Updated: May 12
Review : Xenomorph Drone Albino NECA, Aliens Wave/Series : Aliens Series 9 Released : October/November 2016
£19.99 - £22.99
NECA have never been a company who will shy away from taking their existing molds and figures and re-inserting them into the range as new and innovative product. In the past few years of the Alien range in particular we have had figures re-duxed as Comic versions like the Genocide Red Aliens, and others tweaked to be Video Game or Kenner inspired figures like the Dog Alien and Space Marine Ripley. Another avenue NECA have explored are early concepts for the Alien movies, releasing the 1979 concept for the Big Chap from Alien before it was changed to the creature colour scheme we saw in the final cut of the movie. And it is to this area that NECA have returned for this wave 9 release.
Unlike the first Big Chap, there was no prop or design model as far as we know for the Albino Alien. It simply was a concept explored by James Cameron in early scripts for the 1986 sequel. He described the creature as having an extending probe from it's mouth, rather than the inner jaw. The concept was taken out in later revisions of the script, but some 30 years later as part of the 30th Anniversary releases NECA have brought this creature to life.
The packaging remains the clam shell design that have been in use for the Alien range since it's first wave in 2013. Being an Aliens release, the predominantly black packaging is embued with a blue tone starting with the electric blue Aliens film logo on the header card. Around the card wrap at the base of the blister is a name plate which starts to blend to a green grid design. The figure's name is given as Xenomorph, with the words Albino Drone in brackets underneath. To the side of this figure name is a circular logo containing an Alien head and the 30th Anniversary text. The rest of the packaging at the front is given over to a view of the figure itself, with a circular sticker placed top right that confirms this is a concept figure - the same sticker as was used on the Translucent Big Chap although here it is given a blue tone not the green as was used on the Alien packaging.
After a couple of waves without the side art, NECA brought it back with Series 8 and it continues into this Series 9 release. The art used on these side panels is arguably some of the best that NECA have inserted. The right hand spine contains what looks like the Marine monitors that Gorman used to monitor the Marines while he remained aboard the APC. Each screen shows a different view of the actual Albino Alien figure. The monitor then displays the name Crowe, and with blood splashes down each screen.
The left hand spine then carries a full look at the figure, and this same image is used on the rear of the card. Over this rear image is a paragraph explaining the Albino concept from Cameron, presented in the same font as the Alien logo with electric blue glow. The card back header is another use of the Aliens logo and the only other details are a section at the base that shows the text "Also Available" and has three head shots of the three figures that make up Series 9 - this Albino Alien, Private Frost and Private Vasquez.
Once open you will be presented by the figure, strapped securely into the insert, with its flexible tail wrapped around the base in a curve. The tongue piece isn't obvious at first and is slotted in behind the figure and interestingly not attached to the figure.
Now let's get this straight, this figure is a straight up re-use of the Series 1 and 2 Aliens Xenomorph, the same mold that was then used for the Genocide Aliens and the damaged versions in the Hicks & Hudson 2-packs. That being said, this has always been a highly impressive sculpt and when you present it in such a light base colour the beauty of the intricate detail really stand out.
The head starts with the ridged dome that is a trademark of the 1986 drone vs the original Big Chap. The ridge detail is crisp but organic and works its way down to the eyeless skull front that sits over the gaping jaw. Down each side of the skull are more ridged pieces along with tubing, veins and tendons.
The chest is an exposed rib-cage with a central section that looks like a frontal spine with more ridged detail. Under this chest there is a return to the more "engineered" looking parts of the creature - more ribbed tubing connecting into each other and cross sections, this splays out to the groin area from which the legs splay downwards. Each leg is boney and with inner cut out panels that include the ribbed flesh and across these lies more tubing. The legs work down through very bony knees to a slimmer shin area and finally splayed feet with three toes to the front and one to the side, each with a wicked claw.
The arms, like the legs, are an outer bone structure with cut out panels that are ridged and ribbed. Another feature of the 1986 Xeno is the extra section that juts out of the elbow and connects again down at the wrist. Each arm finishes in a three fingered skeletal hand.
The paint job, as I mentioned early, really shows off this sculpt in all its glory and you will see detail on this figure that was never truly exposed on the darker Series 1 and 2 creatures. The initial colouring s that of a bone white, but there is a very subtle pink shade within this making the creature give off a pale fleshy kind of look, more so under intense lighting. There are parts, like the hands and feet, where the pink tone is a little too heavy and you do end up with a line of difference where the shades meet - as though these parts were perhaps painted separately in the factory and then fitted?
There is also quite an ugly patch under the groin where the two sections don't meet and you are left with an exposed under joint that is smooth and a clear plastic. This exists on the previous 86 Xeno's, but was never as noticeable under a much darker colour scheme. The figure is finished in a darker wash that has crept into the recessed areas like the rib cage and added depth and shadow and further shows of the grotesque nature of the Alien.
Articulation has not, as far as I can see, been improved on this figure. The head is on a ball joint and can look to each side within the raised shoulder sections but seems to spring back from most positions to a standard forward looking position. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, and this shoulder joint allows the arms to raise about 45 degrees from the body. This shoulder also rotates to allow the arms to get higher. Directly under the shoulder is a bicep swivel. This seems to add nothing to the movement considering the shoulder already rotates, and when spun it does ruin the lines of the arm. Each elbow is double jointed, and this allows the arm to pretty much bend back on itself. This elbow also rotates where the joint meets the upper arm. Arm movement ends with a swivel on the wrist, this is also on a pivot so the hand can be bent forward to almost 90 degrees to the forearm.
There is no waist joint on these figures, but there is a torso swivel that is worked into the design of the creature to sit under the rib cage. This joint will let the torso swivel to each side, but there is very little movement to lean the figure forward or backward. My issue with the NECA Xeno's, of any flavour, starts at the legs as they are all so difficult to stand and pose - something borne out of the design of the creatures spindly legs on camera. The hips here are ball jointed, but with the angle of the groin section their movement is limited in all directions. There is enough movement for wider stances, and a crouching position, but not to curl the creature up. The knees are double jointed, which allows the crouch, and there is a further joint in the ankle which rotates the feet, and a final joint that pivots the front of the foot.
The saving grace for posing the figure is the tail, which you can bend in any position and is used as a counterpoint to the spindly legs which don't hold up such a top heavy figure very well. The tail is a rubbery material that has been cast over a metal armature. This makes the tail supremely flexible and once posed it should hold its shape. As a watch out, and as we have seen on smaller examples of this technique like the facehuggers, this armature has a life span and will deteriorate over time as will the rubber - so be careful of being overly heavy handed with the tail.
So we are yet to talk about this enormous tongue which is packed independently of the figure. There are no instructions, and therefore I feel sorry for new collectors who would have a bit of trial and error to work this out. As I have handled and posed these Aliens before I know that what looks like a fixed jaw is actually hinged. If it doesn't open straight away then try a little heat from a hairdryer and tease the jaw open by holding the head and gently pulling downward. In the previous Xeno's you would have found an inner jaw here that could slide forward - this is not included on the Albino. In stead the tongue can be slotted into the head and into the slot that looks to have been designed for the inner jaw - clever stuff.
This tongue is made the same way as the tail - rubber over a metal armature. Here you can start to see the engineering of this method, as holes are punched in the rubber to allow for expansion and retraction as the metal armature is posed - these aren't an issue if you ensure they are facing backward. The tongue is painted a thicker pink than the body, with a ribbed section at the end and an off white proboscis that Cameron had conceptualised to be used to create the Alien cocoons. This end is washed to dirty it up nicely.
As a figure, this Albino Alien is pretty horrific looking - in a good way - and like the Translucent Big Chap will add some variation to your Alien Hive. The question here is, and as sales will eventually tell, is if fans will embrace this figure into their collection despite it never making it on screen - or will they simply hoover up Vasquez and Frost and leave this one peg warming for months and years to come? The decision to include him was a brave one, and I expect nothing less of NECA. Hindsight will show if this was the right choice or whether re-releasing the original 1986 Xeno would have been a better business decision and would have maybe pleased fans, particularly those who may have missed out on the original Aliens first time round.
Like all our reviews I am going to score the Albino on looks, articulation and paint job - all against the RRP of the figure. With that in mind it is hard to deny this Albino is a looker and will enhance most Alien displays. Articulation is about as good as it gets, although the figures ability to stand continues to be an ongoing issue. Paint is great, apart from those patches of stark paint tone change rather than it being blended. That all stacks up to score the Albino a 4 out of 5, a consistent store with most of the NECA Xenos to date.