Unlike many other grown-ass men who keep their adolescence exquisitely preserved like a mint in-box Boba Fett action figure, I don’t collect and display items from my developmental years. (MFK, on the other hand. . .) Actually, I don’t typically engage in nostalgic behavior at all, save for the ritual of personal myth-making (my legend is coming along nicely, thank you).
That said, I recently picked up a toy that connects me very much to my younger self and fills me with a somewhat, um, “alien” emotion: nostalgia.
I was five years old in 1979 — the year Ridley Scott‘s classic Alien film was released. Having been “born this way,” I begged and begged and begged to see it. My parents, though permissive by other standards, rightly refused to take their post-toddler to watch an extremely disturbing space-gothic-horror flick. Probably the smart thing to do. Having been denied access to the movie, I transferred my desire to the next best thing: an 18-inch, Kenner-issued doll that immaculately captured the demonic eroticism of H.R. Giger‘s design. For my sixth birthday, I once again begged and begged and begged, this time for the doll (remember, this was the ’70s — the more respectful term “action figure” had yet to enter circulation). Again, my parents did the right thing and refused to buy me the Alien.
My grandmother, on the other hand. . .
Here’s some pics of the original Kenner Alien. As you can see, it’s quite a work of art, and well beyond the cheap molded plastic figures common to the US toy market of the era. Actually, Kenner had a devil of a time selling this item, probably because there wasn’t an appropriate demographic to sell it to. Clearly, the thing is too horrific for most normal children; no responsible parent would dream of buying it for little Bobby. Yet the idea of marketing a figure to adults was equally absurd. To the Me Decade mind, a grown man who still “played with dolls” undoubtedly had something wrong with him and likely needed to be institutionalized.
Anyway, here’s another website showing the original figure. Isn’t it amazing? I thought so. As an only child, the Alien served as pretty much my best friend growing up. I often terrorized my cousins and the neighbor kids with it, and it served as a mainstay of my childhood until I discovered girls and guitar. By that point, several important pieces of the toy had broken off or gotten lost somewhere in the oversized Victorian mansion in which I resided. (Yes, I was Boy Dracula, thanks for asking.) I’d always meant to track down another one, but they’re extremely rare and incredibly expensive ($500+ for an Alien in good condition).
Recently, while spending a few days in Atlanta, I popped into a wonderful shop called the Junkman’s Daughter (GOD, I wish they did mail order!), where I discovered a reissue of the figure that defined my childhood. They made a couple of slight improvements, but like the original, it’s of imposing height and has an incredible level of detail. I took a few pics this weekend, but they barely do this exquisite creature justice:
I got some other cool stuff recently, but that’ll have to wait for another entry. . .