Aliens: Sulaco cargo lock release panel replica

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Mike Rush

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



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



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.



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.



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.



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



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.



The outer case was mostly complete!



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. ;)



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



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.



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



More tomorrow.
 

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Lear60man

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
That is too cool. IIRC the miniature of the cargo air lock (with that piece) was on Ebay last month.
 

Mike Rush

Well-Known Member
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.



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



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



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



A temporary assembly shows the final configuration coming together.



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.



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.



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.



Finally a quick check to make sure nothing fouls.



More tomorrow.
 

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ONEYE

Sr Member
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!
 

Mike Rush

Well-Known Member
There are lots of clones, but begin your search with Eurostile Bold Extended.

Sub-assemblies were sprayed with car primer.



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.



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



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

The main casing was sprayed black...



... 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.



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.



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



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.
 

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Mike Rush

Well-Known Member
Thanks all. :)

Now for the really fun part: attaching the stickers.



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.



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



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



The casing and back panel assembled.



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.
 

Wes R

Legendary Member
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.
 

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