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Culture

Glowing foam lightsabers: All the fun, none of the fear

Get your Jedi on in style with a light-up foam lightsaber that won't leave a mark when it makes contact.

Translucent foam is the secret to these sabers.

Calimacil

I've been smacked with a glowing plastic lightsaber. There was no permanent damage, but it's not the most enjoyable Star Wars-related experience I've ever had. A Kickstarter project from Calimacil, a maker of live-action role-playing (LARP) weapons and armor, wants to make getting swatted by a lightsaber as gentle as being kissed by an Ewok.

The Foam Lightsaber project looks cool as all get-up. The Kickstarter video shows costumed combatants happily whacking each other with no ill effects. Calimacil developed a special translucent foam to get the LED glow effect to work for the blades. It's designed to withstand the rigors of live-action combat within the role-playing realm, but would be equally at home at a sci-fi convention or in fan videos.

The fanciest versions of the foam swords include motion detection and sound effects like the classic standby hum and clashing noises when the blade comes into contact with a surface. Calamacil developed a smartphone app for iOS and Android that lets the user customize the light effects.

The project has 26 days left to run and has raised over $26,000 towards a roughly $38,000 goal.

The most basic form of the weapon is a simple light-up saber with a basic handle available in red or blue for $225 (about £150, AU$320). If you want to change colors and get access to all the fancy sound effects, you'll need to move up into the $450 (about £300, AU$640) pledge range for the Master Vibro RGB & Sounds weapon. Do keep in mind that not all crowdfunding projects deliver on time and as expected.

There are other lightsaber-style sword manufacturers making weapons for the LARP crowd. Ultrasaber is a notable entry. Calimacil hopes its foam-based approach will attract fans who enjoy the lightsaber look but have safety concerns about using more typical plastic blades.

It will be interesting to see if Disney/Lucasfilm comes down on Calimacil for its overt Star Wars overtones and use of the term "lightsaber." Back in 2010, Lucasfilm sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wicked Laser over a powerful laser that was compared with a lightsaber in the media. It ended up backing off from any legal action against the laser company.

Calimacil addressed the issue on Facebook, writing: "We use the terms 'lightsaber' saber only for the Kickstarter campaign like a lot of people do as well for different projects. But for the commercialization of the product; will not use any trademark unless we have full approval."