NEW YORK - I’ve played with a few gadgets that have promised to make me a Jedi master, but the latest toy from Hasbro might soon become my favorite. Launching in Fall 2019 (priced at $49.99), Star Wars Lightsaber Academy will let you train with up to five Masters in the force -- either Sith or Jedi via an app-connected lightsaber.
At a glance, the lightsaber looks like any other toy replica. It’s made of a fairly weighty plastic, lights up different colors and offers a few sound effects when you’re play fighting. But what sets this saber apart is its Smart-Hilt. Outfitted with Bluetooth and a motion sensor, the toy can connect to the free app (Android, iOS) and begin the path from Padawan to Master.
From what I could see at my Toy Fair 2019 demo, connecting the lightsaber to the app is fairly easy, after launching the app, it will enter pairing mode. From there, you press the corresponding button on the saber and you’re ready to go. Once paired, you twist the hilt upward to reveal its kyber crystal. Using a simple press, you can choose your preferred master.
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For the demo, Rey, Darth Vader and Yoda were available, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke Skywalker or Darth Sidious rounded out the five Masters. After you select your Master, the crystal and saber will glow the character’s corresponding color so blue for Rey, red for Vader and green for Yoda. From there, you’ll go through a series of exercises teaching you how to correctly wield the weapon, earning more points for correct posture.
While I’m sure this app puts the “fun” in fundamentals, there’s only one reason anyone should train to be a Jedi or Sith in first place (I mean besides the pursuit of peace or power) -- it’s to fight your friends in epic lightsaber battles. And you can absolutely do that, provided your friend also has an Academy lightsaber. In two-player mode, you’ll engage in duels, scoring points for successful hits while whittling down your opponent’s health. Score the K.O. and you can perform a Force Finisher and win the round.
The Academy lightsaber will run on several AA batteries, but Hasbro declined to give estimated battery line. Guess we’ll have to wait until to wait until we get them in the office and test them with hours of heavy-hitting duels to find out.