Walking around New York Comic Con’s show floor, I’ve seen an incredible number of glowing tubes sticking out of backpacks or cradled in the hands of con-goers. Everyone at NYCC, it seems, wants a lightsaber, one that feels, looks, and sounds (wwooom) like the one they know from the movies and shows.
And this goes even beyond Star Wars. I’ve seen young men in Naruto cosplay holding aloft their wands like an old circle of knights. I saw a glowy space stick hunkered at the shoulder of a young lady dressed as Zelda, the Breath of the Wild Version, like a soldier holding their weapon at parade rest. When they’re set aglow in bright blues or greens or reds, they alight the glowing faces of both young and old alike.
Some were bought online and brought in from outside, but a majority of those lightsabers could be traced back to one booth found toward the back of the show floor. There are many lightsaber makers out there of varying quality and price. The wider saber community is very particular about their sellers, but for the attendees at NYCC, the Ultrasabers booth was the only real option to immediately get one’s hands on a lightsaber with enough oomph to take a hit and give one. For many, it’s a step up from the old, telescoping toys still being sold on Walmart shelves.
Ultrasabers owner Emory Harris chatted with i09 about why they think they’re doing so well in this year’s NYCC. He’s headed the company since 2005, having got into the business of designing sabers thanks to his computer science and engineering background and a longtime love of Star Wars.
Harris said his company regularly does a circuit of around 25 cons each year, yet NYCC has easily been pulling sales in the top three of those since they were invited last year. Prices for a saber go from $75 to over $800, but Harris said the fact that they have their sabers on display, and that they will create one for customers based on desired components, has given them the edge. “Most of our sales are online, so we already have people that know about our product here,” the owner said. “We have a pretty big fan base here already and it’s only our second year.”
Lightsabers have proved so popular, Disney has gotten in on the game through its build-a-lightsaber experience at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Fans have tried to design telescoping sabers with varying degrees of success. In the world of people trying to recreate Star Wars fight scenes, they often have to rely on solid-built models.
But why lightsabers, and why have they proved so immediately popular to the NYCC crowd, and what makes them so appealing? The answer, based on the crowd, is obvious. Like moths to a lantern, everybody wants to feel themselves with the noble bearing of a Jedi or the cool, calculating viciousness of a Sith. In the hours I spent on the show floor, I didn’t see anyone wantonly swinging around their big space sword—something that points to the fact that folks at NYCC are well accustomed to the civility needed to wield such a weapon.
For Harris, however, he doesn’t much want to speak to why Star Wars and lightsabers in particular have struck such a chord with people. “That’s a living being of its own,” he said. “As long as people keep liking lightsabers, we will keep selling them.”
Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.