We love auctions. More specifically, we love it when companies like Profiles in History and Prop Store are able to comb personal collections and archives for pieces of Hollywood and science fiction history. The upcoming Entertainment Memorabilia Live Auction coming up (from Prop Store) has some absolutely fangirl scream-worthy items listed in the beautiful catalog, including the damn 11-foot filming model of the Nostromo from Sir Ridley Scott’s seminal film, “Alien.”
Feast your eyes on lot 19!
Lot 19: Nostromo model from “Alien“
ALIEN (1979) [from the listing]-
The 11-foot Nostromo principal filming model miniature from Ridley Scott’s sci-fi
horror film Alien. The crew of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation’s USCSS Nostromo
were awakened from hypersleep by a distress signal from a desolate moon, and
soon found themselves hunted by the deadly xenomorph. The Nostromo, a tugship that pulled the massive flat refinery model, is the primary spacecraft featured
in the film and is the setting for the majority of its events.
The tug-ship was called the Leviathan in early script drafts and takes its final name,
Nostromo, from a 1904 Joseph Conrad novel that was significant to Alien writer
Dan O’Bannon. The look of the ship was explored for months by concept artists
Chris Foss and Ron Cobb; Foss especially produced a large volume of concepts
for the exterior while Cobb focused on interiors. Cobb was focused on function
as well as form, and therefore had done some exterior designs as he thought
through the logic of his interiors. The producers and director had trouble agreeing
on a final design and eventually a large number of the concepts were passed to
Academy Award®-winning effects supervisor Brian Johnson. Johnson assembled
a veteran effects team for Alien and a number of his crew were involved with the
Nostromo final design and construction, including Ron Hone, Bill Pearson, Simon
Deering, Martin Bower, and a number of others. Working primarily from one of
Cobb’s exterior designs, Hone and Pearson built a final prototype of the Nostromo
as a small 3-D model, which Johnson had Ridley Scott approve, enabling the team
to proceed with construction on the final filming models.
Three scale models of the Nostromo tug-ship were made at Bray Studios: this,
the principal 11-foot hero used for the majority of the shots in the film, a four-foot
medium model with illuminating engines for rear shots, and a 12-inch model for
shots incorporating the large, flat ore refinery platform that the Nostromo was
towing. The largest model was the primary construction effort, and was first built
with a yellow finish in line with Cobb’s industrial designs. When Ridley Scott finished
live-action photography on the film he personally took over filming the effects
sequences (underway at Shepperton Studios) and had the models repainted dark
gray and weathered extensively to imply decades of deep-space travel.
The Nostromo model is constructed primarily of wood paneling and hand-carved
wood forms assembled around a robust steel frame and clad with plastic surface
panels and detailing from various pieces from off-the-shelf model kits, a process the
model makers referred to as “widgeting.” It follows an overall deep-space aesthetic
seen in both 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars before it. The symmetrical
design features various intake vents, engines, antennae, lights and landing gear.
The model was designed to be shot from all sides and thus could be removed
from its primary rolling frame and hung from above, or mounted through steel ports on either side (hidden under plastic cover panels) in order to raise or lower
it via forklift. It was outfitted with a lighting system, featuring many tiny lightbulbs
fitted in small holes throughout the body, and a CO2 system that would spray “gas”
from the hull for certain shots. The lighting system was sometimes augmented
with a separate additional rig that could be attached for shots that required it
such as ones of the Nostromo landing on the planet, where Scott wanted to see
even more extensive lighting.
After filming, the model travelled to Los Angeles to be part of the film’s premiere
promotions. It was subsequently stored outside under tarps for a number of years
and its condition worsened from the elements. An extensive restoration of the
model was performed by effects house Grant McCune Design (modelmaker Grant
McCune was best known for his work on Star Wars) around 2009, led by industry
veterans Monty Shook and Jack Edjourian. The team worked from an extensive
body of production photo reference to ensure the restoration was faithful to the
original build. The intricate work involved straightening and stabilizing structural
elements that had become dislodged or warped and recreating missing surface
elements, including panels and model kit detail pieces. Dislocated pieces were
fitted again, and a number of missing elements were recreated – notably two
of the three landing gear, the underside component containing the three large
lights at the front, two of the three engine interior detail clusters and various
engine flaps, one of the intake vents, the side-panel structure mount cover plates,
the front radar dish, and the antennae seen on the ship’s body. The recreated
pieces were made by molding existing examples (such as the landing gear and
engine details) wherever possible, for the most faithful recreations possible. The
lighting system and CO2 system are largely removed from the model and are not
functional, though it would be possible to retrofit a new lighting system if desired.
The Nostromo is frequently cited as one of the classic examples of a spaceship
in modern cinema, alongside craft like the Millennium Falcon and the Discovery
from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The historic model comes mounted on its original
black steel frame for display, and remains in good, restored condition with wear
and aging visible on many components. Further details of the restoration work
are covered in a series of videos on Prop Store’s YouTube channel and additional
restoration information can be provided on request.
Dimensions: 136″ x 73 1/2″ x 73″ (345.5 cm x 187 cm x 185.5 cm)
Estimate: $300,000 – 500,000.
Yeah, so, we can’t wait to see what this actually goes for.
The auction is set to take place in Los Angeles on August 26th and 27th, 2020. You can see the entire catalog and learn how to sign up to bid in items on Prop Store’s official website here. Keep an eye on other highlights from this listing!