Back to the Future: Super7 Resurrects Kenner’s Lost Alien Action Figures

Well over thirty years ago a small company in Cincinnati hatched a plan to sell a line of 4″ action figures based on characters made popular by a horror film. Sadly, the plan was abandoned well before the product was brought to market. Sadly I say, because the parties involved were (and still are) two of the most notorious and enduring names in geek culture: the movie was Alien and the company was Kenner.

The 1979 Kenner prototype for their Kane in Nostromo Suit

But why was this brilliant plan scrapped?

Well we can only guess. But I imagine the risk assessment resembled a hurricane of potential loss. Remember that it was 1979, and pre-internet kids were still a sheltered demographic. How much research did it take to realize that 9 out of 10 moms would reject the idea of horror-movie action figures outright, leaving the product on the shelves as they hurried on to the “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” games. And the small group of moms that would buy in likely would have turned on Kenner once their children began exhibiting nightmares easily correlated with the toys.

So the Kenner Alien collaboration was a sweet dream cast in plastic that would never be.*

That is, until now.

This past July, Super7, a San Francisco-based purveyor of designer toys and art, announced that they had secured the rights to produce the Alien action figures as Kenner had originally intended. But there’s more: not only had they secured the rights, Super7 had succeeded in locating and purchasing the actual surviving Kenner prototypes as well. I suddenly get the feeling that Super7 could recreate the crash of the Hindenburg if they set their minds to it.

The Kenner Alien prototypes on display at Super7’s booth at San Diego Comic Con 2012.

So their plan is to release the five figures that Kenner had prototyped: Ripley, Dallas, Kane in Nostromo suit, and of course everyone’s best pal: Ash. Now this is no mean feat. The Kenner prototypes that have made it these 30+ years are not of a material that will suffice in the direct creation of new molds. So they will serve as an excellent guide for Super7 to get their work done, but not more.

Additionally Kenner’s prototyping for the Alien toys included packaging, and it appears that Super7 will follow suit along the lines of the visible evidence that remains.

What could possibly be for dessert after you’ve chowed down all that?

Super7 has announced that they’ll release in conjunction with the figures a collection of four screen-printed glasses. Naturally these are a nod to the Burger King promotional glasses famously offered in the 1970s and 1980s, and have been designed to look like they too are a missing piece of the long-buried puzzle. (Unfortunately they’ve opted for a tapered pint-glass shape whereas the original Burger King glasses were cylindrical. But hey you can’t have everything.)

*Actually this is only partly true. Kenner did release a 12″ version of the Alien monster in 1979, forgoing any attempt at the other characters. The toy sold poorly and ultimately was produced in very small numbers. Authentic loose examples are currently trading on eBay for about $200.