Review: 40th Anniversary Quarter-Scale Alien Action Figure

Review: 40th Anniversary Quarter-Scale Alien Action Figure

In 1979, Kenner’s Alien action figure was the toy to get. Huge, and prohibitively expensive compared to a kid’s allowance, it depended on parental goodwill to purchase. And that was in short supply. Parents resented toys trying to appeal to kids too young to see an R-rated movie, and the toy was pulled from shelves. Many years have gone by since then — forty, to be exact — and now multiple toy companies put out Alien xenomorph toys every year. NECA have been the best, generally, and done a couple in the quarter-scale (22-inch) format. For the 40th anniversary, however, they’ve started again with a new version of the original movie “Big Chap,” in a box made to resemble the 1979 Kenner packaging. The toy logo is vintage, as also used by Super7’s Reaction figures, and the inner package is red. As opposed to the usual NECA photo backdrop that gets utterly destroyed in the removal of figure from package.

Unless I’ve missed one, this is the third time NECA has done a quarter-scale version of the original movie Alien (not counting color variants, like the translucent version of the second edition, pictured). The first holds up despite being a lot more basic than modern, more-detailed sculpts. The second…looks very similar to the newest one. It takes some up-close sleuthing to spot the differences, and I’m not even sure I did see them all. As the version of the last one I had is the color variant, I’m not 100% looking at apples to apples. But it’s certainly not just the exact same figure in a new box.

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The articulation appears the same, including ankles that rotate more than most newer NECA Q-scales. Double ball arms, double-hinge knees, upper-shoulder swivels and all the rest. Honestly, there wasn’t a lot they needed to improve on. Mostly, this figure seems slightly leaner and taller, which I think they pulled off by extending the waist joint and legs, and making the head just a touch narrower. The tail feels more slight, and the ridges on the “tongue” in its back more pronounced and prominent. Most noticeable is the jaw: its inner mouth is wider open, and the outer mouth has more, sharper teeth. The spikes on his elbows are curvier.

(NECA may well correct me; these are such subtle changes that I could be succumbing to illusion. But it’s not like they include press releases specifying the new parts, so it’s up to my best observation)

Collectors who already own the last one don’t need to trade up, bottom line. Unless the vintage-style packaging is a must, the figure isn’t radically different. For those who don’t have the prior figure and want a quarter-scale xenomorph, this is a boon. It’ll undoubtedly be cheaper than tracking down the last one. At $120, it hits the now-standard quarter-scale price point.

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Though I recommend Kaiser doll stands for piece of mind displaying this figure, it stands reasonably well by itself, with the aid of the tail. The prior version sustained leg warping after a while, but that may have been related to the translucent plastic on my variant version. This guy feels more solid, and there’s a glossy finish that gives the creature a real “wetness” look. The tubes on the back use uniquely shaped pegs to slot in, and require some hand strength; the tongue should go in last, or it’ll pop off during tube assembly.

Getting the Alien for Christmas — even as a review sample — was the blast of nostalgia I needed, and hit that 40th year just in time. NECA plans more 40th anniversary surprises, but they’ll be out this year — the 41st anniversary. Rumor and the company’s Twitter clues have it that the delay may have been to secure long-unavailable actor likenesses, like John Hurt or Ian Holm. We can hope.

Check out more looks at the Big Chap in our gallery below.