The ultimate guide to buying a lightsaber

Look, I realize the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens just came out and you’re all into the idea of owning your own lightsaber, but you really should save your money for something more important.

Ah, who am I kidding? Of course you need a lightsaber—we all do—but with so many options out there it’s hard to tell the difference between the kids’ toys and the kind of movie prop replica that an adult would be proud to own.

The Plastic Poker of Death

These plastic sabers have been around for decades and their design hasn’t changed much since they were first introduced: A series of tapered plastic cylinders stretches into the general shape of the iconic Star Wars weapon with the flick of your wrist and collapses back down again if you slap the end hard enough. It’s the most bare-bones representation of a lightsaber you can find and the only reason Hasbro can get away with charging $10 for each one is because it’s an officially licensed product. Avoid if at all possible.

Color Change Lightsaber

The next step up from the bottom of the barrel is the rigid light-up version you see here. It’s slightly more realistic in that it actually lights up as you would imagine a lightsaber does, and when it’s lit it’s not terrible-looking. It’s still entirely plastic from top to bottom, so it will definitely feel like a cheap toy, which it is. It has a handful of motion-activated sounds that replicate the sounds from the movie series, but the built-in speaker is weaker than you’d expect. They’re slightly more expensive than the cheapest option, but it’s a decent upgrade for kids.

Force FX

As far as mass-produced replicas go, the Force FX series is going to be your best bet. These sabers are modeled after those from the movie, and their quality is typically quite good. The hilts are constructed out of metal and the built-in sound effects are loud and recognizable. Pressing the power button causes the blade to light up from bottom to top just like the ones you’ve seen in the movies, thanks to a series of super bright LEDs. These are the most affordable lightsaber replicas that could possibly be considered “collectibles,” and most Star Wars fans see these as the top of the line, but the lightsaber market is deeper than many people realize.