Product designer Chris Reiff on how Hasbro aims to construct a new, better lightsaber with its latest crowd-funded dream project.
The moment we see Inquisitor Reva ignite her red lightsaber and hear its ominous hum, it’s clear anything can and will happen. The Inquisitors provide chills and thrills in the Disney+ limited series Obi-Wan Kenobi (all episodes now streaming), which marks the first time we’ve seen these ruthless Jedi hunters in live-action. Now fans have the chance to relive all the epic Inquisitor battles with the HasLab-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series Reva Force FX Lightsaber. HasLab is a crowdfunding program by Hasbro Pulse that makes fans’ dream projects a reality, like the Vintage Collection Razor Crest and a four-foot-long version of Jabba’s Sail Barge.
With the Reva Force FX Elite Lightsaber, the HasLab team has poured in all the details and features to make this saber as iconic as the Third Sister herself. This is Hasbro’s biggest and most complex Force FX Elite Lightsaber yet, but with less than a week left in the campaign, the fate of this saber is now in the hands of fans.
When Hasbro’s manager of product design, Chris Reiff, and his team first learned there would be a live-action Inquisitor lightsaber in Obi-Wan Kenobi, they knew they wanted to find a way to make the dream of it available to fans. That includes Reiff himself who, as a lifelong fan, enjoys building replica Star Wars props in his free time. StarWars.com spoke with Reiff over Zoom about the design process of the Reva Force FX Elite Lightsaber, the innovative tech behind it, and the joy of sharing new releases with fans.
StarWars.com: When did you and your team begin working on the Reva Force FX Elite Lightsaber?
Chris Reiff: Our normal development cycle is 12 to 18 months, depending on how crazy things are. I would say we've been working on this for probably eight months to a year.
StarWars.com: Wow. So you're working on the project simultaneously as they are filming the series?
Chris Reiff: Yeah. A lot of times they'll be developing the props, taking them into the studio, shooting reference photos of them, and sending us the photos the next day. One of the many great aspects of the partnership and trust we have with Lucasfilm is early access to very detailed references. In this case that took the form of a lot of photographs, 3D data, sound files, and conversations about when the saber would appear. We worked with Lucasfilm closely as we developed our own CAD [computer-aided design] from the reference, making sure we really studied every little detail and feature. This includes a lot of little notes and drawings, even a few early models just to make sure the size was right and felt good to wield. For the team to make it look just right, be able to be configured multiple ways like in the show, and fit more than two lightsabers worth of tech into it was a lot of work but we are excited about how cool it is.
StarWars.com: How did it feel when you first saw the Third Sister’s lightsaber in action in the show?
Chris Reiff: It was fantastic. We had seen behind-the-scenes stuff of it in people's hands, but seeing it come to life in the show with full effects and story behind it, it's a nice, rewarding thing to see because we've been spending so much time and got to know it so well, and then it just takes it up another notch to see it in the show coming to life.
StarWars.com: Each of the Force FX Elite Lightsabers offers something new, such as Palpatine’s Force lightning effect or Darth Revan’s color-changing blade. What are the innovative features of this Reva lightsaber?
Chris Reiff: Having the fully integrated blade tech is a huge new add. The ability for the saber to know whether it has one OR two blades installed and adjust its effects accordingly was a blast to see come together as the team has been developing it. The Duel Effect and Battle Replay feature we introduced in our latest mainline Force FX Elite Lightsabers are included in this HasLab Black Series Reva Force FX Elite Lightsaber, but the dual-blade configuration allows us to take them up a notch and have effects like Battle Sequence and Blaster Deflect play out across both blades differently than they do with just one blade. In addition to that, it comes with a rechargeable battery, stereo speaker sound, and fans will have the ability to reconfigure the saber from a half-circle hilt to the full circle hilt.
StarWars.com: I'm obsessed with the half-circle, full-circle configuration. It's so impressive, and it's obviously screen-accurate. Was that an important design element that you said, we have to have?
Chris Reiff: Oh, yeah. We knew from talking to production and our Lucasfilm partners, we knew kind of how much each version of the saber was going to show up in the show. The half-ring or half-circle version that she wears on her belt, we knew was the primary. But it's such a cool moment when it does go to the full circle and really as part of an Inquisitor lightsaber, it's such an iconic look to have that full circle. So we wanted to do all that stuff and have fans reconfigure it to whatever they wanted to because a lot of the Inquisitor stuff you see shows up as just a full circle, and that's it. But with hers being so unique and doing the half-circle, the ability for our fans to reconfigure their own sabers into whichever version they wanted was super important.
StarWars.com: Is there a central button on the hilt that activates both sabers?
Chris Reiff: The great thing about this one is that because it is essentially two sabers in one, there are four buttons on this one. So there are two primary buttons and then two secondary buttons. And each of the primary buttons can turn on an individual blade or both blades, depending on whether you press a click, or hold and press, or whether you have both blades installed or just one blade. So because of that, it's in the design of the saber -- there are two buttons on each end of it, and we took advantage of that design and presumably how it was designed to work in the show, and use those same buttons to do similar features on our sabers.
StarWars.com: One of the fun aspects about roleplaying with a Force FX Elite Lightsaber is the sound FX. Can you tell us more about the “series-inspired sounds” included in this design?
Chris Reiff: To start, the sounds in this lightsaber are brand new and different from other lightsaber noises we’ve heard before. Some are even unique to the two-bladed configuration of this lightsaber. The production shared the original sound files with us and the two-speaker setup in the HasLab lightsaber lets us really take advantage of all that to deliver audio beyond our regular Force FX Elite Lightsabers, as well.
StarWars.com: As the designer, how does it feel when you've been working on these projects for so long and finally release them into the world?
Chris Reiff: It's a moment we all look forward to just because we're fans too, we're working on this stuff, we enjoy it. So we get so close to it in developing it that sometimes we forget just how cool what we do is. And then that moment when we do share it with people and the larger fan community in general, that just kind of brings back that energy for us. And it's an important part of the whole process, just emotionally, for us to see those reactions from people and to interact with fans and talk to people about it. And I think it was one of the beautiful things about being able to get back to Celebration and do those sorts of events again -- where we get to celebrate what we do with people and kind of bring that full circle.
Ready to track down Obi-Wan? Back the Star Wars: The Black Series Reva Force FX Lightsaber before July 11, 11:59 p.m. ET!