There’s no more iconic or recognizable weapon from Star Wars than a lightsaber, and we might be closer than ever to seeing this fiction in reality. While it’s unlikely to have the same deadly power of a lightsaber within the Star Wars universe, the latest reveal at a Disney Parks press conference could be the most realistic lightsaber ever released.
Lightsaber toys have been around for years, but they’ve never fully delivered on the feel and experience of how a lightsaber looks in Star Wars. According to Inverse, the beginnings of the toy lightsaber actually came through a bootleg knock-off called The Force Beam, but it didn’t take long for Star Wars to make their own versions.
For decades, lightsaber toys tended to follow the formula of having a plastic replica handle or hilt that paired with a plastic colored tube, sometimes retractable in sections. Whether extended manually or always extended, once an internal light was on it would illuminate the toy replica and sometimes emit sound effects.
Disney Revealed a New Lightsaber During a Recent Press Conference and Said ‘It’s Real’
After years of innovation, it now appears the biggest leap forward has finally arrived. On Thursday, April 8th, Disney hosted a virtual ‘Special Look Inside Disney Parks’ press conference. According to Spectrum News 13 in Orlando, the press conference included details about the eventual reopening of Disneyland Resort in California, what’s coming next for Disney World, and the reveal of the opening date for Avengers Campus, a Marvel-themed attraction at Disney California Adventure.
However, it was the final moments of the press conference that had everyone buzzing. According to a tweet by Carlye Wisel, a theme park journalist who got to view the press conference, the reveal came as Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro closed out the event.
According to both Wisel and Spectrum News 13, D’Amaro wrapped up by saying “you never know what we’re going to come up with next” before revealing the lightsaber. After pulling out the new lightsaber, D’Amaro closed out by simply saying “it’s real.” Unfortunately, no photos were shared, which Wisel stated in a separate tweet was because those viewing it were specifically instructed not to share screen caps or recordings of the press conference.
Scott Trowbridge, who is the Studio Leader at Walt Disney Imagineering according to his LinkedIn, later tweeted from his own account that the lightsaber revealed by Josh D’Amaro was real and not CGI, but also stated photos and video would not yet be revealed. We don’t yet know exactly when we’ll see this new lightsaber in action or fans will have a chance to purchase one, but it’s unlikely they would’ve dropped this kind of reveal at a Disney Parks press conference without plans to give fans a shot at having a “real” lightsaber of their own in the near future.
Disney Filed a Patent in 2017 for a ‘Sword Device With Retractable, Internally Illuminated Blade’
Yes they did.
It won't melt through metal blast doors, or cut off your hand, but it does feature an illuminated blade that will extend and retract at the push of a button.
This animation shows the concept behind the tech. pic.twitter.com/e7fwP06CxF
— Ben Ridout (@benridout) April 12, 2021
The news of this new design being revealed has many looking back to a patent originally filed by Disney Enterprises Inc. in March of 2017, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent for a “sword device with retractable, internally illuminated blade” was granted and published on September 4, 2018.
The official filing also includes an abstract description which states the item is “a special effects device for providing an energy sword effect” and details a flexible strip of light “attached to a blade end cap and positioned in the center of the two blade body members such that it is pulled up along with the blade body members during their extension.”
It’s important to note that Disney has not yet confirmed the design shown at the press conference is directly linked to the patent filed in 2017, but descriptions of the reveal and details in the patent do appear to line up. Ben Ridout shared an animation on Twitter that illustrates how the concept is intended to work.
As Ridout further explained on Twitter, the patent works similarly to a tape measure, and images that can be seen on Google Patents provide a more detailed look at how the product could be intended to operate. We likely won’t know for sure how this new design will operate until photos and video have been released, but it definitely looks like Star Wars fans are closer than ever to holding the real thing in their hands.
Star Wars Began Making High-End Lightsaber Replicas in 2008
While toy replicas were nothing new, Star Wars finally took control of making high-end prop-quality replica lightsabers over a decade ago. According to a StarWars.com article from January of 2008 (archived version captured in June of 2011), Lucas Licensing officially began making high-end Force FX Lightsabers that had previously been manufactured by Master Replicas.
The announcement by Star Wars also revealed a partnership with veteran toy manufacturer Hasbro and upstart eFX to create the Force FX Lightsabers line. According to the eFX website, the company was “formed in 2007” and “quickly awarded by Lucas Licensing rights to design, develop, manufacture and distribute prop replicas and models encompassing the entire Star Wars universe.”
Howard Roffman, who was the President of Lucas Licensing when the deal was struck in 2008, provided a statement about the partnership in the previously mentioned article on StarWars.com. “Working with both Hasbro and eFX allows us to bring Star Wars fans some of the best collectibles we have ever offered. These are incredibly creative, innovative companies with a real passion for Star Wars, and we think it’s going to show in the products they offer,” said Roffman.