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Grail Acquisition: Luke’s Lightsaber

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I have wished for a decent Luke lightsaber for many years. I haven’t been happy with many of the offerings, and the few that I did like were really expensive. I couldn’t justify the high cost on a lightsaber. Talk about a luxury item. Anyway, due to certain circumstances, I was able to get one I’m really happy with, both for photography and swishing around. I took some more fun shots, click below for more!
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I really wanted Luke’s saber over anything else. Yes, I am intending to visit Savi’s workshop build-a-lightsaber experience once its safe to visit Galaxy’s Edge in Disney World. I’ve always been drawn to the literary device of the call to adventure. Of course one of the greatest embodiments of the call to adventure in the history of cinema is when Luke receives his father’s lightsaber in A New Hope and is asked to join Obi Wan Kenobi on the way to Alderaan to rescue Princess Leia. The lightsaber is so iconic, that it’s used a second time as a call to adventure in Force Awakens. This is the model I wanted. This is the one I had to have. This is the lightsaber that slid along the floor of the carbonite freezing chamber on Bespin (as I was referencing in the first photo) as well as the one buried in snow in the Wampa cave on Hoth.
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I started thinking about buying a nice looking saber hilt years ago, but the price was pretty prohibitive. The Hasbro Black Series lightsabers looked great, but the blade wasn’t removable, and I knew I’d want to wear it on my belt take studio photos of it, so that wouldn’t work. Master Replicas’ saber was too expensive, and on top of that, a lot of affordable sabers don’t have the D ring belt loop on the bottom. To me, this shot (above) of the saber sticking out of the snow is the iconic view of a lightsaber hilt, so the one I wanted to get had to have a D ring on the bottom. I finally came across an individual collector selling the Disney Park’s Exclusive Rey’s Lightsaber. I can get past the mis-labeling (shame Disney), but this one seemed perfect! Actually it’s not perfect… I watched quite a few video reviews of this particular saber, it turns out the activator box in the middle of the saber is rotated about 30° from where it should be. Ever since Disney park’s Galaxy’s Edge opened, they’ve discontinued this model and offer a newer one that corrects the position of the activator switch, and is compatible with a light-up blade that will fit in all of the hilts sold in Galaxy’s Edge. That way if you want to collect a series of hilts, you could reasonably buy a single light-up blade that would fit in each one. So exact accuracy aside, it was a good time to purchase this one because this collector wanted a newer one. I was happy I was able to score this saber, which checked all the boxes for me (removable light-up blade, D ring, under $200).
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Now I had the blade in my hand, I couldn’t wait to swish it around in my basement set-up a complicated studio photo shoot with it. I had to find a grate. I searched all over the place trying to find a piece of grate that would fit in my studio (smaller than 2×3′) but it had to look like “Death Star flooring” as I called it. If I got a replacement BBQ grill, you can tell it was not flooring, it doesn’t to support weight. Same thing with contemporary grating you can buy at Home Depot. The type of grating I wanted is very common, for industrial applications. The places that make it, sell it to contractors, and they sell large quantities of it. None of these local manufacturers were set up to sell me a 2×3′ section. Also, it’s very heavy, so even though I found one or two perfect pieces on Facebook Marketplace or wherever, I couldn’t afford to get it shipped. I looked at alternatives, but there’s very little that looks like floor grating. I ended up finding a guy renovating his 1920s era house, seeing if anyone wanted to buy a single piece of grating. His place was about an hour from me, and it was worth the drive. The piece is just a little bit smaller (roughly 14″x24″) than I would have liked, but I could make it work. It had the look I wanted, I just was a little limited in camera angle.
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One other point, the Disney sabers come with a blade plug that fits into the hilt when the blade is not attached, this simply protects the electrical contacts deep inside the hilt from dust and debris. Actually the saber I bought was missing the blade plug, so I took to Etsy to find a custom blade plug that had the brass stud in the center to resemble the few times we did get a look down the inside of the hilt in the movie. I got a blade plug 3D printed from Rocky Mountain 3D Print on etsy. It fit perfect, and it looks great, even if it’s plastic.

Now I needed some dry ice. I have a small ionizer I got for $15 on Amazon, you place it in a bowl of water and it makes a small mist, it worked great for my Masters of the Universe photos, but I needed a bit more of a girthy smoke for the lightsaber. Also, the ionizer spits water so everything gets wet, and I was trying to avoid getting my saber wet. We got a $10 chunk of dry ice, put it in a bowl of warm water, and wafted the smoke to drift up through and around the grate. I have a single remote flash under the grate with an orange gel to complete the look. Like I said, the grate was pretty small so I had to be pretty close, but overall I wanted a photo that elicited an emotional response in the viewer. Something like “I need to buy a saber” or “I have a saber, why haven’t I done a photo like this?”

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We had some dry ice leftover so we took it to a pedestrian tunnel near our place and put it in a bucket. We got some great photos with my son, a single off camera flash. This particular picture is only lit by the lightsaber blade (there is a flashlight aimed at the dry ice smoke). I’m pretty impressed with amount of light it gives off and didn’t need to push the ISO or anything too hard.

BTS Hoth Shot
I was very cautious about not getting my hilt wet with the artificial snow. This is the type of Instant Snow powder you mix with water and it puffs up. It is slightly moist to the touch, but it photographs beautifully as snow, but it doesn’t melt in the studio. So I stuck the saber in a cardboard box, cut a hole in an old cutting-board sheet and then arranged the snow around it. I even carefully added tape to the hilt where it would potentially touch the snow. It took around 90 minutes to setup and clean up, but the saber survived! Below is an image of the set-up with the grate. We put dry ice in the container of water. I had one off camera flash bouncing off the ceiling to the right, and another under the grate with an orange gel.
BTS Grate shot

I’m glad I finally got this grail of mine. Stay tuned for more Star Wars themed photoshoots, and more from my collection of Call to Adventure prop replicas.

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