Aliens: Sulaco cargo lock release panel replica

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Mike Rush, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. Mike Rush

    Mike Rush Well-Known Member

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    At the end of Aliens, Ripley pulls on this handle to open the outer cargo door and blow the queen into space.

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    The prop was sold at auction a few years ago, which provided us with this single photograph.

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    Granted it's not the most well-known of props or even particularly recogniseable, but I couldn't ignore a challenge like that. :)

    A thread was started on the Aliens Legacy board and before long the red part had been identified by fellow member nick-a-tron as a piece of a portable television. Another member pvb found one for sale, and I went and bought it. It was very cheap.

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    Now I could use that black part to scale from. I drew up Illustrator plans and used them to cut foamex pieces which were glued together. The actual 'third dimension' of the prop is a mystery but I took some educated guesses.

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    This whole thing could probably have been laser-cut out in about five minutes, but I had no access to that technology. So, scalpel and superglue it had to be.

    There are some bits which look as if they would have been screw inserts in their previous life. I was going to drill holes and scribe in little rings, but I was fairly sure that wouldn't look good. Instead I drilled larger holes and inserted short lengths of tube. I even chamfered the edges slightly to ensure that they would leave a nice visible line on the surface when painted over.

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    It was coming together. Nobody had been able to identify the 'casing' or the large handle, but I forged ahead anyway.

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    I extended the back into a box, with separate (for now) backplate. The four little squares at the corners provide registration - in fact the back 'clips' on.

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    The outer case was mostly complete!

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    I moved on to the handle/hinge block (at least that's what I call it). Since there is always free Foamex lying around at work that's what I used. Here I am sandwiching 5mm pieces together. My outline is stuck to the top. The green you can see is whatever was printed on the foamex beforehand. Yes, I recycle. ;)

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    A few minutes on a disc sander and the basic shape was done.

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    I then drilled holes for the hinge pin and for the two bolts. By choosing the drill size carefully, Foamex is just soft enough that the bolts self-tapped.

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    So here is the hinge-block assembly dry-fitted behind the fascia.

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    More tomorrow.
     
    Dan Efran likes this.
  2. Lear60man

    Lear60man Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That is too cool. IIRC the miniature of the cargo air lock (with that piece) was on Ebay last month.
     
  3. Flix4Me

    Flix4Me Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Looking great!


    KC
     
  4. StarKill3r

    StarKill3r Member

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    I am a big fan of the little used or seen props like this. Looking really good so far.
     
  5. Mike Rush

    Mike Rush Well-Known Member

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    To make the handle I started by printing out the stripe pattern and wrapping it into a tube. Then I cut end-caps from some PVC pipe. One end had a 'gap' where the arm will attach.

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    That stripe pattern was the cause of endless debate, but in the end member b26354 worked it out.

    Again, this could have been made quite easily on a lathe. If only I had one!

    The shape reminded me of a certain Terminator prop. :lol

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    Moving on to the long arm, I again stacked Foamex pieces to the right thickness, then sanded them to shape and drilled the holes.

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    The end was scalloped so that it would seat properly against the tube.

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    A temporary assembly shows the final configuration coming together.

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    And then the whole thing was dropped into my casing, along with the TV part to get an idea of the final look. I have also cut the markings from paper and laid them on as a temporary measure. The final markings will be done with self-adhesive cut vinyl.

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    You can also see two lights in position on the TV part. I got them from RS and I believe they are the correct items, although the blue lens cap is not the right colour (obviously).

    Next I used Squadron Green putty to form fillets in the hinge block, taking away the sharp internal corners.

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    I also had to smooth the transition from the endcaps to the tube, and 'fair in' the joint on the handle. If this looks rough it is, but the final prop (or whatever the found item is) looks to me like cast metal so I think I'm not far off.

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    Finally a quick check to make sure nothing fouls.

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    More tomorrow.
     
  6. ReproMan

    ReproMan Well-Known Member

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    great work coming along nicely
     
  7. ONEYE

    ONEYE Sr Member

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    SUPERB! This would make an awesome working handle to open a door to your prop/replica room or workshop. I want one! When does production start? Really cool!
     
  8. cavx

    cavx Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I love the font used in these films. What is it?
     
  9. Mike Rush

    Mike Rush Well-Known Member

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    There are lots of clones, but begin your search with Eurostile Bold Extended.

    Sub-assemblies were sprayed with car primer.

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    I used white primer for the handle, and then some yellow primer for the grip area and the bolt-heads. What I didn't know was that despite its yellow cap, 'yellow primer' is actually a horrible mustard colour and consequently useless. I had to repaint the area with some yellow paint I found around the house.

    Using a computer-controlled cutter, I cut precise stencils for the handle stripes from self-adhesive vinyl.

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    These were stuck onto the handle, to protect the yellow areas when I sprayed it black.

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    You can also see a few washers I used to emulate what I saw on the original handle.

    The main casing was sprayed black...

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    ... and then this little area had to be brush-painted red. It could have been masked and sprayed but frankly it didn't seem worth it.

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    From the single photo it was quite hard to work out what was going on in this area! But having stared at it for many long hours ;) I arrived at a solution that would match the look. I believe this small area has to be painted red to 'fill in' a gap at the foot of the TV part.

    The more I handled the replica a few little spots of black paint began to chip or flake off. Funnily enough, I didn't mind at all as it matches the original more closely!

    Having drawn up the decals I made them from, you guessed it, self-adhesive vinyl.

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    The next photo shows exactly how they work. Some are simply cut from the white vinyl, some are printed first and then cut out.

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    The little white rectangular label is done two ways: one as it appears in the prop photo, and one to represent it 'as new' - that is, how I presume the propmaker originally laid it out using lining tape or whatever. It appears that over time the lines have slipped. I didn't think it made sense to replicate this 'damaged' look, but until I made the decision I had both options available.

    More tomorrow.
     
  10. MFP 2020

    MFP 2020 Sr Member

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    Loving it!
     
  11. thegreatgalling

    thegreatgalling Sr Member

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    Brilliant. This is coming out great!
     
  12. Mr Webber

    Mr Webber Sr Member

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    Absolutely love this project.:thumbsup
     
  13. sctcarts

    sctcarts Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    This is awesome. I love the attention to detail!
     
  14. SofaKing01

    SofaKing01 Master Member

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    FANTASTIC! I love these random prop builds. Looking forward to seeing it complete!
     
  15. Scandvoice

    Scandvoice Active Member

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    Wow! ;-)
     
  16. Rylo

    Rylo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Likin' it!

    -Rylo
     
  17. SofaKing01

    SofaKing01 Master Member

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    FANTASTIC! I love these random prop builds. Looking forward to seeing it complete!
     
  18. Mike Rush

    Mike Rush Well-Known Member

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    Thanks all. :)

    Now for the really fun part: attaching the stickers.

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    There was also a small extra part which needs to be attached. I almost didn't add it since on the original it does look a bit of an afterthought, but in the end I decided to go with it.

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    So: casing painted, stickers added, handle painted - here's a photo with the TV part loosely in position, just for a taster.

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    Behind the handle there is red visible, so I masked and sprayed the inside of the back panel.

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    The casing and back panel assembled.

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    The TV part is not used whole - the bottom section has to be sawed off. I was a bit reluctant to do this as I thought I might never see another one and it seemed a shame to ruin it. Hmm, what to do..?

    More tomorrow.
     
  19. SonofSkywalker

    SonofSkywalker Member

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    CAST IT! That way I can get one! Awesome Build!!!
     
  20. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    Looks good. I'd cast the tv part just in case you need spares as 20.00 worth of RTV probably would do it. I love props like this with buttons and switches for some reason.
     
  21. SofaKing01

    SofaKing01 Master Member

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    WOW! Amazing work. You really should consider making molds... I'd begin my long overdue "Prop Collection" with this replica.

    You're almost there!
     
  22. SofaKing01

    SofaKing01 Master Member

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    Jump in and DO IT! Make the cut!
     
  23. Mike Rush

    Mike Rush Well-Known Member

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    Well, in the end I decided to cast it. :lol

    It was a hard decision, because a) I had to save up for the materials and b) I've never cast anything so complex before. I've done mostly open moulds and some simple two-parters and I'm not bad at it. But I knew that without pressure or vacuum facilities this could be tricky. However I forged ahead.

    Because the part is quite intricate and thin in places, I decided to build up parts of the back with plastiline. I knew this would improve the chances of resin filling the mould, plus it would never be visible in the final prop.

    I cut a plasticard surround to form the dividing line. Onto this I stuck lots of little rubber dome feet to form the keys. A box was built of Lego. I like Lego because when your first half of the mould is done, you just flip it over and build the second half of the box with more Lego. :)

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    Addition-cure rubber was mixed (1:1) and poured. This photo may look as if I'm just dumping it in, but prior to this I had spent some time making sure it went into all the little details first.

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    When the first half was cured I turned it over and removed the baseboard and the keys. I then glued on lots of tubes to form risers (to allow the air to escape when I finally pour in resin). The tubes were actually cotton buds with the ends cut off - very cheap, and worked perfectly.

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    In the centre of the round feature I stuck a larger tube which would become the pour hole. The box was built up, a release applied to the exposed areas of rubber (so that the mould didn't stick together forever), and more rubber poured on.

    When all was set I dismantled the Lego box.

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    Time to take the two halves apart! There were a couple of tense moments, but in the end it came open without incident. In this photo some of the risers are still on the piece but most are in the rubber. They were easily removed with tweezers. As for the mould, I was quite proud of the result. All of the detail captured, and next to no air bubbles. :)

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    I dusted the inside of the mould with baby powder, then put the two halves together. They didn't need clamping as they're quite heavy and the fit is perfect so they 'pop' together - for now, at least!

    Having calculated the amount of resin required, there was nothing left to do but pour it in!

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    A tense moment as I prise the moulds apart...

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    ... and, success!

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    I tried a few more castings, not always successfully, until I had a good spare.

    At last I could saw the end off this thing! Having measured carefully I used a razor saw to take the end off, then cut a strange little rebate into the side walls so that it would slip over the red-painted rail at the bottom of the casing.

    Quick test-fit. The bottom is slipped over the casing first, then the top end pushed home. It was tight enough to stay put without any fixing!

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    In order to make this piece ready for the five lights I had to enlarge one of the holes, and then shave down the 'collars' on the back so that the retaining rings would reach the threads on the light housings. This would have been a perfect job for a mill, but I don't have one of those. Instead I used a new (to me) technique: I put an end-mill bit into my pillar drill, placed the work underneath, and raised the stage until it was at the correct depth. I then simply moved the work around by hand, shaving away material until it was all flat and neat, and thin enough to take the lights.

    For the first time I could test-fit all five lamps.

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    More tomorrow.
     
  24. ONEYE

    ONEYE Sr Member

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    Amazing, beautiful, and cool!

    When do you start production! I MUST HAVE ONE! :cool:thumbsup
     
  25. Grant Da Modeler

    Grant Da Modeler Well-Known Member

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    Great work Mike ... I've been wanting to do a replica of this
    piece for some time. You've really done it justice !!!
     
  26. mrphunk

    mrphunk New Member

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    Ok I'm ready who do I send the paypal deposit to! :)
     
  27. Jediguy

    Jediguy Well-Known Member

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    Make me one please!!!
     
  28. Mxlplx

    Mxlplx Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    This is so NICE!
     
  29. Fuzzual

    Fuzzual Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Are you planning a kit for this???? PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    lol, nice work!
     
  30. SofaKing01

    SofaKing01 Master Member

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    OK OK OK... Twist my arm... I'll take a kit... jeeez...
     
  31. Mike Rush

    Mike Rush Well-Known Member

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    For the small window at the top, I wasn't sure whether to use white perspex or frosted perspex. So I cut out and sanded inserts from both materials. Here you see them with the matte black vinyl 'HOLD' decals ready to apply.

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    Here one is applied and the other is under way.

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    I knew that spraying the TV part red was going to be tricky. It has so many grooves and recesses that the paint needs to get into. I could really have done with an airbrush, or a hot day and lots of thin coats, but I didn't have either of those. I did a quick test-spray on one of my failed spare castings, and my fears were confirmed: the surface took the paint perfectly, but a lot of the indented details were left untouched. It's an odd effect and there's probably a physics reason for it, but what I needed was a way round it.

    My solution was to use a brush and go over the whole piece painting only the recesses in red. I even wiped over it with a paper towel afterwards, to remove excess paint from the surface. This ensured that no brush marks were left to spoil the cast finish. The result was quite odd-looking, as all of the recesses were red but the highlights bare. It looked like dry-brushing in reverse!

    But now I could safely spray the whole part, knowing that if the paint didn't reach the recesses it would not matter. Here is the painted casting, plus a spare.

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    So here is everything needed to finish off the TV part. Two rectangular lights, three round lamps, the 'hold' window, and my cut vinyl lettering. I opted for the frosted perspex as I think it matches what's seen in the original photo.

    Notice that I have also bought a green keycap for the second button.

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    The vinyl going on. I could just as easily have made the vinyl into stencils instead and painted the lettering, but I prefer doing it this way - it's simple, it's quickly done, and I happen to think it looks the part.

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    The red TV part now with everything attached.

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    A quick note about the lights. Having studied the film I can safely say that the lights did not do anything. Ripley kind of slaps vaguely at the buttons and then pulls the lever. Nothing lights up. Now, I'd be willing to bet that the propmaker put working lights in there - it just seems silly to include all those lights and not even wire them up - but for whatever reason, on the day there were no lights. This means that my replica is screen-accurate already!

    It's also handy because the way these RS lights are sold, you buy the housings and the bulbs separately. Even the switches require a separate plug-in module for the switching action. So by not illuminating it I'm saving a fair bit of money. At some point in the future I may decide to go back and add bulbs, but mostly I just wanted to get it finished. If I wanted to I could also weather it to match, but for now I'm happy not to.

    And so at last, finished it was. It may not be the best build in the world but I'm quite proud of it because:

    a) it's finished
    b) it was entirely researched and constructed on the basis of one photograph
    and
    c) I don't think anyone's done it before :)

    Here are some photographs. I hope you like it and I haven't bored you too much. Thanks to those who helped along the way.

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    Notice that the keycap, although green, photographs exactly the same turquoise colour as the auction photograph. :)

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    Dan Efran likes this.
  32. matt black

    matt black Well-Known Member

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    Please, please, please make me one! I need one. Not want! NEED!!!!
     
  33. Interceptor6

    Interceptor6 Sr Member

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    It looks great Mike! Well done!
    Sounds like you should of made a dozen of them!
    Cheers, Jeff
     
  34. SofaKing01

    SofaKing01 Master Member

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    3 words... FAN... DAM... TASTIC! EXCELLENT WORK!
     
  35. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    Looks amazing and for not casting much before that turned out really well. I wouldn't mind having one of these to use as part of a cabinet door lol.
     
  36. ONEYE

    ONEYE Sr Member

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    Sweet sassy frassy!
     
  37. Woodlake

    Woodlake Well-Known Member

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    Great build Mike. Thanks for posting all the details. Inspiring stuff.
     
  38. MoviefanAZ

    MoviefanAZ Member

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    Wow! That really is a fantastic job! Very well done Sir! Sign me up if you ever decide to due a production run!
     
  39. Captain April

    Captain April Sr Member

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    Very Cool.
     
  40. alienscollection.com

    alienscollection.com Master Member

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  41. RickDTM

    RickDTM Sr Member

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    Totally amazing build. Would love a kit of this as well!!
     
  42. Caveneau

    Caveneau Sr Member

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    Excellent reproduction!
    I love the way this turned out.
    You did an excellent job with every last detail.
    It such a great colour scheme too.
    I'm going to make it my desktop.



     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012

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