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.
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.”
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.
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.”