On “May 4th,” Disney released a first look at what many Star Wars collectors hope to be the holy grail of lightsabers. In what is technically a teaser for Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an actress playing Rey activates an accessory lightsaber that is both a beam of blue-white light. and fully retractable.
When it comes to commercially available lightsabers, Star Wars fans have had to choose between two different compromises. A saber that’s essentially a plastic tube on top of a flashlight, but can be fully retracted or unsheathed with a flick of the wrist – or a rigid fiberglass tube filled with customizable LED lights . The LED look is perfect for recreating that dark room / light saber photo shoot you’ve always dreamed of, but which needs to be detached and stored manually when you want to hang the grip of your belt like a Jedi.
An all-new lightsaber, which combines both the more precise LED lighting on the screen and full retractability, was first spotted during the Disney Parks presentation in April 2021 – but the presentation didn’t allow video recording, and the lightsaber seen in the Galactic Starcruiser teaser is our widespread first look at the accessory. We even have a pretty good idea of how it works, thanks to Polygon’s friends at Le Verge and developer Ben Ridout, and Disney’s 2018 patent for an “internally illuminated retractable blade”.
If the new saber follows this patent, its blade is made of two strips of translucent plastic, flexible enough to be wound on their vertical axis like a tape measure, but strong enough that when unrolled and shaped in a curve on their horizontal axis – also like a tape measure – they fit in an inflexible line.
The sword’s hilt contains the two spools of plastic, a shape that shapes them into a curve as they unwind, and motors to drive their extension and retraction. The shape curves the bands into overlapping semicircles, forming a tube as they extend, with a rounded cap at the end, to complete the silhouette of a lightsaber blade. The inside of the cap is attached to the end of a flexible strip of LED lights, which coils and unwinds inside the exterior of the blade as it is extended and retracted.
If you still can’t visualize this, check out Verge or the helpful gifs in Ridout Twitter feed.
Yes they have.
It won’t melt through the metal blast doors or cut your hand off, but it does feature a lighted blade that deploys and retracts with the push of a button.
This animation shows the concept behind the technology. pic.twitter.com/e7fwP06CxF
– Ben Ridout (@benridout) 12 avril 2021
With no formal announcement to continue, there are still a lot of questions about these new lightsabers. Like, will they be available to fans? The official Disney Parks blog dances around the topic, simply saying:
Guests who experience Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be the first to see [the new lightsaber] in action […] Watching that lightsaber activate right in front of your eyes will be just one of the countless ways […] you will be immersed in a Star Wars story where your decisions and actions […] determine how your personal journey unfolds.
A blade made of a flexible plastic sheath may not be exactly ready for toyetic mass production. Speaking of which, how strong is the blade? Can I hit another lightsaber with it? What about my little brother? And right on his arm? Just once? He hit me first. He owes me a shot.