Neopixel is one of the hot lightsaber technologies of 2018 and is arguably one of the most disruptive lightsaber technologies to gain popularity in 2018. How are neopixel lightsabers affecting the market for static blade plugs?
Watch Are neopixel lightsabers KILLING demand for static blade plugs? on YouTube
Until recently, static blade plugs were the most widely used blade plug on lightsabers. Although static blade plug styles and materials vary, many static blade plugs use a hollow tube (often plastic, like polycarbonate) topped with a decorative housing. When installed on the lightsaber hilt, static blade plugs are illuminated by the in-hilt LED.
Neopixel lightsabers use special neopixel blade plugs instead of traditional static blade plugs. Instead of using an in-hilt LED, a neopixel lightsaber uses a removable neopixel blade. The neopixel blade contains the light source (i.e. neopixel strips). So if you install a static blade plug on a neopixel lightsaber, the blade plug will not illuminate. Neopixel blade plugs, like neopixel blades, contain the light source.
Neopixel lightsabers may already be affecting the lightsaber blade plug market. A popular lightsaber blade plug seller, Sith Bunny (Etsy seller) [AFFILIATE LINK], stopped making and selling blade plugs in the last couple months. He used to sell many blade plug styles, including some sought-after rotary style blade plug designs. I’ve never seen a Sith Bunny blade plug in person, but always though his blade plugs looked very nice in photos and videos. Sith Bunny, who said his blade plug sales had been low in recent months, attributed his low sales to the rising popularity of neopixel lightsabers.
Static blade plugs are much cheaper than neopixel blades plugs because static blade plugs don’t require electronics. Most static blade plugs are priced between $10-$30 (some are higher) and are widely available from many custom lightsaber companies. Neopixel blade plugs are much harder to find and more expensive than static blade plugs. RogueArsenal currently offers neopixel blade plugs [AFFILIATE LINK], but he is one the few sellers that currently do so.
Blade plugs serve many functions, rather than just looking cool while they are illuminated. Static blade plugs help prevent the user from accidentally shining a bright in-hilt LED into someone’s else. Blade plugs can also help complete the look of the lightsaber. For example, a Graflex style blade plug is intended to complete the look of a Graflex style lightsaber hilt. Some people install a blade plug on a static hilt (i.e. one without electronics) simply to complete the look of the hilt.
It will be interesting to see exactly how disruptive the neopixel technology will be in the lightsaber hobby as a whole. The blade plug market is just one facet of lightsaber hobby that may be changing in the coming months or years. The Proffieboard, an open-source lightsaber controller, will like continue increasing in popularity in 2019. Disney also filed a patent related to a new extendable lightsaber blade technology.
How disruptive is neopixel to the lightsaber blade plug market and to the lightsaber hobby as a whole?
Sith Bunny Blade Plugs Etsy Store [AFFILIATE LINK]
Note: Sith Bunny stopped selling blade plugs, and changed his store name to Cottontail Customs. He now sells tsuba (i.e. handguards) for Japanese swords.