Mars Attacks History 101 – The Basics Of Invasion!

August 30, 2014 by brennon

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Mars Attacks is one of those intellectual properties where the adaptation has overtaken the original in terms of popularity and recognition. However this world of weird martians saying 'Ack Ack!' was originally a card game that caused quite a stir!

Mars Attacks Cover

The Card Game

The original card game was created by the strange minds of both Wallace Woods and Norman Saunders back in the 1960's and was a trading card game where a massed army of martians was coming to conquer Earth with a series of rather graphic pieces of artwork showing this all off. The game was obviously very popular but the gore and implied sexual content made it quite the contentious issue and eventually the company behind the game had to bring it off the shelves.

Mars Attacks Violence

The game was then picked up by Topps who still own it to this day and was revived in the 1980's and so the Martians once again returned to Earth with their weird artwork to conquer us once more.

I can't say that I was one of those people who was aware of Mars Attacks growing up even in the late 80's and the early 90's but it certainly had and still does have a cult following. Some of the original cards are insanely rare collectors items, especially those showing decidedly more 'gore' and they can fetch a princely sum at auctions.

The Brand & Movie

Martian Judge

Mars Attacks developed into a property that spanned more than just card games however. There were comic books, and much more following these huge-headed aliens and they've even appeared in other intellectual properties. I think most of you will remember the Judge Dredd Martian that appeared where the man from Mega City One took on a rather powerful martian invasion and indeed there was even a Martian Judge!

Mars Attacks Movie

Mars Attacks Movie Martians

The big explosion of popularity surrounding the brand however came with the film in the 1990's. The Tim Burton film is still considered one of those cult classics and featured a whole range of actors from Jack Nicholson to Pierce Brosnan, Michael J. Fox,  Annette Bening, Tom Jones and Danny DeVito. It was a parody of of Sci-Fi B Movies and plenty of black comedy thrown in for good measure.

Mars Attacks Martian

The Martians were originally going to be made using stop motion but they ended up using computer generated images in the end and the Martians themselves became famous for their 'Ack Ack Ack' sound which soon became quite the meme for the film.

The film garnered a mixed critical reception but then again as a B Movie parody I can almost imagine Tim Burton was quite happy for that kind of response to his work. Either way it bought the world of Mars Attacks into the mainstream and there are very few people who haven't seen it in nowadays from a certain generation. Whether or not it would hold up too well nowadays is another question entirely.

Modern Mars Attacks

Mars Attacks is still a card game through Topps and even has other games based off of the intellectual property beyond that of Mantic Games' new miniatures game. There are Munchkin Cards, a Dice Game and more to explore.

Mars Attacks Dice Game

Munchkin Mars Attacks

Of course the big Kickstarter success of the miniatures game is where the real focus is right now and with some rather cool looking pieces of plastic, some great terrain and a rules system that really plays into the zany world of Mars Attacks I'm sure there will be plenty of people going back and watching the movies either before or after playing the game.

Mars Attacks the Miniatures Game

Hopefully this gives you a little look into the world of Mars Attacks and where it came from and you can share your own thoughts on both the card game, the miniatures game, the movie and the property as a whole below.

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What did you think of the movie?

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