Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lot of work for so little pay

Inventoried stock and ordered the remainder for the next round of Stage Lights. Also reminded the purchaser I was barely covering expenses on them and soon I'd have to charge more.

Struggled some more with parts libraries in Eagle. The software has been through some changes recently and some of the more common suggestions found online no longer work. But I got it together and sent off an order for the first try at a board to OSHpark.

Inventoried my Aliens Grenade supplies, made up an order for new material, and sat down with a bunch of snapcaps and shotshells to check dimensions. Watching snippets of the movie again. I am increasingly of two minds about my design.

There's almost a fanon when you get to stuff like this; how it may have actually looked in the movie, and how prop-makers are tending to make them look these days. Aliens has a bit of that; the original Pulse Rifles were painted brown, but they read olive drab under the lighting of the movie. So which is more accurate? The actual color of the prop, or the color the prop appeared in the movie?

In the case of the grenades, there are sadly few high-resolution images, and few documented screen-used with decent images available. So one could make in a sense two different arguments; one for what the prop-makers probably provided, and what is therefor most accurate to a world in which a film was made about a bunch of space marines. And one for what is just at the verge of visibility, possibly hidden in blur and lighting effects; the world in which Weyland-Utani managed to get a bunch of them killed on a remote colony world.

In re the outer world, I have more than strong suspicions that the grooves were made with a thread-cutting tool, and are probably v-shaped. The spring-loaded trigger, of which there were unlikely more than one or two to begin with, was top-loaded. The nose is a simple chamfer and there is no "nose ring." And the cap was off-white, painted in various colors (seemingly red, dark blue, a rather washed-out green, and perhaps one or two in yellow), with a strip of teflon plumbing tape or a hand-painted white line. Oh, yes; and I have reason to believe there was a fairly large cut-out in the bottom, with the primer sticking out like a very short lamp post.

In the inner, diagetic world, these have more distinction in their markings. My head canon is that originally the caps were shaped differently to reflect the various loads, and as well some of the bodies are distinctive. Manuals and other materials were released on the basis of those models, but in the usual business of military contract bidding they ended up sharing molds and the items issued at the time of the film had lost some of those distinctions. And furthermore, GI's of any generation are playful, and once they found out the protective caps were interchangeable, would start putting them on randomly in whatever suited their own color/fashion sense.

And at some nearly orthogonal angle to either of these directions of approach, are the prop-maker's aesthetics. The major reason to keep those in mind is because one cosplayer may have props from more than one supplier. And more than one cosplayer may appear in the same picture. So if everyone is making their M51A's a bright baby blue, it makes a certain sense to follow suit.

The major elements found in fan-made grenades are however varied. Some have the tree-stump firing pins, others look more shotgun-like. Some have chamfered noses, some have rounded noses. However, almost all have squared-off grooves.

Which leaves me basically floundering between two untenables; follow the best guess of the best information and end up with a result that doesn't meet expectation: or do what fulfills my personal aesthetic judgment and is somewhat defensible both diagetically and historically -- but only somewhat, as the design combines elements I can not be sure of with elements I am reasonably certain are wrong.

Oh, yes. And I also got another reweld mentioned at me. A ZB-30, which from a brief look appears insane.

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