Originally published May 4, 2006, at GJSentinel.com.
• “RIPLEY & POWER LOADER”
• Produced by Forbidden Zone
• Created by Tom Seiler (machinery), Gabriel Marquez (Ellen Ripley) and Mike Allen (base, decals and instructions).
• Casting by Mark Brokaw of Earthbound Studios.
• Scale: 1/8, roughly 16 inches tall.
• Material: Mostly resin, but it will include rubber tubing for the hydraulic hoses, metal mesh for the roll cage over the figure’s head, styrene rod for some details on the Loader. It will also have a clear, vacu-formed dome for the emergency beacon on the top.
• Number of parts: “I think it’s around 30,” Mike says, “but that may change once it’s molded.”
• Price: TBD, probably in the $250-$275 range.
• Date of availability: TBD, sometime in 2007. Contact Mike Allen through the Forbidden Zone Web site if you’re interested in an update.
“Get away from her, you bitch!”
Man, that’s one of the best uses of a naughty word in a movie and I wish I could let it rip here, in text, even half as effectively as Sigourney Weaver delivered it before the climactic battle in Jim Cameron’s 1986 movie “Aliens.” You’ve seen the movie, haven’t you? You know about the big fight between Ripley in the Power Loader and the nasty Alien Queen, right?
If you’re one of the few who managed to miss that one, it’s time to put it on your “must-see” list. Heck, you could probably pick up a cheap secondhand VHS copy on eBay for less than the price of a rental.
Forbidden Zone’s Mike Allen of Halfmoon, N.Y., is plainly a fan of the movie, and sometime back he helped set in motion a project that’s got model-kit lovers interested: a remarkably detailed kit of Ripley in the Power Loader, created by some extremely talented people.
One of the fun things about doing these weekly GK entries is that I don’t have to be ashamed of getting in touch with some of these talented people and ask all kinds of stupid fanboy questions. Gabriel Marquez has been impressing hobbyists for about a decade, and he’s the person who generously let me pester him this week with a Q&A (below).
Lifelong Houston resident Gabriel is a sculptor, 37 years old, married to Terri. He started off working semi-professionally as a sculptor 10 years ago and earned enough respect for his work that he was able to become a full-time professional in 1998. In his Web-site biography, he says his interest in art stems from an early love for fantasy and horror movies such as “King Kong,” “Frankenstein” and “Jaws.” He’s also a fan of the stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen (and who isn’t?).
To be honest, I don’t think I’m up to adequately describing what’s so impressive about his work, which is why I’m glad I can include pictures with my entries. If these photos aren’t proof enough for you, then check out the gallery on the Gwin Sculpture Works Web site.
I asked Mike for his thoughts on working with Gabriel.
“Well, the story goes that, when Tom and I first started talking about the Loader, we knew Ripley had to be part of the kit,” Mike wrote in an e-mail. “Gabriel was my first and only choice. He had sculpted Ripley before, from the first film … so I knew he was familiar with her likeness.
“I have worked with Gabriel several times before, and he’s always been professional and inspirational. Plus, Gabriel is just an infinitely talented guy. He knows what will work in terms of pose and attitude. All I have to do is tell him what I’m thinking … and he delivers on the vision!
“He faced a lot of challenges with this project, in terms of trying to meld a human form into some complex machinery (which Tom did a beautiful job on). Gabriel did a wonderful job, and delivered in record time!”
Q&A WITH GABRIEL MARQUEZ
Gabriel: It was named after my late father-in-law. I wanted my sculpture company’s name to have more of an open feel instead of being a vehicle driven solely by me. Almost like Gwin, it is its own entity. When I delve into more fine art projects, I use just my name.
I also share my name with world-renowned author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, sans the Garcia, and I thought Gwin sounded cooler.
RtB: As I understand it, you are the sculptor of the Ripley figure in Forbidden Zone’s new Power Loader kit; Tom Seiler did the machine itself. How did that work? Did you have a completed Loader sculpture in front of you while you were sculpting the figure, or was there some other process?
Gabriel: Once Tom finished the Loader master in a “fixed pose,” it came to me. First I had had to decide whether to sculpt it in sculptor’s wax or polymer clay. I decided to go with Super Sculpey 3.
I created an armature out of copper and galvanized wire of different gauges. I had to cover the Loader in plastic sheet to protect it from the oil and solvent in the polymer clay. I then sculpted the figure “rough” right into the master.
Once I had Mike’s approval of the “rough,” I removed the figure from the Loader and detailed everything out but the feet and arms. Once I had the figure 80 percent done, I moved it back to the Loader master to get the proper alignment of her arms and completed it.
RtB: What reference material to you use as you work to so faithfully re-create the look of a character? Did you watch “Aliens” on DVD and freeze the picture? Do you have pictures?
Gabriel: This project was done entirely by studying screen captures from the DVD and actually freezing the screen as I sculpted from it.
This project was especially difficult because Sigourney Weaver is one of the hardest likenesses I have ever attempted to sculpt. She’s got a lot of character to her face, so you would figure it would make it easier. It didn’t!
RtB: Do you have to buy your reference material, borrow it, or is it provided by the person commissioning the sculpture?
Gabriel: All of the above. Most of the time the client will supply reference but nowadays it’s not too hard to find picture reference of anything online. Google Image Search is a resource I use a lot.
RtB: What do you do when you realize a sculpture isn’t shaping up the way you want? Or, do you often step back and decide a sculpture is not at all what you intended it to be and have to back up?
Gabriel: When a project isn’t going how I would like sometimes just stepping back and not looking it for a few hours helps. Another simple thing that helps me is to look at my sculpts in a mirror or upside-down. This process usually keeps things going smooth.
RtB: I presume your sculptures become the property of the people who commission them. Is it ever particularly difficult to let go of one?
Gabriel: Projects usually take from four to six weeks to complete, so most of the time I’m glad to see a sculpture go so I can move on and the client can do what he needs to do.
RtB: Do you sculpt anything strictly for yourself, disregarding whether the subject is marketable? If so, would you mind telling me what you sculpt?
I decided to create a literal version of the Martians and their Fighting Machines. All I used was Wells’ descriptions of how they looked and moved my imagination. Reviews have been mixed from the sculpting/modeling and fan community. I still really dig it!
I’m not sure if I will offer the Fighting Machine or Martian as kits but I am working on an new resin garage kit of my design called “Lilith” right now and will be ready to show it early this summer.