Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lightsabers Galore!!!

Okay, I'm pretty sure it's been well-established that I am a huge Star Wars fan, to the point of wanting my own customized lightsaber. You probably remember the big fuss I made when I discovered Random Sabers, an outfit that would custom-make unique lightsaber hilts for its customers. Unfortunately, by the time I'd finally saved up enough money to make an order and had a design for a saber in my head, the company announced it had a massive backlog of orders and would not be taking new work orders for at least two years. Needless to say, I was crushed.

Recently, however, I happened upon a breath of fresh air, a light at the end of the dark tunnel, a glimpse of hope in the midst of my despair... okay, maybe I'm being a bit over-dramatic. The point is, within the last week I have discovered not one, but two websites that specialize in customizing lightsabers.

The first outfit, which I discovered by means of a Popular Mechanics magazine, is called Advanced-Light Weaponry. This site is run by a sculptor who specializes in high-end one-of-a-kind sci-fi props. He makes anything from simple stunt sabers to sabers that field-strip down to the "working" components to ultra-realistic sabers with LED-powered blades and working sound boards. Since every saber is ultimately designed by the customer, styles can range from generic Star Wars-style hilts to steampunk sabers to lightsabers that look almost organic. The site also offers custom-made sci-fi guns, some of which can include custom holsters as well. Probably the only downside to ALW is the steep prices; since each saber is hand-made out of high-quality materials, prices start at around $200 for a stunt saber; LED blades and sound boards jack the price up to over $500. Still, if you can afford it, the end product is well worth what you pay for. Also, since each saber is hand-made, construction can take several weeks, and that's before you factor in the long waiting list the guy has for other projects; which can tack another month or two onto the turnaround time. But again, given the amount of effort put into these sabers, they're well worth the wait.

The second site, appropriately named The Custom Saber Shop, bills itself as having "all your lightsaber building needs in one convenient spot." (Just listen to the theme song) While this site doesn't sell completed sabers, it does sell everything, and I mean everything, you need to custom-build your own lightsaber. The site has developed what it calls "The Modular Hilt System" where all of the major components (Hilt, center grips, pommel) easily screw together, making for easy upgrades and customization. In addition, the site sells all the electronic equipment necessary for adding LED or Electro-Luminescent (EL) blades and sounds to the saber, along with the tools required for some assembly aspects (drilling and tapping holes for set screws, for example). While this does make everything much cheaper than a saber custom-made by someone else, it does require a bit of electrical know-how in order to get everything working properly. Fortunately, the site does provide tutorials on hot to properly assemble all of the different electronics, as well as a Modular Starter Kit for an EL saber. Another downside is since all of the components are made of machined aluminum, this restricts the possible hilt styles to generic Star Wars-style hilts, so unless you're a skilled sculptor or you know someone who is, you won't get any steampunk or organic-looking hilts. Still, this is a great place for anyone who wants a saber on a budget.

Links to both Advanced-Light Weaponry and The Custom Saber Shop can be found in the "Links" section on the blog's sidebar. Check 'em out, especially if you want you're own custom saber (like me!)

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