Star Wars Creator Calls Off Duel Over 'Lightsaber' Laser Pointer
CREDIT: Wicked Lasers
Many epic but harmless lightsaber duels are likely to be fought at this week's Star Wars convention in Southern California. There is, however, a truly dangerous lightsaber-like device out there that has caused a disturbance in the Force.
It is the flesh- and retina-roasting S3 Arctic Spyder III laser pointe r made by Wicked Lasers. The device bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic weapon in George Lucas' "Star Wars" movies.
In June, shortly after the Arctic became available, Lucasfilm sent Wicked Lasers a cease-and-desist order.
[See also "Graphic: Science Fact and Fiction: How a Lightsaber Works ."]
But by late July, any further threat of legal action had been dropped, after Wicked Lasers pulled off a bit of a Jedi mind trick on Lucas' company.
Wicked Lasers blamed the media for hyping up the lightsaber likeness and stated publicly that the resemblance was not intentional. The Hong Kong-based manufacturer of portable lasers also made clear it has zero connection to the Star Wars franchise .
Lucasfilm, satisfied, called off the stormtroopers, but reiterated that the Arctic is a "highly dangerous product," according to CNN, which obtained the company's letter.
Testing of the Wicked Lasers' Arctic laser pointer. Credit: Gizmodo
Attack of the clone
When Wicked Lasers introduced the Arctic, it did so with bombast, calling the product "the most dangerous laser ever created" with "the most burning capabilities of any portable laser in existence."
The laser pointer ended up being a big hit, aided in large part by the heavy blog coverage about Lucasfilm's wrath and the comparisons of the Spyder III to the mythical weaponry from a galaxy far, far away.
Wicked Lasers chief executive Steve Liu told CNN that since the controversy began, laser pointer sales have tripled. His company has had to expand into a bigger factory and beef up its customer support team to handle demand.
In a move that the Star Wars prequels' Trade Federation might admire, the gadget's price has jumped to $299 from an original retail price of $199. Liu chalked up the price jump to "increased operating costs."
Raise your deflector shields
In response to outcries about the risk posed by the Arctic, Wicked Lasers has added a safety lock meant to prevent the device from turning on accidentally. Furthermore, the default power setting is now only 20 percent of the 1-watt beam's full capacity, according to CNN.
The safety goggles that initially came with the product, and the mandate that customers fill out a hazard-acknowledgement form, remain in effect as well.
Wicked Lasers told CNN that although researchers and industrial clients are behind the laser pointer's brisk sales, "hobbyists" also have begun flocking to it.
That might well mean some amateur Jedi (or Sith) end up toting the Arctic to the Star Wars Celebration V convention.
Hopefully, the knowledge that it can set skin afire and permanently damage eyeballs will overcome any urges to wildly wield the Arctic, whether inspired by the dark side – or the dumb side – of the Force.