Of passion, vision, and inspiration: an interview with Germàn Impache. 

I have been a fan of Alien since 1979, when that battered hulk of a space tug first groaned its way across the movie screen of my favorite theater, wiping away all my  preconceptions of futuristic spaceships as surely as Ripley’s hand on the PURGE switch…

Running The Nostromo Files back in the day found me most often searching the internet for new screen-caps of the ship, or maybe some new build-up of the legendary Halcyon vinyl kit.

My Nostromo internet searches continue much the same today.   Not too very long ago, I stumbled over the work of an unimposing Italian by the name of Germàn Impache.

He was posting photographs on a Facebook page with the irresistible title, “Studio Scale Model Nostromo Replica,”  documenting his progress on a commission by a collector.  Here is the first photo I saw…

Germàn, with the Nostromo replica.  Photo courtesy of the artist.

Of course, I “liked” the Facebook page and posted briefly about it, hoping to some day get the chance to interview this interesting man with the talent to pull off one of the most complex miniatures in the genre.

Anyone who knows Nostromo, knows its history as a filming miniature was fraught with constant change.  What resulted was an appropriately creepy setting for an even creepier story.

No pearlescent, brightly detailed hull for Nostromo!  No, she’s a work-horse, past her prime but still making her way along the Solomons Circuit between Earth and Thedus with the sooty scars of untold landings pitting her metallic hide.

Something Germàn obviously grasps on an instinctive level, given the proportions, weathering, detail, and undeniable craftsmanship displayed in this work.

Sharing a deep abiding interest in this fictional space vessel, Germàn and I went to work crafting an interview so that we could share his story with other Alien fans and model builders.  Despite a language challenge, I think we pulled it off!   And a Nostromo Files first: it is also available translated in Italian (below).



THE NOSTROMO FILES BLOG (TNFB):  Welcome aboard, Germàn!  Please tell us a little about yourself and the work that you do.

GERMÀN IMPACHE:  I have built models for at least 40 years!  I work now for a long time for the rapid prototyping industry and learned to shape materials such as wood, polystyrene, and plastic at a young age.  I live in Turin, a city in Italy very famous for racing design.  Here I could work with the great masters of the field and acquire a lot of experience.  Now, I work mainly in CAD and Printing 3D, although I always prefer to finish it by hand.

TNFB:  It is Interesting how many artists blend digital and traditional techniques in contemporary work.  Years ago, the thinking was that it would all be digital.  Fortunately, that is not the case.  When did you first become interested in building models and miniatures?

IMPACHE:  Since childhood.  In the 60s, my passion was to build everything from ships to cars to trains, and all that had a mechanical movement.  Kit models (Airfix, Revell) had a very high price and then I just have to build them alone.  I always used simple materials that I could find in the house without having to buy, cardboard wood, old soap jars, mechanical pieces found here and there.  My passion for science fiction models was born from the vision of the great TV shows, such as Thunderbirds, UFO, and the whole series of Gerry Anderson.  In 1970,  2001: A Space Odyssey was like a revelation for me when I saw the Discovery One.  I decided then that my modeling work, for years to come, would be to build large space ships!  

TNFB:  When did you become a professional model builder?

IMPACHE:  I started almost by chance, building and painting models for friends.  Then one day, they asked me to do it for a famous model company, building those models that you see in catalogs to show what the model will look like when it is finished.  Later I opened my own shop to build models for the industry and for museums.

TNFB:  You have some very good friends!  What are your favorite television shows or movies?

IMPACHE:  All!!!  In particular, I have a passion for all British series of the 60s/70s, especially those of Gerry Anderson.  Movies?  2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, and all B-movies, provided there were ships and saucers.

TNFB:  We have a lot in common.  Those very same shows and movies caught my attention because of the model work, especially the Eagles of Space: 1999.  Do these shows inspire your ideas for models?

IMPACHE:  Certainly, but my inspirations are more from the great illustrators like Ron Cobb and Syd Mead.

TNFB:  Now you’re talking!  Illustrators who put functionality as well as design into their art, instead of purely whimsical.  Tell me: when you decide to build a model, how long is it from the time you decide to build it, to the end?

IMPACHE:  Difficult to predict. I get to spend more time on custom models for collectors.  Work for customers in the industry go much faster.  There are models that have been built in a few days, even a few hours!

TNFB:  What a challenge.  How much research do you do when you are making an original creation?

IMPACHE:  Not much. I am usually clear in my head about what I want to do, then I do the preparatory sketch, then begin to cut and assemble the components.

TNFB:  That certainly requires a clear vision.  And speaking of vision, tell us about that wall (shown here) you use as a backdrop for your photographs of your models? (It looks like a planet’s atmosphere.)

Ulisse Containership, against “planet” background. Photo by Germàn Impache

IMPACHE:  I used, as a background, the wall of my courtyard.  It looks much like the surface of an alien planet!  I’m not a great photographer.  PhotoShop helps me a lot…ha!  In addition I have some very good friends who always make the photos to my models!

TNFB:  Where do you get your inspiration for your creations?

IMPACHE:  From everything that I see: insects, plants, planes, trains, … everything.  I have a real passion for mechanics and all that moves.  Even the inside of a washing machine can be of inspiration!

TNFB:  Remarkable, but I understand what you mean.  Let’s talk about the Nostromo model, please.   I believe you were commissioned to build it? Can you tell us the story of how that came to be?

IMPACHE:  A great collector saw the pictures of my models on the Internet.  He asked me if I was interested in building the Nostromo for his collection and I accepted the assignment without thinking … it did not seem possible to be able to build a ship so big!  The Nostromo is also one of my favorite ships.

TNFB:  Indeed!  Was it a challenge to build something already shown in movies?

IMPACHE:  Today with the Internet it is all much more easy, is all.  I was but lucky because I was able to draw on many photographs of the restoration of the original ship run by Prop Store.  It was really very challenging!

TNFB:  The Prop Store restoration excited a lot of people who love the Nostromo and were glad to see it saved from oblivion.  For you, is building something from a movie easier than building your own creations from scratch?

IMPACHE:  My creations are much easier … I have more of the chance to use my imagination.

TNFB:  What reference material did you use for building Nostromo?

IMPACHE:  I used about three square meters of Forex (PVC Foam) and a huge quantity of Plasticard, as well as metal parts for the structure and a myriad of kit parts.

TNFB:  Did you include any special details?

IMPACHE:  I tried to include as many details as possible … even those that were never seen in film.  Given the size of the model, I had a lot of space to fill.  It felt like it was always empty, missing something, so I filled every millimeter of the surface.  The details of which I am most proud is definitely the rescue shuttle Narcissus and the bottom of the ship.   I had to use my imagination since there are not many pictures of that section.

TNFB:  How long did it take you to build the Nostromo?

IMPACHE:  About eight months working almost every day.

TNFB:  Would you do it again?

IMPACHE:  Yes, since some years ago, I made the Sulaco.  Now I would like to make the Prometheus, so I close the trilogy.

TNFB:  Are there any other famous movie ships would you like to build?

IMPACHE:  I’ve already done a lot, but one in particular I always wanted to do: the Valley Forge from the film Silent Running… who knows, maybe one day some collectors will need it.


Parlaci un po ‘di te e del  lavoro che fate?

Costruisco modelli da almeno 40 anni!  Mi occupo ormai da molto tempo di prototipazione rapida per l’indistria e ho imparato a modellare i materiali come legno, polistirolo, plastica in giovane età.  Vivo a Torino (Italy) una città molto famosa per il design autombilistico, qui ho potuto lavorare con i grandi Maestri  del settore ed aquisire molta esperienza.  Ora lavoro principalmente in CAD e stampa 3 d anche se la finitura preferisco sempre farla a mano.

Quando hai cominciato ad interessarti alla costruzione delle  miniature?

Fin da bambino, negli anni 60 la mia passione era costruire di tutto, dalle navi alle auto ai treni, visto che i modelli in scatola di montaggio costavano molto li assemblavo con materiali molto poveri come legno e cartone, la passione per i modelli di SCI FI nasce dalla visione dei grandi tv movie  come Tunderbird, Ufo e tutta la serie di Gerry Anderson.  Fu come una folgorazione per me 2001 a space odissey, nel 1970 quando vidi passare ulla mia testa il Discovery one . decisi allora che il mio lavoro modellistico sarebbe stato per gli anni a venire quello di costruire grandi navi spaziali!

Quando sei diventato un professionista del settore modellistico ?

Ho cominciato quasi per caso a montare e colorare modelli per gli amici, poi un giorno mi chiesero di farlo per una famosa casa di modelli in scatola, in pratica quei modelli che si vedono nei cataloghi per far capire quale sarà il risultato finale.  In seguito ho aperto un mio laboratorio dove costruire modelli per l’industria e per i musei.

Quali sono i tuoi film preferiti o serie televisive preferite?

Tutti!!! In particolar modo sono legato da una passione per tutte le serie inglesi degli anni 60/70 DI GERRY ANDERSON.  I FILM? 2001 A SPACE ODISSEY, STAR WARS E TUTTI I B-MOVIE DEL MONDO PURCHE’ CI SIANO ASTRONAVI E DISCHI VOLANTI

Ti h anno ispirato per realizzare i tuoi modelli?

Sicuramente, anche se le mie ispirazioni vengono piu’ dai grandi illustratori come Ron Cobb, Sid Mead, etc. etc.

Quando si decide di costruire un modello, quanto tempo passa dal momento che si decide di iniziare   e finire il modello?

Difficile da prevedere, per modelli su ordinazione  dei collezionsti lavoro con piu’ tranquillità, mentre quando i clienti sono delle industrie corro molto piu’ velocemente.  Ci sono modelli che ho costruito in pochissimi giorni, anzi pochissime ore!

Dedichi molto tempo alla ricerca per una tua creazione originale?

Non molto, solitamente ho ben chiaro nella mia testa quello che vogli fare, faccio degli sketch preparatori poi passo a tagliare ed assemblare i volumi.

Parlaci di quel muro utilizzato  come sfondo per le fotografie dei tuoi modelli? (Sembra  simile alla superficie  di un pianeta.)

Non sono un grande fotografo quindi mi aiuto molto con Photoshop…Ah Ah Ah!  In piu’ ho degli amici molto bravi che fanno sempre le foto ai miei modelli!

Da dove prendi l’ispirazione per le tue creazioni?

Da tutto cio’ che mi irconda, insetti, piante ,aerei ,treni,…Tutto .  Ho una passine per la meccanica e tutto cio che si muove  quindi anche l’interno di una Lavatrice puo’ essere di ispirazione

Qualcuno ti ha incaricato  di costruire il Nostromo? Ci puoi raccontare la storia di come questo è avvenuto?

Un grande collezionista ha visto delle foto su internet dei miei modelli, mi ha chiesto se ero interessato a costruire la Nostromo per la sua collezione ed ho accettato l’incarico senza pensarci…non mi sembrava vero di poter costruire una Nave cosi grande! Inoltre La Nostromo è una delle mie navi preferite

E’ stato difficile ricostruire qualche cosa che già esisteva in un Film?

Oggi con Internet è tutto molto piu’ facile, si trova tutto. Sono stato pero’ fortunato perchè ho potuto attingere da molte fotografie del restauro della Nave originale eseguito dalla Prop Store.   La sfida comunque è stata davvero molto impegnativa!

È più facile costruire le proprie creazioni da zero?

Si molto di piu’ facile…posso dare molto spazio alla mia fantasia.

Che materiale di riferimento hai usato per la costruzione di Nostromo?Avete incluso tutti i dettagli speciali? 

Ho usato circa 3 mq di Forex ( Foam PVC) e una quantita’ enorme di Plastcard, oltre a parti in metallo per la struttura ed una miriade di parti di KIT.

Quanto tempo hai impiegato per costruire il Nostromo?

Ho crcato di inserire la maggior parte di dettagli possibile…anche quelli che non si vedono mai nel FILM e  viste le dimensioni del modello avevo molto spazio da riempire , mi sembrava  fosse sempre vuoto, che mancasse qualche cosa, quindi ho riempito ogni millimetro della superfice.  Il dettaglio del quale vado piu’ fiero  è sicuramente la navetta di salvataggio Narcissus.  Posta nella parte inferiore. In questa occasione ho dovuto inventare un pò.

Volete farlo di nuovo?

Visto che un po di anni fa avevo fatto la Sulaco ora Vorrei fare la Prometeus , cosi chiudo la trilogia.

Ci sono altre navi di film famosi che si desidera costruire?

Ne ho già fatte molte ma una in particolare mi sarebbe sempre piaciuto fare, la Valley Forge del Film SILENT RUNNING …chissà, forse un giorno qualche collezionista ne avrà bisogno.

See more of Germàn’s project on the Network:

See more of the Nostromo build at the Studio Scale Model Nostromo Replica Facebook page

Germàn Impache’s 5.5 Foot!! STUDIO SCALE Replica of the NOSTROMO at Modeler Magic

Germàn Impache’s page at ArtStation.com

Mache Models website

[Please note: all photographs are used with the express permission of the artist.]

Written by Darrell Curtis (c)2016



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