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Engineer (Pressure Suit)

by yo go re

I like Aliens better than Alien and didn't see Blade Runner until my college girlfriend made me watch it. If I'd ever seen Legend, I might actually own McFarlane's Darkness figure today. Gladiator deserved its Best Picture win, but really, I know Ridley Scott more for producing Numbers than any of the nerdy stuff I'm supposed to love him for, so I didn't really care about Prometheus.

And then I saw it.

Visionary filmmaker Ridley Scott returns to the genre he helped define, creating an original science fiction epic set in the most dangerous corners of the universe. Presenting a grand new mythology linked to provacative strands of Alien DNA, the film takes a team of scientists and explorers on a thrilling journey that will test their physical and mental limits and strand them on a distant world, where they will discover the answers to our most profound questions and to life's ultimate mystery.

Basically, my reaction to the movie was the opposite of Monkey Boy's: I'm not going to go into all that here in the middle of the review [for once --ed.], but we can have a big long spoiler-filled discussion about it on the message board if you want. In short, the movie looked gorgeous and added a richness to the world of Alien (while handily allowing us to pretend the two AvP movies never happened, so, you know, win-win all around).

Timed to coincide with the release of the DVD, NECA's first two Prometheus figures have just started to appear on shelves - we were sent this one for free to review, but they apparently retail for around $15, depending on whether or not your Toys Я Us is a bump up store or not. That sounds like a nice price, but it becomes a downright bargain when you see one of these beasts in person and realize just how very big they are. Big big. The Engineer stands nearly 8¼" tall, making him a mighty chunk of plastic for your money.

There are two figures in the initial series: the "Chair Suit" Engineer (aka the Space Jockey) and the "Pressure Suit" Engineer. While the Jockey is wearing his elephantine helmet, this guy is bareheaded, and the likeness is stunningly true to the film. The Engineers' faces were almost human but not quite, and the toy duplicates that perfectly.

If you didn't look too closely at the prototype images NECA released of these figures, you may have thought the elephant head was the only (sculptural) difference between the two figures - but nope, it turns out nothing is shared between them. HR Giger came back to help reverse-engineer the designs for the alien beings in the film, so the pressure suit definitely has the same style as we've come to expect. There are ridged lines on the thighs, a pseudo-ribcage protecting the chest, and all sorts of suitably Gigerian details all over. You know, small tubes, seemingly hollow pieces with a second layer beneath them, tiny circular ports, all that. The entire thing also has a chitonous texture that makes it look organic.

In the film there was no hard edge between the Engineer's body and the thing he wore - it sort of "faded in," a smooth transition from skin to suit. Since NECA's figure necessarily needs to have joints, we're going to have a clear delineation between the hand and the arm. They tried to capture the feeling by having the paint on the forearms fade in stages, but it doesn't really work; at least, not on the one they sent us. Rather than blending from dark to light, there's a clear line where the heavy wash stops and the lighter wash begins. Admittedly, that is a very hard effect to mass-produce, so check through the figures at the store to find the best one. Other than that, the paint is very nice, basically a brown wash over everything to bring out all those crazy small details. The eyes are detailed well, and there's juuussst enough paint on the head to make it look realistic without ruining the "blank white" appearance it should have.

The articulation is more than sufficient. He has a balljointed head, torso, wrists and ankles; swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, hips and knees; and swivels at the top of the thighs. The pegs from the hips go into the trunk at a 45° angle, which some people don't like, perferring the joints plug in either vertically or horizontally. The thigh joints were very stiff at the beginning, but a little work got them moving without anything breaking. In order to hide the hip joints, the Engineer is wearing soft PVC "underwear," for lack of a better term - a flexible sheath that covers the entire lower torso. NECA's been using that a lot recently. One of our readers bought an Engineer, and the rubber bit split in half while he was trying to straighten the legs - none of us have had that problem, so you most likely don't have to worry about that.

The Engineer has no accessories - but remember, this is a solid 8" of plastic: that had to eat up a chunk of the budget. NECA showed future series at SDCC, and there will be more accessories with the upcoming toys. Besides, what would he come with? He didn't use anything in the film.

There's no question that the Chair Suit Engineer is going to be the fast seller in this series - what Alien fan is going to pass up a Space Jockey? I know I certainly wasn't in a rush to get the Pressure Suit before NECA provided one for review, but don't overlook him: the engineering (no pun intended) is just as good as on the Jockey, but sculpt is more detailed and the paint is more complex (though that also means you'll have to inspect him more closely, to make sure his arms look good). There's a TRU two-pack coming later this year that will see a battle damaged version of this guy along with his huggy buddy from the end of the film, so you might want to wait for that, but don't think of "Pressure Suit" as "Chair Suit's" less interesting little brother.

-- 10/21/12

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