Saturday, January 21, 2012

In ALIEN Territory...

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream...or something like that LOL!

Happy New Year everyone! My first posting in 2012! Here's hoping for more than once a month! Hope everyone had a great holiday season - time to get back to work!

This posting will be devoted primarily to a line of figures I am currently working on from the 1979 motion picture ALIEN. I'll drop a brief WIP of other pieces I'm working on near the end of the posting but I wanted this entry to focus mainly on the developing the Nostromo idea that was in my head over a year ago and is finally seeing fruition! :)

The biggest challenges to this line so far has been the sheer amount of detail that needs to go into each sculpt and of course capyuring the likenesses of the actors who portray these iconic characters. I consider this project to be an excellent learning opportunity to improve my skills in sculpting facial features, clothing and armor...especially in the 1:18 scale. A magnifier can be your best friend! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! LOL!

Lets begin with the Captain of The Nostromo - Dallas ((Tom Skerritt).

I spoke of one of the challenges was the detail that is needed for each character - These guys aren't armored clones, super soldiers with tons of cool weapons or monsters like the Alien itself - these are just "truck drivers in space" as Ridley Scott would like to call the clothing on thier back is mostly all they got. The challenge is to make the sculpt as interesting as that armored clone or the Alien with all the details in the teeth, head and tail.

Having said that, below are work in progress images of Captain Dallas sporting one of the two alternate upper torsos - This one wearing the heavy flight jacket.

Still adding detail to the jacket - the designer had a fetish for laces and zippers I guess because these things are crazier than what Michael Jackson wore back in the 80s! LOL! The sleeves of the jacket are a bit high but if you look at production images of Dallas he wore them a bit off the wrists with a tightened strip around the end of the sleeves - which I have yet to add. Plus it made room for those huge digital watches - so 70s!! :)

If you recall, this new torso system I've been working on is very has the upper body connected to the waist by a magnet which will be sculpted over so not to be seen. So instead of popping tabs that may break or become loose within the joint, you literally pull off and replace. These are strong magnets too so the thought of these upper bodies falling off is not a concern. Also you regain a smooth swivel articulation to the waist.

The mid-joint of the upper torso still retains a free range of movement and can swivel without resistance to the FIXIT sculpt built up around it - these adjustments are made in the 4th hour of curing, when the FIXIT becomes firm enough to cut away and looses it's tack. Some of the areas of the jacket appear to be thin but really are not...trick of the eye ladies and gents :)

The back of the jacket will have the Nostromo logo dropped in using a slide decal. First time using them so I hope they work out well. Same goes for logos or patches too small to sculpt...

On to the Executive Officer and the guy who knows first hand how painfull giving birth can be - Kane (John Hurt).

I love John Hurt - so it was a joy to sit down and sculpt his likeness in 1:18 scale. Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Sigourney Weaver and all the others - such talented actors! It's awesome to capture a small moment in their long careers! Anyway - enough admiration and back to the work at hand - Kane. Below is an image of the early work in progress - still much work was needed in the brow and below the eyes. The hair had yet to be added.

After a few more revisions, my finished Kane sculpt is complete! I attached Kane's head to the Dallas torso to get an idea how it will appear once his first torso is complete - I'm happy with the direction it's going! Before I paint the final head sculpt I may make some last minute changes to some of the facial features - was happy to find some new production images of John diring the filming and costume testing so a tweek here or there is very possible.

An alternate head sculpt of Kane has been completed as he appears in his EV Suit -that will be seen later in this entry. The next alternate head sculpt of Kane will be a version of him in pain...from the chestburster scene. So big things are planned with this particluar figure - stay tuned!

Next up is a final work up on the Ripley head sculpt - Ellen Ripley, Warrent Officer of the Nostromo.

I have done two other versions of this head sculpt - the last one I was (and still am) quite please with - but a Facebook friend of mine, Liko, emailed me with some observations on how I may improve the sculpt. Without going into any details, his sugestions were spot on so I went back and stengthened the jaw line and added detailing to the area around the chin. Very happy how she turned out!! - Thanks Liko for your attention to detail and sharing your opinion. It helped me out a bunch!

Two other versions of Ripley's head sculpt will be made - one with her hair up (sweaty) and the other with the hair sculpted to fit the white EV Suit helmet. She will also sport an alternate torso! I was able to tool the waist just right to add a magnet - wasn't easy using a GIJoe female frame - the T-Bar almost got in the way but I was able to file the metal stud down enough to fit the magnet flush.

This torso will be sculpted as she appears in her green flight jumpsuit. The second torso will have her in the t-shirt she wears underneath, with the upper flight suit tied around her waist.

People have been asking if I will make a Ripley wearing the Weyland Yutani issued's a possiblility. This would be part of the EV suit Ripley for sure :)

Now an update on everybody's favorite white blooded robot, Ash. I have finished the upper torso for the scientist Ash. Will begin working on the lower half this week.

Three versions of Ash will be made: Ash "Scientist", Ash "Robot Discovery" and Ash "Milk" - Milk being the blood of the robot that covers Ash when they reactivate him on the galley table. The Scientist version of Ash will include one or two alternate head sculpts - the first one is shown below and recreates the moment weher Ash "malfunctions"...then demonstrates what he can do to a person with a rolled up magazine...

The second alternate head sculpt is not yet determined. The "Scientist" version will also include an additional upper torso swap with him wearing his surgical gown.

The "Robot Discovery" version then goes into high gear recreating the moment Parker knocks Ash's block off...The head sculpt below is a 1:18 scale version of the head prop they used during the shocking scene.

The plan will be to have the ball jointed head and neck inserted comfortably into the upper torso using a hollow peg. The upper torso will have a section carved out to house tubing and wire which will be glued into and around this hollow peg, which will spill out when the head becomes "detached" from the body and falls to the back.

To keep the head and neck from falling all the way out and onto the floor, the back of the head will have a magnet that will attract to a small metal plate inserted to the lower back of the torso which will keep the head in place and stable. The collar and undershirt of Ash will be torn away enough (thanks to Ripley) so to not hender the action feature.

This is my plan...and I hope it works successfully. Unfortunately the mid torso swivel will be lost in order to hollow out enough room for the tubing...not too concerned since the film shows to torso become rigid and hands robotic once the head come the way, the paint work on this guy is gonna be wild!!

Talk about wild...the "Milk" version of Ash is next. Below is the complete head sculpt of Ash as his head is propped up upon the galley table waiting to give some last words to Ripley.

The body will be sculpted as a minimal articluated piece, having most of the attention centered on the inside and surrounding area of the neck.

There will be two other alternate head sculpts to the one you see with Ash's eyes open, milk pouring out of his mouth and the other being his cold smile after giving Ripley his condolences.

You know how you have a vision of how a piece may turn out before it even gets created and you get excited at the idea?....this Ash figure is something I look forward to tooling with every chance I get. What a fun project!

Next up is another awesome character - one of my favorites from the Alien movie and the only tough guy who took it to the Alien...or at least tried to. Cheif Engineer J.T. Parker (the great Yaphet Kotto).

I decided to do a version of parker without the headband first...but will make another version of him looking a bit more angry and determinded...this version looks too friendly and approachable...similar to who he was at the beginning of the film. I like that version but not without the bandanna. Crazy? Yes, I know but that's how I feel about it. LOL! So expect a couple more head sculpts of Parker to come.

Parker will come with two upper torso swaps...possibly three. One wearing his buttoned short sleeve shirt, one wearing his jacket and finally one with his shirt torn during his final stand with the Alien - "GET OUT OF THE ROOM!!" as he tries to save Lambert - famous last words.

Lets go back to Dallas and Kane - I have made great progress with Dallas's Nostromo EV Suit and recently began work on Kane's. Lets start with Dallas first as I have completed the paint application of his head sculpt.

The sculpt itself was created by taking one of the castings I made of the standard Dallas head and shaving away the hair, the ears bulk of the cranium then replacing it with a sculpt of the soft cap. I used the same paint technique I used for the standard head yet darkend the areas under the eyes and gave the flesh a more flushed look - showing stress from wearing a bulky, heavy suit in a hostile atmospheric environment. I know - I put way too much thought into this stuff....LOL!

Now to see how the head sculpt looks with the helmet on!

Very pleased with the characters appearance through the cloudy "glass" - I am considering adding a small LED lighting element to the interior of the helmet just above the characters head. If it works, great - If not, no big loss. I've never worked with LEDs before so I won't know what I'm missing - hoping to get some help from a very talented customizer with a lot of experience using these LEDs so keep your fingers crossed!

Let me not forget the amount of detail I am adding to these suits - the shoulder armor plates was a major challenge and took patience and a steady hand to complete. The armor is free floating, held by a clear band under the arms. I planned on casting these shoulder guards to use for the other three EV suits but found that depending on the sculpt, the same armor may not fit as well so...I will sculpt a new set of armor for each figure. Not a big deal - the more practice, the better. Just more time will have to be taken.

Additional detail added to the chest plating that is held by a magnet. This allows the mid torso joint to bend forward. The name designation will be applied using a water slide decal.

Hand articluation required a special tooling to allow for maximum motion without loosing the integrity of the sculpt. I used the bulk of a set of Kubrick Alien (Dallas) gloves, hollowed out and glued to a set of hand stubs from a GIJoe figure, then glued to the swivel forearms belonging to a recently deceased Boba Fett figure and finaly applied to the forearm joints of the figure frame. A tricky job that needs exact cuts without exposing joints that can become glued together if not carefull. Not a quick fix but worth it when it's completed! Now the hands have swivel wrists which also includes ball joints, and swivel forearms. Bad news is that I have to do this three (more like six) more times! LOL!

Working sculpt detail of the forearms - once completed, the articluation points will be well hidden.

Now you know why I take so many work in progress shots - so if I have to do it again, I have a photographic record - alomst a step-by-step diary of how the orginal was created. Which comes in handy now that I began working on Kane's EV suit...

Kane's EV Suit head sculpt was worked the same way as Dallas' piece. Like I said earlier, I may make some slight adjustments to the facial features of the sculpt now that I have some better reference data. Below, more detail added with the addition of the upper torso body suit.

I can't wait to get Lambert's sculpt working then have her EV Suit along with the other two complete walking the surface of an LV426 Diorama! Speaking of dioramas, my final ALIEN update for this entry - I plan to create three dios of unique sets from the film - The Nostromo Flight deck with MU/TH/UR, the Galley and Medical/Airlock.

A daughnting task - but a fun one at that. I've already started on the Galley - below are some of the panels that will be used along with additional hand sculpted details. The table and wrap around chair is also being worked on but did't have a chance to shoot it just yet. The Galley will consist of the main room with the heads up monitors, table with chiars and seperate small personal rooms as well as the airlock gates to other sections of the ship. Gonna be fun!

Star Wars updates!! Have a few characters that will be getting some final touches soon in the paint department. Shado Vao from Legacy is one - along with these two...

I also have several pieces back on the work bench...

Starkiller: Cybernetic Reconstruction - I'm working on the arms and the remaining torso. Removed the rubber tubes while I sculpt.

The sculpt of Commander Tsalok from the Dark Horse comic series Star Wars: Invasion is complete!!! Next stop the paint brush!

I have many others that I am currently working on but not enough progress to warrant a blog update - rest assured many more suprises are on the way from not just Star Wars but other popular franchises I spoke of in my last about a complted head sculpt of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises...or even a Blade Runner character'll have to tune in to find out! sound like a bad TV commercial! LOL!

Alas, another entry for the record books. Thanks to fans of my blog and my facebook page - looking forward to a very productive 2012.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by and get caught up on my progress. If you want to keep up with daily updates and progress of my work, check out my facebook page - Sith_fire30 Creations
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Much more to come - and a major announcement sometime in February!

Take care till later!


By the way...A word of advice from the master...