From the very first James Bond film, Dr. No, which turns 50 today, gadgets have played a major part. No idea is too ridiculous for the Q Department to try out—man-eating couches, decapitating tea trays, telephone boxes that deploy airbags when you call France, leg cast missiles, bagpipe flamethrowers—but the good ones were part of what makes Bond, James Bond. Plus he has to be able to keep up with villains armed with dagger shoes and razor-sharp teeth.
For the sake of this list, we’re ignoring vehicles (see the Best James Bond vehicles coming later today) and sticking with gadgets that can be carried.
25. Geiger Counter – Dr. No
Used to detect the radioactivity of Crab Key, this might not be the sexiest Bond gadget, but the then uncommon device was the very first Bond gadget.
24. Voice Changer – Diamonds Are Forever
The best part of the voice changer, which Blofield uses to imitate Willard Whyte in Diamonds Are Forever is how Q gives him a dose of his own medicine, building one on the fly with ease, saying he’d made one for “the kids last Christmas.”
23. X-Ray Glasses – The World Is Not Enough
What every child of the ‘50s wanted to find in their cereal box finally came to light in what was otherwise one of the worst Bond films.
22. Tape Recorder Camera – To Russia With Love
Before the cameras were small enough to be disguised, they were big enough to disguise other recording devices.
21. X-Ray Polaroid – License to Kill
Need an extra? Just snap a photo…shake it for a few minutes…and the skeletons start to appear as if by magic.
20. Clothing Brush Communicator – Live and Let Die
Ever wonder how James always looks so immaculately dressed? This Q-issued lint brush does the trick—and you can also talk on it. Are you listening, Apple?
19. Yo-Yo Saw – Octopussy
The assassin in Octopussy didn’t mind making a mess. His weapon of choice was a buzzsaw blade on a string.
18. Radioactive Lint – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Apparently the clear, plastic box it was kept it was enough to keep you safe before you placed this tracking device on your target. Or maybe this was what prevented little 007s getting conceived on five continents.
17. Dentonite Toothpaste – License to Kill
Finally a toothpaste that causes cavities—in walls, floors, people… This one came with a cigarette-pack detonator.
16. Prosthetic Arm – Live and Let Die
Another great henchman, Tee Hee (played by Julius W. Harris), took what most people would think of as a handcap (a missing right arm) and turned it to a handy steel grip of death.
15. Sky Hook – Thunderball
Ordinary spies have get-away cars; Bond has a get-away plane thanks to his grappling suspenders, a weather balloon, a utility harness and a B-17 aircraft. No duct tape required.
14. Dagger Shoe – From Russia With Love
Colonel Rosa Klebb might not be the most attractive woman Bond faced, but she started a filmic fashion trend with poison-tipped daggers in her shoes. The gadget would appear in several other movies including The Punisher and The Dark Knight.
14. Grapple Gun – GoldenEye
Bond could infiltrate Fort Knox if he had to—wait, didn’t he do that once?—and often had some sort of grappling hook. The best, though, was this piton gun, complete with laser-cutter.
13. Ghetto Blaster – The Living Daylights
The lone Q-lab-only gadget to make our list, this rocket launcher put the “boom” back in “boom box.”
12. Keychain – The Living Daylights
The Swiss Army would approve of Bond’s Philips keychain, which contained a lock pick, an explosive charge and stun gas, triggered by whistling the first few bars of “Rule, Britannia!”
11. Car Phone – To Russia With Love
The second Bond film introduced us to the idea of the car phone—and to the idea that sometimes we just wish we couldn’t be reached.