Updated: May 12
Review : Ellen Ripley, Fiorina 161 Prisoner NECA, Alien 3 Wave/Series : Aliens Series 8 Released : June/July 2016
This is now the 4th Ripley figure (based on the movies at least) that NECA have released since acquiring the Sigourney Weaver likeness. With two from the original 1979 Alien, and another from the 1986 Aliens sequel - this one moves on to the 3rd film in the series, Alien 3 from 1992.
NECA are sticking to the clam-shell packaging for the Alien series, with the card back tailored for each range. All the Series 8 cards are dominated by a crisp Alien 3 logo on the top of the card, and under this providing a background to the figure is the circular Alien 3 logo.
The back of the packaging is also headed by the vibrant green A3 logo overlaid on top of an actual image of the figure itself in one of NECA's beautiful diorama photographic backdrops. Half way down the card back and overlaid on the figure image is a paragraph that details the setup plot for Alien 3, this text is the same on all of the Series 8 figures. Underneath this is the Also Available section with head shots of the Weyland Yutani Commando, Ripley and the Dog Alien. Interestingly it seems that NECA are not differentiating the two Dog Aliens at this point.
Back round the front and the character name is positioned on a card insert at the front of the blister. And for the first time since Series 5, the card side inserts are back with further artwork of the figures down both the left and right side of the blister.
Out of the box and you will find yourself presented by Ripley in her jacket as well as two spare arms, a flashlight and an open flame gas torch - we will look at these in a few minutes.
Ripley stands 6 3/4 inches high, consistent with the height on the other NECA Alien Ripley figures. I was worried from some early images of the production figure that the likeness we saw on the prototype of this figure had been lost, but I needn't have been concerned. The likeness is arguably the best one of Sigourney Weaver to date. I thought Aliens Ripley was really good, but this one takes the realism to a new level with a more pronounced cheek bone structure, and an improved facial paint job that makes the facial sculpt pop.
There is tonnes of detail in the head alone, with extremely intense eyes, nostrils actually sculpted into the nose and a bruise to the left of Ripley's temple. The hair doesn't quite work as being shaved, but it doesn't look bad at all with a subtle lighter shade dry-brushed on top. I have seen other collectors who have rubbed off some of the paint detail on the hair to get a closer look but I appreciated achieving that in a factory is nigh on impossible.
The detail continues down into the outfit. The beauty of the clothing, and what NECA always does really well, is getting the worn look. And on Ripley this goes to another level again with moth holes and rips in the trousers and a paint job that makes them look worn and used - not fresh off the rail. The boots have individual laces and lace holes sculpted with each lace painted a differing brown colour to the rest of the boot.
The jacket is made as a removable item, yet still sits naturally on the shoulders and down the chest and back of the figure. The jacket also carries on the worn look and with a padded quilted effect sculpted down the dies and into the arms. There are also sculpted press-stud buttons down the front, each of which is painted in a gold finish. The arms end in a pair of black gloves, and even here there is folds and creases sculpted into the fabric.
You have to look at NECA and say a big well done for choosing to release this Ripley with two distinctive looks and not to come back in a future series with a jacketless Ripley and making fans double dip. The process of removing the arms is relatively simple, but the do require a tad more force than I felt comfortable with. Once the arms have been popped out a the shoulder then the jacket slides off and the bare skin arms then simply pop back into the joint.
In this guise, the vest is fully uncovered and here again you can see the attention to detail. The vest, albeit very plain looking from a distance, carries a texture and even has individual stitching sculpted around the V of the neck. Once again it is painted and weathered with a darker wash to bring out the folds and creases.
The bare skinned arms are cast in a flesh tone and this adds a sheen and a depth to them. The same method was used recently on the Rocky figures, and it does really work particularly if you want a hot and sweaty skin look. Each arm ends in the same black gloved hands as the jacket version.
Articulation starts with the ball jointed head which rotates fully and looks up and down. Despite being swap-able, the shoulder joints remain fully flexible and can be moved out to the side and rotated around the head. The elbows are a single joint, but nicely hidden on both the jacket and bare arm version and bend to a 90 degree angle, and then rotate. The gloved hands feel like they are on a pin, but you will only really get them to rotate.
Although I missed it at first look, there is a chest joint. It's expertly hidden in the folds of the vest - although is obviously more visible when the jacket is taken off. The movement on this joint is subtle, but it works with the waist joint to give some pose-ability to the upper torso.
NECA's latest hip joints are nicely hidden, but don't quite have the range of movement as other similar figures. The hips will get out to the side and to the front but not enough to allow Ripley to sit or kneel. The other issue is the wider you pose the legs the more of the internal ball joint is revealed, and it almost starts to make it look like Ripley has split the seam of her trousers.
Like the elbows the knees are hidden under the fold of the cloth, and again this does restrict them from bending a full 90 degrees - but in my opinion it is a perfect compromise between looks and articulation and still allows some action stances from Ripley. The articulation ends with rockers in the ankles. These are a little bit more visible as they do split the line of the boot. But they are also necessary to keep Ripley's feet planted flat to the floor and to keep the figure upright.
Despite the arm alternatives, Ripley is still packed with two other accessories. The first of these is a basic flashlight. This is cast in black plastic with a white painted lens at the end. The sculpt includes a grip and a defined button, but there is no attempt to bring out this detail with paint applications.
The torch on the other hand is much more detailed with a metallic, but discoloured paint job. It also has a flexible wrist strap which can actually be looped round Ripley's wrist if needed. Both of these accessories will fit into the right hand on either arm option. But you won't be able to have Ripley holding both as the left hands have been produced as an open hand pose.
Regardless of what you think of Alien 3 as a movie, this for me is the best Ripley to date. Not only is it a stunning sculpt, but it "fits" into the murky and dirty Alien universe and although not as iconic as the first or second versions of Ripley, she will hold her own on any display. I have a habit of scoring NECA figures 5 out of 5 and this is a habit I will not be changing for this figure. In fact you could argue that this is even better than previous 5 out of 5 figures, with NECA raising their own bar and their own expectations with each consecutive release.