Updated: May 12
Review : Private Jenette Vasquez (BDU's) NECA, Aliens Wave/Series : Series 12 Released : December 2017
Pros : Awesome sculpt, improved paint and detail from the original release and some nice working holsters
Cons : The FX piece doesn't quite work. The elbow joints are a weak spot.
After her debut in the Alien series in 2016, NECA released a Kenner inspired Vasquez earlier in 2017 and are ending the year with this 3rd version of the character as part of Series 12. The Series also includes a reworked figure of Ripley as well as two damaged Xenomorph figures.
The clamsell packaging remains unchanged with the paper insert sandwiched into the clamshell to create the backing card and header. The Aliens logo sits atop of the card with the figure displayed underneath. There is a smaller insert at the base of the blister that shows the NECA Aliens 30th Anniversary circular logo and the character name as Private Jenette Vasquez (BDUs). BDU apparently stands for Battle Dress Uniform, and differentiates this figure from the Series 9 release where she is packed with her Smart Gun.
The two sides of the blister also get inserts. The right spine carries on the tradition of other marines with a shot that mimics the overhead video screens from the APC where Gormon monitors the marines - each screen has an image of the figure. The other side has a full length shot of Vasquez - taken in one of NECA's awesome dioramas.
The card back is headed by the Aliens logo and then a full length image of the figure firing her Pulse Rifle. Overlaid onto this is some background text which starts with Vasquez rank and serial number and then a short bio. This is the same text, word for word, as used on the Series 9 release.
Once unpacked, Vasquez comes in the standard insert. She is held in place with twisty ties and her weaponry is packed surrounding her head. I would urge caution on unpacking and first posing this figure. With her slender arms, her joints are very fragile and our first review figure broke straight out of the pack. The NECA Service Team were brilliant, responding in under 24hrs and arranging a replacement that arrived into the UK within 10-days. On receipt of the second figure I gave Vasquez a short warm water bath before posing.
The likeness to Jenette Goldstein is excellent on this figure, mostly down to the expression that the sculptor has captured. The head is cast in the skin tone plastic which gives a sweaty effect, and this works so well for Vasquez. The ees and lips are painted well and although feint the teardrop tattoo is there under the eye.
At this scale you also have to give kudos to the design on that bandana with individual motifs visible.
Vasquez's BDUs are essentially the camouflage uniform she is wearing under her Smart Gun and that she is obviously wearing in the 2nd half of the film up to her final scene with Gorman. The body sculpt for the figure is great, capturing the build of Goldstein well including the toned muscular arms.
My first thought was perhaps the Camo design was too light, but it is accurate to the movie. We often feel the colouring is darker because of the lighting, bu also because of the armour on most of the marines which is a darker colour - Vasquez doesn't wear this outside of her Smart Gun vest.
The Camo paint job is excellent and is then highlighted with smaller details such as the word LOCO on the back of her shirt, the name badge and rank details on either side of her chest and the US Marine Corp logo.
When we compare this release to the original Series 8 version you can see a figure that has been honed and improved. The torso has obviously been reworked to the battle dress as originally there was nothing of use under that Smart Gun armour - and it is a different torso again to the Kenner version from earlier this year which was a vest top.
But rather than stop after that, NECA have carried on with the subtle improvements like the addition of the teardrop tattoo, what looks to be a crisper paint job on the bandana and for me a nicer facial paint job - even if the sculpt is unchanged.
We do also have some additional parts now like the lower leg knife holster which didn't appear on the first figure and also the cross chest strap and holster - both of which we will look at in a short while.
Vasquez comes with 14 points of articulation, standard for a NECA figure. Both the head and torso are ball jointed and do move freely in both rotation and in leaning forward and back. While there is plenty of movement, the look of the figure can be spoiled if you do lean the torso to far one way or another as it will expose the unpainted section underneath.
The arms are ball jointed at the shoulder and then have a rotating joint at the elbow, this allows a full range of movement - but just watch out the elbows are a weak point as we discussed a little earlier. The wrists are also ball jointed, so while this doesn't give the full bend like a pivot peg would - there is both rotating and pivot motion at the wrist joint.
NECA is doing an brilliant job in recent years of disguising it's leg joints by use of that flexible crotch piece which flexes with the ball joint hips as they move. This does sometimes restrict the hips by some degree, but Vasquez is an exception and she can swing her legs out fully to sit down if needed and to wider action poses. We then have a single joint knee which bends to almost a full right angle, and finally a neat ankle rocker mid boot to help stance and positioning - Vasquez has no issues standing.
While she may have lost her Smart Gun, Vasquez is loaded with weapons to fight the Aliens. The first of these is her knife. This is a crisp sculpt considering the scale, down to the visible serrations on the blade and the ridged grip. It is painted black with silver detailing on the hilt and some dry brushing of silver on the blade. This looks to be the same knife as packed with Bishop
Vasquez doesn't quite grip the knife securely in either hand, you sort of have to prop it in place. Perhaps a nit pick of the figure is an alternative hnd to hold the knife might have worked better. That being said, it is not a key prop and rather than have it posed in her hand you will most likely position it in the working holster on the back of her leg. It slips into this neatly and holds in position without being too tight that it rubs the paint. While the holster is positioned at the rear on arrival, it is a separate piece which can be moved around the leg if you wish.
We then get the pistol which is the final weapon Vasquez draws to take down the Aliens as she tries to escape in the ducts. Like the knife there are loads of details on such a small item with the screws visible and painted on the grip. The grip itself is painted a sandy colour, and this is slightly rough around the edges if you inspect it close up.
This fits into the hand very well and the trigger finger of the right hand can be positioned in the trigger. And like the knife, it has a home when not in use - slotting into the holster slung across her chest. Again the fit is snug, but not too tight.
I thought the hand gun was perhaps the same as the one packed with Frost, but they are two differing designs of weapon.
And finally Vasquez gets the standard issue Pulse Rifle. This is the same sculpt we've seen a few times across the Alien figures. Again, it is crisp and detailed and painted well with a green and black variating scheme with silver detailing. There is no strap included on the weapon. Vasquez again holds this securely in her right hand with trigger finger in the grip. She can then be posed one or two handed, with the left hand coming round and cupping the grenade launcher underneath.
A new addition to this figure, and to Ripley in the same wave, is the Pulse Rifle FX piece. This is designed to mimic the effect of the Rifle firing and follows on from the Smart Gun piece from the original Vasquez and similar pieces in the Predator line. It has been retro designed to fit into the Pulse Rifle sculpt and has a shaped end to fit the muzzle of the gun with a peg to fit down the barrel.
While I can see what NECA are trying to do here, and while the Smart Gun FX piece worked really well, this one doesn't do much for me. It looks a bit fluffy and fat and not like it is shooting a hail of bullets. The paint job is also a bit muted, with the orange not bright enough to mimic a shooting effect. It is a good effort and quite innovative, but for me this one will go in the bits box.
Series 12 overall may look like a bit of a rehash / repaint wave - and that is exactly what it is in its truest sense. It is however a wave that isn't re-releasing figures for the sake of it, it is giving us new versions of the characters we love in the screen accurate outfit for that particular part of the movie.
Vasquez goes further than this though in that it improves on a great figure, and makes it something special indeed. While the big Smart Gun may have gone, this is the Vasquez we see towards the end of the movie and she has all the accessories to recreate any of those final scenes. There are also improvements on the original figure in paint job and detailing such as the crispness of that bandana and the addition of the tear drop tattoo. Articulation is also exactly what you want and need and the only concerns I have are the quality of those joints which broke far to easily on our first version. The only other minor flaw is the FX piece which is innovative, but doesn't quite hit the spot for me. We score Vasquez a 5 out of 5.