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Life-Size Alien Queen Statue from Aliens


by alexthemoviegeek on September 12, 2010 Table of Contents License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Intro: Life-Size Alien Queen Statue from Aliens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 1: Inspiration and Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 2: Materials and Cost . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 3: Making the Skeleton/Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 4: Teeth and Tail, and Other Details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 5: Plastering and Finishing Pieces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 2 3 3 6 8

step 6: Some Assembly Required . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 step 7: Final Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 step 8: Final Thoughts and Advice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Advertisements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) Intro: Life-Size Alien Queen Statue from Aliens
Before I made the Power Loader (http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Power-Loader-Costume-from-Aliens/), I made an Alien Queen. Full sized was the only way to go. This Instructable will show how I made her, cheaply and quickly.

step 1: Inspiration and Goals


At one point or another, I remember having seen all of the Alien movies in my youth. I'd always remembered the xenomorphs, but specifically the Alien Queen. She's like the T-Rex of the alien world. As the end of the summer neared, I wanted to make a really cool project to finish off the break. I'd recently made a Velociraptor statue out of foam boards and plaster strips, among other things, and wanted to expand on the methods I used in that project. It seemed that it would be possible to make a full-sized Alien Queen. I discovered plaster strips last year when I made a Predator costume. They were lightweight and very strong. I began to experiment further with them, trying to make a sort of statue with them. I used foam boards (found at craft stores) to make a sort of skeleton/frame, and then covered that with plaster strips to fill out the shape, which could then be painted. The Velociraptor I made was a good test to see the extent of what could be done with the method. This was the first project that I did a lot of research for. On previous projects, I might have simply found a few reference images to go off of, maybe watch the scenes from the movie. But this time, I wanted to reach a higher standard of quality; I wanted this to be extremely accurate. So I went through the Queen's scenes in Aliens, as well as going through the behind-the-scenes featurettes and image galleries. I fell in love with the design and how she was created, and it gave me motivation to do justice to the classic monster. I had a statue of her (made by Palisades) that I used for some reference, but after looking at my research images, I found that the statue was inaccurate in a lot of areas, so I always double-checked to make sure a detail I was making was accurate. Those were my main goals for this project: to make her life-sized and accurate in detail. And, as always, I wanted to make it cheaply. The size was huge, but since the Queen's legs and arms were pretty thin, that would cut down on the amount of plaster strips that would be needed for it, and I would still be able to keep a modest budget. I also wanted her to be free-standing. I'd have to figure out some sort of support to go under the front half of the figure, since she was so top-heavy and the legs are so far back on the torso. Another issue with her size was that I would ultimately assemble this in the garage, which had a height of 11 feet. Various sources put the Queen's height at 14 or 15 feet. But in the movie she fits into the elevator that's only about 8 feet tall, so I figured as long as her torso wasn't upturned and her head was parallel to the floor, she'd fit.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Image Notes 1. The legs were actually pretty good. Heh. 2. These things on the back spikes are totally backwards from how they are placed on the real thing. 3. The neck was too long and smooth. 4. Inaccuracies on this statue started here, with a few details on the head. 5. The hands weren't quite the same, not as "spindly".

step 2: Materials and Cost


Foam boards, which form the basis of the model, have been a staple of many of my recent projects. They're light-weight, strong, smooth, and easier to work with than cardboard, though not as cheap. But they can be cheap; they recently started showing up at Dollar Tree (for $1, as compared to $3 at craft stores). Wal-Mart was great for glue, tape, and spray paint. Lowe's was good for PVC pieces. Other parts were found at craft stores or online. A rough budget estimate on the materials of the statue: Plaster Strips - $60 Foam Boards - $42 PVC Pipe - $20 Spray Paint - $15 Hot Glue Sticks, Mod Podge, Wooden Dowels, Water Noodles - $28 A grand total of about $165. All things considered, pretty modest for something of this scale. I'd first found plaster strips at craft stores, but when I started needing them in large amounts, I turned to Amazon.com, which had the best deal on a bulk package of plaster strips.

step 3: Making the Skeleton/Frame


Lots of measuring reference and scaling up, tracing outlines of shapes, and cutting them out with a utility knife and hot-gluing pieces together. That's essentially how the skeleton/frame comes together. I'd start with a main profile piece for the section I was tracing, and then fill it out on either side to give the shape of the frame. This whole process is best exhibited in the pictures below.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Image Notes 1. The beginning of the massive head crest, requiring 8 foam boards to make the main outline

Image Notes 1. After the outline was cut out, it was then folded a bit to be curved, and then extra details added with more foam board pieces.

Image Notes 1. Aluminum foil wrap helped to add some details in certain areas. 2. Wooden dowels running along the crest to keep it strong and straight. 3. The jaws were a separate piece glued onto the main crest piece.

Image Notes 1. Using the knife to cut out outlines of raised details which would transfer great after the plaster is added on.

Image Notes 1. Back spines glued on separately, so that I didn't have to carve it all out in one

Image Notes 1. Using more foam boards to build up the main carapace.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

piece. 2. The main body profile piece was double-layered. I then added horizontal pieces to begin filling out the shape. 3. Flat piece at top of the neck where the head would be able to be glued on.

2. Pieces of aluminum foil to help fill out the shape.

Image Notes 1. Back spines with wooden skewers that would align with holes in the torso.

Image Notes 1. Attaching here and standing upright.

Image Notes 1. Arms in a similar fashion, an outline cut out and then filled out so that when plaster strips would be laid on top, it would be a generally smooth surface. 2. Wooden dowel that would fit into a piece of PVC pipe on the torso. 3. Duct tape sometimes stretched across the frame to help fill in the shape

Image Notes 1. Hot glue used to make more texture/veins on the hands. 2. Claws made from air-dry clay stuck on with a toothpick and also glued.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Image Notes 1. Leg outlines double-layered for strength. 2. Pieces of PVC pipe that would be able to slide into dowels on the torso.

step 4: Teeth and Tail, and Other Details


The tail was made starting with two water noodles. They were light and about the right size and shape. I added a wooden dowel to one end that would be able to slide into a slot in the back of the torso. I covered the noodles with an initial layer of plaster strips and then added foam board pieces for the spines. There were 44 spines altogether, and I had to insert 3 pieces of foam board for each (one on top and two on the sides, triangular), so 132 pieces altogether. Then those spines needed to be covered with more plaster to fill out the detail, and then re-plaster the whole thing for even more strength. The spike at the end of the tail was made as a removable piece, allowing me to have a "Bishop-stabbing" action feature. :) The teeth were a particular challenge due to the fact that they are transparent. I experimented with trying to cast resin in a clay mold, or somehow cast hot glue in a mold, but the end result was never clear or clean enough. But I took another look at the glue sticks, which were clear, and came up with a solution: I used a wood-burning tool to melt the glue sticks and shape them into points, and make teeth with them that way. They looked good and clear, were relatively cheap, and even had the subtle yellow tint that they should have. These teeth were glued onto a gumline made from air-dry clay, and the whole thing was then glued onto the jaw areas. The tendons on the jaws were also fun to make. I'd initially planned to make them with plastic wrap, but they didn't look right. I then thought about wax paper instead, and that looked better (still good and semi-transparent), but it didn't have the right texture, so I added some hot glue onto the wax paper and smoothed it out to make it look "stretchy".

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Image Notes 1. Water noodles, plastered and then spines added with foam board.

Image Notes 1. Wooden dowel slides into the back of the torso.

Image Notes 1. Each trio of spine shapes covered with plaster, very tedious work.

Image Notes 1. Spike on the end of the tail can be removed, re-attachable via dowel rod.

Image Notes 1. X-acto knife attachment, good for cutting.

Image Notes 1. Air-dry clay gums, which kinda shrunk when it dried, so I needed to make sure it was drying in the right position.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Image Notes 1. Glued on with lots of hot glue and reinforced several times with epoxy and superglue. If this fell off, it would be a hassle to repair/replace.

Image Notes 1. Wax paper textured with hot glue.

step 5: Plastering and Finishing Pieces


Once the skeleton/frame pieces were done, they were ready for plaster. I cut the plaster strips into various lengths, and then dipped them in water, and added them on. I would normally double-layer a statue like this, but due to the size I needed to conserve where I could. The legs, however, did get double-layered for added strength. To smooth it all out, after putting the strips on, I took some plaster (of Paris) and mixed it with water to a milky consistency. I could then paint this on top of the surface to cover any small holes that the strips had, smoothing out the surface. To make the surface shiny and glossy (like the Queen needed to be), I took some Mod Podge and mixed it with a little bit of water and painted a layer of that over the top. And after that, I even sprayed some clear lacquer on top for added strength and shine. Painting was easy enough. Lots of black, which could usually be found for $1 a can. Which was a good thing, because it took 12 cans to cover the whole thing. After that, a few highlights of yellow on the neck and shoulder areas, and then highlights with blue on raised areas. Those blue highlights help a lot as to how well it photographs.

Image Notes 1. These details ended up looking great.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Image Notes 1. Inner mouth, with air-dry clay teeth.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

step 6: Some Assembly Required


In order for this thing to be able to be assembled in the garage, parts had to be in separate pieces that could fit together. The whole thing was in 15 pieces: the torso/head, the tail, the arms, the smaller arms, the legs, the 6 back spines, and the inner mouth. As previously explained, the spines attach onto the back with the help of wooden skewers that align with holes. The inner mouth had a rod out the back end that would slide into a hole in the back of the neck. The large arms were done in a similar fashion: a wooden dowel at the top to fit into a piece of PVC pipe on the torso. The smaller arms were simply extended on the base end and that end slid into round openings in the torso. The tail would fit into a hole on the back of the torso. The legs had pieces of PVC pipe on them that would slide onto wooden dowels on the torso. The legs specifically needed to be strong and not rotate, so I had to make them slide onto 2 wooden dowels instead of just one like the arms. Then I needed a stand to go under the neck to support the front side. I made one out of PVC pipe. I put strips of duct tape across the top where the neck would be able to gently sit on top of. The feet also needed to sit on the ground more solidly, since her feet were so small. I hot-glued some wooden boards onto the bottom of the feet to make them stronger.

Image Notes 1. Single PVC pipe piece that the arms with wooden dowels can fit into. 2. Two wooden dowels for the legs to slide on to. 3. Smaller arms slide in here.

Image Notes 1. These ends of the smaller arms would slide into holes on the torso.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

4. Back spines insert here.

Image Notes 1. Primitive neck support used for this initial balance test.

Image Notes 1. Strips of duct tape here for the neck to rest gently on.

step 7: Final Assembly


Setting it up required two people. The torso/head had to be lifted up and onto the neck stand. One person would then support the back of the torso while I added the legs. After that, it was free standing and I could add the arms, legs, spines, tail, and inner mouth. The tail would need a little extra support, so it was sitting on some buckets on a footstool. The whole thing weighs in at about 50 pounds, which for the size isn't bad. The torso/head piece was 25 pounds in itself, then 6 pounds for each leg, and the rest of the weight in the other pieces. It stood about 10 feet tall and 13 feet long. Full sized, but in a position that did allow it to fit in the 11-foot garage. It was a success! Well, almost. After it had been standing for a few weeks the duct tape on the neck stand became detached and it became less balanced and I had to take it down. I never got to get pictures of it and my Power Loader both assembled at the same time. :( But after I repair the neck stand, there may be another chance for that in the future.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Image Notes 1. Stand for the tail to make sure it would be in the correct position.

step 8: Final Thoughts and Advice


I'm probably the only person who can claim that they've made a full-sized functional Power Loader and a full-sized Alien Queen. That's why I call myself a geek. The size and scale of the project was a nice accomplishment, but it was also satisfying to have put that much detail into the "sculpt". I didn't skimp on the detail just because it was huge; rather it allowed me to add details more easily. It was definitely a good step up for what quality I could achieve in my creations. For making a similar project, or using methods like the one I used, these are the main bits of advice and warnings of potential problems: For large quantities of plaster strips, ordering online will help a lot in keeping a modest budget. Foam boards are indispensable. Useful for many, many things. To smooth out something covered with plaster strips, mix some plaster (of Paris) with water to a milky consistency and paint over the top. You can also use sandpaper to smooth further if you wish. Make sure stands are strong and weight is well supported, especially for something like this that would take a lot of damage from a fall. When attaching a PVC pipe or dowel to somewhere where it will take the burden of weight, it needs to be on VERY securely. Don't be afraid to add extra pieces of foam board and hot-glue the crap out of it to make it stable. Get tons of reference photos, and make sure they are accurate to the original creation you are trying to replicate. Adding the smaller details that people won't even notice is a good exercise. You get to figure out why these details exist and how important it is to translate them. It's fun to study these designs and see what makes them so unique. Good luck to any and all who might attempt a similar project. Or, at the very least, I hope you enjoyed this look into my crazy project. This is a video that goes over a lot of the same things explained in this Instructable:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

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Comments
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MacGyver1138 says:

Sep 20, 2010. 6:11 AM REPLY This is excellent. Between this and the powerloader, you should be able to recreate the final battle in Aliens anytime. Maybe your next project should be a ripped in half Bishop. Too bad you didn't have a way to make her outside. The queen looks like she wants to stretch her legs!

cowscankill says:
I think you just won the Halloween contest. Great job, it looks freaking amazing!! gives me ideas for making my own models:D

Sep 12, 2010. 5:27 PM REPLY

jeff-o says:
Ha, I was thinking the same thing! Someone's getting his ducks in a row for the upcoming contest...

Sep 13, 2010. 4:50 AM REPLY

D00M99 says:

Sep 12, 2010. 9:52 PM REPLY Could you post slideshows or instructables on all your past projects/halloween costumes? I would really like to see some of the things you've done, especially the Velociraptor.

rickym says:
it looks like its using a walker lol

Sep 12, 2010. 9:12 PM REPLY

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/

Kiteman says:
That is just... wow!. Just one thing lets it down, IMO. That scaffolding tower under its neck.

Sep 12, 2010. 3:14 PM REPLY

Wouldn't thin wires to the ceiling be better (ie less visible)? Or maybe raise the claws (of the next one you make!) so they hold on to the ceiling somehow...? That's a minor quibble, though, and doesn't get in the way of its awesomositiness.

alexthemoviegeek says:

Sep 12, 2010. 4:50 PM REPLY I have been thinking about using rope or something to be able to suspend it next time I set it up. Hopefully it works out. It would take up less space that way, and yeah, be less of an eyesore.

Owlbear says:

Sep 12, 2010. 3:50 PM REPLY this is Awesome! love it and the powerloader. would look really cool if you found a permanent place for it and either ran suspension cables or maybe used spiked chain like in AVP.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Life-Size-Alien-Queen-Statue-from-Aliens/