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Bamboo Technology

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Baby gets thirty miles to the gallon - of coconut milk!

"Good thing they made everything out of balsa wood back then."

Bamboo Technology, named for the unlikely devices that the Professor came up with on Gilligan's Island, is the use of mechanisms with a level of technology closer to that of the Stone Age to achieve feats usually achieved with Industrial or even Modern Age technology. In general, they are not necessarily made of bamboo — the ones on The Flintstones were often made out of things like wood or stone or powered by creatures like dinosaurs. What characterizes all of them is the self-evident impossibility that they'd actually work... and yet they work anyway. Most likely to be seen in the more farcical sitcoms.

Bamboo Technology includes the Rube Goldberg Device, but not anything that relies on magic to work. Those devices are Magitek. Pretty much sure to crop up in past-based Punk Punk settings, especially Scavenged Punk.

When the mechanisms are made with modern components cobbled together, the trope is Homemade Inventions. A subtrope of Alternate Techline, where a civilization has a technology without a precursor that's normally found with it (e.g., having automobiles without internal combustion, steel, etc.). Contrast Low Culture, High Tech, where primitive cultures use technology they didn't invent and can't comprehend. Compare Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology, which is very advanced technology designed to look primitive.


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  • This ad for Emerald Nuts features a man who has things built on him by the Swiss Family Robinson. They appear to have gotten into his living room through a trans-dimensional portal, made from bamboo.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Clockwork Fighters is this with the villains using Steampunk variations.
  • Onidere: Kenji Taketori's firm, Taketori Financial Combine, specializes in making bamboo products. Including functional bamboo rocket ships.
  • The iconic "Take-Copter" or bamboo helicopter from Doraemon, allowing one to fly by putting it on the head or body.
  • Dr. STONE borders this line, being about a One-Man Industrial Revolution working to restore civilization with Neolithic-level tech After the End when most of the human race is Taken for Granite. However, much attention is given to inventing every piece of every new technology; he doesn't build a cell phone out of bamboo and coconuts, he uses all the things he's already invented to put together vacuum tubes and primitive plastic.
  • The anime adaptation of Bleach depicts Kukaku Shiba as having a prosthetic right arm made of bamboo. It's not discussed in-universe, however, and for the most part Kukaku is seen only using her left arm for things.

    Comic Books 
  • When he and the rest of the Frightful Four (Zombie Fantastic Four) were locked in a vault so the Ultimate Fantastic Four could save the day, Zombie Reed Richards bragged to the guards that using highly improbable materials ("Did you know you can make a keyboard out of hair?"), he and the rest of the Frightful Four had now built a functional teleporter and would be leaving now for Central Park where they'd gobble up whoever they came across, thank you very much and goodbye. The Frightful Four joins hands and disappears, the guards rush in... and then Zombie Reed Richards tells Zombie Sue Storm she can turn off their invisibility.
  • In one of the Futurama-Comics, Fry, Leela, Bender and Zapp Brannigan escape from a Farm-Planet in a rocket made of corn.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics: Requiem For A Rogue had TIE fighters and TIE Interceptors with wings made largely of wood. That is, small spaceships, firing lasers. They were also piloted by non-sentient beasts being controlled by evil Sith music.
  • Star Wars comics: the Jedi Vs Sith miniseries/TPB has Schizo Tech, including lightsabers being used alongside bows and arrows, but the example fans tend to find most egregious is the sailing ship-shaped starship used by one of the Jedi, which is made entirely of wood.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Calvin is able to make a Time Machine, Transmogrifier, and Duplicator out of a cardboard box (the same cardboard box). He even manages to convert a regular water pistol to a Transmogrifier gun. The line between what's real and what's in Calvin's imagination is never really established, so whether these were actual working devices or a kid playing pretend is uncertain.
  • The Far Side: Two cavemen scientists travel into modern times using a Time Machine made out of a log.

    Fan Works 
  • The Submersible Research Vessel Albacore from The Nowakverse is amazingly advanced for a Mouse World submarine, even more so when measured by regular Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers standards. However, Mr. Fenton, the sonar officer and a bat, is also the actual sonar.
  • All of the original Pokemon live this way in Pokéumans, in tune with nature and using their natural resources to build even impressive things like the Training Tower in Otium Village.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: All of Flik's inventions, including some complex gear-based devices, are done with twigs and grass and whatnot.
  • Despicable Me:
    • Kid Gru's drawing and macaroni sculpture of a spaceship seem rather normal things a child would do with their time, until he actually builds a working, unmanned rocket out of street items "based on the macaroni prototype!" This still doesn't get a "Well Done, Son" Guy reaction, however.
    • Also, the spaceship for the moon mission is made out of whatever they could find to build it, after the bank stopped funding them.
  • Madagascar and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa both make use of Bamboo Technology. In the first one Marty manages to use it to build a small house with plumbing. In the second one it's upgraded and used to repair and launch a crashed plane with a giant slingshot (although landing is a little more difficult), then used again to turn it into a helicopter which actually works.
  • My Little Pony: A New Generation has an arcade machine made out of wood and powered by armadillos running in wheels.
  • The young rodents in Once Upon a Forest build a flying machine called the "Flapper-wingamathing" chiefly out of things like sticks and leaves.
  • Quite literally in Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf - The Mythical Ark: Adventures in Love & Happiness, where the snake family owns a fully functional television made of bamboo.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Blue Lagoon (1980): Island castaways Richard and Emmeline are able to construct a cottage complete with a loft area, slide, and a terrace.
  • Parodied in Top Secret!, in a flashback in which Nigel and Hillary, after being trapped on a Deserted Island, build numerous items actually out of bamboo, including a shopping basket and a two-car garage. They have real Bamboo Technology too: the garage door opener and controller, which would require electronic equipment.
  • The most laughable moment in an already ridiculous film, MST3K alum Cave Dwellers has its Prehistoria Renaissance Man Ator launch his final assault on the Evil Overlord's castle in a hang-glider made out of wood and tanned leather.
    Joel:He's probably got a tank waiting in the courtyard.
    Servo:Yeah, and it's made out of coconuts.
  • In the live action Fat Albert film, Fat Albert is given a car made out of trash from the junkyard to drive his date, subverted in that it's powered by two of the Cosby kids.
  • A made-for-TV movie version of Swiss Family Robinson featured a fake gun made of bamboo that was used to scare away the wildlife.
    • A simple gun might have made the Suspension of Disbelief (barely) possible, but the producers went balls-to-the-walls improbable with a Gatling gun design that fired several fruits per second. Never mind that it was never explained HOW that gun generated the pressure to propel them down the spinning barrels.
  • Spoofed in Galaxy Quest, when The Captain is stranded on a planet with nothing but rocks in sight, and another crew member asks, "Can you construct a rudimentary lathe?" Which in itself is a spoof of the Star Trek episode "Arena."
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ancient South American Indians develop a trap with a trigger that uses a beam of sunlight as an electric eye: when anything interrupts the beam, the trap activates. Question: does the trap work when the light isn't shining through at that exact spot, which would be, I don't know, most of the day and all night?
  • Seen in Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.. The title character (played by Dick Van Dyke) has some ingenious comforts, including a golf course and a bamboo "post office" (toilet tank and bamboo chute, which delivers messages-in-a-bottle to the sea).
  • The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines has a 16th century laser cannon made of wood, and a dozen smashed mirrors. It was created by sticking together hundreds of glass shards on a series of petal-shaped panels, and then using the mirrored panels to absorb and reflect sunlight before magnifying them several times, before being projected as a concentrated heat beam. The heroes uses this awesome weapon to wipe out a quarter of a pirate fleet in the finale.
  • In the 1953 fantasy classic The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T young Bart Collins encourages his pal, the plumber Zabladowski to invent a "Music Fix" that will drown out his evil piano teacher's grand concert - 500 kids (hence the 5,000 fingers) kids playing Dr.T's enormous, undulating double-level piano. "That’s ridiculous," complains the plumber, "I have no scientific paraphernalia." "We’ll just have to use the stuff we’ve got" Bart replies and produces a variety of junk from his pockets: string, a washer, radio crystal, a chain, a ring, a peanut, a top, bubble gum, ping-pong ball, jackknife, buttons, yo-yo, checkers, whistle, buckle, marble...Thanks to a purloined hearing aid their invention works but the plumber warns Bart "I never made one of these before and the stuff I put in there, well, it’s kind of a revolutionary principle…it might be dangerous. It might even be atomic." When the Air Fix ruins the concert, the terrified Dr. T asks Bart "is it atomic?" Bart replies, in one of the greatest lines of dialog in 1950's-atomic era movie paranoia, "yes sir - VERY atomic!" The unstable Air Fix does indeed explode, blasting Bart out of his dream and back into reality.

  • The fantasy novel Bridge of Birds has three men in Seventh-Century China jerry-rig a primitive helicopter out of bamboo, palm tree fronds, and gunpowder, which they are able to synthesize because they are stranded on a saltpeter island in the middle of a lake of sulfurous lava.
  • The Tribe: The Titular Tribe make their weapons out of school supplies, such as yardsticks sharpened into spears, or paperclips bend into darts.
  • In the second Uplift trilogy by David Brin, a group of inhabitants on Jijo make amazing things, such as computers, despite trying to voluntarily devolve, and having discarded all their working technology to an oceanic trench. Many things, funnily enough, are made from "Boo" — an alien plant which greatly resembles bamboo, but bigger and far stronger — even space rockets. It's a bit of a twist, though, because Boo was originally advanced biotechnology used by a MUCH more advanced past civilization who were quite possibly playing a Long Game that accounted for later Jijoans needing to make do after being cut off from Galactic technology.
  • The Swiss Family Robinson. They had a water-cooled "fridge", and a waterwheel-pumped system to deliver it.
  • Missionaries trilogy by Lyubov and Yevgeny Lukin. Some guys found a portal into past (turned out to be Alternate Universe) and tried to stop European colonization by giving would-be victims whatever technology local resources allowed — threw hang-gliders and primitive incendiary bombs into tribal warfare, then fire fed itself, along the path the originators didn't understand well.
  • Discworld:
    • The "Clacks" are based on real-life semaphore telegraphs and seem to work much the same way — only much better. In reality the Chappe telegraph was fairly slow, easily disrupted and thanks to the cost of training and keeping operators, hideously expensive (which is why it was used by the government and army rather than merchants).

      The Clacks on the other hand not only work much faster and reliably than the real world version but are apparently so inexpensive to run the company that owns them became fantastically rich very quickly. Then again, in fairness, they exist largely as a parody of the internet so this can be excused. The operator-problem is somewhat mitigated by the employment of gargoyles, who are naturally good at sitting in a single place just looking at the next tower, lack the imagination to make mistakes, and can be paid in pigeons.

      In fact, the Bamboo Technology Internet aspect even extends to transferring photos through binary. Again, over semaphores. Not mentioning Smoking GNU group of hackers. GNU was a message that might be used as a DDOS attack (although it did not). The book Going Postal also has man-in-the-middle attacks. Also, the Clacks is a shutter-telegraph system, not a Chappe-telegraph one, and is thus rather faster than a Chappe style system would be.
    • In The Last Hero, Ankh-Morpork even manages to build a working spacecraft out of wood. Powered by dragons. It makes it to the Moon and back.
  • Kadingir's The Fourth Power features a village in the middle of a maze-like jungle full of lost scientists, who built their huts, survival machinery and diverse escape contraptions with this. Their most outstanding feats are a fully functional automated hunting-and-cooking machine and a zeppelin filled with explosive potato gas.
  • In Soon I Will Be Invincible, the prison holding Doctor Impossible at the beginning of the book is reluctant to let him get his hands on anything for fear of this trope. He lampshades it quietly to himself, musing that he really couldn't pull a Gilligan, but maybe if he had some copper wire...
  • In Elliot S Maggin's novel Last Son of Krypton, Lex Luthor's most prized possession during his many stays in prison is a simple notepad and pen. He considers them vital to retaining his sanity because they allow him to jot down the many ideas that he has while locked up. He has figured out a way to turn them and other easy-available substances into an escape kit. including an explosive from the ink, but he never does it because it would mean that the next time he was imprisoned, they wouldn't give him the pad and pen.
  • The Shroud Of The Thwacker by Chris Elliott, a historical fiction spoof set in the 19th century, features wooden mobile phones that run on kerosene.
  • A 1988 April Fools article in Scientific American announced the unearthing of rope-and-pulley logic gates on the island of Apraphul.
  • Galaxy of Fear: In Clones, an outpost of rather strange-acting Rebels is found. They've built a spaceship out of junk and scrap, which they think can fly once they've finised it. The Rebels can't tell because they are a kind of clone that can't quite distinguish idea from reality.
    Or at least, what might have been a spaceship, if spaceships were made out of old scrap metal, bilba tree wood, and patches of woven grass. It was like a giant model of a star freighter, several times larger than their own ship, the Shroud. It was the kind of thing children might build in their backyard, only on a much bigger scale.
  • Humanx Commonwealth: The inhabitants of Midworld use rifle-like blowguns called "snufflers", carved of literally-green wood and powered by a type of seed pod that ruptures with a blast of air when pierced.
  • Insu-Pu: The kids build a mansion with a functioning modern kitchen from wood and raffia stings.
  • The Amber Spyglass, third tome of His Dark Materials: Mary Malone suceeded to create a device able to detect Dust from lacquer and juice from an admittely very special tree.
  • Zeus Is Dead: Thalia, Muse of Science Fiction, tries to convince her companions to build a tachyon field generator out of random rocks and sticks. It's unclear if this would have worked, because the others find a different solution.
  • Moongobble and Me: Book 3 introduces Arfur, an elf who's developed a flying machine (essentially a tadpole tricycle with a pole mounted overhead and a set of flapping dragonfly-like wings controlled by the pedals) that he calls a Winged Wonder.
  • In the Bad Mermaids series, mermaids have TVs, flip phones, and cars made out of clamshells.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One prominent example is The A-Team, where the titular team regularly cobbled together weapons and vehicles from random ingredients, such as twenty-four feet of PVC piping, a metal dune-buggy frame and household chemicals.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Utopia": The kindly Professor Yana managed to build a complex computer system out of, as the Doctor puts it, "food and string and staples". And in some cases, not even that (gluten is mentioned as being a key part of the mechanisms).
    • "The Lodger": The Eleventh Doctor uses "non-technological technology of Lammasteen" to create an advanced device that won't be picked up as advanced technology. It looks like random pieces of junk stuck together. From the look of some of the Doctor's other devices, this may not be the first time he's used it, just the first time it was identified as such.
    • "The Time of the Doctor" features a wooden Cyberman, created due to the Papal Mainframe constantly scanning for any technology that penetrated their shield around the planet.
    • The Earth-bound equivalent occurs in "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": Cut off from the TARDIS, the Doctor, now played by Jodie Whittaker, constructs a new sonic screwdriver from found materials that were on Earth (previous ones were constructed in or by the TARDIS herself).
  • Gilligan's Island may very well be the Trope Codifier. In the Animated Adaptation The New Adventures of Gilligan, the trapped castaways listen to a radio made out of bamboo and coconut shells. At least the original Gilligan's Island had the decency to have their radio be one of the few pieces of mainland technology that survived the shipwreck.
    • Taken to the extreme in the Recycled IN SPACE! animated spin-off Gilligan's Planet, where The Professor builds a functioning faster-than-light spacecraft out of wood and coconut shells. Tony Stark ain't got nothing on him.
  • Good Eats: Bamboo Technology was applied for humorous effect in an episode in which host Alton Brown is "stranded on a deserted island" but has managed to put together a suspiciously well-equipped kitchen out of found objects, wherein he demonstrates the techniques and science behind several forms of tropical cooking. (The show abounds with similar framing devices, ranging from Alton playing his own Evil Twin in an episode about kimchi to a Courtroom Antics trial of butter.)
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys featured a Humongous Mecha in this style.
  • Junkyard Wars involves teams building machines/devices out of whatever they find in a junkyard, though in some episodes some key parts are provided for the teams by the host (For example, in the cannon episode, the teams were expected to build the cannon and the ammunition, but the hosts provided the powder).
  • MacGyver: The plot revolves on the hero saving the day by fabricating something ridiculously clever from a piece of gum, a toothpick and a hairdryer (or whatever). One memorable sequence (perhaps the definitive one) from the opening of "Legend of the Holy Rose Part 1" involves bamboo technology. The title character, with only a few hours, manages to design and build a whole gyroplane out of bamboo, tarps, and an old airplane engine. He and the prisoner he was rescuing then proceed to fly out of the base through heavy gunfire and have the plane work perfectly without any apparent flaws in spite of both the lack of rigidity of the materials used in it and the fact that it had to have taken at least some hits. Not exactly Willing Suspension of Disbelief's finest hour. Also lampshaded by his copilot saying "It really flies!" and Mac replying "Of course it does!".
  • In The Mighty Boosh episode "Milky Joe", Howard and Vince flee from the coconut police in a bamboo car. They also construct houses, fashion items, and the coconut men from bamboo, palm leaves, etc.
  • MythBusters tested out MacGyver's bamboo glider. It didn't work, primarily because the motor (which in the MacGyver episode actually came from a cement mixer, not an aircraft) wasn't strong enough. It also took them a lot longer to build. This is why MacGyver is frequently called the "Patron Saint of MythBusters".
  • The Red Green Show: Many of Red Green's creations on The Handyman's Corner fall into this trope. Although he preferred to use pieces of old cars and liberal amounts of "the handyman's secret weapon: duct tape".
  • The British television show Rough Science is essentially this trope applied to reality TV. Five scientists are dropped off in the middle of the wilderness and must use natural materials and a small amount of scrap material to make advanced devices within a time limit. They've constructed everything from radio transmitters and receivers, weather stations and clocks, to a wide variety of medicines and microscopes and bacterial cultures, all using scrap and natural materials.
  • In a Christmas Episode of Saturday Night Live, a couple who are stranded on a desert island are exchanging holiday gifts. He gives her a potholder of woven palm fronds (when they notably don't have any pots) and two conch shells; she gives him a spectacular, fully functional telescope, wristwatch, and motorcycle that she made from some stuff she found around the island. You know, if you're bored, you might just pan some gold, smelt some iron ore, kill a rhino for its whiskers...
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • "Arena" has the Metrons forcing Kirk to fight his Reptiloid Gorn counterpart on a desert planet for which they will use their god-like powers to allow control over that region of the galaxy to the winner's species. Having discovered that dropping an almighty rock from a great height onto the Gorn has no effect, Kirk makes a hand-cannon out of coal, sulphur, saltpetre and bamboo to shoot him/her/it with the local fist-sized diamonds. They bounce off but not without knocking the Gorn captain down, whom Kirk honourably allows to retire in defeat, for which the Metrons (our demi-gods) award the human race extra Brownie points. note 
    • "City on the Edge of Forever" discusses this trope, as Spock attempts to fix 22nd-century technology (a broken tricorder) with what's available late-1930s America. He quickly finds it nearly impossible, comparing it to working with "stone knives and bearskins". He does manage to jury-rig a solution... but it lasts for only a few seconds before the whole thing burns out.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000: Ork technology is in itself something of a Bamboo Technology, as it mostly consists of stealing already-made equipment from other races and making it Orkier (though they are capable of building their own). Feral Orks don't even have that, so their hugenormous battle robots are steam-powered.
  • Genius: The Transgression: One NPC, Mr. Shark, is a 17th-century Maori navigator who built a time-travelling canoe. It can travel in time to any year between 1623 and 2223, but you still have to row it if you want to get anywhere.
  • In Rocket Age the Primitive Technologist trait allows characters to essentially build analogues of high technology and equipment, provided their skill is high enough and they have enough story points. A few mentions go out to the Venusian gliders and the Chanari caravans of Mars. The rule book states that someone could build a low-tech out of logs, rope, stone and people power if they really wanted.

    Video Games 
  • Big Nose Freaks Out: Big Nose is a caveman that has a skateboard made out of a plank of wood sitting unsecured on a single stone wheel. He even invented the wheel himself!
  • In an almost perfect example of this trope, Princess Kaguya in Ōkami returns to the moon on a space shuttle made of bamboo while wearing an ancient Japanese spacesuit.
  • Chrono Trigger has robot arms made out of Sixty-five million B.C.. There are also guns. As it happens, they're actually superior to the guns and robot arms available in the far future.
  • In Donkey Kong 64 (and also Super Smash Bros. Brawl), Diddy Kong has rocket boosters and a gun, made out of wood. How the rocket doesn't ignite the wood is ignored. The gun shoots peanuts, coconuts, grapes, pineapples, and feathers. note 
    • Also in Donkey Kong 64: Funky Kong makes planes, helicopters, boats and weapons for DK and crew from wood and other jungle technology. The Donkey Kong Country series itself actually has the rocket barrels, barrel made jetpacks.
  • The dwarves in Dwarf Fortress are able to raise huge steel bridges using nothing more than three rocks. One for the lever, and two to connect the lever to the bridge. It is actually possible to build a primitive computer in Dwarf Fortress. The machine uses carefully arranged water flows, floodgates and pressure sensors or gears to perform boolean operations. Granted, this has been done in real life before: water-based analog computers ("water integrators") were built and used in the Soviet Union for simulations. Though those were (obviously) not digital like the dwarfputers nor universally usable.
  • Huitzil/Phobos of Darkstalkers/Vampire fame, who appears to belong to some Mayan Temple of Doom, but was actually created by Big Bad Pyron to destroy all life on Earth (starting with the dinosaurs).
  • Super Mario Bros. 3. Bowser had a whole tank division, a navy and an air fleet all made of wood.
  • Taz-Mania's Francis X. Bushman had a "tree trunk tank".
  • A lighter version: Among the planes in Altitude are a WWI era biplane with a machine gun, and what looks like a space-fighter with energy weapons and teleportation technology. Both planes are of the same tier...
  • As it is the Spiritual Successor to Bridge of Birds, Jade Empire naturally features ludicrous amounts of bamboo tech coupled with Decade Dissonance. The capital city looks almost like a real, if rather haphazardly constructed medieval Chinese city until you notice the power-lines.
  • Smite's Danzaburou uses a wooden gun and can summon or even turn into a bamboo missile.
  • Beaver technology in Timberborn is mostly based on wood as the starting material, even load-bearing machine parts like gears. The flavor text indicates that metallurgy was simply not a thing until the beavers figured out how to use the scrap metal they scavenged from human ruins.
  • Wood Man from Mega Man 2 is a Robot Master made entirely out of wood.
  • Metal Shinobi Assassin, despite it's setting which appears to be feudal Japan, have robotic lanterns that drop bombs, stone pillars that can fire missiles, and a war chariot boss carried by mooks on foot... with a powerful laser cannon on it's top. Somehow.
  • The mechanisms built by Sirrus and Achenar on their respective prison ages in Myst IV: Revelation are surprisingly sophisticated for technology built only from raw materials without any available tools. Achenar's stuff is at least crudely made from available materials, but Sirrus built a big laboratory and steampunk machinery from scratch.
  • One of Rumble's skins in League of Legends, Rumble in the Jungle, subs his Mini-Mecha's scrap metal components for bamboo and coconuts.
  • In Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire, most tribes in the valley have Stone Age tech - the natives most advanced (contemporary) weapon is an 'obsidian-edged sword' similar to a macuahuitl. One of your party members, Professor Rafkin, can build crude rifles and grenades out of bamboo, clay, and stray bits of hardware for you. For the most part, they outperform native weapons handily, although only 'modern' characters can figure out how to use them.
  • The airships in some of the earlier Final Fantasy games may seem like this at first. They're normal wooden boats that fly thanks to some attached propellers. The concept on its own isn't that bad, but seeing how there's no other form of automated transport in these fantasy worlds, how the propellers work is questionable. Turns out the ships run on magic.
  • Among the many examples of Schizo Tech in the Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has a camera with capabilities similar to that of real-world digital cameras. The camera itself is made of wood, and the color version is powered by a firefly.
  • This Steam Workshop submission for Team Fortress 2 is essentially a reskin for the Engineer's Wrench made out of bamboo instead of metal.
  • In Minecraft, long before you gain access to iron, gold, redstone and diamond (to say nothing of plundering other dimensions for the riches therein), most tools and structures you build will be composed of wood, stone, and the odd bits of various animals. Pressure plates, levers, and buttons will activate nearby devices and doors, and flowing water will push objects and mobs, allowing for simple automation.
  • Monster Hunter has guns with shell casings made out of berries and bones, while the majority of weapons and armor are made out of the body parts of monsters hunted. Some of the missions given are also about hunting monsters for a client who needs them (or again, parts thereof) to fix or build things.
    • The Final Boss of Monster Hunter Generations is the Ahtal-Ka, a monster that's intelligent enough to apply this trope to a point that it comes as better than the humans that hunt it. It's able to construct a Humongous Mecha the size of a small fort that can function effectively despite being built with nothing but rubble and its own webbing. And it's implied that the one it uses to fight you with wasn't even half-finished.
  • Downplayed in Outer Wilds. The Hearthians’ interplanetary-capable spaceships have plenty of electronics and metal components, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re mostly built out of wood.
  • In Halo 5: Guardians, the player comes across ruins on Sanghelios that are noted as being "already ancient when humanity built the pyramids." Some of them have gigantic sliding stone doors that still work, one of which is triggered by touching a stone idol. It's possible that the temple's been retrofitted with modern Sangheili technology hidden just out of sight to facilitate this, however.
  • Heroes of Jin Yong has enforcers of the Ming Cult who wields bamboo flamethrowers.
  • In the Home Alone Licensed Game for the Sega Genesis, Kevin can assemble homemade weapons by finding items in the houses and in the snowmen he knocks down. He needs a platform, operator, and ammo for each. They are auto assembled in the Beginner difficulty, but he has to assemble them himself on the Expert difficulty.
  • The Bamboozler series of weapons in Splatoon is a literal case, being a Charger fashioned out of a bamboo cane. According to its description, it's a reissue of a weapon used during the Great Turf War, and the signature weapon of veteran Cap'n Cuttlefish.
  • Touhou Kenbun Roku: Midway through Chapter 4, Bunroku pulls out a rocket launcher made from bamboo, and open fires on a giant mansion.

    Web Animation 

  • In The Bird Feeder #176, "Clock", Floyd builds a working clock made entirely of sticks and leaves, in order to help birds know when it was time to eat. It was deemed useless, however, as for birds it's always time to eat.

    Web Original 
  • 4chan had a field day when it discovered that since zombies in Dungeons & Dragons are capable of following simple commands, a necromancer can take three zombies, tell one of them to look at the other two and raise its right hand unless both of them raise theirs. Why is this important? Because with those instructions, the necromancer has just made a NAND gate, which means that with enough zombies he could build a programmable computer.
  • LoadingReadyRun has made a series of sketches featuring a caveman named Krog and his friends Torg, Merg and Herc who make a number of inventions that are the stone-age equivalent of modern computer-related technology.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: Among the various items used by the tech department includes Calvin's duplicator and transmogrifier, which are merely cardboard boxes oriented in specific ways and powered by believing that they'll work.

    Western Animation 
  • The Flintstones don't so much use bamboo technology as they use stone technology. Despite being in the stone age, they have things like cars, TVs, and several other technologies that are way ahead of their time. In fact, what they can't create with stones they use prehistoric animals as replacements, such as a mammoth acting as a shower. The whole of Bedrock runs on this trope.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The End of Flutter Valley", when trying to retrieve the Sunstone from a pit, the bumbles use a working mechanical crane built entirely out of rough-cut logs and branches.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door 2x4 technology takes the concept of children making toys and playthings out of random items to its logical conclusion, where scrap lumber and household/everyday items are cobbled together into everything from firearms to spaceships, Humongous Mecha made from everything from metal to lawn chairs to cats. One notable inventions is the "KND Supa-Dome", which at first looks like a rather basic snow-traversing space shuttle, but it's actually the command centre for a much larger machine; on top of a freighter ship which is on top of a full domed indoor stadium.
  • In a VeggieTales parody of Gilligan's Island called "Larry's Lagoon", the professor gets everyone off the island by building a helicopter out of bamboo and coconuts.
    "And we learned about all the stuff you can make with bamboo! A bamboo raft, a bamboo catapult, a bamboo helicopter..."
  • Edd from Ed, Edd n Eddy has been building anything with cardboard and miscellaneous junk long before the KND. Framework for a prototype rocketship? Yep. Go-kart? You betcha. Airplane? Yeah! Unfortunately, his inventions usually get destroyed by the end of the episode due to interference or malfunctions.
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: Jimmy manages to build rocket ships out of rides in an amusement park. He builds two treehouses with functioning plumbing systems out of bamboo at one point. Once when stranded in the past he built a time accelerator out of nuts, berries, rocks and wood, with a diamond fragment as the power source.
  • Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers:
    • Gadget, the inventor mousette, constructs her inventions, ranging from weapons to vehicles (even a starship of sorts) to home appliances, exclusively from garbage found in dumpsters or even right on site.
    • The episode "Elephants Never Suspect" features a pair of panda inventors who construct a Bamboo Technology device out of actual bamboo.
    • Played with in the Spin-Off novel series The Mouse Watch. Ordinary mice still use castoff items from the human world, but the titular heroes have their own sci-fi tech invented by Gadget, which is usually more advanced than the equivalent human devices.
  • Mike, Lu & Og: Og, the boy genius inventor, can build any invention from the materials he finds on the show's no-tech Pacific island setting, including on one memorable occasion a television set. (It doesn't work because there are no stations on the island, but all the islanders become addicted to watching static.)
  • Dave the Barbarian: This was parodied several times.
    "And then, Dave made an improvised megaphone by using a squirrel, some strings and a megaphone!"
  • Futurama:
    • Bender gets a downgrade so that he is made out of wood. Along with that, he and the other inhabitants of the Island of Obsolete Robots build a submarine entirely out of wood. In a nod to realism, it isn't terribly water-tight. It turns out that it was All Just a Dream.
    • The Amish from the Amish Planet have interstellar wood chariots.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons episode "Das Bus" (which was essentially Lord of the Flies meets Gilligan's Island) where Bart instructs Martin to work on building "a coconut radio. And, if possible, a coconut Nintendo system". He also envisions the children building a society based on Bamboo Technology and monkey butlers. Needless to say, it doesn't quite work out (not least because the island lacks any bamboo).
  • Freakazoid! had a good laugh at this when Freakazoid was trapped in a bamboo cage...but he couldn't break through it with his super-strength because it was "molecular bamboo."
  • Kowalski from The Penguins of Madagascar has inventions made from household items, including Stat-O-Vision binoculars made from paper cups, a mind-switching machine powered by a 17-speed blender, and an trans-lunar spacecraft out of trashcans. Amazingly, they seem to work properly half of the time.
  • There is a Donald Duck short from 1944, "The Plastics Inventor," in which Donald follows a radio announcer's instructions to create a plastic airplane. By baking it. In his oven. Not a toy airplane, a life-size one that actually flies... at least for a while. Somehow Donald makes the plastic base material for plane-baking by combining a bunch of random garbage. Even stranger, it melts in water.
  • Two of the Super Mario Bros. animated series feature this trope:
    • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 has King Koopa's Doomship, which looked like it was built out of redwood trees (or some other huge type of tree), though it was armed with Bullet Bill launchers, cannons and rocket jets. His air force, which only appeared in one episode, and his tank corps (again, only one episode) were also made of tree trunks. However, his Doomsub (two episodes) was made of metal.
    • Super Mario World (1991) takes this trope further; many of the episodes revolve around some form of modern technology being introduced into the Dinosaur World, which is usually constructed out of rock, wood and/or some other form of plant biomass. These include television sets, cars and a telephone network made of vines and coconuts. A Magikoopa in each set. The cars have enslaved Galoombas (referred to as Goombas at the time) running on the front wheel connector. The telephones are tin cans with a string principle.
  • Used in an episode of Phineas and Ferb, "Swiss Family Phineas", in which the boys wash up on an island and demonstrate their usual capacity for building freakishly elaborate structures.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: "AJ, make a time machine out of paperclips and yarn!"
  • Long before The Flintstones, the Merrie Melodies short "One More Time" utilized live mice as car horns, hood ornaments and weapons. (The character Foxy has a gun, and when he pulls the trigger a mouse pops out with a mallet and hits the target on the head.)
  • In Kim Possible, Dr. Drakken abducts Ron, gives him a bunch of random junk, and gives him the seemingly impossible task of building a doomsday device from it. Dr. Drakken leaves the room and by the time he returns, Ron has somehow made a destructive laser cannon from the junk.
  • Anything Roodee builds in YooHoo & Friends.
  • In Season 2 Episode 17 of Wakfu, Ruel has a sniper rifle. Made from bamboo, but definitely a sniper rifle.
  • In one episode of Camp Lazlo when Chip and Skip temporarily become smart they make a computer out of mud and twigs which only they are smart enough to use.
    "Computer": The current holder is not smart enough to use this computer.
  • All Hail King Julien plays with this from time to time. While they do have their share of actual technology in the form of human appliances salvaged from shipwrecks, there's also plenty of things made out of fruit and vine wiring as well.
  • The Zig & Sharko episode "Silly Builders" did this with LEGO.
  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: In "Have Plane Will Travel", the General transfers the Vulture Squadron to an island where Klunk makes planes out of whatever they can find.
  • The Gummi Bears in Adventures of the Gummi Bears where known (and eventually persecuted) for their marvels in engineering in a medieval setting. Although Gruffy himself seems to be very proficient as an engineer his abilities do not match those of the Old Gummis who made, among other things; an intercontinental communication device and solar-fueled death ray, a complex underground ultra-fast railway system and flying airships and all of that using medieval technology.
  • Handy Smurf in The Smurfs (1981) using the technology available in the Middle Ages and with no magic involved is capable of doing tractors, crawlers, cranes, harvest machinery and a robot with artificial intelligence, just to mention the more impressive.
  • In Rick and Morty "Pickle Rick", Pickle Rick manages to jury-rig an assembly line made of random junk and vermin parts that installs his pickle body into an exoskeleton made of rat limbs powered by a freshly killed rat's brain.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants often delves into this as it uses bamboo as part of the hawaiian aesthetic.
  • When Darkwing Duck got sent back to dinosaur times, he found that they were actually pretty advanced, and had equivalents of modern technology. Except they got some of it backwards, such as cars with concrete wheels that drive on roads made of rubber.
  • Wacky Races:
    • The Buzzwagon, the car of Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth, is a car made of scrap wood with buzzsaws for wheels.
    • The Bouldermobile, the car of Rock and Gravel Slag, is essentially a rock on wheels.
    • The Arkansas Chug-a-Bug, the car of Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear, is powered by a steam boiler made from an old-fashioned potbellied stove. One episode reveals that their engine is assisted by a squirrel on an exercise wheel.

    Real Life 
  • Will cars of the future be made of bamboo?
  • Student's bamboo-based smartphone concept becomes reality
  • Impecca created a bamboo keyboard and mouse.
  • You can get about 200 bicycles in a standard shipping container; train local craftsmen to make the frames out of bamboo and only import the parts that HAVE to be metal, and you can send enough parts for 2000. Some early bicycles had frames made from bamboo or wood.
  • The de Havilland Mosquito was revolutionary for its time, not only as one of the first multirole aircraft to enter service, but for its wooden frame. As a result, the Mosquito was built for speed, strength and raw firepower, and conducted a myriad of high-profile raids during World War II that earned it its place in aviation history, but also granted it its nickname of the Wooden Wonder.
  • In a desperate attempt to directly attack the United States during WWII, the Japanese created crude bombs attached to balloons which were launched into the jet-stream thirty or forty thousand feet up; the high-speed winds would carry them to North America within three or four days, at which point a timer would automatically release the payload. The balloons and carrying frames were assembled by schoolchildren from rice paper, plant glue (which was sometimes stolen and eaten by desperate civilians) and bamboo, and thousands were launched, carrying small bombs or clusters of incendiaries. For all the effort involved, the USA and Canada hardly noticed. Most balloons landed in Washington State, British Columbia, Alaska and Oregon (although some made it as far south as Mexico, and as far east as Michigan). Generally, damage was limited to small forest fires, but in one incident a pregnant woman and her five children were killed while investigating a downed balloon, and in March 1945 one of the last balloons managed to briefly short out the cooling system to the Manhattan Project reactors in Hanford (but the backup power system kicked in almost immediately). Once the US government realized the balloon bombs were part of a coordinated effort, they instructed the press to cease reporting about them, and when the hoped-for reports of mass devastation failed to appear, the Japanese assumed the balloons were not reaching their intended targets and cancelled the program.
  • In Ethiopia and other African countries, bamboo scaffolding is still preferred to other, more modern alternatives.
  • Hong Kong and some Southeast Asian countries still prefer using bamboo scaffolding. Not only is it strong enough for the job, it's lighter than steel and can be put up and pulled down much faster.
  • One of the things Malaysian villagers tend to craft on the approach of Eid al Fitr are bamboo cannons, made of bamboo and (illegally appropriated or homemade) gunpowder. It's the leading cause of fire and serious injury (often fatal) during the season and is supposed to be officially banned in Malaysia. However, the villagers ignore the law anyway (and due to the proximity of villages from the main towns and cities, law enforcement is often lax) and still make them, and disaster often follows when they're used. This is why TV stations in the country airs depressing PSAs about the dangers of the weapon during the season.
  • During World War II, the German army conceived a landmine, the Schützenmine 42 made from wood, and after explosive dogs managed to find them, they switched to models made with glass, the Glasmine 43. This was done in order to save metal and make the work of the minesweepers more difficult.
  • This was the whole idea of Pykrete, a building material conceived to make ships during the Second World War in case metal was unavailable. Simply put, it was a mixture of ice and wood pulp, which was extremely strong and resistant to explosives. The intent was to use it to build an enormous aircraft carrier, the largest in the world, in order to provide air cover to Allied ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The giant Pykrete ship was never built, but it was deemed plausible on Mythbusters.
  • Science fiction authors and futurists have speculated that if we ever start building space colonies and making long-duration manned spaceflights, bamboo would make for an ideal source of fuel and building material: It's strong, lightweight, and extremely versatile.
  • This has also been Truth in Television on the island of Bali for centuries:
    Miguel Covarrubias: Life in Bali would have developed along different lines had bamboo not existed on the island. Out of bamboo they make the great majority of their artifacts; houses, beds, bridges, water-pipes, musical instruments, altars, and so forth. It is woven into light movable screens for walls, sun-hats, and baskets of every conceivable purpose.
  • Two Chinese scientists at the University of Maryland have been working on a strain of wood that is twelve times as strong as regular wood, to the point that it can be used as bulletproof armor, and may have wide potential to be used as a building material in lieu of heavy metals like steel and titanium. The technical article is here.
  • Very much the truth for Native American and Aboriginal Australian cultures, the former having built entire cities on the Amazon out of wood and the latter having invented all kinds of architecture, filters and shoes out of materials ranging from reeds to human hair. Given how quickly these materials degrade, it's an unfortunate fact for archaeologists and even more unfortunate since colonists could easily destroy these things and play up the Noble Savage card.
  • There is a long history of wooden cannon being used in American, European, and Asian wars, by peoples who didn't have the time or resources to cast entire cannon barrels and had to do with wood reinforced by iron rings or just wrapped leather. A chief example would be the 'Tacuara Cannon' used by the Jesuit missions in Paraguay against Portuguese slave raiders in the mid-1600s, which was made of actual bamboo, was very inaccurate, and often broke after five shots. But needless to say, having these was better than having no artillery at all. Mythbusters actually tested a myth about a town that built a faulty one and blew themselves up with it, and found it plausible except for the timeframe in which the people involved allegedly managed to build it using 17th-century muscle-powered technology.
  • A Chinese grandfather builds mechanical toys for his grandson out of nothing but bamboo.
  • Japan is developing wooden satellites to reduce the environmental impact if they eventually fall into the atmosphere and burn up.


Video Example(s):


Stone knives and bearskins.

While stuck in the 1930s, Spock has to create a massive crude circuit array for his tricorder to display its recordings from the Guardian of Forever, and he complains that he has to work with the 1930s equivalent tech resources of "stone knives and bearskins."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BambooTechnology

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