Last week, the senior editor/manager of the online magazine Hack a Day, Caleb Kraft, cobbled together a spot-on replica of Thor’s thunderous hammer Mjölnir, fitted with an internal Tesla coil—custom built by expert Staci Elaan—that gives off 80,000 volts of electricity and can, apparently, be wielded by anyone regardless of moral fiber. While it isn’t enough to merit a shred of recognition from the dwarven smiths of Svartálfaheimr (sorry, but they’re crotchety like that), Kraft’s shocking prop leaves us wishing that we weren’t so lethally ham-handed when it comes to operating power tools. But let’s not dwell on our hammer-crafting ineptitude and instead take a gander at five of the greatest geeky DIY props we've ever seen!
1) Legend of Zelda Treasure Chest
We all have a small box squirreled away in the house somewhere containing our meager nest egg, though, more often than not, it’s about as empty as a promise from the devil. Realizing that you’re plum out of cash can be a real slap in the face, but with this Legend of Zelda treasure chest that plays the accompanying—and universally recognized—theme music, now anybody can add that whimsical thrill of discovery when staring blankly at their depleted monetary savings. The box’s creator, Zachariah Cruse, even has step-by-step instructions on how to craft one of your very own.
2) Assassin’s Creed Hidden Blade
The Hidden Blade from the Assassin’s Creed franchise is one of those rare weapons occupying that overlap of style and function, which explains why the ancestors of series protagonist Desmond Miles are always seen flaunting it when roaming the streets. Sadly, due to societal conventions and generally being frowned upon by law enforcement, such a weapon isn’t quite readily available to the average consumer. But as they say, when it can’t be bought, make it yourself—and that’s what the industrious nerds of Indy Mogul did, costing them under $60 to do so. Mind you, the paltry budget is assuming you didn’t forget to take it off when scratching your eye or giving someone a firm handshake.
Deadbeat dads build nothing, great dads build tree houses, and awesome dads that defy description build remote-controlled Daleks for their kids! Of which is rather peculiar as most children would be more keen on owning a club house than a malicious alien life form. Going by the everyday, but no less respectable, handle of Tim, the DIY—and thankfully de-weaponized—Dalek was built on the chassis of an electric wheelchair and features a squirt gun, authentic sound effects, and a voice changer that turns the typically warm, compassionate vocalizations of the human operator into the shrill nightmare that makes even the most diehard fans of Doctor Who flinch.
4) Iron Man Suit
The internet is replete with photos and videos of people donning Iron Man costumes of varying degrees of quality, ranging from the insanely dedicated to egregiously awful (we admit it, our duct tape and cardboard box monstrosity falls into that latter category), but oftentimes we hardly ever get to know more about the person and the drive behind their creating a cosplay masterpiece. 16 year old Jackson Laverman combined his passion for armor and technical skill to craft a pretty spiffy Iron Man getup in time for the release of the hero’s titular second movie. And throughout his experience, Jackson was able to overcome a desperate struggle against one of geek culture’s greatest adversaries: Procrastination.
5) Guy-Manuel Helmet
Involving a tiring 749-step process and clocking in at a little bit over a year to complete, this nearly identical and fully functional helmet based on the same one worn by Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel is the very definition of the expression “labor of love.” Out of all the props on this list, this one is, by far, the absolute jewel of the bunch and something we’d pay top dollar for... if its creator was taking commissions. Which he makes resoundingly clear in the video description since, yeah, devoting 365 days of manpower to a project does sound like the sort of thing you’d only want to do once.
Which DIY prop is your favorite?