Disney’s ‘real’ lightsaber isn’t quite as cool as it looks

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 couple of ship being boarded by First Order troops and saved by the Resistance. Estimated value: $1,400 per particular person. 

Which on the one hand feels like loads of scratch, however however…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 may 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 moving into the superpowered laser enterprise? Will solid members should take out further insurance coverage in opposition to unintended 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 are able to play too? The solutions are not any, no, and possibly not. Here is what it is advisable know.

1. Lightsabers aren’t actual. But. 

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

At MIT in 2013, scientists managed to create a “photonic molecule” — gentle particles that bind to one another, creating mass with out weight. However provided 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 slightly deceptive. 

We’re not there but. On condition that physics would not work in our universe the way in which it works in house fantasy, we could by no means be. Heck, even George Lucas (who at all times 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 inconceivable laser swords drew their energy. 

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

Did #Disney invent an actual working #lightsaber?

Sure they did.

It will not soften via metallic blast doorways, or lower off your hand, however it does characteristic an illuminated blade that can lengthen and retract on the push of a button.

This animation exhibits the idea behind the tech. pic.twitter.com/e7fwP06CxF

— Ben Ridout (@benridout) April 12, 2021

We first obtained 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 photos had been obtainable. 

The web, undefeated, started working and found a patent Disney Enterprises filed in 2018: “Sword machine with retractable, internally illuminated blade.” The equipment it described contained spools and a motor that rolled and unrolled two “plastic blade physique members…appearing very like a metallic 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 in case you’d solely patented the thought, Disney may 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, principally, which might 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 understand how the trick is completed it would not quite look as cool as all that. 

3. You will deal with them. However we do not know if you should purchase them.

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

“You will have the chance to coach within the historical methods of the lightsaber,” in response to the Could 4 Disney Parks blog post teasing the newest 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 gives a tantalizing risk 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 machine anyway? When you ran across the workshop with a tape measure, you in all probability skilled that Freudian second the place your lightsaber…abruptly went floppy. As a result of if it’s retractable, and winds round a spool, then it is by definition bendable, and unlikely to keep up its form when hitting an identical object. 

Which in flip means that this new lightsaber won’t be one of the best toy for a choreographed duel — not until what you are making an attempt to copy is the schwartz-on-schwartz battle from Spaceballs. The sturdier plastic housing for the Galaxy’s Edge lightsaber does permit for such tough dealing with, so do not count on that to go away any time quickly. 

Our guess could be that the Starcruiser lightsaber will solely be utilized by company beneath very restricted, managed circumstances — one after the other, with no risk for unmoderated dueling. Nonetheless, its very existence is prone to persuade hundreds 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 optimistic for the corporate. 

Evil genius, Disney. Evil genius.    

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