Shelf Queen, Cosplay and Dueling Quality Lightsabers: What You Need and What to Look For

By Stanley “Gong Gong Ui” Park
Guest Contributor

Looking for a shelf queen, a cosplay prop or a dueling quality lightsaber suitable for competing in The Saber Legion (TSL)? Here are some things to consider in order to research and focus on the lightsaber hilt or prop that you need.

Since most people want the best bang for their buck, it usually means buying something to last. In order to do that there has to be a focus. Also, since people’s preferences are personal, there should no bias towards any vendor or seller in one way or another. It would help any consumer be more impartial when making such decisions.

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If you are wanting to buy a shelf queen, then it is purely going to look good. It probably won’t be handled often, if at all. It might even be behind glass or in a display case. If so, then you might consider getting materials that don’t degrade under any environmental conditions, if at all possible. The best shelf queen will likely be made of metal. But also consider other materials which degrade little over time.

The hilt may or may not have some heft to it. But since it won’t be handled much, it only has to be stable enough to sit still and look good for a very long time. Many materials and workmanship can help to achieve this effect.

Many vendors and sellers sell hilts of all kinds. Some are empty and some can be fitted with adornments to make it look like an authentic artifact. But know that if you start getting into electronics and gimmicks to give the hilt that ‘wow’ factor, then there is the greater potential for more points of failure to degenerate over time.

Now if you are getting a lightsaber for cosplay, then it falls somewhere in between a shelf queen and a combative dueling saber. The question then becomes how much credibility the prop adds to your costume.

Some props are accessories that do absolutely nothing but serve as jewellery to add to a costume. They either are very ornate or have some basic functionality in order to lend added authenticity to an outfit.

Increased functionality does not mean the hilt is less ornate but, for practical purposes, that usually is the case. A cosplay prop can have the widest range in terms of use, but only enough to achieve the desired effect for a convention, party or one time gathering. It may be even a one time use. Most toy hilts and sabers serve this purpose well.

If the cosplay accessory is to be used often, then the more robust the build the better. For all practical purposes, it is often only occasionally used and kept in storage for long periods in between events for most of the time. What you’re paying for is reliability when the time comes to use the saber.

Now a combat level dueling quality saber is the most versatile of the three types. It usually has all the bells and whistles of a fully functional prop. It has to be almost indestructible like a real weapon and may even be put through its paces to ensure this. Such an item may even be overbuilt beyond prop standards used in movies and TV.

The materials for both the external and internal, for the hilt of a combat level prop, means it can take a lot of punishment. Failure and breakage may occur, but can be quickly and easily fixed. Such a product would scoff at being just displayed or accessorized on a costume since it can be used for fight choreography and outright martial arts like sparring.

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When selecting a shelf queen, cosplay or dueling lightsaber, the biggest factor is how much money you are willing to spend. That ultimately will determine if you get a very focused product of the highest caliber or an all around product which does nothing perfectly well but gets the job done at the end of the day.

IMAGE CREDIT: SaberSourcing

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