It's time for Octobersbest, the time of year that sounds like "Oktoberfest" but is way cooler because I made it up. Why is October the best? It's my birth month! The weather is awesome! Halloween! All that!
There's no better way to kick off that spooky October feeling than with a couple murderous aliens!
Aliens VS Predator is an age old excuse to pit two of the deadliest alien killers in horror cinema against each other and....sell the results to children. I have no idea how this idea came about, but I'm glad it did, because the results were some freakin' awesome toys from an old standby: Kenner.
Kenner is, of course, defunct and absorbed by Hasbro (a long time ago). Back in their heyday, they produced a little toyline called Star Wars, and then a whole bunch of everything else you remember from childhood (they're also the culprits responsible for creating the standard of 200 Batman figures to every one villain, not that I disliked all the Batman gadgets).
You're probably already familiar with the monsters. The Alien Xenomorph is known for scaring the ever loving crap out of me, as a kid, and subsequently seeding a strong desire, deep in my belly, for an action figure of a Xenomorph. That desire burst out of my chest in the 90's in the form of the Aliens toyline (also by Kenner) which was based on a cartoon series that was never produced.
Around the same time we got the Aliens VS Predator line, with an early set being this one: A standard Alien versus a standard-looking Predator. In fact, with all the crazy Predators and Aliens in that series, this set was one of the few ways to get a basic Xenomorph. I didn't get a whole lot of these figures (though I wanted plenty) but needless to say: This two pack was a MUST HAVE.
NECA has recently been producing all sorts of Predators and Aliens, and have dug in to the catalog of old Kenner product to recreate them with NECA's current molds.
Not only is NECA remaking the old figures with new molds and updated paint jobs, but they're reproducing the packaging as well! It's the kinda packaging you wana keep! ...if opening it didn't utterly destroy it. This is one-or-the-other packaging: If you want it open, you gotta attack it with scissors. Not a bad set to keep in package though, especially if you like those old 90's aesthetics!
On the bottom you get a neat "credits" area to see who worked on what, which I think is great! More toy packages need to acknowledge all the work that goes in to them.
Other than the front part, you can also take out the back and use that how you like. I like it! You'd have to attach it to something, but it's a cool background if you want to make something out of it.
Included in the bottom of the package is a reproduction of the minicomic that came with the original set.
This was a great little surprise! I had no idea it was in there, and I love the old minicomics in any toyline. I always used toys however I liked, but it's still fantastic to get a little comic to kickstart your own stories.
Lets get into the meat of this review!
Here you can see my original set matched with the new one. They've faithfully recreated all the little details of the vintage figures! Save for all the scuffs on my original figures. Big oversight, there. I expect them to play with these first and hand me properly scuffed figures! WhatdoIgottadothismyself?!
...I probably will.
How 'bout that Alien, huh?
The Xenomorph is pretty much what you'd expect. I haven't bought any of the numerous NECA Xenomorphs, but this looks on par with the rest (from what little I've seen).
First: This crazy back thing was separate. It just pops in, but it's not terribly secure. I had to really force it in to get it to stay for the pics.
This, on the other hand, BROKE. Tell ya the truth: I'm not surprised. So much of this figure just feels fragile, ya know? I felt like I needed an articulation map so I knew what moved and HOW. I kept moving things so, SO carefully. One ankle moved, but I can't always get it to move well. Wrenching it around manages to move it forward? I can't say how, though. I just don't know how the joint works! I had assumed it was your standard disc with ankle pivot, but it seems to be a ball joint? It just doesn't work like a ball joint! You'd have to have it in hand to see what I mean. I'm still afraid to move the non-broken ankle, but I can get it to do what I want without some violence.
This ankle just wouldn't budge, so I tried to manhandle it like the other one and *SNAP*. I glued it back in place. I would like the feet to be flat for poses, but EH. Whatever. It still works, and the bendable-wire tail helps keep it standing. Just be careful. Some of the articulation doesn't do what you'd expect.
There's double jointed knees that work great, some standard disc hips with swivel thighs attached to a rubbery crotch peice (so you can move the legs forward without worry). The elbows are disc joints that swivel (kinda wish they were standard double joints for some more extreme poses) and the shoulders are discs with swivel biceps at the top (which are brilliant, 'cause you can't tell the biceps swivel until you move them. The Alien's crazy skin hides the fact that a limb is twisted).
Finally, there's a chest joint with some nice back, forward, and side-to-side movement, and a neck joint that appears to just allow side-to-side movement. I had assumed the head would be on a ball joint to allow it to look up and down...and it might...but I'm too afraid to move it that way. Heck, I'm afraid enough to turn it!
Then, of course: The bitey tongue! The jaw is on a joint, I think. It feels..soft? Like you're bending it open, and not moving it on a joint. I think the jaw is on a joint, though. Hard to tell until it breaks off - if it does. The tongue just slides out on it's own, so you have to keep the mouth closed if you don't want the tongue to keep sliding out. It stops at a certain length, though, so you don't have to worry about the tongue actually falling out of the mouth and separate from the head.
I was hoping that the head would be slightly translucent so you could see some of the skull underneath, but it appears to just be rubbery black plastic.
I really like him, I just wish I wasn't so afraid to pose him! It really makes me appreciate the simplicity of the older figures, even if they were extremely limited in terms of poses. At least I knew what moved and what didn't! Regardless, the realism of this beast is ridiculous and awesome. THIS is the kinda Alien I've always wanted to see! It's also the kind of Alien I've always wanted to pose...I'm just afraid to!
Alright, on to the Predator.
I'm a bit more familiar with NECA's Predators. I've only got two, so far: a Lava Planet Predator, and the green version of this same Predator.
The green one is a regular single packed figure, but identical, save for the paint job. I like what they do with the Predators, but I'm still afraid to pose them. Sadly, the green one fares MUCH better than the one from the two pack.
First, the tiny shoulder gun broke one of the pegs that keeps it on, so it doesn't move around so well. The green one's gun is perfect!
Next is this tube attaching the chest to the shoulder. Needless to say: you move the arm up, you stretch this tube. Somehow it works, on the green guy! It stretches perfectly, and I can't figure out why! It works the same here, but for some reason...
It popped right out! I'ma just give up on this one in favor of fearless poses: I'll glue the other end to the armor and leave it at that. I get that it's part of the design from the movies, but it doesn't make for a great figure - especially if you're giving us articulation! If you put it in there, I'm gona want to use it!
Good news is this:
You'd think this would be the worst part, but it works! You can bend the elbow and the pipe doesn't snap off. At least, not yet (on either version).
The green one worked out so well, and I had been hoping that the brown one would too. Sucks, 'cause the brown one was the one I grew up with! Regardless, the brown one still sticks out to me, and none of the major joints failed, so I end up drawn to him anyway.
ALRIGHT, out of the way, complaints! Back to work.
The mask is recreated as a separate head, whereas the original was a removable mask. You can see a mark on the original mask, which was recreated with paintwork on the new one. Love that, of course! This is what makes these figures: The details. Even if I'm uncomfortable moving some of these figures, I cannot ignore the majesty of the paint jobs that bring the old Kenner figures to life.
Seems kinda over-the-top to gush about a ding painted on the mask, but these are the little details I remember from when I was a kid! That's the spot you notice and specifically have an enemy hit, because the damage is already there. It stands out, so it makes me happy that these details stood out to the artists as well.
The second head is the unmasked version, to mimic the original figure's removable mask. You can see another reason why I love the artists for this line: The added stripe on the head, to match the body's markings. It wasn't there on the original, but it's a fantastic little extra detail that makes these seem like they could get up and walk around. It makes sense, and does nothing but add to the experience.
Now, ya'll know I'm an accessory man, and the accessories that came with the Predator were my favorite parts of him! Having those recreated were one of the major things, for me.
They did another extra bit with this one, sculpting another handle on the top of the larger blade, since he was shown holding it that way in the comic. The toy version doesn't have a handle there (nor can you shove it in his hand at all) so it was cool to give him the option. There are some problems, however! Multiple things working to make this aggravating and nerve-racking.
First: The one on the left is from the green guy. Nice and straight! The one on the right is the brown one, and BENT. It's all hard plastic, so I have no idea how to bend it back without breaking it. Plenty of accessories get bent, but the hard plastic ones...I don't get how that happened, and I can't fix it.
Next is the hand - OH MAN. So nerve-racking. The hand is very nearly closed, but you can bend the fingers open CAREFULLY. You have to, to get the weapon in his hand. The handle of the blade is very thin - so very thin. Every time you place or remove the weapon you risk snapping it in half. I'm honestly surprised they didn't think of a better way to do this. I guess they expect "adult collectors" to put the weapon in the hand and leave it.
I think they should have had the blade's handle able to come apart, so you can slide the handle in the hand, then put the weapon back together again. I've seen that work out on many other figures - this could go a long way toward making these more fun to photograph.
Still, the blade is cool and is a great update to the original.
...and he can hold it this way now, so, yay!
Next item is in his other hand: The GUN!
I loved that he came with a gun, and this thing got a LOT more detail this time around! I wish I could show you a comparison with the original, but I used that gun with so many different figures that I lost track of it.
This item works much better for me, 'cause it slides in and out of his hand easily, and stays put when it's in. I LOVE IT.
Off to the side you can see a new item, between this one and the vintage: The arm blade. Many Predators have this, but it was missing from the design of the vintage figure. This is just as worrisome as much of the articulation on these figures, but it's easy to be careful around it.
Just firmly grab the two blades and gently pull them out of the wrist. That simple! They are thin, though, so be careful (like with the rest).
The last thing about the Predator is the shoulder cannon. A staple for most Predators, but this time around: You can remove it!
On one hand, removing it messes up the Predator look, but on the other hand, it frees up his head movement and makes him feel a little less fiddly to pose.
I don't mind removing it, 'cause he's got his big 'ol gun to compensate for the lack of shoulder cannon.
If there's one thing I could have asked from the backpack/shoulder gun thing (other than the shoulder cannon not breaking), it's a clip to store the blade. The vintage figure's blade had a peg for storing it on his back, and I've always loved the ability to store accessories on the figure.
In the end...I'm kinda blinded by nostalgia. I guess that's good, 'cause if the figure was so bad that not even nostalgia could bring it back, then we'd have a wreck on our hands. As it is: I think these figures aren't technically made for a guy like me. I think these are more for your in-package or out-of-package-and-in-a-display kind of collectors. I can't help but want to move these guys around, and they give you articulation to do it with!
I feel like, if they're going to keep up the articulation, then they should try to use some plastic that won't break so easily, or work in some features that help you swap accessories, like making the blade some apart to allow you to slide it into the hands.
On the other hand, as I've said: The green version of this guy works out well! The hand is still hard to get to hold the blade, but nothing on the green one broke or fell apart. Perhaps I just got a bum set?
Alright, lets get some VS up in this before we wrap up.
Final verdict: I feel like I might have gotten a bum set, considering how well the green version of the Predator works. If the brown one had worked out like the green one, I wouldn't feel conflicted. On the other hand, the Alien's foot broke right off, and some of the articulation is mysterious, in that it may work, but I'm too afraid to try.
So...be careful? I guess that's how I have to put it. Make sure you inspect the package and check for any breakage or paint or glue smears, then hope everything turns out alright when you open them. I can't say this is great for casual fans, but if you loved the vintage set, then it's hard to say that this wouldn't make you smile when you get them in-hand. If there had been no problems, I'd be freakin' geeked about it. As it is, I'm still kinda happy every time I pick them up. It's everything I loved about the originals, except now they look like they're gona get up and murder me! That's awesome!
So, if you're a fan, you'll have a hard time passing this one up. Just remember that they may not be the best for heavy duty photography and extreme poses and I think you'll be happy.