Master Replicas and Hasbro Lightsabers adorn the wall of my geek-den
This year has been the year for lightsabers for me. I’ve always loved them since the movies, ever since I saw Luke Skywalker take off the Wampa Beast’s arm in that cave on Hoth I was hooked. Then with the prequel trilogies they showed us how much depth combat with lightsabers can have. Lightsabers are probably one of the coolest weapons sci-fi has given us.
You can find lightsabers in 7 movies, a mini-series, 2 animated series, oodles of video games and countless works of fiction. If you want to see a lightsaber you don’t have to go far to find its depiction. What if you are wanting to have your own? What are the options for collectors though?
I have spent most of this past year researching several of the different kinds of lightsabers available out there and I have really only started to scratch the surface. In fact, every time I have a conversation with someone new about collectible lightsabers I learn more and more. Here are some of the few bits of wisdom I feel confident about sharing.
There is only one name in licensed lightsabers at this time, Hasbro, and there are positives and negatives with this. Hasbro is a large company in the business of making the most profit possible. As such they have adopted a business practice of ‘allow the consumer to pay for the level of quality’ and true to such the more to pay the better the quality is of the item you are getting (I personally have issues with their current quality-to-cost ratio scale but I think in the case of lightsabers it is fairly fair). Hasbro lightsabers range in MSRP from $10 all the way up to $150.
Starting at around $10 are the lightsabers that have fully retractable blades but lack any lights or sounds. They have the largest selection of different lightsaber hilts in this lineup but are the least accurate replicas from a collector’s perspective. Most of the hilts are too thick to be truly appreciated by collectors and also too thick to be held by little guys hands (surprising since it’s their primary demographic for this product). The only example I’ve ever been drawn to in this line is the double bladed Darth Maul saber from The Phantom Menace.
The next level up at around $25 are lightsabers with blades that only partially retract, that have lights and sounds and generally tend to be a better representation of the originals. The hilts are not as thick as the previous level (in part why the blade doesn’t fully retract) but this allows for a better grip and I feel and tend to be a bit more fun to spar with. The kids and I often will have lightsaber battles with these and have a lot of fun. Even with abuse the blades and internals have held up very well. After years of play we have never had a casualty (broken saber that is, we’ve had some bumps and bruises though). There is a fair selection of these sabers, at this time I believe there are 5 different lightsabers available but over the years they have made more. One fun bit about the sabers available now is that they are part of the Bladebuilder lineup and you can attach any two together at their bases or use special connectors to make any kind of crazy contraption.
We make a bit of a jump next to around $65 and land at the Ultimate FX line of lightsabers. The hilts are very similar in size to the previous type but feature better details and feel. The blades here are fixed in length and instead of being lit by a small lightbulb or single LED they have LEDs all along the blade. This makes them much brighter and also allows them to have the on/off whoosh effect. These sabers represent the middle point in quality and collectability but are still far from what you get at Hasbro’s top line models.
We only have one of these at this time, the 9yo wanted one for his upcoming Halloween costume (surprise! he wants to be Kylo Ren) and we found it on sale for $45 at our local Toys ‘R Us.
The blade on the UltimateFX sabers, just like ForceFX sabers, is white and lit by colored LEDs. You can see it here next to its Bladebuilder counterpart.
Top of the line lightsabers from Hasbro will set you back $150 MSRP and are the ForceFX lineup. These replicas are wonderful. Full metal hilts, movie accurate details, fixed vibrant blades with more than 60 LEDs in them and sound boards that give you different effects for power on and off, swinging, and clashing. The hilts are very close to a 1:1 replica with great feel and weight and again details, details, details. These sabers are a wonderful piece of collectible and at the price really affordable, especially when you consider the high-end custom choices.
If ForceFX sounds a bit familiar to you that’s probably because it was the same name this line of sabers had when it was run by Master Replicas between 2002 and 2007. MR made 14 lightsabers in their run although Hasbro has recreated all and they have made several new ones that MR hadn’t. The MR lightsabers are fairly easily attainable on the secondary market, most of the time for closer to double the original price tag, but some of the earlier Hasbro Signature series sabers are often found for sale for up to 10 times the original price (Asajj Ventress for example and especially Obi-Wan from Phantom Menace).
Hasbro is the only company right now making lightsabers worth the license although Rubie’s quality has been increasing over the years. There is also a company called Underground that has a license to make lightsaber replica flashlights. These are well detailed plastic flashlights with lights and sounds but are not generally regarded as sought after collectibles.
Outside of licensed products there are several companies that have created lightsaber replicas. There are way too many different sabers out there so I’m really only going to focus on two, Ultrasabers and Saberforge. These two names are well know in the lightsaber collecting community and they make a lot of custom and replica hilts with varying options.
Ultrasabers makes dueling quality lightsabers which are very sturdy, very bright, and very varied in designs. They make unique designs as well as designs closely matching those of well known characters and even offer a ‘build your own lightsaber’ option. Some of their hilts start at just $55 and their most expensive is still just $230. Ultrasabers uses aircraft aluminum for their hilts and they are b-e-a-utiful. Their Guardian lightsaber is on the top of my to-buy list for sure. I’ve had an Aeon V3 for a short time and it had great balance and feel. For roughly the same price as an UltimateFX saber it had far greater quality.
Last but not least for this post, Saberforge. Here’s another company making custom hilts and hilts inspired by well know characters. CNC machined, Cree LEDs, and great sound boards. Saberforge has a large selection of custom hilts, more than Ultrasabers I believe, and although many are perhaps a bit simple you can see examples of their fine work in models like the Prodigal Son. That has got to be one of the best replicas I’ve seen that still supports a lit blade. Their Guardian model can also be found on my to-buy list. Starting at $150 their models start out a bit higher than Ultrasabers but they both top out at about the same price.
These are the most popular options for lightsaber collectors but they are certainly not the only ones. There are lightsaber replicas for every level of collector whether it’s someone looking for lightsabers for cosplay or display, or collectors looking for 1:1 movie replicas or replicas that better represent the realization of what a ‘real’ lightsaber would look like inside and out.
Learn more about all these: