The Stargate franchise has had many props, but among the top three recognizable ones would be the Zat Gun, Staff Weapon and the gate itself. Of these three props the Zat is the one which has been most replicated by fans. And, for the Zat gun itself, it is every fans dream to hold a WORKING Zat Gun. So we made one. Dreams come true.
The SG1Props Zat Gun replica is the first fan made Zat gun which actually does more than just looks pretty. How much more? It opens, closes, lights up, plays sounds and recoils when fired. It does everything that the original animatronic prop does and more. This replica truly combines collectable quality with functionality.
Our electric Zat Gun replica works just like the one held by the actors in Stargate SG1. The prop is held by the bottom segment, and operated by buttons on both the bottom and middle sections. When the open/close button is first pressed, the prop uncurls from it's folded position to an imposing height! At the same time the emitter head opens, making it ready to fire a blast of energy! When fired the top of the prop recoils backwards just like the original.
The movement of the original prop is impressive by itself, but the feeling is just not complete without adding the lights and sounds we are used to seeing on the show. On the show these were achieved in post production, of course, but we couldn't resist adding them directly to the replica. The sound effects are realistic to the original. In fact we installed a sound chip containing the sounds taken directly from the original studio audio files acquired after the prop department sold everything.
Firing the Zat gun creates a light show thanks to the blue LEDs embedded in the top. This looks amazing in the dark, and would be the focal point of any Stargate costume competition. The pulsing of the blue lights simulates the energy discharge used on screen.
Putting this prop together is truly a highly involved process! With the Zat Bible in hand we used all of the secrets of the original working prop, including utilizing dozens of specific parts, measurements and processes. Many of the internal parts had to be especially made for this replica, and would cost well over $1,000 per Zat just to have them professionally made by a machine shop on a one-off basis. Suffice it to say that we had to have multiple sets of parts created in order to make the cost practical.
In addition to custom CNC made components, over 70 additional individual pieces of hardware were used to build the replica to original specs. This includes custom made screws, shafts, bearings, mechanical joints, micro servos and a magnetic actuator.
To make everything work like the original prop, we programmed over 250 lines of code in the embedded micro controller. The code takes each press of a button and translates it into an action. This is where the magic truly happens, and is what transforms the replica into a working prop.
It would have felt wrong to make a working Zat gun which isn't also accurate. So we based the entire project on the original design specifications. From the inside-out the prop is true to the original. The body is made up of individual sections, and each segment has been assembled to be the exact distance apart as the original. This makes the overall prop the same size as the screen used model whether it is collapsed or extended.
Each piece has been professionally airbrushed to create a beautiful finish. Even the patina was applied using references of the original to apply it in an accurate density. We take no artistic license to modify the paintwork of the original. To finish off the look of the original animatronic version seen on screen we used the same material for the black seals between body segments. It is truly accurate down to the finest details of appearance and functionality.
The animatronic Zat gun is one of the most technically advanced props to come out of the production of Stargate SG1. The prop is a testament to the level of expertise of the original prop makers on the show. I am deeply humbled to have had the opportunity to learn these secrets, and to recreate this incredible prop.