The Lightsaber Economy: $1M+ in sales, 50 employees for Oregon firm
OREGON CITY, Ore. - Expectations are high for "Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens".
"This is probably going to be one of the greatest films that's ever been made," said Daniel Lane.
The sci-fi fantasy has captured the imaginations of generations of people.
One of the iconic symbols of this galaxy far, far away is the lightsaber.
"This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight," Obi Wan Kenobi explained to a young Luke Skywalker in the film's inaugural chapter, 1977's "Episode IV: A New Hope". "Not as clumsy or random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age."
Not to mention a must-have for many Star Wars fans.
"I wear one of our sabers on my belt everywhere I go," said Lane, a saber tech at SaberForge in Oregon City.
Phillip Isherwood founded the company 7 years ago.
"I got laid off during the financial crisis in 2008, and I was doing this as a hobby," he said. "I put some on eBay and they started selling, so I said, 'Hey, I'm going to do this full time.' I bought a little mini lathe for 500 bucks, put it into a closet and grew that into a seven-figure company with 50 employees."
That's a lot of sabers.
The company ships about 400 per week.
A low-end model runs a little over $200; price tags go up from there to $800.
SaberForge receives orders from around the world.
"I don't want to toot my own horn, but I make really good sabers, some of the best in the world," Isherwood said.
What's the appeal?
"Star Wars is just one of those special experiences," Lane said, "that hasn't stopped being special since 1977."