Three Epic Hollywood Props, Remixed

Taking DIY to the movies

When a new movie hits theaters, most people grab popcorn. Instead, these DIYers grabbed their toolboxes. Inspired by this year’s biggest action films, they built real-life versions of three outrageous props.

Flaming Ukulele

Flaming Ukelele
Flaming UkeleleIllustration by Brown Bird Design

In Mad Max: Fury Road, the Doof Warrior plays heavy metal on a flamethrowing double-neck guitar. After watching the movie, Caleb Kraft decided to build his own "adorably dangerous" version of the instrument: a flamethrowing ukulele. Kraft used a modified caulking gun to squeeze butane into a hose and added an igniter switch. With zip ties, he attached the whole apparatus to the back of a ukulele, creating a cute, strummable instrument of destruction. "Movies and videogames are such easy inspiration," Kraft says. "They are the manifestations of what we think would be awesome to exist."

BB-8 Droid

When industrial designer Christian Poulsen saw a BB-8 droid roll onto the stage at an event for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he was struck by the simplicity of the design: a large sphere with a dome on top. "When I saw that," Poulsen says, "I thought, 'How hard could it be to make my own?'" An app-controlled toy ball called Sphero would make the perfect base, he realized. First he sawed it open to insert a magnet. Then he carved a head out of foam and embedded a magnet in that too. The magnets hold the head to the body as the toy rolls around, leaning slightly off-kilter.

Hulkbuster Suit

Hulkbuster Suit
Hulkbuster SuitCourtesy Brown Bird Design

In 2014, toy designer James Bruton created a replica Iron Man suit that garnered millions of YouTube views. "I thought that if I ever went to a convention, I should have something super-cool to wear," Bruton says. "So I built something that I wanted to own." Now, he's using his YouTube channel to document his work on the superhero's bulkier "Hulkbuster" suit, which appears in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Bruton's suit has a plywood frame covered with red foam plates. Bungee cords, snowboard bindings, and 3D-printed parts serve as movable joints. Bruton also outfitted the suit with pop-up shoulder cannons and a glowing chest plate.

This article originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "Epic Hollywood Props, Remixed."