More Power Loader : an article by: GF Willmetts

Since showing my building of the Halcyon model kit of the Power Loader in February, it suffered two falls and a couple more arm repairs and tubes, chiefly on the back of the chassis, to be put back on. In doing this, a drop of glue got on the CD case I was using and stuck one of the legs to it. At least it wasn’t going to fall down again. Some glue has ended up on this CD base but as it looks like alien slime, that might not be a bad thing. However, there was something still nagging. I was focusing principally on Ripley using the Power Loader, but my next watch of ‘Aliens’, I paid more attention to Spunkmeyer loading the missiles into the dropship and there are two frames showing the back.

See the spacing in the film. This is a second before Ripley arrives.

As you can see from the photograph here, everyone has been putting the tubes between the two back arm pistons/acuators simply because it’s the best way to get at the spike plate. The photo clearly shows all the tubes behind the pistons/acuators. It’s fiddly enough to get them on in front but to do otherwise would be easier without the pistons/acuators in the way. Even when one of the pistons/actuators came loose, it still didn’t allow much extra space. Alas, the arms wouldn’t stay up so needed some more thought. More so, if I ever make a third model.

While we’re looking at the photo, look at the twin tubes from the acetylene torch and you can see ties all the way down but not where it goes so where I put it will have to be reset and probably into the side. If anyone has photographs of the original full-size Power Loader or, even better, the scale model that was used for the brief seconds when it tipped up and crashed down on the queen alien into the air lock, I’d love to have a closer look. The most I’ve been able to discover is the arm joints to the chassis were re-enforced, so even they had problems with keeping the arms steady and probably not falling off but also moving. I feel less guilty but re-enforcing the joints with gorilla glue.

Even so, it still leaves the problem of getting the tubes on the inside. Just because the spikes stick up, doesn’t mean you have to keep it that way, it’s the position of the tubes that needs to convey what you think you see and I doubt if anyone will admonish spike positions. Well, not unless I can get another model kit at a cheap price and work hard in the making process. I have a vague memory with the original model that the piston/actuators weren’t actually glued to the chassis but its still a juggling act to keep them secured to the shoulders and in Ripley’s hands. At least with the gorilla glue on the shoulders, it does allow some movement and in the final work here, the arms are actually higher this time, but the left arm as you look at it did come off again and needed to be glued back on.

What I decided to do was take advantage of the original spikes and use them as supports. Now, keeping the tubes in parallel, cutting cocktail sticks to the right size and put two between each set of spikes. I wasn’t sure about having inner and outer use on each tier but 1 and 2/10 inch seemed to be long enough and squeezed a bit more tube into the cocktail stick. Glue each tier in place as you go and make sure is inside the area of the pistons and is actually a lot easier to do it this way. Wooden cocktail sticks were nearly the right shade of yellow. Covering up the exposed cocktail sticks can either be done by painting or even putting a piece of yellow insulating tape over it. I decided to go along with the latter having remembered the last time I put paint over the glue, it loosened it. What does come out of it is the Power Loader model kit looks more like the Aliens film version and that’s the important thing.


Well, that was the plan. Just a small matter of getting the cables off the back of the Power Loader. Nail varnish remover contains acetone which should dissolve acetate-based glues when dipped in a cotton bud and although it released most of them, 3 remained stubborn and I eventually had to cut them off. I wasn’t that surprised that I was going to lose little bits of tubing but who’s going to take a ruler to it to see how much was left. Even so, the three stubs left had to be delicately knifed before they came off. It was tempting to leave them there but not entirely sure how much space I would need for the cocktail sticks.

There was still a little matter of shaving the cocktails sticks flat and I decided the inner tubes would have to all go on first and then discovered, a pair on the upper arm had gone missing but found the cables and glued them back on. That happened a few more times. Verifying and resetting each cable pairs became part of the job and added to the time. Keeping track of the tubes this time was a lot easier because they didn’t keep coming off.

Each pair has to be glued into place at a time, mostly because they have to be held in position but it made putting them on a lot easier and would probably save time in the long run. Oddly, even in pairs, there is still a certain amount of time with each set of tubes, mostly because all the regluing had made a little bit of a mess and had to re-set a couple of the tubes. A couple wouldn’t settle so if you have an oblong piece of metal, on edge it can keep the pieces of cocktail sticks in place while they dry. Don’t rush this, a pair at a time and making sure they stay put actually pays off and cut the time doing this just to less than a week. A lot easier than it was doing it the other way.

A small metal oblong weight has its uses.

I did ponder why the original spike piece was so close together in the model and I think that was down to accessibility. Further apart and you would be behind the pistons/actuators. Please bear in mind, the instructions from over 30 years ago are really vague. They tell you want goes where but nothing about some of the problematic areas.

See the cocktail sticks.

So far, so good, as you can see from the photographs. Shame I can’t photograph the light working. Please note, the legs hip movements allows for the better position of the chassis and putting the arms higher in the best place. The flexibility of the gorilla glue has made things easier to position the arms higher and the blu-tac in Ripley’s hands has made sure they stay there, even if I had to replace the piece on her right hand as you look at it. Sometimes, repairs can actually improve things.

Too much yellow and camera flash but compare to the film photo and its close enough.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL with nail varnish remover to not get in your eyes and knife. I used to work with acetone at work and it was a lot quicker to let it dry than wash out of the eye if you got splashed. This was way before glasses protection was compulsory. However, with nail varnish you don’t really know what the other ingredients will do so wear glasses protection, so take care.

The arms are actually higher than the photograph depicts.

  Before you ask, the next step is to put it in a transparent box.

GF Willmetts

April-May 2021

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