Kenner’s misdirected ‘Alien’ toy line from 1979

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With the release of war of stars In 1977 Hollywood learned an important lesson: if the summer blockbusters stayed, merchandising – toys in particular – would have to be part of their strategy for the future. Fox, the studio that distributed war of starsHe had allowed director George Lucas withheld Licensing rights against passing on a director’s fee of $ 500,000, which turned out to be a costly mistake. It was one that the studio wouldn’t do twice.

With 1979 extraterrestrial, a space thriller about a crew chased by a malicious stowaway, the studio was complete ready to capitalize on another science fiction sensation. This time they would have full control over toys and other relief supplies.

The problem that seemed to have gone unnoticed by both Fox executives and toy maker Kenner was that extraterrestrial was not a family-friendly adventure film in the style of war of stars. It was a gripping, violent horror movie that got an R and even had to be toned down avoid an X rating, which means that the target audience who would be most interested in a toy, not even see the film unaccompanied by an adult. And that wasn’t exactly the kind of source material Toys “R” Us adopted.

The tone of Ridley Scott’s film, which was full of dripping goo, face hugging Xenomorph predators, and other inconveniences, didn’t stop connoisseurs from devising plans for a 3.75-inch line of action figures similar to the one they had produced for war of stars. The license’s real crown jewel, however, was an 18-inch xenomorph that featured a protruding tongue, a glow-in-the-dark head, and other disturbing details.

Kenner’s challenge in marketing this nightmare fuel was compounded by the fact that Fox persisted They keep the toy under lock and key until the film is released on May 25th.

“Nobody knows what the alien looks like anymore, and our contract states that we can’t reveal the nature of the character until the film comes out,” said Len Balis, a regional manager for Kenner in California The Honolulu Advertiser in April 1979. “All I can say is that it is a real horror. If ever someone came to my door in one of them extraterrestrial I would be scared to death for a costume. “

Kenner planned the 18-inch figure, which sold for $ 16, as well as one extraterrestrial Board game and a super 8 movie viewer. If the film was a success, they should line up with characters as well as the 1980 Nostromo Spaceship.

“Once again it is a risk, but we have every reason to believe that we will have one more war of stars Christmas is coming to our hands, ”said Balis. “It’ll be the 1979 hit.”

Without being able to reveal the alien design, is a connoisseur Catalog because 1979 had to reckon with breathless prose:

“Villainous ALIEN is portrayed in a dramatic 18-inch action figure. The ALIEN is fully articulated on the shoulders and hips for exciting action poses. Children can easily manipulate ALIEN’s cruel mechanical jaws. This distinctive creature is authentically detailed in every way, as seen in the new film ALIEN, due to be released in May 1979. “

It should not be. Yes sir, extraterrestrial was the till Blow Bali’s expected grossing $ 62 million to become the ninth largest movie this year. (The top movie, divorce drama Kramer vs. Kramer, wasn’t particularly toy-friendly either.) But that interest didn’t translate into toy sales. Few children – or their parents – wanted the “distinctive creature” on their shelf, and the palette of human characters didn’t have the same interest as the giant ones war of stars Management. The Super 8 film viewer and the board game also found no response. Kenner’s planned action figures for 1980 were never realized and remained largely hidden until 2013 when the toy company Super7 revived these designs for a retro line. The characters Ellen Ripley, Ash, Dallas, Kane, and a 3.75-inch Xenomorph were released for nostalgic appeal.

That was in 1979 Honolulu Advertiser story painted a bright picture in case that connoisseur with his extraterrestrial Management. In 1979, the company also planned a diaper rash doll, a plastic horse that could give birth, and a cow that could be milked – all arguably more terrifying than anything else on board Nostromo.

The most Popular Toys from 1979? Strawberrycake.


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