ALIENS Action Figures, de facto Overseas Exclusive
Item No.: n/a Manufacturer:Kenner Includes:Pulse rifle, 3 missiles, launching backpack Action Feature:Rapid fire 3 missiles Retail:n/a Availability: ca. 1994 Other: Asia and Europe exclusive
A common misconception about Vasquez and her cohorts O'Malley and Hudson was that they were exclusive to the UK. Not true! The red-shirted version of the figure was actually distributed in multiple countries-- US-style packaging (all English with a square bubble) was distributed in France, Hong Kong, and Australia according to Tomart's Action Figure Digest. This sample came from Hong Kong as I had a friend there in high school, in the days before eBay, where finding out your best bud from elementary school could get you toys nobody else at the toy shows ever saw. It was a huge, exciting deal-- and yes, it was US-style packaging. Kenner actually confirmed to Tomart's that the production run was about 30,000 pieces, which seems to be close to the baseline for a lot of products out of Hasbro according to many of my sources. A six-language version of the packaging was distributed in the UK with a trading card and a bubble which was form-fitted to the figure, much like the ALIENS Hive Wars and Congo lines. Vasquez wouldn't come out to the USA until about 1997, where she was repainted for a Kay-Bee exclusive line of ALIENS vs. Marines to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the ALIENS films.
Standing a hair over 4-inches tall, I don't think anybody is going to say Vasquez had a fantastic sculpt. Before McFarlane Toys, female action figures were pretty uncommon and often quite mannish with cartoonish proportions. (McFarlane didn't exactly help the proportions.) She looks only vaguely like Jenette Goldstein, the character's body is female and her hair and headband were basically right. She was a tough character but the figure doesn't exactly look like a woman of her gender save for the boobs. She doesn't have a lot of paint, and with only 5 points of articulation she was basically on par with other Kenner figures of her day. Due to the plastic and paint used, she basically looks like she's wearing a sleeveless t-shirt, sweat pants, and some sort of construction boots. The headband is a nice touch, as is the knife on her left leg. I remember being impressed by her boots way back when I first got her, because the soles of the boots were a different color than the rest of the garment.
The pose is action-oriented and the kind of thing that makes me mad at the Hasbro of 2012. This was a spectacularly designed figure, she can stand fairly well on her own with no real problems. Heck, she can even wear that giant backpack of rocket-induced bug death. She can stand, she can sit, if you can get beyond the head sculpt she's actually a well-engineered plaything. The rocket launcher has a really awesome feature where you move the "trigger" from left to right, and it fires the rockets one-by-one. It's a lot of fun, impractical yet enjoyable. The main reason this figure caught a lot of adult fan attention was the inclusion of a Pulse Rifle, one of many pieces of hardware which the adult fans I knew back when she came out seemed to hold in particularly high regard. (Not the figure specifically, just the thing as a cool prop or weapon. I don't understand, myself, but it's a cool-looking accessory which is similar enough to the prop to earn my love.)
Loose samples of the figure are pretty cheap-- one sold for as little as $5. I have not seen the US-carded version of her in quite some time, so for all I know it's moved from regionally-scarce to a genuine rare article. The figure was repainted and reissued in a 2-pack with the Night Cougar Alien, which seems to be the one that shows up the most often and is slightly truer to the movie costume. Unless you have a strong affinity for weird Kenner lines I doubt you'd want this figure over the Hot Toys release, but I prefer small, cheap, and chunky to high-end replicas. This isn't a figure that aspires to be perfect, it just aspired to be a fun toy in the style of an ALIENS animated series that nobody ever saw.
One final note, the aforementioned fantastic resource of Tomart's suggested Kenner had some other "Marines" in the works around the time the humans were phased out in favor of Predators. These included Predator characters of Jungle Dutch, High-Tech Dutch, Blaine and Big Knife Billy, of which I have never seen prototypes, pictures, or other renderings. If you have one you're required by law to share pictures with me or to send them to me so that I may curate them in my toy stash.
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