21 Jul 2003 :: Lightsabres...made in NZ

Two news articles have surfaced recently describing the NZ manufacture of lightsabre blades for Episode 3 production in Sydney, by a Rotorua company called Kilwell fibretube.

Kilwell (an apt name for a sabre manufacturer!) are otherwise known for their production of fishing rods. Please don't phone them...we have already tried, and although they are very nice people, they cannot share any additional information.

This is from the NZ Herald:

Some of the most feared weapons in film history have been built by Rotorua's Kilwell Fibretube.

It made about 200 carbon-fibre tubes for the producers of Star Wars: Episode Three, the last instalment in the trilogy.

The fibreglass tubes are being used in the movie as lightsabres.

And this story originates from www.Stuff.co.nz:

Not so long ago, in a factory not so far away, some of the most feared weapons in film history were under construction.

Rotorua's Kilwell Fibretube Ltd, a division of Kilwell Sports, has made about 200 carbon-fibre tubes for the producers of Star Wars: Episode Three, the last instalment in the stars trilogy.

The fibreglass tubes are being used in the movie as lightsabers weapons used by Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith and his adversaries, the powerful Jedi knights. The movie's producers requested the tubes after they started filming at Sydney's Fox Studios last month.

The aluminium rods actors had been using for lightsabers kept breaking, creating headaches for director George Lucas.

Producers spotted Kilwell Sports' carbon- fibre fishing rods in Australia and contacted one of the company's Brisbane-based agents to supply them with a similar product.

The fibreglass tubes, coated in texalium (a silver aluminium-based coating) were considered the perfect weight and strength to hold up to the challenge of physical battle scenes.

Kilwell Fibretube's manufacturing director Neil Goodwin was sent specifications for about 200 tubes of varying lengths and sizes.

The tubes were quickly assembled and sent to Sydney for filming to resume.

It is understood the lightsabers' "glow" will be added to the tubes by digital editors in post-production.

With worldwide interest in the movie building every week, Mr Goodwin said staff were looking forward to seeing their handiwork on the big screen, despite having to wait until 2005.

"When the movie comes out, we'll all be watching."

The company has made oar shafts used by Olympic gold medallist Rob Waddell and made a lot of fibreglass tubing for America's Cup syndicates. It also makes fibreglass products for hang gliders, model aircraft and artists wanting them for sculptures.

Mr Goodwin said the most unusual request the company received was from the Iraqi Government. "They were looking for a very large carbon tube but we declined to be involved."

Robbie the Robot

Last updated: 25 Sep 2003 (NZT)

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