Alien Xenomorph - My 2016 Halloween Project - Build Thread (Foam and More)

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Hey all, thought I'd share my 2016 Halloween project here. I finally decided to do one I've been thinking about for awhile, the Alien Xenomorph. The inspiration is mainly the original Big Chap design from the 1979 film, but it's a bit of a hybrid as I'm incorporating elements from the Alien Isolation and Aliens xenos, and possibly more.

As in my past builds, the idea is to make it so I can 1. Put it on/take it off myself, 2. Function at a Halloween party (including having a drink and taking a bathroom break), 3. Get around without being an overall nuisance, and 4. Transport it if needed without taking up *too* much space. In my past builds (Gears of War, Iron Man, Groot) I have attempted this as well, although my success has been limited. :)

For obvious reasons, I started with the head. First I should mention the ideas I considered and abandoned. I wanted to do the clear dome with skull and detail underneath, but I don't have a vacuum former or experience with acrylic and I figured with the size of acrylic I would need for the xeno's giant head, this was not the time to experiment with that. I also had intended to have the inner jaw/tongue be electronically activated, with servos for the jaw. I got the wiring working, but realized I just wasn't going to make it all fit in the head I built.

The plan began with using an old bicycle helmet as the base and building the head around that. I sawed off the sides as I wanted to make it as sleek as I could and still fit on my huge noggin.


I had originally intended to have layers of insulation foam and sand it down to the shape I wanted. I then realized it would be difficult to mount the helmet in, as I would have to hollow it out as well. So I switched gears and found a pepakura file somewhere (unfortunately do not know the author) that had a good base for the top 'dome'. I switched to EVA foam, as I have a lot of the puzzle floor mats left over from previous builds. The file also had a pattern for the lower part of the head, but I didn't like the way that turned out so I only used a few pieces from that. I made my own side panels, which I based off the NECA action figure.


I added in the cheeks and lip (from the scrapped pepakura bottom piece) and the top row of teeth (from my own hand sketch).


I mounted in the helmet. It is secured in place with zip ties, paracord, and hot glue.


I worked on the bottom jaw. The plan is to hinge this inside at the end. The base design is from the scrapped pepakura piece, with my own teeth and other modifications.


I added in the details to the top piece. I used a combination of different kerosene siphons for the middle assembly. The thick ridged tubing is sump pump hose... $8 for 24 feet and I'm using it in multiple spots. Also used some flex tubing, some braided cord. Some of the details aren't 100% accurate, but I feel they sell the original effect nonetheless.

head6.jpg head7.jpg

And finally, here is the plasti-dipped piece in black.


I wish my dome edges had turned out a bit smoother, but I think the overall effect still works.

Tomorrow I'll post my work on the inner jaw and other pieces.

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Thanks for the comments! Here is some of my work on the chest/back area. With my mobility/easy-in approach, I wanted to rethink the way I did the body. To keep the sleek lines I'm going to use a shiny black spandex top and pants, which I'll decorate with details somehow (still thinking through that). But with the body I needed something sturdier to handle some of the bigger details.

I started with the shoulders. Those big shoulder blades were a challenge. I knew *how* I wanted to do them, but getting the angle and shape of the blades was tricky, as well as getting them to fit naturally over my own shoulders. I worked on getting a shape that curved around my own shoulder first, then cut out the shoulder blades from EVA foam. Then I mounted this on the overall shoulder pieces, which I designed individually to slope along my shoulders. The result of that is here.


From here I wanted a back plate that wasn't just a flat piece, so I borrowed a section of a Pepakura mannequin file to construct the back.


I created a row of ridges for the spine, and added the details to the sides. These were all from a hand sketched pattern.

chest4.jpg chest5.jpg

I've elected to leave off the top 'tongue' looking piece the xeno has on its back, as I thought it would get in the way of my head. But I wanted to do the dorsal pipes (or whatever they're called), so I started with a two-ply EVA foam shape.

chest6.jpg chest7.jpg

I cut sections of my sump dump hose to decorate the sides.


Then I split and cut some foam pipe insulation to it to complete the look. I also mounted it onto a EVA foam circle for later mounting onto the back.


Back to the front, I added sump pump hoses and pipe insulation to the shoulders, and added additional details with craft foam.including the collar bone pieces.


I made up the sternum piece out of a dollar store toy and some craft foam. I did this separately as I was originally going to have this be sort of a 'necktie' piece and have the ribs wrap around and connect to it. I just couldn't make it work in a way that looked right, so I decided to sacrifice the detail on the sides (which will often be hidden by my arms anyway) so the front looked better.


With that in mind, I ended up making an EVA foam back piece for the ribs, which I ended up making out of thick backer rod.

chest11.jpg chest12.jpg

Here it all is with a layer of black plastidip.

chest15.jpg chest14.jpg chest13.jpg chest16.jpg

The whole piece will be worn as sort of a vest. The idea will be that I have a sort of harness underneath, with a belt that comes and wraps around my chest to help support the weight of the back... the pipes aren't super heavy, but are still the heaviest piece of the torso. Also the harness will be designed to support the weight of the tail, which isn't done yet. It's hard to see in the pics, but I have cut openings on the bottom of the backplate that will have plastic buckles. The idea is I want to make the tail removable, so I can keep it for the overall look but ditch it if it becomes a nuisance (or so I don't smack people in the face with it if I decide to hit the dancefloor!) ;) I started a tail, and it looks great, but it is far too heavy to work I'm afraid so I'm going to try so something simpler this weekend.

Anyway, thanks for listening and I will have some more pics soon!

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Time for another update...

So I mentioned I had originally intended the xeno's inner jaw/tongue to be an electronic-based rail mechanism. Well, this didn't work out, but my plan B turned out better than I expected. I was brainstorming, walking through stores seeing if something would trigger my creative juices when I stumbled upon a eureka moment. I found one of those collapsible 'light swords', i.e. $2 lightsaber knockoff. Basically this:

I only needed the last two segments for my idea to work. So I mounted them on a square dowel. I also added a circumference of duck tape on one end to try and 'even out' the two sides, as it naturally slopes and I needed it to be more or less a tube.


I glued down four straws to emulate the 'pipes' around the design. Some of this was to be cut away.


I cut some more of my sump pump hose into strips and used this to decorate the sides.


For the teeth, I cut up an old pair of cheap vampire fangs and built the 'gums' around them with Crayola Model Magic clay. This is just the top part done.


I finished the bottom jaw and strengthened the whole thing with Mod Podge, then hit it with the silver base layer.

jaw6.jpg jaw5.jpg

I then added in the white detail and coated it with more Mod Podge to get that wet look.


The tongue is now mounted, although I don't have a great pic of that yet. Basically it is on a platform that is glued at an angle on top of the bike helmet, angling down to the mouth. I have to manually move it, but it extendeds out really nicely. I also glued in a guide rail of sorts inside so it stays on path.

I also got the bottom jaw ready for mounting by building a bracket so it would hold its shape and not 'catch' on the upper jaw. I had to go with the 'U' shape so the inner jaw had a clear path.


More to come, including hands, feet, and the tail!


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Okay, so jaw and inner jaw are mounted! The lower jaw is on a simple hinge based on Chicago Screws mounted through an inner foam piece that was glued on the internal sides of the top piece to avoid having visible screws on the outside wall.
head13.jpg head12.jpg

The next step was to figure out how to hide my face in all of this. I had considered an invisible mask, but had concerns about how it would effect the fit on my helmet... as well as concerns about heat and other things. I had considered a tinted screen, or just a simple see-through fabric piece, but both gave me concerns about visibility, as I will be in dark settings and have had issues seeing in the past with similar approaches. Analyzing the neck on the Aliens warrior xeno, I noticed it had the ridged pattern that appears throughout the design. So I decided to use this to my advantage, and designed a face plate that works in the same way as shutter shades. This is just the eye portion:


It's basically 5mm craft foam with smaller sections sandwiched in between the layers to separate them out. This is an approximation of my visibility:


Here is the full face mounted in the helmet. I glued in some light velcro strips... not the powerful stuff but the One Wrap style used for wrapping cords. I've learned that the heavy duty velcro attached TOO well, and often rips the glue right off the foam. I wanted this detachable so I can have my face free when I want it at parties and whatnot. I also have extra shiny black fabric making a sort of neck cape. This isn't all finalized yet, but it shows the basic effect.


So with the head and torso mostly complete, I had to test it all to make sure the pieces didn't clash in any way.

full1.jpg full2.jpg

All in all a decent fit. While the head and neck will be a bit bulkier than I was hoping, there is only so much that can be done when I have my giant skull to work with. Also, you can see here the closed mouth position and how the inner jaw tucks back in.
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Okay, I fixed the image links in the previous post. Not sure why that happened. Anyway...

For the feet I decided to base them off a pair of Converse style sneakers, as that's what they used for the original Big Chap. This photo shows a side by side of the base shoe next to one that is in progress. Note I made a toe piece out of double layered EVA foam.

foot1.jpg foot3.jpg

I needed to provide a surface to glue the tube detailing on, and after a few failed ideas I settled on something similar to duct tape dummies. My process was to wrap the entire shoe in black nylon stockings, then wrap the whole thing in black duct tape. I actually messed this up the first time... I didn't allow for removing my foot and made it so tight that I had to cut the whole thing away to escape. So when I redid them I stuffed some plastic bags into the stocking over the shoelace area. This gave me enough of a gap that I can slip the shoe on and off, and I only had to make a few inch cut at the top.


I glued down some flex tubing and strips of sump pump hose for the detailing. For the toes, I made toenails out of craft foam and used Crayola Model Magic clay to form the rest of the toe. I Mod Podged this whole thing to firm it up after the clay dried.


Here are the feet after additional paint and detailing.


I did elect to omit the back Achilles-like wing pieces from the original design, at least for now. As I've been using the heel as the main pressure point for getting these on and off, I didn't want to risk ripping that detail off accidentally. Also. I will be tackling stairs in this costume and I've learned going down stairs with extra piece behind your heel can be a bit dangerous.

Even without this I think they turned out of well. At some point I may cover the duct tape a bit better, but looking down at them on the floor from eye level I don't even notice it's duct tape and they just have a cool black shiny alien skin look.

At any rate, hands are also ready and I'll be getting those pics ready to share soon. Thanks for reading!

EDIT: It wiped out my attachments apparently again for this post... let me try again. Anyone have any idea why it is doing this?
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Okay, so hope this works. I'm just going to put this into two posts so hopefully it posts correctly.

For the hands I wanted to go with more of the approach seen in the Alien Isolation xeno, where there are separated long spindly fingers but I could "Spock" them together if needed. Here is a reference pic:


I started with a pair of black nitrile dipped work gloves (actually 2 pairs) from the dollar store. I thought about ways I could lengthen the fingers. I ended up deciding to make extensions out of Crayola Model Magic Clay. I also made an indentation at the base of each piece so the tip of my finger could sort of rest in them and control them somewhat.


I then cut slits into the tips of the fingers and glued the extensions in place with E-6000 glue. Here is one done. Note I curved these tips as I figured I would mostly be making clawed hand type poses.


I then added in the second thumb by cutting out a piece from a backup glove and filled it with a doctored finger from a plastic skeleton hand I found at the dollar store. I also wrapped the thumb with duct tape to try and match the bulk of my own thumb. I also wrapped the tips down with tape to secure them a bit.


I detailed the fronts with flex tubing and some craft foam details, including nails.



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I also got my tail worked out!

I had started a tail made out of EVA foam and sump dump hose that had a pre-formed shape. It looked cool on its own, but unfortunately it was heavy and I could never find a way to hand it behind me so it wasn't just hanging between my legs inappropriately, so I scratched that one and started over.

So for Take 2 I just kept it simple. At this point I wasn't going for the most accurate tail, but sort of an amalgam of design elements from different xeno designs. It's sort of the Aliens tail crossed with the Mortal Kombat xenomorph tail.

So I started with my remaining sump pump hose. 24 feet and I had just enough left to make a respectable length of tail, so no room for error.


I made the tip out of EVA foam. I sort of hand drew the shape, then gave it an arc to give it shape.


For the ridges I used leftover edges from the EVA foam squares. I sanded the centers down to more closely match the shapes and also to hide the textures on the back of the foam a bit.


Once I had enough, I simply hot glued the foam ridge line along the sump pump hose.


I also glued the tip into one end with an internal wedge piece to help secure it in place.

tail5.jpg tail6.jpg

Figuring out how I wanted to represent the pattern was a bit tricky. I eventually found a shape that worked for me and began cutting out pieces in 3mm craft foam (5mm was too thick and didn't wrap right, 2mm too thin and didn't have enough of a 3d quality).


I glued these along and around the tail... this was a time consuming process. They were just long enough to wrap around so they matched up on the other side of the tube.


Now, how to mount it? The original idea was to simply dangle it from bluckle clasps coming out of the back. But gravity made this an issue again... not as bad as it was on my first attempt, but still annoying. I needed to angle the tail away from my body a bit. Also keeping in mind is the idea that I wanted this tail to be removable. So I decided to build a 'sleeve' of sorts. I tried to emulate the design on the tail a bit.


I glued this to my back piece (with extra foam backing so it didn't rip away). I have straps that go under the whole back piece, over my shoulders, and clasp back into a waist belt that is also securing my back piece to me like a backpack. The tail just slips into the sleeve and gets buckled in (a bit sexual, but so is the whole xeno design, so hey).


At least the tail just dragged behind me. So I ended up shaping it by tying pieces together with fishing line. Here is a pic that sort of illustrates this. It will be more clear on the final pics I hope.


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So here are a few pics of the full costume from this past week's Halloween adventures!

Here's a decently lit shot of the full costume. For the undersuit I had shiny metallic black spandex pants and a shirt, which I gave some detail to with silver Sharpies and metallic black puff paint. It's a bit minimalist, but I may add better detail if I wear this again in the future.


A side view of the head. Note there was sort of a bib thing hanging from the faceplate/neck area. I may improve this in the future, but it was the best way I could deal with the fact my own neck and chin extruded a bit at times.


Here's a decent closer pose.

Here's a shot of the full back. This was indoor at a party, so the lighting isn't the best... but then again, xenos are rarely ever lit well!


I took it out on Saturday night to a massive Halloween event in our town, which was a blast! I was asked to be in many pics, some involving some, um, interesting poses. Many compliments, which always makes you feel good. Also loved walking through and hearing people mumble to each other, "Ohmigod, check out the Alien!" Of course, I was called the Predator at least once... at least they were in the ballpark I guess?
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