Wicked Lasers caused quite the stir when it announced its beastly 1 W Wicked Lasers S3 Arctic Spyder III, a laser which can burn human flesh and easily blind. The powerful device quickly drew the ire of Star Wars creator George Lucas who noted that the device looked like a lightsaber.
Despite a cease and desist letter from Lucas, the company appears to be shipping its revised kit, and some customers have received it. A video of it in action, burning through plastic CD-pack spindles and tape can be seen here.
One thing that some customers are encountering is frustrations in contacting the Hong Kong-based company. A reader writes us:
I had an order of $200+postal, and now they e-mailed asking for more money (+$99.99) for the ‘safe’ version of the infamous laser.
I wrote back asking if they would still deliver my order at the original price, without the safety feature (they did say it was possible,
but didn’t say if it would still cost $99 extra, that’s why I asked).
I’ve been trying to reach them for the last two weeks, and it looks like they stopped caring.
Before their announcement about Lucas suing them, there was no such problem. I even have a green laser pointer from them, but I ordered
that a year ago, way before they came out with the artctic hype.
The fact that they are STILL selling it on their site while they can’t even fulfill 1 month old orders – well, it makes me mad.
As the reader indicates, Wicked Lasers seems to have bumped the price of the device, given its popularity. It’s unclear if the bump has anything to do with the potential legal action from Lucas, as the reader infers.
An additional thing noted by commenters on various laser pointer forums is that the laser — as it ships — is not ideal for burning stuff, even if you swap the new “training lens” for the standard lens. To get really high quality burns, you have to order the “Expanded Lens Cap Kit” (select the drop down on the laser’s order page) and use the focusing lens. The kit retails for $24.99 plus shipping, but expect there to a be a long waiting list.
There are a couple of interesting updates in the Lucas vs. Wicked Lasers battle as well. While Wicked Lasers CEO Steve Liu claimed “we would never use any comparison like that to ‘Star Wars’ or a lightsaber or anything like that”, the company did in fact make such a comparison. An archived page from 2004 reveals the company wrote the following text to describe a past product:
Our modification yields bright beams like this can be seen in dark areas with no aid of smoke!
Also of interest is the fact that George Lucas did not make the original lightsaber design, but rather constructed it from the bulb attached of an old Graflex 3 cell vintage camera. Lucas merely added some rubber grips and a loop attached to the base. Though no legal action was reportedly ever taken against Lucas, he may have feared it, as he avoided using the term “lightsaber” in the prequel trilogy he recently released. Thus it seems odd that he himself is now pursuing legal action against those who make lightsaber look-alikes.
An interesting thread on inexpensive fan-built replicas of Luke Skywalker’s iconic Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Jedi lightsaber (replicas which Lucas would likely contend were illegal) is found here. It utilizes cheap off the shelf components and the still-available Graflex part.
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