While everyone else was doing Christmas guides this year I was at a bit of a loss. To be honest this season hasn't been quite chock full of "stuff" the way that past ones have- at least for me. Nothing to compare to last year's Alien BluRay box set in home video, precious few absolutely must have gift type books etc. But when I visited the Sideshow site I was reminded of what a spectacular year 2012 is going to be for those of us who love collectibles. And it looks like this is just the beginning. Sideshow has experienced amazing growth in terms of licensing and the types of product lines they've been able to bring to market. Below is a smattering of the things I'm most excited by. They're all up for pre-order. None of them are cheap but all of them promise to be absolutely stunning additions to the collections of anyone who buys them. Welome to the best of Sideshow 2012.
Alien 'Big Chap' Maquette DUE OUT MARCH
Alien (1979) is a lifetime movie for me. I've seen it so many times I've long ago lost count and am no less interested in it than I was after the first viewing. It was the first R rated movie I ever saw in a theater. It was the first film that ever made me actually retch (bet ya know which scene). But the truth is, I am as caught up in the dark wonder of that original film as I ever was in it's violent viscerality. This was a creature worthy of comparison to Lovecraft's Cthulhu, slithering out of the darkness and bringing with it man's worst fears: that man does not matter, that the universe is a cold vacuum that can neither be reasoned with or appealed to, that death is as inevitable and everlasting as the cosmos itself. In this sense Alien (1979) offers a counterweight to the optimistic metaphysics suggested by Stanley Kubick's 2001 A Space Oddysey (1968). It is certainly no less important a film, nor are it's cinematic and narrative accomplishments less complex. Ridley Scott has repeatedly called it his "perfect B movie." But if 2001 A Space Oddysey offers a journey towards transcendence Alien is a haunted house film where all the universe is a haunted house, offering not a mystical star child but a a sneering thing that seems to issue forth from the depth of space itself, a sort of hopelessness made bio-mech.
The iconography of Alien and it's sequels has spawned a huge number of collectibles over the last two decades. Until recently I was the proud owner of a Sideshow Alien Warrior Life Size Bust and many other various Alien collectables have passed through my hands. But my first love in the series has always been the first film and I have long waited for a truly larger than life representation of that first incarnation of the character. I have never found one that truly did it justice until now. This incredible maquette, pictured above with an apple for scale, stands 28 inches tall, 4 inches wide and another 14 inches deep, and, in my opinion, finally captures the malevolent magnificence of H.R. Giger's design. From the size, to the incredible detailing in the finish, to the classical horror film pose, this is a definitive piece that at once tackles the issues that have made producing a definitive Alien (1979) piece so difficult.
One of the key things that makes the original alien design so powerful is the clear carapace forming a dome over the elongated head. It covers the head like an astronauts helmet and yet it reveals beneath itself only bone prefiguring the death it brings to all whom encounter it. The carapace and what it does and does not revel, is perhaps the ultimate juxtaposition of bio and mech found in the alien design and the creepiest. Combined with the elongated nature of the head the implication of Freud's Uncanny is unavoidable. The alien is a blasphemy of the human form, that defies classification in simple human terms yet we feel we are looking at ourselves somehow and yet we clearly aren't, the thing before us is anything but us. It is other, utterly alien indeed.
A problem that collectables designers have often had with the carapace is getting the proper balance of opacity. Design of the skull revealed by the carapace is difficult as well. If the carapace is too clear the skull underneath takes on a prominence out of step with the original. If the carapace is too foggy then the skull and other detailing doesn't take on the proper significance. Here that problem seems handled quite well with the opacity of the carapace seemingly dirtied as if polluted from the inside by some foul inner substance.
Another problem for makers has been the pose The creature is only briefly seen in the original film and so posing/posability of figures, statues and maquettes has always been far more at the discretion of the artist than is often the case with such iconic characters. Here the Sideshow Team has chosen to have the alien adopt an almost operatic pose that is, in my opinion, highly evocative of it's character. It's a pose one might associate with Dracula or especially the Phantom of the Opera; the right arm drawn up in a flourish, head cocked as if suddenly aware of a potential victim nearby. The creature leans slightly forward in a manner that at once suggests graceful decadence, evil, madness. Most of all it suggests ease of demeanor. This is not a creature that needs to hurry. The finish of the Alien has been handled well many times in the past. Here is no different. Sideshow has stepped up the level of detail in keeping with the size of the piece and this one promises to look as spectacular as anything the company has yet produced for the license.
The base the creature stand on is, as expected in a larger item, highly detailed if somewhat small. As expected the motif is industrial bringing to mind the Weyland-Yutani corporation and the Nostromo itself. Lacking walls of any kind, dirty, worn, dull, this is the future of a humanity spent in dehumanizing environments, manufacturing its own destruction and of individuals devoured by corporate excess and a haunting sense of displacement in the information age where man can be everywhere at once yet feels increasingly homeless.
For Alien (1979) lovers this should easily be worth the purchase price of $799 plus shipping especially when considering the insane resale value this is sure to have in a few years once the relatively low edition number of 1250 sells through. Secondary market will NOT be the way to pick this up.