Review : Weyland Yutani Commando NECA, Alien 3 Wave/Series : Aliens Series 8 Released : June/July 2016
Even with a Ripley in Series 8, the figure many have been excited about is the inclusion of the Weyland Yutani Commando. These masked troopers were seen briefly at the climax of Alien 3, but for a Toy Company like NECA there immediate appeal would be the fact that no actor likeness rights have to be negotiated. They also obviously provide "army building" potential which should lead to multiple sales from some collectors.
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 pack and the Commando is packed with a Pulse rifle and a short knife. He stands 6 3/4 inches high which does put him a touch shorter than some of the other Alien figures and on par with Ripley.
The sculpt is quite literally out of this world, and one the best I have seen from NECA. Even the promotional images don't do this thing justice and you just have to have it in hand and inspect all the details and paint applications to really appreciate the love and time that went into this one.
The head is masked and when the figure comes out of the box the eye holes are open, and through this you can see a painted head and two perfectly painted eyes. That in itself screams attention to detail. These eye holes then have two options of goggles open or goggles shut, and you achieve these looks by swapping in the two alternative goggle pieces. The mechanics of this are relatively simple with a slot in the head to lock in each piece. Both look awesome, but my preference is the goggles open so you can still see those eyes underneath.
The helmet sits on top of a large mouth piece that is locked around the Commando's neck, this is solid at one side and an open grill at the other and through this grill you can see a sculpted chin wearing the bottom of a balaclava. This chin is also sculpted so you can see folds in the cloth and the outline of the mouth. The whole helmet and mouth piece are painted silver, but with a black wash that dirties up the metal and brings out the little details like rivets and welding lines.
The outfit is reminiscent of the Pressure Suits we saw in Alien, and that NECA have released in figure form for both Alien and Alien Isolation. But it's not just a pressure suit as within the design is a mix of cold weather looking gear and layer after layer of detail. There is a fur lined collar, sculpted with a fur like texture. This sits on an outer collar of some under jacket and then on top of this are a couple of shoulder pads, one a smooth material, the other the quilted texture we saw on the Nostromo Pressure Suits.
Down into the jacket itself and you will find bags of detail from stitching lines, buttons through to straps and buckles. There is also weaponry to remind you this is a soldier. Throwing stars in a strap round the left arm and a couple of grenades hanging from the chest. The hands are also a nice touch, with the right being gloved but the left being a metallic armoured hand of some kind. This is not something that is massively clear on the film so we assume is accurate to the props considering the depth NECA have gone with accuracy on this figure.
Round the back is the backpack which is embossed with a Weyland Yutani logo. The pack itself is quite plain and smooth in design and then extends two arms around the waist of the figure with each of these having a corrugated rectangular tube design and then into some controls or nozzles, and these nozzles vary on the two sides, its not a reuse of parts.
Trousers continue with the stitching and are trimmed with a double grey stripe down the side, and again this is a sculpted element not just a painted line. The trousers tuck into knee high boots, again of a similar design to the pressure suit and the whole thing ends with some steel coloured boots. Although all of this is reminiscent of the Nostromo suits, I can't find one piece that is a direct re-use.
The paint is what makes the figure as it's not just a clean trooper who has just stepped out on his first mission. This is a dirty, grimy commando who has seen some action - not least trecking to reach the Forge area on Fiorina 161. The majority of the paint work is quite simply beige or sandy brown - but this is all washed to bring out the detail and folds in the cloth whilst also making it look grimy and "used".
So the looks are out of the park on this £22 figure, what about articulation?
Well, it's there - but it's not that good considering the bulk of the figure. The head moves slightly, but is locked into the collar by the mouth guard. The arms are on ball joints and the right can get up to about 45 degrees before being blocked by the shoulder. The left goes a little further to just under 90 degrees. Neither can rotate above the head due to the shoulder padding. Each elbow is jointed with a single joint and these bend to 90 degrees and also rotate really well. I was a little disappointed that the elbow peg is not the same colour as the arm so is visible when you straighten out the arm. Both hands are on pegs so rotate fully and have a degree of back and forth movement up to the point they hit the sleeve.
There is a waist joint, cleverly positioned under the belt when you would have expected it to be further up. This again doesn't give much movement, but enough to twist the torso to either side to vary poses - go any further and the lines break up and you will see a pretty ugly joint between legs and torso. The two arms to the backpack are also on a joint so they can be raised up and down the body if you wish.
The legs can actually get out to almost 90 degrees to the side and into a semi sitting position. This means that although your Commando won't kneel, he can be placed into some wider shooting or action stances. The knee joint are hidden behind the cricket pad looking top of the boots. They are single joint and while not bending to a complete right angle to the thigh, they do go most of the way - further supporting the wider action poses. The ankles are rockers and its a clever decision to put that joint under the shin pad and allowing the shin pad and boot to move rather than the boot being restricted under the pad. This rocker means the figure stands really well and is very stable in a lot of poses.
Aside from the goggle parts, the Commando comes with a small knife and a Pulse Rifle. The knife is not great and was a little bent out of the box. I understand why as they need to make sharp objects in a flexible plastic, but it does look a bit "meh". It also doesn't fit too well in either hand, nor is there a sheath (that I have found) to slot it into.
The Pulse Rifle on the other hand is much better and this fits into the right hand with the trigger finger slotting into the trigger. Despite the bulky arms, with a bit of playing you can also get the Commando to adopt a two handed weapon pose. The rifle itself is pretty much the exact same sculpt as that packed with Hicks & Hudson back in Series 1. It is a little crisper in detail, but that is predominantly because it is cast in black plastic with zero paint applications.
So the final part of the review should be about the added bonus that NECA have thrown into this figure, and that is a set of water-slide transfers that allow you to customise the back of the helmet of your Commando into four individual commandos from the film - Boss, Animal, Hunter and Cruncher. Sadly, and I know a number have had this issue, there were no decals in my figure. I am now trying to speak to the retailer and NECA Customer Service to understand what to do next.
So decals aside, this figure is beyond a 5 out of 5 score. NECA have raised their own bar yet again and if you put this figure alongside say the Series 4 Ripley (who I gave 5 out of 5) then the Commando stands out as the superior figure. The one thing that will work against the figure is the availability. Collectors will want more than one, and NECA may have to consider adding him into a future series as a re-release or producing solid cases of him to satisfy demand.
The Weyland Yutani gets a special 5+ out of 5 as it is a special figure and it will be interesting to see if this continual improvement series by series from NECA will continue into Series 9 and the long awaited Vasquez figure.