Alpha Team came out during the time when Lego was putting out some of the ugliest minifigures (Cam, Radia, and Flex are fuck-ugly) and still heavily juniorising sets so that's probably why it's so forgotten by the majority. Wave 1 was solid (I own 6773 Alpha Team Helicopter and it's an amazing set) and wave 2 was ok, but the complete overhaul in wave 3 is what killed the theme for me. The redesigns were frankly awful and the sets were even more juniorised and ugly than before.
>unrealized potential that would have gotten to Ninjago levels?
The behind-the-scenes conflict between Lego and Digital Domain stopped any potential for the theme. Alpha Team as we know it was created 6 months before the release of the game because Lego didn't like what Digital Domain were doing so the whole development of the theme was rushed. Even Ninjago ditched Garmadon after the first wave but there's only so many times you can redesign Ogel and his minions before it starts to get stale.
>Did you like the Team better, or Ogel and his drones?
Ogel all the way!
Yeah that was another problem with Alpha Team. What's the point of having good guys if there's no bad guys to fight?