What do lightsabers, a rancor tooth and Freddie Prinze Jr have in common? Starfall Sabers, of course (more on Freddie Prince Jr later)! Custom lightsaber company Starfall Sabers, created by Nick Cohen, is most well-known for selling an eye-catching custom Rancor Tooth lightsaber [Etsy affiliate link]. Starfall Sabers also makes popular Corran Horn and Rahm Kota inspired hilts. The company takes commissions for one-off sabers as well.
SaberSourcing interviewed Nick Cohen of Starfall Sabers about his custom lightsaber company.
You built your first lightsaber out of what you describe as ‘junk’ from thrift stores. Can you describe the process behind designing and building this ‘found parts’ lightsaber hilt?
When I heard that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and were planning to make and release more films I was ecstatic. I grew up watching the [Star Wars] Original Trilogy and always fantasized about building my own lightsaber. I didn’t want to buy what was available on the market, even though there were some amazing custom builders doing some awesome work. I wanted to build something from scratch out of parts and pieces I could find. I decided to go to the thrift store because it’s cheap and there a bunch of random items so I figured I’d be able to find something.
I didn’t have a design process other than “Oh! I could take apart this piece and add it to that!”. I just let my imagination run wild as I assembled it. My first builds were just static hilts. Display pieces with no electronics. Eventually I’d venture into [hilts with electronics], but for the first year all I built were non-functioning sabers that could be worn on your belt for fun!
How did building your first lightsaber compare to building more recent lightsabers?
Since the first ones were just static display pieces I didn’t give any thought to how electronics (LED and sound) could fit inside. I also really didn’t think about durability, as in ‘can these actually hold up to dueling’, let alone being able to attach a polycarbonate blade to them.
All my sabers now are made to accept electronics and can be dueled with. Some are rated for light to medium dueling while others capable of hard dueling when specified.
How did you did you come up with the idea for the design of the popular and distinctive Rancor Tooth lightsaber?
That came about after I met Jason Hayden (aka Vader Head) on Instagram. He is a talented artist and his leather work caught my eye. I think he was making leather cuffs with Star Wars themed art hand-tooled into them at the time. I gave him a shout out on my Instagram page and as a “thank you” he sent me a leather cuff with the Republic logo tooled in. We started chatting about having hand-tooled leather being applied to sabers and it took off! We’ve been working together for years now.
The Rancor saber came about by Vader Head getting into resin work. He decided to cast a resin “rancor” tooth and wrap the hilt with a “Rancor” hide. He sent it to me and said “See if you can do anything with this”. I was inspired and built out the top emitter piece. I sold that first one and it gained so much attention that we decided to add it as a made-to-order item in my Etsy shop [AFFILIATE LINK]. It’s been our most popular saber to date!
What are some of the most challenging and rewarding parts about running Starfall Sabers?
The most challenging part has been commissions. Managing all the orders and specifically trying to bring what my clients have envisioned to life. Sometimes that can be difficult to take something off the paper, like a sketch a client will send over, and build it in the real world. Although it’s been challenging that’s been the biggest reward as well. It has forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to get better and more confident in my craft.
What’s the most unexpected request or reaction you’ve gotten from a buyer?
Definitely when Freddie Prinze Jr. commissioned me to make him a Kanan Jarrus saber! That was very surreal.
Out of all of your custom builds and one-offs, can you describe a lightsaber that was difficult to part with and send to the buyer?
Believe it or not I feel that way quite often. It’s very hard to part with a unique creation that you’ve poured your heart and soul into. But that’s part of the fun! It means I get to make another one!
One order does come to mind however. A client from Australia commissioned me to make a saber pair. One for him and one for his girlfriend. It was a surprise gift. He gave me a lot of artistic freedom. What’s crazy is the first pair got lost in the mail! It was heartbreaking. But it allowed me to rebuild the set and actually the second pair came out better!
In the past, you’ve sold some lightsaber blade plugs. Any plans to release more blade plugs or other lightsaber accessories?
I’m so busy with commissions that probably not. I will make some blade plugs for my personal collection though.
What’s your favorite lightsaber from Star Wars Canon or Legends and why?
Man that’s a tough question! If I’m being totally honest I’d have to say Rahm Kota’s from the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game. I’m a sucker for worn, grimy sabers that look like they’ve really been through some battles. I actually built one for myself!
What’s next for you?
In between the next year’s worth of commissions I have a ton of one-of-one creations I’ve been dreaming up that I’d like to build. My Instagram page is the best place to see what’s next! @starfall_sabers.
* * *
Starfall Sabers on Etsy [AFFILIATE LINK]
Starfall Sabers website
Starfall Sabers on Instagram
Starfall Sabers on Facebook
COVER IMAGE CREDIT: Starfall Sabers
Starfall Sabers Rancor Leather and Tooth Lightsaber Hilt
Read more SaberSourcing Interviews