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, and the awesome fight between her and Ripley in the Power Loader. As the the beginning of the school semester neared, I wanted to make something really cool to finish off the summer break. I made the Alien Queen in the first 2 weeks of August. Then I figured with the last few weeks I could make a Power Loader as well, using a lot of the same cheap and lightweight materials that I used for the Queen (mainly foam boards, hot glue, and spray paint). I was titillated at the idea that I could be the only person who had ever made a life-size Power Loader and Alien Queen. Yes, I am truly a geek.
Shortly before beginning construction, I looked around to see what other Power Loader costumes had been made before. There were many awesome ones on YouTube. And, of course, I saw flaming_pele!'s cool one on here. After looking at these previous attempts, I made observations and decided on some goals that I wanted to achieve in making my own:
Firstly, I wanted mine to be truly life-sized. A lot of other Power Loaders were slightly scaled down, and the foot stilts especially weren't as tall. That's completely understandable, especially in terms of balance and movement. But I wanted mine to be the same size and proportions as the original. I also wanted it to be screen-accurate on all other details. I wanted the exact same shapes, colors, and structures that the original had. I wanted it to match it as closely as possible in all physical details. If I was going to bother making a Power Loader at all, I wanted it to be the Power Loader. All or nothing. And, of course, I wanted mine to be practical. I wanted to be able to walk in it and move the arms, all with a reasonably stable balance and control. I'm not mechanically inclined enough to have figured out a way to make the pincers move, but other than that, I wanted joints to be articulated, complete with pumping hydraulic cylinders.
And finally, for the ultimate challenge, I wanted my Power Loader to have two qualities, when compared to other attempts: made cheaper and easier. Most other attempts didn't have any budget estimate, so I had to figure the always-assumed standard of spending as little as possible. But I also wanted this to be made quickly. Other attempts had been made over the course of several weeks, even months. I wanted mine done by the first week of school (beginning construction in mid-August). In the end, I wanted the best of all categories: cheap, quick, functional, and accurate. I then began to make the machine.
Good research and reference was critical. I used the Sideshow Diorama of the Power Loader as a constant template, taking precise measurements and scaling them up 8 times to be full sized. I also went through the movie and took screen-caps from its featured scenes, and also gathered behind-the-scenes images. It's always fun to understand how the original was made.