Copyright Acknowledgment: All images of INVASION EARTH and other Products and Images, created by Mel Birnkrant, are Copyright (c) BIRNKRANT KISCOM/ The OBB
CREATING THE CREATURE
And so the work began. Although, this project was just my cup of tea, Earth’s military was a big bore to me. I had grown up in World War II when most toys were made of cardboard and often colored kaki. Even breakfast meant staring at cutouts of tanks and war planes on the backs of cereal boxes. Evidence of the war was everywhere. There was no escaping it. I sought refuge in the world of Disney. Nothing much changed as I grew older. The draft board cast its threatening shadow over me, and I did all I could to escape it too. Furthermore, by 1988 all things military had been done thoroughly by Hasbro in the form of G.I. Joe. So doing our own version of Earth soldiers seemed, at best, redundant.
Thus, I found myself somewhat in the same dilemma I was in 20 years earlier with the Outer Space Men. Matt Mason was already there. My interest lay in Other Worlds. So, I’d leave the problem of recreating a terrestrial military to whoever bought the concept, and concentrate my efforts on the Creatures, which came naturally to me.
No project we had undertaken before was targeted to a specific buyer. But this one was, and the target here was Tyco! For several years Tyco had been successful with a line called Dino-Riders, in which small action figures rode battery operated dinosaurs. Ironically, the models had been created for them by Product Dynamics the folks who crafted Animax.
In spite of the fact that two years earlier Tyco had annihilated Animax, we were aiming to sell “Invasion Earth” to them. Every step of the way the product was created with Tyco in mind. And if they didn’t want the concept as a follow up to Dino Riders, then someone else, who wanted to compete with Tyco, might.
Thus, Invasion Earth was consciously contrived to be Dino Riders with Creatures instead of dinosaurs, and Aliens as “Riders”. The Aliens would be those gray guys, who although unknown in the days of “Alpha Seven” and “The Outer Space Men”, had now become familiar. Nonetheless, they had never been portrayed in toys before. So that part would be easy. Just pump them out, identical anonymous “ETs”, and toss one or two in every package.
The Creatures were a different matter, one I could sink my teeth into and savor. Riding on a tidal wave of inspiration, I dove right into creating a Creature, without preliminary sketches. All drawings of this Creature were done after the model was completed.
The package told the entire story. It was intended to conjure up the impression of a newspaper on fire. One burnt off corner offered a peek at an Alien’s photo. Lifting up the cover revealed the neatly packaged but disassembled Creature. Along with a few drawings, the package and the Creature was the entire Presentation.
Although, I had a video camera, I had not yet to thought of using it as a selling tool. Thus, the only video footage of Invasion Earth was shot merely as a record. But there was no promotional video to accompany Noah when he took the finished model to Tyco. There was no story either. The paragraph on the top of the package was all the story that was needed. The magic came when the cover was lifted and like the flying horse in my favorite movie “The Thief of Bagdad” the pieces were assembled, and the Creature came to life.
Just as we had anticipated, this was all it took to sell the concept. Tyco optioned it on the spot.