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KennerAlien Action Figure
In their day, they ranked from the downright unpopular to the unrivaled
best seller. But as time went by, prince and pauper alike rose to
supernova status. Today, they are the toys that dreams are made of.
Today they are... Toys of Legend!
SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM"
by john graham
"IN SPACE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM"
now famous promotional catchphrase for 20th Century Fox's 1979 movie
'Alien' had an altogether different slant for toy manufacturers
of the time... nobody could hear you because of the deafening ring
of a million cash registers! As far as toys were concerned, space
was the place to be in the late 1970's. The merchandising success
of Kenner's Star Wars range had given a new and inspired direction
to the industry, with almost all major companies trying their hand
in some imaginary galaxy or another. The main recipe for toy sales
of the cosmic order was:
1. Place a licensed
space product into the mixing bowl.
2. Add a pinch of creativity.
3. Pour in a generous portion of advertising.
4. Simmer until just right.
If the instructions were followed correctly,
it seemed that the voracious public would consume as much as you
could serve them and still want more! With this kind of a gastronomic
frenzy surrounding them, it was no wonder that Kenner leapt at the
chance to produce licensed action figure toys for what was touted
as being the next big thing in sci-fi... 'Alien'.
No other move
would have made any sense. Star Wars was the best thing to
happen to Kenner, and in 1978, when the 'Alien' decision was made,
they could barely keep up with production demand for anything with
a Star Wars label on it (Star Wars lavatory brushes? Sure! I'll
take one!). The best way to keep ahead of the many eager competitors
biting at the heels of their space boots was to ensure that they
were in front. That any new hit space movie concepts were captured
as quickly as possible for their toy licensing possibilities...
and so it was with 'Alien'. Once contracts had been signed and hands
had been shaken, Kenner's designers went to work.
It is at this point in the narrative that
a promo catchphrase from another, more obscure sci-fi movie comes
to mind... a mid-1970's flick called 'West World', about an adult
amusement park filled with vengeful androids: "West World,
where nothing can possibly go WORNG"
Well, it was at this stage in the streamlined,
well ordered machine of Kenner's Alien
toy line that things started to go WORNG. Initially, the
concept had seemed perfect. New space movie, big Hollywood budget,
great special effects, and big scary monster. No, this was better
than perfect. This was fail safe! So, 'fail safe' in fact, that
perhaps a few things were overlooked.
was to be a scary movie. Sure, Star Wars had a few minor
league scary moments, but it was always rollercoaster scary, not
Frankenstein scary. And let's take a look at the bad guys here!
Darth Vader, the love-to-hate villain in the tradition of the would
be world conquerors from the olden days adventure serials fits perfectly
into the sprawling space thrill-o-rama that is Star Wars. The Alien
also fits perfectly into its movie environment.
Designed by weirdo
surrealist artist, the Swiss born H.R.Giger, this outworlder
has to be the most disgustingly beautiful creature ever to be gestated
by the motion picture industry. Heavily accented by Giger's 'bio-mechanical'
style of art, the Alien in its full grown state is enough to make
Darth himself commit cosmic Hari-Kiri and swallow his own lightsabre!
Even battle hardened studio executives were freaked out when they
first sighted the creature on celluloid during in-house showings
of the movie's early takes. If those folks couldn't stomach it,
what chance did the Star Wars eyed kid armed only with a box of
popcorn and a soft drink have? (Interesting aside: apparently, when
Giger was little, his favorite place to play was down in the family
basement by himself, with the light out, under a big table covered
a large black tablecloth... yeah, just your average kid, I guess!).
Make sure you checkout Part Two via the link below...