While the xenomorph (that is, the Alien) has become an enshrined part of horror cinema, the kind of cultural artifact that you can absorb easily whether or not you’ve actually ever seen the original source, like Godzilla, Frankenstein, or Ghostface from Scream. I can’t speak from personal experience, but in 1979, when the R-rated Alien actually hit screens, I doubt that it was that easy. Instead, little kids had to learn to fear the alien from, apparently, really clashingly upbeat commercials where they futilely fight off a horrifying embodiment of our existential dread of unfathomableness of space and our own bodies. Fun for the whole family!
On the other hand, we would totally go nuts for the Ripley action figure with Turbo Torch action that showed up later.
(via A.V. Club.)