Step 1: Inspiration and Goals
At one point or another, I remember having seen all of the Alien movies in my youth. I'd always remembered the xenomorphs, but specifically the Alien Queen. She's like the T-Rex of the alien world. As the end of the summer neared, I wanted to make a really cool project to finish off the break. I'd recently made a Velociraptor statue out of foam boards and plaster strips, among other things, and wanted to expand on the methods I used in that project. It seemed that it would be possible to make a full-sized Alien Queen.
I discovered plaster strips last year when I made a Predator costume. They were lightweight and very strong. I began to experiment further with them, trying to make a sort of statue with them. I used foam boards (found at craft stores) to make a sort of skeleton/frame, and then covered that with plaster strips to fill out the shape, which could then be painted. The Velociraptor I made was a good test to see the extent of what could be done with the method.
This was the first project that I did a lot of research for. On previous projects, I might have simply found a few reference images to go off of, maybe watch the scenes from the movie. But this time, I wanted to reach a higher standard of quality; I wanted this to be extremely accurate. So I went through the Queen's scenes in Aliens, as well as going through the behind-the-scenes featurettes and image galleries. I fell more in love with the design and how she was created, and it gave me motivation to do justice to the classic monster. I had a statue of her (made by Palisades) that I used for some reference, but after looking at my research images, I found that the statue was inaccurate in a lot of areas, so I always double-checked to make sure a detail I was making was accurate.
Those were my main goals for this project: to make her life-sized and accurate in detail. And, as always, I wanted to make it cheaply. The size was huge, but since the Queen's legs and arms were pretty thin, that would cut down on the amount of plaster strips that would be needed for it, and I would still be able to keep a modest budget. I also wanted her to be free-standing. I'd have to figure out some sort of support to go under the front half of the figure, since she was so top-heavy and the legs are so far back on the torso.
Another issue with her size was that I would ultimately assemble this in the garage, which had a height of 11 feet. Various sources put the Queen's height at 14 or 15 feet. But in the movie she fits into the elevator that's only about 8 feet tall, so I figured as long as her torso wasn't upturned and her head was parallel to the floor, she'd fit.