After a number of years under the McFarlane umbrella, NECA took the Alien franchise to new heights in 2013 when it released Series 1 of the 7" figure series. Along side the Brown Warrior Xenomorph from Aliens the biggest draw in the series was the inclusion of two of the key Colonial Marines from the 1986 Aliens sequel.
We will go in rank order and start with Corporal Dwayne Hicks, as played by Michael Biehn. Hicks has been released in figure form prior to NECA obtaining the licence, landing in 2004 from McFarlane as part of their Movie Maniacs wave. Although the McFarlane release had plenty of positives, the NECA version is a significant improvement.
As well as the original carded single release, NECA re-used the Hicks figure with second release as part of a 2-pack alongside the Blue Aliens Warrior. This release had a different head sculpt including the marines helmet.
In this review I am working with the un-helmeted single release from 2013 and the gallery is for the same figure.
Let's start with the sculpt, and this is NECA so it is absolute top quality. The head is a great likeness for Biehn, much more than his previous sculpt from their Terminator range. The NECA team then sculpted a standardised Marine body and have added modular armour onto this. First off this cleverly allows for mix and match of parts to produce different Marines. It also adds some reality to the figure as the armour isn't fixed by a sculpt, instead it moves with the articulation of the figure.
Have a look at the gallery for all the detail the NECA have squeezed onto this figures - you will see clasps, trackers, straps and pouches. Hicks also sports a bullet hole in his shoulder armour. The arms are sculpted as bare arms from the shoulder downwards, with the forearms having some texture in terms of arm hair. The legs are a bit plainer and depict basic cargo type trousers finishing at knee and shin guards and a standard army boot.
Paint on this model is immense also. First off is the face and skin details which are nicely done but also seem to capture the grime and dirt that Hicks would have picked up during the film. There is also a detailed tattoo on his left arm.
The armour is the real beauty of this model. Firstly it is camouflaged in at least 5 or 6 different paint colours. On top of this is the same grime wash which adds a level of realism. Hicks has a red heart and medal on his chest, accurate to the film, and just above this is a bar code type set of numbers which would identify this as Hicks armour. Spin him round and their is a faint but intricate Chinese symbol on the rear armour and LIFER printed at the base of the armour. Trousers, boots, straps and accessories are all finished very well and there is hardly any paint bleed.
Hicks comes prepared for war and included in the blister are the signature USMC Pulse Rifle which can be held or slung. There is a tracker which again can be held or clipped to Hick's belt. "For close encounters" Hicks is also packed with his shotgun. Again the shotgun can be held, or slots nicely into a leather style holster that fits on Hicks' back.
So far so good, but when we start to look at articulation the figure unfortunately begins to drop points. The head is on a ball joint and can rotate the full 360 degrees whilst also looking up and down. Ball jointed shoulders allow the arms to reach just under 90 degrees out from the body. There is then a bicep swivel, elbow joint and wrist swivel. All of this should allow Hicks to get into plenty of poses with either of his weapons - but in reality the elbow joints are almost for show and you can barely move the elbow or twist the arms to achieve a two handed weapon pose. That leaves your options limited to the one hand poses as seen in my gallery. Interestingly if you look at any production shots, or promo shots the figure is shown in two handed weapon poses - but that doesn't translate onto the figure I received, even with heat to ease the joint.
The waist is articulated so Hicks can spin to either side to a decent range of movement. There is then ball jointed hips, knee joint and a some ankle rockers. The whole issue with the legs is they lack any strength and figure has a real struggle standing naturally - so much so that I had to put mine into a Kaiser figure stand to hold him in the poses I want him to stay into.
Hicks is beautifully sculpted, beautifully painted but loses a mark for articulation issues on the arm, and another for leg strength. There is no doubting this figure is a looker and is a crucial figure to have in any 1986 Aliens display - particularly more so with the recent releases of the Queen and Bishop and the upcoming 1986 Ripley and Power Loader. 3 out of 5.