They say old is gold!
Well, that cannot be truer in the case of the Graflex lightsaber.
If you are here to learn more, you must already know what a Graflex lightsaber looks like.
The shine, gloss, and vintage look are a chef's kiss!
Moreover, the pull of the new lightsaber technology with the old vibe is irresistible.
Besides, it's about time we tackled the drawbacks of a brittle lightsaber. The bubbling excitement of knowing that you can now hold a lightsaber and not be afraid of durability is bliss.
That means the Graflex lightsaber is compatible for sparing, dueling as well as performance plays!
However, what is it that makes it gorgeous as well as the strongest? Can it be customized to your taste?
Find out everything from the beginning to how Graflex lightsaber made its way to the Star Wars set and finally to the fans’ hearts.
An unexpected meet!
If you have seen the original Star Wars trilogy you must have immediately spotted the Graflex lightsaber. It is famous for being Luke Skywalker’s earliest lightsaber design. Better yet recently Graflex lightsaber has been spotted as Rey Skywalker’s unique lightsaber.
Connected the dots. Huh?
Tracking back to the time when the Star Wars production team was designing the props for the series. Lightsabers were definitely one of the biggest challenges.
In 1997 the Star Wars set decorator went to a shop to buy the lens for binoculars. He kept searching the shop as he wanted something that was within the budget. He asked the shopkeeper to point him to something interesting.
He was handed a box that had the Graflex speed graphic camera. The Graflex camera was used by photographers two decades earlier and was no longer in use. Lo and behold the metal tube that was part of the graphic camera gave the decorator an idea. It was used as a hilt for the original lightsaber.
However, several modifications were due. Continued modifications to this day have resulted in one of the best lightsabers the Star Wars franchise has to offer!
So, what is Graflex lightsaber?
Since we know the origin of the name and how the lightsaber ended on the Star Wars set. It is not enough. There is more to the Graflex lightsaber than an impressive background story.
Graflex lightsaber is a modern lightsaber better than ordinary tube lightsabers. Actually, it is a lightsaber that has gone through physical modifications to look pretty and strong.
The hilt is improved to enhance grip with the addition of groves, a modern activation box, an AV switch, and a button retention screw that holds the blade.
Graflex conversion kit?
If I were to put all the above-mentioned parts under one umbrella it would be the Graflex conversion kit. The kit allows you to modify the hilt and categorize it.
Meaning while shooting the movies Graflex lightsaber has gone through modifications time and time again. For example, you can spot the difference between the initial Graflex lightsaber in ‘Star Wars IV: A New Hope’ and ‘Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back’.
Remember that the Graflex conversion kit allows you physical modifications that are external. Features like grip, D rings, activation box, and screws can be changed to your taste. Graflex lightsaber has less to do with internal changes and is more about the changes in the original Graflex design to make it stand out.
Interested in building your own Graflex lightsaber? Let’s see what modifications you can make to your Graflex hilt tube to brag to your friends!
A Graflex clamp is a metal clamp wrapped around the middle of the metal tube that was part of the Flash 3 Graflex speed camera. It is called so because the production company stamped ‘GRAFLEX’ on top of the clamp.
Did you know that the Graflex symbol was covered in the movies by an adhesive mylar tape and further changed to match the characters particularly Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker?
Adding to that, the clamp was originally designed to attach the flash to the camera. Now it is modified to be attached to the base of the lightsaber blade as a hilt.
Now when I tell you Graflex clamp is important regarding aesthetics I am not holding back. It can make or break the look of your Graflex lightsaber. Read the features below and decide for yourself!
Nickel plated or Aluminum Alloy
Cheaper-Replica or expensive-original version
Modifications to garflex clamp?
What are the other modifications that you can make on the clamp as part of the lightsaber hilt?
The Graflex clamp also known as the ‘sleeve’ features a rectangular projection called the ‘activation box’ or ‘activation switch’. Other features like bubble strip and grooves increase the practicality.
You can also customize the AV Graflex lightsaber button to a ‘low profile version’ or a ‘screw version’. Lastly, the bunny ears and blade retention screws open more gates to Graflex lightsaber modification.
All these changes can help you achieve the Graflex lightsaber hilt you dream of.
Before you get to work let’s study all the parts in detail first!
Activation box/ Activation switch
Activation box is a simple rectangular projection on the hilt to control the lightsaber blade energy. It is usually located in the center or towards the pommel of the hilt. Many Star Wars characters used like Obi Wan, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader used the original activation design for their lightsaber.
Similarly, the switch works the same way. Yet the switch can be modified physically into a lever, button, plate, or stud. As the name suggests it ‘activates’ the lightsaber. Star Wars characters simply activated and deactivated their blades by applying pressure to the switch.
Bubble Strip/ Bubble Card/ Clamp card
The ridges that you see on the activation box. The black and golden lines? Better yet the gold material with PCB lines? Those are the clamp cards. They are added to the activation box as a finishing piece or a greeblie to help activate the box. These greeblies serve more of a decorative purpose than functionality.
Unlike the Graflex clamp, a cheaper greeblie is as good as an expensive one! Also, there are many types of greeblie available in the market.
Not to confuse the Clamp card also goes by other names like ‘Bubble card’ or Bubble Strip’. All these have similar functions and serve as decorative pieces in Star Wars. Also, you can distinguish among them if you look closer.
In ‘Return of the Jedi’ and ‘Empire Strikes Back’ Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber features a camp card instead of the bubble strip.
Still confused? Look at the pictures below and it will immediately click!
T Grips/ Groove
All that shine to enhance aesthetics is bound to make the hilt slippery causing the lightsaber to slip out of your hands easily.
To enhance the grip of the hilt either you get patterned grooves or you can use a more reliable method. Graflex lightsaber is commonly seen with T grips as with many other lightsabers. The T grips are T shaped and usually black in color. You can change the T grips from time to time as they are attached to the adhesive. Mostly they are made of plastic or rubber material. Look closely at Darth Vader’s lightsaber and you will spot them!
There is a misconception that the original Star Wars lightsaber decorators used windshield wipers to get the same effect. Although, to many Star Wars enthusiasts the material and source of original T grips is still a mystery.
AV Switch allows you to control multiple fonts of the lightsaber with a single touch. It is an output connected to your soundboard, responsible for various sound fonts, color effects, ignition modes, and more! You can simply control the internal features of the lightsaber with an AV switch.
The good news is that there are two versions available. You can buy an illuminated or a non-illuminated AV switch. Also, you can still get an AV switch even if your lightsaber has no sound fonts.
Other than the AV switch or the Activation box you also get buttons in the latest and high-quality Graflex lightsaber models. The buttons help you attach and detach the blade easily without damage to the hilt or the attachment screw built inside the hilt. Not only that but you can also choose the color of the switch. Whether you want it to pop or mix with the hilt is up to you!
Blade retention screw
Finally the answer to the bid question arising in your mind!
How does the blade attach and detach from the hilt? Is there a special modification for the blade as well?
So at the front of the hilt, you have a blade retention screw. You can either get the button version as mentioned above or the screw version. My suggestion is that you are going to remove your blade often then opt for the screw version. If not then go with the button version as it is more aesthetic and looks classier, the buttons will wear easily if you remove the blade often so the screw version is a safer option.
Specification & Customization?
Let’s summarize whatever we have discussed above and see what and what not the Graflex lightsaber has to offer!
The dimensions mentioned below are of a standard Graflex lightsaber.
Nickel plated or Aluminum Alloy
Removable (MHS compatible)
Low profile anti-vandal button available
SEOUL P4 or Luxeon Rebel Star compatible
AV Switch (Part 1)
Illuminated or non-illuminated
AV Switch (Part 2)
Sound no sound
Bubble Strip/ Bubble Card
2 circuit clamp cards
Grooves or 7 ANH T-strips
6 ESB T-track
Button version or Screw version
Glass eye or red button
ANH & ESB D-ring
The parts mentioned above are a necessity without which your Graflex lightsaber will be incomplete and you will not be able to flex in front of your competitive fandom.
If you want to add more excitement and convenience then look for these parts.
A button or knob added to a lightsaber hilt is known as a Covertec wheel. You can wear your lightsaber hilt by attaching a Covertec wheel to a Covertec belt clip. One of the most common ways that lightsaber enthusiasts wear their swords is with a belt clip, along with the D-ring belt clip system.
Talking about enthusiasts those who are a little too passionate tend to press the AV switch a little too hard and damage it easily. There could be other reasons that end up damaging your AV switch. If you face this problem often then why not switch to an anti-vandal switch? It also eliminates overload problems and modes like ‘Flash on Clash is easily accessible!
In the end,
Many manufacturers offer a variety of Graflex lightsabers with features similar to what we have mentioned. If you snag yourself a good deal you can also get an extra soundboard with special sound fonts.
Fortunately for you, the deals are lining up and waiting for you to try the modern high quality sabers. Nothing better than the Graflex lightsaber that brings you right to the beginning of it all. Agreed?
Enjoy your Graflex lightsaber and find out more about the other varieties of lightsabers here!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is Anakin's lightsaber called Graflex?
It is also known as the Graflex lightsaber in honor of the company name whose parts were taken to construct the original lightsaber. The name though has been concealed yet the Graflex lightsaber is detectable.
Is Graflex lightsaber as realistic as FX lightsaber?
The Graflex and FX kits are different from each other. While Graflex allows modification on the external, on the hilt, FX allows changes inside the hilt.
Who used the Graflex lightsaber?
Mark Hamill used the original lightsaber from the original Star Wars film. Believe it or not, the original lightsaber hilts were made by set designer Roger Christian out of Graflex camera flash handles from the 1930s, which Obi Wan Kenobi called "an elegant weapon, for a more civilized age."
Is Graflex lightsaber duel worthy?
Graflex lightsabers can be used for dueling, unlike other lightsabers. The hilt is made of strong material and the blade attachment is the usual polycarbonate. Not only that it is gorgeous as well as combat worthy.
Is Graflex lightsaber base lit?
You can design your Graflex lightsaber to be base lit like Anakin Skywalker. Additionally, for a standard base lit Graflex lightsaber the blade dimensions are 92 cm Blade Length (36"), 82cm (32"), 72cm (28").
What kind of blade is suitable for the Graflex lightsaber?
If you are a fan of heavy dueling then I suggest you go for Ultra-blades made of polycarbonate material. They do and do not house the LED strip. However, the light source present in the hilt offers more protection.