Saberforge [Etsy affiliate link], founded by Philip Isherwood, is one of the largest and most established custom lightsaber manufacturers in the United States and world. The Oregon based company offers a wider selection of unique lightsaber hilt models than any other company.
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The company also likely has one of the highest sales volumes out of all of the custom saber manufacturers. In an interview with Sword Buyer’s Guide, Isherwood claims the company has “50 employees, and our sales are eight figures” as of 2015. (Source: Saberforge The Interview; Retrieved 4/30/2019)
Let’s talk about some of the controversies surrounding Saberforge. Feel free to comment below with your own experiences with Saberforge–the good, the bad and the ugly. Describe what you think about the company, their products and how you compare them to other custom saber companies. It’s always valuable to have a lot of voices in these discussions.
Important Note: The purpose of this article is to calmly discuss common critiques of Saberforge, NOT to stomp, yell, and throw chairs.
1. Outspoken Saberforge Owner
The owner of Saberforge, Philip Isherwood, is controversial. He’s made different arguably tactless comments and remarks over the years that have rubbed some lightsaber enthusiasts the wrong way. He has also been outspoken about his political beliefs on public Facebook posts. Isherwood also allegedly posted on Facebook, “Christopher Lee died the day after I dropped the BANE, any chance his 98yo heart couldn’t handle the awesomeness? #IthinkIkilledCountDooku” (Source: Screenshot here; Retrieved 4/30/2019)
2. Saber Pipes: Lightsaber Shaped Smoking Pipes
Saberforge launched their first run of Saber Pipes in 2014. Saber Pipes are smoking pipes with a lightsaber shaped handle. Saberforge is based in the Oregon City, Oregon (near Portland). Cannabis is legal in Oregon. Although some cannabis users support the creation of Saber Pipes, many other lightsaber enthusiasts are confused or even offended by the creation of Saber Pipes since the product seems to at least tacitly condone smoking weed. None of the other major custom saber companies manufacture lightsaber pipes.
3. Social Media Censorship: Deleting Customer Comments and Banning Facebook Users
Saberforge moderates their social media, especially their Facebook page, by deleting comments and banning users that the company does not like. Deleting comments and banning users is a standard way to rein in vulgar and offensive comments, however, Saberforge seemingly bans a wider range of people who post statements that the company simply disagrees with. For example, YouTube user Ian Evergreen claims, “I was banned from the Facebook page for saying that the gladii battlestaff looked like a dumbbell weight.” (Source: Why People Hate Saberforge [YouTube Video]).
Other Facebook users say they’ve been banned after making comments or critiques about Saberforge products or customer service. After Saberforge started selling a highly marked up Han Solo style blaster and other Star Wars inspired Evike airsoft guns, multiple users reported getting banned for asking questions about the new blasters.
4. Saberforge Forum Shutdown
UPDATE 4/30/2019: The Saberforge Forum appears to be reinstated, as of 2019.
In April 2018, Saberforge closed down the popular Saberforge Forum. Saberforge Forum was a useful and helpful resource to many lightsaber enthusiasts, whether they owned Saberforge products or not. Although the forum was fan-run, Saberforge decided the company did not want to pay for hosting anymore. Some lightsaber enthusiasts speculated that Saberforge actually just wanted to funnel all of its customers into the Facebook page, a platform that Saberforge could more easily control (i.e. delete comments, ban users, etc). Whatever the reason, many dedicated Saberforge Forum users were upset by the closing of the forums.
5. Slow Order Fulfillment and Shipping Speed
Saberforge is not known for being one of the faster companies to ship a lightsaber order. To be fair, many custom lightsaber companies take 1-2 months or more to ship a lightsaber order. Saberforge specifically, however, commonly delays the shipping of orders by several weeks to several months beyond any initial shipping estimate. For example, if Saberforge estimates that standard orders ship within 1-2 months, an order may not ship for 3 months or more. In my personal experience, I’ve had multiple Saberforge orders delayed by weeks to months beyond the initial shipping estimate. Others have mentioned similar stories on YouTube and in various lightsaber Facebook groups.
Purchasing items from Saberforge Etsy [affiliate link] may help buyers avoid the notoriously long Saberforge lead time. Items on Saberforge Etsy reportedly ship faster and more reliably than items on the Saberforge website, however, the selection on Saberforge Etsy is much more limited than on the Saberforge website.
6. Quality of Manufacturing and Production
Some buyers dispute the quality level of Saberforge products. Buyers have critiqued the quality of machining of Saberforge hilts and parts, reporting receiving Saberforge hilts with sharp and pointy edges. Other buyers have claimed the company provides low quality electronics and installations, leading to a lightsaber breaking after only a few months.
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As one one of the largest and most popular custom saber companies in the world, Saberforge plays a valuable and vital role in the custom lightsaber community. Saberforge sponsors The Saber Legion (TSL), an international saber combat organization. Along with others, the company has also helped grow and expand the custom saber community as whole. Saberforge remains a common place for Star Wars fans to purchase one of their first custom lightsabers.
If you are considering purchasing from Saberforge or ANY other custom saber company, please do your research. Look for reviews that highlight the positives and negatives of the company and its products and see if you can get a general pulse for the company from other customers.
Feel free to post about your experience with Saberforge and its products below.
OTHER SABERFORGE RELATED RESOURCES
Saberforge Facebook Page (official Facebook page)
Saberforge The Interview (by Sword Buyer’s Guide)
Does Saberforge really deserve all the hate (reddit topic)
New Saberforge Exposed (Facebook Page)