The road for the ALIENS franchise has been rough since the release of ALIENS back in 1986. Back in the early 1990’s, it was believed by 20th Century Fox to be the perfect time to expand the brand with the upcoming release of ALIEN 3. While many of us ALIENS fans are aware of the 1992-1995 Kenner toyline, what I did not know was the 20th Century Fox plan to incorporate a Saturday afternoon cartoon series to promote the toys and the 3rd film. While some may lament the loss of this ALIENS product, I think we can all breathed a sigh of relief. We missed a bullet, my friends, an big fat techno-colored bullet. Everything about this aborted ALIENS cartoon seems wrong, forced, and fake when compared to the dark science fiction horror masterpiece that was 1986's ALIENS. So, in this installment of FWS Military sci-fi Oddities blog serial, we will be seeing what we missed out on with the attempted Operation: ALIENS cartoon. In the near future, FWS will be discussing the Kenner ALIENS toyline in a Military Sci-Fi Toys blogpost.
What was Operation: ALIENS?
This was an stillborn American cartoon series done by Korean animators and to be aired in the 1130am time-slot in the Saturday morning cartoon schedule. Its aim was to market the ALIENS brand to the 6-12 boys demographic and promote the upcoming ALIEN 3 film. Kenner was also tapped to product the toyline. Due to the pilot episode was never seen or maybe never finished, the basic story of the cartoon was never fully fleshed out. Operations: ALIENS would have featured some of the core characters from the ALIENS movie: Ripley, Drake, Apone (who wears an "NO BUGS" t-shirt), Hudson, Bishop, Vasquez, and Hicks. Reality was never the cartoons strong suit. It is believed that the Marine characters would have been formed into an ALIEN emergency response unit with special abilities, machines, and talent. So, Xeno outbreak? Call Operations: ALIENS! One call destroys them all! The cartoon was still underdevelopment in late summer, even after ALIEN 3 had bombed at the cinema and then was cancelled.
The Historical Context of Operation: ALIENS
Why is Operation: ALIENS an Military Sci-Fi Oddity?
As one internet review simply stated, Operations: ALIENS was ALIENS lite for kids. At its heart, this project was envisioned by 20th Century Fox as an animated TV kids' show with an accompanying toyline featuring one of the deadliest creatures in the known galaxy that preys on humans for breeding shock? And not only that, but the Xenomorphs spend most of the films stalking and killing humans with grim, bloody effectiveness, and somehow that seemed like a great concept for a kids show to the suits over at the studio? What the frak? To be honest there was some precedent for this idea. The film Ghostbusters was altered to conform to a successful toyline and cartoon, along with Rambo and Robocop...but these works were not ALIENS. The mere idea of detuning ALIENS for a kids' cartoon is beyond batshit crazy odd to me, and when I learned of this...I thought it was a joke. I mean, did the suits even watch the films? This was an half-baked idea if there ever was one. More over, this series and the toyline resurrected the core dead Colonial Marine characters from the 1986 film and washed them out of their personality and stuck them into this kiddie-light version of the ALIENS universe. This seems in bad taste, especially given how beloved the characters are by us ALIENS fans. I felt betrayed when I saw the toys back in the 1990's, and after seeing what they were going to do, I was insulted. Besides the obvious, Operations: ALIENS is an oddity because it mocked the original work and milked the core elements to sell it out on the street like some cheap whore.
The Remnants of Operation: ALIENS
With the sudden cancellation of the Operations: ALIENS cartoon project in late summer 1992, it was not a simple matter to cancel the entire endeavor all together, and some of the remnants of the stillborn cartoon series made it to market, besides the Kenner toyline.
The 1994 Trading Cards by Den Beauvais
The Operations: ALIENS Combat Board Game
The TIGER Operations: ALIENS handheld electronic game
The Kenner Operation: ALIENS Mini-Comic Books
Packaged in the original release of the Kenner ALIENS toyline in 1992, was a series of mini-comics depicting the world of Operation: ALIENS. Mini-comics are not a new concept, ATARI used mini-comics in several of their 2600 releases and were believed to be a good way to further connect the brand and develop play situations. This was also a way to develop the world of Operations: ALIENS, which was a separate reality to the rest of the ALIENS universe. I read these online via scans of the original mini-comics, and they are just shit. Pretty shit. The setting and dialog are simply stupid, and the Colonial Marines are called Space Marines. Someone alert Games Workshop! This only furthered my sense of betrayal.
Next Time on FWS...