Star Wars has been a cultural force for longer than I’ve been alive, and lightsabers are some of the most iconic science fiction/fantasy weapons ever created. So it’s no surprise that custom lightsaber crafting has become a thriving cottage industry. Sure, you can get toy or even prop lightsabers from Hasbro (its Force FX line is quite good), but if you really want your own lightsaber to fit your Jedi/Sithsona, you should go custom.
Ultrasabers is one of the longest-running and most popular custom lightsaber companies out there, and during a recent sale I grabbed two stunt sabers to join my two Force FX lightsabers in my surprisingly extensive sci-fi prop collection (which includes a phaser signed by Neil deGrasse Tyson and a Nerf blaster signed by Richard “Lord British” Garriott. Yes, I am very proud of them). I got my Brood Guard SE and Aeon v5 stunt lightsabers a few days ago, just in time to show them off on May the Fourth.
Ultrasabers offers a wide variety of lightsabers, and their stunt sabers are the most affordable. They’re glorified flashlights, equipped with a simple LED array and no motion-sensing, sound effects, or color changing. They’re as inexpensive as $55 including polycarbonate blade, but they don’t have many tricks up their sleeve.
If you want the vrrm-vrrming, flashing, clashing lightsabers, you need to spend significantly more for a lightsaber equipped with Ultrasabers’ Obsidian or Obsidian Lite sound boards, which bump a $75 Standard Issue Battle Saber v5 up to $175 to $215. You can also forego sound and get customizable colors with the Emerald saber driver, an RGBW LED array you can program with your computer to produce any color you want that bumps the same $75 lightsaber up to $245. And if you want to go all-out, the Diamond saber features programmable colors and sounds, standing as Ultrasabers’ top-of-the-line lightsaber at $390 (from the $75 Standard Issue Battle Saber v5).
These are expensive lightsabers, but there’s a reason for that. The bodies themselves are made from machined aluminum and are remarkably attractive, detailed, and sturdy. Yes, they’re aluminum tubes, but they’re aluminum tubes with enough love and enthusiasm put into them to make any one an excellent prop for cosplay or fan film. There are also dozens of different designs, with different levels of detail ranging from $55 for the Initiate v2 to $279 for the Kylo Ren-style Flamberge. These aren’t exactly screen-accurate versions of the lightsabers from the movies, but many are clearly inspired by specific lightsabers and come very close in design, to the extent that the one based on Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber is called the Graflex CE (named after the Graflex flash tube ILM built the original prop around).
A lightsaber needs a blade, and because these are props and the technology is currently impossible, Ultrasabers’ blades don’t cut through anything. They’re polycarbonate tubes with coated insides to evenly distribute the light emitted by the LEDs in the hilt across the length of the blade. Blades are available in standard and “UltraEdge” versions, the latter of which can produce a fuller-looking blade at the expense of the overall light that shines through. They’re also available in Mid-Grade and Heavy Grade versions for either variety; Heavy Grade is twice as thick as Mid-Grade, and can withstand serious contact sparring.
The blades are removable, which is important for cosplay (and which Hasbro’s Force FX lightsabers can’t do). A small retaining bolt in the emitter can be loosened to let the blade slide in and out. Ultrasabers also offers blade plugs to protect the LEDs when a blade isn’t inserted. There’s a basic Standard plug that’s just a silver-colored disc and some polycarbonate over the emitter, and the much nicer Circle plug, which is textured and features pinholes in two concentric circles to really give it the impression that a plasma blade could shoot out of it.
I picked up two stunt sabers, because I am cheap and mostly wanted fun glowing things to swing. The Aeon v5 is a traditional lightsaber, an all-silver (also available in black-and-silver and brass-and-silver) tube made distinctive by flanged fins on the head, and cut-outs near the emitter to let additional light shine through below where the blade extends. I got the lightsaber in “Adegan Silver,” which is simply a white LED and includes a set of color discs you can drop into the emitter to change the color of the blade (at the expense of brightness).
The Brood Guard SE is what Ultrasabers calls a shoto lightsaber, so named because it’s designed for a shorter blade for off-hand use. It’s shaped more like a tonfa than a sword hilt, which is very unique among lightsaber designs. I got this one in the “Fire Orange” color, which is brighter and more vibrant than the Adegan Silver blade color with color discs.
Both lightsabers are incredibly solid, made of machine aluminum parts. They’re hollow to incorporate the electronics and batteries (a four-AAA pack, though you can optionally get a rechargeable battery pack), but very thick. The pommels are removable and universal, so you can switch them around (I quite like the Brood Guard with the flanged Aeon pommel).
Because they’re stunt sabers, they don’t make the sound effects. Which means I feel compelled to make “vwoosh, vrrm, vrrm” sounds with my mouth when I turn them on. It takes a little of the glamour out of the experience, but they still look and feel great.
The little circle extension on both lightsabers is the Covertec wheel, a universal quick-release mount that lets you easily carry your lightsaber on a belt clip. I highly recommend it if you plan on using your lightsaber for cosplay.
Trying just two entry-level stunt lightsabers, Ultrasabers’ offerings seem solid, attractive, and detailed. They have enough heft and durability to satisfyingly display in a collection or use in lightsaber sparring, and without sound circuitry they actually are a bit cheaper than Hasbro’s Force FX lightsabers, which don’t feel quite as durable (especially compared with the Heavy Grade blade). These are really fun toys/props for any Star Wars fan looking for something a little different than the usual Luke/Obi-Wan/Darth Vader collection of lightsabers.
This is just a taste of the custom lightsabers available out there. Ultrasabers is only one of several companies that make lightsabers, among other companies like SaberForce, Kyberlight, and Vader’s Vault. Check them out if you want a lightsaber that you can truly call yours.