nostromo part 2

nostromo as seen in 1978 UK

Howdy there and welcome to Nostromo II, the restoration.  Following the post from a few days ago, here is more on the beloved model from Alien and it’s TLC rebuild. Many months ago I did a special on Martin Bower, and it showcased a lot of his model work on the Nostromo way back in 1978…little did I know, a few shorts months from then I would be seeing this massive model in person and also getting a chance to be a part of the remodeling crew!!  I thought the model was either destroyed or lost in the UK somewhere, and it was quite a surprise to walk in the model shop at Grant McCune Design and see this behemoth from across the room.  I remember stopping in mid conversation with Monty Shook and saying, “WOOO-AH THE NOSTROMO!!!!”  Monty said they were restoring it for a private party, and I couldn’t wait to get over and have a closer look.  I was there working on another project that only lasted a day or so and never really got a chance but to see it from a far.

Well, a few weeks later Monty called and asked if I wanted to come over and work on the ship for him…the rest of the crew were busy with other projects, and the model had to be completed so I was there the next day going over all that Monty, Jack, Olivia and Jason had done to get her to the stable and almost finished state that I first saw her in.  The mini details were what were left, and we went through the photos to decide what needed to be done…the more we looked the more missing things there were.

So, to start the project off, all the antenna arrays had to be rebuilt.  None of the original pieces had made it back with the model, so all of them had to be created new from use of the photos provided.  There were 10 arrays total, with the shortest being roughly six inches to the longest being 36 inches long.  Grant’s model kits and brass rod collection had been depleted, and there was almost nothing to work with so a huge search throughout the shop’s drawers and boxes produced some parts from the old 70’s kits.  New sets of brass had to be ordered and trying to find any of the kits used for the original were literally impossible or beyond expensive to acquire.  On top of it all, the photos provided little help on what parts were used because the multiple laying of parts on parts on parts made the pieces indiscernible.  With that said, the job of recreating the rods as close as possible to the originals came to be by matching the mass and diameters as seen from the photos and then translated out of the new material.  The detail piece that the rods were attached to did survive, and Jack molded the master piece so a definite scale could be used for lengths and measures.  The piece itself is a spaced out little chassis from the bottom of a 1/24th scale truck cab.  From there, multiple sizes of brass tubing were cut and assembled to create the under structure of the antenna’s the rods and were then mounted to the chassis base piece, and then the kit bashing and detailing began.

In these pictures you’ll see some of the finished miniature in England as it sets in the model shop, then there will be a couple of what the model looked like when Monty picked it up from KNB, followed by a shot of what it looked like before the micro detailing began.  The final pictures will show the construction of the antennas and  how they looked after being placed back on the model.  OK, enjoy and look forward to the next installment in the restoration of the great Nostromo!

details 1978

what was left of the model in 07 when the guys over at the prop store of London got her

another view of the massive surface deteriation

here she is!!!! ready for the little details

drivers side (USA) arrays

close up

more detail

detailing the big 36 inch master array from the underside of the bridge section

more detail of the MR big!

completed and in primer grey

a nice view of the big boy in grey

the side rods in place

front view of the front end assebled

and a nice view of the forward section

62 Responses to “nostromo part 2”

  1. 1 DMP
    January 19, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Cool! I’m glad to see the Nostromo back in action after 30 years.

    Is that “Y-Wing Cockpit” embedded in the side of Nostromo in the first picture?

    • 2 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 8:50 am

      No,,, but good guess it’s an Apache helicopter canopy glass The actual cockpit module is over at the prop house of London and it will be reposition this Friday when the model is set up on display in their lobby!!!

      • 3 evil_genius_180
        January 20, 2010 at 11:21 am

        I also thought it was a Y-Wing until I looked at it more closely and realized that the shape isn’t quite right. Plus, this was 1978, Star Wars came out only a year earlier and I’m sure it took longer than that to construct this mammoth model.

    • 4 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      there are a lot of star wars kits in the details especially Vader’s tie fighter

      • January 20, 2010 at 1:08 pm

        Ha! I thought that’s what that part was (Vader’s ship’s wing mount box thing). Hope you guys worked in an R2-D2 somewhere. Isn’t that a spaceship modeler’s in-joke?

  2. January 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    I had just watched the movie again a few days ago and never really gave the models much thought because the Giger Alien still blows me away. And I never really thought of this ship as a model. But what A great oportunaty(sp?) for you have a chance at her. She really is a great looking model.

    • 7 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 8:51 am

      I watched a couple of times this year and the model work is just as incredible now as it was 30 years ago,,, Lots more appreciation for it now with all the pictures that have become available on the internet over the last couple of years!!

  3. 8 DeanneM
    January 20, 2010 at 2:16 am

    What a passion and loving post! 🙂 I’m glad that you got to work on this fantastic model!!

    An iconic model from a definitely iconic movie that I haven’t seen all the way through for a long time; simply because it’s so unnerving that I can’t watch unless there are 12 people in the room with me!! 😀

    Great photos…thanks for sharing.

    • 9 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 8:53 am

      oh you lil scardycat!!! HAAA! you should challenge yourself to watch it tonight when its dark all by yourself with all the house lights off,,, I triple dog dare ya!!

      • 10 Freak
        January 20, 2010 at 9:33 am

        LOL that was how I saw it for the first time.
        It scared the Crap out me. I was hidden under the covers most of the film. but I was 12 then. It was not untill I was 15 that I could site down and watch it all the way though without hiding. Terminator was the same for me, but that was manly due to seeing the Endo. Stan and his boy did a great job on that one.

      • 11 DeanneM
        January 20, 2010 at 11:30 am

        Triple dog dare? Now I want to watch A Christmas Story! 🙂

        Freak – 12 or 120 years old won’t make a difference for me…it’s just plain freakishly frightening! HA!!

  4. 12 Barrie Suddery
    January 20, 2010 at 3:30 am

    I’m amazed at the level of detail achieved on the model. Must have been really hard work to accomplish and yet really satisfying too.

    Amazing work, as always.

    • 13 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 8:54 am

      it is staggering when your next to it,,, we would detail a piece pretty heavily then standing next to the model you would often have to go back and add more stuff on top of the stuff you already did!!

  5. January 20, 2010 at 4:41 am

    You know, it’s detailed close ups like this that makes me miss the model work that CGI has replaced. Sure, CGI models are good (the new Enterprise was a fine example of that) but theres something special about a hand crafted model thats been made with care and attention to detail.

    • 15 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 8:57 am

      they are defiantly two very different worlds that are used to create the same results,,, I love both myself and equally just as much work goes into what your working on, the only difference is in the end you have something tangable to look at and touch with a practical model!!

  6. 17 Freak
    January 20, 2010 at 5:17 am

    I know you said she was as big as a car, but I thought that was joke. this thing is massive. must have been a right pain to film.

    At least you got to help with restoring her back to full glory!

    • 18 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 9:00 am

      no joke there it’s like working on a VW bug!!! HAAA! it’s heavy too!!!! steel and wood under structure and I’m sure it was a massive headache to work on stage!!

  7. January 20, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Oooo, that’s a sweet gig, and end result there, bud! Man, that’s way-coolness incarnate! 🙂

    So glad you got to lend a hand on her, eh. What an experience with model and movie history!

    peace | deg

    • January 20, 2010 at 8:58 am

      Oh, and thanks for the BTS pics, eh. Priceless. 🙂

      peace | deg

    • 21 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 9:03 am

      wish you would of had your modeling pack on and been down here with me,, your bro too!! we could have modeled all day and Cheese burgered and choc shaked with some good movies all night!!

      • 22 DeanneM
        January 20, 2010 at 12:41 pm

        Rather than watching the movie by myself in the dark, I’d rather work on the model, enjoy cheeseburgers, then watch some good movies with you guys! 😀

        deg – I agree with your post about having that touch, see, feel experience. No doubt that CGI does some fantastic stuff, but you can’t display it in the Smithsonian. 🙂

      • 23 johneaves
        January 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm

        Yeah we should all have a movie night in Kentucky!!

      • January 20, 2010 at 2:48 pm

        you and Nelson goin’ to WonderFest this year, bud?

        peace | deg

      • 25 DeanneM
        January 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm

        mispelled cheeseburgers?! Sheesh! Oh, wait…I can edit that. 🙂

  8. 26 the bluesman
    January 20, 2010 at 9:10 am

    More Notromo coolness!

    Thanks for letting us see soem details of this ship. Are we gonna get to see the finished restored version?

    • 27 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm

      I knew the Cargo King of Chicago would like this one haaa! and yes there will be more photos coming!

      • 28 the bluesman
        January 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm


        Ha ha. The Nostromo appeals to me on many levels. Ron Cobb designed it so thats always a winner. It s a freight hauler, tow vessel. Another plus. And its ugly in a cool way like the Millenuem Falcon. I also like the boxy unglamourous utilitarian shape to it.

        I’ll be looking forward to the finished pictures.

  9. 29 evil_genius_180
    January 20, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Um, WOW!! Dude, I always knew you did amazing work but you’re really pouring it on with this one. Your newly constructed antenna arrays look as close to the originals as one can get without actually having the parts used in the original. It’s a shame that the original model was in such bad shape in 2007 but at least it wasn’t completely destroyed. Everyone who has worked on it has done an amazing job of restoring it to its past glory. It’s starting to look more and more like the great ship we all know and love from the great Sci-Fi/Horror classic. 😀

    This is a fantastic project. Thanks as always for sharing with us and, as usual, I’m looking forward to the next post. 😀

    • 30 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

      thanks and my pleasure!!! The rods were done fast and you could easily spend another full day adding more stuff to them!!

  10. January 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Any idea who the “private owner” is and if the model will be publicly displayed?

    • 32 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm

      Yes it’s going to be displayed in the prop store of London,, the LA California branch,, if the weather lets up here it could be up as early as this Friday!!!

  11. 33 David Porter
    January 20, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I spy an Imperial Walker “head” in the picture captioned “completed and in primer grey”. More fun than “Where’s Waldo” if you ask me. Very beautiful ship.

  12. 34 Dwayne Day
    January 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Okay, I did not realize until the last post that it will be displayed in California. Is it going to be there awhile? Or is it going to get moved to London? I get out to LA regularly and would love to go see it.

    Also, when I saw a few pieces on display at San Diego Comic Con in July 2009, they had some explanation of what had happened to the model. Apparently it was stored outdoors for a number of years before being moved into a storage shed or something like that.

    • 35 johneaves
      January 20, 2010 at 6:35 pm

      Hey Dwayne,, yeah the model will be Conoga Park forever I think!!! anyways go to this link, and then at the bottom of the post are two links to some youtube’s that have a more complete story the Nostromo and her checkered past!

      • 36 Dwayne Day
        January 20, 2010 at 8:39 pm

        Thanks. I presume that they filmed all of the effects in England. So how did the model end up all the way in California? It seems rather odd that it got shipped halfway around the world and then simply left outside for years and then stored in an uncontrolled environment for the remainder.

        It’s great that it’s finally been restored and will be on display somewhere. Good work.

  13. January 20, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Wow that’s cool – I’m working not too far from Grants shop so I guess I am I can say I have been somewhat in the ships presence . . . That’s definitely one of my favorite ships. Soooo lucky you got to see and work on her . . .

  14. 40 johneaves
    January 20, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Fox studios owned everything from the film and it was sent and stored at the lot or in one of their storage facilities!!! several years later a local movie collector named Bob Burns asked Fox if he could use some of the Alien stuff for one of his Halloween shows,, Fox agreed and Bob was allowed to use some of the props and fixtures. he took great care of the items loaned to him and Fox was impressed and liked how he had a museum built as a part of his home and how he cared for and displayed the many movie artifacts that he owned.. with that fox asked if he would like to be the care taker of the rest of all the Alien lot and he agreed,,, many large trucks came to his house and unloaded just about everything from the movie from props to models to alien pieces, sets etc. His house suddenly became a storage unit as well as the garage HAAA! Some time later some of his friends from KNB came by and saw the Nostromo and asked to take and restore it,, They took it and never got a chance to undertake the large restoration project mainly because they rarely to never have a free moment outside of all their movie work,,, so into storage it went and time and weather took it’s toll!!! so in brief there is the traveling Nostromo story!!

  15. 41 Mark A-C
    January 21, 2010 at 6:27 am

    I agree with what was said before about both physical and cgi modeling worlds being very different, but there is a real buzz in having a tangable object at the end to admire.

    VERRRY envious that you got to work on this “classic” John. And a Ron Cobb design to boot!!Thanks as always for sharing great pics and a great story.


    • 42 johneaves
      January 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm

      i felt the same way when i saw the other folks working on it!!! haa I was glad they got busy on other things HMMMM-Wahhhaaaaaaa!!!!

  16. 43 TKThor
    January 21, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Holy Crap This Is Awesome!

    Thanks for putting up these awesome pics! I love the Nostromo! I’ve loved Alien since I saw it as a kid. Always loved the designs. That’s what you get on a Ridley Scott movie. Any involvement from him on the restoration?

    Gives me inspiration to start working on my own 4 ft long model for my own movie! Any tips? Materials? Scale?

    John- Tired to call ya the other night around 6 or so Texas time. I’ll try ya again this afternoon around the same time. 4 your time I think.

    – Later


  17. 45 Triton
    January 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Do I remember correctly, that one of the reasons why the special effects hold up so well in “Alien” was that model shot compositing was done in camera, instead of optical printing?

    • 46 johneaves
      January 23, 2010 at 10:17 am

      I haven’t heard this but is plausible!!

    • 47 Kevin H. Martin
      January 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      There is some roto work in the film, but a lot of it was done SPACE 1999/MOONRAKER style, where you double expose the stars into the parts of frame where the ship doesn’t overlap. The quality of ‘black space’ is a little bit variable in the movie at times, so you can kinda tell when they’re doing it. Johnson and Allder had a grid that went into the viewfinder or in front of the lens so they could chart off where the ship would be in frame, kind of BATTLESHIP style.

      • January 23, 2010 at 5:59 pm

        What I never really understood was how Alien walked away with the Oscar for VFX over Star Trek – TMP.

        Other than politics . . . .

      • 49 Kevin H. Martin
        January 25, 2010 at 7:56 am

        Maybe the weak shots in TMP were held against it? TMP has the best of the best of the best, but it also has some awful stuff in it. I would’ve been happy if it had gone to 1941 myself, which along with MOONRAKER and THE BLACK HOLE were the other noms that year.

  18. January 23, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Truly awesome !! Love the Nostromo, fabulous photos, it should never have gotten into such a terrible state of disrepair in the first place though !!!

    • 51 johneaves
      January 23, 2010 at 10:16 am

      it happens!! even models in storage deteriorate due to temperature change and age,, Cast materials shrink and destroy the surrounding areas paints flake, materials de-gas and yellow, styrene panels buckle,, it is unavoidable but depending on how you store things and under what temp and lighting will slow down the aging but if you can fix things as they break it should last a good long time

  19. January 23, 2010 at 10:27 am

    The same thing kind of happened with the Telepods from David Cronenberg’s The Fly. He had them in his back yard for a while and tried to give them to Bob Burns but they were too big to fit into his house so he couldn’t take them. Now nobody knows what happened to them. They completley built new ones for The Fly 2.

  20. 54 David Sisson
    January 23, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Thanks for showing this – it’s always nice to see classic movie props being given some proper care and attention.
    Do you know if it will be put onto a new display stand?

    • 55 johneaves
      January 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm

      It is going to stay on the original stand that it is on but the side mounts pull off so as to give you a nice unobstructed view of the ship from any side!

  21. 56 Matt Boardman
    January 23, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Wow! You guys really made her shine again! Little Nip and Tuck model style, eh? 😀 I can only imagine that it’s a little surreal to be able to work on these things that you saw in the theaters and admired from that magial theater that transported you light years away. You guys did an awesome job just from observing photos!

  22. 58 Triton
    January 25, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    I don’t understand why Supervising Model Maker Martin Bower wasn’t approached for the “Nostromo” refurbishment. He is still making models on commission.

    • 59 johneaves
      January 26, 2010 at 11:08 pm

      i believe it was because the model was here in the states and he was in the UK!!! I am not sure what the refurbishing costs were set at but that would have been great if he could have!

  23. February 16, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Hi John:

    I hope you remenber my name from the days at Boss film studios.

    You will remenber my nick name “Barcelona Bob”

    A friend send me a link to this page cause he knows that I used to work in miniatures.

    I would love to get in touch with you. Here is my cell 310 490-2950

    Anyway I became aware how sucessful you got as a designer for Star Trek, I worked on the video game “Star Trek Armada” for Activision, and we had a referece book with designs for the movies and your name was there on the cover.

    Looking forward to hear from you.



  24. 61 Gumby
    April 11, 2010 at 8:25 am

    This was a pleasure to see! I love these ships with details cobbled together out of model kit pieces. It was always fun for me to try and identify where the parts came from. The one that made me laugh on this model is the Star Wars Snow Walker Head in the image labeled “Completed and in primer grey” So thank you for sharing this. It’s an awesome model.


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January 2010

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