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FIRST LOOK: Discovery Phaser Rifle Prop Replica

FIRST LOOK: Discovery Phaser Rifle Prop Replica

For many of us, Star Trek is our home, someplace we enjoy spending our time. Star Trek: Discovery is like a brand-new house, and a very modern one at that. Moving into a new house can be exciting with new spaces and a whole new architecture and ascetic to explore. But any new dwelling needs a touch of the familiar, just enough to remind us that we’re home. Discovery strikes a perfect balance between the classic and new with its props.

Take the Phaser Rifle from Discovery and you’ll see precisely what I’m talking about. It’s a fully modern piece of design, but takes its inspiration from Captain Kirk’s original rifle. The shape of the prop, its dimensions and especially its Tri-Barrel body are straight from 1965 (2265?), but translates that into something our modern sensibilities can believe today. It’s no easy task riding the line between the past and future, and that’s the job of Discovery prop master Mario Moreira.

Mario and his team are tasked with creating the objects depicted in the future seen in Discovery while remaining ever cognizant of the fact that their show sits within a slice of time between “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and so can pull from both eras to create something new. The Phaser Rifle echoes this very well by using the three-point emitter from Captain Pike’s Laser Pistol and marrying it to Captain Kirk’s Phaser Rifle so that we get something fresh and cool.

Even color can add a lot to the feel of pieces like this, and when we recently talked to Mario about the Discovery Rifle, additional touches were deliberately mirrored into the final prop: “The orange foil was a last-minute addition to ours. When we received the mock-up I realized it was too distant from the TOS version, so we took apart the cowling, and painted it to match the foil. In the end it was a subtle addition that helped tie in the design.”

Something just that subtle can make or break a good prop, and that’s always on our mind when creating our replicas.

Replicating props, we start with the 3D files that the originals were created from. We also work closely with people like Mario who created them to begin with, to ensure that we capture every nuance of the original piece. Then we do what we can to bring what started out life as a prop for a show into the real world. That task falls to people like John Eblan at KorbenFX, who take all the information anyone could want about a particular piece to recreate one from the ground up.

In this case, all that work ensured that our replica Phaser Rifle can function just as the screen-used prop did on the show: with a retractable butt-stock that locks, light-up setting selector, light-up emitters (which change color based on how the emitter nozzle is turned), functional tactical lights, and then amazingly improve upon that by adding enhanced features such as incorporating a functional OLED screen for the targeting scope that features an interactive playback element as a Heads-Up Display (H.U.D.).

Finally, having ensured that each replica looks and feels “right,” it is packaged with a Certificate of Authenticity, a display stand inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge (yet another touch of the familiar), as well as the Phaser Rifle itself. And the reason to go to such lengths to get what amounts to a make-believe artifact feel so real? So, we can bring a piece of the future into our homes… now.