Unfortunately most of this will be just a story as I don't have any pictures from the past to show.
It was 1989... or was it 1990... not sure.......................
I was a photo lab technician working in a lab/studio/camera shop starting my career in high school. We bought and sold used camera equipment and well, in walked Luke's saber. Wait, Luke's saber had a brother and a cousin.
One day an older man came in with a box of old camera parts and in it were 3 Graflex and a Heiland flash bar!!!!!!!!!!!!
The guy wanted $50 for the lot. I normally would call the owner or his son down to approve the sale, but I said "Sure", pulled petty cash and paid the man.
Once he left, I ran the box out to my car and prayed no one would check the petty cash until the next day. Yeah, back then, making $3.xx an hour in high school meant this was a lot of spare cash! I had it, but just not on me but I HAD to have them!!!!! I replaced the cash the next day of course, but man, I was sooooooooooooo happy!!!!!
I had only started the job a few months back and was always a Star Wars fan so I knew all about Graflex and Heiland but never put 2 and 2 together about my current job. Man, I was too stoned back then.
OK... back to the box...
The box had one 3 Cell Graflex (the base of Luke's saber), one 2 cell Graflex'es (the same, but a smaller handles - 1 D battery in length shorther to be exact) and a 3 Cell Heiland (Vader's saber). They all had the dome reflectors, cables ad what-not, but all I could see was gold!!!
I cleaned them up and added the 3 Cells (Graflex and Heiland) as is to my collection. The other 2 cell Graflex'es I put away.
I actually ran across Graflex'es quite a lot back then after that day as I would start going to camera and antique shows with the boss to see if I could find more. I would pick them up for $10-$20 and re-sell them on consignment for $50-$60 a pop with a local comic shop who also did flea markets (or swap meets depending where you live). All the while doing this mine just sat an collected dust.
Like an idiot I would buy and sell 3 Cells and never upgraded my own 2 cells to the 3s.
I even pulled my only 3 cell and sold that! Man, what an idiot. It wasn't the best shape 3 cell, but it was good enough and someone offered me $100 if I would sell it. So, like an idiotic teenager, I said 'Hell Yeah!'.
Now I was left with two 2 Cell Graflex'es and my Heiland. Not bad but not the greatest situation either.
I ended up quitting that job and moving along so my source for these pretty much dried up.
A year or so later I wanted to prop-ify my sabers but I didn't have a 3 cell!!!! ARGGGG!!!!!!! Where was eBay?!?!?!?
I looked and searched but could not find one anywhere. Go figure!!!
At first I improvised and found that my step-mother's vacuum had an extension tube that had an outer diameter that would fit perfectly inside the 2 cell and the coupler. I now had the right length, but man, it looked like shit and my step-mom was PISSED!! haha
I figured it would be OK for now and started to move along to find the (now called t-bar strips) handle parts and TI calculator bubble.
I could never find a windshield wiper exact, but found some close ones at a junk yard but they were crappy looking.
I went with off the shelf wiper blades to see how they would look on my Hoover-Graflex hybrid. DISGUSTING!
So, I said screw it. Pulled out my duct tape, my black hockey tape and made a very decent handle. Mind you it looked nothing like Luke's but it was soooo omuch better than the Hoover extension and nothing at all.
The calc bubble was another beast. I found one years later that was broke and picked it up. It did look OK, but meh'.
I put it on display and about a year after that I moved so it was packed up along with everything else.
I forgot about it all up until about 10 years ago when I found the box they were in.
This time I went and tried to mock up Vader's Heiland. It was OK, but not complete.
Once again I found my sabers cools, but half-assed but half-assed was better than what most people had!!
They both sat idle for the next decade until Feb 2013. Yes, last month.
I still displayed them, but after the find of some of my original figures from my grandparents/father's house, the Star Wars bug was back. Add to that I had a broken femur so I was home, out of work with nothing but OCD, obsession and a computer.
When I started cleaning and removing the tape nightmare I created nearly twenty years prior, I forgot I still didn't have a 3 Cell part!!! Arrrgggg!! TGFE (thank god for ebay). I found just the 3 cell part for $50 and snagged it.
I looked around and saw the common opinion was that repo parts for the sabers were probably the best from Blast Tech. They had kits for around $30 US for both the Graflex and Heiland if I recall.
I opted for a Graflex kit with the 7 bubble and 3 feet of uncut t-strip material.
The parts took about two weeks to get to me, but Blast Tech communicated with me the entire time.
When they arrived the install was quick and easy and man, loooooooooooooong overdue!
The d-ring install is not complete yet. I just used double-sided servo tape from an RC car there for now until I decide to drill and screw or find someone to rivet into place. The uncut t-strip was used for my custom 2 cell Yoda Graflex (another story, another day) and the Heiland Vader saber.
It has been an on again, off again story for over 20 years, but as far as I am concerned, it is done and worth it!
So, it was a long way to get here:
I have a ton more pics and can take specifics if you want but for now, even for me, this novela is done because the beer is getting to me.