Tag Archives: Lightsabers

The Vader’s Vault Grand Reveal!

Somewhere as the dust was clearing from all the recent madness, my “May the 4th” special order lightsaber came in. It is a “Battle Wrap Havoc” model with some awesome customization:

The above picture is it sitting next to my Hasbro ‘Black Series’ Mace Windu lightsaber for a bit of comparison.

Note the hilt is slimmer; more in keeping with the real world size (diameter) of a sword grip or hilt. It’s also much lighter and better balanced. I *almost* feel like I could fence against a real rapier with it. The hilt length is just long enough to be comfortably used as a one handed or two handed weapon also.

Other Differences:

Here’s what else this lightsaber can do that my two Black Series sabers can only dream about:

Even more realistic blade “activation” and “retraction” with the Plecter Pixel blade

Better sound effects for swings and impacts, including more sensitivity to being swung and actual flash on impact.

Additional SFX and light effects for deflecting blaster fire or force lightning (activated by a second button)

Light up power switch!

15 included Sound Fonts to allow customizing of all the above sounds

The ability to customize the blade’s color for both it’s main color and the clash / deflect effects:

That’s just a small sample there. The installed options included Blue, Teal, Red, Purple, A red and orange mix, Yellow, Orange, and a sort of Sky Blue that’s my favorite thus far. That doesn’t photograph well, but it looks almost identical to this Star Wars: The Old Republic blade color:

It’s a Blue Core War Hero color crystal for you gamers; in an Arn’s Unshielded Lightsaber model hilt w/ Gemini Pulse tuning.

There’s even one option where the blade cycles through all the above colors, which is kind of cool in a bizarre, not lore friendly sort of way. 😀

The Sound fonts and blade colors can all be changed on the fly. With the power off, press the second button to access the list of options, then cycle through using the power button. More detailed changes can be made via connecting the saber to a PC and using software to set up in-depth customized profiles.

More Comparisons:

Just to give you an idea of how clunky and unwieldy the other manufacturers can be with lightsabers, here’s my custom havoc next to my original lightsaber shell from Ultrasabers:

Now, the length of the “Fallen LE” shell I’ll give Ultrasabers a pass on. The lightsaber, story-wise, originally belonged to a Lesat Jedi, and Lesats are as big as wookies. Ergo, it makes sense it’d be a nearly a claymore hilt for a human. That thing is thicker than an old police D Cell battery maglite though. The coloring makes it beautiful to look at but it’s unwieldy.

Some day I *may* still finish that saber also, IF I can find a third party that makes electronics that will fit and are better quality than Ultrasbers’ stuff.

Lighting or blade brightness wise, a picture is worth a thousand words:

That’s a completely dark room with the Vader’s Vault saber providing 75% of the illumination. The Havoc was set to purple for a fair comparison against the Hasbro Windu blade. It’s so bright it looks white in the pic. Now that’s Illumination!

LOL

Nuts and Bolts:

Just a quick look at the technical stuff actually. The blade is self contained and can be removed (unlike the Black Series stuff). Similar to the Black Series models, the blade has LED strips running it’s length that allow it to simulate the blade extending or retracting. The main difference is the blade has multicolor LEDs and more of them. The blade plugs into the hilt and is held in place with an allen screw.

The bottom of the blade has a contact plate to allow power to the LEDs:

And the hilt has a couple of contact strips in the socket for it’s side of the power connection:

Irony: The blade plug for my Ultrasabers hilt fits perfectly into the blade socket for the Havoc also, making for great display potential:

Sadly, as it was intended for an older, flashlight type saber setup, the blade plug doesn’t light up at all. Still looks fairly good though. 🙂

The Official Release Video:

For those who want a more in-depth look at the base model Havoc saber without my fancy emitter shroud, here’s the official release video for the Havoc, direct from Vader’s Vault YouTube channel:

I’m still discovering a few goodies built into the saber and it’s soundfonts. For instance, there’s a ‘jukebox’ option that will make the lightsaber play the cantina theme from A New Hope. When the battery gets low, the saber says “When my patience ends, bad things happen” (a quote from The Old Republic’s Sith Warrior character).

Now all I have to do is find a dueling league since this thing is 100% combat rugged and ready. 😀 😀 😀

Spent the Day in the Vault!

The VADER’S VAULT that is!

Yes, that’s right, THE Vader’s Vault; home of some of the best custom made lightsabers on the planet.

So, cool background story… We had to run into Georgia today to take care of some other business. I’d also been gawking longingly at more lightsabers online, and found out that Vader’s Vault “store” (shop really) was only 27 miles away from where we had to go. I talked the spouse into a quick ride with the idea of checking out whatever kind of showroom Vader’s Vault had and asking a few questions.

In short, I wanted to try to get a handle on whether or not Vader’s Vault sabers are actually worth the money. Also get a look at a few sabers as well, I’d hoped. 😁

What I got was completely unexpected. Instead of a quick look and a few questions answered, we got… the grand tour!

We talked to somebody up front, and they went and got the boss (owner). He came out, gave us a quick run down of the stuff in the showroom and then asked if we’d like a tour.

The showroom included this case full of sabers and saber cases from their history:

That saber up at the top is one of only EIGHT real world copies of the “Twisted Fang” lightsaber available in the Star Wars: The Old Republic game.

A couple of other highlights from the showroom:

Their case of manufactured helmets.

More sabers, emitters and some toys on the bottom shelf. That’s a “mouse” droid in the lower right corner also.

That, unfortunately is all the pictures I got. The rear area of the shop had rooms for wiring work, CNC machining equipment, 3D printers, etc… I didn’t snap any pictures back there though because the owner was lamenting how any time he puts something online, there’s a cheap Chinese knock-off for sale a day or two later. They were also working on one completely new model and some tweaks to existing models (relocated power switches and a few other minor things). I have a sneaking suspicion that we MIGHT see that new model for a May the 4th sale too.

For any readers who may be wondering, I asked about the limited availability of sabers right now. It’s the usual supply chain issues. However, they expect to have a few models back in stock in the next few weeks. I did see them working on a batch of “Revancrist” sabers (Darth Revan’s lightsaber):

Those are one of the few sabers still currently “in stock” also.

One question led to a highlight of the tour also. I asked if their special made sabers with crystal chambers were duel worthy. The big guy brought out a Starkiller and explained in detail:

The cliff notes version is that the hilt itself is strong enough for it. The bracing rods on the chamber are full on steel. HOWEVER, their crystals are a piece of clear quartz which could break or break loose in heavy sparring. So, he advised against using such a saber for more than light to moderate horseplay.

Why quartz? Disney has “cool” 🙄 colored epoxy chunks that they sell for ONLY $30, you say? Well Vader’s Vault sabers have the ability to change blade colors, and the Starkiller will actually shine the same color as the blade into the quartz to make it look like that color Kyber Crystal. It will always match the blade no matter the color.

More importantly (lol) for a couple of moments, I got to hold a $2600 Vader’s Vault masterworks Starkiller in my hand. 😁 Well, minus it’s outer cover anyway.

We briefly talked about the differences in blades also. Plecter Pixel blades are just as combat worthy as the old LED tubes. Both are polycarbonate, and will eventually break at some point while dueling. The Pixel blade gives a much better and even light quality and is capable of producing effects that an LED “flashlight” type design can’t. All this at a higher price point, of course.

Personally, I’d probably save the Plecter Pixel blade for “show” sabers and use an LED one for dueling. We’re talking $30 vs $130 for a replacement when it finally breaks.

Bottom Line:

Are they worth the price and increased wait time?

I went in a little wary. Half of me was looking to rationalize buying elsewhere. They really are absolutely worth it in my opinion though. Here’s why:

Better Grip, Weight and Balance: The balance on every saber I got to handle was extraordinary. My two black series sabers (Dooku and Mace) and my Ultrasabers “Fallen” saber:

are just plain stout. They’re like wrapping your hands around an old “D Cell” battery Maglite police flashlight. The Count Dooku saber is majorly off balance as well. I got to hold a Vader’s Vault copy of that same saber. The hilt is slimmer, more in line with what a real sword might have, the finish was brighter too. The machining was done so well that it was hard to see where the parts of the hilt actually connected together.

Better Sound Quality: I’ve heard people complain about Ultrasabers and Saberforge being bad in poor quality or muffled sound. My Black Series sabers are fair in this regard. Not great, but fair. Every Vader’s Vault saber I heard sounded like I’d just stepped into one of the movies. Crystal clear quality with sound effects for everything from swings, blade clashes and defected blaster bolts (all of which a plexer pixel blade’s light will respond to also).

Massive Customization: Vader’s Vault has features that Ultrasabers and Saberforge don’t even offer; hilt lighting and illuminated power buttons for starters. Some of their options they don’t advertise on their site. I suspect that has to do with variable costs involved. I saw sabers that were mirror polished, powder coated, weathered, acid etching engraved, inlaid with wood, leather wrapped… you name it.

THIS, I found out today, was done in the owner’s garage when it was just him and his wife. Imagine what they can do now!

Good Company Working Environment and Customer Service: Why is that important? Because even if you don’t care about the workers’ conditions, a happy staff is highly motivated to excel at their job. That means you get a defect free product.

Customer service should be self-explanatory in importance. If you have any doubts about Vader’s Vault though… Keep in mind they COULD have just run me off, or spent a couple minutes answering a few questions and then politely said they had to get back to work. Instead we got treated to an almost hour long tour with Q&A, looks at all their work areas, a demonstration of all a plexer pixel blade can do, peeks at several models in various stages of manufacture or remodel, and even a sneak peek at a pre-production prototype of an upcoming release.

How often do you see that nowadays in ANY sort of business?

Bottom line, you’re going to get a better saber made of higher quality materials and machined to tighter tolerances, better electronics, more bells and whistles, made almost any way you want, and better customer service.

What you’ll get elsewhere is poorly fit together sabers that can’t even hold up to a Disney toy:

Master Windu, Welcome.

Today is an ultimate geek out day for me. 😀 I got my Star Wars Black Series Mace Windu Lightsaber!

For those whose geek credentials are lacking, ‘The Black Series’ is the elite level of officially licensed toys and memorabilia from Hasbro.

Ironic trivia here: Kenner (Hasbro’s chief rival) made all the Star Wars toys through the 80s and 90s.

Explanations taken care of, you all get to see the unboxing and get a review! Yes, I said unboxing

A real fan HAS to open the box!

The packaging is fairly nice, as the first two pics indicate. Here’s what you see when you open it up:

Yes, that’s a framed Yoda poster off to the side. Do or Do Not; There is No Try.

As you can see it’s well protected in the package, which is nice given that this puppy was kind of expensive. Not near as bad as an Ultrasaber like my other lightsaber, or one from SaberForge, but still expensive.

I really couldn’t resist this. I’ve been drooling over Mace’s saber since episode 2 was released. I didn’t lose my head over it the way Jango Fett did though, LOL. More importantly, I had the opportunity to get a working copy for 40% of what it would have cost via Ultrasabers.

Here’s our beauty unboxed and with the blade ignited:

Yes, that IS a damned odd stand too. I’ll be swapping it out for an aftermarket one and putting it back in the box at some point in the near future.

As you can see, the blade is bright enough to be visible in a bright room. I took it into the bathroom, closed to door and turned off the light to let it really shine though

The Review: How Does it Compare?

I know a couple of you are curious anyway. 😀 I wasn’t really sure what to expect here, but was pleasantly surprised. I knew the hilt was metal before ordering, not plastic like those $25 kid’s toys. The hilt turned out to be nicely polished and fairly thick also. Not quite as thick as the Ultrasaber, but thick enough to be pretty sturdy.

It’s certainly nicer than the Galaxy’s Edge sabers that Disney sell at their parks (and via Amazon) for far more money also:

Galaxy’s Edge collector sabers at Amazon Note the price on the Kylo Ren version too… ouch!

Here’s a few close ups of the hilt:

The Mace Windu saber is closer to the camera than the Cal Kestis one, so it looks bigger. The Windu hilt is a hair more than 11 inches (28 cm) long as compared to the Cal Kestis one being 16 inches (40.6 cm) long. You can see the chrome and electrum finishes are nicely done, and that parts of the hilt also have a rubberized inlay:

Overall, I’d say the hilt is very well done. The test will be how well the electrum trim finish stays in place, and if the rubberized faux leather starts to peel up. No signs that either will be an issue thus far.

The innards of the hilt aren’t accessible the same way an aftermarket saber’s are, but it seems to be made along similar lines, with a power switch, emitters, motion sensor / sound controller and the battery holder with integrated speaker at the bottom.

The sound is a tiny bit muffled, but that’s a common complaint on even the best aftermarket sabers. The motion sensor is a little weak also. Slow movements may not even get noticed and even light bumps might only register as a swing. Still, overall not TOO bad here.

The blade itself is where buyers seem to have issues. It’s made for light contact only, no dueling or even getting carried away whole playing. While it’s also very bright, it’s also not actually a purple blade. It’s more of a magenta as the earlier pictures show.

The BIG issue with the blades on Black Series sabers is that you can’t detach them like with something from Ultrasabers or Saberforge. So you have to display it with the polycarbonate (plastic?) tube on AND even though it comes with a covertec style belt clip, you cant attach it to your belt. Unless you want to drag the blade along the ground anyway.

The reason for this SEEMS to be that the blade has LEDs running all up the tube. The positive result of that is when you turn it on, you get the effect of the blade extending outward via powering up the LEDs one at a time. Same is true in reverse when powering it off. With the other brands, it’s just on or off, with the appropriate sound effects.

My Verdict: It’s great if you want a saber to toy around with or for cosplay if you don’t mind having to carry it in your hand everywhere. Even with the blade attached it still makes a fairly nice display piece also. The premium aftermarket ones make be better display pieces and duelers BUT they also cost $300 or so more; enough to buy this a second time and have cash left over. This also has the advantage of potentially going up in value as it’s an officially licensed product.

Any REAL Star Wars fan definitely would have taken it out of the box too, BUT I sure as heck did save the box, and the papers that came with it:

#8 in the series…

For the Jedi Girl

Because we can never have too many lightsabers, AND Lord of the Rings is pretty cool also. Never mind I think we could all use something a little lighter with all the drama going on right now.

AND…

Time to Take Up Arms!!!

Well, that ought to scare the hell out of the people monitoring the internet, LOL.

Nothing sinister or violent planned here however. The shell for my first lightsaber finally arrived from Ultrasabers.com today.

Any good Star Wars geek should recognize this as Jaro Topal‘s lightsaber that was inherited by his apprentice Cal Kestis, protagonist of the game Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. Well, technically the restored version from about 2/3 of the way through the game. 🙂

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy For Ever” – John Keats

I only ordered the shell at this point because the things are pretty pricey if you buy a nice hilt and quality electronics. Anywhere from $500 to $1000. Hilt designs tend to sell out quick and then half the time the companies will just move on to different designs.

Long story short, I wanted this hilt while it was still around, AND I’m going to have to build mine piecemeal since money is limited.

I did, however, get the plug for the emitter array that you can use when you don’t have the polycarbonate “blade” installed. I got the belt clip as well.

This pic still shows the protective plastic covering over the stand (used for shipping)

So, now I need the L.E.D. emitter array, the polycarbonate blade, the sound board, power switch and battery pack. Also to find my soldering equipment to put them all together when the time comes.

For those of you who are curious, the thing is fairly beefy, as the second picture shows. It’s made of aircraft grade aluminum and is 1/8″ thick (or about 1/2 cm thick). What caught me more by surprise is the overall size. Granted, by lore, this thing was created and carried by a Lasat originally, but… The thing is 16 inches long and as thick as one of the old mag light flashlights carried by police that used D Cell batteries.

It looks even larger in the picture since it’s sitting higher up than the tape measure in the picture. At any rate, it’s big enough to be the hilt for a Zweihänder. I was thinking of getting two of them, connecting them together and making a dual bladed lightsaber staff; something along the lines of my final lightsaber for Jedi: Fallen Order:

Between the handles and blades, I’d have a saber over 8 feet long if I did though, LOL. That gets just a little unwield-able. Clearly an alternative design will have to be found for such a staff.

Now, for those like Joanne (how can you not love somebody who names her blog ‘JediGirlBlog’? 😀 ) and Master Mandalorian who may be drooling over this goodie… Let me give you all a brief education.

Buying a Lightsaber:

There are three major companies that make these mock ups (as well as a few others who are really small and/or dying out). All three make models designed for rigorous dueling. There are hobby dueling leagues out there too! All three manufacturers have various blade color options, OR you can buy a multi-L.E.D. emitter that will let you change your blade color. Changing colors also takes one of the higher end sound boards, as those control the L.E.D. emitter also.

The three major companies are:

  1. Ultrasabers.com
  2. SaberForge.com
  3. VadersVault.com

In terms of durability, they all seem to be fairly comparable. There’s a lightsabers reddit where you’ll find fans of all three. The general consensus is that they rank in other details of quality in the reverse of the order I have them in.

Ultrasabers: makes good sabers overall, and their premium sound board may be the best on the market currently. They get knocked on reddit for being heavy and unwieldy by duelists, and occasional quality issues as well. They’re also the most affordable, particularly for their very plain style hilts.

Note here: If you might be interested in dueling for fun, weight and balance make a HUGE difference. I’ve taken traditional fencing classes myself and learned this first hand. The sabers that the school had for student use were very low end. When I bought my own from Leon Paul in England, it made a massive difference. I was suddenly much faster and more accurate. Angled handles on foils (like Count Dooku had on his lightsaber) help even more.

SaberForge: Makes sabers that are said to be a little lighter, thinner so as to be easier to grip, and better balanced. They cost on average about $100 more for something comparable from Ultrasabers.

Vader’s Vault: These are the Rolls Royce of lightsabers. Everything is top of the line with serious attention paid to every detail. You pay for it also. Some of the features they offer, like removable covers to display the lightsaber crystal chamber, just can’t be found anywhere else.

OK, well, Disney does THAT at Galaxy’s Edge, BUT those sabers are Toys R Us quality compared to what’s offered by any of these three companies.

Styles:

All three companies offer designs based on lightsabers seen in various parts of the Star Wars franchise. Everything from various movie lightsabers, and sabers from The Clone Wars and Rebels, to styles used in the game Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Kyle Katarn’s saber from the Dark Forces / Jedi Knight games. Some custom designs as well. You may have to shop around between the three to find exactly the style you like. Saberforge had the saber I bought, for example, but only the damaged hilt version used early in Jedi: Fallen Order.

Overall, after doing some pretty extensive research, I’d recommend SaberForge as a first choice. The way you can get leather wraps and powder coating as well as the slightly better balanced hilts just make them a slightly better option than UltraSabers. I like that if you want to build your own, that SaberForge has a wide array of individual hilt parts also. They are who I’ll be using to build a custom saber staff.

Of course, if money is no object, shop Vader’s Vault, lol.

As an added note, both SaberForge and Ultrasabers offer individual parts to kit bash your own unique blade together. I do *NOT* know how cross compatible their parts are however. Some of UltraSabers’ entry level models have hilts that won’t accommodate their own mix and match parts also.

One last thing: These companies all pretty much hand craft to order. Even my empty shell took 3 weeks to get. Patience is a virtue. I’ve heard of some orders taking months to be completed, with Saberforge and Ultrasabers both having iffy reputations for their customer service departments. Depending upon who you talk to, they either both stink or are amazing there. Forewarned is fore-armed.

And even if you’re just buying a piece at a time like me, it looks excellent sitting at the Silk Cords command center:

Bruce Lee Was A Jedi! :D

Yes, it’s true, and I have the deep fake to prove it, fresh off of YouTube, LOL.

Master Ip apparently was Jedi Master Ip 😉 😀

We all need more of a break from the BS out there right now.

How to Build a Working Lightsaber… Sort Of…

I find all kinds of weird stuff on the internet and YouTube. Its part of why I hate the direction YouTube is going. No politics for this post though…

One of the craziest YouTube channels I’ve seen is called HackSmith. It’s a handful of science geeks with a love of sci-fi who devote their channel to figuring out how to build real world versions of things like Iron Man’s armor and a lightsaber.

Obviously, they’re not going to get things just like the movies, but it really is amazing what they can come up with.

Take a look at their construction of a 3000 degree Kylo Ren proto-saber.

So does that look like a hot time or what? LOL