With mere hours until July 4th, it’s only fitting that I finally write something about one of my favorite movies, Independence Day.
Maybe “favorite” is a strong word, but I saw that film in theaters no less than ten times. I memorized every line, right down to Bill Pullman’s torching of poor Brent Spiner.
(Also, watching the movie so many times made me catch the weirdness of them continually showing that random “curly-haired guy” during the aliens’ inaugural attack. I hope at least one of you knows what I’m talking about. Millions of people were being burned or vaporized, but they featured that one curly-haired guy like twenty times. WHO WAS HE?)
Independence Day came with many toys, and though I don’t know that this was the best of them, it was probably the most famous.
Released in 1996, the Alien Supreme Commander stood over a foot tall, made weird screeching noises, and somehow managed to live in toy stores for almost a solid decade after the film left theaters. (No matter how severe the clearance prices, there always seemed to be a few left. They were like giant gnats in window boxes.)
It’s a… it’s an interesting toy. That’s one way to put it.
The Supreme Commander wasn’t much fun to play with, since it was as cumbersome at it was large. Still, for purely decorative purposes, there was nothing better in the galaxy. This is a bizarre beast that does bizarre things, and I am a-okay with my new roommate.
In its natural state, you only see the Supreme Commander’s bio suit. I never got this impression from the film, but looking at it here, the thing looks like a perfect midpoint between Xenomorphs and Yautjas.
(Can you pluralize “Yautja” like that? Or is it a “deer” situation?)
Among the figure’s better features is its collection of bendable tentacles, squirming around in the back. This is where the figure’s size becomes a plus. Those tentacles are large and strong enough to actually grasp things, so if you wanted your Alien Supreme Commander to serve as an odd key rack, he totally could.
Now here’s where the toy really shines.
Through the power of AA batteries, the front of the suit opens and closes, revealing the comparatively tiny “true” alien, who commands from a little chair and looks impossibly frail. Awesome. As the suit opens, the figure emits strange noises that sound like a mix of steel doors, werewolf breath, and someone slurping the last of their soda.
I think a demonstration is in order!
The Supreme Commander is motion-activated, but it seems to have a mind of its own, too. My alien freaks and yells even when I’m not performing sign language two inches from its face.
The little guy inside the suit is removable, and thank God for that. He’s bendable, he’s poseable, and his head looks like a dead jellyfish.
Oddly, both the figure and the suit are vastly improved by separation. If you take the figure out, you actually have something manageable to play with. And the suit, now free of the alien, can be easily used with G.I. Joe figures. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Major Bludd masquerading as the ID4 Supreme Commander. I’d show you, but it’ll be worth more if you put the effort in.
Many ID4 toys came with simplistic computer games. “Mission Disks,” they were called. Since very few of us have computers capable of running these old disks, they can be used as conversational coasters.
Tomorrow, just before I cheer Uncle Sam, my Corona will rest on a 1996 ID4 Mission Disk. It will be the highlight of my holiday. Is that sad?