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Ripley 8

Alien Resurrection
by yo go re

Love it when you're waiting for a figure to be released, and then you find it covered in dust at a store. Top-notch work, NECA stockpersons!

Two hundred years after Ripley's death, military scientists are attempting to clone Ripley in order to extract the Queen embryo that was in her body when she died... and on the eighth attempt, they succeed. Contaminated with Ripley's DNA, the Queen gives birth to a grotesque human/alien hybrid called the "Newborn."

A lot of NECA figures are firsts - if not the first time a character has ever been made, then at least the first time they've ever been made in this particular scale - but Ripley 8 has not only had a figure before, she's had a figure that was about this size! Well, nearly; Kenner, seeing the success McFarlane Toys was having with their larger action figures, copied that guide when it came time to make toys for Alien: Resurrection, giving us toys that were somewhere between the 6" and 7" scale. Including one of Ripley.

NECA's, obviously, looks way way better than a Kenner toy from the late '90s. For one thing, it actually looks like Sigourney Weaver and not some random woman. She has a tense, reserved expression on her face, as seen in some of the film's production stills, and her hair is slightly slicked back. Comparing it to the photos, there's something off about the hairline: either it's too low or the hair on top of her head is too high or something. Adrienne Smith still did an above-average job, but we have certainly seen more uncannily accurate faces from NECA before.

Another point in NECA's favor over Kenner? This Ripley is wearing the right clothes. Kenner got the "brown" and "vest" parts right, but that was honestly about all. Costume designer Bob Ringwood designed a suit for Ripley that would suggest her partially-xenomorph physiology: it's brown, like the movie's xenos were, and is leather to suggest their hard outer "skin." Although the kneepads are above the surface of the body, the texture on them calls to mind the inset bits on an Alien's leg (similarly, the black panels below her belt help duplicate its waist). The strongest parallel, of course, has to come from the padded shoulders on her vest, which are like scaled-down versions of the big flares Aliens have had there since the very beginning. It's blatant if you know the intention, but subtle enough that she doesn't look like she's cosplaying if you don't.

Since this Ripley was the eighth clone they attempted to make, she's got an 8 tattooed on her left forearm. It's printed clearly, yet manages to look like ink rather than something just painted on the surface of a toy. Her fingernails are black, because Alien, and her outfit gets a few different shades of brown so it looks realistic. There are also tiny silver paint apps for the snaps on the vest, for her belt buckle, and for the eyelets on her boots.

The Kenner figure moved at the Big Five. NECA's moves at the... Sweet 16? We don't have a pithy name for this one. You know the usual stuff, though: balljointed ankles, wrists, waist, and head; swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees; and swivel thighs. Everything moved fine straight out of the packaging, not stuck or stiff.

Ripley 8 comes with two guns, though she can't dual-wield them like the Kenner one could: only the right hand is molded to hold the grip, while the left is shaped to cradle the front end. The weapons from Alien: Resurrection weren't built on real-world guns, just scratch-made. The one with the front end angled down is a Lacrima 99 Shockrifle, the pulse-action assault rifle that serves as the standard issue for the United Systems Miltary, while the straighter one with the larger stock is a Draco Double Burner, which can function as an assault rifle, a grenade launcher or a flamethrower. Both of them have accurate paint apps - silver, grey, black - and a PVC strap that could go over Ripley's shoulder.

Years ago, before NECA had even gotten the rights to make their first Ripley, we said to them that if they ever got the chance to make Ripley 8, the one accessory they needed to include was a basketball. And what did NECA do? They included her frickin' basketball!! Plus, an extra pair of hands to hold it better than the first hands would have. You've probably heard this story before (it's hardly a secret), but it's so awesome we're going to repeat it anyway:

Sigourney Weaver practiced for two weeks to make the behind-the-back shot seen in the film; director Jean-Pierre Jeunet wanted to just fake it using editing, but she insisted on trying. The blocking for the scene had her even further away from the basket than she had practiced (six feet past the three-point line), but she hit her mark, hucked the ball casually over her shoulder... and swish. It went in. Now, whether that was on the first take or the sixth take (Jeunet having agreed to only a half dozen attempts before moving on, lest this crazy endeavor take up an entire day of shooting) varies depending on what source you listen to, but the fact remains that even though the ball leaves the frame and comes back in, and thus may look like an editing trick, Weaver sunk the ball for real. Ron Perlman nearly ruined the take because he was so genuinely impressed that he forgot to stay in character - in the finished film, you can see him start to turn around to congratulate her before they quickly cut to an insert shot of him.

Now, this toy isn't in the outfit Ripley was wearing during the basketball scene (that one was more red than brown), but NECA is smart enough to know that they may never get to make another figure of Resurrection Ripley, so they're counting on fans not being that picky about it, especially when they're giving us something so awesome. (Though if they wanted to, an alternate hand with the ball spinning on her finger and another with it easily palmed would be good accessories for "Recess Ripley." And a smiling face.) Alien: Resurrection is not without its problems, but its take on Ripley is one of the best things about it, so this toy is definitely welcome.

-- 08/13/20

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