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Off-the-Shelf FX

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When you're on a tight budget, a flash of inspiration can make an iconic prop.
"I couldn't shoot him if I wanted to. It's the Star Labs vacuum cleaner... with a lot of LEDs."
Cisco Ramon, The Flash (2014)

In an environment where a work requires extensive Special Effects, there may be a perception that each unique space ship, futuristic weapon, handheld item or article of clothing is created from scratch. But the reality can be quite different. Instead of incurring the time or expense of artisans who are masters of their craft to hand build their own miniatures or custom made prop, a shortcut involves purchasing toys, model kits or other items available at the mall or hardware store and use those as a stand-in for advanced technology or fill in the gaps of a particularly large crowd shot. Depending on the quality of their manufacture and the methods used by the FX team, the results can range from surprisingly effective, to sub-par, to obvious Special Effects Failure.

In many cases this happens for miniature work on a weekly tv show or cash strapped production, where time and money is important. Most model kits are often already of very high quality and can be pulled off convincingly, particularly in the use of "greebling" (the details themselves are "greebles", as coined by George Lucas in the production of A New Hope). This is when one takes parts from a model kit, already being of great quality and put it on as detail for bigger models. The Imperial-class Star Destroyers from Star Wars were plywood shells dressed with loads of parts from mixed and matched kits to create what looked like extremely realistic and detailed ships.

Occasionally if the story allows for it, it might end up being what it really is as merchandise from a large franchise. While the proliferation of CG modeling over physical items has changed the game, the principles remain quite the same, especially as you still need to give the actors something to hold.

This trope comes in two flavors:

  • Straight Out of the Box: An item has literally just been ripped out of its packaging, these may require assembly and get an appropriate paint job but still remain largely unmodified. Especially if it is meant to represent what it is, and possibly be damaged in the process, it becomes a simple matter of practicality. When the hobby store across the street sells good replicas for $20 and can be assembled and/or modified within a few hours it will inevitably beat a model that would take a week to construct and cost 20 times as much. The creative use of paint, lighting and camera angles can further gloss over the finer details - even making the item appear to be something different than what it really is. Digital work has also created a cottage industry of high quality, pre-rendered CGI models or slight modifications for ones already made but resized or recolored to help hide its previous identity. There is also often an irony involved where props made for a movie had to be done quickly and for specific uses (one for electronics, soft props are made for stuntwork), but the merchandizing company end up mass producing an all-purpose design far better engineered than the inspiration, and it ends up used in the sequels.
  • Kit-Bashing: An official term used among hobbyists, the item starts with any kind of commercial product but modified through cutting it apart, rearranging parts and gluing it back together. Start with a tank, car wheels become jet exhaust ports, jet wings are glued on to the side and the cannon is repositioned to the undercarriage. Now it is a new sci-fi space fighter unrecognizable from its' individual parts. Similar techniques are used for CGI models as well, with the advantage of upscaling and downscaling parts at random. Kit-bashing is sometimes used just for experimental purposes, a proof-of-concept to approve further design for a prop. Other times bits of model kits are attached to custom built models just to give it texture and save time ("greebling"). Or perhaps only pieces of it are used into the making of something else entirely. The downside may come from sloppy placement or over-greebling, excessive details that lack logic in their placement and getting lost in visual "noise" that betrays it as a prop.

Both forms are used in such places as the private model building scene and Cosplay. Kitbashing is common with Tabletop Games as a way to produce custom models for one's army, eg. an Ork army who cobbled their gear together from Tau parts.

See also Prop Recycling, Special Effect Failure and No Budget. Sister Trope to Slurpasaur (where a live animal represents a much-larger monster). Compare with GIS Syndrome where cut-and-paste stock photos and backgrounds are used with little or no modification. See Practical Effects for when the budget is a little better.

In recent years a subreddit has developed dedicated to spotting listing these cases, named after the instance from V for Vendetta listed below.

Examples of Straight Out of the Box props

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  • The first few seconds of this VW ad. Look closely and you can see the finger pushing the model car!

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In October 2014, Marvel Comics launched a series of variant covers that used Hasbro action figures to recreate iconic Marvel moments.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, as one of several Noodle Incidents involving the Scavengers, has them turned into toys...specifically, a photo of their own G1 toys.
    Krok: I know what's happened! It's obvious what's happened! I want to know how we can make it unhappen!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • being Hands: Lilith grabs a jar from the shelf behind her; two characters use the jar as a glass of ale within the context of the plot.
  • Star Wars
    • During the podracing sequence in The Phantom Menace, the crowds contain several Micro Machine action figures, with Prince Xizor being clearly visible in a behind-the-scenes photo. Epileptic Trees ensued.
    • In the same film, Qui-Gon's comm unit is clearly a Gillette women's razor that has been spray-painted silver and the razer head removed with greeble parts in its place.
    • In the faraway shots of Luke's landspeeder in A New Hope, "Luke" and "Obi-Wan" are actually dolls from The Six Million Dollar Man.
    • A New Hope is where one greeble rose to infamy, from a 172 Anzio Annie railway gun model by Hasagawa. This greeble, a small dome with four corner pips and a fifth on the edge, works so well in so many situations, that it was eventually called the Universal Greeble.
    • The Imperial "blasters" are a mix of Sterling sub machine guns with scopes added and unmodified German MG-34 machine guns. Han Solo carries a slightly modified "broomhandle Mauser" pistol with a scope and flash hider added.
    • The TIE Bombers in The Empire Strikes Back reuse the bent wings of Darth Vader's personal TIE Fighter from model kits of it.
      • In another instance from Empire Strikes Back, when Luke vaults out of the carbon-freezing chamber during his duel with Darth Vader, an action figure of him is used for the shot.
      • Also from The Empire Strikes Back, there's an extra during the evacuation scene in Cloud City who's carrying what is clearly a Hamilton Beach ice cream maker. According to Expanded Universe materials, his name is Willrow Hood and the prop he's carrying is supposed to be a computer data core.
    • In Return of the Jedi, any background TIE that's paler than the others is a Galoob toy originally made for the previous two films (Jedi changed them from white to a blue hue). Since they're smaller scale, they were able to be used in tandem with Forced Perspective to increase the percieved depth of the shot..
    • At least one X-Wing model kit from MPC is used in the Battle of Endor sequence from Return of the Jedi.
    • For the post-Disney purchase movies, many of the greebles used across the classic models were scanned into 3D for the modelers to use as digital detailing when making the new ships, as a legacy nod.
    • In The Last Jedi, Poe looks through binoculars that are really just a Super 8 camera.
  • In V for Vendetta, Inspector Finch and V, disguised as Rookwood pull out a recording/signal jamming device at various points which looks remarkably like a folding book light, with a red LED replacing the normally white one.
  • There have been stories that the Flying Saucers in Plan 9 from Outer Space are pie tins or hubcaps. The truth is, the filmmakers made them from toy flying saucer kits.
  • MirrorMask does this digitally, as one scene is set between a pair of enormous CG fleas one of the animators had lying around. Then again, it is a very strange movie.
  • One really bad example comes in Godzilla vs. Gigan, Gigan is rampaging across Tokyo. You see the inside of the building that is going to be crushed by the monster in mere seconds. Inside stand two Kelly dolls, just staring at each other, and are soon crushed by the monster's claw. Now it is possible they were intended to be store mannequins, but the place does not exactly look like a store.
    • In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, a scene with an army of crab Destoroyahs heading towards the military is rumored to have used Bandai action figures of the creatures in addition to the actual puppets.
  • The Mighty Gorga - a bad King Kong (1933) ripoff - stars a man in a store-bought gorilla suit who fights dinosaur handpuppets, waved in front of the camera.
  • In Ghostbusters (1984), model police cars and taxicabs are used in the Stay-Puft sequence. And in the shot where Slimer hovers around a chandelier in the hotel, said ghost is represented by a peanut spray-painted green, with optical streaks added in.
    • On the DVD commentary, Joe Medjuck (the producer) moans about how hard to come by those police cars and cabs were, especially in the scale they needed.
  • In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the array of ghost traps set up around the Spangler house are off-the-shelf Ghostbusters toys with lights added and rigged to open simultaneously.
  • The extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers had a case of Off the Shelf Scenery. After Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas meet up with the resurrected Gandalf, Aragorn and Gandalf have a conversation at night. Apart from the opening establishing shot, the whole conversation is tight close-ups and the background is absolutely pitch-black. Apparently they shot that scene in a shed.
  • Ender's Game: The command school sequences show the characters using Razer Nostromo keypads as they give commands to the fleet.
  • The Fast and the Furious has, as some of The Merch, licensed die-cast replicas of some of its "Hero Cars". Near the beginning of the sixth film, during the scene with Brian's family, Brian and Dom are shown giving two of those same replicas (specifically, the first film's Charger and the fourth film's Skyline) to baby Jack.
  • Team America: World Police uses many common items for props; most of the background items in Cairo are made from kitchen equipment, a basket of oranges is Goldfish crackers and a real-life person is painted metallic and used for a statue.
  • In the early 80's B-grade post-apocalyptic movie Battletruck, one of the protagonists uses a pair of binoculars with some sort of scanner on the top. However, to New Zealanders, it is obviously a local brand of air-freshener that has been repainted.
  • Uwe Boll's House of the Dead infamously uses footage from the game as action scenes. Note that they use footage from the Attract Mode of the original game, with the mid-90's polygonal graphics and the "Insert Coin" message blinking repeatedly.
  • In Escape from New York:
    • What appears to be an impressive (for 1981) wire-frame CGI image of Lower Manhattan is actually a physical model with the buildings outlined in glow-in-the-dark green tape and filmed under a black light.
      • Even more so with the shots of the city as the glider approaches. It's the same physical model, but this time, with photocopied pictures of building exteriors glued to them, colored in with color pencils and greebled with model parts to make look more detailed, including items like air condition units.
    • The homing device Snake Plissken uses to find the President is Tiger's early LED-based handheld game Sub Wars.
  • The de-evolution guns of Super Mario Bros. (1993) are Super Scopes (the SNES' light gun) re-painted black and gray.
  • A deliberate example in Iron Man 2, as the props used for a young Peter Parker's Iron Man mask and toy repulsor are actual toys used to promote the film.
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians has the eponymous aliens armed with ray guns that can stun people... which are actually perfectly normal Wham-O Air Blasters. And when we say "ray guns", we don't mean to imply that they could afford to add some sort of ray effect, or even a well placed film scratch. The guns just make the normal "pop" noise they always do, and the "stunned" actors try really hard to stand still.
  • Crapola classic Robot Monster calls for a "space platform", but gets a three-for-a-nickel model rocket instead. You can even clearly see the hand holding it up; this film WISHES it could afford a shoestring!
    • Then, of course, there's Ro-Man, whose costume consists of a Halloween gorilla suit and a diving helmet with TV antennae stuck on top.
  • The "Messenger robot" seen in the Godfrey Ho movie Ninja Terminator is Omegatron from the UK-only toyline Convertorsnote  with the rocket arms and track wings removed.
  • Danger!! Death Ray features an obviously plastic off-the-shelf helicopter model sinking while parked atop an obviously plastic off-the-shelf submarine model in what is obviously a swimming pool.
    Mike: The ocean's beautiful in this part of the tub.
    Crow: Special effects by Billy!
  • The disintegration weapon used in Teenagers from Outer Space is an off the shelf "Atomic Disintegrator" toy from Hubley.
  • Super 8 uses this in-universe in the finished cut of "The Case", the Amateur Film Within a Film, in which it's very obvious that Joe eventually did agree to let Charles blow up his model trains.
  • Aliens has several examples:
    • The famous M65 Smart Gun was made using a German MG42 machine gun with motorcycle parts added. When the propmaster discovered how short Jennette Goldstein (the actor who played Vasquez) was, he devised a load-bearing mount for the gun that was a slightly modified SteadyCam harness. The Marines' combat helmets are just normal M1 steel helmets with some bits added.
    • A couple of the ceiling-mounted props in one scene are Astro Magnum space-gun toys, the same toy which would be recolored and later sold as the first Shockwave character in the Transformers franchise.
  • The Iron Man rip-off Metal Man/Iron Hero surprisingly has a Kabuto Zecter on the protagonist's costume!
  • In the J. J. Abrams Star Trek (2009), the vertical "sensors" briefly seen on the USS Kelvin bridge are unmodified commercially made amateur radio antennas.
    • There's also a Dyson "Airblade" hand dryer in the sick bay.
  • The Direct to Video movie Supershark uses a CG model of a walking tank purchased from the hobbyist site as their "hero" mech, for the final climactic fight scene with the walking megalodon. And while its normal price is only about ten bucks, they could have actually gotten it FREE for a short bit, as it was originally a freebie on that site.
  • In Speed, it's pretty obvious that the train that runs off the tracks near the end is a miniature model.
  • In Dragon Ball: Fight for Victory, Son Goku! made in Korea in 1990, the prop used for the character Puar is a stuffed plushie of him.
  • In the Incredible Hulk knockoff The Amazing Bulk, one shot of Bulk's hands are actual Hulk Hand toys recolored purple!
    • The infamous chase scene near the end of the movie is made of several preexisting 3D assets cobbled together idiosyncratically.
  • There's a gag in Deadpool that involves a Deadpool action figure from Hasbro's X-Men Origins: Wolverine line.
  • The high-tech computer in Xtreme Fighter is just a black Nintendo GameCube and monitor with some tape on the front.
  • In Night of the Big Heat, the alien invaders are jellyfish-like Starfish Aliens who resemble melted plastic lamps—because that's exactly what they are.
  • In The Fifth Element, the prop Zorg uses to control the ZF-1 appears to be a dedicated handheld Racing Game with the LCD part painted over.
  • Shazam features a fight scene between the titular hero and Doctor Sivana in a toy store, with many of the props being actual DC superhero products made by companies like Mattel. This ends up creating a bit of a Recursive Canon situation, as some of the toys still have visible logos from the Justice League (2017) movie on them.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu features actual character posters and cards from the TCG in Tim Goodman's childhood bedroom in Ryme City. Detective Pikachu naturally isn't fooled when Tim claims they were set up by his father Harry for visits.
  • Pick nearly any film by The Asylum. If it's supposed to have a high-tech and/or experimental weapon, nine-times-out-of-ten it's gonna be a NERF gun, usually something from the N-Strike or N-Strike Elite lines, painted black.
  • Barney's Great Adventure used a 12 inch Barney plush toy sold in stores at the time for Barney's doll form instead of using one of the TV props.
  • Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie has the analog joystick for the PlayStation, spray-painted black and used as some of Tommy's controls in the Turbo Megazord cockpit.
  • The long-barreled pistol that Bond uses on the posters of From Russia with Love and in various publicity images for the film (which will almost certainly come up quickly if you search "connery bond") is a BB gun that was borrowed for the shoot due to them forgetting to bring the actual prop gun, a PPK. It looked passingly like the PPK, due to both being made by Walther, and the plan was to airbrush the barrel out to increase the resemblance, but this never happened.
  • The controller on the Multi-Axis Trainer in SpaceCamp was a non functioning Atari joystick.
  • The full scale mockup of the Mig-31 in Firefox used real aircraft parts: the nose wheel was sourced from a real F-4's landing gear.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, actual Avengers action figures from Hasbro appear.
  • An episode of Andromeda uses dollar store FM radios as remote controls. Another episode has Seamus Harper using a standard LED flashlight/key fob as a remote control.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? does this all the time, with the crowning moment being the evil statue in "The Tale of the Dangerous Soup". Would you also like to own a "cursed statue from a remote jungle tribe?" They can be found online.
  • Baby Einstein frequently used pre-existing toys as props. For instance, a Betsy Wetsy doll, a Sesame Street toy train and a Raggedy Ann doll appear in the first video.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "Soul Hunter", a solder sucker is a major component of the eponymous soul hunter's soul extractor. One might suspect the prop makers of making a Stealth Pun
  • Battlestar Galactica has an example of this. On the back console of the Raptor set, a Logitech Attack 3 joystick is mounted to the console, and is clearly visible in multiple shots throughout the series.
    • Another example: the Viper engines are actual military aircraft engines, retired Rolls-Royce Model 250's. Other bits of set dressing like the storage racks for ordnance are probably also surplus Air Force or Navy equipment.
    • Some of the hangar scenes contain what are very obviously commercial forklift trucks with a couple of vinyl stickers of the Galactica's unit patch.
  • In Community, this is done by Abed and Troy when making a Fan Film full of Stylistic Suck of the B-movie feature "Kickpuncher".
  • Danger 5 pretty gleefully indulged in this with a lot of their deliberately unconvincing miniature shots. The clearest example is in the episode "Hitler's Golden Murder Palace", where a Nazi soldier in a motor boat is portrayed by an action figure of Channing Tatum in GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra.
  • Defiance also features some of this:
    • The "microphone" used by Alak Tarr and anyone in his company in his radio station in the arch was actually an Humboldt H-5600 Accuflame Bunsen Burner with the base holder removed.
    • In Season 2, Berlin uses a video camera to film with. The camera is a Panasonic WA03 HD handheld camera with the exterior text removed.
    • In Season 3, a crate of futuristic VBI blasters consisted of Nerf N-Strike Elite Centurion Blasters painted black and silver, with the charge arms removed.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Off-the-shelf Louis Marx toy Daleks are used for model-shot scenes of Dalek armies in "The Evil of the Daleks" and "Planet of the Daleks". The off-the-shelf toys can easily be recognised by their simplistic conical shape, which makes the "heads" proportionately much too small in relation to the "bodies". In 1960s-era episodes, the show also occasionally pads out Dalek crowd scenes with what are quite obviously cardboard cut-outs (at least, with modern picture quality; at the time, they were much harder to discern).
    • The original sonic screwdriver, wielded by the Second Doctor in "Fury from the Deep", is a whistle from one of the life jackets that was used during location filming, as Patrick Troughton had accidentally dropped the intended prop due to the numbingly cold weather and couldn't find it again. Later appearances during the Second Doctor's tenure used a penlight torch.
    • "Robot" depicts a battle between a man in a robot suit and a toy tank from the Action Man range. Two Action Man dolls are also used to show the robot grabbing soldiers after it turns gigantic.
    • The TARDIS Chameleon Circuit control panel in "Logopolis" is obviously an old carpet sweeper turned upside-down.
    • In "The Twin Dilemma", Noma's weapon is obvously an off-the-shelf glue gun.
    • In the late-80s Sylvester McCoy story "Remembrance of the Daleks", the alleged "time controller" is an off-the-shelf plasma ball. Even then, such devices were reasonably common in techno-gift shops, and the obviousness of its origins made silly — and cheap — what would have appeared an impressive and credible prop a few years prior.
    • The 1996 TV movie uses a commercially licensed TARDIS key replica for the TARDIS key prop.
    • During the production of the first revived season, the original sonic screwdriver prop was replaced with a licenced replica because the latter looked just as good and was more durable (the original had a fragile porcelain handle).
    • The psychic paper is nothing more than a black leather passport wallet with a blank piece of white paper in it.
    • The revived series was criticized for using what are quite obviously Apple Mac keyboards in "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", set in the 52nd century.
    • In "A Christmas Carol", the communicator the Doctor uses to speak to Amy is clearly a book light like this painted bronze.
    • "The Day of the Doctor":
      • Osgood's Fourth Doctor-style scarf is a commercially available replica scarf — easily identified by the fact that it's stocking stitch (the v-shaped weave used in most knitwear) and not garter stitch (a stitch with pronounced ribs common in beginner knitting projects) like the genuine article. The colours are also much more vibrant and loud.
      • The War Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver is a modified version of a Tom Baker Sonic Screwdriver toy.
      • The Dalek model shots in the Time War sections (particularly the one crushed by the landing TARDIS) are the large remote control Dalek toys that were sold in the late 2000s.
    • A few more of those remote control Daleks get blown up in "Into the Dalek".
    • Psi's projector in "Time Heist" is just a normal USB cable.
    • "War of the Sontarans" and the following episodes of Flux: Passenger's skull-like face is a barely retouched $20 airsoft mask.
  • Dollhouse does this too. The GPS tracking unit they remove from the back of the neck in one episode is shown on the sink. It is the packaging strip for surface-mount-resistors/capacitors; each bump on the strip holds one, and they're cut from a long reel.
  • Drake & Josh: In "The Bet", the prop for the GameSphere is a Memorex Boomball, a spherical CD player and radio, with the decals replaced to match its in-universe branding.
  • Farscape uses pipette fillers like these as sci-fi injectors/syringes/hyposprays/whatever. There's also the bulkier device used to inject liquid explosive into bombs in "Family Ties", which is very obviously a super-soaker with a thin paint job.
    • Farscape isn't beyond a bit of this as far as props go. The Peace Keeper comm headsets use necklaces for mics (specifically, one called "Anchara" by local Aussie company Bico), and a slightly-altered Logitech flight stick shows up as a holo-projector. And then there's Moya's "manual control" in the premiere episode - aka Logitech-trackball-mouse-on-a-stick.
    • The "cooling rods" that Scorpius uses to maintain his body temperature are rather obviously just glowsticks with the loop removed from the end. They even use different colors to represent the "fresh" (blue) and "used" (red) sticks.
    • D'argo's facial mask seen in Season 1's "Till The Blood Runs Clear" was actually a normal, off the shelf facial breather mask from a hardware store painted black with very minor greebling added.
    • The Supersoaker toys of the late 90s/early 2000s served as props and set dressing for various settings. In fact, some of the Supersoakers modified to be alien weapons and tools were reused multiple times, often with little to no modification outside of their original modifications.
    • In Season 1's "Till The Blood Runs Clear" and Season 2's "The Way We Weren't" utilized a Logitech Wingman Warrior PC gaming controller stripped down of the main joystick and painted to portray a hologram projector.
  • On the live-action Filmation's Ghostbusters, this is how Bob Burns got the part of Tracy the gorilla: he already owned the gorilla suit.note 
  • The season 1 finale of Game of Thrones uses a lot of heads, which were rented in bulk. As it was noticed later, one head belongs to George W. Bush.
  • An episode of Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything used the Dance With Me Clover toy from Sofia the First.
  • In the iCarly episode "iCarly Saves TV", the Kids' Show Mascot Parody Zeebo appears to be a generic blue dinosaur costume from a party rental service.
  • Kamen Rider:
  • An episode of K.C. Undercover had Judy being given a robotic dog for a pet. The robotic dog is clearly a modified Spin Master Zoomer toy.
  • Several stunt jumps in Knight Rider were done using models and toys of KITT. In some shots, you can clearly see toy graphics on ther car's body.
  • The props, models and sets from Mystery Science Theater 3000 were pulled together from model kits and found objects; after the original local-TV version of the program was sold to the Comedy Channel, the producers purposely affected the same low-budget style in every episode of the series — even the ones where they spent actual money.
    • The dashed-together appearance of the robots is justified in-universe, as Joel built them from spare parts to keep from being lonely. These were the "special parts" used to control when the movies begin and end. Since they include such items as a gumball machine and a bowling pin, this suggests the whole satellite is made of spare junk.
    • The show parodies this in the riff on Godzilla vs. Megalon, where at one point (for whatever reason) the main characters enter a model shop, and the robots immediately comment "Hey, we've seen these models in a fight already!"
  • The Moon Knight action figure that pops up when Marc is in a mental institution in Episode 4 of Moon Knight was an actual Marvel Legends figure from Hasbro.
  • The Noddy Shop features real toys as props in the background. Some toys that were common in the show include a plush toy of an emperor penguin wearing a blue hat, a purple carnival toy of a snake and the Little Miss Singing Mermaid doll. If the kids used Bumpy Dog in their story, it was occasionally portrayed as the actual Gund plush sold in stores at the time.
  • The thermal detonator seen in Obi-Wan Kenobi is actually a commercially available Master Replicas reproduction of the one from Return of the Jedi. Propmaster Brad Elliott mentioned that using official merchandise was far more efficient than having to sculpt, mold and paint something from scratch.
  • PJ Katie's Farm is notorious for this, with characters made out of plasticine and props made out of Fisher Price toys. In one episode, a danish that was supposed to be Katie's lunch was used as a flying saucer. The episode ended with her eating it as the credits rolled.
  • Power Rangers/Super Sentai:
    • US-made model-based mecha footage appears in Season 3 of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and is achieved using off-the-shelf Power Rangers toys - with predictable results. The worst example of this is the Shogun Megazord. In the show, the White Ranger's zord comprises the left arm, but the toys made it the Pink Ranger's zord instead. Since the toy is used for the Shogun Ultrazord formation, the zord suddenly, inexplicably, turns hot pink. Also, the chest symbol changes, and Titanus inexplicably gains the Dragonzord's chestplate in both the Ninja and Shogun Ultrazords.
      • For the curious, it's there because when Titanus' head and chest are repositioned for the Ultrazord, there is a fairly large gap in his chest intended to be filled by the Dragonzord's chestplate.
      • Also, the white Shogun Zord turns pink for a simple reason: Ninja Sentai Kakuranger has five Rangers (Red, White, Blue, Black, Yellow); Power Rangers has six (same colors plus Pink). The White Kakuranger's machines were given to the Pink Power Ranger, while a sentient Kaku mecha becomes the White Power Ranger's machine. For the toyline, Bandai decided to turn those white mecha pink to line up with its new operator.
      • According to VFX artist Rick Cortes, the staff would use off-the-shelf toys of the Zords whenever they lacked the necessary shots from the existing Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger footage they were given.
    • The original Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger does this for the Ultrazord (okay, Titanus/Brachion is an actual prop model), but manages to pull it off with a combination of quick editing and decent visual effects. The difference in proportion is still obvious, but at least they put some effort into it.
      • Some other shots of the Dinozords alone on Zyuranger are pretty obviously the toys; for example, when they combine into tank mode and then transform into mecha mode. When the Green Ranger first appears, there are times when he stands on the Dragonzord's head and changes from a live actor to an action figure, and back again.
      • A lot of scenes of the Guardian Beasts sitting on a hill or some such for non-battle-related scenes (typically not used in MMPR) couldn't be more obviously plastic.
    • Rita Repulsa gets shrunk down and appears as a screaming (but not animated) action figure of herself. The hand holding her activates the "Swing my left arm up and down" lever "convincingly". Oddly enough, Rita did not get a figure until almost 18 years later.
    • Likewise, when the shrunken Ninjor is freed from his prison in "Master Vile and the Metallic Armor Part 1," the shot is achieved by using a Ninjor action figure.
    • In the episode "Switching Place", the prop used for the Genie's lamp in the American footage is obviously a toy replica of the lamp from Aladdin and looks fairly different than the original prop seen in Zyuranger footage.
    • In "A Zeo Beginning", the shot of Serpentera sitting on the moon is done using the toy.
      • Also, whenever the Zeo Megazord combines with the Red Battlezord, it's done using the toys. However, this is because the footage of doing so is from the source material of Ohranger, so it flies. Another notable example is the season's Ultrazord, Pyramidas.
    • Much like Doctor Who with the Sonic Screwdriver, they frequently used the toy replicas for the morphers, and actors would mention crew members having to make quick trips to toy stores to replace broken ones. It created an interesting problem during S.P.D. Thanks to some odd scheduling, they had to use the Japanese toys for their morphers, and had a very limited number to work with. Unfortunately, they had very form fitting police uniforms for costumes that year, which made bathroom breaks awkward and sent more than one of them into a toilet. This also created a problem where the actors often had to hold the morphers improperly to avoid hitting the button on the toy that causes them to open and light up.
    • Early Super Sentai series occasionally use the toys for the Transformation Sequence of the mecha (this is particularly noticeable with Live Boxer in Choujuu Sentai Liveman due to the toy being extremely inaccurate). This became less common as special effects improved. However, the 2013 series, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, uses this technique for its mecha due to being a Genre Throwback.
    • When the TyrannoRanger from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger shows up in the Kyoryuger vs. Go-Busters movie, he transforms by using the Legacy Power Morpher toy that Bandai had released to celebrate MMPR's 20th anniversary. That being said, rather than the usual result of the prop looking like a toy, the opposite happened. The original Dino Buckler prop from Zyuranger was most DEFINITELY the toy version, as evidenced by the gold design in the back being a sticker. However, the Legacy Morpher has that side completely painted and molded,note  and the collector's toy overall looks more like a legit prop than a toy, so for once, the Dino Buckler in-show actually looked less fake. So much so that Bandai of Japan imported the mold of it and the Legacy Dragon Dagger for their own adult collector's line, Super Sentai Artisan.
    • An episode of Mashin Sentai Kiramager haves the team's two main mechs being shrunk down to toy size. In this state, the mechas are represented by their actual toys.
    • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always examples:
      • Several captured Rangers are figurines from Hasbro's Lightning Collection.
      • The prop morphers are once again from the Legacy Collection.
      • The Megazord transformation sequence is done using the models from the Zord Ascension Project.
  • The weapons and Transformation Trinkets used in Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon are actual PGSM toys that were available in shops at the time.
  • Raumpatrouille uses everyday items as props, most famously a pressing iron as a ship controlling device. While cheesy, it works quite well.
  • One special effect in Red Dwarf, meant to represent a vortex, is simply the camera looking into somebody's cup of coffee that has been swirled around with a spoon quickly. It passes, because Red Dwarf is a comedy anyway.
  • Like the Super Sentai examples above, Spider-Man uses a stuntman in a suit to portray Spidey's Humongous Mecha, but the robot's transformation scenes are all filmed by using the Leopardon toy sold by Bandai.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series does it a few times:
    • In "The Doomsday Machine", the gutted and scarred USS Constellation is in fact an AMT plastic model; absolutely nothing is added to it, and in fact, its registry number (NCC-1017) was created by simply reordering the digits in the decals showing the Enterprise's registry number (NCC-1701).
    • The Enterprise visible through the window of the station manager's office in "The Trouble With Tribbles" is yet another AMT model.
    • The small fleet of Constitution-class ships in "The Ultimate Computer" were AMT models.
    • A different type of "off the shelf": the device used to mute everyone's heartbeat in "Court Martial" is clearly just a microphone.
    • The silver hand-held medical scanners (used in Sickbay) are salt and pepper shakers.
      • They were unusual, European-designed shakers intended for the Enterprise's mess hall, and would have been most prominently used against a salt vampire. The crew went with diner-style salt-and-pepper shakers to more efficiently carry the point across.
  • Other Star Trek-franchise productions also do this.
    • They still did this even up to Star Trek: Insurrection. Riker's "manual steering column" is a "Gravis Blackhawk" USB joystick which fans could, at the time, buy for themselves off store shelves.
      • The technique of using improbable or seemingly unlikely devices for serious technology is actually used on a smaller scale in real life. Many bomb-disabling robots in service of the United States Army and Navy are handled with a control screen, a portable control station... and an Xbox controller.
    • The massive battle against the Klingon fleet in the Deep Space Nine episode "Way of the Warrior" was only manageable by using a lot of model kits. That is why they decided that an old Klingon ship that hadn't been seen since the first movie was still in use, it gives the fleet more variety.
    • The original Borg cube is notoriously built out of several plastic model kit 'sprues,' that is, the plastic frames that plastic model kit parts come attached to. This becomes quite obvious when it explodes, with many of the sprues popping off in one piece.
    • Seven of Nine's regeneration alcove in Star Trek: Voyager is surmounted by an off-the-shelf plasma disc.
    • Voyager in particular reuses CGI models to represent dozens of different alien ships (several of them from other vendors such as Industrial Light & Magic for Star Trek: First Contact) with little to no modification other than playing with scaling. Other than a key role here and there, most of these models are seen for only a few seconds, as screen filler, or both, so the effect isn't immediately noticeable. A good example is in the episode "Drive", where the "starting line" spectators are mostly ships that have been seen in other episodes (including many alien shuttlecraft rescaled to match Voyager's size!)
    • The reason why planets inhabited by Nazis are an unusually frequent occurrence in the original series is because there were plenty of Nazi-themed and WWII-themed props available from contemporary movies (such as The Great Escape). This even made its way into the Star Wars franchise, as described in the kitbashing section below.
    • This is a big reason why the original series has so many other alien planets modeled after Earth history as well, such as 1920s-30s gangsters and ancient Greeks and Romans. Especially regarding the latter, the early 60s was the height of the Sword and Sandal genre, so sets and costumes for those were easily available.
    • Combining this trope with Shout-Out, in the Next Generation episode "Pen Pals", a device used by a geological survey team during the episode is in fact the Oscillation Overthruster from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Set designer Michael Okuda was a fan of Buckaroo Banzai.
    • The phaser that Archer uses in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" is actually an official phaser toy from Diamond Select. The screw holes can even be seen in close-ups.
  • In one episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, in a scene set in the future, a squad of soldiers are exploring a submarine. They can be seen wearing Xbox wireless headsets painted black. After Judgement Day, the humans were no longer able to mass-produce technology, so it would be safe to assume their equipment is assembled from scavenged bits of pre-war tech.
  • Apparently, Terra Nova is a fan of Nerf.
  • The Ultra Series is quite prone to doing these, even until today:
    • In the older shows, shots of the Ultramen flying away after defeating the Monster of the Week is achieved by hanging actual Ultramen toys on wires, though most of the time the wires are fine enough to avoid being visible. Later installments (from Ultraman Tiga onwards) would use CGI instead.
    • Occasionally the monster in question would manage to grab and pick up the Ultramen's host, where it's noticeable the host's actor had inexplicably turned into a doll. Ultraman Ace have this happening quite regularly, like the monster Brocken snatching Ultraman Ace's human host, Seiji, in its claws, and various episodes where Ace, after transforming, moves nearby civilians out of danger by grabbing them and putting them in a corner away from danger - tiny dolls are used for these moments.
      • An episode of Ultraman Ace have the villainous Alien Hipporito threatening the citizens by snapping a replica of Ultraman Ace onscreen, doen by having the suit actor decapitate a real Ultraman Ace action figure (presumably, one with a detachable head).
    • Actual toys are often used for the defense team's vehicles. The opening credits of Ultraman Taro and Ultraman Leo displays their toy vehicles in all their glory, and actually looks pretty darn realistic for their time.
    • Even late into the series when CG is a thing, Tsuburaya would still honor the filming methods of the past by utilizing this trope instead of special effects. Case in point for the spin-off miniseries, Ultra Galaxy Legend Gaiden: Ultraman Zero vs. Darklops Zero and Ultraman Zero Gaiden: Killer the Beatstar - the former had an army of Ultramen Robot Me clones, the latter have Beatstar's Mecha Robot Army consisting of various King Joes, Legionoids and Imperisers - all of them portrayed by "Soul of Chogokin" toys of the characters. Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle have the Pedanian army consisting of hundreds and hundreds of King Joes, also portrayed by toys.
    • Ultraman Ginga, a show meant to promote the new Spark Dolls toyline for the series, uses actual Ultra Hero 500 and the Ultra Monster 500 toys for portraying the characters.
    • Sevenger Fight, a show from 2020 but imitates the filming method of the cheesy 1960s show, Ultra Fight, already runs on Stylistic Suck anyways, one notable instance which sticks out being recurring character Juglus Juggler in one episode being grabbed by a kaiju - which was done using a toy of Juggler.
    • Ultraman Decker follows the tradition with the episode featuring Gudon, Telesdon, and a whole colony of Twin Tails - the latter being portrayed by multiple copies of Shonen Rick's X-Plus monster figurines.
  • The Victorious episode "Who Did It To Trina?" uses a prop of the Lalaloopsy doll, Crumbs Sugar Cookie, and renamed it Cuddle Me Cathy. The doll had glitter on its face and blue yarn hair, but it was overall still the same.

    Music Video 
  • Though music videos in general are known for this, a stand-out example appears in Michael Jackson's "Scream". Among the many props used in this notoriously expensive video are several silver-painted toys called Bumble Balls.


  • In Rugrats: A Live Adventure, a scene in the "Princess of the World" musical number has Angelica cast a spell that turns Tommy into the Talking Tommy doll sold in stores as the time.
  • In the television broadcast of The SpongeBob Musical, a scene in which SpongeBob and Sandy discuss their plan to climb up the volcano has them portrayed as a Cabbage Patch Kid and an American Girl doll, respectively.
  • The Barney & Friends live shows would frequently use toy Barney plushies sold in stores whenever the script called for Barney to be depicted in his doll form.

    Video Games 
  • The monsters in Project Firestart are digitized renderings of an action figure bought at Toys "R" Us.note 
  • Squad 51 vs. the Flying Saucers is a massive B-Movie homage in video game form, with its graphics resembling an old, black-and-white sci-fi film, and the onscreen enemies resembling flying saucer toys, hubcaps, saucepan lids on strings, and assorted kitbashing effects common from old science fiction media.
  • Deliberately invoked with the design of the enemies in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. The game is meant to evoke the look and feel of an 80's action B-movie, so the Mooks look like they're wearing cheap costumes; for example, the rank-and-file soldiers are clearly wearing motorcycle helmets with some extra lights.
  • The opening intro for MechWarrior 4 is actually a very practical-effects heavy piece, with lots of props and parts of the 'Mechs, like the Vulture's cockpit, made to accommodate people acting in and around them. For all that effort, though, at one point, a close up shot is shown of the pilot's hand grasping a control stick in grim determination, which is unmistakably a Thrustmaster Top Gun joystick.
  • Used in-universe in Five Nights at Freddy's 3, where everything in Fazbear's Fright is scavenged from old Freddy Fazbear's Pizza locations, right down to Springtrap, the equipment and even the electrical wiring.
  • The weapon sprites in Doom and its sequel were digitised from toys bought off the local Toys "R" Us. As for the chainsaw, id took it off a McCulloch Eager Beaver belonging to Tom Hall's girlfriend.
  • Many video game companies scan airsoft replicas for their weapons due to ease of acquisition and handling as well as lower cost, leading to regular appearances of valves or cycle wheels on the bottom of magazines which shouldn't be there on a live-fire gun.

    Web Original 
  • The crew at Channel Awesome do this a lot with their skits. It makes sense, given that their budgets are a lot lower than those of anyone else on this page.
  • Present in nearly all YouTube Poops, which use no more than video samples and stock effects straight from the video editor of choice (and occasionally an after-effects program).
  • The Green Ranger vs Ryu fight from Super Power Beat Down has Tommy using the Legacy Power Morpher toy to transform.
  • A rather extreme in-universe example occurs in Strong Bad's attempt at making an action film, Dangeresque 1: Dangeresque, Too? Apparently lacking an actual car phone or even a phone receiver of any sort (except the one Coach Z is seen holding moments later), Dangeresque's "car phone" is an entire VCR with a squiggly cord attached to it.
  • For ASMR Video creators, the majority of their working budget is usually sunk into sound and lighting equipment and cameras, especially when they're first starting out, and thus they will often use household items, their personal property, and/or props that you could find at a "dollar store" in order to produce ASMR triggers.
  • Parodied in Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning: the manual controls for light balls consist of a TAC-2 joystick, instantly recognizable by any owner of a 8/16-bit home computer.
  • The Melissa & Doug Chef Puppet has been used for two notable chef characters popular on the internet: Chef Pee Pee in SuperMarioLogan and Puppet Chef Excellence in Stuart Ashen videos.
    • SuperMarioLogan uses Melissa and Doug puppets for many of its' other characters, like Brooklyn T. Guy and Doofy the Dragon, and also utilizes other real life toys for props, most famously Jeffy's cat piano, which is a Target-brand toy.

    Western Animation 
  • The camera trucking towards the background near the end of Walt Disney's Plane Crazy (meant to simulate the plane crashing) was impossible to achieve with Disney's rigid stop motion camera of the time, so he and Ub Iwerks improvised the effect by stacking the background on a pile of books, adding more to the pile per frame to give the illusion that the camera was trucking in towards the background, rather than the other way around.
  • According to Don Oriolo, the polka-dot patterns of Felix the Cat's Magic Bag of Tricks in the old TV cartoons was based on some wallpaper his dad had and often used to glue to the cels of the bag of tricks.
  • Thomas & Friends:
    • In "Thomas' Christmas Party", The Fat Controller is seen at the end of the episode standing on a platform … made of LEGO.
    • A stock Märklin DRG Class 80 was originally used as a spare engine on-set, and can be glimpsed on-screen a handful of times early on. It was apparently taken apart by the third series. Pieces of a Class 80 body appear as set dressing in scrap yards, and the chassis of one can be seen driving runaway trains.
  • Parodied in the Codename: Kids Next Door episode, "Operation: M.O.O.N." It's a deliberately terrible live-action shot of Numbuh 3's sleeve-covered arm taking a dart and a popping a balloon with the word "MOON" drawn on in front of a phony space backdrop. It somehow convinces high-ranking military adults that they really blew up the moon with a missile.

    Real Life 
  • In 2005, a group of Iraqi militants posted a photo online purporting to be of a captured US soldier. However, it was actually an action figure. No, seriously.
  • Cash-strapped automobile makers have been known to use parts from competitors' vehicles to cut costs. The MG SV, a 400+ horsepower sports car, used the same headlights as 60 horsepower Fiat Punto. Local Motors uses 3D printed components mixed in with parts from other car companies to keep operation costs down, with their Rally Fighter using Mazda Miata door handles and Honda Civic brake lights.
    • Not to be confused with rebadging (aka badge engineering) which is when a base design of a vehicle is used across brands with minimal (cosmetic) changes.

Examples of Kit-Bashing

    Anime and Manga 
  • A variation. Tsutomu Nihei revealed in an omake of Knights of Sidonia that he brainstormed for what would become the design of his manga's main mecha, the Type 17 Tsugumori, by buying lots of white colored mecha model-kits and painstakingly kitbashing them into one satisfyingly new design.

    Fan Works 
  • Invoked by Delphi, an EV Nova modder, who put together a package of ship components in Google SketchUp to kitbash into ship models for his Nova total conversion. He released the component library online and the modding community was quick to take advantage. (If you're interested, you can download it here.)

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Modelmaking in general relies heavily on kit-bashing as it does utilizing either original molds or over-the-counter props. With it used primarily to add little greeble detailing to spaceships, buildings and landscapes, or to achieve an effect that is easier to do than creating it from scratch.
  • In Aliens, the main body of the M41 pulse rifle was a heavily modified Thompson M1928 machine gun. The underbarrel grenade launcher used the receiver and barrel from a cut-down Remington 870 shotgun with additional parts from a Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun.
  • Michael Myers' iconic White Mask of Doom from Halloween (1978) is, famously, a $2note  1975 Captain Kirk mask painted white, with the hair roughed up and painted dark brown, the eyebrows removed, and the eyeholes made bigger.
  • Star Wars:
    • A lot of the small detailing utilized on the ships across the original trilogy was accomplished with this to help bulk them out, using model kits for machines and vehicles to get parts and detailing.
    • The Death Star trenches are in fact several dozen battleship model kits glued together.
    • The gap between the upper and lower shells of the Millennium Falcon is filled with the undersides of various trucks.
    • In The Empire Strikes Back, the production staff used their own merchandise; the TIE Bomber's wings are taken directly from a plastic model kit of Vader's custom TIE.
    • Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator in The Phantom Menace is essentially a woman's razor painted silver with a few small tidbits attached to it.
    • The Pod Racing crowd was made from Q-tips dipped in different colors of paint and positioned in the custom made stadium seating so that someone can wiggle the bottoms and make it look like a crowd shifting positions.
    • Blasters across the series are real firearms (or models/props thereof) decorated with model part kits and whatnot, both for ease of editing (adding the energy bolts to the scenes, timed with the effects of the blank cartridges) and so the blasters actually look like real weapons.
      • Another reason is simple cost and supply. Even by the mid-1970s when the first movie was filmed, WWII-era weapons were still common and easily procured. Even more so, there were tons and tons of realistic plastic props of WWII weapons (particularly Nazi weapons) left over from '60s-era films or contemporary films (such as The Great Escape and The Dirty Dozen). This is why a vast majority of the weapons in the Star Wars universe are modeled closely after German firearms, even down to those used by the heroes such as Han's iconic DL-44 blaster (which used a Mauser pistol as its base). The most iconic Imperial weapon is modeled after a British firearm of the '60's and '70's, the Sterling sub-machine gun, likely as a result of needing large numbers of actually functioning weapons as described previously. It just so happens that at the time A New Hope was being filmed, the British Army was getting rid of most of its stock of Sterlings because sub-machine guns were falling out of favor as infantry weapons, and the rest is history. Also, using "previous generation" weapons adds to the Used Future feel of the series.
    • This page gives a good idea towards the specifics of how kit-bashing (greebling) was done regarding Star Wars props. The films are highly regarded as some of the best examples of how kitbashing can be used to effectively add visual depth.
    • The Lightsabers are built out of the flash from old cameras. In fact, the specific model used for Luke's/Anakin's first saber doesn't exist anymore because Star Wars fans bought up every unit ever produced to make their own replicas, similar to the situation with Mausers to make Han's blaster.
    • Parodied in The Last Jedi, where a shot of what appears to be a landing spaceship that looks like a clothes iron zooms out to reveal it is, in fact, a futuristic clothes iron.
    • In-universe there are the "uglies", starfighters assembled from random bits of other designs (usually some Rebel and some Imperial). They vary wildly in effectiveness.
  • In J.J. Abrams Star Trek (2009), there are two items on the Conn Console of the Enterprise bridge that will seem very familiar to any one who works retail. Apparently, bar code scanners are vital tech for Federation starships.
  • In Back to the Future Part II, the garbage insertion device on top of the "Mr. Fusion Home Energy Converter" on the new improved DeLorean Time Machine is actually a coffee bean grinder (a Krups Coffina model, to be specific... which is actually a highly valuable item among BTTF collectors, especially those who build models of the DeLorean).
    • The same model of coffee grinder previously appeared in the Nostromo's galley in Alien, where it's actually used as a coffee grinder.
  • Used a lot during Blade Runner for textures. During the extras, the model builder reveals that this is common practice. When it comes to making textures for a model, they tend to use kits, as they can provide nice detail at a great price.
  • Coraline:
    • At least some of the flowers in the garden scene are made out of dog toys, with various mechanisms hooked onto them to move them between the frames without relying on CGI.
    • The flowers on trees were created with popcorn. Lots of popcorn.
  • The Tumbler in The Dark Knight Trilogy was initially designed through kitbashing; afterwards there were four custom-built, full-size, street-ready versions created and driven for exterior shots. Production designer Nathan Crowley noted how surreal it was to see huge blobs of model glue recreated on the full-size Tumbler, the model-makers having thought they were part of the design.
  • In xXx, the heat-seeking rocket bazooka is clearly a Sony handycam with a couple of pieces of PVC pipe attached and then dipped in gray paint.
  • The Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters (1984) is a life-sized example of kit-bashing. Every part you see is commercially available. It makes perfect sense because the Ghostbusters are supposed to be pretty strapped for cash most of the time and would have to build a lot of their equipment from whatever they could get their hands on.
  • The model-makers for Alien relied on a great deal of kitbashing to get the effects shots done in time for the release, and ran out to a model shop where the first thing they laid eyes on was a model kit for Darth Vader's TIE Advanced. The entire hull of the Nostromo is made of bits and pieces of many TIE Advanced model kits.
  • More set-bashing than kit-bashing: several setpieces used in the filming of Dark City (including the rooftops used in the foot chase) were sold off to the production crew of The Matrix, who were also filming in Australia and right after them.
  • In The Battle of Britain, a lot of scenes are very clever editing involving cutting between studio sets, live-action footage of preserved 1940-era warplanes, and FX involving virtually off-the-shelf models of the Airfix type. Even in 1969, there simply were not enough preserved WW2-era aircraft to have live footage of German and British aircraft in the sort of numbers that would have fought over southern England in 1940. Scenes of lots and lots of German bombers in formation were done as model shots, using off-the shelf Airfix kits note  of German aircraft. The kit-bashing element involved adapting the completed models to take small electric motors and batteries so that the airscrews moved authentically. Pyrotechnics were built into some models, which were adapted to break up in ways that would have been realistic for real aircraft and not for plastic kits, whose parts and assembly do not usually correspond to the way in which real aircraft are built and how they deconstruct if catastrophic breaking stresses are applied. note 
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu: in the scene where Tim Goodman and his friend Jack try to catch a Cubone, the Poké Ball prop is a cell phone power bank in that shape with the LED light on the button being replaced with one down the middle stripe of the ball.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the device that McCoy uses to heal the injured Chekov is constructed from kit-bashed parts from the AMT Klingon Cruiser model kit, plus LEDs.
  • Tetsuo: The Iron Man: Being a low budget body horror movie about a man slowly turning to a metal machine monster, the costumes were created using discarded TV and vacuum cleaner parts and whatever they could find at a scrapyard.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Daleks" had a very effective use of this trope. When the original four Dalek props were being constructed for the serial, one of them had the lenses of an old camera fitted inside its eye which, when wired up, allowed the Dalek's iris to expand and shrink, thereby adding a distinct eeriness to the prop. They even brought the working eye back for "The Power of the Daleks".
    • Speaking of "Power", the famous "Dalek mass production" sequence used licensed merchandise toy Daleks. There were different ones from those that would later be used in "The Evil of the Daleks" and "Planet of the Daleks" (see above), and they were also partially kit-bashed to have slats.
    • In "The Sea Devils", they were able to get stock footage of a nuclear submarine on the surface, but not underwater. The underwater shots are, as described in the DVD commentary, a model sub bought from Woolworth's. Hilariously, however, this little submarine wound up causing an insane amount of trouble for the producers. As it turns out, the submarine they used was kitbashed with a rotor from a vacuum cleaner to make a 22-propeller sub... and the UK at that time had just turned out 22-propeller subs... which were a state secret. The footage was at first convincing enough to make the Navy believe that footage had been leaked.
    • In "Planet of the Daleks", the Dalek Supreme is an oddity among most classic Daleks because it has an eyepiece that lights up and closely resembles the revival era design. However, a closer look at that aforementioned eyepiece reveals it to be a dolled-up torch/flashlight wedged into a tube. The dome lights are worse. At first glance they resemble a mix between the lights used in the 1960s movies and the lights on the revival era design, but on close look they're actually purple jam jars.
    • In an example with overtones of Take That!, a damaged and derelict spaceship in "The Stones of Blood" was recognisably derived from a licensed toy of an Eagle Transport from rival show Space: 1999.
    • The Sixth Doctor's gun in "Trial of a Time Lord" is a heavily modified garden hose nozzle. It works better than you'd expect.
    • "The Runaway Bride" has the villains using a remote control — which is essentially a modified Nintendo 64 controller.
    • In "Time Heist", Psi's hologram projector is a USB plug with an LED. It also works as an actual plug.
    • The miniatures of the Dalek City on Skaro in "The Daleks" and "The Evil of the Daleks" have a few obvious visible toothpaste caps left in.
    • While we're on the subject of Daleks, their casings are often kitbashed from other Daleks. A fansite called Dalek 63-88 has a "family history" detailing which parts come from which Dalek in which story.
  • The Flash (2014): In-universe. After Leonard Snart steals Cisco's cold gun, Cisco confronts him with the prototype version, which is bigger, stronger, and requires a giant power supply that Felicity and Caitlin help him lug around. After Snart leaves, Cisco tells Barry that it's actually the STAR Labs vacuum cleaner with a bunch of LEDs stuck on it.
  • Game of Thrones: The black fur mantles worn by Northerners and the Night's Watch were made from faux fur IKEA throwrugs (it was a cheap solution that also avoided using animal fur).
  • The opening of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981) TV series shows the sun rising over a lovely landscape. Many viewers wrote in asking where it was, except for the model railway enthusiasts, who recognized the commercially available trees.
  • The Derelict Graveyard in the Red Dwarf episode "Psirens" contains the remnants of whatever spaceship models the FX team had on hand, including the Narcissus shuttle from Alien, an Eagle Transporter from Space: 1999 and a Klingon battleship. (And the Esperanto from "Back to Reality", but that doesn't really count.)
  • Star Trek:
    • Before CGI became the primary source of special effects, the various series often used bits and pieces of their own merchandise and spare copies of ship models. A prime example is the ships and debris at the Battle of Wolf 359 in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II". The single-nacelle Freedom-class uses a Constellation-class neck glued to a Galaxy nacelle, while the four-nacelled Cheyenne-class and two-nacelled New Orleans-class both consist of the saucer from one Galaxy model kit, the bridge from another, and highlighter markers for the nacelles, albeit assembled differently.
    • According to production designer Rick Sternbach, the piece of shrapnel that kills Captain Garrett in "Yesterday's Enterprise" was actually a wing from a VF-1 Valkyrie model kit.
    • The pile of Borg corpses in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Scorpion, Part 1" are just Borg action figures from Playmates Toys that were cut up with a multi-tool and glued together.
    • The need to have a large number of starships in the days of physical models also led to Deep Space Nine featuring a fair number of kitbashed Starfleet ships in the background as well.
    • The act of kitbashing is "honored" in Star Trek Online via the customization methods in place for ships. A player can make their own distinctive designs by mixing pylons, nacelles, and saucers from the different official ship classes (themselves often based on the kitbashes from Deep Space Nine).
    • Though presumably CGI and not a physical model, one notorious case of design kitbashing from the shows is the similarity between the Akira-class escort seen in Deep Space Nine and the NX-01 Enterprise from, well, Star Trek: Enterprise: it's essentially the same ship, just with the rear section turned upside down! Some consider it a minor detail (it's not like an Akira-class was important to any episode) but a lot of fans considered it a real disappointment that the first starship Enterprise and the ship that would represent the franchise for quite some time seemed to have little thought or creativity put into it beyond popping off the engines of an existing model and flipping 'em. (To their credit, the most obvious details that the much older ship wouldn't have - the track the phasers travel along that no ship before TNG had, the lifeboats similar to the Enterprise-E, windows that would be HUGE in-universe since the older ship is supposed to be quite smaller than most TNG-era ones - were removed.)
    • Even after CGI replaced physical studio models, the practice remained a time-honored tradition. The NX-era Intrepid-class/"half-saucer" (not to be confused with the Intrepid class of the USS Voyager) that appears in three episodes of Enterprise is a redress of the NX nacelles and engineering hull strapped behind the front half of the saucer, taken from the CGI model of the NX-01.
  • Knight Rider utilized some model kits that were found on the shelf in addition to specialized constructed models. However, the model used for KITT was Chevy Camaro model from Monogram that was modified. There were no Trans-Am models from the year the show started that was available in the 1/8th scale, and the Camaro had the same F-Body design close to the Trans-Am. After the model's body was modified, the production made molds of it to use for the show's run (including an RC version to use for jump sequences not possible for the normal full-scale vehicle without significant damage).

    Music Videos 
  • In the music video for The Black Eyed Peas' "Rock That Body", the "stereo guns" the band members use are Nerf blasters that have been painted dark gray and modified to superficially resemble loudspeakers and subwoofers. The blasters are as follows:
    • An unloaded Longshot CS-6. Used by
    • The barrel attachment that's boxed alongside the aforementioned Longshot. Used by Fergi.
    • The Maverick REV-6. Dual-wielded by
    • The Firefly REV-8. Used by Taboo.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Gerry Anderson vehicles often used this, whether Supermarionation or live-action, especially the Pod Vehicles in Thunderbirds. They went through a lot of Tiger Joe tank tracks, among other things. This is why everything in Gerry's TV series is Made of Explodium; models were endlessly converted and re-used, so they never blew up an actual model. Instead they stopped the camera, removed the model (which was too valuable for future use to destroy), replaced it with pyrotechnics and filmed the explosion. The result is that the model appears to vanish into an all-consuming fireball.

    Many of the models are seen disintegrating as they fall from cliffs, are dropped or collide with towers; but most are rebuilt and repurposed in later episodes; notably the half-track trucks. Several aircraft are visible in backgrounds that had been "destroyed" in earlier episodes, notably the "Red Arrow" fighter (a modified SAAB Draken). A website shows how easy the kit-bashing for the Red Arrow likely was. The Draken was also used as the basis for another fighter in the episode The Cham-cham, though whether it was the Red Arrow recycled is unknown (probably not, since it would have been easier and quicker to make it from scratch). Another aircraft that got used a lot is the F-104 Starfighter; its fuselage, in particular, is used as part of at least 4 aircraft in the series, ranging from the Zombite fighter from The Uninvited to the ubiquitous Air-Sea Rescue jets seen in many episodes. Additionally, if you look on the back wall during the launch sequence of Thunderbird 1, you can clearly see a lemon squeezer used as part of the detailing.
  • In Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, most of the Mysteron complex on Mars is made from kitchenware — salad strainers and the like.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, the first series of Clan BattleMechs utilize many shared parts - generally their legs - as a way to cut costs. Originally, they were even sold with instructions informing the buyer that you could swap the arms and legs between different bodies to give them new looks. In-Universe, "FrankenMechs" are built using salvaged parts from destroyed battlemechs, often entire limbs; these were prevalent during the Succession Wars that destroyed most of the factories producing new equipment, though new technology phased them out of the battlefield and left them as gimmicks for the Solaris Arena and the backwater Periphery states.
    • Somewhat more literal for the Mechwarrior Dark Age line of click-base figures, where some models share mold parts out of convenience. One particular 'Mech, fittingly named the Mongrel, was built out of leftover spare bits from various figure production lines and put into the game as a new design.
    • Kitbashing is so popular among Battletech players that Iron Wind Metals, the company that makes miniatures for the game, eventually started selling bits and pieces individually instead of having to buy complete miniatures to do so.
  • Used extensively for vehicles in Warhammer 40,000, although in recent years they've been moving away from it. Every faction has one or two base models that get reused with different weapons and accessories over and over. It's most obvious for the Imperial Guard with its large variety of vehicles deployed at once; the body and track assembly is the same for everything from troop transports to scouting vehicles to mobile artillery to main battle tanks. Justified in-unverse because every vehicle is based on the same chassis, which makes them easier to repair and upgrade.

    Video Games 
  • Pirate bases in the X-Universe series recognizably use chunks of other races' capital ships in their models (the hulls of the Argon Colossus and the Teladi Albatross are readily visible). Lampshaded by the flavor text, which notes that the bases are constructed mostly out of derelict ships. Teladi capital ships are made up of modular segments, which are swapped around, rotated, and re-sized to create new ships. The Teladi Albatross's main body is essentially two Teladi Condors welded side-to-side with their glowing generators removed, while the bridge of the Albatross is a sideways Phoenix nose. Being chintzy and reusing parts is the Teladi's hat, so it's perfectly in-character. Space stations use modular sections which are swapped around depending on the station type, though real space stations likewise use this.
  • Baraka's face from Mortal Kombat II was actually a store bought Halloween mask of Count Orlok from Nosferatu that had been heavily repainted and modified with fake fingernails for teeth.
  • Some of the Stop Motion dinosaurs in Dino Rex were modified toys and models from Japan, such as the Allosaurus, who was built from a Valley of Gwangi model kit originally produced by Kaiyodo.

    Web Original 
  • Pimp My Gun is a Flash app that allows you to kitbash your own virtual weapons out of parts from dozens of real life guns.
  • The aforementioned Dangeresque 1 features a "nunchuck gun" that is literally a pair of nunchucks taped to a gun. Though that may have been exactly what he meant it to be (and the gun, for what it's worth, appears to be real at least).
  • Candle Cove: In-universe, Pirate Percy's puppet is described as looking like it was thrown together with parts of different dolls, with the head in particular looking like a porcelain baby doll.

    Western Animation 
  • The CGI series Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet carries on the Supermarionation tradition; every car that doesn't appear on camera for more than a few seconds is a stock 3D model of a generic real-life car. It's not immediately obvious, but it's slightly jarring compared to the show's 20 Minutes into the Future aesthetic. There's a couple of truck models that do look quite convincingly futuristic, but they were made specifically for a particular episode's plot and have been repeatedly recycled since.
  • Thomas & Friends used a lot of model kits that were available to hobbyists in the 1980s. Many trucks and coaches can be recognized in old advertisements - some intended for different scales, but adapted to 1 gauge for the show. The engines themselves originally used the chasses and some other components from various Märklin engines.
    • TUGS, made by the same production team, utilizes many of the same models for the harbor railway. Some of the engines were redressed to look more American.