top of page

Star Fleet Research

This company was created by a New York electronics enthusiast in 1975 and was a one-man manufacturer. The further story on this company is well known by most TOS replica collectors and it can found on the RACPROPS website under this author's article “Copycats - The Brad Nelson Story”.  


His phaser features a Xenon strobe circuit with functioning level meter, rear selector switch, and thumbwheel that functions as an on/off switch, volume control, and sometimes variable strobe speed. Phaser is powered by 4 AA batteries installed by removing the bottom aluminum plate on the handle to insert within. All units were made to order, one at a time, and by hand. Phaser features machined aluminum parts including the trigger, nozzle, battery cover, and dilithium crystal cell door. There is also a fixed solid brass non-functional lock release hand unit button. Phaser body is made of marine fiberglass resin, the handle is tubed aluminum, and the hand unit is non-removable. First run very early versions had variable strobe speed controlled from the thumbwheel and no sound. All phasers had 3 flashing strobe speeds controlled from the rear selector switch. Presently ALL versions are rare.


He also made non-working hand units for sale in 2 versions. Early prismatic aspirator and the later Phase II style with chrome lined aspirator.


This company was contracted by Gene Roddenberry in 1977 to fabricate 12 phaser II units and 15 phaser I units for use in then up and coming “Star Trek Phase II” TV series that was subsequently rejected in favor of producing The Motion Picture instead. For Phase II the paint scheme and “trigger box” design changed noticeably as well as the rear knob height, and the addition of the chrome lined aspirator material. Phasers produced and sold to fans from that time on retained the Roddenberry ordered changes until the closing of the company. It is important to note that a last run unit is in the possession of the Smithsonian Institute by request. To date, it is not on display.

Years active: 1975-1988


Items Sold

Phaser II with Xenon strobe circuit

Phaser I hand unit static  



Production Runs  

Phaser II replicas: 430

Phaser I hand unit replicas: 50-75 units

Communicators: unknown

Tricorders: unknown

These are the four known versions. The first three versions were for sale to the collector community and by order at conventions ONLY.


Version 1: Semi-gloss paint scheme, tall rear selector knob, red/green “BATTERY” meter and prismatic multi-color tape for aspirator pile. Very early units had Velcro on the handle. 3 speeds of bright flashing strobe: rapid flashing, slightly slower, and slow with very bright flash. These units had no sound. Rear selector switch was numbered 3-2-1. Hand unit featured thin side rails. Sound added to later version 1 phasers in addition to wider side rails and faux trigger textured black vinyl tape on hand unit. Velcro on handle removed. 


Version 2: Semi-flat paint scheme, prismatic tape for aspirator pile. The battery meter was changed to a numbered signal/RF meter from a Radio Shack Realistic TRC-24C CB radio. 3 speeds of bright flashing strobe. Somewhat the same as the later version 1 unit, the sound volume being controlled by the thumbwheel on the hand unit. 


Version 3: The Gene Roddenberry changes included a flat “grainy” finish on both phaser I and II. Prismatic tape changed to chrome straight lined tape. The trigger box was squared off, and the rear knob reduced in height by half and numbered 0 - 10. Often times we see the clear protective covering on them yellowed over time. For the fan produced phasers sold, an "overload" feature was introduced on setting #3. This is a slow build-up charge, indicated on the meter, and when the neon ready lamp on the hand unit lit brightly, the phaser could be fired to emit a blinding flash. A third meter was introduced during times of meter shortages or as an optional upgrade; a black/red "POWER" meter also from a CB Radio. Meter examples below. 

BN meters.jpg
Version 1
Version 2
1977 forward sometimes unavailable
Version 3
1978 forward as an alternative or optional upgrade (approx)

Early Version 1 - 1975


Above, right, and below - Early example. Note the Velcro on the handle. The manufacturer put Velcro on less than 25 units and did NOT recommend its use as the unit was too heavy to be supported by Velcro only. In addition, early trigger box with epoxy glue "joining line" of tubed aluminum handle to fiberglass lower half of pistol unit. These also did not have the faux P1  trigger textured black vinyl strip.

Later Version 1 - 1976

Version 1 - STATIC
Roughly 10 phaser II's were made without electronics. Fixed trigger, rear knob mounted on a nail, flash tube epoxied in beam emitter, second battery cover inside, no hole/chase for rotary switch wires.  


Version 2


Version 3 

both Versions 00.JPG
Both Versions 03.JPG
Both Versions 01.JPG

Left, above left, above right: Comparison of early production unit with higher rear knob, red/green meter and smooth semi-gloss finish with later unit of the Gene Roddenberry requested changes; grainy finish, chrome tape on the hand unit, and different meter. In addition, note the difference in trigger box height.

Phaser 1 - Hand Unit

2 versions of the hand unit were made. One, with the prismatic tape, and one with the Gene Roddenberry requested straight lined chrome tape. Meter versions varied. Some units had moving thumbwheels, others did not as the manufacturer did not want to waste them on a non-functional unit. None of the hand units had any electronics installed.

Bn H 01.jpg
BN H 02.jpg
Bn H 04.jpg
Bn H 03.jpg





Of course, these units were not sold to the general public but as previously noted, these were made specifically for Gene Roddenberry to be featured in then up and coming “Star Trek Phase II” TV series. Paramount however  cancelled the series in favor of making The Motion Picture instead, due to the massive success of the Star Wars movie. 



Year made - 1977

Product: Phaser II

Production run: 12


Product: Phaser I hand unit

Production run: 15



The pistol phasers and stand alone hand phasers were not made with any electronics whatsoever. The phaser II hand unit as well as the pistol handle were removable and attached by Velcro.


It is common knowledge that these phasers were NEVER used in any Star Trek series, movie, or any of the later Star Trek franchise series. Therefore, they have no “screen used” collector value BUT are still coveted rare pieces of Star Trek history. 


Later on and as time went by, since they were of no use to the studio or Roddenberry, some of these phasers surfaced and became available for sale in the collector community, some now in some private collections. 


There ARE hand phasers that as mentioned earlier, were sold to the public

that resemble the phase II hand units and in fact they are basically the same. The ONLY way to authenticate if a Star Fleet Research hand unit was made for Phase II is to examine the Velcro on the bottom of the unit. As is known, Velcro was not applied to the common sale hand units for the public. On the Phase II units, thin copper wire was used to attach the Velcro and covered over with black magic marker. If the wire can be spotted, then it is possible it is a Phase II unit.

Images of some Phase II units below from public domain. 

Below is an actual Phase II  hand unit owned by the author.

UPDATE: Rare Custom Order Take-Apart Phaser II

Near the end of 2020, acquired what was believed to be one of the 12 Phase II pistol units made for Paramount. We were provided only a few poor quality images and the allegation that the owner purchased it directly from Brad Nelson in approximately 1979. That and it didn't function. With the seller being of no further assistance we took a leap of faith and purchased the phaser.

Upon delivery we photo documented the unit and contacted Brad for assistance with it's identification. It was clearly one of his phasers but certain aspects of it did not match what we've seen with the other Phase II pistol phasers. After carefully reviewing the photos Brad advised that this was one of the "very few" take-apart phasers he made for customers by special request, after they saw the phasers he made for Paramount. Again, Brad recalls only making "very few" of these and to date this is the only one we've seen or even heard of. 


Click the link below for the entire series of pictures with descriptions as well as a video demonstration of the phaser at the end. This phaser is currently in a private collection.

Rare Star Fleet Research Custom Order Take-Apart Phaser II

Communicators and Tricorders

These were essentially Starfleet Command units that were purchased wholesale in kit form and assembled by Star Fleet Research. Sold with Remco phaser toy electronics installed as told to the author directly. There was essentially no visual difference between them and the units Starfleet Command sold in their catalog or at conventions. See their category for pictures.

bottom of page