Alien: Nostromo's change in scale

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So Ron went ahead to build the large version and when this was complete Brian said "totally encrust it with wiggets"

The finest bits of HMS hood were amongst the parts of the Airfix model kits used as it was being made.

Ridley Scott had his plate full over at Shepperton Studios but would come in to Bray now and again to see how the model work was getting along.

Ridley then took the Nostromo tug on to another stage in its evolution.

Up until Brian Johnson left, the cabin windows were on either side of the two huge square formations on the front of the model that Martin labeled as intakes while Bill referred to them as lobes.

The first time Ridley came over to see them he looked at the Nostromo which had been built in according to Martin Bower 1/24th scale and according to Bill Pearson 1/ 35th scale.

As Bill Pearson witnessed, using a miniature figure for scale comparison Ridley asked, "Is that the size of a man?"

He then said "Hmm, I don't know about that."

He thought the scale was too large and he wanted it to appear as if it were a much bigger craft and this meant reducing the scale.

They had a box of various scale figures and let him go through it. He eventually chose a figure that was according to Bill Pearson was a 1/100th scale,

The immediate change that had to me made was to change the cabin windows, since they were matched to the actual full-size set and when compared to the outside of the ship they gave away the scale and the other thing to consider was this would mean that the windows couldn't be put in the place that was supposed to be the cabin area because now to conform to the set, the cabin size would be reduced.

Source Quotes
  1. Bill Pearson: The first time Ridley cane over to see us he looked at our Nostromo which had been built in 1/ 35th scale. Using a figure for scale comparison he asked, "Is that the size of a man?" He then said "Hmm, I don't know about that." We had a box of various scale figures and let him go through it. He eventually chose  a 1/100th scale figure which set the new scale.(Sci-Fi & Fantasy FX  #48, p27)
  2. Bill Pearson: After most of the model had been built we were informed that the scale of it had changed from 1:35 to approximately 1:150! This necessitated the construction of a new bridge section. Originally this was located just behind the "twinned lobes" but, as it had to match the windows on the full-size set, we had to remake these smaller and perch them on either side of a new unit, now located in front of the lobes. Also Martin fixed a docking tube and radar dish in that area.(From Script to Screen, p94)
  3. Martin Bower: Ridley took the Nostromo tug on to another stage in its evolution. Up until Brian had left, the cabin windows were on either side of the two huge square intakes on the front of the model. Ridley felt this made the model appear too large a scale (effectively 1/24th). He wanted it to appear as if it were a much bigger craft and this meant reducing the scale. To do this the first job was to change the cabin windows, since they were matched to the full-size set, and when compared to the outside of the ship gave away the scale. So the two 12" long perspex windows were taken off the 8' (or is it 9' now?) model, another extra section was added between the two intakes and two much smaller scale 4" long windows were built onto this new section. This in effect made the model's scale 3 times smaller and another 8" longer! The 12" long windows that had been on the large model were now incorporated into a new model Ridley wanted built. This was to be a huge section of the front of the Nostromo for use in close-ups. With the aid of pre-shot footage shown on a TV screen built behind the windows it was possible to make it appear as if the crew were actually inside the model without having to resort to expensive superimposition. But it mean we now had to reproduce all the detail  on the side of the 9' model - or is it now 9'8" - three time bigger again on this new section. And... yes you guessed it, this meant building 3 Panzerwagen chassis and all those probles 3 times the size of those from the kit which we'd used to on the 9 foot model. That'll teach us to kit bash for detailing! Once again however we were thwarted - in the final film the camera is in so close on this huge section that the things were not seen anyway. (Sci-fi & Fantasy Models, Issue #11 "Alien: The Models, The Definitive Inside Story: Part Two" article/pictures,  p37)

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