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Disney’s ‘actual’ lightsaber is not fairly as cool because it appears



You have to hand it to Disney. Regardless of a relative dearth of Star Wars content material launched on Could 4, which apparently we’re nonetheless not tired of calling Star Wars day, the corporate nonetheless managed to dominate the nerd information cycle with a single 13-second video. 

The video in query is Disney Parks’ tease of the Star Wars lodge opening in Disney World in 2022, the Galactic Starcruiser. We have written extensively about the Starcruiser experience, which over three nights will immerse you in a narrative a few ship being boarded by First Order troops and saved by the Resistance. Estimated price: $1,400 per particular person. 

Which on the one hand seems like plenty of scratch, however alternatively…this. 

Sure, that is a Disney solid member dressed as Rey, demonstrating what seems to be a “actual” lightsaber — by which we imply totally extendable. When you’ve ever seen a fan-built mannequin, or constructed a $200 lightsaber at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, you will know that they are actually plastic tubes with LED lights inside. Enjoyable, however not precisely the Star Wars dream of urgent a button and having a beam of sunshine go psshhhhhewwww. That is a lot nearer. 

So what is the deal? Is Disney entering into the superpowered laser enterprise? Will solid members need to take out additional insurance coverage in opposition to unintentional severance (lightsabers are all enjoyable and video games till somebody loses a hand)? And most significantly, will they shut up and take our cash so we will play too? The solutions aren’t any, no, and possibly not. Here is what it’s essential know.

1. Lightsabers aren’t actual. But. 

From time to time we’re handled to an overblown story about an inventor who claims to have constructed the world’s first “actual” lightsaber. In 2020 we acquired this version fueled by propane, in addition to this engineer igniting hydroxy gas to provide a particularly unsafe jet of flame that seemed just a little like Kylo Ren’s spitting purple saber. Neither goes to allow you to face off in opposition to a Sith Lord — not except it is hooked as much as an R2-D2-sized gasoline tank, which could impede your cool duel choreography considerably.

At MIT in 2013, scientists managed to create a “photonic molecule” — mild particles that bind to one another, creating mass with out weight. However on condition that they may solely create photonic molecules inside a vacuum chamber that was cooled to close absolute zero, headlines that dubbed the experiment a “real lightsaber” had been greater than just a little deceptive. 

We’re not there but. Provided that physics would not work in our universe the way in which it really works in area fantasy, we could by no means be. Heck, even George Lucas (who all the time stated he “needed to disregard science and have enjoyable” with the films) needed to invent the Kyber crystal simply to hand-wave away the important thing query of how these unbelievable laser swords drew their energy. 

2. Disney’s ‘lightsaber’ works like a tape measure. 

We first acquired wind of the Starcruiser lightsaber on April 8, when Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro demonstrated it throughout an unrelated press occasion for Disneyland’s Avengers Campus. The reporters current had been very excited by D’Amaro’s demo — “not a ‘I am carrying round this lengthy stick’ lightsaber,” one tweeted, “a FUCKING LIGHTSABER LIGHTSABER” — however no pictures had been accessible. 

The web, undefeated, set to work and found a patent Disney Enterprises filed in 2018: “Sword gadget with retractable, internally illuminated blade.” The equipment it described contained spools and a motor that rolled and unrolled two “plastic blade physique members…performing very like a steel carpenter’s tape measure.” 

That is proper: When you ever prolonged a metal tape measure as a child, and ran round a workshop making lightsaber noises, you had been forward of the sport. And if you happen to’d solely patented the thought, Disney might need been paying you a ton of cash proper about now. 

There’s extra to it, after all. The patent describes two semicircular translucent tape measures, mainly, which can be “zipped” collectively after they exit the lightsaber base, and studded with LED lights. VR developer Ben Ridout went into element in this viral Twitter thread, full with animations. Nonetheless, as with all magic, as soon as you know the way the trick is finished it would not fairly look as cool as all that. 

3. You may deal with them. However we do not know if you should buy them.

Starcruiser concept art shows a guest using a lightsaber to face off against a remote — but crucially, not against another lightsaber user.

Starcruiser idea artwork reveals a visitor utilizing a lightsaber to face off in opposition to a distant — however crucially, not in opposition to one other lightsaber person.

“You may have the chance to coach within the historical methods of the lightsaber,” in line with the Could 4 Disney Parks blog post teasing the most recent particulars of the Galactic Starcruiser. The corporate additionally launched idea artwork displaying a Starcruiser visitor wielding a lightsaber in opposition to what seems to be a wall-mounted distant. 

That is as a lot as we all know, formally. Additionally notable was what the Parks weblog did not say. Whereas the patent provides a tantalizing chance of providing the lightsaber as a “collectible,” Disney’s official unveiling makes no point out of having the ability to buy the cool new lightsaber — or of any precise lightsaber-on-lightsaber motion aboard the Starcruiser. 

Which leaves us questioning: How sturdy is that this patented retractable sword gadget anyway? When you ran across the workshop with a tape measure, you most likely skilled that Freudian second the place your lightsaber…immediately went floppy. As a result of if it is retractable, and winds round a spool, then it’s by definition bendable, and unlikely to take care of its form when hitting the same object. 

Which in flip means that this new lightsaber may not be the most effective toy for a choreographed duel — not except what you are making an attempt to duplicate is the schwartz-on-schwartz battle from Spaceballs. The sturdier plastic housing for the Galaxy’s Edge lightsaber does enable for such tough dealing with, so do not anticipate that to go away any time quickly. 

Our guess can be that the Starcruiser lightsaber will solely be utilized by visitors beneath very restricted, managed situations — separately, with no chance for unmoderated dueling. Nonetheless, its very existence is prone to persuade 1000’s of nerds to half with $1,400 for the Star Wars journey of a lifetime. And that is the way you flip a patent for a flexible lightsaber right into a web constructive for the corporate. 

Evil genius, Disney. Evil genius.    

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