1:6 Scale Alien
11/01/09- Well, finally! I've wanted an Alien Queen toy/model/statue since I first saw the movie "Aliens". I eagerly snapped up the funky & fanciful Kenner toys (Flying Alien Queen et al) when they came out, the more screen-accurate toy Queen with Hive set (came with green slime), and the best one of the lot, Halcyon's 1:12 vinyl garage kit. I thought that was probably as good as it gets. When I began customizing 1:6 figures/dolls/whatevers, I really wished that someone made a 1:6 scale Alien Queen.
Once or twice, I'd even considered tackling the project myself (Hi Tung, if you're out there!). Halcyon's 1:12 scale vinyl kit was an excellent reference to work from. I'd measured the head and used my scale-up calculator to visualize how big she'd be in 1:6 scale-- yep, she'd be mighty big! Bigness wasn't what discouraged me though, it was the weight. The Alien Queen's design, with her huge head, thin torso and spindly, multi-jointed legs (with high heels!) wasn't much of a problem for the selective eye of the film camera, but not ideal for an articulated or semi-articulated doll/statue. Articulating the legs and hips was out of the question. The hinges would have to be extremely strong and tight to support the weight of this top-heavy critter, but also very small and thin. Even at 1:12 scale with hollow vinyl torso and head, with solid, unarticulated legs, the Halcyon Alien Queen's pose had to be carefully considered so that she didn't require a rod stuck into her chest for support. I'd speculated that the most feasible way to make her head at 1:6 would be as a hollow thermoformed structure, but thermoforming isn't good for capturing detail. To add detail, the structure would need a putty skin, but that would add a lot of weight. I ruled out doing it as a resin casting because of the expense: It would require a lot of silicone for the mold, which isn't feasible for a one-of production.
There have been rumors and speculation that Hot Toys would do one: If anyone could, they're probably the best candidate for the job, and if you were a entitlement-brat, you might whine that they "owe us one" since they produced a 1:6 scale Powerloader. Hey, but it's their money and they have their own feasibility calculations to carefully ponder. Likely, it would be expensive to make and ship. Some fans would certainly buy at nearly any price, but would those sales offset the production costs and net a profit? Time will tell whether this comes to pass, but that rumor has been out there for a while now without any signs of movement, other than a lot of wishing and hoping.
Another prime candidate for tackling this would be NECA. They produced an astoundingly huge Balrog at a relatively low price (considering its size and weight). I don't know if this was a wise business move on their part, since it wasn't the sort of thing designed to sell through brick and mortar stores-- the plain shipping box consumed a lot of stock space and it was relatively expensive for a toy, so it probably didn't have much mass market appeal. Internet sales were probably a risk because of the undoubtedly high shipping costs. Maybe not a smart business decision-- I saw it more as an experiment, a labor of love and as keeping a promise to die-hard fans of the Lord of the Rings series. Production of a 1:6 scale Alien Queen bears some similarities, so it's understandable why producers might be dragging their feet on this.
Sideshow Toys has recently released a very cool-looking Alien Queen statue. It's big, but at 16" tall (counting base), it's not anywhere near 1:6th scale. As nice as it looks, I couldn't justify buying it since I already had another non-1:6th scale representation of the Alien Queen.
Therefore, when I learned of this 1:6 scale resin production, I had to bite. I'd never heard of the company before and they don't have a website, so I had to act on scant information, a lot of hoping, and blind faith. (It later dawned on me that there are probably good reasons why this is the case... DOH!) The pictures looked good, and I was sold by a picture of a 1:6 Predator dwarfed by the Alien Queen. Even though I hadn't thought about Aliens and Predators for a year or so, this got my attention. Even if the castings needed a lot of cleaning up, I wouldn't mind. Even if I didn't have anywhere to put her, I'd think of something. Even though radio controlled tanks had battered my bank account, this was worth the pain. This was fulfillment of yet another personal Holy Grail quest.
Impressive, huh? ;^)
Wow. The huge and heavy box greeted me at home after work, less than two weeks after I placed the order. I didn't expect her quite so soon since the kit is cast after the order is received, and it's shipped from the other side of the world. With scissors in hand, I went about snipping tape to unbox her.
Packaging: 4.733 apples out of 4.733 oranges
An inviting shade of manila integument flows over the exterior, with cryptic tags and hand-written marking from exotic places with names like "Customs Declaration". I consider the packaging to be "collector-friendly" since it doesn't snarl or bite you, and the average collector should have no problem figuring out how to unpack the kit. Hell, it ain't purdy, but it does what it's supposed to do, which is to get the fragile bits to you unbroken, after travelling so far and being manhandled by people who are probably enraged by anything marked "Fragile!" or "Handle With Care". I was very impressed by the fact that the 3-layer styrofoam "cake" pieces had cutouts for all the bubble-wrapped parts. Put your vacuum cleaner on standby; you're going to need it.
Okay, okay... The first piece you'll probably free from the bubble wrap is the head. Jeez, it's enormous! This will instantly put to rest any concerns you might have about its scale. I couldn't help but think about the garage kit of the Predator warrior hauling an Alien Queen's head trophy: That must have been a baby Alien Queen because this head is taller than the already-tall Predator, and that's without the front section.
A faint chemical aroma wafts up, letting you know that this isn't the usual Aluminlite or Polytek that you find in hobby shops. The material is gray, very dense and strong, and the castings have a matte texture. The fact that nothing's broken or cracked, not even the thin fingers, is a testament to both the packaging and the strength of this stuff.
While I was waiting for delivery, I though about things I'd probably want/have to do to fix it, and at the top of my list was inserting piano wire in the fingers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the fingers, the tail and the spikes had been cast with embedded wires. Great! That's one less task on the to-do list.
Another task I'd expected was to putty over bubbles and pinholes, grind down parting lines and trim flash. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. This is about as professional a casting job as I've ever seen. I didn't find any bubbles or voids, and found only a tiny collection of pinholes somewhere. The mold alignment is very good and evidence of parting lines from the molds can be hard to find; the main clue is where the part was cleaned up. Yes, they cleaned up the castings, and did a very respectable job, given how time-consuming and boring that can be.
That's not to say that you can just glue the thing together and spray it with Krylon (well, you could but I wouldn't recommend it). Even though the parts are cleaned up, you probably would want to fine-tune the job in tough-to-reach places like between the spine nubs on the back. Also, there are a few places where the embedded wires run to the surface, and might need a little putty filler. As is not uncommon for garage kits (especially for one of this size, where the heavy pieces can deform soft molds), the joins between the parts will need putty filler work; although the parts fit, the fit can be off, requiring putty and sculpting to close gaps.
Actually though, the puttying and painting are minor and secondary concerns compared to the first task that awaits: Building the beast.