Present-Day Devices as Props
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.

Matthew's Christmas Present in "Generations"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Space Marines EVAC fighter

(source unknown)

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.

Ferengi pistol in three episodes

(screen capture by Jörg)

Invid Shock Trooper becomes a Ferengi phaser

(The Art of Star Trek / source unknown)

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".

Comm console in TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint"

(screen capture by Jörg)  

Door control in VOY: "Time and Again"

(screen capture by Jörg)  

Tandy Astro Thunder

(Electronic Handheld Museum)

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

Scanner in ENT: "Vox Sola"

(screen capture by Jörg)  

Excalibur Space Invaders

(source unknown)

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.

Vulcan bomb in ENT: "The Forge"

(screen capture by Jörg)  

Medical Scanner in ENT: "Terra Prime"

(screen capture by Jörg)  

Hasbro Music Activated Game System

(Consolas Portatiles)

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.

Game pyramid in TNG: "Ethics" and "Ensign Ro"

(screen capture by Jörg) 

Bandai game pyramid, 1984

(image from


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.

Enterprise shipboard circuitry

(screen capture by Jörg)

Other Starfleet circuitry

(screen capture by Jörg)

Android technology

(screen capture by Jörg)

Revised Norman in TOS-R: "I, Mudd"

(screen capture by

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.

Wall panel with scribble in "Star Trek VI"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Behind the panel in "Star Trek VI"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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.

Pakled switchboard in TNG: "Samaritan Snare"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Pakled radio beacon in TNG: "Samaritan Snare"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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.

Alexander and his floppy disk drives

(screen capture by Jörg)

Borg floppy disk drives in TNG: "Q Who"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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. ;-)

Stasis container in DS9: "Children of Time"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Hitachi bread machine

(source unknown)

Tilt your head In TNG: "Peak Performance" we can see an access panel made of a 20th century QWERTY keyboard that is mounted upright.

Keyboard in TNG: "Peak Performance"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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?

Vulcan scanner in ENT: "Stigma"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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).

Dyson Airblade in "Star Trek (2009)"

(screen capture by Ariane)


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.

Dermal regenerator in VOY: "Revulsion"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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

Knife in DS9: "Homefront"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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).

Phaser locker in DS9: "Hard Time"

(screen capture by Jörg)

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".

EPS regulator in DS9: "In the Cards"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Some containers, and the origin of the prop

(screen capture by Jörg)

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.

Self-replicating composter in DS9: "Call to Arms"

(screen capture by Jörg)

Containers in four episodes

(screen capture by Jörg)

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.

Test cylinder in TNG: "The Ensigns of Command"

(screen capture by TrekCore)

U.S. Navy sonobuoys

(photo by Wikimedia Commons)


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



The Dyson Airblade was discovered by Marçal, the sonobuoy by Josh Wilder. Thanks to satre and Lee for their contributions!


Back to Investigations index

View as gallery