Present-Day Devices as Props

by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

Toys and Game Consoles - Other Electronic Devices - Other Stuff


Every Star Trek production requires a large number of props to act as technical devices of Starfleet or of aliens. There are custom prop designs for standard phasers, tricorders or communicators. But in most cases there is a need for additional props that either serve a specific purpose in the story or are used as generic futuristic decoration. Several of the props that could be seen are actually slightly modified devices of the 20th/21st century. In particular, game consoles have been used repeatedly for handheld scanners.


Toys and Game Consoles

Space Marines Evac Fighter

In Picard's Nexus vision, Matthew's Christmas gift is actually a Space Marines EVAC Fighter from the "Aliens" action figure line by Kenner (1992). It features firing "Alienator missiles" and a transparent "Alien capture pod" at its aft end. Nothing has been done to disguise the toy's true origin or to make it look like a Trek vessel.

Robotech Invid Shock Trooper

The Robotech Invid Shock Trooper was turned into a Ferengi pistol in two DS9 episodes and even in ENT: "Acquisition" (though we should expect their technology to progress in 220 years). One shoulder cannon of the toy was made into the barrel, a leg became the handle of the Trek weapon.

Remco crossbow and arrow set

The weapon that appeared in many Star Trek episodes and most notably as the Jem'Hadar rifle was originally a Remco crossbow toy, produced in apparently several different colors around 1990. The first version of the weapon in Star Trek (as a Hunter weapon in DS9: "Captive Pursuit") still had the bow part in the form of two spikes on the barrel. This part was largely removed on later versions of the weapon.

Tandy Astro Thunder

The game console Astro Thunder from Tandy (1986) appears as a comm console in TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint". The same prop appears once again several years later, this time as a door control console on the "Polaric Power Planet" in VOY: "Time and Again".

Excalibur Space Invaders

We can see an Excalibur Space Invaders console as a scanner in ENT: "Vox Sola".

Hasbro MAGS

The Hasbro Music Activated Game System (MAGS) appears in two episodes: as the Vulcan bomb in ENT: "The Forge" and as a medical scanner in ENT: "Terra Prime", both times with additional LEDs.

Bandai game pyramid

A 380-year-old game pyramid manufactured by Bandai frequently shows up in Ten Forward, like in "The Outrageous Okona" and "Ensign Ro". In TNG: "Ethics" we can see how Alexander Rozhenko plays with it, insinuating that in his time the pyramid still serves the same purpose as in the 20th century.


Other Electronic Devices

Weirdly wired

23rd century electronic (or rather duotronic) circuits in TOS often look quite familiar because they consist of printed circuit boards or test boards along with discrete components like transistors, resistors or capacitors as they existed in the late 1960s.

For the remastered version TOS-R: "I, Mudd" the effect of opening Norman's stomach lid as well as the circuitry were revised. 

Low-tech inside

In "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country" we can glimpse pencil markings on the inside of an access panel. Also, the technology inside looks like directly taken from late 20th century computers.

Ancient things that make us go

We know that the Pakled steal equipment from various civilizations and that they do not really know how to get everything working. Maybe it is the simplicity of the device that makes a switchboard or a radio beacon (EPIRB) from Earth's mid-20th century useful to them.

Vintage computer parts

As already mentioned, Alexander likes to play with a 380-year-old game pyramid. He seems to have an odd predilection for Earth's late 20th century, considering that in TNG: "A Fistful of Datas" we can see him with the front covers of 5.25-inch floppy drives. The Borg, however, are fans of this ancient technology as well.

Hot stasis container

Jörg said he'd be damned if the stasis container for Odo seen in DS9: "Children of Time" didn't begin its life as a bread machine. After a bit of Googling I could finally confirm that. I only hope that they didn't heat it up while Odo was inside. ;-)

Tilt your head

In TNG: "Peak Performance" we can seean access panel made of a 20th century QWERTY keyboard that is mounted upright.

Sturdy scanner

In ENT: "Stigma" we can see a Vulcan scanner prop which really is a present-day (flatbed) scanner. Someone said they are very advanced?

250 year-old hand dryer

In the sickbay of the alternate universe Enterprise we can see hand dryers of the real-world type Airblade by Dyson (which by the 23rd century may not be so annoyingly noisy any more).


Other Stuff

Sharp healer

The dermal regenerator in VOY: "Revulsion" must be handled with special care, otherwise it could accomplish just the opposite of a healing effect. The prop is almost definitely a twin-bladed asparagus peeler.

Truly stainless knife

Joseph Sisko's knife from DS9: "Homefront" is actually from a late 20th century "Cooks Club" knife set.

Not-so-safe locker

The phaser locker in DS9: "Hard Time" tries hard to conceal its banal origin in the 20th century, as "Action Packer" box by Rubbermaid (look at the reversed letters in the lid).

Not for perishable cargo

The EPS regulators on DS9 appear in more than ten other episodes, most often as freight containers. It is actually a composter named "Bio Orb".

The self-replicating mine from DS9: "A Call to Arms" shows up in at least six more episodes, each time as cargo containers. This prop too is actually a composter.

Sound in space?

The felicium containers in "Symbiosis" and transporter test cylinders in TNG: "The Ensigns of Command" and some more episodes are actually the casings of sonobuoys used by the U.S. Navy.


See Also

Prop and Set Oddities - inconsistent and otherwise unfitting props and sets

Visual Bloopers - funny mishaps and editing mistakes

Visual In-Jokes - deliberate in-jokes on displays and props



Some screen caps from TrekCore and The Dyson Airblade was discovered by Marçal, the sonobuoy by Josh Wilder, the crossbow by Nathan Prosper. Thanks to satre and Lee for their contributions!


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