A Classic Star Wars Bootleg Toy – May the Force Beam be With You

In the 1990s, I went through a crazy wallet-emptying couple of years where I was buying up as much vintage Star Wars stuff as I could get my paws on. I bought figures by the boxful and vehicles and playsets in every advertised state. I even picked up a few lightsabers in varying condition. What item that I was never able to find, although I hunted for it was the notorious 1970s lightsaber knockoff, the Force Beam.

Force Beam Ad from Star Wars Collectors Archive

The Force Beam was out before other merchandise hit the market and was basically a flashlight on a plastic sword. I love this ad because its just a mashup of Star Wars stuff and seems so blatant a ripoff in retrospect. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I still want one of these, but I have not had much luck tracking one in decent condition. If your are curious as to was the look like, the Star Wars Collectors Archive has posted some photos of the Beam in all of it bootleggy glory.

via Star Wars Collectors Archive

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I had one of those. Basically a flashlight with a translucent tube attached. At the time, I still thought it was the greatest thing.

  2. It can’t be a “full” rip-off, as STAR WARS appears in the ad. Even a first-year law student can tell you that this is infringement of copyright. Lucas got some money from this.

  3. I tried looking for some sort of of legal case with the company printed on the bottom, but nothing came up with a regular web search.

    I wonder how it all went down since Lucas has merch rights.

  4. I could swear I had something like this, at some point.
    (How could you *not*, as a young Star Wars fanatic?)

    Either the flashlight or plastic tube didn’t last, cuz it soon became a distant memory, a long, long time ago.

    Many broom handles, cardboard tubes and whatnots helped the Jedi cause, in its stead.

  5. I had a similar item, although I don’t remember mine having any branding on mine. On the one I owned, the handle was black and the tube was white and the light inside was green. I don’t remember if it had a green bulb or if there was a colored lens that covered the bulb. I have video of me playing with mine somewhere on VHS.

  6. There may have been a few versions of the light saber knock-offs after the first movie came out. The reason being that there did not seem to be an official light saber made available at that time. I had at least two such items. I was big on plastic swords in those days; I wanted to wear one to school but my parents would not let me.

    One was bought at K Mart and was indeed a metal base flashlight, with a white clouded plastic cover extension. The metal was so cheap that the D batteries inside ate thru the flashlight later on, and the bottom fell off.

    I also had a Roman Gladius looking sword that was made of fluorescent plastic and came with a shield that had a luggage handle to hold it out. It looked cool but if you tried to use the shield as assembled, it would jam your hand if you took a blow to the shield and crush your fingers. Still, both the sword and the shield would glow in the dark, if you left the toys under a bright light before you used them in the dark. The shield had some decals of buttons and read-outs on the inside and on the outside it said something about a Space Shield.

  7. I remember my father coming home with a Force Beam for me.
    he was a NYC regional salesman for a company whose products would be found in variety stores, pharmacies, etc.
    He would infrequently come home with something he saw on a shelf in one of the stores he had visited.
    The Force Beam was one of those.
    I was the first kid on the block- heck, in my school!- who was running around with my own STAR WARS Light Saber!
    I had the exact same one as picture above- orange flashlight with black bottom (lost almost immediately) and black ring-guard at top (which also always came loose and I had to jam it back on every five minutes- “Hold on! Time out! Gotta fix my saber. Okay, GO!”)
    The white, plastic tube “saber” part was attached very well- never broke off- and it was made from some pretty good, sturdy plastic- after repeated beatings against other kids’ sticks, brooms, etc it held up well.
    It was the half-a-ping-pong-ball that was scotch-taped to the end that was an Achilles Heel.
    The original, shiny, yellow-tinted tape eventually gave up and a succession of retapings happened thereafter with whatever was available- masking tape at one point.
    I’m sure if we had it around the house back then I would’ve been the only Jedi Knight in the galaxy with a duct-taped light saber.
    And, of course, with all this multitude of tapings a gummy, dirty, carpet-fuzzed residue built up around the end of the light tube.
    I don’t know at what point my Force Beam disappeared- probably bent the light tube at a right angle or something- but I do recall hanging onto the flashlight part for awhile after.
    It was a decent flashlight too!

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