Nostromo Challenge Coin Concept

I have been at home for a few days while my wife has been recovering from surgery.  I spent a little bit of the time that she was asleep playing around with the idea of a Nostromo Crew Challenge Coin.  Military units, police and fire departments have challenge coins, and the corporate world even has their fair share of them.  They seem like a really cool bit of swag that would aid in crew cohesion, so I thought that the Nostromo Crew deserved one of their own.  Here is my take on what it would look like:

Nostromo Challenge Coin - Obverse

My design for the obverse side of a Nostromo Crew Challenge Coin. My thought was that the obverse would be the company branding with symbology appropriate for the division of the company. In this case with the departmental insignia for the different crew members. And yes, I shamelessly threw my own website address on there.

Nostromo Challenge Coin - Reverse

My design for the reverse side of the Nostromo Crew Challenge Coin. This was inspired by NASA crew patches, so I included the names of the crew and incorporated elements from the crew patch.

I was planning on having these produced so that I could give them out to a few of my friends who are Alien fans, but the cost for ten to fifteen of them is pretty close to the cost of having fifty of them made, and it is more than a bit outside what I am able to spend.  It is too expensive for ten, and I have no need for fifty of them, especially since I am sure I would be in violation of some sort of copyright law if I were to try to sell them.  Oh well, it was a cool idea anyway…

Ripley’s Hoptimist — Alien Toys

Re-creation of Ripley's Hoptimist from Alien

My completed re-creation of Ripley’s Hoptimist. This was a simple project, only requiring the addition of a little sleeping cap to complete.

Dragon-Con is over for this year, so the urgency to work on costume related projects is now gone.  I needed something light and easy to work on this weekend, so I decided to make a re-creation of one of the little bouncy toys that can be seen happily hopping away at Ripley’s station on the bridge of the Nostromo.  Now, when I say it can be seen, I really mean it can just barely be seen, heavily covered in shadow.  Luckily, there are others who are seemingly just as obsessed with this movie as I am who have posted decent pictures of this little guy.  If you are interested in seeing these pictures you should check them out over on this thread at the Propsummit Forum.  If you scroll down a little bit, you can see a picture of Ripley’s station and her Hoptimist sitting on top of her monitors.

Amazingly enough, these toys are still being made!  I had to order mine from  I picked up the Blue Hoptimist Bumble.  There are others that look very similar (the Baby Bumble in particular, but it is too small), but to match Ripley’s I needed the one with the open eyes and long legs.  I had actually ordered one quite some time ago, shortly after completing the Drinking Birds.  Shipping took a little bit of time since it actually came from Europe.  In any case, all that is required to transform this toy into something resembling the version seen on screen is to sew up a nice little hat. Continue reading

Aspen Beer — Official Beer of the Nostromo

Aspen Beer Can

The completed Aspen Beer cans. I made three, one for me, one for my wife, and one for our buddy Rich. Cheers!

I came up with the idea of recreating these beer cans from Alien some time ago.  I held off posting about the build because I wanted to surprise our friend Rich with one at this year’s Dragon Con.  Now that he has been presented with his beer, I can add this to the blog!

It just goes to show how large a corporation Weylan Yutani is that they even brew the beer the crew drinks.  This was a pretty straight forward build once I found good reference for the can label.  It all boiled down to recreating the label in Adobe Illustrator so that I could then print them out on blank water-slide decal sheets.  I got the ones meant for laser printers and used the white film version since the design uses white in the sheaves of wheat and I am unable to print white since I don’t have access to an ALPS printer.  Continue reading

Nostromo Crew Uniform — The Pants

I have finally come the the final part of the “core” costume–the pants.  I have been trying to brainstorm how I’m going to re-create the pants from the movie for a while.  The originals were custom made by Bermans and Nathans for the film, and have several features that aren’t really duplicated by “off the shelf” pants.  Making up a pair of pants that are an exact match would require drafting the pattern myself.  I decided that wasn’t a good idea since I’ve never sewn a pair of pants before, so I settled on altering a pair of Dickies Painter’s Pants.  They are made out of 100% cotton drill fabric, which seems to be a good match for the shirt that I made.  I actually purchased two pair, because one is going to get torn apart as a sacrifice to all of the pockets I need to add.  I’m not sure exactly what they expected the Nostromo crew to be stuffing pockets with, but they have more than enough space with cargo pockets on each thigh and humongous bag pockets on the lower portion of each leg.  Even though altering the painter’s pants won’t give me a completely screen accurate pair of pants, they will be pretty darn close. Continue reading

Nostromo Uniform — Dallas’s Belt

I was looking for something on the light side (by that I mean less work involved) to concentrate on for the last day or so, so I decided to tackle Dallas’s belt.  Even though it would appear there was something of an “official” belt for the crew of the Nostromo, there is remarkable variety in the belts each of the characters used to hold their pants up.  Ash and Kane would appear to be wearing what I am referring to as the Weylan Yutani issue belt.  To my eye it almost looks like a toggle style seat belt buckle with some “greeblies” and the appropriate departmental insignia attached.  Parker wears what appears to be some kind of woven belt.  I haven’t ever been able to pick out what kind of belt Brett wears, if any, as it always seems to be covered by his Hawaiian shirt.  Lambert doesn’t seem to wear a belt at all.  Dallas wears what looks like a British Regimental belt with a circular, silver colored buckle.  I have no idea what regiment is represented on the screen used belt, so I just set out to acquire something that would be the right shape and color.

Wiltshire Regiment Buckle

The Wiltshire Regiment buckle that I picked up to recreate Dallas’s belt from the movie. I like the enamel crest in the center.

A quick search found this regimental belt buckle on the ubiquitous auction site, eBay.  The one I got is from the Wiltshire Regiment and has a neat little white enamel crest in the center with the motto, “Honi soit mal y pense.”  Apparently the motto is an Anglo-Norman phrase meaning “Evil unto him who thinks evil of it.”  It seems like a fancy way of saying “if you don’t like us you can go stuff yourself.”  Anyway, it is the right shape and the right color, so it will serve my purposes in recreating Dallas’s belt from the movie. I ordered some 1-1/4 inch wide cotton canvas webbing in a dark green color the manufacturer refers to as “Hunter Green.”  I ordered a belt slide from the same place. The webbing ended up being a little on the thick side and was difficult to sew once folded into two or three layers.  The slide is pretty difficult to adjust, but I guess that is sort of the point.  It wouldn’t do any good if it didn’t stay in place; it’s job is to adjust the length of the belt and stay put, so I’m pretty happy with it.  I stole the little metal tip off of another belt to finish off the raw end and this little piece of my Dallas cosplay is done!  

Dallas's Belt Complete

The completed belt with Hunter Green cotton canvas webbing and The Wiltshire Regiment buckle.

Wings of Gold!

I had mentioned before that the gold wings Dallas wore on his crew shirt were some kind of Goldwork Embroidery, and that I would have to figure out how to make them.  Well, now it is done, and here is the epic tale of how it was accomplished:

Dallas's Gold Wings

The gold wings on Dallas’s shirt. They seem to be some kind of military style gold work embroidery.

I have only managed to find a single reference photo on the web.  At this point, I don’t really remember where it came from, but I am fairly certain it came from the RPF forums (If anyone sees this and knows the source for this reference, please let me know.  I would love to give image credit where it is due.)  From studying this photograph I pretty much decided that these were made using a technique called “Goldwork Embroidery.”  I then proceeded to search out the materials I would need to re-create these wings for my Nostromo Crew Shirt. Continue reading

Nostromo Crew Shoes — Final Touches

When we last left off with the shoes, all that remained was to attach the D-Rings to replace the eyelets for lacing.  Well, the D-rings have arrived, I picked up a package of little nickle plated rivets from the local Hobby Lobby along with a small piece of white vinyl.  The original plan was to use Chicago Screws to pass through the existing eyelets to hold a little loop of vinyl with the D-ring in place.  Unfortunately, the posts on the Chicago Screws are too large to pass through the eyelets, so I decided to go with a more permanent attachment: rivets.  I couldn’t find any rivets that were already white, so the nickle plated ones will have to get painted.

Rivet Holding Fixture

Drilling holes in a scrap piece of wood to hold the rivets for painting.

Those little rivets are too small to just hit with a spray can without scattering them to the four winds, so I needed a way to hold them in place.  The solution was to drill a bunch of holes in a scrap piece of poplar that was laying around the workshop and just friction press the little guys in place.  Now they could be hit with a spray can and not go flying.

Rivets for Nostromo Shoes -- Priming

Rivets, primed and ready for a coat of white. You can see my faithful helper in the background.

Because paint doesn’t really stick too well on nickle plated parts, I first primed them with a self-etching primer.  Three quick coats per the manufacturer’s recommendation, and the little guys were ready for a coat of white.  After a few coats of white paint, the rivets are ready to attach the D-Rings and finish up the alterations needed to complete these shoes! Continue reading

The Nostromo Crew Watch

Dallas's Watch

Screen capture from Alien, showing Dallas wearing two Casio F-100s strung together on the same watchband.

Several members of the crew of the USCSS Nostromo wear watches.  I have spotted Dallas, Ripley, and Kane wearing them.  Presumably it is a watch, but could easily represent some kind of wearable computer interface.  We never see anyone interacting with these props, they are simply wrist decorations, but considering their size, and the fact that they consist of two modules, I have come to the conclusion that they must be more than just a watch.  In any case, I need to make a pair of them for me and my wife for our DragonCon costumes. Continue reading

Drinking Birds — Alien Toys

Mess Room Table Aboard the Nostromo

The crew of the Nostromo at the mess table shortly after being awakened on the way to Earth from Thedus. Note the pair of drinking birds at the center of the frame.

In the opening shots of Alien, as the camera tours the scene of all the action that is to come, on the dining table sit a pair of drinking birds, happily sipping away from a mug of water.  This in itself brings up an interesting issue:  These little birds require the mug of water to keep their heads wet in order to keep drinking, therefore the crew cannot have been in hypersleep for too long, otherwise the water in the mug would have evaporated, the little birdie heads would dry off, and they would stop dipping.  According to the timeline given at the Alien Anthology Wiki, the USCSS Nostromo has been en route for about a year when the crew is awakened, revealing some remarkably evaporation resistant water.  Well, it’s a movie, so let’s suspend disbelief for a bit…

Drinking Lucky Bird

One of the three “Drinking Lucky Birds” that I purchased in its unaltered state.

These little toys have been around for a while.  Patented in the United States by one Miles V. Sullivan in 1946, it would seem from a little research that these existed as toys in China, where they were known as the “Insatiable Birdie,” at least as early as the 1930’s.  Apparently they remain popular curiosities for quite a while longer to show up on the mess hall table of the Nostromo in 2122 A.D.

You can still get these little guys.  I ordered a Three-Pack of Magic Drinking Birds through Amazon.  When they arrived it became apparent that I was going to have to make some changes to get them looking like their 22nd century brethren. Continue reading

Alien — Departmental Insignia

The medallions worn by the crew of the USCSS Nostromo were designed by John Mollo to indicate the functions of each of the crew members.  As small as these medallions are, they hint at a vast universe that lurks behind the scenes.  While it is never actually mentioned by name by the crew, the Weylan Yutani Corporation’s signature is everywhere.  The crew has a uniform (lax as they may be with the standards,) and the following insignia are an interesting, and easily overlooked,  part of it. Continue reading