Review – Hot Toys 12″ Private Mark Drake (Aliens)

12 09 2007

This review of the Hot Toys Private Mark Drake took much longer for me to write. Drake was a rather minor character in the movie Aliens. To gear up better for his review, I watched the dropship sequence in Aliens on YouTube several times to gain more insight to Drake. Unfortunately, the video’s resolution wasn’t great and Drake’s scenes were mostly fleeting. And it doesn’t help that Aliens was largely dark and had dimly lit environments. Makes it hard to spot details.

Mark Drake had substantially less screen time than say, Ripley or Hicks. And I’ve somehow managed to refrain myself from getting any of the Alien movies (because I’ve always have the notion to get the ‘ultimate’ Alien box set… if there is one. It’s getting delayed even longer now that a fifth installment of the franchise is considered) so playing the movie’s DVD and fussing over Drake is not possible.

While the smartgun was very noticeable to audiences, the finer details such as the weapon’s batteries and other nooks and crannies were easily overlooked for a movie-goer. With this figure now reproduced in 1/6 scale, all these details are suddenly available for scrutiny for collectors up close and personal. It’s truly a visual treat really. But to articulate the parts for this review is a challenge as you will read in this review.

Nevertheless, my digging into the information on Mark Drake on the Internet did reveal some pleasant surprises which I will share in separate posts.

On to the review!

Bottomline:

Good details are the strongest points for the Hot Toys Aliens USMC Mark Drake figure. Next would be the generous array of accessories which are well designed and constructed. Clothes are tailored to fit and the use of the muscular body ensures the figure looks good sleeveless. On the downside, there are some dubious implementations in packaging and design. The positive parts for this figure are macro while the negative are micro flaws . It’s still the figure to get if you want a male smartgunner!

What’s good:

  • Collector friendly box.
  • Loads of accessories.
  • Fantastic details on accessories.
  • Well tailored clothes.
  • You get the smart-gun!
  • Aptly used muscular body.
  • Good sculpt.
  • Good overall construction.
  • Stable.

What could be better:

  • Sculpt not dead-on in resembling the movie namesake.
  • Some obvious fragile parts and dubious design choices.
  • Muscular body means restricted upper body articulation.
  • Boot legs mean certain restriction in customising.
  • Adhesive tapes for holding accessories damaging.
  • Accessories not completely documented.

Review Details

Packaging

The packaging for Private Mark Drake is excellent in terms of artwork and construction. These days, Hot Toys 1/6 Movie Masterpiece products often comes with the signature glossy box sleeve with matte art design on the box underneath. With the Aliens series, the Colonial Marines sport a… peek-a-boo presentation when the box flap is opened. You can’t see the figure. Only some of the accessories are exposed through the plastic screens. While it preserves some mystery at the point of purchase(thereby heightening some excitement… maybe?), the downside is that buyers can’t check the facesculpt of the piece they are buying.

I like the multiple trays as they spell orderliness of the accessories arrangement for this figure. And it is really a good way to ensure that the limited space is used efficiently to fit everything in. Mark Drake comes similar to the Predators where you have a naked body and you have to dress him(shirt and pants) and fix up his head, hands and feet. For more pics of the box, see the Incoming post.

One major gripe I have with the packaging of the Hot Toys Mark Drake is the inadequate use of adhesive tape on some of the accessories. Regular Hot Toys patrons would be familiar with the circular adhesive tapes that are used to keep accessories in place in they tray space. With Mark Drake, the tape is also used to secure the beaded necklace piece. A terrible mistake I must say. Check out the pic below.

Well, this was the aftermath of me removing the necklace from the tray. The beads had stuck onto the tape and despite my best efforts to detach them, the shiny surfaces of the beads disintegrated and stubbornly remained deposited on the adhesive tape… till this day. Quite heartbreaking but despite losing some mass, the beads on the necklace still looks pretty much alright. Nevertheless, I found it a bad decision to use the tape on the accessory in this case. What Hot Toys should have done was to just pack it together with the brown string that had the luxury of being kept in a nice plastic bag. All that plastic for a string!

Headsculpt/Resemblance

Here is an area that is tricky. In terms of resemblance, the Hot Toys Mark Drake sculpt is different from the grunt in the movie. The movie had a blond Drake without an obvious mustache. Hot Toys Mark Drake has brown hair and very obvious brown mustache. And the actor in the movie was rather fair. Here, the skin tone is darker. These are glaring differences unless the painter is colour blind.

The tricky thing is that sometimes the lack of resemblance is due to licensing issues. You can’t get the permission of actors, you’d probably be unable to reproduce their likeness. With Rambo, Hot Toys probably had greater freedom as they were able to use images of Stallone on the packaging. The resulting likeness of the figure’s face was top-notch indeed.

With the Colonial Marines, so far none of the packing sport the actors images from Aliens. Only the pictures of the figure is used. It could suggest some restriction of freedom. In this case, it’s hard to fault Hot Toys but the axe still falls if we just look at having a Mark Drake Colonial Marine from the Aliens movie. However, the face does take after Mark Rolston(the actor who portrayed Drake) in terms of the sculpting work. I’ve seen some excellent custom work on OSW which made significant improvements to the sculpt after a new paintwork.

The facial expression of this figure is full of worry. I can almost imagine this fella having a cigarette in hand and stressing over a narrow escape from a xenomorph encounter.

Quality of Product

As with other Hot Toys 1/6 scale products, this Private Mark Drake 12″ figure is really very good in terms of overall design and construction. The clothes are very well tailored. The vest, in particular, caught my attention because it is so fitting when worn over the nude body. And it makes the figure looks splendid even without all that Smart Gun hardware. The vest is also imprinted with several flags and insignias adding further details to the figure.

The colours of the camouflaged pants are vibrant albeit having a rather new look. But then maybe Drake does do laundry.

The Smart Gun breastplate and the supporting harness is a good fit onto the body as well. The harness worn over the lower torso reminds me of those similar weightlifting belts which are required to worn tight to achieve its intended purpose. In the case of a Smartgunner, the fitting equipment translates well into realism subtly.

Still on the matter of good fit, the well-tailored cloth pistol holster makes sliding in and out of the pistol a joy. The utility belt, with its many pouches, can be worn comfortably around the waist which seems to be running out of space with the harness around it. The pouches on the belt can be adjusted so that none of it gets in the way of your posing with the Smart Gun. And these close-proximity accessories come together nicely without making the figure look overly burdened.

 

 

The figure comes with boot feet instead of a naked body’s feet wearing a boot. There are pros and cons to this implementation. 1/6 customisers may encounter a slight hurdle if they plan to swap bodies. For people like me who are okay with it, it’s hardly a problem.

 

Stability

Despite wielding the M56 Smart Gun in front, Private Mark Drake is still very stable when posing upright. The unreal weapon weight to the figure’s body weight ratio definitely plays a part here. The use of boot feet also minimise any movement after posing to just the ankles unlike the conventional feet-in-boot scenario which may see the feet fidget within the boot before stability is reached.

While the use of the muscular body here is fitting for aesthetic purposes, it restricts articulation of the upper body. Nothing new since collectors have yet to hear the next major innovation in this area. I dislike posing muscular bodies because for all the force I apply to move the parts, I really do not know if I am breaking the ‘bones’ underneath anytime soon. And once broken, you can’t really put glue to it unless a surgery is done. Something like what Arnie did when he digged a knife into his forearm to remove the fleshly hand like a glove to show the robotic arm in all its glory.

Accessories

There’s plenty to see in this department for the Hot Toys Mark Drake figure. Here’s the complete list of the accessories:

  • Cap with some dangling accessory
  • Beaded necklace
  • Head mount sight
  • Tactical vest
  • Armoured breastplate
  • M56 Smart Gun with gun mount
  • VP70 pistol with removable magazine
  • M40 Grenade
  • Pistol holster
  • Wiring Harness
  • Shoulder lamp
  • Utility belt
  • 2 x Utility belt tool
  • Arc welder

Haven’t had a figure that came with such a long list of accessories other than those military types. The lowdown on the accessories is that they are very well detailed. Hot Toys win hands down in this area and it is an important area to excel for 1/6 figures. However, I do have some gripes with the accessory design as I share below.

First up, let’s take a look at the most prominent piece of equipment – the badass M56 Smart Gun. This heavy duty weapon is now modeled in great detail in 1/6 scale. With the chance to see the Smart Gun closer now, you may find the body seemingly familiar with some real life weapons. Well, the Smart Gun was originally modeled after the MG-42 machine gun. And that’s not all to real life similarities. The unique trigger is also an inspiration from motorcycles’ clutch/brake levers. The trigger on this Smart Gun is movable.

 

Familiar details from the Aliens movie include the LED ammo count display and the cylindrical ammo drum.

What many may have missed in the movie is the DV9 battery pack that powers this monster.

One disappointment is the lack of prominence of the buttons on the forward left grip of the M56 Smart Gun. I’m not sure if the corresponding buttons were all dull and black in the movie but buttons are often coloured to catch users’ attention before pushing them. At the moment, the all black buttons are hardly noticeable.

The M56 Smart Gun comes with the gun mount arm attached. The construction of this arm is immaculate. Not only are there plenty of details, the 2 sections of the arm are completely movable and are 1/6 engineering marvels.

The gun mount arm has an attachment that fits onto the right side of the armoured breastplate firmly. The breastplate is removable from its wearing straps. It also sports 2 inlets – one for the jack from the head mount sight and the other from the wire from the Smart Gun. One complain I have here is that the holes of the inlets are rather small. It makes fitting in the jacks rather difficult. And 1/6 scale jacks are really small pieces of plastics. You can really push them too hard or twist them in as they can bend under stress. After several attempts to fit both jacks in, I gave up to prevent damaging either of them. I really do not think that fitting this area of the accessory should be this tedious.

Another gripe I have is with the attaching of the shoulder lamp onto the back of the marine. In 1/6 dimensions, the shoulder lamp is a rather big and heavy equipment. Hooking it onto a small piece of plastic at the back of the breastplate harness is really not a good idea. Within minutes of attaching the shoulder lamp, I noticed that the weight of the lamp was bending not only the plastic hook but also the harness strap it is attached onto. The lamp pulls backwards often as a result thus shining upwards rather than forward. Frustrated with the design, I decided to improvise by using a twist tie from Hot Toys Rambo III to secure the lamp better… and it worked! The lamp looks great by the way. Another triumph in the area of accessory detail.

The head mount sight is a lovely piece of accessory that fits snugly on Drakes head. The targeting sight can be moved over Drake’s eye easily. One potentially fragile area here is the start of where the wire is attached to the head mount sight. Experience from my Hot Toys SWAT 3 figure tells me that the wire is not all that flexible so be careful when considering to bend it.

One problem with fictional equipments is that their names are not all that common except to fans. Real world weapons are definitely better documented on the Internet. And I have some problems with some of the smaller pieces of accessories included with the Hot Toys Private Mark Drake package. It took me a while to get what was what right. For example, the 2 pieces below are utility belt tools although I’m not sure how they would work in real life. And I’m clueless as to where I can put them on the figure. In the end, I just string them up below the pistol holster.

This is the arc welder which was seen in the movie.

Better documentation of the accessories would definitely had helped. The instruction sheet included was hardly useful in this aspect by the way.

 

 

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3 responses

8 05 2008
berto

Well, it is ok. Do you have more photos of your equipments.. i have visited the site komatpillar.com it sells a lot of used machineries and heavy equipment. Iam still searching on the internet who sells machineries with the Caterpillar brand.

24 07 2009
chrono

I think those two items you clipped to the belt are extra batteries for the smart gun.

9 03 2010
Hottoys Aliens 1st series pictures needed ,thxs - One Sixth Warrior Forum

[…] series 2 DRAKE 12 inch fully poseable model kit. Here's a review of Drake that has lots of pix: Review – Hot Toys 12? Private Mark Drake (Aliens) SWFTOYS – Reviews, Showcase and Musing…. Michaels review of Hicks: Aliens Corporal Hicks action figure – Another Toy Review by Michael […]

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