Making The Aliens Prop Locators

Making The Aliens Prop Locators

This was another request, basically a cheap(ish) version of the locator tube and watches from Aliens. They can be fairly hard to get and although there are several nice versions (and some very cool close matches made from commercially available products), I was pretty sure I could make one at a good price that would do the job.


A screencapture montage of the film-used props.

The actual props.

I don’t actually know what the tube really was, it may have been machined for the film, it’s essentially just a simple cylinder with a button and a red LCD unit. The watch was originally a Seiko Pulsemeter, with some minor conversions.


It starts with a model!

Fb images Aliens Locatior 2015 WIPI started with the tube, since it’s a nice easy shape. I found a few reference pictures but there’s not that many around other than the few screenshots that are actually in the film. I little poetic licence went into the top section, but the rest is as close as possible.

After I’d done the basics of the tube I started on the watch itself. For some reason I found two different versions in the screenshots, though I’m not sure if this is a continuity error or whether there really are two versions. At the start of the film when Hicks is suiting up we see what is clearly a virtually unmodified Pulsemeter (black buttons and webbing strap, full open face). Later when he gives the (a) watch to Ripley it’s still a Pulsemeter, but now it’s got a shroud covering most of the face, leaving just a thin strip of the LCD panel exposed.

I decided to make both versions since they are virtually the same anyway.



The two halves that create the depth for the buttons and the little slot for the webbing to go through

Printing issues, of course 🙁

Because of the nature of FDM printing, overhangs are not good. I didn’t want the buttons to end flush with the base. I also wanted to actually have the strap feed through the watch in a continuous strip, not be stuck to the bottom or cut in half and clued or pinned to each side. Since I couldn’t use an overhang (without a lot of tiresome support-removing later), I decided to solve both problems by slicing the bottom off the watch and using it to create a little bracket that forms the bottom of the watch and a nice little groove for the webbing strap to sit in.

Problems averted. The tests printed nicely and with a few minor tweaks it was on to the real ones.

ABS is the future

I’ve been using PLA for a long time now. Recently (I’ll detail this in another blog), I’ve started using ABS because it gives a better quality finish and you can use more sophisticated finishing methods. Problem is it’s a super-bitch to get to print right in the first place.

The good thing is that’s sorted, and the first watches printed out really nicely.

Faces, Straps & Finishing

The face graphics for the watches and the LCD style display on the tube were pretty simple (benefits of being a graphic designer again). I found a nice quality olive green webbing and velcro for the strapping and it was just a case of putting it all together.

For people who place orders I like to add in a little bit extra. This time I made an assembly leaflet in the style of a Weyland Yutani info-leaflet.

The Finished Locators: