Star Wars-Inspired Cosplay Prop Uses Old Vintage Camera

Lots of people make replica lightsabers from Star Wars or tricorders from Star Trek. Not so many people have tried to recreate the binoculars from The Last Jedi, but [The Smugglers Room] whipped up a pretty rad pair from old parts.

It’s more of an inspired build rather than screen-accurate, but they’re still pretty neat. A Bell & Howell camera was the basis for the binoculars used in the film, in fact, and this build starts with the same tri-lens model. Found vintage objects are often used in sci-fi with some modifications, but more commonly in lower-budget productions. Star Wars can do it too, though, it seems.

Turning them into binoculars requires the construction of a viewfinder, which was made out of hand-cut Sintra PVC foam board. Lots of leather wrap had to be removed from the camera, too, which offered a happy accident—it left a heavily-weathered aluminum surface that looked great for a Star Wars prop. A few random controls were then added to disguise the camera as an advanced pair of futuristic binoculars. LED lighting was also installed internally to make the build glow as if it actually contained some powered sci-fi optics. It also got a hand-made leather strap for that rugged aesthetic so fitting for the film.

It’s not a functional build; we’d love to see someone build a set of AR or rangefinder binoculars that still look the part. However, this would be a great addition to any Poe Dameron costume you might have planned for the next upcoming Comic Con.

Here’s our question, though. Does it suck you out of your suspension of disbelief when filmmakers use found objects as the basis for props? Or is it a neat thing when you spot such an example? Video after the break.

9 thoughts on “Star Wars-Inspired Cosplay Prop Uses Old Vintage Camera

  1. Star Wars prop design is *entirely* found objects from around the time of the original production.

    See also: Luke’s lightsaber is a Graflex flash handle, ig88’s head is a flame tube from a jet, quigon’s comlink is a Venus razor handle, and a ‘kitono’ container for bribing Mandolorians with beskar steel are Tupperware ice cream churns.

  2. “Here’s our question, though. Does it suck you out of your suspension of disbelief when filmmakers use found objects as the basis for props? Or is it a neat thing when you spot such an example?”

    It’s a little bit of both for me. If it’s done well, I don’t realize it on the first viewing, but subsequent viewings I’m thrilled to see some obscure real-world object that I recognize. A good side effect of when it’s done well is that it makes the fantasy world look “lived-in”, which was always part of the draw of the original Star Wars movies for me growing up. It just looked so dirty and dingy and real.

    On the contrary, when it is poorly executed it can just take me right out of the story and ruins the moment. One glaring example of this is Steve Urkel’s transfiguration machine from “Family Matters”, the one that turned him into his cool alter-ego “Stefan Urquelle”. It was literally a tanning booth like you’d see in a tanning salon or gym, and all they did was take off the logos (and hopefully changed the lamps out for standard fluorescent lamps to avoid UV overexposure). I get that that show was a comedy and not meant to be serious, but it was jarring all the same.

    1. For some inexplicable reason, Dr. Huer on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century had the same model autoclave in his office that I had in my lab at the time. Of course, Rudy had an Altair 8800 in a rack in the $6 million dollar man but it was probably _supposed_ to be an Altair 8800. Then all the Tektronix gear on Battlestar Gallactica.

    2. In Star trek Voyager they used Vision Engineering Mantis inspection microscopes in their lab. I managed to acquire several defunct ones out of our dumpster at work (including an intact one I want to restore, given I have lots of spare parts!)

      I also noted Trip using a Laser Thermometer to align a warp core….

  3. I think that kind of prop-building is rather good, aesthetically speaking. It also adds another layer of easter-eggs to a movie. For example, I was pleasantly surprised when I watched the first Hunger Games movie and found that Cold Steel (the knife/sword/machete manufacturer) would still be in business in that particular dystopian future ;)

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