My journey to Star Wars fandom began back in 1999 with the release of the Phantom Menace. Sure, many of us have come to hate the painful dialog that permeates the prequel trilogy and Jar Jar Binks is truly insufferable, but to my eight-year-old self, none of that mattered. All I knew is that Star Wars was the coolest film series I had ever seen.

Then, the Master Replica Force-FX lighsabers hit the market in 2002. At the time, I didn’t realize that private sabersmiths had been churning out realistic-looking replicas for several years. The idea that someone could make a saber that looked far more realistic than the retractable-blade toys that I was used to seemed positively revolutionary. Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t have the $130+ for such a saber.

For the last several years, I’ve been working on my primary web project, modernrifleman.net. First and foremost, I am a firearms enthusiast, but Star Wars is still my favorite film (and now television) series. Moreover, I’ve never quite lost my enthusiasm for saber and blaster replicas.

The problem that most are likely to find when researching prop sabers is that the industry is a virtual minefield of bad blood. Various web forums are, for the most part, the most popular places to discuss sabers, but rules at each limit what can actually be shared. Whether it’s a forum run by a manufacturer that limits discussion to their products or it’s an independent site where a particular manufacturer or three have alienated themselves from the discussion, finding true cross-brand comparisons in the saber world is remarkably challenging. I want to change that.

As you’ve probably noticed, the site’s name comes from the planet, Ilum. In Star Wars lore, Ilum is a cold, icy planet that also happens to be a source of kyber crystals (sometimes called color crystals), which power various plasma-based weapons. Here at Arms of Ilum, I’ll be reviewing LED-driven lightsabers and functional blaster replicas inspired by iconic Star Wars arms.

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