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Xenomorph (Giger)

Alien
by yo go re

Space is dusty!

In a remote region of the galaxy, the United States space tug Nostromo, carrying a cargo of mineral ore, makes its return journey to Earth. The ship's crew - five men two women and a cat - are awakened from their hypersleep chambers when Mother, the on-board computer, monitors a strange transmission. According to Company law, the crew must investigate any signal indicating possible intelligent life. What begins as a routine search mission quickly escalates into a nightmare of unimaginable terror when the crew discovers and brings aboard an extraterrestrial lifeform.

In 1977, noted Swiss weirdo HR Giger released an art book that included a series of paintings of (what he later explained were) people in post-apocalyptic environmental suits. One of the paintings, 1976's Necronom IV, caught the eye of Ridley Scott, who hired Giger to invent the monster in his new "haunted house in outer space" movie, creating a creature whose very existence would stagnate all evil alien creature design for decades to come. But as iconic as that creature is, it's not until now that someone has actually attempted to pay tribute to the painting that inspired it.

We've not yet reviewed this mold. The Alien 1 Alien is colloquially known as the "Big Chap," because the movie was being filmed in England and everything they do there is just charmingly low-key. NECA's first Big Chap was made back in 2008, but in 2019 they introduced a new "Ultimate" version, which has of course found its way into this 40th Anniversary line - no point in creating an expensive mold unless you're going to use it as much as you can. This is actually the fourth use in the line, after a prototype one, a bloody one, and a plain one, but this definitely stands out.

The sculpt (credited to Kyle Windrix and Thomas Gwyn) is excellent, as you'd expect, with all the classic features that define the original Alien: human proportions, flat feet, small bumps on the back of the elbows, hands with the fingers divided into sets of two, etc. The other sorts of details - the exterior ribs, the flares over the shoulders, all the inset areas of horizontal ridges on the limbs - could come from pretty much any xenomorph, but the others are just Big Chap. The dome covering the top of the head is smooth, and clear enough to make out some of the texture on the elongated skull beneath. Thin, flexible tubes run from the corners of the jaw to the back of the shoulders, and the bumps of the spine run all the way from the back of the neck to the spike at the tip of the tail.

The Alien has hinged toes, balljointed ankles, hinged lower knees, swivel/hinged upper knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, swivel tail, a balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, double-swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, a balljointed neck, and hinged jaw. The inner pharyngeal jaw extends, and the head is mounted on a track that allows it to slide forward or back as needed. The spike between the flutes on the Alien's back can be removed, so you can tip the head back farther for crouching poses. The head on my figure is a little loose on its slider, but I'd rather that than being so tight it can't even move at all.

Like we said way, way up above, this release honors HR Giger's artwork. That means for once the toy isn't solid black, but rather matches the washed-out gray-brown of the painting. To achieve the effect, NECA's had the toy molded in a translucent, smokey plastic, then given more normal apps on top to solidify the carapace, and dark washes to bring out the details. And yeah, it. Looks. Amazing! For the first time, we can appreciate all the details in the sculpt at a glance, instead of having to get in there with strong lights or wait for a version in some wild color. It absolutely without question looks like a classic Alien, but also manages to stand out. That's a fine line to walk, but this toy does it easily.

The figure includes an accessory, a facehugger. The Ultimate release had the same, plus a chestburster and a '79-style egg. This is just a fairly normal 'hugger, not done in Giger colors like the big bloke. While the version in Aliens famously looked like a vagina on the underside, the original facehugger had different anatomy, more like raw oysters, which this toy duplicates properly. That's some over-achieving attention to detail!

Some of the other weird Alien colors NECA has made - the prototype, the Genocide - have been expanded onto other molds, even if they never appeared like that in any existing sources. After getting this Giger Alien, we wouldn't mind seeing that happen again here. Acheron, Fiorina, Auriga, Newborn... every one of them would look cool in these colors, and would make for an impressive group display.

-- 07/31/21


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