As most toy collectors know, Kenner and the Alien franchise go way back to 1979 when Kenner attempted to produce a line of Star Wars-style figures for the original Alien move, but backed out due to some parental uproar over the large Big Chap figure they released. Fast forward to the 90’s, a Golden Era, where parents stopped caring about being outraged over R-Rated movie toys. Cartoony versions of RoboCops, Predators, and Aliens were all over the toy shelves and Kenner finally had their way with Aliens. Fast forward again to now and we find that NECA is incorporating some of those Kenner Aliens designs into their own insanely popular Aliens figures. And that brings us to today’s figure… The Mantis Alien!
Kenner’s Aliens line debuted a little too late for me. I was off at college believing that learning was good and toys were dumb, little aware that in a few years I’d be plunging head first into buying toys again. The line took advantage of the idea that Xenomorphs could spring from all sorts of different hosts and the result was a delightfully diverse collection of Aliens cross-bred with various beasts. Exactly how a Xeno springs out of an insect, I have no idea. Even the mini-comic included in the package doesn’t divulge these answers. Maybe they’re from a species of giant Space Mantis? Either way, I’m not going to argue when the results are this amazing. As always, the Aliens figures come in sealed clamshells, but there’s a few things to point out here. First, it comes with a mini-comic and a Chest Burster. Second, the artwork on the insert is delightfully colorful. Finally, don’t let the size of the package fool you, because when this thing is unfolded in all its glory, it’s huge! And so without further ado, I’m going to razor this baby open, huff some glorious plastic fumes, and we’ll check this guy out.
OK, I’m going to try really hard not to go into full on hyperbole mode here, but I am so absolutely gobsmacked by this figure that it’s going to be hard not to gush like crazy. I mean, I often refer to the wizards at NECA as fine craftsman, but holy hell if this figure isn’t an absolute work of art then I don’t know what is. I’m not one to get all weak in the knees at the sight of translucent plastic in my toys, but the marrying of regular plastic and the green translucent stuff on this figure is sheer poetry. It looks absolutely stunning in person. As for the design? Well it’s sheer nightmare fuel. Regular Xenos are bad enough, but this guy is just down right terrifying.
Part of that comes from the fact that adding bug parts makes anything creepier. Look at the tail and stinger on this thing! The detail work in the sculpt is magnificent and when you couple that with the silver and black paint, the translucent plastic, and that brown sting, it’s just totally over the top.
What also makes this Xeno all the more terrifying is that it’s elongated mantis arms and jumping legs means that if this thing wants you, you’re screwed. I imagine this guy is a quadruped, but he can also stand up on his haunches and use those extended arms to do some horrific damage. Standing up, we can also get a better look at his anatomy. The bulk of his body is comprised of that translucent plastic while the feet, forearms and undercarriage are fortified with silver Alien-style exoskeleton. The barbs on those claws are particularly fierce. This thing probably doesn’t even need to grab its pray, it can just embed them on those spiked mitts of his. And just when you think things weren’t bad enough… let’s check out that head sculpt…
Sweet Jesus have mercy! He’s both breathtaking and hideous at the same time… even by Xenomorph standards. I have no words for how awesome this head is, but I’ll at least mention that I’m in love with that silver, barbed cranium. Also, check out those nasty teeth and black gums. And yes, if you were wondering, there is indeed a secondary mouth in there that extends out. And much to my delight, it’s cast in translucent plastic!
I don’t even know where to begin when talking articulation. This thing is loaded with points. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, double rotating hinges in that first elbow, another rotating hinge at the next joint, another one at the wrist, and finally one more at the pincer. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips, double hinges at the first knee, rotating hinges at the next joint down, and finally another at the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the torso, another in the neck, the jaw is hinged, and the secondary mouth can be pulled out. I’d also like to point out that not once did I have to use a figure stand to get this fella to do what I wanted. He has a remarkable balance for such lanky design and his joints can hold his weight surprisingly well.
As already mentioned, you get a couple of cool extras in the package. The first is a cool mini-comic that showcases the Mantis Alien battling some marines. The second is a little Chest Burster with a bendy tail and OMG, LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE LITTLE ARMS!!! He looks like he’s begging for a treat!
Back when NECA revealed the first Kenner-style Aliens, I was almost tempted to take a pass. I have absolutely no nostalgia for the Kenner line. But knowing that it was NECA and seeing as how I already collect their Aliens line, I took the plunge and I’m so thankful that I did. The Mantis Alien is impressive in every imaginable way and he’s easily one of the most amazing looking figures that I’ve opened in recent memory. I’m seriously considering picking up a couple more of these simply because it’s not every day you can get a figure this awesome for about $22. And you know what else is awesome? He came with a friend. And hopefully next week I’ll be able to make the time to open up the Kenner-style Gorilla Alien!