The 80’s had no problems with adapting hard ‘R’ rated gory action, horror and sci-fi flicks into fun, loveable Saturday morning cartoons, ya know, for kids. We had Conan, Rambo, Robocop, Police Academy, Kid ‘n Play (from the House Party movies if you can even remember those) and even The Toxic Avenger! To take a Troma movie and make it an environmentally friendly kids show, Toxic Crusaders, is just unreal. Regardless of how terrible it was, they did it. You have to wonder what the marketing idea was behind all of these. Most, if not all, had toy lines attached to them, making them very profitable cash cows.
But one cartoon we never got was something based on the Alien franchise. Why not? Alien 3 had just come out, so the xenomorphs were fresh on everyone’s mind. Aliens offered a slew of cliched, but loveable cast of characters. The Marines could have all kinds of cool weapons and Ripley certainly is a positive role model for girls. With toy marketing style genius, you could think up all kinds of cool aliens based on all kinds of earthly creatures, some that ooze goo and other vehicles, like the power loader, that shoot missiles and capture those bad bugs.
Or did they make such a thing?
The short answer is ‘yes’. However, you may not remember it, because the thing never aired. Called Operation: Aliens, the idea was proposed by Fox Studios as a way to pitch Alien 3 in the form of a Saturday morning cartoon show for the kiddies. All of your favorite Marines were there! Ripley, Hicks, Hudson, Apone, Vasquez, Bishop, Drake, um… AJAX and O’Malley? Yeah, a few were created for the show, as well as the Aliens being hybrids of other creatures, such as a bull, praying mantis, snake, scroption… the list goes on. Although nobody knows who was involved (it was being produced by an unknown Korean studio) or if enough content was made to fully produce a pilot episode, apparently executives at Fox found it too violent and pulled the plug immediately. No footage can be found, but you can still find some production stills, which looks to be in the style of the X-Men cartoon.
It was the 90’s now, parents were starting to become more aware of the violence in cartoons and weren’t putting up with it. Studios were toning down the shows or pulling them off the air entirely. But this didn’t stop the toyline from releasing, as most of us remember these. I definitely do. Heck, I still have my Ripley figure.
Kenner, already having put money into making these plastic goodnesses, and Fox went ahead with the toys anyway with a slight change. The figures were originally to go under the same title as the show, Operation: Aliens, but due to the show’s cancellation, a simple last minute change was made and thus the Aliens figure line from Kenner was born. However, some of the merchandise was already made, like the carrying case, a watch, the board game, etc., so some were released with the former title rather than wasting money reprinting packaging.
I remember the commercials for these toys fondly and I was a fan of the first two films, so I was at least thankful for being able to have the toy line. Plus with the action figures, I was able to create crossover battles with my other toys, like Batman and X-Men! If you feel like getting nostalgic with me, you can check out the commercials and toys below.