Every year we host a Halloween Party and this year's theme was Sci-fi. For her costume, my girlfriend and I recreated one of the most memorable pieces from modern sci-fi...Ripley's powerloader from Aliens. It took 180 hours over the course of 10 weeks, stands over seven feet tall, and of course has moving legs, arms, and hands.
Every part of the costume is homemade, from basic materials, with the exception of the revolving beacon light on top and the automotive racing harness (both of these were purchased cheaply through online auctions). The rest is mostly pink foam insulation and thin wood paneling (Lauan).
The design was created from taking measurements from a small plastic model and scaling them up appropriately. The loader is actually about 80% actual size so it would fit our 5'1" Ripley and our 8' ceilings.
Once I had some dimensions, I sketched templates on paper which were then used for cutting the main lauan and foam pieces. Using templates ensured I'd get symmetric pieces for both legs and both arms. PVC pipe was used for the operator cage and foam pipe insulation was used for padding on the cage and (after being split in half) on the back and down the legs.
The legs bend easily at the knee and Velcro straps keep the them attached at the foot and thigh. The upper section with the arms is worn like a large backpack secured with the 4-point harness. The beacon light was modified to run on a 9 volt battery and an electroluminescent tape strip was added around part of the cage to illuminate the operator.
The original plan was for the grabbers to be motorized to open and close. Between time running a little short and concerns about the added weight of the motors I decided to leave them out. Still, the wrists rotate 360 degrees and the grabbers slide open and closed by hand.