The hilt, that started it all…
The Graflex is a vintage design from the original Star Wars trilogy that was used by both Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker. In The Force Awakens, the hilt is retrieved by Rey from Maz Kanata’s castle on the planet Takodana.
When Rey first discovers the Graflex, it appears to be in a worn and aged condition, with scratches and dents visible on the hilt. However, Rey later repairs the lightsaber, replacing the old, broken crystal with a new blue one, which allows her to ignite a powerful and stable blade.
From ESB to TFA
The Skywalker Lightsaber featured in The Force Awakens is a unique combination of details from both ANH and ESB, using vintage Graflex flashes. While the exact model is unknown due to an obscured bottom stamp, the upper half of the saber retains basic Graflex features such as the red trigger button, the “bunny ear” bulb holder, the power slide switch, and the “beer tab” bracket. The lower half of the saber resembles the ESB heroes, with the clamp in the 3 o’clock position, a thin metal card covering the entire clamp to replicate stamped lines and punched holes, and a scratch-made Kobold/D-ring assembly mounted with two rivets on the bottom.
Some modifications were made to the saber, including sanding the knurling on the glass eye to smooth brass, a semi-transparent clamp card with a unique design that emulates a PCB card, a featureless cover between the d-ring assembly and endcap to hide the Graflex model stamp, and six T-Track grips attached with metal-colored 3mm rivets.
TLJ specific changes
The TLJ version of The Skywalker Lightsaber remains almost identical to the primary TFA hero prop. It is worth mentioning that there is a minor difference noticed between scenes – in some shots, the glass eye seems to be fully screwed in, while in others, it appears to be protruding. Additionally, the overall finish of the saber seems to be much more polished than in any other appearance.
This could be attributed to physical polishing or buffing, or even re-plating of the prop. Since TLJ heavily employs digital retouching and enhancement throughout the film, it is also possible that the shots of the TLJ Graflex have been digitally cleaned up. This could have been done using roto touch-ups or adjustments made in the color grading process.
The Replica Build
The foundation of this hilt was an 89sabers that had been installed with a Proffie board. However, I found myself dissatisfied with various aspects of the saber and was compelled to make several modifications. I opted to install the Wanna Wanga TFA/TLJ conversion kit, which proved to be an excellent addition to the hilt. I also upgraded the speaker with a Smugglers Outpost Elite 24mm speaker, which greatly enhanced the overall audio quality and volume. In order to achieve a more accurate look, I decided to sand down the glasseye and beer tab rivet, further refining the appearance of the hilt. And finally, to add an extra touch of flair, I adorned the hilt with a chromefoil tape below the D-Ring. I mounted the tape on the Wanna Wanga bottom plate and drilled some holes below the D-Ring, to have at least some vents. You could also use the bottom piece of the KR Sabers EP IX Conversion Kit for better sound, without sacrificing too much accuracy.
- 89sabers Graflex
- Wanna Wanga Grips with 3mm rivets
- Wanna Wanga Clamp cover
- Wanna Wanga Edge connector card
- Wanna Wanga D-Ring
- KR Sabers Brass/Alu Bladeplug
- Chromefoil tape
- Sanded down Brass Glasseye
- Sanded down Brass Beertab rivet
- Proffie 2.2
- Smugglers Outpost Elite 24mm speaker