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These words, first spoken in 1979 by Tom Skerritt‘s Captain Dallas, ushered in a new world of science fiction movies that depicted the “used universe” that we fans have come to expect in our spacecraft and settings.
At that point in the film, we had just been amazed as the crew of the Nostromo took us through the heretofore never-imagined and positively harrowing paces of landing a multi-metric-tonne commercial towing vehicle on a mysterious planetoid — and its subsequent touch-down chaos.
After an exterior establishing shot bore witness to the tempestuous environment into which they were now committed, we were shown a moment of quiet calm on the bridge as the crew remotely investigated that harsh world.
It was a welcome respite, and the softly-spoken exchanges between Captain Dallas and his crew did much to calm our nerves, especially his nonchalant order to “Kick on the floods.”
We jumped to an exterior shot, expecting to see more of the planetoid and its possible dangers. As the flood-lights on the ship’s belly came on we realized, like the crew, that it was going to take much more than reading a computer screen to solve the mystery. The floods, despite their number and power, merely served to show how small and vulnerable were our ship and crew.
Someone would have to go outside to learn more… and we all know the rest of that story…
But what you may not know is that model-master Boyd Compton recently posted a video entitled, “NOSTROMO 1:960 Scale Model From The Movie “ALIEN” Finished” at the TrekWorks YouTube site.
If you have never seen the kit, it is a marvel of vinyl and PVC parts that, together, make a well-proportioned and fairly accurate representation of the filming miniature shown leaving the refinery.
I once owned the kit, and its instruction sheet was key in my blueprinting work so many years ago before today’s sophisticated graphics software.
In those days, armed only with enlarged photocopies of the instructions, bottles of White-Out, an Exacto knife, Scotch tape, and drawing pens, I created works that expressed my appreciation for what was done in the film.
I have to wonder if that same passion isn’t also what drove Compton to do his build, since he didn’t just slap the kit together and make a few haphazard passes with an airbrush.
His skill is evident in how he worked the vinyl nacelles and fuselage of the kit into the familiar shapes we’re used to seeing; in the way he lit the bridge windows with a warm light; down to the way he replicated the stark light of the engines in the film as they flared with the de-orbit burn maneuver, itself a dramatic departure from the constant-glare of Star-Warsian drives..
One of the things that scared me off building the kit myself was my lack of experience with vinyl. Compton clearly doesn’t have that problem.
But what really got me about this build was the way it is lit: Compton chose to replicate the wheat-bulb lighting we see along the belly of the ship and giving it scale. I haven’t seen that done before and he did a great job of it. As he talks us through the choices he made, you will hear how he arrived at them and why. His narration is entertaining and informative.
He said in the video that he has plans to continue the build with a diorama to replicate the alien planetoid from the film.
I, for one, am excited to see what he’ll come up with for that…
In the meantime, drop by the site and leave him a comment of encouragement. Guys like these would do what they do for the heck of it anyway, but it’s always cool to hear from others who enjoy it as well.
[Images are used for informative and educational purposes, and except for the YouTube screenshot, taken from the Shadows of Reflection website. Images from the film are the property of 20th Century Fox, 1979.]
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