A lightsaber bubble strip, sometimes called a bubble card, is a greeblie (i.e. decorative piece) added to the activation box of a lightsaber hilt.
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Bubble Strip Usage on Lightsaber Hilts
The bubble strip is most commonly associated with lightsabers from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. All three lightsabers in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope feature a bubble strip on the hilt’s activation box (including Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber and Darth Vader lightsaber). The Obi-Wan Kenobi lightsaber from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith also uses a bubble strip.
Luke Skywalker’s Empire Strikes Back lightsaber and Luke Skywalker’s Return of the Jedi lightsaber each use a clamp card instead of a bubble strip.
Lightsaber Bubble Strip History and Origin
The original lightsaber bubble strip was cannibalized from a 1970s era Texas Instruments Exactra calculator display. The bubble strip is a 2 inch long clear strip containing a row of seven ‘bubble’ lenses intended to magnify the red LED numbers on the calculator. Two Texas Instruments calculator models, Exactra 19 (Ti19) and the Exactra 20 (Ti20), are known to use bubble strip with 7 seven lenses.
Where to Buy Exactra Bubble Strips
Authentic vintage Exactra 19 or Exactra 20 calculators are highly sought after by Star Wars fans and lightsaber enthusiasts, making the calculators exceedingly rare and expensive. Pre-owned Exactra 19 or Exactra 20 calculators often sell for around $200 to $300 on eBay (as of 12/31/2018). Replica bubble strip pieces, which typically cost around $10 to $15 each (as of 12/31/2018), are a cost-effective and easy to find alternative to the vintage component.
List of Lightsaber Bubble Strip Sellers [CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS]
The Custom Saber Shop United States
Roman Props United States
StarWarsCostumeProps (Etsy) United States
Search for vintage Exactra 19 and Exactra 20 calculators on eBay