'Alien': The Terrible Toy Line Destined To Fail
The original 1979 Alien is a lot of things; a thrilling science fiction adventure, a body horror nightmare, a prime showcase for Tom Skerritt's glorious beard -- but one thing it definitely isn't is a movie for small children. But despite its psycho-sexual terrors, the original release of Alien was accompanied by several tie-in products for kids, like the 18" Xenomorph doll, as seen in this TV commercial in which impressionable youngsters literally slam the blinds closed on a beautiful sunny day so they can run around in the dark pretending they're being chased by H.R. Giger's skull-and-condom-based monster.
And the kid on the box was way too excited about squeezing this thing's head.
There was also a family board game and the "Alien Terror" Movie Viewer, giving kids their own personal highlight reel of some of the freakiest moments from the R-rated movie (rubber sheets not included).
Why on Earth were there toys for this movie? Was this some kind of sting operation set-up by child services? Well, it turns out we have Star Wars to thank. Not having much faith in George Lucas' wacky space movie, Kenner didn't release any Star Wars toys right away, and once the movie was a hit, they were caught with their tiny plastic pants down. Kenner even had to sell empty boxes during the 1977 Christmas season, which were basically I.O.U.'s for the Star Wars action figures that weren't quite ready yet.
Determined not to make a similar misstep again, when the next big sci-fi movie from Fox came along, Kenner rushed to acquire the license -- it was only later that they found out that Alien was less of a fun toyetic adventure and more of a gore-filled Oedipal horror show. The few toys they released sold dismally, so they promptly canceled the planned line of action figures. Then in the '90s, society as a whole changed their minds, apparently.
Top Image: Kenner/20th Century Studios