Toy Review: Alien 40th Anniversary Figures Wave 1

No, math didn’t suddenly go crazy. 2020 is in fact the 41st anniversary of Ridley Scott’s original Alien. Once deemed mysterious, terrifying, and woefully inappropriate for toys, the xenomorph creature now shows up everywhere. Since the early ’90s, it’s fair to say there has ever not been an Alien toy of some sort available. But for years, toy companies mostly shrugged at the human characters. Actors didn’t understand approving toy likeness rights for an R-rated film, and most companies left it at that. NECA were the first to get Sigourney Weaver’s actual approval, and they followed it up by trying for every other cast member. The reason the Alien 40th anniversary line is a year late is it took a little longer to sign longtime holdouts like the late John Hurt and Ian Holm.

But they’re not coming just yet. The first of three wave, featuring three figures each, consists of two redecoed characters and one partial resculpt. For people who already own versions of these characters, they might not be essential. For those who don’t, these look meant to be the definitive 1979 versions. The packaging, based on Kenner’s original, shelves-withdrawn 1979 figure, is a huge bonus for in-box collectors.

Each wave includes a version of the alien xenomorph, based on NECA’s most recent resculpt. The “Big Chap” has seen release separately in regular and glow-in-the-dark form. For wave 1, it appears as the prototype suit version: the original concept to do a translucent alien that didn’t quite work out. H.R. Giger would revisit the clear alien idea for the Species movies once CGI made it possible, but 1979 was too soon for that. Still, it makes a great toy, as a pearlescent wash really brings out the details of the sculpt. Super-articulated as is now the norm for xeno figures, it sports double ball elbows and knees. (For full details on this same sculpt, upsized, check out our previous 1/4 scale review.)

RELATED: Toy Review: NECA Upsizes and Up-Details the Classic Kenner Rhino Alien

Dallas is basically a repaint, with more detailed paint apps, including a photoreal face coloring that makes the Tom Skerritt likeness significantly better. The Giger-esque spacesuit, inspired by samurai armor, may inspire a Mandela Effect. Who remembered that anything in the movie Alien was pink? And sure, the sculpt could have taken a second pass on articulation. As Marvel’s recent Kingpin figure proves, thick joints no longer necessarily impede movement. But let’s just say the knee and elbow articulation here still has limited range. To be fair, the actual suit probably did as well. Though the wrists and ankles are full ball-joints. Collectors in warmer climates, be wary of possible shelf dives if the heat loosens the joints at all.

The captain comes with a gun and flashlight, both of which he can hold at the same time. A loop in his belt seems designed to holster one or both, but it’s a tricky fit either way. Take care with the gun hand; it’s a loose grip, and depends primarily on his finger going through the trigger hole. The removable helmet is a beauty, though. It might seem daunting to put on at first, but the trick is that the neck area of his suit is actually a flexible “lip” in which the back tab of the helmet rim can be inserted.

RELATED: Review: NECA Exclusive Batman vs. Joker Alien Figure Set

The minor letdown in the wave is Ripley. Boasting a new digital sculpt and face coloring, she ought to look more like Sigourney Weaver than ever. Instead, she looks less. It’s hard to say quite what the issue is — maybe the open-mouth sculpt simply doesn’t look like an expression we often see. Or maybe it’s doing a scan from non-digital retro sources. Some angles look a lot better than others, which suggests a composite.

Still, it’s hard to advise passing on this figure altogether, thanks to the included accessories. She can hold a detailed flamethrower and motion detector simultaneously. The coolest add-on, though, is Jones the cat in a space cat carrier. Jones himself sports neck articulation, and the carrier opens in fancy fashion, as a top panel needs to be pulled back before the hinge-top can open. It’s the best toy cat accessory since Goose. (Yes, Goose is technically a Flerken, but come on.)

The next two waves get exciting, with first-ever figures of Brett, Parker, Kane, and Ash. Plus another chance at the basic Big Chap without the “ultimate” accessories (about $5 cheaper, $25 vs. $30), as well as a bloody version. In this wave, the concept suit xenomorph is the standout must-have, Dallas is a definite must for people who don’t own one yet, and Ripley…your mileage may vary. Anyone who owns a different Ripley might want to get this one and do a head-swap. Sometimes hand-sculpted from scratch can actually be better.

Take a better look in our full gallery below.

Recommended Purchase: NECA Alien 40TH Anniversary Big CHAP 1/4 Scale AF

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate advertising program also provides a means to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.