Lifestyle | 1 February 2017Exploding Pens and Jet Packs: 007’s Gadgets Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Stepping out from twelve novels and two short story collections to grace the silver screen, the world’s favorite Secret Service agent has been played by a miscellany of actors, each offering his own take on Bond with little regard for continuity aside from 007’s core traits: world-saver, master of wit and womanizer. Every Bond, however, has had to go through Q’s workshop to be equipped for his next mission, and where we find Q, we find a menagerie of gadgets and weaponry the likes of which we have never seen. In Bond vs. Bond: The Many Faces of 007 by Paul Simpson, 007 fans are given a exhaustive guide to all things Bond: contextual information leading to the creation of 007, the character of James Bond as written by Ian Fleming, and profiles of each of the actors who have brought 007 into mainstream media. As a bonus, each chapter features a “sidebar” segment, with topics that include: the villains, the Bond girls, the music, the cars, the guns and the gadgets. One of our favorites? The sometimes comical (but always lethal) inventory of gadgets that have made 007’s missions possible. For many people, the tour around Q’s workshop is one of the highlights of the James Bond film series. In many of the movies between Goldfinger and Die Another Day, Bond arrives as Q is testing some weird gadget, and is shown all the items that he might (and, of course, usually will) need on his next mission. The scenes were often shot at the end of production to ensure that they foreshadowed events correctly. Desmond Llewelyn, then John Cleese, were our guides to this house of mechanical wonders. Quite a few of the gadgets were the sort of items you’d expect a secret agent to need—homing beacons, tracking devices, bug detectors—but there were many exceptional items provided by Q Branch, some of which did indeed exist in the real world, but that weren’t commonplace at the time. In From Russia with Love, Bond was given a briefcase containing a rifle and ammunition, gold sovereigns, a throwing knife, and tear-gas pellets which activated when the case was incorrectly opened. In addition to the many improvements to his car in Goldfinger, Bond was given another briefcase (which exploded), and at the start of the film he wears a wetsuit with a duck on top. Things started to get more extraordinary in Thunderball, in which Bond used a jet pack, as well as a superpowered scuba tank and a “rebreather” to allow him to stay mobile underwater for longer. By You Only Live Twice, he was even acquiring items from the Japanese Secret Service, such as a poison-dart firing cigarette. The front-wing machine gun within Bond’s aston martin, as used to devastating effect in Goldfinger. © Steve Bell/Rex/REX USA. Control panel for 007’s front-wing machine gun (above). © Jonathan Hordle/Rex/REX USA. “This time I’ve got the gadgets, Q,” George Lazenby’s Bond pointed out to Q on his wedding day, and OHMSS steps back from the over-reliance on Q’s equipment, with a safe-cracking gizmo the only item on display. Connery’s return for diamonds are Forever saw him use fake fingerprints, while Q invented a gadget to create jackpots on fruit machines; the original 007’s final foray, in Never say Never again, featured an exploding pen (which still needed work, according to 007, after it fired late). Roger Moore’s seven films took the gadgetry to extremes at times, although his tenure started off in Live and Let die with a nice gag about Bond’s magnetic Rolex wristwatch being great for removing Italian agents’ dresses, but less useful when he needed it to draw a boat toward him. A radio transmitter disguised as a hairbrush was rather more helpful. The Man with the Golden Gun’s main “gadget” was the gun the villainous Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) created from his lighter, cigarette case, fountain pen, and cuff link, which overshadowed Q’s best contribution, Bond’s fake nipple! The Spy Who Loved Me, however, marked the start of the gadgetry taking over: Bond’s watch included a miniature teleprinter; his ski poles fired explosive charges; his backpack contained a parachute (emblazoned, not particularly inconspicuously, with the Union Jack); his case and lighter combined to form a microfilm reader; and a razor-sharp tea tray was being prepared in Q’s lab. © AFP/Getty Images. Everything was pushed to the limit in Moonraker: Bond used a wrist-controlled dart gun (which he only wore at the times he somehow knew he’d need it!); his watch had explosives within it; the cigarette case now became a safe-cracking aide; but perhaps most ridiculously, his gondola could convert into a hovercraft, allowing the secret agent to drive around St. Mark’s Square in Venice. When the CIA’s Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) also got in on the act with her own poison pen and flamethrower, it became clear that the gadgets were taking on too much importance. For Your Eyes Only was a return to basics— marked by the early destruction of Bond’s Lotus and the use of a Citroën 2CV for the car chase—although Bond’s watch was still a radio receiver/transmitter. The timepiece gained more capabilities for Octopussy, while 007’s pen also contained acid and an earpiece at separate times. Bond infiltrated Octopussy’s island inside a fake crocodile, and a fake horse trailer disguised his miniature Acrostar airplane. Moore’s farewell performance, in A View to a Kill, saw Bond discovered in the shower with Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) by Snooper, a small animal-shaped robot operated by Q, and the agent used a credit-card electronic lock-pick. Top and bottom left: Interior and exterior of the one-man aircraft, the acrostar, as seen in the pre-credits sequence of Octopussy in 1983. © Julien’s Auctions. Bottom right: The most famous Q of them all, Desmond Llewelyn, surrounded by some of the many Bond gadgets. © Keith Hamshere/Getty Images. Timothy Dalton’s 007 was much more down to earth, although for The Living Daylights he was equipped with a keychain that could emit stun gas, be used as a lock-pick, or explode as required, and he used clip-over binoculars on normal glass frames. Licence to Kill included more gadgetry: plastic explosives disguised as toothpaste; an exploding alarm clock; a signature camera gun; and a laser Polaroid camera. Q also used a radio disguised as a garden rake—which he discarded after he’d used it once, in complete contradiction of his usual hectoring of 007 to look after the gadgets! Pierce Brosnan’s time in the 00 section also saw the use of gadgets steadily accelerate. In GoldenEye, Bond had a belt with a piton and wire, as well as an exploding pen. His watch now had a laser cutter, and his binoculars had a satellite uplink. (There were also multiple gadgets in preparation in the lab.) Tomorrow Never Dies featured a mobile phone with multiple extra uses, as well as the usual exploding wristwatch and cigarette lighter. Chinese agent Wai Ling had her own arsenal of gadgets. 007’s cell phone that doubled as a remote control device for his BMW in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. © Julien’s Auctions. The World Is Not Enough began with Bond using an exploding gun, operated by special glasses, before he needed the hook and wire contained in his watch, the lock-pick disguised as a credit card, or the ski jacket which became an escape pod. That was nothing compared with Die Another Day, which showcased many of the old gadgets as well as virtual-reality glasses, a special ring that could cut unbreakable glass, a well-equipped surfboard, a watch with explosives and laser-beam cutter, and another miniature air supply. Although most cars don’t come equipped with a portable defibrillator, there weren’t any unusual gadgets provided for Bond in Casino Royale, or Quantum of Solace—indeed, Q didn’t even appear. When the “new quartermaster” meets Bond in the National Gallery in London in Skyfall and only provides a gun and a radio, the agent’s comment is telling. “Not exactly Christmas, is it?” he says, to which Q responds: “Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go in for that anymore.” But some things never change; Q’s last line to Bond in Skyfall echoes those of his predecessors: “Please return the equipment in one piece.” In the world of 007, that simply doesn’t happen often! Charles Fraser-smith, an inventor of sOe during World War II, who is sometimes credited as the inspiration for Q. © David O’Neill/Mail On Sunday/Rex/REX USA. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Who is your favorite Bond? Whether you love Sean Connery, Roger Moore, or even Timothy Dalton, you are going to love Bond vs. Bond. A fully comprehensive guide, Bond vs. Bond compares and contrasts all of the various ways Ian Fleming’s iconic British Secret Service agent, code name 007, has been interpreted through the years, from the books and movies to the guns and gadgets. Spanning from Fleming’s 1953 book Casino Royale to Sam Mendes’ 2012 film Skyfall, Bond vs. Bond features every incarnation of 007. Paul Simpson, co-author of Middle-earth Envisioned and That’s What They Want You to Think, adds side-by-side comparisons of the weapons and gadgets, the heroines and femme fatales, and more! You’ll be riveted with the expanse of Bond knowledge, facts and lore in these pages. This is definitely a book that no Bond fan should be without! Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.