Designing lightsabers a dream job for 'Star Wars' fan

TAIPEI, Taiwan — This is not your father's lightsaber, Luke. This is not the weapon of a Jedi Knight, but the handcrafted replica of a Taiwanese man who disliked the official "Star Wars" products, started making his own blades and now sells them for up to $400 each.

See Full Article

It's a booming business for Tsai Jung-chou, enough for him to quit his optical engineering job three years ago and make models of the iconic sci-fi weapon full-time. He says his mailbox is flooded with orders from fans around the world.

The 32-year-old says his model, a metal hilt attached to a glowing polycarbonate tube, is the brightest and strongest on the market, strong enough to use in gentle duels. He even offers to replace or fix those that break in mock combat.

And while it won't cut metal, his lightsaber certainly sounds like the real thing when it's turned on, with a motion-sensor soundboard that generates the humming and buzzing heard in the movies.

Producing a realistic replica of the fictional weapon was a decade-long quest for the Tsai, who is better known by his alias Makoto Tsai.

He was smitten when he first saw "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" in 2002. But he was sorely disappointed with the lightsaber he bought from the franchise. The light was dim and the blade seemed wimpy.

So he decided to build his own. He enrolled in an optical engineering school at a Taiwanese university and asked professors for advice.

"I was just a student. I didn't have lots of money," he said. "So I thought I should just make one myself because I like to make things myself anyway."

Tsai went on to work as an engineer for a high-power laser design company.

After years of experimentation, he came up with a design using an LED light strip that lights up in sequence, giving a scrolling effect as it powers up.

Tsai posted video clips of his handicraft on YouTube and other Internet sites, which were then reposted on Star Wars fan websites. Soon he had people contacting him and offering to pay for what he calls "Makoto's lightsaber."

Each model takes two to three days to finish, Tsai says. Prices range from $200 to $400 for the top models. He also provides upgrades to any current or older models. He hasn't kept track of how many he has made, but produces about 10-15 a month since he went full-time in 2012.

In the days leading up to the premier of the newest installment, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Tsai hung out with his friends dressed in Star Wars character costumes — and was busily making more lightsabers.

"I am actually happy that Disney has bought this movie franchise. They brought all the old characters — Luke, Princess Lea and Han Solo," he said. "I watched the trailer so many times and every time I cry. I get so emotional."

As for now, Tsai has no plan to expand his business. For him, becoming a master lightsaber maker is a dream come true.

Does he ever worry what he would do for a living if lightsabers faded in popularity?

"That's just not going to happen," he said. "Never."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • 'Bachelor' star called 911 before allegedly fleeing deadly crash

    Entertainment CTV News
    This Tuesday, April 25, 2017, photo provided by the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office in Independence, Iowa, shows Chris Soules, former star of ABC's "The Bachelor," after being booked early Tuesday after his arrest on a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident near Arlington, Iowa. Source
  • Lorde, Imagine Dragons, Iggy Azalea set to appear at 2017 iHeartRadio MMVAs

    Entertainment CBC News
    Lorde is headed to this year's iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards — but whether her lamp will make an encore performance remains to be seen. The New Zealand-raised musician is among the first round of artists announced for the televised street party in Toronto on June 18. Source
  • Jonathan Demme, director of 'The Silence of the Lambs', dead at 73 [Video]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Oscar-winning moviemaker Jonathan Demme has died, aged 73. The acclaimed director of The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia passed away in New York on Wednesday. He had been battling esophageal cancer and died of complications from heart disease, according to a family source. Source
  • 'So sad he's gone' - fans react to death of Jonathan Demme

    Entertainment CTV News
    Some reaction to the death of filmmaker Jonathan Demme. "Jonathan Demme was a great artist, humanitarian, activist & a warm encouraging colleague. I've known very few like him. He will be missed." -- director Ron Howard via Twitter. Source
  • 'Nobody knows what I know': Madonna's not happy with a planned biopic about her start

    Entertainment CBC News
    Madonna isn't happy with a new biopic planned on her pre-fame life. The Hollywood Reporter reported Monday that Universal had acquired the rights to Blond Ambition, a script about the singer. Brett Ratner is expected to produce the film, which centres on her struggles in New York while making her first album. Source
  • Johnny Depp's former managers call him 'habitual liar'

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Johnny Depp's former business managers say the star "is a habitual liar who denies responsibility for his own outrageous conduct" and "has himself to blame for his financial woes." The statement from Management Group spokesman David Shane is the latest volley in a public battle between the actor and his one-time management team. Source
  • Blockbuster has survived in the most curious of places - Alaska

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    For families across the United States, driving to the local Blockbuster Video was a Friday night ritual. The kids fought over which movies to rent, parents had to pay off the late fees and all succumbed to the popcorn and candy buckets at the register. Source
  • Jonathan Demme, 'Silence of the Lambs' director, dead at 73

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director of "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Philadelphia," and whose Talking Heads documentary "Stop Making Sense" is considered one of the greatest concert films ever, has died. Source
  • Ron Sexsmith is the Last Rider

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Call him a musician on the move: After three decades of renting in T.O., Ron Sexsmith jokes he had to leave the city to really live like "a rock star." The veteran 53-year-old singer and songwriter, whose latest album, The Last Rider, sees him touring theatres across Canada in April and May recently bought a four-bedroom house in the stage town of Stratford, Ont. Source
  • Jonathan Demme, director of 'The Silence of the Lambs', dead at 73

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Oscar-winning moviemaker Jonathan Demme has died, aged 73. The acclaimed director of The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia passed away in New York on Wednesday. He had been battling esophageal cancer and died of complications from heart disease, according to a family source. Source