Review: Gentle Giant 24 Inch ALIEN Tribute Figure.

  • Manufacturer: Gentle Giant
  • Released: 2015

The very first ALIEN action figure was released in 1979 by Kenner Products.  It was marketed at children and caused a lot of concern for parents at the time.  As a result, it was swiftly discontinued by Kenner and much of the extant stock on store shelves was relegated to bargain bins to be sold off cheaply and fast.  Today, this single production run item is a much sought after high value collectible among fans and toy collectors.

It’s only fitting then, that Gentle Giant’s treatment of the notorious figure as an oversized replica accurately emulates so many of the original’s features.  This new version is so intimately based upon the older Kenner item making comparisons between them inevitable and expected. In this regard, this appraisal is an evaluation that considers the relationship the 2015 tribute replica shares with its 1979 precedent.

While the new figure is accurate in many ways, it also possesses various minor alterations and it’s a relief to note that these changes work to its benefit.  It’s unfortunate that it also possesses a couple of shortcomings as well.  Otherwise, it is a stunning piece to have in your collection. At 24″ tall, it boasts a significant 25% increase in size over the older 18″ tall figure.  In all of its dimensions, the figure is accurate with some minor changes present here and there and as these small changes have largely been made for practical reasons without interfering with its ambiance they service the figure well.  To this end, the original 1979 figure’s fair share of design issues and shortcomings have been addressed and corrected in this iteration.

Let’s take a look at these beneficial changes.  Emulating the original figure, the Gentle Giant possesses the hard carapace upon the head but unlike the older smoked translucent version, the Gentle Giant Replica Alien carapace is clear.  Markedly noticeable in this interpretation is the welcome design change that it is not loose or immediately susceptible to falling off.

Unlike the original figure, the carapace is reduced in size in relation to the head and is better suited to fitting firmly in place and remain stationery.  To assist further in achieving a more secure fit, the 4 registration points present upon the inner edges of the clear piece have been enlarged to confidently hold the ‘dome’ in place.  Unlike the original 1979 ‘toy’, You can hold the figure and invert it without the carapace falling off.  Not that you would want to do such a thing; but the more secure fit is a great improvement to the updated figure at a reasonably small loss to accuracy.  Kenner’s original head design meant the carapace was easily lost due its innate lack of adequate securing.

There are other notable features present elsewhere upon the figure that have been slightly modified for its benefit, too.  Each of the 5 curious appendages projecting from the Alien’s back have been adjusted so they are no longer sit loose.  Each one, including the uppermost ‘spike’ that is frequently missing from the Kenner figure, sits confidently and securely upon the back of the figure without any wobble or motion present.  It’s a welcome amendment to the figure.

The Gentle Giant Alien is blessed with all the articulation and other major features present in the original figure.  While the presence of only 8 points of articulation may not sound like much, it’s an accurate count in terms of capturing the range the original figure possesses.  The arms can be moved on ball and socket joints at the shoulder and the hands are rotatable via a spindle joints upon the wrists.

Legs are similarly attached via spindle joints set within a V-cut arrangement at the hips; and likewise, the coiled prehensile tail is also attached via a similar spindle fixing at the base of the pelvis.  These spindles each afford 360 degrees of rotation on a flat plane of movement but nothing else beyond that.  It can only be considered as barely serviceable in terms of expectations from an action figure by today’s standards.  Nonetheless, this is exactly the same range of articulation that was present in the figure when it was initially released back in 1979 and in this regard, it’s a terrific emulation and very welcome.

Like the original figure, there is no rotation for the head upon the shoulders but the 2015 Gentle Giant does possess the signature jaw activation system for operating the iconic ‘headbite’ action that the Alien is known for.  This system is controlled by a partially concealed trigger located on the underside of the back of the head and pressing it upwards will cause the mouth to open and the fully dentured tongue to thrust forward from within the mouth cavity.  As the arrangement is controlled by an internal spring (or possibly a pair of springs as is the case with the original figure) relaxing the grip on the trigger will result in the tongue retreating back into the head and for the jaws to return to their default closed state. 

This is exactly the same system the original figure employed to great effect back in 1979 and once again is emulated perfectly in this iteration.  It’s presence here is not only welcome and accurate but should be considered mandatory considering its presence in the original was such a prominant feature.  Getting this right was an expectation that had to be met and here Gentle Giant have succeeded perfectly.

The paint work upon the figure is very minimal and only some features present upon the head have any detailing of this nature.  The glow in the dark ‘evil brain’ is the most notable.  And yes, it will glow in the dark in the same manner that this feature on the original figure did so.  Aside from that, the only other application of colour to the figure is the chromed teeth set into the upper and lower jaws and the matching chromed dual pieces of the split tongue.

The rest of the body relies on the ample surface details of the unpainted raw gun-metal grey plastic the figure is cast in to make an impression upon the viewer.  This combined with the gloss of the finished surface throughout is used to excellent effect to visually highlight the rich details of the figure without any additional paint applied to it.  It’s a positive testimony to the original 1979 sculpt that most details throughout the figure need no application of paint or other coatings in order to make it presentable and worthy of prominent display.

Which brings us to the integument of the figure itself and it’s this one area where it is slightly let down.  The figure’s dimensions, articulation and general features are reproduced from the original very accurately and any changes made to it have been beneficial rather than detracting.  Unfortunately, as an up-scaled replica, it has lost some of the finer details during the translation from the 18″ original to 24″ replica.  Throughout the figure, all of the surface textures have been smoothed out.  All the small pock marks, ridges and other subtle details have been erased.  It would appear that the enlarging process ignored all of the tight and sharp edges and averaged them out making the surfaces – especially sudden edges and subtle texture details – less defined.

You will find a similar effect present on pieces of coloured glass fragments found on the beach that have had their harsh and sharp edges removed by the constant abrasive action of sand and surf.  Like such beach glass, this figure is smooth, with all the details reduced and its loss of fidelity is noticeable once placed next to the original figure.  As a 25% larger item, you would expect the fine details on the surface of the figure to be amplified, made clearer, more defined.  You’d expect them to be enhanced and sharper; but not here.  In this case, the opposite is true.  The surface details have been slightly eroded by the process that increased its size and it could pass for being moulded in shiny black licorice as a result.

At over 2′ tall, the box the figure comes in is a fittingly large package.  It is very closely themed on the original but is not an exact reproduction of the older box.  It does include all the vintage ambiance of the period packaging it is based on, though, including clear plastic windows on both the front and top of the box.  Its ratio of dimensions slightly differs making the Gentle Giant box broader across the front thus giving it a square footprint instead of the original’s narrower rectangular one.  Various graphical elements upon each side of the box also differ to varying degrees.   One of these curious changes is Gentle Giants decision to upgrade the age recommendation on the front upper right corner.  It now displays a recommended minimum of ‘AGES 14 AND UP’ rather than the questionable ‘AGES 5 AND UP’ that the toy originally displayed in 1979.

The Kenner box originally had the figure secured to a red corrugated cardboard insert with laddered ratchet ties holding it in place.  Here, Gentle Giant has opted for a more practical solution fully enclosing their figure in a moulded and folded clear plastic clamshell to keep it safe inside the box.  The system works in its favour and overall the new box embraces the spirit of the original item that it so clearly intended to emulate, albeit with a few minor changes. Just like the original package, a replica of the set of instructions with a poster on the reverse side is present in the box.

Gentle Giant produced 4 different variants of this figure.  The one being reviewed here is the ‘Replica’ figure.  You can also find the head to toe luminous green ‘Glow in the Dark’ figure; along with ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’ vac metal versions being available as well.  Each one of these figures was cast in the same moulds and possess the same features and range of articulation and each were restricted to very limited production runs.  Herein lies the figure’s one other significant issue.  As each of these tribute collectibles were produced in very limited, single production run quantities, they are expensive items and may be priced outside many peoples’ means.  They are to be considered high end pop culture collectibles and are priced at a level that most casually interested people would baulk at and walk away from, shaking their heads muttering, “That’s too much for a figure like that!”

You can find purchase details here.

At this time in late 2015, the Replica figure itself has been Sold Out by the parent company.  The production number for this figure is purported to be 200 but no one seems to know the exact number on this item’s production run.  I wrote to Gentle Giant regarding this statistic but the response I received was not conclusive.  As this particular version is no longer available from the manufacturer, you will have to try your luck on Ebay if you want one. The good News is, however, some vendors have been recently selling them off at up to 50% discount in an attempt to move their stagnant stock due to the high pricing.   You may want to hunt around to find one at such a lower price as they do exist.  The other variations (Glow in the Dark, Gold and Silver) of this figure are still available from Gentle Giant at their original price.

This is an excellent figure for what it is but it does come with some caveats.  Its low production run dictates a high end sales figure associated with it and that’s a problem for a lot of people wanting to buy one.  Although there are some necessary changes made to improve the design of this 25% larger behemoth, these alterations are not immediately detectable.

It remains unmistakably identifiable as an over-sized exact duplication of the original figure.  It is only let down in the area of its appearance where lack of sharpness in the surface details is detectable; but you won’t notice this anomalous facet unless you stand one side by side next to an original 1979 Kenner Products figure.  The box it comes in is a great homage to the original packaging and makes it an excellent display piece.

Generally, a great buy – if you can afford it.

Score: 8/10

Check out more ALIEN action figure reviews on HIDEOUS PLASTIC.