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Xenomorph ('79 Prototype Suit)

Alien
by yo go re

Look, it's a friend for that white Walgreens Boba Fett nobody ever found.

This special edition concept figure is based on the original prototype suit for the "Big Chap" Alien from the 1979 movie.

HR Giger originally had the suit cast in a translucent fleshtone but, in one of the many technical hurdles that had to be overcome to bring his creature to life on screen, repeated difficulties with the material forced the change to the darker opaque coloring seen in the movie.

For the most part, "concept figures" have thus far been the purview of Hasbro's Star Wars line, because what the hell else has ever been running long enough to get that deep into the barrel? But since the original Alien only has one creature (as opposed to the armies of them in Aliens), NECA needs to get creative to find new ways to sell the mold to us, a goal this figure accomplishes well.

Every word of that bio up above is true, by the way: the Alien was originally going to be clear, but they couldn't make it work. Giger wrote about the attempt in his diary, but it was only a few years ago that remnants of the test suit were found and we got to see what the xenomorph (almost) looked like. And since NECA's Kenner Predators proved that fans are open to non-canonical movie monsters, it makes sense to do a proto-xeno.

The mold is the same as the standard Alien, because this is a repaint and that's how things work; it's certainly not a slight against the company, because why shouldn't the mold be the same? It was the same mold when they were working on it for the movie, so re-using it for the toy just makes sense. And thanks to the color of the toy, for once we can really appreciate all the detail Kyle Windrix put into the sculpt!

The figure is cast from a translucent, yellow-ish plastic (think of the color some blister packaging turns in the sun, or in the home of a smoker), then given an opaque cream-colored layer of paint above that, and a darker wash to fill in the cracks. It looks very much like the actual test suit did - or rather, it looks like a toy of the suit would have looked if this suit had been used. Does that make sense? NECA treated this figure like a real thing: it would have been very easy to just mold it in off-white plastic and leave it at that, but they didn't.

Unlike the Series 2 figure on which this is based, the domed carapace that covers this Alien's head is not a smoky gray. Rather, it's entirely clear - and not "yellowy clear," like the rest of the body, but totally crystal clear. Thankfully, the toy does not reproduce something else Ridley Scott had tried at this stage: filling the dome with maggots, so they could be seen crawling around under the "skin" in closeups (the hot stage lights made them lethargic). That would have been hideous! But now that we think of it, shouldn't the alien's teeth still be silver? That was set before they decided to make the body black.

It should come as no surprise that the articulation on this figure is unchanged from the previous releases of the mold: a balljointed head and neck, hinged jaw with an extending inner mouth, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows with swivels both above and below the joint, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed torso, swivel/​hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, balljointed ankles, hinged toes, and a bendy tail. The spike between his shoulder blades is removable, so the head can tip back farther. It must be said, though, that this is the floppiest NECA figure I've ever bought. The chest balljoint wobbles around rather than holding its pose, the mouth drops open and the inner jaw plops out. If Giger's Alien is based on a penis, this toy is the "that's okay, it happens to a lot of guys" version.

NECA broke new ground with this little beastie: it's an official (if forgotten) part of the movie's history, but no one has ever made merchandise of it before; the closest was a completely translucent Revoltech version a few years ago, and that wasn't even an intentional homage, just happenstance. Funko is following their lead, though, and will be releasing a ReAction figure of the prototype design with an upcoming carrying case. Me, I just like this because it looks like a xenomorph that gestated inside some deep cave creature, and that sets it apart from the hordes of other aliens.

-- 04/30/16


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