Updated: May 12
Review : "Rescuing Newt" Ripley & Newt NECA, Aliens Wave/Series : 30th Anniversary Release Released : February 2017
£44.99 - £49.99
The NECA Alien collecting world exploded on Alien Day 2016 (26th April) when NECA announced, via actress Carrie Henn, that they will be making a Newt figure for their 7" Aliens range. Excitement soon turned to anger as NECA confirmed that Newt would exclusively be available to attendees of San Diego Comic Con 2016 and not released generally. While many questioned the decision to licence and sculpt a figure for such a limited market, NECA did promise they would explore an avenue to get Newt into general release - the issue for them being to make the figure financial viable.
SDCC 2016 came and went and the odd SDCC Newt figure popped up on the secondary market at inflated prices. And then just as things were calming down NECA fulfilled their promises of a Newt release by announcing the Rescuing Newt box set for release in late 2016 / early 2017. This two pack would take their existing Aliens Ripley figure and give her some revised decor and a new head sculpt to match that iconic scene - and iconic movie poster. Newt would be packed in, but would loose all the accessories she came with at SDCC - namely the Marine Helmet, School Award and the Casey doll head (the Marine helmet looks to be getting a release via the 2017 Marine Armoury Set).
The Rescuing Newt box set has now hit UK shores, so let's unpack this highly anticipated release and see what's what.
Packaging wise, the set dispenses with the usual Aliens clam-shells and switches to a design akin to that of the NECA Ultimate figures. The front of the box recreates that famous 1986 Aliens movie poster, with Sigourney Weaver carrying the young Carrie Henn while brandishing her combined Pulse Rifle and Flame Unit - surrounded on all sides by Alien eggs. The Aliens logo sits top centre under which is the sub heading for the sequel "this time it's war". The only other addition to the front is an oversticker for the 30th Anniversary, using the same stylised Xeno head that we saw on other releases from 2016 like the Frost and Vasquez figures, and that Stasis chamber creature pack. I can only assume the choice of this being a sticker is so purists can peel it off to keep the front of the box identical to the movie poster.
The clever part now is that this front is a flap which once unfastened from it's Velcro clasp opens up to recreate the movie poster, but this time in figure form. Underneath this front cover is a window into the packaging and Ripley and Newt are packed, pre-posed, in the same position (pretty much) as the movie poster. There are no eggs in the set, and perhaps for the price throwing in a couple might have been nice, but NECA have got round this with some cut out eggs that cover the feet of the Ripley figure. The reverse of the flap shows off the amazing theatrical photography NECA use so often to promote their figure - with Ripley and Newt once again surrounded by Alien eggs and facing off against the 2015 deluxe release of the Alien Queen. Just so fans aren't confused, there is text at the base of this flap to confirm neither eggs nor the queen are sold seperately.
The two spines of the box are a deep blue design depicting more Alien eggs. The sides carry the 30th Anniversary circular logo, now printed and not a sticker, and under this the Aliens logo and in the same font the "Rescuing Newt Deluxe Box Set" text. The spine finishes with the NECA and Reel Toys logo.
Round the back of the box you will find three images of the two figures in varying poses. Under this is a text box that briefly confirms the plot of Aliens and how the two characters from the box-set meet in the movie. Under this text is the content details - Ripley, Newt, Ripleys Pulse Rifle/Flame Unit and the new Flame Effect. For those who don't turn the box over to the base other than for opening it up - take a look across from the credits at the the Reebok logo for the Alien Stomper trainers that Ripley wears in the movie, and that are replicated in this set - there's dedication to detail.
The figures are accessed via the top or bottom flap and they then slide out in their internal tray. The box here reveals it's first surprise in a small baggie that is sellotaped under the inner tray. In here is the Casey dolls head accessory that originally came in the SDCC version. There is no mention of this being included, so a nice surprise addition by NECA for the fans.
The two figures are strapped in place by the usual black ties, and some additional plastic clear parts that help with the posed position and I also suspect are to try and protect paint rub between the two figures. The pose holds firm well enough once unpacked and looks pretty natural considering this is two articulated action figures and not a statue.
Let's look at Ripley first, and she stands 7" high and is essentially the same figure we saw back in 2015 in Series 5. The head however is a brand new sculpt, and while it is less than flattering on a lot of images - it is really nice from most angles in hand. The issue is the open mouth, and that doesn't work face on. Face her head either side though and you can see the likeness to Weaver. The other win is to cast the head in the glossy flesh plastic which makes her look sufficiently sweaty. The hair is also high gloss, yet looks like wet sweaty hair and not glossy plastic. The paint application to the head is good too with intense eyes, thin lips, the teeth picked out in white and a bruise on her right cheek.
Once you passed the head, and everything now is identical in sculpt to the original 2015 figure. However, the paint is massively improved. The vest captures every crease and fold and has gone from an off white in the original figure to include some yellow staining - a perfect progression to the state of Ripley at the end of the movie. The 2015 figure tried to capture some staining on the shoulders but these looked more like grey globs. Here they are muddy and dirty and very natural.
Each arms is also a glossy plastic and look sweaty and grimy. The vest is sculpted with a strap across the chest area and clipped into a belt. and a further ammunition strip is slung loose over this. The ammo strap can be removed if you wish as it is a separate item. The trousers have the look, like the Series 5 version, of being a little too high in the waist.
They are also a slightly variant colour in the waist section vs the legs which exaggerates the problem. These have been dirtied up further with dry-bushed dirt on the lower legs. The figure ends in the Reebok Alien Stomper trainers. These are a little less defined than the earlier version. The colours are all there but there is a rushed look to them with some of the cream still showing the grey colour underneath.
Ripley comes with her Pulse Rifle / Flame Unit combination. Due to the way she is packed you will likely find the weapon to be warped and may need to heat this with some hot water or a hair dryer to straighten out. Again, this is the same as the 2015 version but looks nicer as there are some very deliberate paint app improvements in the way of bright silver scratches to represent the green paint being scratched off in the encounters with the Aliens. These scratches are there on the 2015 version, but are not as bright and aren't instantly visible. The weapon has a flexible strap and this fits over Ripley's head and allows her to carry the weapon slung or in her hands.
Articulation on Ripley starts with a ball jointed head which you will need to play with on display to capture the best angle to see the Weaver sculpt from its best side. The arms are ball jointed and the elbows then are jointed with a swivel. These two arm joints allow the right arm to hold the weapon with the elbow bent and the left arm then can come out straight to cup the barrell. The wrists remain a weak spot as they have a very small and fragile pin. The hands therefore will rotate but don't force them to swivel by much or you will have a broken hand. You will also need to watch out for paint rub round the shoulder joints - the white on my shoulder joint flaked off on both sides on first movement of the joint. Thank fully it is hidden when the arms are put back down.
The waist is jointed but will not move without some force and I would recommend you leave it alone. Ripley then comes with ball jointed hips under this flexible groin area. These won't let her sit or kneel, but allow you to widen the stance - useful when she is carrying Newt. The knees are single jointed and hidden really well under the leg sculpt. The ankles are on rockers to help spread the feet for extra stability.
The other accessory that comes with Ripley, and is brand new to the set, is the flame effect for the Flame Unit. In the past I have not been a fan of these clip on effects, but I was swayed by the Smart Gun effect that came with Vasquez - and this flame stream is just as good. It is cast in a see through orange flows really well from what initial looks like liquid, thought to jagged flame at the end. It has been engineered to slot into the Flame Unit without any obvious plugs or clips - preserving the look of the weapon for anyone who doesn't wish to use the flame part. The Flame Unit has obviously been ever so slightly tweaked to accept the flame as you cannot retrospectively fit it onto the 2015 version or the unit that comes with Windrix or Frost. You will also need to be mindful that the fit is not secure and you may find your flame effect easily dislodged and could fall of on its own.
Now over to Newt, the figure that caused so much ruckus on Alien Day 2016 through to SDCC. She stands 5" high with a stunning sculpt and likeness to Carrie Henn as she was in 1986. There is no neutral sculpt here either, and NECA have captured that scared look that she carried through a lot of the film with pursed lips and nervous eyes. She is painted to look dirty, which is no mean feat as quite often it comes out looking like brown paint on a figure. Here, you truly believe Newt's face is dirty and if you took a wet cloth to her face you could clean her up. Her hair is shoulder length and cast as an individual piece, so the lower section hangs loose and is flexible enough to move with the head. The hair is dirty too with some blonde highlights to show the natural colour through the grime.
She comes in her damaged dungarees, complete with ripped knees through which you can see her dirty and scuffed skin. The whole ensemble is weathered and dirty, and beautifully sculpted with plenty of creases, folds and buttons. Newt's skin is painted, and that means there is some flaking round the hands and these do also look a little chalky.
Newt is designed and articulated to both stand on her own, but also to grip from Ripley's neck with her legs either side. The head is ball jointed and can move to either side, and as we mentioned the hair works in any position thanks to the flexible plastic. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulder, with a rotating elbow and wrist rotation. There is a torso joint in the chest which helps the carrying pose by bending the body slightly into the side of Ripley. The hips are ball jointed and the knees single jointed. These aren't to let Newt knee or sit down, but rather grip the waist of Ripley when she is being carried. She will however stand on her own and the rocker ankles help her do this.
The dolls head accessory is tiny, but easily recognisable. It also carries two different paint tones - one for skin and one for hair -as well as black eyes. It doesn't fit perfectly into Newt's hand, but she can hold it in a fashion.
So there we have it, a set of 2 figures. One that was originally a limited SDCC exclusive. Another that was released 2 years ago and that has gone up in price on the secondary market. The Ripley figure also has enough improvements to warrant double dipping even if you aren't bothered by Newt. The weathering and sweaty skin really ramps up the realism, and for me this is now the better figure for an Aliens display and she would also look brilliant in your Power Loader.
The rating for me is all around value for money. This is a two pack, that comes in just a touch higher than two new single releases. You can shop around for a better price, but for me at the UK RRP of £45 I would have loved for NECA to squeeze in a couple of Alien eggs.
That all being said, there is no doubt this is a very nice release and the only flaw really is the few patches of paint rub and those fragile wrists. I am going to score this two pack a 5 out of 5.