For true-blue Jedis, forging a lightsaber by hand is a mark of training and honour. But mere mortals without access to Stars Wars technology have to be content buying ready-made ones, which could cost up to thousands of dollars.
Two budget-conscious Singaporean Star Wars fans, however, have taken matters in their own hands and started making their own laser swords.
In their teens, Mr Jay Chen, 31, and Mr Kit Woo, 37, could not afford lightsabers from the United States. So they started putting together their own weapons with the help of online video tutorials.
At first, Mr Woo, an engineer, made a few prototypes for fun and put them in a friend's shop to sell. "Amazingly, people bought them and that's when I realised there was some business potential here."
From 2010, he started making lightsabers in his free time and sold them under the brand Kit Sabers.
Meanwhile, Mr Chen, who started doing this after completing national service, began by selling individual parts such as the handle rather than the finished product.
Separately, over the years, they built and sold hundreds of customised lightsabers for clients in Singapore as well as overseas.
After the two met at a Star Wars fan event in May last year, Mr Woo, who works in a family-run electronics business, decided to shut down Kit Sabers and join
Mr Chen's newly formed company SaberMach as creative director. The two-year-old start-up is believed to be the only company here that makes lightsabers.
In the Star Wars universe, lightsabers are the weapon of choice of the good Jedi and evil Sith. Lightsaber blades light up in various colours and emit loud humming sounds.
Unlike the licensed replicas found in toy shops, SaberMach's products of original designs - much like their American counterparts such as Ultra Sabers and Saber Forge - are made for mock-combat. That means they can withstand considerable impact, which come in handy for lightsaber duels.
There are at least two groups in Singapore who meet regularly to practice lightsaber sparring: The Saber Authority and FightSaber.
The Saber Authority member Alexander Choong, 24, has two lightsabers from SaberMach and attests to their durability and superiority over their US-made counterparts, whose batteries can pop out upon violent impact.
"I've been using my SaberMachs every week and I can get quite violent during sparring," the videographer says. "They have never, ever, turned off in battle."
Mr Woo, who is married with two daughters aged three and seven and is an active member with FightSaber, says his involvement with the group has been useful for his product research efforts.
"I can take our lightsabers and test them in proper fights," he says.
For now, SaberMach offers six designs, starting from $449. The most complex and expensive is the Master line, which costs $849 each and comes with six different sounds and 10 colour changes.
The handles are made of aluminium, while the blades are thickwalled polycarbonate, a sturdy, shatterproof material.
Since SaberMach started selling lightsabers in September last year, it has sold more than 100 pieces. Already, inquiries are coming in from retailers for bulk orders.
As each lightsaber is handmade and assembled by Mr Chen and Mr Woo, customers have to wait an average of two months to get one.
Sporting dark undereye circles, Mr Chen, who is married with no children and does this full time, says: "Us sabersmiths work through the nights, so I often go without sleep for many days. But that's okay, because this is fuelled by passion."
This article was first published on January 10, 2016.
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