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

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

Nostromo Crew Uniform — The Headset

Dallas wearing the Racal Minilite Headset in the 1979 movie Alien.

Dallas wearing the Racal Minilite Headset in the 1979 movie Alien.

I’m still not quite done with the shoes yet, but, while I am waiting for the rest of the stuff I need to finish that little project to get here, I started a little research into the headsets worn in Alien.  It turns out that they used the Racal Minilite Headset.  Unfortunately so did a whole bunch of other popular movies: Han Solo and Luke Skywalker use them in the gun turrets of the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars Episode IV, Corporal Hicks and several other of the Colonial Marines wear them in Aliens, they are incorporated into the X-wing pilot’s helmets in the Star Wars series, and most importantly, Dallas wears one in Alien.  Why unfortunately?  Because that means there are a lot of fans who would like to get their hands on this headset for costumes and collections, and with these things being over 20 years old now they are more than a little hard to come by.  I almost got my hands on one that showed up on eBay, but the bidding went a little nuts so I had to drop out.  At this point, I haven’t seen another one pop up. Continue reading