«back to Spotlight

MPP Lightsaber Darth Vader

 
 

MPP Lightsaber Darth Vader

MPP Lightsaber sold.

MPP Lightsaber ?    –  We  thought it was an MPP flashgun !

Having owned a 3 cell  MPP flashgun for a long time; we sold it recently
It ‘s a very rare collectors item from the 1950s.

It was purchased due to its colossal flash output from expendable giant flash bulbs.
These flash bulbs are about the same size as the old fashioned UK  150W  light bulbs.

Sadly interest in it wasn’t solely due to its rarity as a photographic icon.

Surprisingly interest in it was because one was used to make Darth Vaders lightsaber in the Star Wars movies.
This genuine vintage MPP lightsaber was made from chromed brass.

MPP Microflash handle  -see next photo of the complete flashgun
MPP Lightsaber as used by Darth Vader in Star Wars (Copyright)

For Star Wars the flashbulb reflector (shown below) was ditched

 (Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams)

Star Wars creator George Lucas was shown the complete MPP flashgun as an initial concept for the lightsaber.   He is reported to have immediately realised the potential of using the flash handle on its own.

The old flashgun handle from the 1950s thus became the modern Star Wars Lightsaber.

The long handle was used to house 3 battery cells which ignited fine wires contained in the expendable flash bulb.
The flashbulbs  sometimes exploded when they were ignited, so later ones had a plastic coating to contain the glass.
Exploding flashbulbs could cause serious injuries, which is one of the reasons they are seldom used today.

Wiser photographers used a thick leather glove to insert the bulbs into the flashgun.   This was for a very good reason – the bulb could ignite upon insertion and weld itself to your hand.
Photographers of the era often had holes burnt in their pockets after picking up hot expended flash bulbs.

MPP ( or M.P.P. ) stands for Micro Precision Products.  London based MPP were manufacturers of 5×4″ large format film cameras.  Some of the MPP cameras were based upon Graflex parts imported from America.
This flashgun was designed to attach to field cameras like the MPP Micropress.
Hence it was sometimes called an MPP microflash – but it wasn’t small.  The handle alone (with the included flash reflector removed) is approx 30cm (11 1/2 inches) long.

Bill Bagshaw Photography Courses                  Pre University Photography Course                   Royal Deeside

Bill Bagshaw has been a Staff Photographer for multi national companies, won photographic awards, lectured extensively to full time professional photography students, and had his work published worldwide.

Business end of the MPP Lightsaber.   Length is approx 30cm (11 1/2 inches) (without the flash reflector).

Make Darth Vader lightsaber out off MPP 3 cell flashgun (Copyright Bill Bagshaw/M. Williams/copyright)

Back to homepage