Kickstarter is a massive crowdfunding initiative where artists, authors, and inventors of all kinds can come together and share their creative works in an effort to have them come to fruition.
On Kickstarter you can find smart watches, knitting projects, adult coloring books, Adult coloring books (yes, they are different, just put some thought into it), electronic keychains, unpublished novels – practically anything. Quite recently, in fact, you could find Lightsabers.
Kyberlight is an American lightsaber company just recently founded, and it was started with a unique concept. Like other replica lightsaber companies, Kyberlight lightsabers have a standard set of parts – a blade, an LED, a sound board and speaker. However, each and every Kyberlight hilt was going to be customizable – able to have multiple parts swapped out to create a different look. The color of the LED was also customizable – switching between 20 different colors at the touch of a button.
Kyberlight advertised in their Kickstarter that their lightsaber was going to be, “The Greatest Custom Lightsaber in the Galaxy” – including “the Kyberlight LED technology also puts out over 320 lumens, making it the brightest LED saber in the galaxy,” and “the rich quality stereo sound effects (including flash on clash)… with a proprietary sound card.”
Also from their Kickstarter – “We created the Kyberlight saber to not only be the highest quality custom saber in the world, but to also be the most affordable and accessible for fans of all ages anywhere in the world… And we back that up with our ‘Kyberlight Best Pricing Guarantee.’ If you can find another saber in the galaxy that matches the Kyberlight feature set, we’ll beat their pricing… guaranteed.” Those are some lofty goals! Added to that was a blade that was being called “indestructible” – and we were intrigued.
Every once in a while the Sword Buyer’s Guide is able to put some resources towards doing a product review to help round out the SBG Digest. In addition, we’ve been adding more reviews of non-sword products – including anime wallhangers and, you guessed it, replica lightsabers. Earlier this year we decided that for the first time SBG was going to sponsor a Kickstarter – and we chose Kyberlight.
After a long-ish wait period punctuated with numerous communications with the owners (including an interview that can be found here), the Kyberlight system arrived. Did it live up to its claims? Read on to find out.
When the boxes arrived, I was pretty impressed – they were slick and well designed, with the Kyberlight logo on top.
All the parts were packaged securely and no obvious scratches or dings were on anything.
The extras – light up shirt and fighting gloves – were a neat addition. And as always they didn’t put “lightsaber” on the shipping label.
The first thing I noticed about the handle was that it was big. Really big. I mean, compared to the other lightsabers I own it was several inches longer, bigger around, and significantly heavier. More on this later. I lit it up and tried out the colors and sounds.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play with it long as it almost immediately exhibited electrical malfunctions. When it comes to manufacturer’s defects with any product, including swords and lightsabers, they are bound to happen – what matters most is how the company responds. Kyberlight had a replacement hilt ready to go and in the mail the next day, and it arrived promptly in time for the review to continue. Full marks for customer service on that one!
Let’s get on with the meat and potatoes of the review, shall we?
The customizable handle is the centerpiece of the Kyberlight system, and I’ll be honest – it’s a lot of fun.
There is a slight learning curve as to figuring out the different screws and such but once you get the hang of it there’s not much to it. I spent a solid afternoon with my daughters swapping out pieces and making fun and unique designs. It was great to try and come up with new styles to try out. Here are just a few of the ones we came up with.
One minor note – the sleeves that slide onto the handle to give it the unique look tend to rattle slightly even when fully tightened. It didn’t happen with all of them, but for some you could feel the sleeve being slightly loose when you swung the saber. It wasn’t damaging or difficult to deal with in any way, though it did affect the “immersion” of using a lightsaber somewhat.
The indestructible blade is as advertised. I did my best, friends and neighbors, I really did – I smacked this thing against a bokken, 2×4’s, metal shelving, concrete, everything short of an actual sharp katana, and while there were some scratches it didn’t break or bend. Pretty impressive!
While I’m sure there is a point at which it would achieve structural failure I certainly wasn’t able to find it – and if I had, there is a lifetime warranty on the blade. No worries then, right?
Color Gallery: Click to Bring Up Larger Images
he LED, advertised as the brightest on the market, was pretty bright – at least the primary colours were. The blue, the red, the green, all stood out as very bright. DO NOT look into the LED on this one! Some of the mixed colours – teal, rose, pink, purple, yellow – were a little faded in comparison. There was also some diffusion of the light as it went into the opaque blade – the tip was much dimmer than the base. Other sabers I’ve seen had similar issues though not quite at the same rate – the may be a trade-off for the indestructible blade. As advertised switching the colours was very easy and made it quite simple to achieve different looks to match the changed handle.
Once I received a handle that worked properly, there were no issues with electronics at all. While the sounds were loud and the inclusion of flash-on-clash – a feature that you have to pay for elsewhere – was really great, I was disappointed that there was only one “movement” and one “clash” sound – in others that I have tried and/or owned, there is a more robust set of sounds in the sound font, which adds to the “realism” of the lightsaber.
This might prove to be a relatively easy upgrade for future models, though, and probably won’t be a dealbreaker for anyone.
As mentioned before the handle is large. When you start adding the emitter and pommel pieces to it the handle gets even bigger and heavier. Like, we are well into Maglite territory here.
Most of the other sabers I’ve held I could comfortably wield with one hand. This one is way out of that size category – it’s not too heavy to swing one handed, but it’s pretty awkward to do so. As a two-handed saber it’s not bad, but it still feels very large. Some of the fittings aren’t as bad, but the handle is still quite big.
This may be because the Kyberlight is new – they had to build their product from the ground up, so it makes sense that it would be a little bulky in version 1.0. There will certainly be other versions where this product will be refined. But here is another question: if they release a version 2.0 at some point in the future, a product with a different size, perhaps more streamlined – will any of the previous fittings that people purchased fit the new handle? Will people need to buy a whole new set of accessories to go with it? Or will the handles stay the size they are? Food for thought for the Kyberlight team, I’m sure, and time will tell how they handle things.
Blade on Blade Combat
The Kyberlight lightsaber came with three extras:
Light up tshirt – which performed as expected, and was quite interesting to wear.
Fighting gloves, which helped the impact of a blade on your hands (lightsaber blade, that is) – at least a little.
Did the Kyberlight live up to the hype?
That really depends on what a customer should be expecting. In the sword world, there are multiple tiers of quality – you can buy swords for as little or as much as you care to spend. While quality does not always necessarily follow (you can find some gems for $130, and some duds for $1000) the old maxim is still generally true – you get what you pay for.
That doesn’t mean, however, that paying less means you will get something of “bad” value. One of my favourite swords is an old discontinued Windlass I picked up for under $150 – it’s a simple one-handed sword but I quite like it. I always have. And it doesn’t suffer at all under scrutiny… unless you start comparing it to a Valiant Armoury, or DSA, or Arms and Armor worth 2, 3 or 4 times the price.
The same is true here of the Kyberlight. By itself it is a fine package – and the ability to swap out parts to fit your aesthetic-of-the-day has a lot of value, to say nothing of the changeable colors. It comes with plenty of extras in the shirt and gloves, and overall has a pretty slick package. If you are only going to be able to afford one lightsaber, and want to be able to change it up so it will fit with different costumes, this is a great buy. But hold it up against a higher end saber and the minor shortcomings – the oversized/rattling handle, the weight, the simple sounds – start to stand out, and the extra products and fancy box don’t really make up that distance. This is perhaps a good reminder that it’s not always fair to compare products from different tiers – from the reviews that have come out elsewhere online people certainly seem to be happy with their Kyberlight, and they did run a very successful kickstarter.
The value for cost of the Kyberlight package we received at SBG was high – 7 sleeves, 5 emitters, and 6 pommels for the cost of the Kickstarter is quite a deal. For a fan looking to buy a hilt and enough pieces to customize it into more than one design, though, they quickly approach the price point of a much higher end lightsaber. And that is where the value starts to be stretched a little thin.
Kyberlight ran a great Kickstarter and managed to inspire a huge number of people to support them. They get top marks for their fantastic customer service and support, and they came out with an interesting product. The challenge for them from here on out will be to continue to inspire people, and to compete in a market full of exceptional and established lightsaber companies.