In 1992, Acclaim released Alien 3 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Like the movie, you played as Ellen Ripley, sole survivor of a crash landing on the prison planet of Fiorina “Fury” 161. Unlike the movie, there was a liberal use of guns and an even more liberal use of aliens. When you weren’t acting as a space handyman – fixing broken pipes and repairing junction boxes – you were battling back wave upon wave of double-mouthed demons. But NECA has proven that one alien is still plenty scary enough with the release of their grotesquely gorgeous 8-bit tribute figure, the Dog Alien.
NECA’s popular line of video game tribute figures takes existing sculpts and gives them a new paint job to look like their classic 8-bit and 16-bit incarnations. Even the packaging gets a makeover. NECA really has gone out of their way to craft a pitch-perfect homage to the original NES video game box art. For those of us who were around when Aliens 3 represented the pinnacle of gaming graphics, these tongue-in-cheek details are as hilarious as they are nostalgic.
The Dog Alien comes in a video game-styled box, complete with mock wear and tear around the edges. On the front of the box, in the lower right hand corner where Nintendo’s signature golden sunburst is usually found, is a familiar looking NECA-branded seal of quality. On the back of the box, screenshots have been replaced with pictures of the Dog Alien figure in all its bendable, poseable glory. They’ve even kept the text from the original game box, with just a slight tweak to the last line – “Just keeps telling yourself, ‘THIS ISN’T REALLY HAPPENING…IT’S ONLY AN ACTION FIGURE!!!'”
Opening the front flap reveals actual graphics from the game, specifically the smug alien that stared you down at the start screen of each level, an indelible image that haunts the dreams of Gen Xers to this day. But the real star is the Alien Dog himself. For hardcore MIB collectors, who plan to keep their xeno sealed in his plastic prison, there are two versions out in the wild – one where the blue side is on display and one where the brown side is on display. But as great as it looks in the box, backed by a scene straight out of the video game, it’s even more impressive out of the packaging.
This is the same sculpt as the Dog Alien released in last year’s Aliens Series 3 assortment; what differentiates it is the two-toned paint job. The right half of the figure is bright blue with white highlights while the left side is brown with ochre highlights, and beneath it all a matte black to make the colors really pop. Viewed in profile, it looks to two completely different figures, but dead on perfectly emulates the look of the video game. It’s an effect that really works. It’s also a testament to the nightmarishness of H.R. Giger’s designs, and to the sculptors at NECA who have so lovingly and laboriously recreated it in exacting miniature, that this Dog Alien is no less terrifying sporting cartoonish colors. In fact, the two-toned paint job really brings out some amazing details in the sculpt, highlighting all those biomechanical bumps and ridges.
Compared to NECA’s other video game tribute figures, and other xeno figures for that matter, the Dog Alien is tall; when stretched out, he measures 10″ from foot to head. Although his extension would make Baryshnikov wince, he’s meant to be displayed in a canine-esque crouch. To get him in that characteristic running position, Neca has included a clear plastic base; an adjustable c-clamp fits around the waist, keeping the figure balanced. This, combined with the Dog Alien’s 30+ points of articulation, lets you get creative with poses. There are ball joints in the hips, shoulders and upper torso (which can turn 360 degrees). The elbows and knees are double jointed and the head, wrists, ankles and feet bend and twist. The tail twists at the base, but isn’t articulated otherwise; it is, however, made of a stiff but bendy material that holds its shape well. And of course, it wouldn’t be an Alien figure without a jaw that opens to reveal a second, inner jaw.
Let’s be honest, Alien 3 the movie was controversial at its best and the tie-in game it spawned frustration at its worst. But you don’t have to be a fan of either to appreciate this action figure. NECA knows that even if the “monster closet” style of games from the early 90’s hasn’t withstood the test of time, the monster most certainly has. This video game tribute figure – with its detailed sculpt, striking paint and loads of articulation – transcends the game, and in turn the movie, that inspired it to begin with.