REVIEW: Super7 ‘Classic Toy Edition’ 1986 ALIENS Warrior.

  • Manufacturer: Super7
  • Released: 2017

ALIENS was released in 1986.  While it’s arguably the most popular movie in the series, it is surprisingly the only entry where no action figures were released during the period of its release.  Even the less popular ALIEN 3 enjoyed action figures released along side it in 1992.  Ironically, these were the famous ALIENS figures released by Kenner.  Kenner later released figures in 1997 for ALIEN: Resurrection’s ’96 release.  Action figures have appeared alongside all the AvP and PROMETHEUS titles since then and will once again do so this year for ALIEN: Covenant.

There was very little merchandise released for the action packed release of ALIENS, a movie perfectly suited to such treatment.  Aside from some print materials and magazines there was nothing in the way of toys or action figures.  Fox also didn’t know how to market the movie at the merchandise level beyond that – so they didn’t.

Kenner was nowhere to be seen in 1986 in regards to providing merchandise for the R-rated sequel to ALIEN.  They’d already had their hands burned on the ALIEN Property previously and weren’t prepared to invest in another R-rated movie so readily.  Kenner, as an organisation, would have to be sold by its parent company General Mills; and Tonka would acquire the company before it could embrace the licence again in 1992, many years after the release of the 2nd movie.

…but what if Kenner did make action figures for the 1986 movie?  What would they have looked like?  These are the questions that Super7 has endeavored to explore and answer with their recently released ‘1986 Classic Toy Edition ALIENS Warrior’ figure.   While Super7 have previously indulged in this notion with their 3.75 inch tall ALIENS 3 pack ReAction figure set featuring Ripley, a powerloader and the Queen in diminutive form, this time they’re exploring the premise by embracing the greater drama of the larger scale 18 inch variety.

This is a large beast packed away inside a black and green box with an abundance of twist ties securing it to a blue card insert. The box boasts a pair of plastic windows – one in front and one on top. Once out of the box, this item is no less impressive in its size and stature.

This figure not only commands an imposing presence with its height but also demands a decent footprint area to be displayed.  About 8 square inches of minimum dedicated shelf space is needed for it.  While it has arrived 30 years too late, this Kenner look-alike ALIENS figure is a dramatic piece of work both in presentation and the attention it demands.

It’s particularly suited to purchasers who missed out on the original Kenner figure which is now almost 40 years old and who are interested in a fresh new version.  One that isn’t aged and fatigued with tightly fitted limbs that haven’t slackened along with all of its pieces still in place.  This item also carries its 1986 theme admirably well and retroactively fills in a product gap that has now been left vacant for 3 decades.  Unfortunately, it does have some drawbacks.

This is a stylised figure that draws heavily from the original toy so feature and design philosophies are irrevocably entwined – for both, positive and negative reasons.  It’s an 18 inch figure that mimics what Kenner may possibly have made in 1986 if the original product been successful and it is essentially a modern interpretation and a modified sculpt of the older item.

While the figure retains many of the features present in the original Kenner toy, some adjustments have been made to make it identifiable as a creature audiences are familiar with. These changes are befitting in this regard and necessary to identify the figure as being based on the creatures appearing in the sequel.

Such alterations are most notable in the head, particularly the face where the skull visage has been completely removed and made smooth thus removing any trace of the original eye orbits.  Changes can also be detected along the top of the cranium which is now also devoid of any translucent carapace and surface details are raised and amplified.

The hands have been remodeled with a lesser finger count and a bow shaped bladed appendage extending from the elbows to the wrists has also been added.  Finally, the feet have been adjusted with the halluces (big toes) now perpendicular to the foot; and the foot itself considerably different in its general shape.  The remainder of the body is easily recognisable as the Kenner figure.

These adjustments vary in quality.  The head is terrific and the remodeling looks superb. A complete trigger operated jaw mechanism exactly like the original that permits full functionality of the figure’s owner operated ‘snapping jaws’. Fantastic!

There isn’t anything quite like Kenner’s orginal ALIEN figure’s mouth system in any other toy. This system works tremendously well and the figure would not be the same without it.  It’s welcome beyond just about any other feature present in the figure and functions perfectly.

The other changes to the hands and feet are not so well implemented.  The 5 fingered hands are lacking in detail and each knuckle looks like its suffering from rheumatic arthritis, swollen and gnarled – much like Grandma’s hands.

The feet suffer from a similar lack of detail and while they are configured to emulate the plantigrade arrangement of the creatures appearing in the James Cameron movie it’s not very satisfyingly implemented.  Unfortunately, the detailing appears bland and featureless when compared to the rest of the figure’s ornate presentation.

The lack of detailing on these limb extremities can be attributed to 2 different sculptors applying their craft to a toy more than 30 years apart from each other – and possibly the use of different media to ‘sculpt’ the new features.  The real problem here is it’s tangible.  It’s a noticeable deviation in quality that stands out like ‘a sore thumb’ – pun intended – upon the figure, and it shows.

Another issue I have with the figure is its overall presentation.  It has a smooth, worn feel to its integument. It appears as if all the finer details have been removed and has been overly polished.  In this sense, it’s much like colored glass fragments you’ll find on the beach, the weathered shape is still there but all the coarseness, sharp edges, high spots and interesting highlights have been smoothed out and rounded or entirely removed.  It’s as if the figure has been ‘averaged’ during its production.

I’ve noticed this glossy, soft edge finish previously on the limited edition ‘prototype’ of this figure which Super7 had earlier released in 2016, to much excitement among fans.

I’ve also witnessed a similar finish on the 25% larger tribute figures Gentle Giant released a few years back.  I’m thinking there’s a closer relationship between these 21st Century figures than has been publicly disclosed. I haven’t compared them directly to each other just yet but I’ll be examining this common quality of ’rounded’ finish more closely in a follow up article where I’ll be comparing the original Kenner figure to this item in more detail.  I have my suspicions here.

The only other downside to this item has nothing to do with any of its physical features or its presence or anything to do with the figure itself but is certainly going to be a real problem for some people.  If you want to own one of these items, the price for it is US$195.  This is intended to be a collector piece and the price reflects this intention.  It’s simply just not for the reluctant or hesitant enthusiast.

In this regard, the average action figure fan may balk at being prepared to purchase one of these items.  Especially when other, more intricately detailed ALIEN figures boasting a greater range of articulation and aren’t enthralled by retro values are more readily available from NECA. Such as those items being offered in their 7 inch range.  On the other hand, if you have an interest in the old Kenner toy, this item is definitely going to appeal but at this price you may think twice about buying one.

Speaking of articulation in this speculative tribute item, all the points of movement common to the older figure are present here. As mentioned earlier, the jaw opens and closes at the press of a trigger at the back of the head with the split tongue emerging and retracting into the mouth.

The arms are mounted on ball and socket joints enabling a great range of movement.  The wrists, hips and tail joints are all spindle based and provide 360 degrees of rotation at each joint.  All of these limited points of movement are perfectly emulated from the original figure.  The tail itself is molded permanently into a coil and has no movement other than where it is attached to the figures butt.  There is no wire core allowing any flexibility in the appendage so don’t try to bend it.  You’ll probably break it.

This is a true and accurate recreation of the range of movement the original Kenner figure possesses in terms of articulation.  Of course, this means the figure can only be boastful of 8 points of movement and that’s regrettably well below what some people will expect in a tall figure that costs around US$200 in 2017.

Just like the original Kenner item, this figure displays very little in the way of paintwork.  Aside from the chrome teeth the only other painted feature is select details along the top of the head.  Thankfully, these accents are glow in the dark and will show as luminescent once they are charged up with a bright light.

The glow in the dark paint work is another feature inherited from the vintage toy that simply has to be present and its inclusion here is appreciated.  It’s a testimony to how good the design and sculpting on these figures actually is.  Only the most minimum amount of paint is required and the generally unpainted figure still looks amazing.  Show me one other figure that can make that claim.

Finally, much like the original figure, this belated ‘1986’ item comes with a double sided poster/instruction sheet inside the dual windowed box.  While the instructions side of the inclusion is an updated version of what appears in the 1979 vintage box, the blue fold out A3 sized poster design is completely different to the 1979 version and is printed with the appropriate ALIENS theme and it looks terrific printed solely in cyan rather than monochrome.

Overall, this figure is a great item, and I love it.  However, its retro appeal isn’t going to be desired by everyone and that is the figure’s great draw card.  To emulate the older nearly 40 year old figure but still be a fresh and welcome retroactive place filler in the series when 1986 meant no such Kenner figures actually existed.

Until now.

The Super7 ‘Classic Toy Edition’ 1986 ALIENS Warrior can be purchased from their online store for US$195.

SCORE: 7/10.

A fun interpretation of what could have been.  It’s let down by its overly smooth and rounded finish, lack of details on the adjusted limb extremities and it is considerably outside the price bracket of casual fans.  At this price you can buy an original 1979 Kenner ALIEN if you hunt around long enough on Ebay.  That is, if you want a true Classic.

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