Monday, February 2, 2015

Toy Review – Reel Toys Aliens Bishop from NECA

Lance Henriksen has been in so many different genre things over the years – Aliens, The Terminator, Near Dark, Pumpkinhead, and so many more – and despite the fact that he’s pretty much always Lance Henriksen, he’s great.

People seem to cast him because he’s the most intense person ever. Of course, the character of Bishop predates the character of Lance Henriksen, so that may not apply here.
I don’t think any of that made sense. Let’s start over.

I have liked Lance Henriksen in everything I’ve ever seen him in. Aliens had to be the first, but as the years went on and I devoured more and more genre films and television shows, his became one of those faces that brought me joy every time I saw it. When Henriksen shows up, you know he’s going to bring the for-real shit. Whatever else may be going on, you are going to get the A+ Henriksen character performance and it’s going to be awesome.

As far as his role as Bishop goes, I wish so badly I had seen Alien before Aliens so that I could experience the discomfort that the character was intended to cause at first. I remember finding him a bit odd, but without the prior experience with Ash it just seems like Ripley is being a dick to him. To this day I still feel like she’s being harsh just because that was my first experience and it’s sort of stamped into me. I saw Bishop being a hero long before I saw Ash being a villain.

Which brings me to my point of view that Bishop is a more significant character than Ash (to me). While Ash set a whole new standard for artificial life forms in science fiction and established them within what would become a massive franchise encompassing movies, comic books, novels, and crossovers; Bishop played a much larger and more active role not only in his debut movie, but also as the franchise went on. As we discovered in Alien 3, Bishop was modeled after an actual human. This allowed Henriksen to return in that movie as Michael Weyland and in Aliens vs. Predator as Charles Bishop Weyland, further cementing his importance and significance in the franchise.

Side Note: I don’t hate the first AvP movie. The second is garbage. Neither should have taken place on Earth. Hollywood needs to get over its Earth fixation. Hopefully the success of Guardians of the Galaxy will help with that.

Anyway, I’m thrilled that NECA has the rights to Henriksen’s likeness and I hope we see more use of it. I’d buy a Michael Weyland figure. And hopefully an accompanying Ripley with a shaved head. And Charles Dance. And Paul McGann.

First Glance

I’m happy to have a Bishop figure, but there’s no way around the fact that this is a guy in a jumpsuit. The character is great, but there’s not a whole lot exciting here.

Packaging

A yucko clamshell. I suppose NECA is going to stick with these. This 35th Anniversary Alien line would have been the perfect opportunity to drop this irritating and dangerous style of packaging and switch to a much more rational blister card, but I guess they are attached to their clamshells for this line. It must really annoy the MIP collectors that the Predator line is on blister cards now amongst all of the clamshelled horror releases.

The graphics are, of course, nice. Rather than a bio for Bishop we just have a synopsis of Aliens.

Side Note: Here’s a thing about Aliens that I only noticed within the last few years – quite some time is supposed to have passed between when they find Ripley and when Burke (who I want a figure of so bad) approaches her about returning to LV-426. Like, possibly months. But the theatrical cut of the movie (which I think is a better cut) does a terrible job of making this clear. For years I thought that it was a pretty ridiculous coincidence that Ripley got found and the colony got attacked within days of each other. Granted, after 57 years those things happening even within months of each other is a bit of a stretch, but whatever.

And there are also the credits for those that worked on the toy, which is something NECA does that I really appreciate.

Looks

The Lance Henriksen likeness is creepy good and they didn’t fuck up the paint. I looked at four of these in the store and purchased a second one a few weeks later and they all looked good. Hopefully NECA has left the days of figures that look inbred behind.

Side Note: I bought the second one due to a rare bit of foresight on my part. I figure there’s a good chance I’ll have the opportunity to meet Henriksen and have him sign a figure. Better to buy it at MSRP now than have to hunt one down from a scalper later. I just had to do this for an Angus Scrimm figure because I’ll be meeting him this weekend at a horror con I won’t name because they stubbornly refuse to grant me a press pass.

The head sculpt is incredible and the paint is very accurately applied. The eyebrows, lips, and eyes are all centered and precise. In the pictures it looks like the paint on the hair doesn’t cover the hair where it meets his face, but this is virtually unnoticeable in person.

The jumpsuit consists of several pieces that are designed to work together to provide articulation that is both useful and subtle. The torso of the figure is covered by a softer plastic sleeve. This covers the abdominal joint entirely and makes the shoulders and hips less obtrusive. The colors and textures match across the jumpsuit, which is very impressive given the different materials used – the torso is soft plastic, the sleeves are a slightly firmer but still flexible plastic, and the legs are hard plastic. Everything matches and the seams and details all have the same profile and depth. 
 
The sculpted details – folds, wrinkles, seams, pockets – look very real. This looks like a garment that has been lived in and that is functional.

The forearms and hands are packed full of muscle tone and veins. Or arteries. Whatever. 
The sleeve hangs over the joint, which looks great. I’ll get into how that affects the articulation in a bit. Whatever that business is that’s hanging out of the watch is clearly meant to be a specific thing, but I don’t; recall what that thing is. It looks shitty in this picture but looks fine in person. Also, I didn’t shove the hands up on the arms as far as they’re supposed to go, so the joints at the wrists look much more noticeable than they really are.

The shoes are amazing. The sculpted detail is fantastic. It’s more than just seams – you can actually see the stitching. The paint is done extremely well and there’s a layer of grime because, let’s face it – white sneakers are not going to stay white on a filthy space vessel. 

Also, LOOK AT THESE TREADS!!!:

One of my weird action figure weaknesses is when they actually sculpt details on the bottoms of figures’ feet. It’s such an unnecessary thing, but to me ti shows that they’re really putting their best foot… I’ll just stop there.

The skin is mostly clean, but the clothed portions of the figure all have a subtle, grimy wash on them. It gives the figure that extra bit of believability, like it exists in a world. This is a guy that crawls through ducts pretty regularly. And then cleans his fleshy parts off with a wet nap, I guess.

Accessories

Bishop comes with an extra hand, a knife, and a lantern.

This is actually Hudson’s knife. It’s the one that Bishop uses to do his wacky trick that freaks Hudson out (because the wacky trick involves Hudson’s hand). It’s made out of a firm plastic (NOT RUBBER) and has some paint to suggest wear and give a little detail.

The hand is posed to hold the knife, and even has the pinky extended in the manner Bishop held the knife when he gave it back to Hudson. It’s pretty tough to get the hands off and switch them out, but that might be because it’s really cold in the Phantom Zone lately.

The lantern is awesome. It doesn’t actually light up or anything, but it looks great. It’s like one of those multi-purpose survival lanterns that your relatives get from the “Holiday Gifts for Him!” display at Target because they refuse to buy you toys because you’re a grown-up and you give that fake half smile when you open it and stick it in a closet and then can’t remember where the hell it is four years later when the power goes out in the middle of the night and the dogs are trapped in the room with you and need to go out but you can’t see to find the way to the door and you don’t want to stumble around the room because of all of the DAMNED TOYS on the shelves you might knock over. 
 
One side of the lantern has yellow caution lights and the other has a clear plastic panel over a design that makes it look like a light bulb. It’s wonderful.

Fun

All of the joints work quite well. I didn’t think the elbows would be any good, but the sleeves are soft enough to give way when you bend the joints. I’m still not a fan of the peg joints NECA uses on hands and feet.

The head has a great range of motion. The hops are great, though when you pose the figure’s legs at wide enough angels the jumpsuit bottom looks a little diaper-y. The knees swivel above the pivots the same way the elbows do – both have good range.

Between the posability and the accessories this figure is a good toy. He’s pretty sturdy and interacts with all of his stuff nicely. I like the many ways he can hold the lantern. 
 
It would have been really neat if NECA could have integrated a feature where the figure could be ripped in half like the climax of the movie, but considering all of the android guts and gore that were all over the place it would require a little bit more than just a breakaway joint. Besides, I’m sure they already have a “Battle Damaged Bishop” planned.

Overall

NECA is just killing it with the Alien stuff lately. Bishop is fantastic. I can’t imagine a better figure of this version of the character at this price point. He’s great.

5 out of 5

Go and buy one. Help out the site:


 

2 comments:

  1. My favourite character from Aliens! I also saw Aliens before I saw Alien and I agree with everything you said. I just always felt bad for Bishop especially when he's just shown the viewer that he is actually a good guy and then gets torn in two! This figure does look pretty good too.

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    Replies
    1. Poor ol' Bishop.
      I'm going to make certain my son sees all of the great film series in the proper order.

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