There Was Never Going to be an Aliens Cartoon Series in the 1990s


TV URBAN LEGEND: There was almost an Operation: Aliens cartoon series based on the Kenner Aliens toy line.

The late 1980s/early 1990s was a strange period in children’s entertainment when companies really pushed the envelope as to what was acceptable in terms of toys and cartoons to pitch towards children. For instance, in 1987, Paul Verhoeven directed the science-fiction film, RoboCopwhich starred Peter Weller as a Detroit police officer in the near future who was gunned down on the line of duty and was then resurrected as a cyborg police officer known as RoboCop…

Verhoeven used the premise as a satire of American culture, specifically the increasing importance and influence that corporations had on American everyday life. The film was also EXTREMELY violent (to the point of being comical) and the film was rated R.

However, it was still a cyborg crime fighter and the toy company, Kenner, felt that it was a perfect idea for an action figure toyline for kids, and so RoboCop and the Ultra Police was launched later that year…

It was a very popular action figure line, lasting for a few years. It also had an animated cartoon series on Saturday mornings created by Marvel Productions…

Therefore, it wasn’t that surprising to see the R-rated 1986 science fiction action film, aliens

Also turned into a toyline by Kenner, with the Colonial Marines of the film now re-branded as Space Marines (and Ripley now a Lieutenant in the Space Marines)…

But was there was almost an aliens cartoon series, as well, to go with the toyline?

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WHAT WAS OPERATION: ALIENS?

The website, Future War Stories, featured a number of screenshots from what it alleged was going to be a Saturday Morning cartoon series called Operation: Aliens proposed for 1992. Here is how it was described:

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 movie. 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 cartoon 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.

Here are the screen grabs from the alleged pilot…

Looks interesting, but is it true?

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ALLEGED ALIENS CARTOON SERIES

As it turned out, though, those screen grabs were actually of an animated AD for the Aliens toys that the great Will Meugniot worked on. Meugniot sold the storyboards for one of the ads on eBay…

There he described the storyboard:

11 page studio-made copy of Animation Producer Director Designer Will Meugniot’s 1992 storyboard of the second of three Aliens toy commercials. Page one is newly signed by Meugniot.In 1992, while producing Conan the Adventurer and X-Men for Graz Entertainment, Meugniot was asked to storyboard, produce and direct animated segments for three Aliens toy commercials, done in support of a new Aliens toyline. The trio of ads were all concerned with a team of space marines defending a space station from an Alien attack. The animation was done by Akom, using the same team that did the Conan titles. However, a new snorkel camera had come to the attention of the commercials’ live action producer, allowing him to film the toys with unprecedented clarity, so he decided to use this footage instead of the completed animation in the final cut of the commercials.The shown frame captures from finished animation have sparked an internet myth that there was an “Operation Aliens” animated pilot, which doesn’t exist.

Aaron Percival shared the storyboards years later with the Alien Anthology Wiki.

Last year, Meugniot shared the following on his Facebook page:

From 1992: While I was knee-deep in the X-Men and Conan animated shows, I still squeezed out time for some other projects as well, like storyboarding a hunk of Return of the Living Dead 3 and designing and producing some Aliens commercial animation . Here’s one of my designs, all painted up on a cel and everything.

Jimbo X on The Internet is American interviewed former Fox Kids executive Margaret Loesch, and she explained:

I do have a recollection that Kenner Toys may have had the merchandising rights to ‘Aliens’ and we had a good relationship with Kenner’s president, Bruce Stein, in the early ’90s. It may have been that we discussed doing an ‘Aliens’ cartoon but ultimately probably decided not to do it because we would have had to modify it to make it acceptable to our broadcast standards and practices. I just don’t remember – what I do know is that we did not develop it and we, Fox Kids, never made a pilot for it.

So that fits pretty much perfectly with what Meugniot said. Perhaps Kenner felt that there would be enough reaction to their animated ads that Fox would become interested in an animated series before the animated ads were dropped as a concept.and replaced with an up-close live action commercial…

The legend is…

STATUS: False

Thanks so much to the Aliens Anthology Wiki for doing such an in-depth dive on this, and thanks to Jimbo X, Margaret Loesch and Will Meugniot for the information, as well!

Be sure to check out my archive of TV Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of TV.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installations! My email address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.


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