Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Q is also for Queen Hive

In the 1979 science fiction horror film "Alien", we saw how ONE highly aggressive extra-terrestrial creature stalks and kills the crew of the commercial towing spaceship Nostromo. In the 1986 sequel "Aliens", not only do we encounter a whole bunch of these xenomorphs, we are introduced to the mother of all xenomorphs - the Queen Alien (also known as the Mother Alien) and its entire hive.

The 1994 released Kenner Alien Queen Hive playset is probably the best of all of Kenner's "Aliens" products released. The whole playset is set as close and as accurate to the movie and the Alien Queen herself is an almost perfect rendition from the movie. For a TOY (not collectible), it certainly came close. My question is: Which child would ask for a toy like this OR which parent in his or her right mind would buy such a scary toy / playset for their child? I only bought this because (1) I'm an adult toy collector and (2) this playset makes for a GREAT movie collectible :)

In the 1990s, there wasn't really adult collectibles. Adults were buying toys that they liked from watching movies that they liked. That was because when they were younger, they had missed out on many of the toys because their parents just weren't willing to splash out so much moolah on some toy. So when these children grew up and had their own disposable income, no one was going to stop them from buying what they liked (UNTIL they get hitched and their girlfriends / wives tell them to STOP haha). It was only in the new millennium that companies started producing collectibles for adults because they realized that there was a market for adult collectibles and a rather HUGE one, especially since adults were more willing to shell out a lot more than kids ever could.

The 1994 Kenner ALIENS Queen Hive playset box packaging has all the scary images that have been associated with the film "Alien" and its sequel "Aliens", which is why I'm surprised any child would want to buy this particular toy. Would you buy this playset for your child? Ben 10 and all the other toys have happy and clean images, nothing as horrifying as xenomorphs with gnashing teeth, claws and alien ooze trapping humans to be devoured later.

Every Queen Alien regulates the entire hive, and it is possible that the hive can't survive without her. Unlike insect queens, there appears to be no need for drones to fertilize an alien queen's eggs. James Cameron conceived the Queen as a monstrous analogue to Ripley's own maternal role in the film. In that vein, some critics have compared it to Grendel's mother.

The 1994 Kenner Alien Queen Hive playset came with one playset base, one large (new deluxe) Mother Alien, one small hatchling, one 2-ounce (57-gram) can of non-toxic water-soluble ALIENS ooze. The Playset is described as "Mother Alien traps and oozes unsuspecting prey!" The Playset has quite a few neat functions. There is a slime (ooze) canister that contains slime which is poured onto the marine through the egg sack / chamber. It is poured in from the top and can be controlled by a valve at the end. The egg sack /chamber can swing at the base allowing you to "slime" various marines. The small Alien Hatchling can "pop" out from its egg.

The playset includes the Queen Alien's egg chamber, done in a translucent green color for added effect. It has a lid on top from which the ooze is poured into. The Queen is attached to her egg chamber via a specially designed groove. Some parts are a one-time assembly but you could remove the Queen Alien from the egg chamber just like the way it detaches itself in the movie and goes after Ripley.

Queens are much larger than Drones and Warriors. They stand approximately fifteen to twenty feet tall. They have twin sets of arms, and are built more similarly to a theropod dinosaur than a humanoid. They also have a much larger braincase than the average Adult, protected by a large crest above their heads. They have a slightly stronger tail they can attack with along with their limbs or inner jaw, as shown in the climactic battle with Ripley in Aliens. Due to their immense size, they are extremely strong.

Pregnant Alien queens possess an immense ovipositor on their lower torso, similar to a queen termite's, which is responsible for creating eggs. The queen is able to detach from the ovipositor in an emergency, and will regenerate a new one when the danger is over.

Unlike other Aliens, the queen also has high heel protrusions from its feet. The Xenomorph Queen's design was created by Aliens director James Cameron (based upon a painting he had done at the start of the project), in collaboration with special effects artist Stan Winston. Although the Queen was presented full-body when fighting the power loader at the end of the 1986 film, the audience never saw her legs, save those of the small-scale puppet that appear only briefly.

It was only during the climax of the 2004 film Alien vs. Predator that audiences could see the Queen running and fighting, because of the computer-generated imagery (CGI) techniques employed to create it. Alien vs. Predator increased the Queen Alien size to twenty feet. She became more "streamlined", her chest thinner (as there was no longer any need for puppeteers), the "high-heel" protrusions on her legs removed, her joints altered so she could run faster, and her legs made proportionally larger to her body - giving her a sturdier appearance.

The Kenner Queen Alien could "scan her territory with sweeping head action!" When you move the Queen Alien's "crown" in one direction, the Queen's jaw moves in the opposite direction.

The 1994 Kenner ALIENS Queen Hive playset comes with an alien hatchling which is placed head-up into the egg that is a part of the playset. There is a lever which you activate to make the hatchling "fly" out to attack. In the films, the hatchling doesn't come out of the egg. The egg hatches a parasitoid larval form known as a face-hugger, which then attaches itself to a living host. The facehugger then "impregnates" the host with an embryo known as a "chestburster", which is what this hatchling resembles. The chest-burster then matures to an adult phase within a few hours, shedding its skin and replacing its cells with polarized silicon.

There is also a removable tray for placing the space marine action figure to be slimed. After playing, you could pour the alien ooze back into the egg chamber to play again or into the canister for storage. There's an image of a human fused with the tray, just like how you see them in the film after they have been captured by the alien xenomorphs and before they are fed to the hatching eggs. So can someone tell me how is this playset designed for children again?

Last but not least, here's a picture of the bright yellow ooze / alien slime canister. Perhaps Kenner was hoping that the cheerful colors would make parents think that this is a good FUN toy for their children.

NEXT: S is also for Slugfest OR Bitch Fight: Ripley vs Queen Alien

What has come before: P is also for Power Loader - featuring the 1992 released Kenner "ALIENS" Space Marine Power Loader with Lt. Ripley at the controls.

Related post: Another playset worth mentioning - Mattel Batman Batcave playset :)


RiP666 said...

the queen look scary in this form

alex teo said...

yup, this is the most movie-accurate version of the Queen Alien and it is scary. so how is it that this is designed for kids to play?

RiP666 said...

like you have said, there are no such a kid willing to buy this toy. I think they didn't have an age rating in the past, they just release the toy based on the movie

EmperorDinobot said...

I wanted that when I was four. AND I Got JP dinosaurs instead. Which was awesome.

Charles House said...

To counter RIP666 and the originator of this post, I had many of the other Aliens toys as a child (though I was never aware of this one, they were hard enough to find in my area as it was). I got into "aliens," your normal Close Encounters-style aliens and UFO sightings, in something like 3rd grade (which would have made me 8), and promptly rented every movie with an alien in it. That included Alien, Aliens, and Fire in the Sky. I never really found Alien or Aliens scary as a child, at least not to the point of making it difficult to watch. I did, however, find them extremely interesting, and very fun, and I collected the toys when I could find them.

Fire in the Sky, however, was incredibly scary and has been the source of many nightmares even now, as an adult.

And no, RIP666, the toys were not based on the movies. They were based on a Saturday morning cartoon series called Operation: Aliens, that was never released. In it, somehow, the majority of the characters from the film were still alive, and I assume much of the violent of horrific aspects were removed, similar to... I dunno, the difference between Saving Private Ryan and GI Joe. The show was scrapped, but because of the popularity of the movies amongst kids, the toys were still released, hence why the characters look so different.

alex teo said...

Thank you Charles for that most enlightening comment on the subject of ALIENS. At least now we know where the toys made were based on :) most appreciated CHEERS Here's hoping that you'll have more sweet dreams and less nightmares ;p