Friday, 27 May 2011

156: L is for Lignan Crystals

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The A-to-Z of the GFFA.

Ask any cross section of blokes which piece of tech they wish was real and you'll get the same answer in the top three every time. Even from the non-SW-geeks. A lightsaber. We all dream of having a handheld device that will slice through stone and metal like butter, don't we? I know I do.

The crystal is the heart of the saber...

Yer' regular lightsaber blade is produced by an Adegan crystal (or variants thereof), which occurr naturally at various places in the GFFA. These crystals colour the blade blue or green (and in Mace Windu's case, purple). Some in-universe sources say the colour of the crystal determines the colour of the blade, while others say that the user won't know the blade colour until they turn the lghtsaber on for the first time.

As part of their strategy of remaining hidden over the years, the Sith developed their own synthetic crystals. Amongst those was the Lignan crystal, created from Lignan Ore which amplifies the powers of a Dark Jedi/Sith. The lifespan and intensity of the Lignan Crystal is greater than naturally occurring ones, hence its attraction to the Sith. A ship carrying these crystals to ancient Sith Lord Naga Sadow crashed on the planet Kesh, around 5000 years before the time of Darth Vader, and the crystals became prized artifacts of Dark Side heritage. The process of synthesising crystals results in the lightsaber blade having a red hue, resulting in the Sith adopting this as one of their trademarks.

The power source of a lightsaber is more or less similar to a blaster setup, usually using a Diatium cell as its basis. In 1997, I had a lightsaber that was powered by lager. Going back to the bloke-demographic, Isn't that what we all want?
Erik Chandler of Bowling for Soup with my Luke-Saber in 2009.

At the time of the Special Edition cinema release, I was spending a lot of quality time with my bandmates Reed and Clarky. All of us had been obsessed with Star Wars as kids, and all of us were getting hyped for its return, and all of us liked spending time in the pub. And what's the other great thing about pubs next to beer? Crisps (or chips, if you're in the US).
In early 1997, Walkers Crisps ran a tie-in promotion for the SE Trilogy. Tazos. They were an already-existing phenomenon with the kids, small round printed cardboard discs that you... erm, collect and swap and that. Oh, and there was an album that you could put them in as well. From what I remember, there wasn't a SW Tazo in every promotional pack, as there were only 50 to collect and that would have made for a low turnaround. I seem to recall it being around a 50% chance of you getting one in a bag of crisps, but the multi-packs also had loose Tazos in the outer bag, so you were guaranteed to get more that way (some unscrupulous collectors used to open the multibags in the supermarkets and steal the Tazos. We did not do this, but we know it happened because we used to have to check the seal of the ones we bought).

Responsible for 90% of my carb-intake for 1997.

Now whenever you collect stickers or trading cards, there are 'chasers'. Fewer of these are produced and are harder to find. It's to increase purchases of the product and the collectability of certain items. On the other side of this, there are always one or two that you're sick of seeing by the end of your run. You open each pack, silently praying for the one Tazo you need to complete your album ahead of your friends, and you see this...

Oh good. Number 38. Again.

...again. In 1997, this image was the bane of our lives, to the point where it became a running joke. You always have a pocketful of swaps when you're collecting, but between the three of us we had twelve or thirteen of Tazo#38 in addition to the ones we needed. We used to recreate the pose with toy swords, cardboard tubes, broom handles... and then lightsabers.

The 'Power of the Force' Lightsaber from Hasbro.

Hasbro had brought out 'play' replica lightsabers. Which is to say they were't the high-end collectibles you keep kids away from, but they weren't just a torch handle with a plastic tube stuck on. Sculpted to resemble the RotJ sabers, upscaled to fit batteries for the light, with telescopic blades, humming sound and a crashing sound when you smack into things. And smack them we did. Into each other's sabers, legs, torsos and heads. These were toys and we treated them as such.

Myself and Reed were doing Taijutsu training at the time, which took in a bit of Hikenjutsu (sword-work). You can imagine the looks you get from a load of trained ninjas when at the end of the night's session, hyper as hell; you turn the dojo lights off, turn the lightsabers on and start at each other using actual techniques (although for the most part, we were so focused on recreating the movie dialogue and poses that a lot of Hikenjutsu went out of the window). This was, of course, when we were high on the adrenaline from training.

Ross Noble with my Vader-Saber in 2010.

On late summer nights, we'd take a 5 minute stroll down to the park with a bag containing lager, and Luke and Vader's weapons. If you wait until around 11:30pm, people cutting though the park on their way back from the pub have been and gone, and you have a large, expansive, but most importantly dark stage for an epic lager powered lightsaber duel. At one point, we slammed the sabers together so hard that the plastic blade detached completely from the handle of Luke's saber (mine). It's safe to say I lost that fight.

Although I was techincally an adult (and you know how loosely I'm using that term), it unlocked the part of me that will always be a child. As much a part of my youth as playing in the street as a 5 year old with Kenner/Palitoy figures. I don't want to get too introspective, but I miss those days...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• Photos and videos appearing in this blog post are for informational and reference purposes only, and no ownership of copyright is claimed or implied by me. The intellectual and physical copyright of such material belongs to its creators and owners.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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