Sometimes the most impressive gadgets don't come from high-tech research labs, but from one plucky youngster plugging away in a garage. With ‘Spare Parts’ shining a light on one group of teens and their love for building robots, here’s a look at some of the coolest movie inventions designed by kids.
The Intergalactic Telephone in ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ (1982)
Sure, maybe young Elliot (Henry Thomas) had plenty of help from his extraterrestrial friend, but it is still pretty impressive to see the duo convert an old Speak & Spell toy into a communicator capable of phoning home across the galaxy. We'd settle for a more consistent 4G connection.
The Bully Buster in 'The Goonies' (1985)
Data (Ke Huy Quan) was a veritable inventing machine in this adventure film, churning out one makeshift gadget after another that beat up the bad guys or saved his bacon. Our favorite is also the most direct – a spring-loaded boxing glove to the face will keep any bully at bay. (As will Data's Pinchers of Peril.)
Lisa in 'Weird Science' (1985)
Many grown men dream of meeting the perfect woman, but high school nerds Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) took the more proactive approach by building one. Their creation, Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), had it all – looks, intelligence and the ability to warp reality itself.
Ferris’ Decoy in ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)
Ferris (Matthew Broderick) turned cutting school into an art. He covered all his bases by designing an elaborate system of camouflage that featured a dummy and several pre-recorded voice messages – the latter so convincing, even his mother thought he was sick in bed and not cavorting around downtown Chicago.
Kevin's Home Defense System in 'Home Alone' (1990)
Who needs Brinks when you have the mind of a precocious and slightly sociopathic child? Young Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) managed to turn ordinary toys and household tools into an unending gauntlet of pain for Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern's would-be robbers.
The Baseball Retrieval Machine in ‘The Sandlot’ (1993)
As far as screw-ups go, letting an oversized St. Bernard get its jaws on a priceless baseball signed by Babe Ruth is pretty high up there. But at least Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) tried every trick in the book to retrieve the ball, including an ambitious (but doomed) contraption built out of thousands of Erector Set pieces.
The Communications Satellite in ‘Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius’ (2001)
Jimmy Neutron (voiced by Debi Derryberry) certainly lived up to the moniker “Boy Genius” in this animated film. His very first act was to launch a homemade communications satellite built from a toaster. It actually worked, leading to plenty of human/alien hijinks.
The Marauder's Map in ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ (2004)
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) accumulated plenty of useful magical gadgets during his time at Hogwarts. Short of his invisibility cloak, none proved as handy as this enchanted map -- which revealed the location of every single person inside the school's walls. Harry eventually learned that the map had been created by his father and his friends to facilitate their own magical mischief.
The Memory Scanner in ‘Meet the Robinsons’ (2007)
In this animated Disney film, orphan boy Lewis (voiced by Jordan Fry) created a memory scanner to help him track down his mother. We imagine a device like that would have countless other mundane uses, too. Missing keys would be a thing of the past.
Anyone who has ever lost a beloved childhood pet has probably wished they could do what young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) accomplished in this Tim Burton-directed film. He harnessed the power of electricity to bring his beloved dog, Sparky, back to life (and only slightly the worse for wear).