Review: Bandai SH MonsterArts Big Chap Action Figure, 2014.

  • Manufacturer: Bandai/Tamashii Nations
  • Released: 2014

Japan sure loves ALIENS – or at least loves manufacturing them.  Let’s see do a quick checklist of companies who have embraced this licence. Tsukuda Hobby, Takara, Aoshima, Kotobukiya, Kaiyodo are all Japanese companies that have made ALIEN figures.  Even video game publisher, SEGA, have dabbled in releasing ALIEN action figures.  And that’s the short list from off the top of my head that I can think of right now.

Bandai/Tamashii Nations have also contributed successfully to the milieu of Japanese ALIEN toys unsuitable for children.  Here we have their 15+ age rated SH MonsterArts Big Chap action figure and what a fine little chap it is.  After a while, these things all begin to look alike but there’s always one or more features present that serve to stand out as identifiers.   This neat little fellow is no exception.

This excellent little item is packaged in a sturdy box with a clear wrap around window. The figure along with its parts and accessories sit in a tray.  As no twist ties or other fasteners are used, it’s an easy process to pack the figure back into its box if you wish to stow it with its original packaging.  That’s a big deal to a lot of people.  There’s also a single sided A4 printed instruction sheet concealed behind the green insert at the back of the box – an inclusion that appears to be almost superfluous.

At almost 7 inches tall, the SH MonsterArts ALIEN Big Chap is a feature rich example of what a small scale figure can deliver.  The general sculpting of the figure is superb and well detailed but what sets this one apart is the phenomenal amount of articulation present on such a little item.  We’ll take a look into that later down the track but right now let’s bask in the terrific detail this modest action figure has to offer.

Everything is here that you would expect.  The complete ALIEN ambience from the top of its dome covered head to the tip of its tail is accurately depicted – with some minor caveats here and there that detract in small and not too significant ways.

Looking at the hard carapace that sits on the head we can see the skull face beneath. To my liking, the see through dome is just a little too clear.  A smokier finish to the front  would have been welcome to obscure the details of the skull, just a little.   That’s my only real gripe with the whole figure.  There’s other issues with it and I’ll go into those but really, any grievances I have could end right there.

The tongue sits inside the hinged mouth and can be moved forward its full length.  It’s a little tight to get it past the jaws unaided and I recommend you use tweezers to pull it past the dentures.  The tongue itself is well detailed with a bony finish and the teeth mounted on its extremity are tipped in silver.  Silver is a consistent finish throughout the figure.

The remainder of the body is no less detailed and the black figure is finished with a generous dry brushing of silver paint to enhance all the details.  It’s a serviceable and fast method for a production process but it works as the heavy detailing on the figure is substantial and accurate.

Most of the dimensions of the figure are well proportioned.  I did find that the feet were a little long, almost like flippers.  Once again, it’s such a minor detail it’s hard to really call it a fault.  There’s so many good features to praise on this item.  Importantly, let’s get to the wonderful level of articulation to be found on this piece.

The neck, shoulders and arms are all fully poseable.  There are joints at the elbows and wrists which add further points of articulation.  The elbows themselves are double jointed to maximise the range of movement possible on these limbs.  Considering the terrific range of motion on the arms, it’s just a little disappointing the wrists do little more than rotate on this point.  There’s no hinge here so the hands can’t be bent back or forward at the wrist.

The torso of the figure is surprisingly well appointed in terms of articulation.  The neck, shoulders, hips and tail all offer excellent points of movement but poseability exists well beyond these familiar points.  A point of movement exists at the crest between the shoulders of the figure allowing it to move downward if the head is moved back and there are 2 additional points of movement on the midriff of the figure.  One is located just below the ribs at the diaphragm and the 2nd at the lower abdominal area.

While at least one midriff joint is common on ALIEN figures having an additional ball joint  in this area amplifies the range of motion this figure is capable of; and it can easily bend over into a characteristic pose fans are familiar with.

Like the arms, the knees are double jointed and will allow the figure to crouch down relatively low.  It could be a little better but what’s available is very good. Nonetheless, the combination of all the many points of articulation this figure possesses offers opportunities for posing the item in ways other figures just can’t match.  Even the elusive ‘crab walk’ pose from the movie’s deleted footage is possible with this figure. It’s just the lack of any movement at the wrists that spoil the illusion as the figure has to be set upon its finger tips in order to manage this pose.

Finally, the multi segmented tail offers poseability that is normally either lacking any articulation on other figures or such movement is provided with a flexible wire core.  Here the multi segmented prehensile appendage offers an interesting solution to a tail that should be – well – segmented.

Unfortunately, the arrangement while sounding good doesn’t offer the staying power that a wire core offers and the tail fails to hold a decent pose outside a limited range.  It’s a nice feature, but it demonstrates how a complex problem often has simpler and more effective means of providing a solution.  Maybe if the segments had been threaded along a wire core it would be more satisfying; but as it is, it’s serviceable and that’s all.

The amount of articulation on the figure is well above average.  Including all the parts to the segmented tail (18 segment joints), the figure offers 42 points of articulation.  A staggering amount for an item that stands less than 7 inches tall.

A number of accessories are present with the figure.  There is an alternate set of hands that can be easily swapped out.  The second set of hands only differ in a minor bending of the fingers where they join at the hand.

Also included in the package is a display stand.  Unlike display stands from other companies (I’m casting my gaze of disapproval at you, NECA!) this one is actually useful.  The stand  can easily hold the figure in any pose you set it to, including posing it aloft.

The stand includes a substantial number of joints that will allow it to be used on other figures as well.  It boasts no less than 7 points on the stand providing ample options to do so.  That’s the same amount of points of articulation on Super 7’s ReAction ALIEN figure.   I’m thinking the stand would be more useful holding up my NECA ALIEN: Isolation ‘Stompy’ figure as the stand included with that item is just rubbish.  This is how it’s done, NECA.  Take notes. Please.

Overall, this is a terrific item.  Aside from some small nitpicking here and there, there’s not a lot wrong with it.  Really, the only thing you can can truly mark as incorrect here is the minor English error on the display stand.  A space is missing on the ‘ALIEN BIGCHAP’ labeling for the display stand.  What a thing to fall short on but then again, Japanese to English translations are often intriguing.  Nonetheless it’s a near perfect iteration of a perfect organism.

Score: 8/10

Almost perfect.  Just a few minor issues here and there detract from the overall presentation of a smaller scale figure with heavyweight features.