Aliens Convention '93

Harry Harris began his involvement in Aliens in 1987. Since then he has built up a formidable collection, not only of memorabilia but of good friends with a similar interest.

by Harry Harris

The 18th of April saw a meeting of old friends and the making of new ones at the Alien Convention '93. Here he reports on what can only be described as a 'monster' day out.

Who would have believed, back in 1979 that 14 years on the impact of 20th Century Fox's 'Alien' would still be with us, helped along of course by the incredible 'Aliens' in 1986 and 'Alien 3'last year. November 1991 saw the appearance of a small ad. in a few S.F. and fantasy magazines for the British Aliens Fan Club. Growing steadily in membership since then the club has dropped its 'British' sub-heading, recently changed its quarterly magazine format to glossy cover A4 and with a membership of over 1,500 has just run its' first major event.

After a false start at the end of last year the convention found itself at the Queensway hall in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, having a large auditorium for talks & video showings, foyer area for dealer tables and, of course, a cafe and bar. With an attendance of over 600 it's as well such a large venue was chosen.

The day began with an introductory speech by our very nervous club president Simon Clarke, the curtains opened to reveal Simon at his lectern shadowed by the towering form of a full size, 14ft tall Queen Alien. Apologies were given on behalf of Brian Glover, Ian Holm and Charles Dance who couldn't attend but sent their wishes of good luck. Also unable to be present was Brian Johnson, post-production visual effects supervisor on Aliens, who had last minute commitments elsewhere.

Simon's greeting speech was received by whoops and whistles from an enthusiastic audience which set the standard for the feeling and atmosphere throughout the day; one of great camaraderie and friendship amongst fans, collectors and dealers.

Next up, an informative model-making and painting talk given by Barry Clark from Warp 9 models, followed by a short questions and answers session.

Following Barry's talk we were introduced to Nick Harrison of 'Bitch Productions' commissioned by 20th Century Fox to build the star of the show, the full scale Alien Queen for their LA. headquarters. Only five will be made: one for Fox, the one at the convention (to go under the hammer at Sotheby's later this year) and three more to be made available commercially. Nick gave some positive words regarding the large number of fans in attendance and gave great encouragement for next year's event. A big thank you must go to Nick and his crew for finishing and assembling the Queen in time (just!)

While those who stayed in the main hall were treated to a showing of 'Gigers Alien', a documentary on the making of the first movie, outside the foyer area was soon filled with folks gathering around dealer tables, seeking that rare garage kit or j other bargains with model kits & .comics selling alongside some more unusual items. Even miniature and full size Alien eggs and a gorgeous pair of Alien bookends!

Along with the fan club stall and dealer tables was 'The Dropship' Aliens fanzine with their convention special issue including a hilarious cartoon strip 'The convention zone', an alternative view of the day's events.

A few original costumes made an appearance, including a complete 'Hudson' costume (one of three made for actor Bill Paxton), Drake, Ferro and Spunkmeyer, Hicks, German and one of Sigourney Weavers leather jackets. From Alien 3 was a prisoner's T-shirt and a complete costume (believed to have been worn by Sigourney). Hopefully next year even more collectors will come out of the woodwork and display their props & costumes.

Two table-top role playing games made it to the convention, run by separate gaming organizations. Three games were each held during the day, all places taken. The general opinion was that play was action packed, fast & furious.

Back in the auditorium a talk was underway, given by Roman Guttinger from Switzerland. Roman is a close friend of H R Giger, designer of the original Alien and spoke mostly of how Giger is such a kind gentleman, and not the twisted madman his artwork may suggest! Roman then went on to answer questions on Giger and his involvement with the making of 'Alien'.

After lunch I was called upon to be included in the questions and answers panel along with Dark Horse UK Aliens Magazine features editor Dave Hughes, features writer Jim Campbell and Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, author of the Technical Readout' hardware section of the magazine. The hour long session concentrated mainly on the origins and biology of the Aliens, the derelict ship and space jockey and it was great to see so many people with different, equally valid, theories on such matters.

My personal highlight of the day was meeting Terry English, maker of the Marine armour suits from Aliens and commando helmets from Alien 3. Terry had with him a fine display of these items and made time to answer any questions and to give his autograph to those who asked.

He later took the stage for an amusing talk on his movie career, answering many questions relating to Excalibur, and in particular about his close encounter with a flying Alien head during the filming of some explosion sequences. And the not so near miss of a brick outbuilding with the APC on the Pinewood back lot!

The day was nearly at a close when a raffle was drawn and I'm happy to say that 100 was raised towards helping the South West Children's Hospice open their new ward.

A closing speech from Simon Clarke came at the end of a great day. Congratulations to Simon & Carol Clarke and all the Fan Club team for organizing such a fantastic event. Let's hope next year's convention is as successful.

This article originally appeared in Model Mart Magazine, June, 1993. This information has been shared here for your information & reading pleasure by the author, Harry Harris

Note: Details on how to order back issues are available at the Model Mart website, http://www.modelmart.co.uk/.