From the first time she blew a Xenomorph out an airlock to her genetic orgy with the Queen alien, Ellen Ripley didn’t take shit from those tail-whipping, mouth-snapping bastards. A scared and vulnerable astronaut in the first film, Ridley Scott’s Alien, her awakening as a flamethrower-wielding warrior didn’t emerge until the second film, Aliens. That was when her maternal instincts kicked in and prompted her to go through hell to save her surrogate daughter, Newt, in her most heroic moment of squaring off with the Queen Alien. Strapped into a fork lifter Mech Suit, she smacks the queen around like a redheaded stepchild.
Now, thanks to NECA, this latter scene can be forever immortalized and re-enacted with their Aliens POWER LOADER P-5000 Deluxe Vehicle Figure, made to accompany the 7″ scale Ripley and other Alien line of figures. NECA was kind enough to send us one – under the condition that we write about it at night. Because we mostly do good work at night… mostly.
The power loader is the first vehicle NECA has produced for their rebooted Alien 6″ figure line, and stands at just under a foot tall. It’s also fully articulated, so you can pose it, ready to go all Wayne Brady (does Wayne Brady have to slap a b*tch tonight) on those Xenomorph A-holes. Before we take a solid look at the figure, let’s take a moment and admire the box.
Box art is supposed to evoke a connection from the product to the buyer, triggering a sense of nostalgia and longing for things long remembered and idolized . With Aliens being one of the better sci-fi movies this century – featuring one the toughest butt-kicking babes of all time – featuring what is arguably the best Mech-Suit-on-Alien battle since, well, ever – it’s an easy sell. All you gotta do is slap the Alien logo on the box with a graphic of Ripley in Power Loader ready to go full-on Momma Bear, and BOOM, instant Alien fever. NECA does just that, and fortunately they don’t F it up. They did it right – using actual photos of the vehicle for the cover art, sides, and back of packaging. You’ll be looking at this box and be compelled to shout that oh-so-famous line – “Get Away From Her, You B*TCH!” Only quibble is the image on the back, which, through a bit of lighting trickery, implies that the vehicle has a light-up function. It does not. Probably why it’s on the back of the box and not the front.
Where most toys require a plasma cutter to release a figure from its plastic bondage and infuriating twist ties, this vehicle has a simple 2 piece clam-shell type enclosure, meaning it won’t look like a gutted Bishop at the end of Aliens. Everything can be repackaged and shipped off to some other exo-planet, if that’s something you wanna do.
Once you remove the POWER LOADER from the box, it comes with two antennas for the top of the loader as well as a separate pair of hands for Lt. Ripley to hold the Loader controls. It should be noted this figure contains the Vehicle and its two accessories only – Ripley is not included in this set. Why? NECA has their reasons – which are unclear. The figure can be purchased separately (pictures of the two together can be seen below).
Taking the Loader out of the clam-shell, it is a sight to behold. There it is, the POWER LOADER looking exactly as one would remember it from the movie. Admittedly, it does come in a little smaller than one might expect – but it is in perfect scale to the 15-inch Alien Queen figure (not pictured) from the line. Any reservations about size are easily forgotten about when there is just so much detail to gawk over.
Aliens world. It’s brushed with a black wash throughout, and speckled with a few strokes of silver. The paint is finished with red accents, and the signature black pinstripes on the feet, clamps, and armatures. All of which make for a weathered, beaten-up loader – like it should have been retired from crate lifting 3000 crates ago.
Adding to the already-impressive details: the melange of tubes in the back of the loader (and there are many); the moving pistons on the arms, legs and back; the roll cage with a mesh screen and hazard beacon; and the clamps that actually clamp. The combined effects truly reflect a Loader pulled right out of the Aliens movie.
The articulation – the range of motion is fair. The legs swings forward and back at the hip and bend at the knees; but when Ripley is inserted in exoskeleton, the movement on the legs become nil. The biggest range of mobility comes in the arms and clamps. The shoulders raise up a few degrees; the elbow joints around 30 degrees. The clamps can bend to the right and left, as well as rotate a full 360 degrees, and open and close. It may not sound like a lot, but given the practical stationary position of the legs, getting some poses with the arms is at least possible. Ripley in the POWER LOADER won’t be doing any Yoga poses, that’s for sure, but the range is reasonable enough. To be fair, if you think about what purpose the Loader serves, it’s not a very versatile piece of machinery. It’s meant for picking things up and putting them down. Slapping a She-B*tch alien across the face, was just another case of modern technology being used for purposes it was never intended for. Sufficed to say, this figure moves in just about the same encumbered manner as seen in the movie.
THE NOT SO GOOD STUFF (Constructive Criticism)
Be forewarned – when handling this figure… how goes the phrase… “handle with care.” Those cool looking tubes/hoses coming out the back looking like Medusa’s bad hair day? They are tacked on with barely a speck of glue – they can and will pop off.
The Loader will hold Ripley and only Ripley. Straps that secure the figure in the suit are sized just large enough to fit the Ripley figure. No other figure can fit. In addition, when Ripley is secured into the vehicle (feet in straps and hands on handles), it greatly inhibits what is already a limited range of motion. Another figure, like Bishop for example, can be secured in the bootstraps and just laid over the chest harness but it looks lame. Not that having anyone else other than Ripley pilot the vehicle is something most anyone really wants, but those into cross figure play/display might be disappointed in this. So, in some alternate version of the movie where Bill Paxton’s character William Hudson is the hero and straps on the suit and says “Game On, Man, Game On” will just have to live in your mind’s eye.
Given the price on the figure, it would seem within reason that it feature some light-up function. The hazard beacon atop the exo-suit is a translucent yellow and looks like it was intended to be a light-up feature. Make no mistake, it does not light up. Is that really such a bad thing? Light-up functions are cool, if you’re 5 years old. But in terms of collector pieces that are just gonna sit on display, they are rather arbitrary. Its not like you’re gonna leave the ON switch kicked when company isn’t over.
Also regarding price point, it is a bit of a head scratcher as to why this wasn’t a combo figure-to-vehicle set. There is no Power Loader without Ripley. Yes, you can buy her separately but combine the pricing of this vehicle and the Ripley figure, and we’re talking about $140. It would have been more reasonably priced if it included both Loader and figure. Some fans may feel this is too much cost for what is given.
This is a pricey figure (going for $90-$110 depending on retailer), and it has some shortcomings. But hear this: one of the last times a POWER LOADER was produced was the 1992 toy from Kenner. That was a hunk of plastic. This is anything but a hunk of plastic. Well, technically, yeah it is plastic, but you get the point. This is the POWER LOADER P-5000, fully realized from the movie, looking as spot-on as a figure/vehicle of this level (something you can buy in stores today and not some grossly high priced statue or collectible you can only get through an online retailer) can be.
For fans of the Alien franchise, there is no moment more defining than when Ripley straps into the POWER LOADER and goes toe-to-toe with that acid bleeding, mouth snapping, tail whipping Xeno-whore. Paired with said Alien Queen, this POWER LOADER (w/Ripley), makes for one hell of a display piece. This is Danny Glover at the end of Predator 2 (wrong movie but sorta semi-related) peering into the trophy case. You are the Predator and this is your trophy.