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NECA: Alien 40th Anniversary Series 3 Review

In space, no one can hear you scream. But here on Earth, everyone probably heard me scream with joy that the Nostromo crew is finally complete in the NECA Alien line. It may be a long time coming (the 40th anniversary was technically in 2019), but it feels good to be able to add Ash and Kane (with likeness!) to my collection. 

I have a pretty simple relationship with the Alien movie franchise: I love the original. Yes, I see the appeal, and even enjoy some of the popcorn fare of the sequel to a point, but I have always felt that after the first, the subsequent installments moved away from what made that original offering so great. I don’t dislike them, so please don’t think that, but I don’t find any of the follow-ups to be within a mile of the quality of Ridley Scott’s, well, masterpiece. Alien is a (mostly) quiet horror film that is just, if not more, impactful from a psychological scare standpoint than even the death and torture. It is so incredibly claustrophobic and by the time the movie is over, you are mentally exhausted from trying to will the crew of the Nostromo to safety, or just, you know, listen to the smart Warrant Officer.

You don’t get to that point without being fully invested in the characters, and the portrayals and casting of all of the crew is so pitch-perfect, it makes all of them so memorable. So, even though I know the “Big Chap” Xenomorph is the star of the show, and the big draw when it comes to selling action figures, I have wanted this crew more than anything else since the moment NECA took the reins. Randy and the NECA crew have been releasing some amazing figures for a long time now, and in all that time, they have been fighting the good fight behind the scenes. See, the Alien action figure license does NOT include actor likenesses, so each and every one of those has had to be secured on its own. It has taken some time, as you know, but now we are here, and I could not be any more excited to have the complete crew of the Nostromo on my shelf. What a journey. 

Ash and Kane are the final two to join the group, and it is bittersweet just a bit at this point as both John Hurt and Ian Holm have left this mortal plain. Technically, we have had a Kane figure before, but his face was obscured by the facehugger alien, so really, we are just now getting a look at the true likeness, and it has been worth the wait. Ash has been the big one for me though, Holm’s masterful performance of the treacherous android is one of the highlights of the film, even if his demise still grosses me out a bit. These two are joined by the (H.R.) Geiger version of the Alien/Xenomorph/Big Chap and are currently available at Wal-Mart. This was originally the final assortment planned for the anniversary, but NECA has added an additional wave for later in the year, we will get to that in a bit.

If you have been collecting this anniversary line, you will be familiar with this new Big Chap. As far as I can tell, there are not any notable differences between this figure, and the Ultimates edition of Big Chap released early last year. The Ultimate edition included more accessories like the facehugger, chestbuster, and egg, but as far as I can tell, the figure itself is essentially the same. There are some subtle paint differences in the colors (especially on the skull), but I think this is more of a product of a slight variation from run to run, rather than a conscious change. I could be wrong about this as there are a LOT of details to review, but I think this is just giving the actual alien in Alien another chance to see release. I have included pictures here, but you can see our feature on the Ultimate edition from last spring HERE.

Moving on to Kane, this is a figure that, like Big Chap, has mostly been seen before, but with some new and essential details added. For the first time, Kane in his compression suit sports the Hurt likeness, and that is a major win no matter how you look at it. This release retains many accessories and elements from the prior release as well, but the big draw is obviously the new noggin. I have to admit, I never actually picked up the original Kane for the very reason it was missing the likeness, so this release is actually all-new to me. For those you who did, the base body is obviously reused here, but the blaster, light, cracked helmet and facehugger head are also carried over. I *think* the unbroken helmet is the same that is included with the compression suit Dallas figure, so that makes the new Hurt portrait the fully-unique piece. 

As you can see, there is a lot of detail in the compression space suits, and while I am more of a fan of the crew in the “home” Nostromo jumpsuits, the equipment Kane wears for his ill-fated mission is very interesting to look at. It’s funny, as Alien is set in the future and has technology far beyond anything we currently have on Earth, the compression suits look surprisingly low-tech. This is actually very effective in the overall design and feel of the movie, but also in increasing the helpless the crew has against their unexpected opponent. This tech does give a lot of interesting lines and patterns in the textile portion of the suit, but the smaller gadgetry and metal pieces stand out almost as armor on the shoulders, shins, and chest. As “uniforms” they certainly do not match from one to the next, and the sickly yellow color of Kane’s suit contrasts deeply again the blue of Lambert and the garish pink worn by Captain Dallas. Sure, they share much (if not all all) of the same mold, but the coloring sets them apart.

The Kane likeness comes on a swappable head that is adorned with the suit hood. Dallas and Lambert sport these as well, and while you can see some wisps of his hair coming down on his forehead, Kane’s face is the focal point of the piece and it is presented in a way that stands out. John Hurt had a very recognizable and unique quality to his appearance – he was gaunt of face, with small, tired eyes, and a pronounced jaw, but there was always a kind and amiable quality to his look as well. This worked well in the context of the film, and it is rendered well here. This isn’t the jovial and hungry version of Kane from the dinner where he meets his horrifying end, but rather a cautious and suspect projection from his time on LV-426. There is foolish curiosity here that promoted his ultimate demise, and I think NECA has rendered it all skillfully with an unmistakable likeness to Hurt. 

Like all of the space suit figures, I hope that we will see other versions of Kane in the line some day as he presents more avenues for unique releases than anyone else save for Ripley. That said, I am thrilled to have the puppet that lead to the downfall of the Nostromo in my collection. But remember, all puppets have masters, which leads us to…

Ash. My goodness, I am positive you remember your reaction to the first time you watched Alien, and Ash’s true nature and motivations were revealed. Maybe nature and motivation are too strong of words for an android, but he is ultimately the conduit that lead to the deaths of all but Ellen Ripley, and his final scene is a chilling account of the perspective of the smallness of the lives of the crew that was being so horribly stalked. Ian Holm was a master of his craft, and his calm, collected, and terrifying portrayal of Ash is one for the books to be sure, and he has my favorite figure in this new wave. 

This assortment was well-conceived in that Kane and Big Chap, by the nature of their construction, allowed new tooling dollars to be put to Ash, as he was in need for the most unique parts. I supposed I just assumed that he would share at least part of his build with Brett, at least parts of the legs, but that does not appear to be the case here, and I think he is completely new. Or, at least has so many new parts that any reuse gets lost and buried, so it is essentially moot. Ian Holm was the shortest of all of the crew (he and Lambert were close), and he had a certain middle-aged stockiness to him by the late 1970s, so while that is a bit of an odd thing to point out, he wasn’t going to match up with the rest of the crew in terms of build. 

I am very pleased that NECA went for it and gave Ash what he needed in his form and build and detail of costume. As an android, Ash actually wore his jumpsuit more as designed than the frumpy arrangement of most of the human crew, so it is interesting to inspect this figure and its details from an “as it was meant to be” vantage point. The light blue makes him stand out further from the whites and other muted colors from the rest of the crew, and the red piping along the collar and pockets really pops. The figure also includes multiple hands to hold and manipulate the various implements that are packed in (more on that in a second).

Two Ash portraits are also included, but not really in the sense that they are swappable heads. You get the standard version for the figure itself, but NECA has also included the decapitated and “bloody” (android fluid is apparently white) head from Ash’s memorable confrontation scene. Overall, I find NECA’s rendering of the Holm likeness to be effective, and the expression they chose for the standard head is pretty damned perfect for the character. His cheeks might be *slightly* full for an exact match to Holm’s visage, but that is a very small thing to call out here. I would describe the likeness as recognizable to be sure, and if you are a fan of the other actor likenesses NECA has achieved in this line, Ash fits right in with those standards for sure.

Ash science officer on the ship, Ash utilized several different implements and instruments (particularly when examining the comatose Kane after his attack on LV-426) and many of those are included here. Six unique pieces have been packed in of various shapes and sizes, and they can all be identified from different scenes from the movie. Oh, and he even comes with the damned magazine he uses to try to kill Ripley! I will be honest with you, I am the type who will likely pick one or two of them to display with the figure and then keep it that, but as always, I am happy to have options. The better news is that the included hands can hold these well, just be careful not to drop the instruments, they are small and you will be looking for them with a magnifying glass. 

We made it! We now have the complete collection of poor unfortunate souls, and I want to give NECA all the credit in the world for seeing this through. It is a massive effort just to get action figures made, but to take a multi-year approach and being unflappable in their approach to securing likeness rights is something else entirely. In case there was any doubt that the team making these figures were fans, that is absolutely not the case anymore. As I mentioned, there is another wave planned that includes Lambert and Ripley in their space suits, but this time with the photo printing for the faces employed, so look for that this summer. 

Past that, I feel there is one last step that is needed to make me feel like I have everything I ever wanted for an Alien line. I know it would take a considerable amount of new tooling dollars, but I hope NECA will bring us Dallas, Kane, and Lambert in their Nostromo ship jumpsuits. Frankly, those are the looks that I prefer, but these are what the characters wore for most of the movie, so I think they are important. Plus, getting all of the characters in a common look for a unified display is what I ultimately want here. I think/hope these anniversary figures have been successful enough that NECA is at least considering those options at this point. I will be pre-ordering DAY ONE as soon as they are announced.

Get your set at Wal-Mart.