You would think that lightsabers are merely an elegant weapon of a more civilized age, but they’re also a great tool for exercise, and lightsaber combat groups have sprung up over the world, giving padawans a chance to flaunt their fandom and get fit at the same time. They’re also used as a cool prop for Star Wars fans and performers.
From 2002-2007, Master Replicas released officially licensed Force FX lightsabers (currently produced by Hasbro), but these were more for display purposes than for bringing stability to the Republic. Ultrasabers, however, makes combat-ready, fully operational battle sabers.
Ultrasabers recently gave me a lightsaber, which I then customized with the help of Mike Zhang, founding member of the New York Jedi. With modifications, my saber totaled $249. I also own a Force FX lightsaber; comparisons between the two are inevitable.
Kendo practitioners Dan and Katy Speer played with both Ultrasabers and Force FX sabers. They said the Ultrasabers hilt is thin enough to wrap your hands around comfortably, and the saber could easily be used both one-handed and two-handed. You can also add a Covertec wheel to the hilt, which makes your saber belt-able.
The activation switch is small enough to blend in with the saber, yet easy to find for those moments when you’re attacked on Cato Neimoidia. For up to $25, you can add an illuminated switch, for a touch of class.
One gripe: The pommel I received is wide open on the bottom, which Ultrasabers recommended for greater ventilation. But one errant poke could destroy the speaker. On consideration, I would have preferred a decorative enclosed pommel.
Empire Saber Guild member Paul Sposato said the Ultrasabers lightsaber was extremely durable and can take the kind of punishment even the Sith deal out. Still, Sposato has witnessed “a couple” of blades cracking after years of heavy use and abuse.
Ultrasabers blades are highly customizable, with different lengths, tips, and polycarbonate. The blade comes with a silver blade film, which made my saber look shiny even when not in action. When activated, the color (I chose purple) extends evenly from hilt to tip.
One of the niftier sabers is the “Emerald” blade, which give the ability to change the blade’s color with a button press: In one moment, your blade is Sith red, and the next, it’s Jedi green or blue. The “flash on clash” option brings out another color as you strike your saber (see also: “Sound”). So you can turn your blue saber red upon striking, or vice versa, for that extra ethically-challenged look.
Through no fault of Ultrasabers, the lightsaber I chose (not pictured) is an all-silver pommel with a silver switch. Because my blade is also silver, it makes my lightsaber look like one long stick of metal. If I could do it over again, I would choose a hilt with more variety. And a glowy switch.
Sadly, Ultrasabers only turns on and off, utilizing a single LED light source at the base. Therefore, it doesn’t simulate the on-screen extension and contraction of the blade, as my Force FX saber does.
If you dream of whooshing lightsabers, you’re going to like the Ultrasabers lightsaber’s hums and thrums. The sound is smile-worthy, loud enough to assert itself yet not so loud as to punish your ears.
For an extra $10, you can add on the Obsidian USB v4 soundboard, which gives you seven different “sound fonts” that you can cycle with a touch of a button, plus a silent mode for those times when you want to swing in silence. You can even upload your own sound files. (Note to self: Upload TARDIS sound effects ASAP.)
Turning on the lightsaber gives you a satisfying hum, while swinging gives you an equally satisfying change in pitch. When you strike an opponent/object, you get a clashing sound. You can also achieve that nice electric fizz by pressing the button a second time—great for stage combat confrontations.
Unfortunately, in order to get that clash effect, you have to hit some force (har). Yes, the blade is made for thwacking. But I’m not. I prefer the Force FX saber, which gives me the clash sound with less effort.
The Ultrasabers internals are connected to the hilt with wires that dangle when you pull out the circuitry (which you’ll need to do to change batteries and access the USB port). Annoyingly, it took me a considerable amount of shaking to loosen the Ultrasabers’ assembly from the hilt the first time. However, the second time was much easier.
With a massive amount of customization, you can probably get anything you want within reason—even options that you might not have thought of (seriously, Thundercats?). Ultrasabers is constantly iterating, and it takes its cues based on the feedback of its many fans. If there’s something you’d love to see, ask and ye may receive. That also means that if you hesitate, the saber options you considered purchasing may now be unavailable Force ghosts.
Customization isn’t cheap, and maxing out the customizations online came to a whopping $720. However, the basic model still gives you some serious saber for $65.
When you want to channel you inner Force wielder, Ultrasabers is a great choice, particularly those on a budget. And for those who don’t mind spending, it’s also a great choice, because there are options that turn a plain-Jane saber into something most impressive.
Ultrasabers may not be an official lightsaber, but it channels the Force admirably nonetheless. With its durability, it’s something I’ll be using to pacify my adversaries for years to come.
Featured Image Credits: Carol Pinchefsky