The Mantis Alien was a thing I originally didn't intend on buying until I saw it had an on-pack mail-in offer for an "Ambush Predator," and any kid can tell you mail-in figures are exciting stuff. What could be better than getting an exclusive action figure for "free?" Not much. It didn't matter that this figure had the same torso and gimmick as a toy I already owned-- I wanted that Predator, and I liked things that were green. So buying this wasn't much of a hassle.
Towering over the Space Marines, this guy is, for all intents and purposes, ridiculous. The silver paint over the clear green body with bright gold teeth looks overly blinged out, and the in-universe logic of the design is kind of weird. A facehugger would have to somehow mount a praying mantis, and they're small, and this giant thing would gestate inside it and someday grow to a hulking full size? This is why we don't apply logic to retro toy lines. We just enjoy them.
Its arms are big nasty club-like appendages, connected to levers on the figure's back. Squeeze the levers, and the arms spread apart. Let go of the levers, and they clamp down on whatever prey is inside. It's virtually identical to the Gorilla Alien, but it also shows that you can reuse tooling, with a few new parts, and get almost an entirely new toy out of it. Or if you're a kid, the lesson is "buyer beware." This isn't all that much better than the Gorilla Alien as play value goes, plus the Gorilla had a squirting head and a bonus alien facehugger accessory.
Today the figure is worth $4-- or less-- before shipping. Sealed samples or open ones are quite cheap, and of course you can probably get this figure in a collection for pennies on the dollar. They're neat and fun to play with, but as you can see it's ultimately kind of a stupid design. That doesn't mean it's not lovable. It's just kinda dumb in that charming, "remember when figures weren't ten bucks?" kind of way.
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