While that’s far from the only thing that Lanard produces (it does dolls, role-play toys, etc), it is the line with the most notoriety here in the U.S., and it’s been a great jumping-off point as the toymaker has expanded its scope into licensed fare over the past few years. Kong: Skull Island, Rampage, and Jumanji are three recent films that have made the jump into toy departments thanks to Lanard’s knack for releasing toys that offer big size and big fun without the big price tag. Now the company is tackling its first legacy license: Alien.
If you’re into toy history, you may have heard the famous story about Ridley Scott’s Alien and the toy line it almost launched in 1979. Kenner — fresh off the success of Star Wars — was eager to keep the action going in toy departments and snapped up the license to another 20th Century Fox release: Scott’s sci-fi tale about a doomed crew and a terrifying alien creature. Thing is, executives at the Cincinnatti toymaker probably weren’t counting on the film being rated R, nor did they expect a parental backlash when they released the company’s first Alien toy: a 12-inch creature that sold poorly and was ultimately pulled from shelves.
Years later, the James Cameron-directed Aliens film paved the way for an Alien franchise, tastes changed, parents loosened up, and by the early 1990s, Kenner did have a line of Aliens toys at retailers everywhere. If you ever visited a KB Toys in the ’90s, you probably saw bins full of them.
In recent years, collectors have been well-served with highly detailed Aliens figures from NECA, along with a jumbo-sized reproduction of the failed 1979 figure from Gentle Giant, and Super7 kicked off its ReAction Figures line by resurrecting the planned 3.75-inch Aliens line that Kenner scrapped in ’79. So, where does Lanard’s Alien Collection fit in?
On the surface, the collection goes the complete opposite direction of the recent fare, and “ages 7 and up” truly means just that: These are designed to be playable toys for kids.
But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to love for collectors, too.
Created under license from 20th Century Fox (now a Disney company), the Alien Collection takes inspiration from elements of the entire franchise and thus takes liberties with how it presents both the alien Xenomorphs from planet LV-426 and the Colonial Marines who fight them.
The aliens themselves are colorful — really colorful — with super-detailed sculpts and a surprising amount of articulation. In a lot of ways, the gold, green, blue, and red Xenomorphs tap right into that ’90s aesthetic, in which you might find a gold Batman lurking on the shelves. The idea of “screen accurate” wasn’t much of a consideration back then, but the toys were fun and have become sought-after in the decades since.
The collection launched exclusively at Walmart and includes multiple Xenomorph Swarm Planetary Attack Battle sets pairing Colonial Marines, alien Xenomorphs, and accessories, such as Facehuggers, alien pods, and laser cannons. A pair of Xenomorph Attack Space Colony Defense Alien Battle Sets include vehicles, such as the Advanced-APC and the fan-favorite Power Loader, which Sigourney Weaver piloted as Ripley in Cameron’s Aliens. The 12-inch Alien Queen Giant Poseable Action Creature towers over the assortment and boasts 20 points of articulation (POA).
If the Colonial Marines and Power Loader look familiar, there is a reason for that: They’re updated versions of toys that have previously appeared in the Corps, Lanard’s long-running line of military toys. The figures have been tweaked a bit to fit the Alien motif, and the Loader adds a new canopy to an existing Lanard mold.
Perhaps the biggest winner in the collection is the Advanced-APC vehicle. The simple military cruiser features movable cannons on the top and front and opens up to comfortably seat two figures. The exterior graphics feature fun nods to the source material, including a crossed-out Xenomorph, hash marks of “bugs” taken out, and the phrase “Bug Crusher!” etched onto the top cannon.
While there isn’t a playset in this line, the Alien Collection pairs well with the Ready Setz Space Base playset. The cardboard set folds for easy storage and presents a perfect environment for bug-busting, sci-fi action or toy photography.
Photos: Lanard Toys, the Pop Insider