With numerous series that have informed not only our pop culture but also who we are as people, Star Trek may be considered one of the most influential franchises of the 20th century - but it's never had a large budget.
The original series was filmed on a shoestring, so whenever a new piece of tech was needed, it was usually up to the Star Trek props department to make something out of nothing. That inventive nature continued into the 1980s and '90s with Star Trek TNG, as well as for the props and the equipment used on DS9. The crew behind Star Trek has always tried to keep costs low, and that means building props out of everything from children’s toys to household items. In many instances, the items used on the show have been rearranged, repainted, and altered to look like they fit in with life in the future, but a few props were just used wholesale without any changes.
Whether you’re interested in the ingenuity of the Star Trek production staff, or you're trying to make your own medical scanner for the next convention, we’ve got you covered.
The PADDs On 'TOS' Were Magic Slate Toys
The PADDs, or Personal Access Display Devices, used by various officers throughout the run of Star Trek have been made up of myriad materials - but in the original series they were as low-tech as could be.
Rather than a working digital interface, the pads in TOS were composed of a small board covered with a Magic Slate. The slate had a 12-volt light placed over the front to give it a futuristic look.
In 'Star Trek: Generations,' Matthew's Model Was An 'Aliens' Toy
When Captain Picard is absorbed into the rift during Star Trek: Generations, he wakes up in a French home full of children where it’s always Christmas day. His boy Matthew has a model that he’s super happy about, but rather than a fancy Victorian toy (like you might expect from the Picard family), it's actually a Space Marines EVAC Fighter from Kenner’s Aliens line.
Even a quick glance at the movie still will tell you it wasn't modified in any way.
A 'Robotech' Toy Became A Ferengi Weapon
To make the Ferengi pistol that Quark used in DS9, the prop masters used a Robotech Invid Shock Trooper as the basis for the device.
They basically took all of the best parts of the mech and repurposed them into the tool seen in “The Magnificent Ferengi.”
The Jem'Hadar Rifle Was A Toy Crossbow
When the Jem'Hadar show up on DS9, they are rarely seen without their space-age rifles. If you were familiar with Remco crossbows in the '90s, you probably recognized their weaponry as the brand’s crossbow toy.
As the series progressed, the devices were slightly refurbished to look less and less like the Remco toy.