1979 Kenner ALIEN Complete Restoration - ADULTS ONLY
Hi everyone. My first post here!
Yeah. my first post here and it's aimed at a specific goal. Exciting, huh. Anyway, the purpose of this thread will be to outline and record the full restoration of a heavily degraded 1979 Kenner Alien action figure from its base neglected state to something truly remarkable. I know there's some interest on these forums for this wonderful 36 year old item and I'm hoping my efforts will be of interest to you.
This package arrived in the mail the other day! Let's take a look and see what's inside.
This is going to take some time and will span multiple posts so please be patient but the end result will be completely worth it! I've performed these repair and maintenance techniques on 2 dozen of these vintage action figures now so I know they work. Now it's time to start sharing that knowledge with other interested enthusiasts. I don't mind if anyone intervenes with comment or question. As a matter of course, it's welcome. Please do so.
Nonetheless, this process will take some time to complete and will involve many posts of varying length on my part. I intend to document all the processes with text and photos but if something is unclear, then please ask. I should be able to respond to any question about the figure's restoration process; and hopefully, I'll even provide you with a meaningful answer! lol.
Yep. You guessed it... it's a 1979 Kenner Alien! This is the figure I'll be working on and this is the condition it arrived in, straight out of the package. It's pretty grody, actually.
The particular run down sample I will be focusing on for this exercise is an ideal candidate for a full restoration* and the documentation of the various processes performed on it will be made below. The ultimate goal with this exercise is to take this particular specimen in its less than spectacular state and completely refurbish it. By the time we are finished rehabilitating this candidate, it will no longer be a forlorn dust coated arthritis ridden crippled amputee. Instead, it will become a glorious testament of how a little attention to detail, some good techniques and some very basic materials can transform this degraded action figure to become a worthy display piece for even the most finnicky collector to be pleased to own.
Evaluating the figure and identifying all of its issues will be my first goal. Then we will move onto how these issues get addressed in future posts. To this end, I will first conduct an overall assessment of the 36 year old action figure and detail its positive and negative issues in my next post.
Ultimately, the dusty broken figure on the right will be comparable in quality to the Big Chap on the left. He'll be better, sexier and more complete, actually.
Let's start by taking a closer look at the candidate itself, shall we?
This is going to be fun!
*Taking into account the nature of some of the damage and the fact that the figure itself is 36 years old along with a few other considerations, 'restoration' does not mean 'as good as new'. This figure will never be mint condition - but it can be significantly improved upon its current neglected state.
Last edited by windebieste; Apr 27, '16 at 12:11 AM.
Welcome to the forum!
I'll be watching with great interest. I've got one whose arms need to be re-strung.
SELL ME YOUR LOOSE MINTY WONDER WOMAN!
I'll be watching as well!
I have 4 loose complete loose 18" Aliens and a boxed one as well. My wife has 2-3 of these looking over her shoulder when she's working at her desk
I've gotten pretty good at re-attaching the arms but I'm always on the lookout for more info!
Nice. We'll get to restringing those arms for you. It will be covered later. The results I get are very good:
Cue: Offenbach's CanCan.
Before we continue, some background for those of you not familiar with this item. This is an original Kenner Products Alien Action figure. It caused quite a commotion amongst parents when it was first released way back in 1979 aimed at 'AGES 5 AND UP' but I won't be indulging in its History here. That topic alone is a lengthy exploration - and one worth making. These 36 year old action figures are sought after by collectors for various reasons. The 18" tall figure can frequently be found on Ebay ranging in conditions like this commonly found but heavily degraded example (worth about US$150) right up to the genuinely rare unopened/uncirculated samples (upwards of US$2000).
"This son of a ***** is huge. I mean; it's big! It's... it's like a Man!" -Parker, 'ALIEN', 1979. Maybe not quite that big, Dear Mr. Parker, but 18" sure is large for a vintage item like this.
OK. Now we got that introductory preamble over and done with, let's get on with the Assessment.
For the most part the figure is complete. It's obviously had its arm broken and a previous attempt to repair it has been attempted. This figure also exhibits at least a dozen other issues that need to be addressed but all of it's critical parts are present. Importantly, the head itself is in excellent shape. All of the essential parts associated with the head are accounted for. The head itself is lightly covered in dust but in generally excellent condition. There's a small scuff mark under the chin but it's not too deep and can probably be polished out. Other than this, there are no other significant damage or abrasions present upon the head.
It's a small mark and it should be able to be removed without too much trouble.
The luminous glow in the dark paint upon head is close to perfect. At first I thought it may have been resprayed due to its intact nature on such a heavily degraded figure. No, is not the case. It's an original coating and it's only slightly revealing its age. The glow in the dark ability is still present and works fine when charged under an incandescent light. The only problem present is it's a little dirty and dusty. No big deal, actually.
Just a few dirty smudges and a slight mismatch of the head halves detract from the otherwise good finish. Also note some scuff marks upon the upper teeth.
Most notable is the presence of the carapace (aka the 'dome') that loosely sits upon the head which is a good thing. This feature is frequently missing from these figures when you find one. All of the 4 tiny registration points along both sides of the dome are also present, which is terrific. Unfortunately, it does have a small crack at the back of the dome about three quarters of an inch in length. While nothing can be done to repair this crack, it's presence at the back of the head won't distract from the figure's presentation when viewed from the front. It's a small mercy in this regard, but the presence of the small fracture will affect the value of the figure should I decide to sell it. But he aint for sale, so I can live with that.
A small crack on the back of the carapace mars an otherwise excellent piece. At least it's at the back of the head.
Also present upon the head is the set of teeth mounted into the upper and lower jaws. They are a little scuffed at the front but it's nothing major and once again doesn't cause the presentation any significant concern. In this regard, both halves of the tongue are also in situ. I'm always very happy to see a figure with a complete set of tongue and dentures still intact like this. Much like the dome, these 4 pieces of the mouth are frequently missing from the figure. This one has all of these features present.
All the mouth parts are present. They may not be in perfect condition but they are still very good shape.
As for the trigger mechanism that actually operates the jaws, it's in fine working condition. Its operation making the jaw articulation open and the tongue extend smoothly occur with ease and without any jamming. There is no rattle inside the head so clearly both springs within are still attached internally and the trigger mechanism feature works perfectly.
Overall, the head is in almost excellent condition. There's a small crack to be found on the dome, some minor chrome coating missing on the jaws and a small scuff mark on the chin but otherwise it's as good as one of these figures gets without paying over $300 for it. It's too bad then that the figure possesses about a dozen other issues upon the rest of the body. Some of them quite major; and we shall get to those next.
I can see that this assessment is going to take some time, so I will divide it up into multiple posts. The assessment for the rest of the figure will follow when I can post again.
Thank you for reading this far!
Welcome to the forum! I'm looking forward to seeing how you reconnect the arms. I have a boxed Alien with one disconnected arm. I've read about a couple different ways to fix it, but I haven't taken the leap yet, so I'm curious to see how you do it.
You're off to a great start... love your style of posting and assessing the job.
SELL ME YOUR LOOSE MINTY WONDER WOMAN!
Didnīt you already post this at Toyark?
Have I posted this over at ToyArk?
Well, yes... and no. I hope that's not a problem for anyone.
Whereas my ToyArk posts are a random selection of processes, Historical information and other content, this particular thread documents a single purpose and a complete tear down and rebuild of a figure I purchased recently. There WILL be some crossover, of course, but expect different content here directly relating to his specific figure.
Thank you for noticing. It is appreciated.
Anyway, continuing with the assessment at hand.
While there are some things that are easy to verify when purchasing online, like photos of how complete a figure may be, they can't reveal everything. For example, when I opened the package this figure arrived in, it had a slight odor of stale cigarette smoke. It's possible the figure may yet have other undisclosed internal issues as well that I may yet uncover when I disassemble the figure.
For now let's just remain concerned with the exterior of the figure and give it a complete inspection first. There is a light layer of dust coating the figure and along with the odor, it's removal will happen when thorough cleaning of the figure piece by piece is completed. Cleaning it will be the first thing I do when it is dismantled.
Light dust is present throughout the figure, particularly in the many and varied recesses that detail the figure.
It's obvious from the fatigued and broken rubber band still attached to the severed left arm that the figure has already had an attempt to repair it. While this may have been successful when initially applied, the rubber band has since deteriorated and broken, once again freeing the arm and falling away.
Nonetheless, this means the figure has been dismantled at least once previously. So it doesn't surprise me to find some marks upon the edges of the torso joins where the front and rear halves meet. Some bruising and light wear marks indicate the torso halves have been forced apart without adequate care. Possibly pried with a knife or screwdriver. Please don't do this.
Very light pry marks and other disturbances to the edges of the torso halves. More dust is present between the ribs.
The right arm is still attached to the figure but is extremely loose. I can peer into the opening where the left arm was previously attached and see that an original anchor is still in place upon the shared mounting post that both arm anchors should be attached to. It has fatigued considerably and while the arm is still attached to the shoulder, it swings freely and the figure can no longer hold a pose with the right arm. This will need to be retensioned.
Another minor issue regarding the right arm is some light abrasion upon the wrist. With some luck, I should be able to polish these marks without too much trouble. Aside from this, both hands have all 12 of their fingers in place and both arms have unbroken spurs upon the elbows. These are uncommon issues but breakage can occur at these points. Both arms are reasonably firm at the wrists and rotate well without too much looseness.
Light abrasions on the wrist. Nothing major, but if it can be fixed, I will do so.
Upon the back of the figure are 5 appendages. Commonly, the uppermost of these crests is missing and its absence can usually be attributed to damage on the torso rear. This figure still has its crest in place indicating that no damage is present upon the figure's back. However, the piece is loose and I will treat the need to address this looseness as optional. Looseness of the item is innate but the range of motion that this piece is demonstrating on this particular figure is more pronounced than usual. An investigation of the figure's interior will help make that judgment call when appropriate.
Three of the other 4 remaining dorsal appendages are loose and floating within the back of the figure. So I already know that they have broken away from the mounting plate that is concealed inside the figure. Only the lower left appendage is still attached to the internal plate. This is another frequent form of damage to these antique figures and is easily repaired with a little bit of fussy attention.
3 of the 4 tubular organs on the back are broken and flop around like half a dead squid. Can be fixed.
Both legs upon the figure are loose. 36 years will do that to an old figure like this. The looseness of the legs is so pronounced if I pose the figure standing fully vertical, it will have a tendency to give way at the hips and topple backwards. Right now, the figure can stand vertical with a slight lean forwards; but not with the confidence I would consider acceptable. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this.
I am noticing a narrow tapering gap in the left leg of the figure where it joins the hip. I suspect that there may be some internal damage done here to the leg spindle but can't be certain until I dismantle the figure. If it is damaged, I should still be able to repair the problem.
This gap between the left leg and hip should not be like this. An internal inspection is required to determine a course of action.
The right leg is seriously damaged. It demonstrates clear deformation and wide openings where both halves join at the seams have separated. This is a real problem for the leg and it cannot be repaired. It will need to be replaced. Luckily, I do have a spare right leg (a spare leg that has had previous concealed damage at the spindle and been repaired, actually.) that will serve as an ideal replacement for this item.
Right leg damaged from possible fall damage - or maybe previous failed repair attempt? It doesn't matter. The only course of action is to replace it.
The tail possesses a couple of issues. Firstly, the tail appears to be complete and the blunt spike at the very tip which can sometimes be broken off is still present. This is a good thing. However, it is bent outside of its usual shape and that will have to be fixed. The other issue regarding the tail is it's looseness. Tightening up the tail internally when the figure is disassembled can easily be done. There are a couple of options available for this repair.
When viewed from the front like this, the tail should be straight and not curvilinear. Easily fixed.
There is residue along many of the seams of all parts of the figure where an attempt has been made to seal any gaps the manufacturing process failed to fill. I should be able to remove much of this surface residue by carefully polishing the figure.
Many edge joins on the figure have the same brown residue coating them. I will attempt to remove as much of these coatings as possible.
Upon more reflection, I've been thinking the carapace may not be an original piece. It may be a reproduction part - but I am not convinced either way for now. The only thing that makes me think this is the case is the coloration of the piece. It possesses more of a sepia hue than the dull murky grey that other genuine pieces exhibit. Curiously, all the other features that you can expect to appear upon the carapace, including both the oval manufacturing artifacts located at the skull's temples on the head are present.
I've never actually seen a carapace before of this hue. I understand that several different types of carapaces were made (Whether true or not, I don't know and I would like have this verified.) and this item may be a variant. One thing for sure, if it is a repro part, then it's a good one. All the concealed edges where the piece rests upon the edges of the head are also accurate to an original piece. It's just the coloration makes it suspect.
4 Carapaces. The 3 on the left are verified genuine. The one on the right came with this figure.
That's the assessment complete. It's quite a list but all of these issues can be addressed in some way or another. Some will require nothing more than a simple clean, others may require the crafting of custom parts, and others will need different attention altogether. Nonetheless, there doesn't appear anything on this list I can't address. This won't be done straight away, though. Tomorrow I will disassemble the figure and give it a good wash. Hopefully, there aren't any additional internal issues to be revealed in this regard as I already have my work cut out for me with this figure.
Once cleaning process is complete, I will address the arms next as there is obviously some demand for that.