Alien Retrospect: The Birth of the Ultimate Movie Monster
As we inch closer to Halloween we wanted to take a look at a staple of horror toys; Aliens!! Alien toys has an incredible rich history that spans decades and there is no slowing this line down. We received a frightening 18″ Alien, cartoon based Aliens, movie based Aliens, 12″ Aliens and so much more! With this type of product where would a collector start? Hopefully we will answer this and so much more so stick with us and enjoy our Alien Retrospect: The Birth of the Ultimate Movie Monster.
Ridley Scott was the Producer of the original Alien movie in 1979 and no one thought that a movie this violent would produce a toy, let alone a plethora of products that followed years later. The first Alien toy was produced by Kenner Toys and he clocked in at 18″. It still boggles my mind that Kenner was able to produce this frightening figure. Parents despised this due to the heavy violence and why would a child buy something so dreadful? (surprisingly many kids did want this).
For the record I do believe this is one of the first toys produced for a rated R film. This beast had a thrusting inner jaw and boasted the typical levels of articulation from that time. The Kenner Alien was a tad fragile though and many rubber bands broke or the teeth broke off. Heck the top dome was also easily lost but still, this is one amazing figure. How did parents feel about this?
Most parents would not take their child to see a rated R movie , let alone a horror film and sales showed just this. As it turns out, the figure did not sell that well and most sat on shelves waiting to be clearanced. In the end this figure has become a “holy grail” to both action figure collectors and horror movie collectors. Check out the original Kenner commercial below!
1992 saw the return of the Alien franchise and this time the figures were based off a cartoon which never aired. Kenner who had already moved the line into production decided to go ahead and release the toys even after the cancellation of the show. This is one reason why the figures had a cartoonish look to them. The line lasted until 1995 and latter KB-Toys picked up a few figures that never saw production in the original line. The human figures were the typical action figures from that time; pre-posed with limited articulation. The Aliens themselves were spectacular and the vehicles were awesome. All of this made the Aliens line so much fun and even though some of the concepts were out there, Aliens were right at home on the toy shelves.
These toys, while lacking the scare factor, were popular with fans and even today are quite collectible. Personally I have a solid fondness for these figures just for the fact that they came from a cancelled show. It reminds me of the original Kenner line that never made it to retail (until a few years ago). As you might see there is a trend forming, one that will last for a few more years until another company take a stab at this franchise. Before that would happen, Hasbro who purchased Kenner Toys produced some Alien Resurrection toys in 1997 and these fell flat for many collectors.
After Aliens fell out of the sight another company pursued the license and well, things were about to change. 2002 witnessed the first screen accurate Alien figure for modern collectors in the form of a 2-pack. McFarlane Toys produced this special box set as part of their Movie Maniacs series. McFarlane Toys was excited to announce this acquisition and here is what they said:
The dream has finally come true. After years of pursuing these licenses, McFarlane Toys was able to land both of them in one fell swoop. That’s right: Alien AND Predator, two of the most highly requested figures in the history of our company. To celebrate, we’re packaging the two incredibly detailed figures together in a deluxe Movie Maniacs 5 boxed set along with a custom display base. Alien is based on reference from the original Alien film and Predator is based on the initial Predator movie.
Teeth, teeth and more teeth. Beginning in an alien egg pod and grown within the confines of a human host, Alien (from the original 1979 Ridley Scott film) is ready to feast and incredibly difficult to kill.
Like an expensive intergalactic hunting trip, this alien hunter, the Predator, has come to earth to stalk big game and take home trophies of his kills. And the best hunting target of all? Man.
After that first box set McFarlane Toys went wild with the line and we saw some excellent Aliens and box sets. One that strikes a cord with me is the deluxe Alien Queen box set. This was a work of art and the added feature of a chest burster was so nice. These figures were violent and true to the nature of the Alien tag but they were not perfect. Most had footpegs and if the base was lost the figure could not stand. This was not on all of them but some had this feature. There was also an issue with them being fragile. With all those small parts it was no wonder that figures broke. I know in my collection I have lost more than my fair amount of figures to the super glue fix. Still, even with these issues the figures were fantastic and McFarlane did an excellent job with the line.
ALIEN AND PREDATOR
With the license, McFarlane was also able to produce new movie toys for Alien Vs Predator films. This is also the time McFarlane tinkered with the size of the figures. They made some intriguing sets for the films and all of them are highly collectible. The most important factor is the fear element is still there. Appears that 2004 is shaping up to be an Alien and Predator sort of year.
Though these film franchises are dated (the original Alien film was released in 1979), they still have strong fan support, not to mention the big-budget Alien vs. Predator coming from 20th Century Fox this year. McFarlane Toys thought we’d get in on the action. We’re releasing a refreshed Alien and Predator line of four figures, based roughly on Movie Maniacs 6 from 2003, but thoroughly updated.
In 2006 a young company called Hot Toys took a stab at the Alien property and they produced some 1/6th scale figures. Before Hot Toys, both Kenner and McFarlane produced some 12″ sized figures but nothing quite like this. This line enjoyed a few key releases and trust me, these bad boys are a tough score. Included in the line was:
CORPORAL DWAYNE HICKS
PRIVATE WILLIAM HUDSON
PRIVATE MARK DRAKE
Now the one thing I love about this line is the overall detail to the figures. Hot Toys nailed it and the end result is something from my nightmares. This is the horror factor that this line desperately needed. The articulation was above and beyond what we have ever received and these things are not cheap! Hot Toys has yet to re-release any of these figures and they will run you a ton of money.
NECA was the next company to tackle the Alien franchise and they knocked them out of the park. Their attention to detail is spot on and they took the best that McFarlane offered and made them better. This is just the continual evolution of the Alien toy and it will be hard to match what NECA has done. NECA will be releasing series 3 soon along with a nasty Queen Alien figure. The overall size of the Queen is impressive and she will tower over anything else done before her. I appreciate the attention to the small things and by making these as screen accurate as possible, NECA will ensure a long life for the franchise.
By this point in time, Alien merchandise is in full swing. NECA is not the only company producing Alien toys as others threw their hat in the ring. For an Alien buff such as myself, I can have the super articulated Aliens and so much more. The only thing I would like to see is some vehicles in the line.
It seems right after NECA started producing some highly articulated Alien figures, the floodgates burst. Super 7 got their hands on the original Kenner molds and released the cancelled Alien figures. Super 7 will be releasing a second series as a thank you to the fans who supported the first wave.
Hot Toys will be releasing a Ripply figure and Power Loader. DST is producing Alien Minimates, banks and more Minimates and Monsterarts released some incredible 6″ figures. Lets not forget Gentle Giant wanted to join in the fun by releasing two giant sized Alien figures. The first release pays homage to the original Kenner 18″ Alien and the other was a SDCC exclusive glow in the dark Alien. Sideshow continues to rule the busts category with some exciting releases and this is not all.
For the first time fans have choices. Back when Alien figures were produced by only one company at a time, several companies now offer some excellent choices. Finally Aliens have hit the big time! New comics are coming out and hopefully some new films. The future is bright for one of the most frightening horror icon of all time (I know many might not agree with me but that is 100% okay, everyone has their favorites).