Todd L Ross
There are many defining aspects of the James Bond film series, from the music, to the witty dialogue, to the incredible gadgets. Ranging from iconic to absurd, here’s some of the more memorable pieces of technology that 007 came in contact with.
Walther PPK (Dr. No).
It’d be difficult to talk about gadgets in the James Bond movies without mentioning his iconic firearm. Introduced by his superiors, the Walther PPK became Bond’s weapon of choice for most of the series, replacing the Beretta he was using for ten years prior to the first film.
Dagger Shoes (From Russia With Love).
Used by Rosa Klebb disguised as a hotel maid, the dagger shoes are extremely memorable despite their poor performance in the movie. The simple concept of a weapon concealed in an everyday item had a strong influence on the spy film genre to come, including later gadgets used by Bond.
Fake Bird Wetsuit (Goldfinger).
This practical wetsuit used by Bond in the opening of Goldfinger has been the butt of many jokes, with 007 himself casting it to the side with sharp disapproval. Despite the silliness, the influence can be felt as later entries in the series had similar outrageous disguises, such as the crocodile submersible in 1983’s Octopussy.
Oddjob’s Hat (Goldfinger).
This steel-rimmed hat worn by villainous henchman Oddjob was shown to have the ability of decapitating a stone statue, making it exceptionally deadly in his capable hands. Of all the iconic weapons and gadgets from throughout Bond’s history, this ranks among the coolest.
Aston Martin DB5 (Goldfinger).
Featured in many Bond films since, the Aston Martin DB5 was first introduced in Goldfinger, becoming the car associated with 007. Riddled with incredible gadgets, such as a smoke screen, ejector seat, oil dispenser, and machine guns, this tricked-out sports car has nearly become synonymous with the British secret agent. In 2018, Aston Martin announced the production of 25 special “Goldfinger DB5”s with gadgets from the film. Of course, this collector’s vehicle is not road legal.
Bell Rocket Belt (Thunderball).
Originally designed for the US Army by Bell Aerosystems, this jet pack was ultimately scrapped for practical use in the real world, but found its place in the opening of 1965’s Thunderball as 007 made his escape from Jacques Bouvar’s henchmen.
Cigarette Gun (You Only Live Twice).
Although this is a completely ridiculous concept, the way Bond uses this deadly cigarette while in the company of archnemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld is what makes it so cool. Asking only “May I have a smoke?”, 007 lights this cigarette and shoots one of Blofeld’s men in the heart from across the room.
Radioactive Lint (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
Definitely among the silliest of the Bond gadgets, radioactive lint still proves to be quite clever, because who would ever suspect that their pocket lint was actually transmitting their location?
Fake fingerprint (Diamonds Are Forever).
Simple, yet effective, the fake fingerprint used in Sean Connery’s return to the Bond franchise proved useful in his disguise as professional diamond smuggler Peter Franks.
C02 Pellet (Live and Let Die).
Although not extraordinary in concept, the C02 pellet used in Roger Moore’s first outing as 007 is memorable for its application. After the pellet is forced down Dr. Kananga’s throat by Bond, the villain inflates and rises to the ceiling before bursting in one of the most unintentionally hilarious moments in movie history.
Golden Gun (The Man with the Golden Gun).
Easily the most recognizable gun from the franchise besides Bond’s Walther PPK, the Golden Gun used by Francisco Scaramanga is easily concealable. Its components can be taken apart and disguised as ordinary objects made of gold, such as the Fountain Pen barrel, and the Cigarette Case handle.
Prosthetic nipple (The Man with the Golden Gun).
Used by Bond to impersonate villain Scaramanga, this one was too weird to not include. In real life, a gene linked to the cause of extra nipples in animals is named the “Scaramanga gene” in reference to the character.
Ski Pole Rifle (The Spy Who Loved Me).
The opening of The Spy Who Loved Me is beloved by fans of the series, with 007 narrowly escaping capture during a downhill ski chase that ends with an anxiety-inducing shot the secret agent falling very far before ultimately opening his British flag parachute in glory. The .30 caliber rifle hidden in Bond’s ski pole helps him take out one of his Soviet pursuers, making it a safety tool of skiers and spies alike.
Guillotine tea tray (The Spy Who Loved Me).
Although this wasn’t used by Bond himself, this tea tray capable of decapitation shown off by Q-branch is just plain absurd. We just wish that it would have gotten some use in the field for extra laughs!
Yo-yo Saw (Octopussy).
This dangerous take on the popular toy is hard to forget, being used by an unnamed assassin to murder 007’s Indian contant, Vijay. Thankfully, Bond was able to overpower the killer and turn his unique weapon against him.
Ghetto blaster (The Living Daylights).
Developed by Q for the CIA, the Ghetto blaster unfortunately never got to be used by Bond, but was too fun of an idea not to be included here. Hopefully Felix got some good use out of it across the pond!
Cigarette and Toothpaste Bomb (License to Kill).
This two-part device is well-conceived, with plastic explosives disguised as Dentonite toothpaste, and an electronic receiver hidden in a pack of cigarettes, allowing for remote detonation.
Cigarette Lighter (License to Kill).
Bond’s American counterpart and good friend Felix Leiter gave this gadget to Bond as a gift for being the best man at his wedding. Used in the climax of the film to set villain Franz Sanchez ablaze, this lighter sports an impressive flame, perfectly bringing revenge upon Sanchez for what he did to 007’s close friend.
Ballpoint pen grenade (Goldeneye).
This class four grenade contained in a simple ballpoint pen was just elegant. Its use in the story was clever as well, with villainous programmer Boris Grishenko nervously clicking the pen without realizing he had armed a dangerous explosive. Thankfully, 007 was able to knock the triggered device out of his hand, providing the perfect distraction to make his escape.
Ericsson mobile Phone (Tomorrow Never Dies).
This product placement seems to be able to do it all, from remotely driving Bond’s BMW to scanning fingerprints. It’s even equipped with a 20,000 volt taser! If only the real-life version of the phone came with as many features.
Bagpipe Weapon (The World is Not Enough).
Although only shown being tested by Q-branch, this weapon just sticks with us for its ridiculous design. Plus, we just love the theatrics of having the tester dressed in traditional piper garb while playing the instrument, before showing off its destructive power.
Invisible car (Die Another Day).
Commonly considered the Bond film that “jumped the shark”, Die Another Day is loaded with gadgets that are a little too extreme, even for 007. The most memorable of these is of course the Aston Martin Vanquish V12, which had an adaptive camouflage device, making the car invisible to the naked eye. No wonder audiences stopped taking these movies seriously!
Car defibrillator (Casino Royale).
The Daniel Craig-era of Bond films have focused much less on gadgetry than in previous incarnations, instead going for a more realistic take on modern-day espionage. That makes the use of the car defibrillator that much more thrilling, as 007 allows his heart to stop to combat lethal poison before Vesper Lynd is able to shock him back to life. This seems like an honestly great idea to include in future vehicles.
Walther PPK/S (Skyfall).
This simple variation on Bond’s iconic pistol was coded to the secret agent’s palm print, making him the only person on Earth capable of firing it. However, the gun is never actually fired in the film, with one of Raoul Silva’s henchmen attempting to use it against 007 before being attacked by a Komodo dragon. It was a clever subversion of expectations, as the film led the audience to believe the gun would most certainly be used based on its introduction by the new Q.
With Bond 25 currently in production, we’re definitely excited to see what hot new pieces of technology 007 will use, especially in the modern age of Daniel Craig’s take on the spy. However, we definitely miss the days of the ridiculous and over-the-top ambition of Q Branch. From Desmond Llewelyn, to John Cleese, and now Ben Whishaw, Q has always provided Bond with the perfect gizmos for his globe-trotting missions. There are a lot of unique tools in the British secret agent’s history, and we’re sure to have missed a few. What are your favorite gadgets from the James Bond series?