In Star Trek III - The Search for Spock, we are presented with Excelsior's Captain Styles, a bit of a preening martinet. He is first seen greeting Mr. Scott in Engineering, and he is carrying...something. A riding crop? A SPAAAAACE RIDING CROP? What is this thing? We see it again when he is in his quarters.

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What is it? Does anybody have any idea? If it's a riding crop, then for God's sake, why is he carrying it around on board a starship?

  • I don't know about the engineering scene, but I always thought in the picture you showed he was using a nail file.
    – Nu'Daq
    Aug 18, 2017 at 1:52
  • 2
    LOL - sorry, I'm referring to the object in the upper right. Yeah, he's filing his nails with a SPAAAACE nail file. Aug 18, 2017 at 1:53
  • 5
    That's why you put hand-drawn circles in your screenshots.
    – Dacio
    Aug 18, 2017 at 15:41
  • Maybe this one instead; startrek.com/uploads/assets/articles/swag-stick.jpg?
    – Valorum
    Aug 18, 2017 at 23:22
  • 1
    Wait, are you saying there are NO HORSES on Starfleet starships? Why not? Are you sure about that?
    – user14111
    Aug 20, 2017 at 13:00

2 Answers 2


I think you are close with your idea of a riding crop. From his attitude and context of military command I am pretty sure it is meant to be a swagger stick. In this case of the riding crop variation.

As a martinet this would be right in character for such an officer.

  • 1
    SpaaaAAACE SWAG! #yoloTrek
    – Dacio
    Aug 18, 2017 at 15:42
  • It also fits the acting profile of James Sikking who, before being Cptn. Styles, played Lt. Hunter, another martinet type, on Hill Street Blues. It seems he was being typecast for the movie based on his HSB character. Aug 18, 2017 at 17:16

According to an interview with James B. Sikking (Captain Styles) on Startrek.com, we learn that it was a "swagger stick".

Q. Whose idea was the swagger stick that Styles wielded?

SIKKING: I think… I think… I don’t know. I’m not sure if it was mine, but it was certainly a good idea. When I was studying acting years and years and years and years ago, we’d have a class and they’d say, “Go to the bus depot or to the train station or the airport. Take a little bag with you. Wear dark glasses. And go sit somewhere and observe people.” It’s true; you sit there and watch people, and how they move their bodies is far more communicative than dialogue. So any kind of a prop that reveals a character is well worth having in your hand or next to you.

Startrek.com - "Hill Street Blues' Lt. Hunter Was... Star Trek III's Captain Styles"

The goal was to visually convey the script direction about Styles' personality

The elevator door opens, and as Scott is preparing to step in, CAPTAIN STYLES steps out. Styles is an officer about Kirk's age. If he's a little stuffy, it's pardonable; he does, after all, have the plum assignment in all of Starfleet.

  • 1
    Wow, that interview with Sikking is terrific. I knew him from HSB before I saw him in Star Trek (even as a kid), and he was a very cultured, intelligent man who took his role in Star Trek as seriously as if he were doing, if you'll pardon the expression, Chekhov... Aug 18, 2017 at 20:46
  • @ChrisB.Behrens - When you hire a pro, you get a pro
    – Valorum
    Aug 18, 2017 at 21:42
  • I wonder who designed that prop. The thing is massive, looks more like a spanner than a swagger stick.
    – ths
    Aug 20, 2017 at 14:45
  • @ths - It looks like the gearshift from a 2230 Chevy Supernova
    – Valorum
    Aug 20, 2017 at 15:05

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