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Obligatory: not a parent.

I was wandering through Walmart the other day when I came across toys, designed for kids (aged 8-14 is my guess) from the Alien franchise. (Lanard is the company, for those of you who'd like to Google it for yourself. Just type "Lanard Alien" and you'll get there).

Every movie these toys are based from (Alien, Aliens, Alien3) is rated R. (F bombs, gore, horror, etc...)

The meat of my question is this: Is there anyone in the target range of these toys who could have a healthy way to interact with this franchise?

Post-Script With Additional Details (Feel free to skip if you have no further questions):

The Alien toys are, in my view, squarely aimed at kids due to their bright colors (yellow Alien, purple Alien queen), price point, and placement within the store (between Jumanji and Batman). They're also very different from other Alien toys (collectibles) such as NECA toys, in all these respects. (NECA Aliens are as accurate as possible to the film, more expensive, and nowhere near Jumanji or Batman).

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    When you hand an Alien action figure to a small child, then all they see is a cool looking alien creature. What does it do? How brutal and threatening is it really? That's all made up by the mind of the child. In the mind of one child, it will brutally dismember all the lego people. In the mind of another child, it will have a tea party with Barbie and the Paw Patrol. – Philipp Jan 24 at 10:34
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    Title doesn't really match the question. Obviously children shouldn't watch R rated films. Playing with toys based on the franchise is another story. – stan Jan 27 at 12:20
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Sure they can. It depends on how the parents raise them and their level of interactivity with the subject.

My older daughter was about 2 or 3 when I started telling her my own recollection of the story of the predator. Yes, that Schwarzenegger film. Because she saw a painting of it in the trees in a mural I painted in her room and asked about it. From that point on she always had interests in weird monsters and aliens. It wasn't long before it came on TV and in general we figured we could narrate the story and draw parallels to the bedtime story I told practically every night for a year. The movie is vulgar, yeah, but explaining words and how society views them wasn't hard at that time and after 5 years or so it still has not caused her to be vulgar or inappropriate.

Aliens, Terminator, the Abyss, and many other sci-fi horror films have made their way into her interests as well. We watched them all together, play little doll house games involving the characters, which is comical I assure you. She even sleeps with a plush face hugger and chest bursting thing.

Her interests in weird sci-fi / horror seems to have given her a kick start in creative writing and drawing. Through explanation and narration we illustrate that these things are all depictions of someone's imagination. Liking them doesn't make you psychotic or inappropriate unless your interests in them transcend the safety of your home and begin being uncomfortable for others to experience. That's pretty much why we watch them with her instead of just letting her loose on the catalog of insanity she will some day know with all these streaming services and such out there. It's a bit of a gamble, but it is not a far stretch to say she is not alone. Those toys may be derived of subject matter that is considered inappropriate by some, but clearly had enough interest to warrant toys being made.

So far, I don't consider anything my daughter has done with the knowledge of these franchises that I would consider to be unhealthy. Maybe we just got lucky.

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I don't even watch R-rated films myself, because I don't like how they make me feel, and I won't let my son watch PG-13 films until he turns 13, which will be in a few months. Nevertheless, he gets seriously into the characters of movies he has never watched, and is not even aware of the basic plot. He is constantly asking for toys from those movies.

I'm not sure precisely where those interests start. Probably a mix of advertising and interacting with his friends who are mostly similarly bluffing more knowledge than they actually have. At any rate, teens start to lose interest in toys, so if you're going to sell that kind of merchandise at all, it mostly needs to be marketed to younger children.

There are a certain number of parents who feel differently about mature movies. I once joked to a movie theater cashier I'm friendly with that I and my 8 year-old daughter were there to see "50 Shades of Gray," and she told me she actually had a few of those. To a certain extent, they have a point that most of what kids aren't ready for goes over their heads. You can probably think of a movie you watched as a kid then rewatched as an adult and were surprised at how much "adult" content it contained. There's also something to be said for the benefits of being the one to introduce certain subjects to your child. I would rather be there when they ask certain questions than to have those questions answered by peers who are just as immature.

In summary, you don't have to have seen the movies to be interested in the toys, most things will go over a child's head if she's not ready, and with supervision you can help your child be ready for certain topics.

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I offer toys to kids based on their and my personal preferences (not backed by research studies). Just like any other toys, Alien-based toys can be suitable for healthy playing for some 8-14-year-old children and not suitable for others. The short answer is "it depends" on the child.

Fictional material with high levels of gore and violence is generally considered as "nice tales for nice children" (Evans, 2014), and reading it as part of "normal development" (Tsitsani et al., 2012). See numerous examples of fairy tales, some cited below and others easily found elsewhere. The original "Alien" film has a total body count of 5 human crue members, 1 android and 1 alien - relatively low compared to, for example, an average book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Needless to say, fairy tale-based toys for 8-14-year-olds are widely available.

Non-fictional material, such as world history that covers wars, mass killings, slavery, etc, can have even higher levels of gore and violence. Yet, it is considered appropriate to teach in schools (I think, correctly, - again, not based on research evidence). For example, by age 14, the kids are often expected to know that millions of people died during WWII. Despite that, toy warriors from various ages are very common toys for 8-14-year-olds.

There is little evidence that I could find to show that not many children "in the target range of these toys [...] could have a healthy way to interact with" fairy tale-based toys or toy warriors.


Stephen Evans. (21 October 2014). BBC - Culture - Are Grimm’s Fairy Tales too twisted for children? : http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20130801-too-grimm-for-children

On the covers are the most innocent of titles: Grimm’s Fairy Tales in their English version or Children’s and Household Tales in the original German editions published two hundred years ago. Nice tales for nice children.

But behind the safe titles lie dark stories of sex and violence – tales of murder, mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide and incest, as one academic puts it. They are far from anything we might imagine as acceptable today. If they were a video game, there would be calls to ban them.

Tsitsani P., Psyllidou S., Batzios S.P., Livas S., Ouranos M., Cassimos D. Fairy tales: a compass for children's healthy development--a qualitative study in a Greek island. Child Care Health Dev. 2012 Mar;38(2):266-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01216.x. Epub 2011 Mar 6.

Four hundred and seventy parents took part in the study and were interviewed following a semi-structured guide with open-ended trigger questions. [...] The vast majority of interviewees acknowledged their strong belief in the power of fairy tales and stated that their children listen to stories at least once a week. Most of them use storytelling as an instructive tool, in order to soothe their children's anxieties or set examples for them. Concerning children's preferences, the majority of them choose classic fairy tales over modern ones with Little Red Riding Hood taking precedence over other famous stories. All participants acknowledged the fact that their children are amused and positively affected by storytelling, while young readers share their enthusiasm for fairy tales in many ways, mostly by talking about their favourite character. Finally, in relation to the villains, children seem to be satisfied or relieved when they are punished and only a small number of participants stated that the cruel punishment of bad characters creates feelings of fear to their kids. The findings of this study emphasize the crucial role that storytelling plays in children's life and normal development.

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It appears that the title question and the body of your post are asking about two totally different things.

To answer the title question: no, probably not. Subjecting small children the kinds of violence and gore depicted in such movies is inappropriate in our society. It will certainly have an impact on their lives, though I am not a psychologist, so I'd just be guessing on what sorts of outcomes to expect from a little one that has watched such movies.

To answer the question in the body of your post: toys are toys. Kids don't need to have seen the movies to be able to play with them. They make up their own narratives with toys. They might ask what the Alien is, or they might not. Another R-rated movie (and my personal favourite) is Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs are things that kids are often taught about, and having dinosaurs from the movie doesn't require them to have seen the movie.

So, specifically with Alien, they may be more/less likely to play with the Alien toy because they do/don't like monsters, but in the end, it doesn't have anything to do with witnessing the movie. If my kids told me that they wanted an Alien toy, I'd probably consider buying it for their birthday or whatever. I personally draw the line at humans with guns, but that's not based in any research; I just don't like kids playing with guns.

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