Vintage Graflex from my childhood

FLS89

Active Member
I wanted to share a really cool story/memory from my childhood and pose a question at the end regarding the only vintage Graflex I own.

I'm in my mid 30s now, but I think the height of my love for Star Wars hit when I was in middle school around the age of 13-14. The prequels were in process of coming out and I was dying to get whatever lightsaber prop replicas I could find, especially given the limited budget of being a teenager.

I remember scouring the dial-up internet and came across ThePartsofSW website, learning about the different found objects used for the props. When I learned that the Graflex was simply a part of an old camera, I looked up any camera shops in my area and tried calling and asking if by chance they had any of these old parts....to no avail.

Then, somehow I learned about a camera convention that was happening somewhere nearby, which my mom for some reason took to me to. It really felt like it was in the basement of some building with a bunch of tables set up for people with camera shops to show off their goods. I walked from table to table asking if anyone had a Graflex flashgun, with every one of them saying that they didn't, and they gave a smirk knowing why I wanted it. Until eventually I came to one vendor. Again I asked if he had one, and to my amazement he had a Graflex 2-cell flash. He knew exactly why I was looking for one, and then he said something along the lines of "it's a 2-cell, but I bet I have a 3-cell bottom for it at my shop if you want to stop by there."

Perhaps the most insane part of this story was that he sold me the 2-cell flash for $15, knowing full well that he could've held out for much more. I think around a week later one of my parents took me to his shop to get the 3-cell bottom and he only charged me $5 for that. I wish I could remember the shop or his name because I'd love to thank him again for being so nice about the whole process.

Anyways, this leads me to my question.

Below are some pictures of the ANH lightsaber I built with it about 20 years ago (rubber grips and all). However, at the time, we didn't know all of the details of the prop, and unfortunately the only mistake that can't be corrected on it now is the D-ring clip, which has some pretty large holes in the bottom if I take it off.

I had considered using a replica bottom half to just make another ANH saber with it and use the correct D-ring clip, but, while it would "work", something about it feels weird because it's mixing a vintage with a replica bottom, and the finish won't match exactly.

However, I'm currently considering that if I make this into an ESB saber, the kobold clip would completely hide the d-ring attachment holes that are currently there, but then my concern is that I don't know if I want to remove the beer tab under the red button from the top half of the vintage.

Otherwise, I feel like my only option is to leave it as is.

Would love to hear some thoughts on this. Thanks all for reading the long post!
 

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I, personally, wouldn't do anything to it besides what you did as a teenager. The story and the experience are great, and it should stay that way. It's a comforting relic of your past. "Improving" an old project will change your feelings towards it, and maybe in a bad way. I understand the desire for accuracy, but I think it's great as is.
 
I, personally, wouldn't do anything to it besides what you did as a teenager. The story and the experience are great, and it should stay that way. It's a comforting relic of your past. "Improving" an old project will change your feelings towards it, and maybe in a bad way. I understand the desire for accuracy, but I think it's great as is.

Yes, definitely a valid point. That's mostly why I haven't wanted to risk doing anything else to it because I don't want to make a change that I can't really undo.
 
I have the exact same Luke ANH lightsaber from the early 2000s too. Paid next to nothing for the flash and added the Blast-Tech conversion kit with 6 rubber grips and a double-hole drilled d-ring. I upgraded the d-ring to the newer 1 hole version from a few years ago but I have yet to remove the 6 rubber grips and update to the more accurate 7 plastic grips.

The ANH saber is iconic, but the ESB got a close-up on screen and because of EP7-EP8 (and EP3 really) the ESB version is the best well-known version of the Graflex saber.

If it was mine I’d probably pick up a super accurate ESB conversion kit, cut down the screws to glue in and not drill holes, and keep the beer tab.
 
I have the exact same Luke ANH lightsaber from the early 2000s too. Paid next to nothing for the flash and added the Blast-Tech conversion kit with 6 rubber grips and a double-hole drilled d-ring. I upgraded the d-ring to the newer 1 hole version from a few years ago but I have yet to remove the 6 rubber grips and update to the more accurate 7 plastic grips.

The ANH saber is iconic, but the ESB got a close-up on screen and because of EP7-EP8 (and EP3 really) the ESB version is the best well-known version of the Graflex saber.

If it was mine I’d probably pick up a super accurate ESB conversion kit, cut down the screws to glue in and not drill holes, and keep the beer tab.
That’s an interesting idea too because then I wouldn’t be messing up anything about the vintage. Were there any ESB hero sabers that had the beer tab still intact? I can’t find a lot of reference photos.
 
See details here: http://wannawanga.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SW_Lightsaber_Guide.pdf

The answer is yes and no. The actual ‘Hero’ Luke ESB lightsaber did not have the beer tab, but the bladed stunt saber, the one seen in close-up in the Wampa cave snow, did still have it’s beer tab even though you can’t/don’t see it in the movie. So technically yes there is a ESB Graflex lightsaber with a beer tab you could replicate.
 
See details here: http://wannawanga.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SW_Lightsaber_Guide.pdf

The answer is yes and no. The actual ‘Hero’ Luke ESB lightsaber did not have the beer tab, but the bladed stunt saber, the one seen in close-up in the Wampa cave snow, did still have it’s beer tab even though you can’t/don’t see it in the movie. So technically yes there is a ESB Graflex lightsaber with a beer tab you could replicate.

Very interesting. I had no idea the Hoth cave scene hilt had the beer tab on it still. That was always kind of the iconic shot because I think it’s the most up close we get in the film.
 
I'd keep the bottom half as-is but pull it off and stick it in storage for safe keeping and posterity. Then I'd buy a replica bottom half (perhaps from Roman) and some conversion parts (perhaps from Roy) and then make a bottom half for a Wampa Cave version, so you won't need to alter your all-vintage top half. You may get lucky and get a replica bottom half with a finish that matches the vintage top half, or you may need to try weathering the replica bottom half to match the vintage finish better.
 
I'd say the same thing as most have already said: you should keep it as it is. It's a relic from the past and inaccuracies are also parts of that hobby. Beyond the props we're trying to replicate there's also all the work, beliefs and reinterprerations made over the years, wich is a great value on my opinion.
 
I'd keep the bottom half as-is but pull it off and stick it in storage for safe keeping and posterity. Then I'd buy a replica bottom half (perhaps from Roman) and some conversion parts (perhaps from Roy) and then make a bottom half for a Wampa Cave version, so you won't need to alter your all-vintage top half. You may get lucky and get a replica bottom half with a finish that matches the vintage top half, or you may need to try weathering the replica bottom half to match the vintage finish better.

So I have a replica bottom half already and the finish matches other than the fact that it looks brand new. I suppose once all the grips are put on it would be mostly covered anyway. I might give this a try simply because even if I don’t like it, I can always just switch back to the original bottom and no harm done.
 
I'd say the same thing as most have already said: you should keep it as it is. It's a relic from the past and inaccuracies are also parts of that hobby. Beyond the props we're trying to replicate there's also all the work, beliefs and reinterprerations made over the years, wich is a great value on my opinion.
Yea definitely feel this too. I think at most I’ll try using a replica bottom and see if that looks good with it. I just would hate to mess up something in a way that I can’t undo with a piece that holds a lot of memories.
 
I have a contrary point of view than what I am reading in this thread.

I have several Graflexes that have come along with me on my journey through this hobby and each of them have been revised, several times over, as our knowledge of the prop and greeblie offerings have improved.

I don’t hold to the sentimentality of keeping a prop in my collection in an inaccurate state simply because the last time I took a pass at it was in 2002. My collection is always in a state of evolution and “becoming”.
 
I have a contrary point of view than what I am reading in this thread.

I have several Graflexes that have come along with me on my journey through this hobby and each of them have been revised, several times over, as our knowledge of the prop and greeblie offerings have improved.

I don’t hold to the sentimentality of keeping a prop in my collection in an inaccurate state simply because the last time I took a pass at it was in 2002. My collection is always in a state of evolution and “becoming”.

For me, it’s a split feeling. I want to update it partially because it’s inaccurate but also because as it is now, it’s not really a display piece, but rather just a memento.

But at the same time I don’t want to to make a change that completely messes it up like removing the beer tab.

I’ve tried looking for other vintage 3-cell bottom halves but the price is usually just so high that it’s not worth it. Feels completely pointless to pay $2-300 for a bottom half.
 
For me, it’s a split feeling. I want to update it partially because it’s inaccurate but also because as it is now, it’s not really a display piece, but rather just a memento.

But at the same time I don’t want to to make a change that completely messes it up like removing the beer tab.

I’ve tried looking for other vintage 3-cell bottom halves but the price is usually just so high that it’s not worth it. Feels completely pointless to pay $2-300 for a bottom half.

Roman’s replica bottom finishes are a dead-match to the finish of the Graflexes that I have in my collection (other than the “true chrome” variant Folmer Graflexes).

I recommend giving one a try.
 
I'll add my two cents. There are different levels of modification for me, from a conservation standpoint.

I would take off the rubber grips, clean off the adhesive residue and slap some extruded plastic ones on there with thin clear high bond tape. WannaWanga, Super6Props and ToddsCostumes all make excellent T track

The D ring - honestly.. you could keep it the way it is for historical sake, its what we all thought was used years ago. Removing it and adding the correct two-rivet tab would probably leave an exposed hole. If that doesn't bother you, go for it and swap it out! Don't worry about an extra bottom, in my opinion, the modifications are all part of the prop making hobby!

Rubber also doesn't age well.. lol
 
When I went from 2 hole d-ring to 1 hole d-ring, I filled the second hole with a rivet. When I take this d-ring off and upgrade to the actual correct ANH d-ring the front hole will be covered and I’ll just keep the rivet in the back hole. Not accurate, but okay for me.

IMG_8842.jpeg
 
It’s interesting that a lot of us have builds from back in the day like this with the same inaccuracies. For a long time I had the chrome tape on mine also, I think I removed it last year.
 
When I went from 2 hole d-ring to 1 hole d-ring, I filled the second hole with a rivet. When I take this d-ring off and upgrade to the actual correct ANH d-ring the front hole will be covered and I’ll just keep the rivet in the back hole. Not accurate, but okay for me.

View attachment 1760369
Who knows how many holes we'll discover in the next ten years ;)
 

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