Introduction: Fuel Cell Bomb Movie Prop

About: Hi. I'm Richard Neuman. I started making Paper Mache Props for Halloween and didn't stop! Lately I've been making Tiki statues and other outdoor garden sculptures.

Movies will use anything to make props and so will I. The huge difference is the size of their budget and mine is almost zero! The Pros have CNC machines and laser cutters. I have a hacksaw and a glue gun.

You can build this low-tech, Fuel Cell Bomb prop with a glue gun, electrical tape and a bunch of spare parts that were on their way to the recycle bin. Nothing fancy here.


  • Chrome cylinder-shaped Frame
  • Old Alarm Clock
  • LED lights
  • Aluminum or chrome Tubing
  • Foam Wrap or Parchment paper
  • Chrome or steel picture frame
  • Junk parts that look cool

Step 1: You’re Throwing That Away?

I’m definitely a pack-rat, but a selective one. I’ll save anything that looks cool, or looks like it could pass for something else. I started with Lego pieces that I used to make steam punk guns.

The key is to use your imagination to see the possibilities of turning every-day items into cool junk!

My daughter was throwing an old jewelry holder out to be recycled. It was cylinder shape and chrome, so I immediately thought, Nuclear Fuel Cell Bomb! It reminded me of the fuel cell bomb prop used in the Tom Cruise Oblivion movie.

Step 2: Nuclear Fission Effect

While the Oblivion level of prop is way out of my league, I wanted my bomb to ‘glow’ so I stuffed it full of Christmas lights we have that slowly fade in and out. I wrapped it in plastic wrap to hold in the lights. I used two sides of an old aluminum picture frame as a base so the bomb won’t roll around.

Step 3: Junk Yard Parts

I took apart an old clock radio, smoke detector and thermostat (which I had saved from our basement renovation) and painted the plastic parts with black spray paint.

The smoke detector fit in the end nicely so I drilled a few holes in it and turned the guts to the outside to made it look more ‘dangerous’ ...

Step 4: Radio-Active Insulator

I used thin foam wrapping from a new computer to wrap around the bomb to dull the Christmas lights and give a more cohesive look to the tube.

I measured, traced and cut the foam then glued a couple images printed on the laser printer on the foam-warp. You could use parchment paper as well.

Step 5: AM/FM Detonator Assembly

I took the working guts out of an old clock radio and glued it to a chunk of plastic. Then I glued on what was left of the old thermostat I took apart and glued it to the back.

You can probably tell there was no real design here. It was just of matter of seeing what fit together with whatever I had that looked kinda ‘bomb-y’(definitely not a word). A dollar store level, an old halogen light bulb, some stiff copper wire. These are all parts I had saved previously without any specific project in mind at the time.

Step 6: Roxanne

The only part I actually bought was a flashing red light from the dollar store. My thinking was that when you see a flashing red light on a car, it means the alarm is on. When this baby is flashing, stand back!

The only time anybody is going to see this is at night as part of my Halloween display, so I wanted the red light to shine through the mini-level and the Halogen light bulb.

Step 7: Sub-Atomic Titanium Tube

I took apart an old squeegee that had telescopic aluminum tubes, cut down the tubes and taped them to the outside of the bomb. This gave it a futuristic look and provided a base to glue on the detonator assembly.

If you don’t have any aluminum tube, you can buy some inexpensive PVC and paint it silver.

Step 8: Thermo-Nuclear Hydraulic Coupling Device

It doesn’t look very menacing in the daylight. But it looks pretty cool in the dark.

Step 9: Count Down to Nuclear Annihilation

I taped and wired down the button that is used to set the alarm, so it counts down like a timer.

Step 10: Single-Stage Plutonium Reactor

I’m sure if I made another one of these I would make a few changes, but for a cheap movie prop or Halloween display, version 1.0 will do just fine.

So start saving those weird looking objects because you never know what you might be able to turn them into!

Feel free to post a photo of any prop you made where you made something look like something else.