Behind the Scenes: Creating the TOS Phaser Universal Remote

Behind the Scenes: Creating the TOS Phaser Universal Remote

Fans were -- yeah, we're going to boldy go there -- stunned when ThinkGeek introduced the Star Trek: The Original Series Phaser Universal Remote, produced by The Wand Company, at Comic-Con 2014 in San Diego. The Phaser -- which was previewed at Comic-Con and is available now in the Star Trek Shop -- was created from meticulous 3D scans of the last-known TOS hero prop and is a fully functional, gesture-based universal remote control that can be used to control many home entertainment systems and other IR-controlled devices. The 1:1-scale Phaser is equipped with 10 authentic phaser firing sounds, a customizable personal lock code, tactile force-feedback, and it can store up to 36 remote commands. Today, takes a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the TOS Phaers Universal Remote.

From the first time Chris Barnardo, co-director of the Wand Company, heard that haunting theme tune and the legendary words: “These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise…,” he was hooked. Chris was born in 1962, so at the age of four he was too young to watch Star Trek the first time round, but caught up in the 1970s with reruns and was a confirmed fan when the Next Generation beamed on to the screen. By the time Captain Janeway got trapped in the Delta Quadrant, Chris was such a follower that when he discovered that the show’s producers were accepting unsolicited submissions, he wrote and sent off a full length script for Star Trek: Voyager. Although his dreams of working with the Star Trek production team were dashed when the script was rejected, he still hoped that one day he would find a way to be involved with Star Trek.

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Chris couldn’t believe his luck and did everything he could to persuade Richard that they should tackle this exciting project. Richard agreed, but as they began to research the Phaser to see what reference was available, they realized that creating a definitive replica of this iconic piece was not going to be easy. For a start, the original hero prop was, by film prop standards, a complex piece of equipment. Despite being small, the prop had functional electronics and a number of internal mechanisms that made the various knobs and dials appear to work. Added to that, the original came in three parts, and it was clear that any decent Wand Company replica would have to do the same.

Over the years, a number of toys and replicas had been produced by different manufacturers, but accurate dimensional reference of the original screen-used hero prop on which they were all based was shockingly scant. A determined and vociferous body of dedicated fans and scratch-build model makers populated the online forums with all kinds of hotly debated information about the original prop and its various dimensions. Arguments raged about which of the toys and prop replicas had got certain details right and importantly, where they had got things wrong. Thus the merits and failings of the previously manufactured prop replicas were passionately discussed at length.

Immersing themselves into this world of obsession and desire was exciting, but Chris and Richard understood that if they were going to be successful, they had to do their research very carefully and nothing short of seeing the original prop for themselves was going to be a good enough basis for making a product for this highly critical and extremely knowledgeable market.

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Chris and Richard found Greg to be both a charming and humble man. He turned up at the studio perfectly on time with the priceless Phaser hero prop just wrapped in tissue in a cardboard box under his arm. The unboxing captivated everyone in the studio as the staff crowded round to catch a glimpse of the legendary relic that was the forefather of all the high-tech weaponry the studio was more accustomed to creating for the 21st century science fiction century films that were their stock and trade.

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Click HERE to purchase Star Trek: The Original Series Phaser Universal Remote.

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