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Aug 15 2013

Mystery Behind Luke Skywalker’s Yellow Lightsaber

20130814-122006.jpgIt was a question that perplexed an entire generation of children in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The question echoed through playgrounds, parks, backyards and living rooms all across the land. The biggest question facing children of that era was not “Who shot JR?” Instead, the biggest question was, “Why does the Luke Skywalker action figure come with a yellow lightsaber when he clearly uses a blue lightsaber in the movie?” There are several theories floating around, but no concrete evidence seems to exist.

One theory holds that Kenner wanted to produce a variety of lightsaber colors for its figures. Since Darth Vader’s lightsaber was orange and Ben Kenobi’s lightsaber was blue, they went with yellow for Luke Skywalker. Because they gave the original Luke Skywalker a yellow lightsaber, they stuck with yellow for Luke Skywalker in Bespin Fatigues.

Unfinished Lightsaber EffectsAnother theory is that yellow may have been chosen because of poor quality reference images provided to Kenner by Lucasfilm. On the set of Star Wars, the all lightsabers were white and coated with a reflective material. The colors were only added in post-production. Kenner may have been supplied reference images from on-set before the post-production color was added. After all, poor reference images resulted in the creation of the Blue Snaggletooth figure, so it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Unfortunately, the answer to this question may have been lost to time. I have been a collector of Star Wars action figures since the very beginning. I consider myself well-versed in Kenner lore and can explain the history behind a lot of the quirks of the Star Wars line. The answer to this one continues to elude me.

This question has also eluded the good people at Retroblasting. Be sure to check out their video on this topic entitled “Star Wars: Don’t Eat the Yellow Lightsaber.” The video does not provide any answers, but it is a fun exploration of the question. While you are there, be sure to subscribe to the Retroblasting channel on YouTube.

If anyone has information regarding Kenner’s choice of a yellow lightsaber for Luke Skywalker, please leave a comment below..

4 comments

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  1. Todd Stanton

    Hi. Great little documentary. Loved it. Actually never even thought about the Luke figure having a yellow light saber.

    But after watching, and thinking back on the day….
    I was 10 when Star Wars (A New Hope) came about… simply called Star Wars then.
    As kids, we never concerned ourselves with light saber colors. It was just cool to see “laser swords” in action.

    I don’t think we really even gave it much “fretting” until ROTJ when Luke had a green light saber. And we really didn’t get our panties in a twist until Episode I, when light sabers were definitely specific colors.

    But… to slightly defend the Star Wars (ANH) era of yellow sabers, you have to look at the early marketing. The Hildebrandt poster. Luke has a yellow saber. That was one of the very first images I ever saw of the movie.
    Even other early posters had saber colors wrong.

    I just think that in the early days, no one really took a serious note of what color light sabers should be… if they did, maybe they thought others didn’t.

    But… regardless… loved your little expose.

  2. Jeremiah

    Ok if that is the case, the why did the kenner figure of return of the jedi Luke Skywalker come with a blue lite saber and not green? I remember as a kid thinking man can’t kenner get this rite. Is to much to ask..never did figure that out. I understand the first luke could have yellow, but empire bespin luke blue would have been sweet. And then return of the jedi luke with green would have been awesome. Seem like know one really cared or put the love in to Luke Skywalker to get it rite.. It would not be for many year untill i saw power of the force figures by Kenner were it was peace at last in to making his lite sabers the color. To repair that inner child I bought them when I saw them and glad they put more into it.

  3. Greg

    I always found it highly annoying. My Jedi Luke came with the green saber, but I would have liked another just for the blue saber. Parents didn’t see this as justifying the purchase of a whole new figure. I get the original being a mistake, but was irked that they continued this error in the Bespin Luke AND in the life-sized toys that we used to beat the heck out of each other. I have no idea what Todd is talking about when he suggests it wasn’t until Episode I that lightsabers had specific colors. At 4 years old I not only knew the colors, but was annoyed that Kenner got them wrong.

  4. Parakletos

    It’s a moot question, since we all know that the guns and lightsabres usually get sucked up into the sweeper by mom.

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