlane Toys have assured us that this is a new material that won't create another incident of Headless Horseman-style rot.

There's been some discussion about why Her Majesty's left hand is balled into a fist. Well, let's just hope that it's a sign of things to come: at the end of the film, when Ripley's just exited her big yellow powerloader, the queen grabs her foot just the way seen here. Does this mean Todd's working on a Ripley figure? Only time will tell.

Kenner gave us a few Alien Queen figures during their run with the Alien and Predator licenses, but McToys' puts those to shame. Though that queen was cool enough for her time, but to look at it today is just a joke. The toy industry's come a long way in the past 10 years, and a lot of it is because of McFarlane. Looking at the queens next to each other, it's a good thing.

-- 06/18/03

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