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Memorable Movie Tech: Data’s arsenal of DIY gadgets

by Brandon Russell | March 7, 2015

A lone, resolute figure stands among a heap of abandoned junk, his hands clutched firm around an oversized belt buckle. The camera zooms in, and with the press of a button, the belt’s lid pops open, revealing an arrow outfitted with a blue suction cup. Another button press shoots the arrow out toward a red bin, triggering the buckle to automatically start reeling it in.

We suddenly understand that this is no ordinary belt, but the belt of a madman. This is Data, a walking, talking bundle of imagination and faulty gadgetry. He’s an undisguised Batman, if you will, James Bond’s “Q,” full of concealed trinkets and clever weaponry.

As far as introductions go, Data’s is one of the best in Hollywood history. He doesn’t speak, but he’s out in his element, surrounded by the junk he uses to fabricate his arsenal of tech. Chunk and Sloth might be the characters people remember most about The Goonies, but it’s Data who is the real star. It’s his ingenuity, originality, and, above all, passion, that spoke to an entire generation of tech-obsessed. In a time when RadioShack was a safe haven for DIYers, Data came to personify what it meant to be a nerd.

And that’s not a bad thing! Although his gadgets rarely worked, they were successful for their creativity. Things like Slick Shoes, Pinchers of Peril, Bully Blinders. Even the names were good. It’s these gadgets that, for me, really capture the essence of any budding tinkerer. These aren’t just store-bought gadgets. They’ve been carefully crafted to serve Data at the exact moment he needs them, built with zeal and unrivaled artistry.

I’ve probably watched The Goonies over 100 times by now, and it’s always the moments when Data uses his gadgets that are the most enjoyable. He’s so utterly enthused, pleased beyond measure. His inventiveness actually get him and the group out of quite a few sticky situations. The Pinchers of Peril are particularly handy, first saving Data from certain death, and then latching onto the crotch of Francis Fratelli.

What I find most charming is how The Goonies tries to convince us that Data’s gadgets would work out in the real world. Even in the opening shot, when the belt buckle starts reeling in that red trash can, there’s no way that would work. And the Pinchers of Peril? We’re somehow expected to believe they’d shoot out with enough velocity to latch onto a cave ceiling while Data is falling. And then again that they’d actually support Data’s weight!

But that’s not the point. Even at the end, when Data’s dad’s camera contraption fails to work, nobody makes fun of them, or questions what they’re doing. It’s a final call to the tech movement, a celebration of those who think outside of the box. Without Data and his Bat suit of gadgets, The Goonies would have probably been captured, and, who knows, maybe even killed.

It just goes to show that, when in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to set a “booty trap.”


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Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...