Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Gorilla Alien (NECA Toys)

Twenty years ago, Kenner made an Aliens toyline, based on an abortive idea for a Saturday-morning cartoon, Operation: Alien.  You know, what with the violence and all.  But the toys were neat!  Taking a cue from Alien 3’s dog alien, the toyline asked, “What would Aliens look like from other hosts?”  And thus, you had scorpion, gorilla, bull, snake, mantis, rhino, panther, crab, and spider aliens, to name a few (this isn’t even ackowledging the winged queen, giant face hugger, king alien, and so on).  It was a great line, and  turning point for my personal toy collection as a kid.  Suddely, I had been introduced to hyper-detailed, non-cartoonish monsters.  Yeah, these were my McFarlane, in a way.  And so, NECA had already homaged the Kenner Predator line, and finally followed suit with the Aliens.  The first set of Kenner-tribute Aliens includes the Gorilla Alien, Mantis Alien, and Queen Face Hugger.

The original Gorilla Alien was one of the first three figures released in the line, and thus wasn’t too “outrageous” a design – as there would not be an “ordinary” Alien for a few years, those three had to suffice. The Scorpion Alien was pretty much a Xeno Warrior with a couple of extra spikes.  The Bull Alien had a very “basic head aside from the horns, and the quadrupedal stance.  And the Gorilla Alien was also fairly toned down, with wider, longer-armed proportions and a bulbous head, but nothing too outrageous.  Thus, “NECA is making the Gorilla Alien! sounds on the surface like an excuse for a repaint.  Turns out we were wrong, and they made a new figure almost from scratch!

Gorilla Aliens are spawned, of course, from chestbursters incubated in gorillas – though the tie-in comic explicitly makes it four-armed purple alien apes, we can all assume that the original intention was for Harambe’s revenge.  Anyway, let’s take a look at this figure!

 

PACKAGING: ****

The Kenner Aliens have… well, Kenner-reminiscent packaging!  It looks great, shows off the toy, and is just a fantastic piece of work all around.  The other figures on the back are a hilarious tribute, too!

SCULPT: ****

As one of the first three Xenos in the old line, the Gorilla Alien wasn’t too outrageous.  it had a bulkier body with fewer dorsal spines, long arms, short legs, a tail with a clawed hand at the end, and a wide, flared head, designed to look like it could store and expel venom or acid.  It did look a little gorilla-esque.  The new figure takes that basic idea, and ups it quite a bit.

The Gorilla Alien’s torso is similar to other Xeno bodies, though a little more hunched and heavier-set – he has only two dorsal spines, again.  The legs seem short and stubby, but they aren’t – they are identical in length to other Xeno legs.  it’s the wide-set torso, the long arms, and the massive head that give them the illusion of stubbiness.  Speaking of those arms, they are quite impressive, thoroughly apelike in shape, and actually different from the originals – note the tubes on its arms.  The hands are posed to either grab or knuckle-walk, which fits very well.

And then we have the head.  The Gorilla Alien’s head is entirely different from its classic design, similar only in width and basic shape.  In fact, the black dome is now removable, revealing a horrific ape skull with all the appropriate Gigeresque details.  Its jaw is the proper non-human shape, its brow is pretty heavy, and it’s got a ribbed design all the way up to its rown, which is flared out and spined.  The design is fairly reminiscent of a Praetorian or similar, which makes the Gorilla Alien look far more intimidating than one would expect.  The head is so very different from the original bulbous design that it took me by surprise at first – but man, it’s worth it!

PAINT: ****

The original figure was blue and black, so guess what this is?  Blue and black!  In fact, aside from the bone-white for the head dome, NECA has just translated the colors over from the original, albeit a little less metallic.

Now, this isn’t the first blue alien that NECA has made, and their are similarities in their color scheme, but that is not a bad thing at all.  The paint is clean where it needs to be, such as on that horrifically awesome face, and it looks quite good in-hand.  There isn’t much to say aside from that, as NECA’s Aliens have always been great.

ARTICULATION: ****

The Gorilla Alien’s articulation will be familiar if you’ve ever handled a NECA Alien, although his proportions certainly make it feel different.  Of note, his head can tilt up, much like the Dog Alien, and his mouth and inner jaws feel rather stiff at first (though they loose up easily).

The Gorilla Alien’s legs aren’t really that stubby, and thus it’s hard to get him in a proper knuckle-dragging pose without having him flat-out kneel.  That said, just letting him stoop and bowing his legs does wonders for an apelike pose.  Be careful to spread his weight well among those legs and his tail, and he should remain sturdy for quite a while!

ACCESSORIES: ****

The Gorilla Alien comes with two different head domes!  The black dome recreates the figure’s forehead – though it’s obviously glossier than the original’s rubber, it does help suggest the look of that figure.  Now, it’s true that I personally prefer to display it with the skull on display, but this black dome is a close second.  Just watch the fit, it lifts a little bit on the seams.

The clear dome is kind of foggy, and hints at the skull face underneath.  This is the weakest option, but it’s still not bad – in fact, sold on its own it would look great, and it is a nice little reminder of the original movie’s dome.

The original toy came with a tiny blue face hugger, and so does this one!  It’s a repaint of the face huggers we got with those alien eggs, which makes perfect sense.  The original figure was translucent, and this isn’t, but it’s still a great little homage.

And now the comic… why aren’t there scans of it here?  Because I, uh, misplaced it.  Nah, I didn’t bother because scans can be found HERE.  The Gorilla Alien comic is really bad with leaving things off-model, though it’s not a terrible comic on its own (and let’s be honest, a lot of the comics weren’t exactly high literature).  It’s amazing how the Gorilla Aliens in the comic look nothing like either toy.  Each comic had a completely different artist, and the next one (for Drake) actually had a good handle on the gorilla design, just… not this one.

VALUE: ****

At about $22, you get one of the best, creepiest Alien figures ever made!

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

The Gorilla Alien is sturdy, just watch his articulation – make sure nothing is loose, and pose him in a way that supports his weight.

WHERE TO BUY:

They are currently heavily in stock at Toys R Us!

OVERALL: ****

Oh, man, we have been waiting years for NECA to do some Kenner Aliens.  And my assumption would have been soething like the Scorpion Alien, which was basically an ordinary drone, or the Gorilla using a lot of parts re-use.  Instead, we got this!  Wow!  The Gorilla Alien looks like it stepped out of a comic or concept art book – it reminds me more than a little of a Praetorian, in fact.  It varies quite a bit from the original design, but keeps more than enough ot it to let you know what you’re looking at.   What’s new is utterly fantastic, as well – this is one of the best figures in the line, bar none.

NECA’s Aliens offerings in 2016 were outstanding.  it was a university year, of course, but even then, the sheer number of concept art aliens, non-canon variants, and “ultimate” figures was like a fanboy’s dream.  And capping it off with these fantastic pieces has resulted in some of the few toys that absolutely live up to the hype.

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