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

A little journey into the typography of Alien

There is not a whole lot going on with my costume at the moment, as I am still waiting on some supplies to arrive in the mail.  During the lull, I thought it might be nice to share an interesting blog I found while researching details for Dallas’s jacket–a project that is way out there on the edge of the radar right now.  The little mystery I was trying to solve was this: what font was used to silkscreen the ship’s name across the back of his jacket?  I found the answer, and a whole lot of other interesting tidbits about the movie Alien and its typography.  I really enjoyed this blog, and thought others might find it interesting as well!  Check it out:  Alien | Typeset in the Future

I also found another movie I need to watch.  There is a post on the same blog detailing the typography of a movie titled Moon.  I must admit that I haven’t read it, since it warns that it contains spoilers for the movie, but I will have to go back and check it out after watching the movie.

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

Nostromo Crew Costume — First steps with the shoes

In my last post I mentioned a few alterations that needed to be made to the PF Flyers.  The first steps are to remove the branding from the shoes and get the colors right.

Using a seam ripper to rip out the stitching on the PF Flyers medallion.

Using a seam ripper to rip out the stitching on the PF Flyers medallion.

Removing the PF Flyers Logo Medallion from the Uppers

This was by far the easiest alteration to make.  Just a little bit of work with the trusty ol’ seam ripper and the medallion just peels right off.  There was a little bit of adhesive underneath that left a small yellowish stain on one of the shoes, but I plan on wearing the shoes around so they don’t appear brand new anyway, so I guess the dirt just has a head start. Continue reading

Nostromo Crew Costume — I need shoes

Details of screen used shoes from Alien

Details of screen used shoes from Alien

I need shoes!  Specifically, I need to try to replicate the shoes worn by Dallas, and the majority of the crew of the Nostromo.  In fact, everyone wears these shoes except for Kane and Lambert.  They must be popular in the year 2122 (kinda like Air Jordan’s in the mid-80s.)  More likely though, they are simply company issue.

A little looking around on forums and perusing screen captures of the movie I’ve come to the conclusion that the best shoe to use as a starting point are a pair of PF Flyers Center Hi sneakers from the Archival Collection.  They aren’t an exact match but I have a cunning plan! Continue reading

Nostromo Crew Shirt — Patterns

This post will be short and to the point.  Here are the patterns for the Nostromo Crew Shirt that I promised in a previous post.  Included in the PDF are my takes on the Breast Pockets, Breast Pocket Flaps, Sleeve Pocket, Name Tape Holder, Shoulder Patch, and Epaulettes.  I don’t make any claim to complete screen accuracy here, and I think if I were to make another shirt I would make the shoulder patches a little taller (2″ tall overall,) and make the epaulettes wider (again, about 2″ wide.)  Overall, I think these patterns make a very good approximation of the Nostromo Crew Shirt.

Nostromo Shirt Patterns

So far, I think I have an audience of zero, but maybe by the 40th Anniversary  of the movie people will be making this costume again and it will be of use to someone.  Enjoy!

Nostromo Crew Shirt — Finishing Touches

As mentioned in the previous post, there is not a lot left to complete my rendition of the Nostromo Crew Shirt.  Basically, I just need to sew the patch on the shoulder, put the pin on the pocket flap and it’s done.  Well, it’ll be done except for the gold wings, but I think they are going to be a whole series of posts all by themselves, because those guys are going to take a little bit of effort.

First things first, I needed to identify the correct patch to place on the shoulder.  There are two versions of the Nostromo Ship’s Patch available for purchase out there:  One with a light blue background, and one with a dark blue background. Continue reading

Nostromo Crew Uniform — The Shirt

Purportedly screen-used shirt, worn by Tom Skerrit in Alien.

Purportedly screen-used shirt, worn by Tom Skerrit in Alien.

The first item I decided to try to tackle was the crew shirt.  In appearance it is basically a white work shirt with large pleated patch pockets, pen loops, and other assorted “greeblies” added.  I spent quite a bit of time looking at publicity photos, screen captures from the movie, and surfing forums to find as much information as possible.  There is an excellent thread at The RPF with large amounts of information about the Nostromo Crew Uniforms, and I spent a good bit of time sorting through it.  I even found a few photos of what were purported to be original screen used shirts: Continue reading