Aliens Costume Restoration and Custom Display

Restoration and Custom Display of a screen used Aliens Costume

This screen used costume Aliens costume from James Cameron’s 1986 classic sci-fi action flick came to our shop to be restored, proper mounting on a custom mannequin and for a themed display. It had previously been on display at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, as part of an exhibit of original props and costumes from a number of key films.

When this rare, full costume arrived to our NY studio it was showing its age and the mannequin it was on was awkwardly posed and not supporting it properly. Over the years some of the pieces of the costume had become loose or separated from the rest of the costume. We began this project by giving the entire Aliens costume a careful cleaning, to help us get a clearer picture of any damage or areas of concern.

We discussed the details of this project and the client’s hopes for the final display before any work begins to make sure we are all on the same page. The goal was to get the piece looking “good for its age” and better supported while being being cautious to preserve as much original material as possible and help conserve the piece’s value and history.

Over the years many of the latex body armor pieces had lost flexibility, as that natural material is prone to do. Getting the stiff costume pieces off and then onto a body form was very tricky. Mannequins do not bend the way that real humans can and it can be very risky to a fragile costume to put it on a form. This is why we prefer custom forms, not only can we get the perfect fit, but we can modify the assembly of the mannequin to work with that specific costume’s restrictions for dressing.

While the mannequin was being fabricated, we began work on the restoration of the rest of the costume. One of the hands (the alien’s left hand) was unsalvageable, so we turned to digital technology to create a replica one to complete the display. Using the existing hand as the perfect visual reference, a new hand was sculpted digitally by Tony Cipriano and then 3D printed in high resolution resin. With some hand finishing (pardon the pun), that new left hand was painted and aged to become nearly indistinguishable from the other, and completed the figure nicely.

To finish this display, we created a themed base using some of the details that featured throughout the film. We created a faux metal base, with grating, yellow hazard stripes and heavy weathering. We also added hidden casters to give our client the ability to more easily move this large and heavy display.

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A few words from our client…

 “I wanted to let you know that the Aliens warrior is all set up and is just fantastic. I think what you have done with it was perfect. It is such an impressive piece, the pose is great, the digitally recreated hand is indistinguishable from the other, and I love the base and grill. Also having it on wheels really helps (and it moves easily). The small vertebrae you added was also a great touch. I cant thank you enough for the work on this display and it is exceptional. Its a great piece that you breathed new life into from its days long ago down at Disney.”

David - original prop and costume collector