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Rhino Alien

by yo go re

In the 1991 Aliens vs. Predator comic, Preds introduced Alien eggs to a local ecosystem so they could have a jolly hunt. The megafauna the facehuggers glommed onto was called a "rhynth," an 8' tall herbivore with two side-by-side horns coming up out of its snout. The xenomorphs birthed from the rhynths were just normal drones, though, because the idea that an Alien would take on characteristics of its host didn't come about until a year later.

Anyway, unlike the Gorilla and Snake aliens, we don't know what creature the Rhino Alien came out of, but the odds are good it's at least similar to a rhynth (as similar as it can be when it's born on planet Terraform-3 instead of Ryushi).

NECA has definitely taken some liberties with their Rhino Alien design. This is, fundamentally, still just a normal xenomorph body with a few surface differences; it may not seem very plain, but if you look at the original figure from 1992, you'll see just how different it is. As an example: NECA's Rhino has what are clearly hands with arms on the ends of them, fingers and all; the Kenner Rhino's front limbs were thick like legs, and ended in the same kind of hooves seen on the back feet. In the '90s, the Rhino Alien looked like a creature walking on all fours; today, the Rhino Alien looks like a creature that just happens to have its hands on the ground. Quadruped vs. squatting biped.

If we had to guess (and we do), they chose arms over legs is that this will allow them to reuse more of these molds to create the Bull Alien sometime in the future - the Bull Alien had a horizontal body like this, but its forelimbs were definitely more brachial than femoral. Right now though, every bit of the Rhino Alien is a new sculpt. Although it has the usual style of xenomorph body, with the ribbed chest and the ridge down the back and the fluted tubes on the back of the shoulders, it's much bigger than an average xeno is - standing straight up, it would even make the Newborn look small! It's cool that David Silva and Kyle Windrix made sure that even looking at a small section of this monster, you'd be able to recognize what property it belongs to.

Lacking the big fat legs, the Rhino-est part of the toy is the head. Like the body, it has the xenomorph shape you expect, but it's much larger than usual - still proportional to the body, but that means it's about twice as large as a standard drone or warrior's head would be. A big, wicked spike juts out of the front of its face, with a second, smaller one right behind. The chin and jaw and thicker and pointier than normal, with teeth large enough to qualify as tusks poking up and down from the jaw.

It has an extendable inner mouth, like most Aliens do, and for some reason, a removable dome covering the head. What's that for? Why bother sculpting it two different ways? A hole in the dome allows a horn near the back of the head to poke through, helping hold the whole thing on. Still a weird choice though.

The original Rhino Alien was red and black - the art made it look more orange though, and that's the color NECA has opted to go it. It's been molded entirely in translucent orange plastic (other than the insides of the joints, for durability reasons), then given dark, opaque paint apps to cover most of the surface and give it tone. We're not sure what the biological reasoning for the placement of the translucent parts would be, but it sure does look cool on the toy!

We get way more articulation on this toy than we did in the '90s! The Rhino Alien has a hinged jaw, a swivel/hinged head, swivel/hinged shoulders, elbows that have a swivel/hinge on top and a plain hinge on the bottom, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged fingers, a balljointed chest, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, knees that work the same as the elbows (swivel/hinge on top and hinge on the bottom), and swivel/hinge ankles. It's not quite enough to allow the Rhino to fully stand straight up, but it's absolutely enough to have a lot of fun playing with him. The joints are nice and tight, which is important with a figure this big and heavy.

Speaking of size, the Rhino Alien is so huge it wouldn't fit in a normal Aliens series clamshell - NECA had to make it a deluxe boxed figure. They took advantage of this change to homage the old toy in one more way: by making the front of the box look like the old Kenner card, complete with a fake photo of this Rhino in a big plastic blister. Neat idea, Chris Longo! Also, David Silva gets credit for "illustration," which probably means the art of the Alien in the upper right corner (even if that is just a retouched photograph - an actual illustration wouldn't have visible joint hinges).

The Rhino Alien is pricier than its fellow Kenner xenos, but it's worth it. I managed to pick this one up at Walmart, surprisingly - NECA's Target merchandisers may be useless, but being able to find a figure like this in person is much more preferable to having to order it blindly online. Also, it's much better for impulse buys, because I never planned to get the Rhino at all, yet here we are.

-- 07/16/20

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