Saturday, December 12, 2009

Toy of the week, Monday, December 7, 2009

Throughout the history of toys there have only been a few that have been pulled off the toy store shelves because they represented something so scary and violent that parental advocacy groups rallied to have them removed.  Two examples are legendary: 20 years ago the wholesome and beloved toy company Matchbox released a doll of horror movie staple Freddy Krueger.  Strangely,  a toy of a gruesomely disfigured serial child killer attracted the attention of a Christian advocacy group that dubbed themselves The National Federation for Decency.  This group previously focused their efforts on such "dangerous" targets as TV's Three's Company and Charlie's Angels.  Long story short, the group was successful and the toy was ultimately removed from shelves in less than one week.  This of course instantly launched the toy into collectible toy history.  

Lets step back even further to 1979.  Ridley Scott had just released the classic Sci Fi horror film Alien.  Based on the success of Star Wars, toy company Kenner began development of a line of Alien toys that would include a large 12" doll of the creature and a full line of 3 3/4" figures.  The 12" doll was the first toy to make it to the shelves.  Stories are mixed on this example but many people say that kids were "afraid" of the Alien doll and in fairly short order the line was scrapped including the unreleased smaller figures.  The Alien doll may be one of the most sought after collectibles in toy history and boxed examples have been known fetch $500.

Some times it is not the toys that spark controversy that are noteworthy-- instead it is the ones that manage to fly under the radar.  Fifteen years later toy company Galoob had acquired the rights to the Alien line and released in limited numbers some really amazing toys and playsets in their Micro Machines and Action Fleet lines.  I already featured the APC vehicle as seen in the movie Aliens.  For the next two weeks I am going to feature two toys from Galoob that capture the horror of Ridley Scott's classic  film Alien in surprising detail.

The first example appears to be simply a statue of the alien's ghoulish head-- however when you open this toy up it reveals an entire playset that recreates some of the films most intense and frightening moments.  Amazingly the most shocking and bloody scene in Alien is depicted in this toy.  I am talking about the scene where the character Kane begins convulsing at the dinner table, and the larval stage of the alien suddenly erupts from his chest cavity leaving him dead and his ship mates splattered in blood.  How Galoob managed to release a toy that highlights this scene is a mystery to me.  It is even an "action feature".  By rotating a small knob on the back of the toy the chest burster spins and Kane's body moves around on the table.  Pretty cool.

There are far too many details, and other action features on this toy to mention here, so I suggest you step into the Dioramas Gallery of the Cabinet of Curious Frivolities and explore the Micro Machines Alien Transforming Playset.  Just remember, in space, no one can hear you scream...

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Full steam ahead...

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