Aliens: Creating the Alien Queen




still collating

a) Initiating the construction of the queen
Jim already had a creature in mind as seen in the pre-production paintings

He came to Stan with the idea of putting two men inside a giant alien queen suit, and Stan's first thought was "This man is out of his mind." because nothing had been done like that before.

In the next moment, he trusted Jim, thinking that since he had imagined it, then Stan and his company could probably do it.

When they worked together,  Jim took a drawing of Stan's and redrew again. They went back and forth like that, planning the creature out with Winston's creature constructing expertise in mind.

At one point, the two of them were sitting at Jim's house, both of them drawing different parts of the Alien Queen, with Jim on one board and Stan on the other.


b) Alien Queen with backward double knee joints and long toes, and four arms, by Stan Winston. The suit idea looked as if they intended to have one of the puppeteers legs inside the upper part of the Alien Queen's legs

Alien Queen sketch by Stan Winston (source: The Winston Effect)
(scan taken from http://www.ethermetic.com)
c) Alien Queen with backwards knee joints by Stan Winston, and only two arms. Still with the puppeteer's legs in the upper part of the queen's legs.

Alien Queen by Stan Winston (http://www.icollector.com/Alien-Queen-concept-artwork-from-Aliens_i8632884)
 
  1. icollector: Alien Queen concept artwork from Aliens. (TCF, 1986) Original concept rendering for the snarling Alien Queen in mid-stride and accomplished in pencil on a leaf of 13 x 20 ½ in. artist’s illustration board. Exhibits light smudging. (http://www.icollector.com/Alien-Queen-concept-artwork-from-Aliens_i8632884 (2009))
d) Alien Queen with backwards knee joints by Stan Winston but with the extra pair of arms. One might ask exactly why the small second pair of arms were added.
Alien Queen by Stan Winston (http://www.icollector.com/Alien-Queen-concept-artwork-from-Aliens_i8632883)
  1. icollector: Alien Queen concept artwork from Aliens. Original pencil rendering for the Alien Queen. Accomplished in pencil on an 11 x 21 in. leaf of artist’s illustration paper. Mounting remnants at corners. (http://www.icollector.com/Alien-Queen-concept-artwork-from-Aliens_i8632883 (2009))

e) This piece uses the same shaped head as the previous image by Winston, but turns the legs around to give them forward knee joints.

Alien Queen (source: http://www.icollector.com/Conceptual-artwork-for-Alien-Queen-from-Aliens_i10031213)



  1. icollector: (TCF, 1986) Original pencil rendering for the Alien Queen accomplished in pencil on an 11 in. x 14 in. leaf of artist’s vellum. Mounting remnants at the corners with some paper loss. (http://www.icollector.com/Conceptual-artwork-for-Alien-Queen-from-Aliens_i10031213 (2010))
f) Jim Cameron's Alien Queen design continues, being developed towards the way it would look in the final film.
James Cameron's Alien Queen
g) Testing the alien queen concept
Jim Cameron's idea was that it was basically a crane that's going to move up and down and they would built a creature around it and they would have the guys inside dealing with the arms. Originally it was going to be a test of the fibreglass plate (?) with the puppeteers inside and then they started mocking up the whole thing and covered it up with black rubbish/garbage bags, and tested it out in the carpark/parking lot behind Stan Winston's stop with Jim Cameron shooting it. One they saw it could work and that they could do it for real as a puppet, involving two people in a suit with animatronics.




  1. Stan Winston: Jim had seen what we could do with puppets on Terminator, and so it made perfect sense that he thought of puppeteering techniques when he needed a way to realise the alien queen. But, even so, it was a huge leap of faith to believe that we could build a fourteen-foot-tall, acting puppet. (The Winston Effect, p79)
  2. Stan Winston: When Jim first came to me with this idea of putting two guys inside a giant alien queen suit, I thought 'This man is out of his mind.' Nothing like that had been don before. But in the next moment, I realized that if he had imagined it, we could probably do it. (The Winston Effect, p79)
  3. Stan Winston: It was another one of those simple but ingenious ideas, to put people inside this thing, moving their own arms around, and translating that motion to the queen arms. If we tried to do that mechanically, we would never have had the same level of control or dynamics that we got with human performers. We had to design the creature in such a way that the stunt men would fit inside. (The Winston Effect, p80)
  4. Stan Winston: Jim took that drawing of mine and redrew it again. We went back and forth like that. At one point, the two of us were sitting at his house, both of us drawing different parts of the alien queen. Jim on one board, and myself on the other. (The Winston Effect, p80)
  5. Stan Winston: We put this garbage bag queen alien together, put a couple of stunt men in it, and suspended it out behind the studio, just to see if this concept worked, and it did.  Once we knew that the concept worked, all we had to do was figure out how we were going to build it for real.  The alien queen was a big deal in a lot of ways, but this concept test proved that it could be done as. basically, a big puppet - two people in a suit with animatronics. (The Winston Effect, p80)
  6. John Rosengrant: Jim [Cameron] had this concept that it was basically a crane that’s going to move up and down and we’ll build a creature around it and then we’ll have the guys inside dealing with the arms,” says Rosengrant, who has worked on everything from ‘Predator’ to ‘Terminator’ to actually being inside a velociraptor in ‘Jurassic Park’. (https://uk.movies.yahoo.com/these-amazing-pictures-show-how-they-made-aliens-134739138.html)
  7. John Rosengrant: Originally it was going to be a test of the fibreglass plate with the guys inside and then we started mocking up the whole thing and we covered it up with black garbage bags, We tested that out in the parking lot behind Stan’s shop with Jim shooting it and once we saw that could work, we were off to the races. (https://uk.movies.yahoo.com/these-amazing-pictures-show-how-they-made-aliens-134739138.html)
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