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  1. Forum Sponsor Prop Store's Avatar
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    Apr 26, 2011, 4:10 AM - The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #1

    This is Part 4 of a 5 Part Series. If you missed the previous parts, click the links below to catch up!

    NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN: Part 1

    NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN: Part 2

    NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN: Part 3

    ---

    When last we left the Nostromo, it was an ailing derelict, lost to the punishment of time and the elements. All hope seemed lost… But then, a beacon appeared on the horizon.

    Enter: Stephen Lane and his rescue ship Prop Store.

    In 1998, the England native Lane turned his hobby—collecting original movie props and costumes—into a full-time business. But his vision was not that of a stock retail operation—buying props, marking them up, and selling them to collectors. Instead, Lane saw himself and his cohorts as “movie archaeologists,” scouring the world for the hidden treasure troves of props and costumes that were just waiting to be found. Sure it was his business. But Stephen was a collector first and foremost. His work drew from a well of immense passion and was pursued with a largely conservationist bent. Countless important film artifacts have been lost to time and to the rubbish bin over the decades and Lane and his growing army of collectors sought to put an end to these travesties, one prop at a time. Prop Store grew into a behemoth over the next decade-plus, amassing over 15,000 square feet of warehouse and office space in two major cities on two different continents: London and Los Angeles.

    This made the Nostromo an ideal candidate to be awoken from its hypersleep in KNB’s storage facility.

    In 2007, Lane and head of Los Angeles operations Brandon Alinger worked out a deal with KNB that would see the Nostromo finally resurrected and put on display where film fans could enjoy it again. The model was freighted into Prop Store’s Los Angeles office where the Nostromo’s condition was fully assessed. The seams—both of the styrene detail work and the wooden understructure—were pulling apart. The wood had splintered, cracked, eroded, and shrunk. Years of rain had soaked into the wood and dried it out, the same conditions that can lead to dry rot. The Nostromo was not in good shape. The miniature was in desperate need of restoration, but the work was beyond Prop Store’s internal resources.
    Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.

    Okay, fine. But who the hell do you call when you need to restore a circa 2087 Commercial Space Tug? The ideal scenario for the restoration would have been to reunite the model with its parents, Brian Johnson and his ALIEN visual effects team. Unfortunately, the Nostromo’s bulk and general condition precluded the possibility of it being sent back to the United Kingdom.


    So Prop Store met with a number of effects houses in Los Angeles before deciding on the legendary Grant McCune Design, the guys who practically invented sci-fi movie model making.

    Pulling into their parking lot deep in the baking heat of Los Angeles county’s San Fernando Valley, the Grant McCune Design facility doesn’t look like much. Except the parking lot itself is a landmark in movie history. In 1977, Grant McCune Design’s—then the very first incarnation of Industrial Light and Magic (ILM)—parking lot was the site of the filming of the famous Death Star trench from George Lucas’s original STAR WARS. The eighty foot long trench was too expansive to house inside ILM’s facility, so they built it outside. In the parking lot.

    Grant McCune and his team, including Don Trumble, Bill Short, and visual effects legend John Dykstra himself, designed and built the models that made STAR WARS well… STAR WARS. But when the team was approached with the opportunity to create the practical visual effects for STAR WARS, they had never even built a model before! They were already accomplished tinkerers and innovative builders, so the prospect wasn’t terrifying: it was a challenge.

    It was through the resulting process that many techniques that are now common practice in model-making were invented, including using fiber optics to create internal lighting and George Lucas’s “used universe” concept, which meant making the model look old and lived-in, despite the fact that it had been built in just a few weeks. A crucial part of this visual effect was “kit-bashing,” and the original STAR WARS saga remains the finest example of kit-bashing in practice. After George Lucas purchased ILM and moved it to Northern California, John Dykstra and Grant McCune opened their own effects shop. Apogee would go on to explode in the 1980s heyday of practical visual effects (before the shift to computer generated effects). Before it restructured again in the early 1990s and became Grant McCune Design, Apogee was the biggest model-maker working in the movie business.

    With Grant McCune Design’s unmatched pedigree, Prop Store saw his shop as the perfect rehabilitation facility for the ailing Nostromo.

    Thankfully, Grant McCune Design modeler maestros Monty Shook and Jack Edjourian agreed to tackle the restoration. Both designers had worked on a number of popular films, but the chance to restore an icon like the Nostromo thrilled them. When they first saw the Nostromo in Prop Store’s storage facility, Shook and Edjourian were amazed at its sheer size. But they were also amazed at the overwhelming amount of work that lay in front of them.

    In fact, an initial inspection of the wooden musculature had them concerned that the degradation was too far gone for a true restoration versus a scratch rebuild. They worried about dry rot and even termites having afflicted the wood, but fortunately, a more detailed inspection revealed that the model’s robust initial construction and a little bit of luck had preserved the Nostromo from a terminal diagnosis. Even now, Edjourian and Shook still marvel at the Nostromo’s steel support frame, as they had never seen anything that heavy-duty. Still, Grant McCune Design was amazed that the model lasted as long as it did. The wood had worn so thin that it was a wonder that it was still in tact. To bridge the different sections of the ship, the original design team used a thin ply that might have been weather-sealed, but no evidence of this remained. It seemed like the Nostromo had just barely held on, knowing this succor would come.

    It was very important to both Prop Store and to Grant McCune Design to keep the Nostromo as true as possible to its original makeup. This meant fixing broken and worn parts rather than replacing them, even when the fix was more time-consuming than a casting or a replacement. This was going to be an archival-quality restoration, and one handled with the utmost of expertise and care.

    Agreements were made and Grant McCune Design set to work.


    The first step was a thorough cleaning of the model’s hollow interior, an unenviable task that fell on Edjourian’s shoulders. And he couldn’t believe what he found. He was pulling out seemingly endless fistfuls of rotting leaves and other awful-smelling organic filth. How did all this crap find its way inside the narrow nooks and crannies of a model spaceship? Well, much like the movie ALIEN’s Nostromo—and much to Edjourian’s horror—Prop Store’s Nostromo also had a stowaway.

    What was it? Was it an acid-bleeding xenomorph? Dallas’ mother-in-law? Find out next week in the space-jockey-sized conclusion of this five-part retrospective.

    ---

    Check out our final installment of this 5 part series!

    NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN: Part 5
    Last edited by Prop Store; Apr 29, 2011 at 2:08 PM.
  2. alienscollection.com's Avatar
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    Apr 26, 2011, 10:58 AM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #2

    Awesome.
  3. RPF Premium Member
    Member Since
    Aug 2002
    From
    Launch Bay Alpha
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    Apr 26, 2011, 12:50 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #3

    "I'd be careful where I put my hands if I were you!"

    Amazing that it survived
  4. Member Since
    May 2010
    From
    Queensland, Australia
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    Apr 28, 2011, 2:50 AM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #4

    what a beauty. Makes me wanna cry just thinking about what she's been put through
  5. Noeland's Avatar
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    Cheboygan, MI
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    Apr 28, 2011, 3:53 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #5

    Man, I love that ship. What a solid design. Great to know that it's getting love again after being neglected for so long.
  6. Alan Cross's Avatar
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    Apr 28, 2011, 9:31 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #6

    It's a beauty; a cool, industrial design. Thanks for documenting the journey, Brandon!
  7. Colin Droidmilk's Avatar
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    Greece
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    Apr 29, 2011, 4:03 AM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #7

    Nice article again. But...lol... here I go with another protest!

    The modern style of SF modelmaking wasn't invented by ILM. With the exception of the fibre-optics, ILM based its entire approach on the techniques already established ten years previously on 2001, which had in turn used the kitbashing technique originally pioneered by its British hire Brian Johnson in conjunction with Derek Meddings in the early '60s. Most SW model textures are imitations of 2001 model textures, SW lifting the encrusted greeblie look from areas such as the Discovery engine section (seen yet again in the Nostromo surface), the Aries landing bay ( Death Star trench anyone?), the space station etc. etc., while SW's smooth panelled areas are all mere variations of the smooth panel areas on the Discovery dome, Aries hull etc. Meanwhile the idea of the dirty, lived-in SF vehicle was basic to all the '60s Gerry Anderson shows, which always featured machines rife with weathering, panel lines, faded paint etc. ILM produced fantastic models, but to credit them with the invention of that whole look is absolutely over the top and very unfair to the 2001 and Anderson model teams.
  8. Neo-uk's Avatar
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    May 1, 2011, 5:44 AM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #8

    Yeah what he said.
    The Anderson shows were full of kitbashing.
  9. Member Since
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    May 1, 2011, 8:27 AM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #9

    WHatever it is I would say nuke it from orbit- its the only way to be sure...
  10. joker-scar's Avatar
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    May 2, 2011, 1:52 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #10

    this is a great thread.
    101 question....what ever happened to the original Alien derelict vessel? I know they cleaned it up and used if for ALIENS, but where is it NOW????
  11. sesl's Avatar
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    Now in Tex-ass
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    May 3, 2011, 1:56 AM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #11

    Oh man I wish I saw this just chillin in someones driveway while driving around in San Fernando. Needs much TLC but I have faith that they'll do a proper restoration
  12. RPF Premium Member Scott Graham's Avatar
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    May 6, 2011, 2:14 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #12

    Thanks for the continuation of this cool story! Looking forward to more.
  13. Clutch's Avatar
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    May 6, 2011, 3:32 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #13

    joker-scar said: View Post
    this is a great thread.
    101 question....what ever happened to the original Alien derelict vessel? I know they cleaned it up and used if for ALIENS, but where is it NOW????
    Rotting in Bob Burns' backyard?
  14. joker-scar's Avatar
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    Vancouver
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    May 8, 2011, 2:48 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #14

    Rotting in Bob Burns' backyard?
    lets you and me do a Black Opts onto his property one dark knight. Every other month we take custody of it, odd months at your house, even at mine?
  15. franz bolo's Avatar
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    May 9, 2011, 4:40 PM - Re: The Prop Store First Look NOSTROMO: A LEGEND BORN AND BORN AGAIN PART 4 #15

    Wasn't this completed last year?

    FB

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