In 1977, Star Wars changed the game completely, not just for movies, but for toys as well. The impact of George Lucas' landmark sci-fi epic is well documented, but perhaps nobody knew just how vital to the industry Star Wars was than Kenner. As the sole licensed toy manufacturer at that time, Kenner was acutely aware of Star Wars' successes at retail. As such, the company was eager to line up licenses like Ridley Scott's Alien in an attempt to recapture that magic with a whole new audience and brand.
While a complete line-up for Alien toys was planned, including 3.75" figures much in the vein of Kenner's own Star Wars collectibles, only an 18" Xenmorph made it to market. But not for long. Deemed too scary and creepy to be a children's toy (which makes complete sense given HR Giger's design), the Alien toy was yanked from shelves. The rest of the Alien line never saw the light of day outside of Kenner's doors (though those designs were revived and released a few years ago by Super7 and Funko). Even with that misstep, Kenner hadn't given up on the idea of making the Alien franchise a Star Wars-like success.
In 1992, Kenner released a series of action figures based on the sci-fi film franchise Alien. This was just ahead of the release of Alien 3, but Kenner's plans focused primarily on the action-packed 1986 sequel, Aliens. With its army of Xenomorphs battling against the force of the Colonial Marines, it was a much better match for a toy line than the upcoming third film, even though kids couldn't technically watch any of the movies in the series. Now, some 30 years after the release of Aliens and 20 odd years after the toy line collapsed, NECA is back with a reminder of what once was and shall never be again.
This month, fans will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Aliens on 4/26, a date chosen based on the designation of the planet Ripley and the Colonial Marines visit in James Cameron's sequel. What originally was a goofy little fake holiday has since grown into a massive promotional event from 20th Century Fox and a number of its licensing partners. While there's certainly a discussion to be had about corporations co-opting something as seemingly innocuous as Aliens Day, there are some rather exciting and cool products coming to honor the film.
Case in point, Zen Studios' new Aliens vs Pinball expansion, which features three new tables based on Aliens, Alien: Isolation and Alien vs Predator.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Aliens, James Cameron's follow-up to the sci-fi horror classic, Alien. To celebrate the event, 20th Century Fox has overtaken the fan holiday of Aliens Day on April 26 (LV-426 is the planet where all the action happens in Aliens) to bring out a number of new collectibles and to promote the upcoming sequel, Alien: Covenant. Major corporations co-opting something as silly and fun as a fake holiday fits right in with the Weyland-Yutani mantra, and while we can debate the value of tactics like these, we are getting some products that might otherwise have never happened like replica Reebok sneakers and new Hot Toys figures.
I'm perfectly at peace in being complicit in allowing things like this to happen because I want to own cool things that celebrate the culture I enjoy. I love the Alien series. Most of it anyway. I also really enjoy toys. While NECA's been doing a tremendous job pumping out Alien figures at a steady and affordable pace, Hot Toys has been chilling on the sidelines with its Marvel and Star Wars licenses. The Hong Kong manufacturer once released a number of Alien figures, but it was well before the company became the juggernaut it is today. The revisiting of the franchise will give Hot Toys a chance to show off it's new skills with the Alien Warrior, a xenomorph that's been done a number of times before, but never quite like this.
If you've ever seen James Cameron's 1986 classic Aliens, you may have noticed the really cool shoes that Sigourney Weaver wears as Ellen Ripley. Reebok will be releasing replicas of those shoes as part of the Alien Day celebration on April 26, which is an event that sees a whole bunch of companies coming together to sell stuff tied to the Alien franchise!
Dark Horse unveiled a slate of new titles for the coming year in a presentation at the retaiiler event Comics PRO in Portland on Thursday, as part of its planned 30th anniversary celebrations. In addition to the previously announced free 40-page 30th Anniversary Dark Horse Day Sampler, showcasing classic Dark Horse titles, the publisher will debut new series by fan-favourite creators including Jeff Lemire, Gail Simone and Cullen Bunn.
If you're one of the people who occupies the center of the Venn Diagram of people who like deluxe hardcover comic books and people who are super into horrifying eyeless monsters from space, then I have some very good news: Next year, Dark Horse will release a 30th Anniversary hardcover edition of Mark Verheiden and Mark A. Nelson's six-issue Aliens comic.
Originally published as a sequel to the movie of the same name, Aliens was one of the first big hits for the company, which still holds the license for Aliens comics today. It's been reprinted before --- and if you can't wait, it's currently available in DH's line of Omnibus Editions --- but this anniversary reissue marks the first time that the story will be available in an oversized edition in beautiful black and white.
It's been some years since Kenner held the rights to either Alien or Predator, but current rights-holder NECA has been steadily paying homage to the Kenner Predator era with a few different releases. Soon, it will be venturing into Kenner's Alien line as well, but to kick things off, NECA is releasing a two-pack through Toys 'R Us commemorating the original Kenner set.
There are a lot of things that happen regularly in comics that I've never really understood, and chief among them has been the sheer number of superhero crossovers with Aliens and Predator. I mean, I understand wanting to see Aliens and Predators fight each other because they're both these mysterious, lethal alien enemies, where one's a cunning, vicious hunter and the other's an almost mindless biologically driven killing machine, a natural contrast that makes them cool opponents for each other and a deadly combination for anyone who gets trapped between them. The thing I don't get is why you'd want to throw Superman or Batman in there, if only because of the sheer amount of storytelling gymnastics you have to do to make it work. And yet, they happen all the time, and I have long since accepted that it's Just Not My Thing.
And then I read Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens, and now I get it. Mostly because the first story in this collection ends with Dredd taking off his shirt (while leaving his helmet on, of course), and fighting the Predator with a knife.
Dark Horse Comics is bringing back its Alien comics franchise in a big way this year with a set of four mini-series set immediately after the most recent movie, Prometheus. The company has revealed the names of the four series writers: Aliens will be by Chris Roberson, Predators will be written by Joshua Williamson, Paul Tobin will write thePrometheus series, and Aliens vs. Predatorwill be by Christopher Sebela.
The company's been teasing a "fifth writer" on the franchise, and she's actually holding down the position you might call head writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick. DeConnick will be writing a double-sized "wrap-up" issue to close out the initial run of books, and she oversaw a lot of the goings-on in the writers' room as the series were being put together. We chatted with her by phone to find out how that experience was different from other comics writing jobs, and just what readers can expect from the first full-on Aliens/Predator/Prometheus comics crossover.
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