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MPP - Micro Precision Products Microflash Vintage 3-cell flash gun - Darth Vader's Lightsaber

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Published on Dec 23, 2012

This is an informational analysis and comparison video of the MPP - Micro Precision Products Microflash Vintage 3-cell flash gun. The prop makers at Lucasfilm used this 1950s British press photography camera flash gun as the hero prop for Darth Vader's lightsaber in Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. There is evidence that suggests an MPP was also used as the hero prop in Return of the Jedi, in fact the same MPP that was used in ESB. The Vader stunt lightsabers used in the Star Wars movies were of a different design, but mostly similar in appearance to the MPP on which Vader's hilt is based. The more familiar of these is the "Barbican" Vader made by Stuart Freeborn, thought to have been a heavily modified Graflex, but later shown to be a made-from-scratch resin prop, one of several made in the Luke vs Vader scene at the end of the movies. Several of the ROTJ Vader stunts were made, one of which *could* have been a modified Graflex in looking at a few photos in my video. There also appears to be an MPP clamp and lever on some of the stunts he made for ROTJ.

To perfect the MPP-based hero prop, the prop makers removed the MPP manufacturer's nameplate underneath the flashgun body by drilling out the small rivets holding the plate against the flashgun. Seven 3.75" (or 3.625") black plastic/rubber "T" track grips with rounded/angled edges (just like the ANH Luke Skywalker Graflex) were applied to the end section of the flash gun. In some photos these appear to have been screwed in place for greater relaibility.

A 7-bubble type LED lens from a Texas Instruments Exactra 19 or Exactra 20 was cut down to 6 bubbles and slid into the flash gun's mounting clamp. A hole was drilled in the shroud (emitter) of the flashgun and a d-ring (for belt-hanging) was inserted. It should be noted that this makes Vader's saber unique. His is the only lightsaber in any of the films that hangs on his belt upside-down, with the emitter facing up.

In the reference photos of the prop, it appears the the clamp lever's threaded rod was broken, and a nail (or some similar item) was used to hold the clamp tight (with the lever glued to the bent end of the nail).

It should be noted that while the Master Replicas Vader ANH LE/SE props are fine replicas of the hero prop from the movie, they only have 6 black grips instead of the correct 7, since that discovery was made AFTER the MR props were made and released.

A possible variation appears in at least one scene in the film (when Vader interrogates Princess Leia aboard the Death Star). This version has black sidebars on the flashgun's clamp instead of silver, the clamp lever is on the opposite side compared to the other HERO version, and the middle band is pushed down against the grips. It has been speculated that this variant may have served as the basis for Vader's saber in The Empire Strikes Back.

(Information sourced from TheRPF, Original Prop Blog, and Rebelscum)

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