Operation: Aliens was a cancelled 1992 animated children's television series based on the Alien franchise, chiefly the 1986 film Aliens. It was to follow Lieutenant Ripley and the "Space Marines" as they battled the Xenomorph scourge throughout the galaxy. Although the cartoon was cancelled before broadcast, the tie-in toy line from Kenner Products did go on sale, albeit re-branded as simply Aliens, while the show's concepts and characters made it into a variety of other released merchandise.
Only a single pilot episode of the show was ever produced, although even that may not have been completed. Since its cancellation, no footage from the cartoon has ever been made available anywhere.
The series was to be produced by Korean animators and was to air in the 11:30 am time-slot in the Saturday morning cartoon schedule. Aimed at the 6-12 year-old male demographic, the show was designed to promote the Aliens brand and was to be accompanied by a tie-in toy line featuring characters from the show produced by Kenner Products.
The cartoon was to feature several characters from the film Aliens, including Ripley, Drake, Apone (who wore a "NO BUGS" t-shirt), Bishop, Vasquez and Hicks; it is unknown if the series would have offered any explanation as to how those characters who died in Aliens could possibly be alive in the show. Similar to the contemporary film-based carton The Real Ghostbusters, the show would have used new appearances for each of the characters, as the respective actors refused to give up their likenesses. Although the overall plot of the series was never fully fleshed out, the general concept was that the characters would be formed into a special quick-reaction Alien emergency response unit with special abilities, equipment and talent.
The cartoon was slated for fall 1992. However, following the lackluster critical and audience response to Alien3 in the United States, released there in May of that year, 20th Century Fox grew concerned about the potential profitability of the show and cancelled the production. The difficulty of basing a children's television series on such an inherently violent and dark film series may also have been a factor in the decision. While a pilot episode was apparently produced (although possibly not completed), it never aired and has never been made available since.
While the series was cancelled before airing, several related pieces of merchandise nonetheless did make it to the market and were available to purchase.
- Main article: Aliens (Kenner)
By the time Fox made the decision to cancel the cartoon, Kenner had already mass produced much of the merchandise for their tie-in Operation: Aliens toy line, and some of these products had in fact already been shipped to stores. To try and salvage the line and prevent further financial loss, production and sale of the toys continued; with no series to back the Operation: Aliens moniker, the products were simply re-branded with the logo from the movie Aliens, although some early editions were sold with the Operation: Aliens logo on the packaging. Kenner's Aliens toy line would continue for several years after the demise of the cartoon, and several of its figures were packaged with exclusive Aliens: Space Marines mini-comics featuring characters derived from those in Operation: Aliens.
Operation: Aliens Combat Game
One of the few pieces of merchandise widely sold under the Operation: Aliens name even after the show was dropped was Operation: Aliens Combat Game, a tie-in board game from Peter Pan Playthings. The game combined the rolling of dice to move the player's character with event cards, and featured small figures of Marines and Aliens. In it, players would have to investigate a derelict vessel infested with Aliens, collect the self-destruct codes, reach the bridge and enter the codes before making their escape in the escape pods. Reviews criticised to game for being underdeveloped and lacking polish.
Trading card comic
- Main article: Operation: Aliens (comic)
Two years after the cancellation of the show, artist Den Beauvais was contacted by Topps to provide new artwork for their Aliens/Predator Universe trading card set, and the result was a 15-card subset that formed a short Operation: Aliens comic. Although the story was largely original, certain elements in the comic were derived from both the television series and Kenner's associated toys.
- Alien (television series) — A cancelled television series based on the film Alien.
- Aliens: War Games — Another cancelled children's television series based on the film Aliens.