Updated: May 12, 2020
Review : Aliens USCM Arsenal Accessory Set NECA, Aliens Wave/Series : 30th Anniversary Special Release Released : October 2017
Pros : Sentry Guns are fantastic, with real attention to detail on the associated laptops
Cons : Shotgun and Handgun are a little plain.
In 2016 and 2017 NECA have somewhat reshaped the Action Figure collecting scene with their innovative accessory packs. These boxed sets don't give collectors any new figures, but instead accessories and diorama parts to enhance their collections and displays. While NECA had done diorama sets before like the Predator Skull Wall and Freddy's basement this new phase of packs began to take shape in 2015 with the Alien Egg 6-pack and they went on to expand the principle in 2016 with the Aliens Creature pack and those brilliant Facehugger stasis tubes. They then moved over to Predator with that horrific "skinned" body.
NECA returned to the Alien series in late 2017 with the USCM Arsenal Accessory Set and it is that set we are taking a close look at here.
The Arsenal pack arrives in a shaped window box which has a central cut in carrying the Aliens 30th Anniversary circular logo. Under this is a simple white text to confirm the name of the set.
Round the two sides the brushed blue tinted steel colouring has some decor added to look like grilled lockers used by the Marines on the USS Sulaco. These are overlaid at the top with a repeat of the 30th Anniversary logo and at the bottom with the Aliens logo and the name of the set.
The window shows off the full entirety of the set against a dark backdrop. The bulk of the front is taken up with the two Sentry Guns with the other weapons and FX parts arranged above them in the cut back section.
The rear of the box is split into three images, each shaped somewhat like a hexagon. Each image shows the accessories in use alongside existing figures in the range. The bottom image has a number of accessories laid across a desk - the desk appears to be the one made by Diamond Select and packed in their Gotham release of Ed Nygma - I wonder what DST think about that?
The text in the top left of the box confirms the contents along with some bullet points around "celebrate the 30th anniversary of Aliens" and how to "enhance your dioramas and displays".
As always the development team is listed on the base of the box.
The contents are slid out from either of the side flaps and come out packed into a clear tray which itself sits in the cardboard tray which has been acting as the backing art while in the box. As you take the plastic tray way you can now see this is a still shot from Aliens of the Sulaco hanger complete with dropship in the background.
All the parts are slotted into segments of the tray. Only the Sentry guns are tied in with twisty-ties, the rest are held in with clear tape which you will need to remove carefully as it can pull away the paint if it has adhered to one of the parts in the box.
Pretty much everything bar the Sentry Guns in this set have been included with a NECA figure release in the past few years. The first of these is the ammo bag that is cast in a plain grey plastic with shaped looped handle to hook over a figures shoulder. This was packed with Frost back in 2016. The version in the 2017 set is pretty much identical in paint.
Also pretty much identical to its counterpart is the knife. This is a crisp piece with quite a sharp point and is painted in grey with brushed steel blade and pommel. The knife came with the 2017 Vasquez and is designed to fit in her leg holster.
A number of people will be buying this set to get hold of the MArine helmet. This is because of its significance to the SDCC Newt release, the first figure to use the helmet sculpt. The Newt SDCC 2016 release came with this helmet so as to replicate the scene in the command centre. The later release of Newt in the Rescuing Newt 2-pack dropped the helmet as an accessory.
While the helmet would go on to be released with Frost, the camouflage design was dramatically changed. Anyone who missed out on Newt from SDCC 2016 and that wanted to replicate that scene can now do so as the helmet included in this pack is a closer match in paint apps to the Newt SDCC version. It also fits Newt well, as well as being able to be worn by Frost. It is not able to go on other figures like Hicks and Hudson without looking "off" or sitting too high".
The helmet comes complete with unfastened straps and the microphone piece, these are a softer plastic and can be warped out of the box.
Next in the arsenal is the Flamethrower Unit. We have had this weapon for sometime now having first been packed with Windrix in 2013 and again with Frost in 2016. The sculpt is unchanged to these releases. The sculpt is crisp and detailed in that you can see the various parts - supported by that green and black paint job.
One item that Frost and Windrix didn't get, but that was included in the 2017 Rescuing Newt pack and is re-used here is the flame FX for the Flame Unit. This was designed for the combined weapon that Ripley carries in that 2-pack and the same principle with the flame piece is applied here so it not only fits the FLame Unit in the pack, but can also be employed on those carried by Frost and Windrix - you may need a bit of patience to get it inserted into the older flame throwers.
The flame piece is a good example of firing FX done well and my only criticism is the fact it is perhaps a little short. Would have loved to see a giant version that reaches down to torch the floor.
And what marine is complete without the standard issue Pulse Rifle? The Pulse Rifle sculpt has been around as long as the Alien series, arriving first back in 2013 with both Hicks and Hudson. Again, nothing wrong with this as a sculpt and the paint is excellent and comparable with its recent appearance in the Series 12 Vasquez and Ripley figures. This is the version with the strap, and the strap itself is a flexible rubber which can be used to sling the weapon over the shoulder - it does however get in the way a little when the weapon is in firing position.
The positive around a new Pulse Rifle for your marines is to give Frost or Windrix a new weapon for display. And like the Flamethrower you can enhance the Pulse Rifle with an FX firing piece. This is retro engineered once again to fit any Pulse Rifle to date and slots into the barrel. While I do like the Smart Gun (2016 Vasquez) and Flamethrower pieces, this one doesn't look quite right to me. It is too fluffy and dull and the paint too matt and covers up the translucency. This is the same issue I had when this was included in the Series 12 Vasquez and Ripley figures, and there has been no tweak or improvement for this set.
In the 1986 movie, only Hicks was carrying a shotgun - so if you have lost the one originally packed with Hicks, or want to give your Marines a different weapon ten the 2013 shotgun is packed again in this set. The sculpt is not as crisp here as the Pulse Rifle with some quite plain areas and warping on the barrell. The paint job is a bit flat too with the gunmetal only broken with the brown of the sliding fore-end.
The final weapon is the handgun which we got in the Frost release. This is the plainest sculpt and paint job of the set and is simply cast in black with very little detailing on the sculpt and zero paint apps.
The other accessory from that top section of the pack is the torch. This is a circular grey piece with a translucent blue hued centre and carrying strap. It was first included with Bishop in 2014 and was also included in the Newt SDCC pack. Outside of Bishops scenes in the ventilation, it didn't play a huge part in the movie - but is a piece you might want to gear one of your figures up with.
After the entree of smaller guns and accessories, it is the two Auto Sentry Guns that are what makes this pack. These are from a deleted scene in the original movie, and were later added back into the James Cameron Special Edidition.
You get two of these in the set, and they are identical in every way - even down to the markings and identification numbers. They are cast in what feels to be a very brittle plastic and I suspect if you drop them they won't last too long. This plastic does however allow for very crisp and clean details in items that are mechanical so the gun is incredibly realistic for the scale.
Each Sentry Gun is made up of a thin tripod stand which then goes upward to circular platform on to which the gun section is mounted. In the movie this circular piece rotates to allow the gun to adjust to its target, it seems this is something NECA have not added with the tripod glued to the gun. The gun has a large back section, on top of which is essentially a 1980's style video camera. We then have a central section and a barrel that ends with a machine gun type muzzle.
A flexible pipe is attached from the gun and loops down and back to the stand. A thinner version then comes out of the side of the weapon and is attached to the ammo box. This is free standing with two base sections that appear to have been folded out - don't try and fold these back in as they are again not designed to move.
The paint is the army green we've seen on the Marine uniforms and smaller weaponry to date. There are very well executed patches of silver added in various locations to make the gun looked weathered and scraped. There are lots of decal use on both gun and ammo box. With numbering and text on both as well as some hazard striping on the ammo box. I guess there was part of me that wanted NECA to have gone way up and beyond and used differing decals on each gun, but they haven't and that makes sense considering the price point.
The guns scale perfectly to the marines, even though they are not techicall manned for firing.
The guns also have two accessories of their own, and in the box they simply look like dark grey pads of some kind. Once you've found the hinge these actually open up to the laptop computers that come with the Sentry Guns to operate them remotely. These are sculpted with a keyboard and a sticker is then used to replicate the green 80's display screen.
Each screen is different, with one displaying clearly legible gauges for the gun including ammo, temperature and rounds per minute. The second screen is not as clear, but s the menu setup you see in the film as they activate the gun. Thankfully neither computer is showing "Critical" so for now you have plenty of ammo to keep the Xenomorphs at bay.
The timing of these weapons by NECA at the same time we've got the battle damaged Aliens doesn't feel coincidental by NECA and allows for some creative dioramas to be setup. Ours is very basic in the images above, but you get the idea of what could be achieved with the use of some grilled flooring and wall decor.
When I lay out everything I get with the USCM Arsenal Pack, you begin to see where the £35 RRP is coming from in the UK. My question is however why would a collector need the various weapons and accessories unless they have lost the originals packed with their figures. Everything from my set will go in a spares box aside from the Sentry Guns and that spare helmet which can now use with Newt.
It does then beg the question could NECA have done just the Sentry Guns as a pack and reduced the cost, and if so how much?
That being said, every item in the set is well executed with only the shotgun and pistol feeling mediocre when you compare them to other weapons. The stars are of course the Sentry Guns and that extra detail of the remote computers just makes this something a bt special for Aliens collector - regardless of whether you want or will use any of the additional parts.
This is a set it pays to shop around for (while it remains on sale in stores) as I have seen it as low as £27 and as high as £45 (at a convention). It will be a set sought after in the future by collectors, although as with anything NECA does (and as this set proves) nothing is ever "off the market for long" and I think we may see these Sentry Guns again in some guise or other in the future.
I score the Aliens USCM Arsenal Accessory Set 5 out of 5.