Ah, Bond, James Bond. No superstar has had more gadgets, guns, and glamor. And Bond has a litany of gadgets to use, a fixture of the series that Ian Fleming spun out of his own experience as an espionage agent. It must be said though, that it was Hollywood that created the Bond gadget; often Bond has in the ’60s items that are pretty much impossible to make even with fifty years of technology, forget miniaturize into a watch. And in fact there are some real-life Bond gadgets out there, from the North Korean flashlight gun to the spy rock. Yes, the British have a spy rock, but not, apparently, a car with a rocket booster.
Still, in recent years, gadgets have become more widely available in the Bond universe. In fact, the women Bond seduces have had a few fairly impressive gadgets of their own. Here are a few of our favorite examples.
5. Jinx’s Throwing Knives
Marking one of the few (relatively) practical Bond gadgets out there, these throwing knives may not necessarily be the most effective combat tool in real life. In fact, despite what the movies tell you, throwing knives are actually very difficult to use as a ranged weapon; it takes a lot of training and experience to just get a knife thrown properly, and they rarely have the mass and velocity to truly make them a stopping weapon. It takes a master of thrown weaponry to make a throwing knife genuinely dangerous.
Of course, if, like NSA operative Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, you actually are a master of thrown weaponry, well, then you can get the point across:
As you can see, you have a bit of a deadly weapon on your hands. Of course, that’s to be expected from a custom-designed throwing blade. What about a weapon where James has to improvise?
4. Kara Milovy’s Cello
OK, so it’s not really a “gadget” in the tradition Bond sense, and The Living Daylights was actually an attempt to get away from the cheesier parts of the franchise; you’ll notice that instead of having a bunch of over-the-top tools, the silent Necros just kills a milkman with his Walkman, even if he does follow that up with a bunch of milk-bottle shaped grenades. But the cello turns out to be a highly effectively tool as Bond tries to get Kara out of the country without getting shot by some extremely cross Russians. First it’s useful as a fake-out decoy on a Russian streetcar, and then, well, see for yourself:
The case makes a useful sled, the cello can steer, and even though it takes a bullet to the side, we later see that the cello essentially functions perfectly. Not even most of Bond’s cars can make that claim, and they probably cost a lot more and had dozens of engineers work on them.
3. Aki’s Toyota 2000GT
Aki is Bond’s first love interest in “You Only Live Twice” before she’s bumped off and replaced by Kissy Suzuki. Which is unfortunately for Aki, but at least she dodges the bullet Kissy got: The mores of the time would never allow what happens to Kissy in the novel. Namely, she gets knocked up by Bond, who promptly splits, leaving her with a kid.
Seriously. Ian Fleming was harsh. At least Kissy survives in both book and movie, one of the few Bond girls to do so. Aki, as we’ve noted, isn’t quite so lucky.
Anyway, Aki, being a highly trained ninja working for the Japanese secret service, has a pretty impressive array of weapons, but none more impressive than her Toyota 2000GT. The 2000GT put Japan on the map as a producer of sports cars: It’s widely considered the first Japanese sports cars.
Of course, Aki’s version comes with a few extra features…
Man, what we wouldn’t give for that functionality during rush hour.
2. Pussy Galore’s Cropduster
It’s not every woman who owns a set of planes specially engineered to cover several square miles with enough nerve gas to kill everything within range. But then again, not every woman is Pussy Galore.
Wait, that came out wrong.
Joking aside, and she is the least subtly named Bond girl short of the confusingly named Plenty O’Toole, Pussy Galore actually has built a pretty effective weapon. Although it is undone somewhat by wondering why Fort Knox didn’t have any sort of no-fly zone around it, she manages to achieve what militaries the world over can only dream of; incapacitating thousands of opponents in a few minutes.
Of course, this isn’t a realistic reflection of what nerve gas can actually do; this being the 1960s, nerve gas was really a choking, blood-vomiting, horrible affair. There’s a reason nerve agents are banned under the Geneva conventions: That stuff is nasty.
1. Wai-Lin’s Wonderful Toys
“Tomorrow Never Dies” does have one of the most egregious research failures in Bond movie history, when in the gadget shop, Bond is confronted with a Chinese keyboard and looks baffled. Which is odd, since he’s studied Asian languages at Oxford, but really it’s just an excuse for him to play with his Chinese counterpart’s toys.
Wai-Lin is Bond’s Chinese double, and, in addition to having all the athleticism of being played by Michelle Yeoh, she’s also got a few hidden gadgets, like a dragon flamethrower, a spike tossing fan, and probably our personal favorite, the rickshaw with an ejector seat. We’re not really sure about the R&D process behind a rickshaw with an ejector seat…but we wish we had one. We’re not sure what we’d do with it, but really, when has practicality ever been a concern in a James Bond movie?
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.