Recently, I’ve taken on several commissioned saber projects to help friends with Christmas gifts for their children. The first of these, the Ultrasabers Dark Apprentice-based Imperial Acolyte, as I am calling it, rolled out to the buyer yesterday and I’d like to share the details of the customization here. This hilt represents my basic cosmetic work with some electrical tweaks.
The Apprentice V4 is probably my favorite of Ultrasabers’ sub $70 hilts. The chokepoint is in the perfect spot and overall, it is small enough to be perfect for one-handed applications. At the same time, there is still enough room on the saber to get a second hand on there, should you desire. The apprentice emitter is the same as the Sentinel’s and it looks like it fits within the Star Wars universe.
For the Imperial Acolyte, I was tasked with creating a Sith themed blade on a relatively tight budget. I’ve always liked the way weathered, red-bladed sabers look so the first thing I did was take medium grit sandpaper to the whole thing. I was surprised to find that doing anything to the hilt’s anodized finish was far more difficult than I initially expected. While I originally targeted more of a gray, worn appearance for the final product, I never could quite strip off enough anodizing to get there. Under more generous time constraints, maybe I could have spent more time with the sandpaper, but I settled for light wear on the high spots of the piece.
With the weathering out of the way, I moved on to paint. From the outset, I wanted to incorporate an Imperial/Sith theme with this saber and I felt that silver accents were the best way to do so. In the switch area of the hilt, opposite the button, I added a pattern that resembles the light panels inside the Death Star. I figured the detail would be a subtle nod to the infamous battle station without being over-the-top. At the bottom of the piece, I spelled out the customer’s daughter’s name in Aurebesh. Finally, I added a Sith Empire emblem to the bottom of the pommel.
Electronically, the Imperial Acolyte is like all of the other stunt builds I modify. I removed the 4 AAA battery pack and replaced it with an Aukey 5,000 mAh USB battery bank. The Aukey bank offers a theoretical runtime of five hours when coupled with a 1 A LED. That’s a significant upgrade over the AAA setup, which is lucky to squeeze out one hour. Moreover, the voltage from the bank is consistently 5 V while the AAA batteries, if alkaline, will start at 6 V total, but fall below 5 V rather quickly. This means that the USB pack keeps consistent blade brightness over its entire charge.
Speaking of the blade, I’ve begun sanding the outside of almost all of mine. A sanded, cloudy surface diffuses light better than the clear midgrade tube (this saber came with Ultrasabers’ standard midgrade blade) and it helps to minimize (but not eliminate) the “light in a tube” effect that sometimes reveals itself. The sanded effect was achieved using 800-grit sandpaper and it does have a tendency show rub marks and scratches from use. Fortunately, a quick over with the sandpaper restores the blade to like-new.
The Imperial Acolyte was one of my first commissioned projects, but it is far from my last. Along with it, I completed an Initiate V4 customization for the same customer and I have four more sabers to complete before Christmas. Keep checking back to see those!