Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Dog Alien (NECA Aliens)

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Alien 3 was a terrible movie. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it definitely had some good parts – an excellent bait-and-switch with the doctor as a false lead character, some tense chase scenes, an emotional ending, and of course, a really fantastic Alien design… but it was kind of a terrible movie. Alien 3 ditched the realism that the series had where, despite all the acid-blooded monstrosities running around, the humans were ordinary truckers, or marines, or businessmen. The alien attacked the familiar, in essence. Alien 3 put everything on a surreal monastery steel mill populated by space monks. And the thing is, it wasn’t even the weirdest version of the movie – some early drafts tried to imitate Snow White & The Seven Dwarves. Wow. But at least the monster was cool.

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The third movie’s Xenomorph was specially designed by H. R. Giger, only he wasn’t properly credited. It took legal action. But anyway, this movie introduced an idea that would carry into the Kenner toyline and a future movie or two – that a Xenomorph shares some DNA with its host, and will be different if it comes out of different being. The creature in the third movie burst out of a dog (an ox in some versions of the movie), and thus it resembles a canine (and not an ox no matter which version of the movie you watch). It’s sleeker, it lacks some knobs and dorsal spines, it is mostly quadrupedal, it has digitigrade legs, and it is not afraid of fire. Because dogs don’t care about fire, you know.

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But seriously, the monster in the third movie – alsi called a “Runner” – was surprisingly durable, and only died due to a sudden application of physics that, while dubiously applied, made it blow up.  The Alien in the third movie, although it plays essentially the same role as in the first, behaves more like a nightmare and less like an unknown being from beyond the stars.

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***
After narrowly escaping LV-426, Ripley and the remaining crew of the U.S.S. Sulaco enter hypersleep for the long journey back to Earth. But a crash landing leaves Ripley alone and stranded on the maximum security penal planet Fiorina “Fury” 161. She’s surrounded by inmates whose “Double-Y” chromosome makes them the most violent men in the galaxy, but there’s something far more dangerous lurking in the shadows… something that may have been in her escape pod all along.

***

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Yay, pseudoscience. As far as I know, having an extra Y chromosome does not make you a violent killer, it just gives you a slight propensity for learning disabilities and acne. Ah, well. But anyay, let’s look at the Dog Alien – McFarlane Toys released one years ago, so now we must all wonder: Is the new one up to snuff?

 

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PACKAGING: ****

Forgive me, for I have failed you. The pictures I took of the Dog Alien’s packaging all screwed up – I reflected off the plastic. This is unfortunate, as the Alien is actually arranged really nicely in the packaging – it’s in a fetal position of sorts, and looks fantastic!

 

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The Dog Alien is a dessicated creature, more on the mummified end of the scale than its biomechanical predecessors. The sculpt captures its thin layer of skin, its bones, and even the ragged tendons in its jaws. The Alien in the third movie was bloodier and more visceral than previous designs, which shows in its design. This is a Xenomorph pared down to its killing essentials, ready to maul prisoners for the fun of it.

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Its sleek, almost canine design is reflected in its smoothed-down body, its wide hip bones, and even the tail – longer, thicker, and with a bigger stinger. The Dog Alien’s head has a smooth dome, but you can see some of the texturing underneath. I have not removed it to take a closer look, though it seems like it might have eye sockets, just like the one in the first movie..

 

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PAINT: ***

Much like the Xenomorphs from the second movie (and more readily obvious in Alien 3’s bright lighting), the Dog Alien is primarily brown. It is a slightly different shade than the other Alien, but is still overall pretty close. But since we got a few good looks at this guy in decent lighting, coloration is pretty important.

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On a technical level, the Dog Alien’s paint is fantastic – what seem like haphazard paint washes are actually expertly applied, and paint on things like its jaws or ribs bears little if any slop. Its head underneath the dome also has some detailing, helping it stand starkly out even through the smoky dome.

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Its dome is mostly translucent, but smoky enough to obscure some detail – it also becomes opaque near the front. Surprisingly, this makes the Dog Alien’s dome better-painted than even the classic Xenomorph, for what it’s worth.

 

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ARTICULATION: **1/2

The Dog Alien has ball-and-socket shoulders, hips, wrists, and ankles, ball-jointed head and torso, double-ball-jointed shoulders and knees, a swivel and bendy tail, hinged calves and jaw, and an extendable inner jaw. This isn’t just a lot, it’s such a surprising amount of flexibility that you can make the Dog Alien do almost anything you want. Its articulation is smoother and less restricted than on other Xenomorph figures, and even the bendy tail is on a swivel!

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Yes, it is fantastic. But there is one – just one flaw in this whole figure, and it’s in the articulation. ONE FLAW. The Alien can’t tilt his head all the way up, and thus cannot properly walk on all fours! Oddly, the McFarlane Dog Alien could, so this is the only edge. In every other way, the NECA Alien’s articulation is overwhelmingly fantastic, essentially flawless… but it’s just that one odd detail.  I guess dogs can’t look up, eh?

 

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ACCESSORIES: **

Xenomorph figures, with their huge amounts of sculpting and paint, simple can’t afford accessories. This is too bad, as I would have loved a face hugger (or the queen face hugger prototype from the movie), but this one does come with a base. It’s specially designed to support its hindquarters so the figure doesn’t topple, and I am grateful for that.

 

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VALUE: ****

The Dog Alien will cost you about $20, which is way less than you would pay for other figures of this level of quality. And it is quality.

 

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THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Unlike some other figures in the line, the Dog Alien feels pretty sturdy. I still wouldnt throw it down the stairs or anything, but it’s nice to see a toy without major durability issues.

 

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WHERE TO BUY:

You should be able to find this figure at Toys R Us right now!

 

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OVERALL: ****

Fantastic. Utterly fantastic. Even though it’s from an inferior movie, this may be the best-made Alien figure yet. It looks awesome, it moves well, and really the only flaw is its head movement. It even feel sdurable enough for a kid to play with it once in a while! Seriously I can’t compliment this one enough. It’s the first faithful adaptation of the Dog Alien yet (sorry, McFarlane), and it’s such a high water mark that I don’t see it being surpassed any time soon.

 

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4 responses to “Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Dog Alien (NECA Aliens)

  1. You’ll find a joint at the base of the neck. It’s hidden pretty well, and may take some work to move, but it’s there. It allows for the head to tilt all the way back.

  2. Pingback: Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Alien 3 – Classic Video Game Appearance (NECA Toys) | Nerditis·

  3. Pingback: Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Gorilla Alien (NECA Toys) | Nerditis·

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