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Creating an Alien

Building the Halcyon 1/9th scale Alien with base and egg

n by Ingemar Caisander


Background

This is a model of the alien creatures featured in the well-known James Cameron movie "Aliens", released in 1986. Most of you probably have seen some/all of these movies (as of today a total of three sequels have been made to the original Ridley Scott movie "Alien", released in 1979), for those of you who haven't I'll quote the short story excerpt on the kit box of this the second movie:

"When the crew of the ill-fated starfreighter Nostromo set down on the barren, un-explored planet of LV-426, little did they know that they would encounter a lifeform of unbelievable savagery and destructive killing power.
Inside of 24 hours a crew of six and a $42 million (adjusted) ship had been destroyed and a sole survivor, Ripley, was all that was left of mankind's first encounter with an alien.

57 years on, the barren world of LV-426, now designated Acheron, is undergoing a transformation. Human colonists are busy at work turning the inhospitable atmosphere and climate into something fit for man.
An encounter with the wreck of an alien spacecraft sets off a series of terrifying events which mark dramatically, mankinds second meeting with the aliens, more numerous and savage than before as they turn the remote outpost of humanity into their new breeding ground.

The ill-matched battle is joined when a group of colonial marines are sent to Acheron to investigate the mysterious loss of contact with the colonists."

I completed this model back in early 1999 and it is part of the Halcyon Movie Classics series, in the product catalogue it is listed as HAL 04: "Alien Warrior with base & egg". There is another similar model kit listed as "Attacking Alien" available too, this kit is almost identical but feature the Alien creature positioned a bit differently.
The kit was released in 1991 and I believe that only a rather limited number were produced. Today it is quite difficult to find; I managed to trace one down in 1998 and picked it up for about $40. This may sound a bit expensive, especially since the entire model (including the base) is constructed from no more than 21 parts, but I think it is well worth the money.
Fit of parts is reasonably good and a very informative seven-step construction sequence is printed on a fold-out sheet. Nearly all construction steps are accompanied by a drawing of what the completed assembly should look like.
The kit is moulded in a black plastic which is easy to work with and reacts well to ordinary plastic cement and paint. Painting instructions are also included but I would actually recommend watching the movie/s and using the "real" Alien creatures as color references instead.
When completed the model stand about nine inches high and it certainly looks mean...

Construction

Construction starts with cementing the front and back body halves together. The legs on my example were slightly warped, this was however easily rectified by holding them firmly together with clothes-pegs and masking tape until the cement had dried completely. A tiny amount of putty and a little bit of sanding then made the joints disappeared.

The four breathing horns on the back also needed some putty along the upper and lower joints, otherwise fit is good. I didn't open up the end of the horns but this can easily be done.

The head is beautifully moulded, looking just like the "real" thing. Note that when attaching the head to the body you must have it looking slightly to the right in order to clear the dorsal spines.

Finally the long tail, the arms and the heel "spurs" are cemented in place and... that's about it!

Painting and scenery

I began by painting the entire Alien flat black followed by a subtle purple wash to give it some depth. Then a brown-grey mix (Humbrol 94 & 127 & 160) was drybrushed on the raised details, a bit more extensively on the ribs, tail and the legs. Some veins running along the legs, body and head were picked out in light grey. The teeth, claws, tail tip and heel "spurs" were heavily brushed with grafite powder in order to give them an almost metallic sheen.

The entire model was then carefully sprayed with clear varnish in order to give it a more moist look, quite extensively on the torso and forehead and a little less on the rest of the body (giving it a semi-gloss appearance).

In the movie the creatures slobber constantly. I tested different ways of replicating this and finally found transparant silicone sealant to be the most convincing looking. The "slime" was added around the mouth with some large drops hanging down under the chin.
The baseplate was first covered with sand mixed with white glue, then it was sprayed in black and dark brown. The moulded "slime curls" on the ground were painted in dark grey (Humbrol 32) and then covered with transparant silicone sealant.

The egg was painted green (Humbrol 114) with a dark brown/black tone-down at the bottom. The uppermost part was drybrushed in light grey with the sealed "lips" in gloss black. Flat varnish was sprayed on the top with a smooth transition to the gloss varnish on the bottom half.

Finally the sides of the egg and the base just around it recieved a generous amount of transparant silicone sealant.

n


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