Ultra Bright - The Official Blog of Traffic Wand Store
The World’s Most Affordable Light Saber
Most of us can recall a point in time where we found ourselves holding a broomstick, cardboard roll or other sword-like object, swishing it through the air and battling an imaginary Darth Vader (Darth Maul for those of you born after ‘94). So naturally, we’ve noticed that traffic wands look more than a little bit like the famous laser swords.
But could a 13” traffic wand ever stand up to a real lightsaber? We poured over hours of footage and reams of nerdspeak to find out. We evaluated both options for their cost of construction (in modern times), ease of acquisition, cost of ownership and practicality. The winner just might surprise you.
Cost of Construction
Lightsaber: Contrary to popular opinion, building a lightsaber is actually a pretty simple process. It’s just a blade of pure plasma suspended within a force containment field. How hard could it be?
If it’s any indication, GE’s Matt Gluesenkamp thinks it’s impossible. And when a Hong Kong company tried to build a cheap lightsaber equivalent, their creation was a $200 abomination known to burn out the user’s retinas, light skin on fire and give people cancer.
But let’s imagine that the laws of physics and common sense no longer apply.
All you’d need is a hilt, a pommel cap, a Diatum Power Cell, an inert power insulator, focusing lenses, a lightsaber crystal, an emitter matrix and a blade emitter (complete with magnetic ring).
The hilt and pommel are likely to run you a mere $50 – or just bribe your high school shop teacher with a 12 pack of his favorite beer. Sadly, the “trumponium gas” these are made out of doesn’t actually exist, so instead let’s chalk that up to a team of top nuclear scientists working ‘round the clock for the next 45 years to build the most powerful battery in the universe.
You could probably nab the focusing lenses from a very confused optometrist for a few hundred bucks. As for the crystal, according to lore the Sith used to artificially manufacture these with a “geological compressor” that mimicked otherworldly conditions. Then, they added just a pinch of the Dark Force. Let’s be conservative and say $2 million for the machine and your eternal soul for the Dark Force.
With that out of the way the emitter matrix and blade emitter are trivial matters – they just have to be able to withstand the unbridled energy of a pure plasma blade. You’ll figure it out.
Total cost: Your soul, $Texas.
LED Traffic Wand: Red, high-density plastic encloses 17 ultra-bright LED lights. There are 9 white LED’s in the flashlight on the wand’s tip. A polycarbonate diffuser (yeah, we can use fancy words too!) enhances the wand’s light.
Frankly though, you’re not going to be cutting anything with a traffic wand. At best you might deliver a disorienting blow or momentarily blind your opponent with the flashlight tip before making a hasty exit.
Total cost: $26.95 + shipping + considerable medical bills should a real combat situation ever arise.
Ease of Acquisition
Lightsaber: Even if you could scrape together the cash to buy all the components for a lightsaber, some poor sucker still needs to put them all together. We hope you have advanced degrees in electrical engineering and physics, because that sucker is you.
In the Star Wars universe, building your own lightsaber is a rite of passage every Padawan must go through. From customizing the hilt of your blade to meticulously wiring the electrical components, assembling one would take an experienced Jedi several days to a month to accomplish. We’re guessing it’ll take you more; especially if your Dad won’t let you borrow his power tools.
While several diligent nerds have documented the lightsaber’s construction, there’s still no instruction manual to turn to. Even if there were, most people can barely figure out the instructions for IKEA furniture. You’re going to have to consult the Force for guidance on this one. Good luck with that.
There’s just one more thing: get it even slightly wrong and the entire thing will explode as soon as you turn it on. Got one of your focusing crystals a bit out of alignment? BOOM – spaghetti hands! Accidentally install your emitter matrix upside down? KABLAMO – your dreams of becoming a mime dissolve in a giant burst of plasma.
LED Traffic Wand: If you’ve got a mouse-finger capable of unleashing four fervent clicks, you can order a safety wand (no assembly required) within a matter of minutes and have it shipped out on the same day – and there’s a 0% chance of the wand blowing your hands off when you power it up. At least, we’re pretty sure.
Cost of Ownership
Lightsaber: The good news is that lightsabers don’t need much upkeep. Diatum Power Cells (when installed correctly) are capable of producing power indefinitely. Barring some kind of serious accident your lightsaber should last you a lifetime, though we’ll give it roughly five minutes before you find a way to dismember yourself.
That said, owning a lightsaber means always having to say “I’m sorry.” Like, “I’m sorry I cut off your writing hand” or “I’m sorry but grandma is never coming back”: so you’re going to want to get yourself some Jedi Training.
We’d recommend a few years in a sword fighting school ($50 a session) before you even consider hitting that “on” switch, but if you want to go the cheap route there’s a place in New York offering lightsaber classes for $10 every Thursday. Such poise; such grace!
Oh – and this doesn’t count.
LED Traffic Wand: Sadly, nobody has developed the technology to keep traffic wands running forever just yet (but we’re working on it). For now, you’ll keep the lights on with a great set of double D’s. Batteries, of course – and they’ll run you just $1.15 a pair.
Practicality of Use
Lightsaber: If something needs cutting or foes need vanquishing, the lightsaber is your ever-ready sidekick. You might imagine yourself fighting evildoers, but chances are far better that your lightsaber will wind up being nothing more than a really expensive steak knife. Then again, carving the Christmas turkey will be the highlight of everyone’s year.
And while we might like to imagine ourselves as fantastic swordfighters, most of us are somewhere between the overexcited greatsword salesman and the Star Wars kid:
Remember that real bad guys use bullets, bad news for any would-be Jedi – except for this guy.
LED Traffic Wand: Let’s get it out of the way immediately: trying to wield a traffic wand as a weapon should only be done as a last resort. Attempting to cut so much as a loaf of bread would result in the worst looking toast you’ve ever eaten. And while a wand is constructed to hold up to some serious workplace abuse, bashing somebody repeatedly over the head with it just isn’t something it was made for.
If you do insist on sparring with a pal, at least you can rest easy knowing that when the inevitable “OUCH! My fingers!” happens, both of you will probably still be able to make canasta class that weekend.
But what the traffic wand lacks in its ability to maim people it more than makes up in usefulness and practicality. Prevent cars from turning to the dark side with 17 bulbs of unrelenting brightness! Keep it close on hand with a nifty belt clip! Flick on the “Flashing” setting and throw an all-night dance party!
We know – it’s just not the same. “Nifty” will hardly ever beat out “deadly” – and you’ll still have to make those cool fighting noises with your mouth, too.
Summing it Up
Still not convinced by the LED Wand alternative? To be honest – neither are we.
A lightsaber may not be practical, cost-effective or even remotely within the realm of feasibility, but it’s hard to argue against the awesomeness of a plasma-beam that can cut through anything on a whim.
Until science catches up with science fiction, it looks like your opportunity to wield a lightsaber remains in a galaxy far, far away. But even though you can’t run around saving the world with a lightsaber, you can save lives with a traffic wand. In our mind, that still makes you a hero.