Hot Toys Alien
Dog Alien

Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Hot Toys keeps crankin' out the Aliens, and Jeff Parker takes a look at the latest, the Dog Alien. Take it away,Jeff.

Thanks again to Michael for running this toy collectors haven, a place to take time out from your day and immerse yourself in the world of collectables, it’s like wrapping yourself in a warm comfort blanket for few moment’s… cheers!

Anyone who knows me, or reads my guest contributions from time to time might be aware of my passion for all things Xenomorph, ever since Giger's original monster first scared the pants off me I have collected books, toys and statues based on his original and the subsequent versions that followed. Even though some of the movies have been… well, poorer than others the one constant has been the presence of the creature and though I have my favourites, it’s all good to me.

Obviously the best is the original, but my second favourite is the chap we are reviewing today. In terms of pure design it seems to be the next progressive step in showing how the beast evolves by taking genetic material from the make-up of its host and mixing it with its own to create a hybrid perfectly attuned for the environment in which it finds itself.

So depending on your favoured cut of the movie that host will have either been a dog (theatrical version) or an Oxen (special edition) for me it’s the latter!

Though ALIEN 3 is a flawed movie, I think the special edition hints at the ‘classic’ it might have been had Fincher been given artistic control to bring his vision to life. But lets face it, FOX isn’t famous for taking a back seat and letting their directors get on with the job. To be fair it’s a wonder we got three such strong films to kick this franchise off at all. In lesser hands and lesser determined minds than Scott, Cameron and Fincher we would have probably ended up with three sub par B movies, as it is we have three of the most striking and considering they are all part of an ongoing franchise, ‘unique’ science fiction movies that have ever been made.

Fincher originally wanted to include Giger much more closely in the design evolution of the ALIEN, as Cameron hadn’t used his services at all for ALIENS. But due to restrictions put on Giger by the art department under FOX’s control the situation soon became unworkable, in fact relationships soured so much this movie almost became Fincher's first Alan Smithee movie, he still refused to participate with any commentaries for the assembly cut on the special edition DVD.

But enough on movie studio politics, we’re here to look at toys, and in this case a strikingly good representation of my second favourite Xenomorph… can it live up to expectation?
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys

Packaging: *** 
If you’ve collected any of Hot Toys other 1/6 ALIEN figures you’ll know what to expect as this is more of the same. A large metallic sleeve houses an oversized flap fronted 5-panel box, behind this flap is a die-cut shape to show the creature in its all-fours position. Inside the box, the figure lies on its side, in a semi-model kit form. Although all you have to do is ‘snap’ on one arm and one leg (but the leg needed quite a push, I hair-dryered the hip socket for about 30 seconds but it still took onehellova shove to drive it home).

The whole package is covered in photos of the figure, and though not quite as striking as some of the recent fare from HT it still does a fine job of protecting the figure in transit and fits perfectly with the rest of the series released to date.

Sculpt: *** 3/4
To some degree HT have had to use some artistic licence with all the ALIEN figures so far, but in my opinion have given us near as damn it perfect 1/6 figures of the creatures. Funnily enough the most accurate so far was the first from AvP but this one comes in a close second.
The movie called for a much faster leaner version of the creature. A vicious, murderous relentless killing machine, and that came across in its sleek design. So out went the rear breathing tubes, as much as I loved them on the previous versions it made perfect sense that this super fast running ALIEN would need to be unencumbered by their bulk, and so we were left with a stripped down ALIEN, if you were to believe in ‘intelligent design’ then this was the formula one turbo charged version.
Hot Toys have used a very ingenious design on the four positions on jointed legs meaning all but the ankle and hip are completely concealed by a sculpted rubber sheath, this practice carries on over to the arms meaning the elbow joint is also invisible. These covered joints add up to a far more impressive ALIEN than those that went before it, meaning at first glance it appears that the creature is all one organic piece and the sculpting on the ribs, sinews, muscles and chitenous ridges helps this thing look almost alive. 

Once again we have the opening mouth and extending inner jaws operated by a small lever at the rear of the head. And the head is of the smooth design, much favoured by… well… me. Through this semi-opaque dome we can see some of the skull which is all carried out fantastically, the use of the semi opaque material is also utilised on the sides of the head, the shoulder fins and upper arms in an amber/golden colour that catches the light to give emphasis to these areas. All in all I love this sculpt, so why not full marks.

Well to the purist there are a couple of small details that keep this from absolute perfection.

They are primarily the overall length of the creature, the mid torso section could do with being slightly longer and thinner, but as I said above I can usually see why some licence is taken, and here it is to keep some residual strength in the mid section, had it been too long it would almost certainly have needed to support too much weight and the articulation could have been looser, and dare I say it even floppy. The next is the profile of the mouth, but it’s close enough for me and again the reason is the need to house the inner jaw and its ability to protrude from the outer jaws. 

Lastly the length of the tail, the ‘dragon; had a very long tail, the one included is pretty long in itself but to be truly movie accurate could do with being a few inches longer.

So three issues are just keeping this from a perfect score, but trust me, when in hand the overall impressiveness of this creature will make them actually seem less important than they should be. It’s a really cool figure and has become my new favourite even with its slight faults. It has me very excited to see what they do with the big chap when they get to him, if you’ve ever wondered where the ‘big chap’ name came from, you might find this link of interest, go to the last page under ‘The Adult Alien’.

Paint: ****
With this being Hot Toys seventh ALIEN (not including the Pred-alien) the paint jobs just keep getting better, and the use of those opaque amber sections as mentioned above really help lift the paint apps even more. By their usual standards this is a walk in the park, but Joseph Tsang (in charge of paint control and sculpting on this occasion, double whammy) has made sure it’s still a standout job. Subtle dark washes have been applied to give greater emphasis to the sculpted details, and a flash of steel highlights the teeth, really bringing him to life. Although covered by the cowl the skull is also painted to bring out some of the sculpted detail. A straightforward application carried out masterfully.

Articualtion - ****
Because of the Dog Aliens unique physiology he needed a completely new design. I think the base armature in the body and neck is the same as the AvP figure so we have the same impressive amount of mobility we had there, but the rubber/silicone sheath covering it is all completely new. The arms are again pop on double ended ball joints, the elbow can bend to about 90 degrees and the wrist is a cut ball joint with a swivel peg at each end. The hips have the double ended pop on joints and the ankles are of the same design as the wrists so once you’ve familiarised yourself with the way they work you can get them to tilt to pretty much any angle you need, but all the other joints are under the sculpted skin, it has a double ‘dog legged’ knees that have a ratcheted mechanism, they can both close to within about 45 degrees and open up to be virtually straight. He comes with two pairs of hands, one in a rigid pose and another soft rubber pair with a wire armature for posing, the tail also has a wire running through it for posing. 

When you are posing him, it’s worth getting a feel for his centre of gravity, I managed to get him to stand in quite a few poses just on his hind legs however its easier if you use the tail as a support, using a more ‘tripodic’ approach. After all when he was being designed it was to be at optimum efficiency on all fours, so for safer long-term display, that’s the way I would advise going.
So knowing how this creature moved in the movie I think HT have done an amazing job of creating a figure that can duplicate most of, if not all the poses you could ever want, an outstanding bit of engineering.

Accessories - ***
Two alternate ‘bendy’ hands, I’ve never been a big fan of bendy hands on human figures, they tend to look like awkward prosthetics, but on ALIENS and Predators they can work really well. 

These are very delicate and skinny, but can come in very ‘handy’ for some of the ‘on all fours’ running poses. There’s no stand, but so far none of the ALIENS have had them either.

The only omission for me is the lack of the queen face-hugger, admittedly this is only from the special edition, but it was the first time we saw it’s unique design and a 1/6 version would have put the cherry on top.

But perhaps if we’re lucky we might get another version of the ‘Dog Alien’, the smaller skinnier version that we first see erupt from the dog in the theatrical version, and to pad out the smaller scale an added face-hugger would be sweet.

Fun factor: ****
OK, OK I’m biased I love ALIENS, and this is one sweet figure in my books. I’ve had it in hand for only a few days and I can not go past it without a quick play and re-pose, so as far as fun factors go, for me this one is off the freakin scale for me! 

Value: ***1/2
This figure has demanded a lot of design and problem solving and Hot Toys have not come out wanting. You can see that a lot of love has been poured into making this thing as perfect as they could realistically make it and the price is still fair. So for a figure this complex, this well engineered and painted a RRP of $150 is pretty much on the money for me. 

You couldn’t describe it as a bargain, but the work lavished on it certainly makes it fair, and if you’re willing to root around you’ll find it cheaper than $150 elsewhere bringing it ‘almost’ into the realms of a bargain… well for a Xeno freak like me anyway!

Overall: ****
Hey, it’s me… what did you expect, I don’t even feel I have to justify myself, I said it all above, it’s a great figure OK!

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***3/4
Paint - ****
Articulation - ****
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***1/2
Overall - ****

Where to Buy -
Go get him while you still can!

Sideshow- $149.99 Pre-Order

Alter Ego Comics- $134.99 Pre-Order

CornerStoreComics- $134.99 Pre-Order

Dark Shadow $135 Pre-Order

Forbidden Planet- 99 Pre-Order

Showpiece Collectibles $149.99 Pre-Order

Or it’s time to hit eBay with the sponsor

Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys

Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys
Dog Alien action figure from Hot Toys

Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

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