Hot Toys USB Powered Sabers and Effects

Collector Freaks Forum

Help Support Collector Freaks Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Messages
5,316
Reaction score
4,414
Maybe I’m in the minority, and/or maybe many of you with think I’m premature in this pronouncement, but I’m ready to call Hot Toys’ move to USB powered sabers and light up costume/uniform effects a resounding FAILURE.

I know the button cell batteries are less than ideal in terms of life and effectiveness, and the latest Australian regulations around them certainly doesn’t help when a company is involved in international commerce. So customizing features and accessories for one particular region or another is a complication no company would want.

But the current state of the USB experiment is just not working. The USB sabers have been a colossal disappointment in every figure I’ve seen it used in. Arguably even worse than the button cells in terms of actual illumination of the saber cylinder. They don’t have the short life issue of the batteries, and replacing entire arms on our figures to support the light up saber can be a huge pain.

The main issue for me is that I want nothing to do with an insane twist up of wires, more wires and control boxes running through my entire display just to have mediocre to poor results.

In my view, what they MUST do here is revamp the wired saber effect a la what fusion has been able to pull of with their versions with FAR better saber results, and go back to the button cells for costume/uniform light up accents.

I can’t speak for all customers, of course, but I use those light up belts, chest boxes, 3PO eyes, etc. on a very limited basis when I’m doing photography or showing the figures off to friends, so the lifespan of the button cells has never really been much of an issue at all.

I get that some of us may appreciate the ability to flip a master switch and have all of the light up feature throughout the collection come to life, and for that reason it may be worth it to those costumers to go through the hassle of setting up, organizing, and generally dealing with the wire tangle to achieve that ability. And I’m not sure how many are in my camp.

For the record, I NEVER use the light up sabers in my display. I’ll pose them holding the unlit sabers and add the effect in photography. Another nice option might be a solid colored saber blade that reasonably represents the look of the ignited blade for display purposes.

For example, I invested in four Mando Dark Troopers for my display. I’ll activate their chest and eye lights for maybe 5 minutes a few times a month to show them off or for some pics, and after these many months, they still work great with the original batteries. I can’t even imagine working all those cords into a similar display while also coordinating power strips and wall outlets.

So if we can find a better system for the corded sabers, that might be acceptable. The batteries in the bodies for other light up features, or maybe a lighting system that can be worked into the bases of the figures (not very optimistic about this) seems to be the best option for the non-saber related light-up features. Maybe even incorporate “regular” double or triple A batteries which are far easier to replace.

Anyway, there just HAS to be a better way. Or maybe I’m alone with this rant.

Discuss…
 
Last edited:
The Obi-Wan Vader is the first one I've gotten with the USB powered stuff, and I can agree on a number of points. It's really awkward to have so many cables everywhere and I'm assuming every figure will have that control box hooked behind them which is not going to work well for some characters.
Just in terms of practicality if you wanted a display of multiple characters you'd need a USB hub with a bunch of USB cables, which are going to be visible all over the place. And then, what do you do for a power source? Like are you running a plug down from a shelf to the closest outlet? It's really just not practical.

What would have been nice, but probably expensive, would be something where it's built in to the figure and then it connects to power through one of the feet in the base and then you have a single USB going out from there that powers the whole thing, no visible wires on the figure no visible control box, etc at least it would make it the easiest possible version of using USB power.
 
The Obi-Wan Vader is the first one I've gotten with the USB powered stuff, and I can agree on a number of points. It's really awkward to have so many cables everywhere and I'm assuming every figure will have that control box hooked behind them which is not going to work well for some characters.
Just in terms of practicality if you wanted a display of multiple characters you'd need a USB hub with a bunch of USB cables, which are going to be visible all over the place. And then, what do you do for a power source? Like are you running a plug down from a shelf to the closest outlet? It's really just not practical.

What would have been nice, but probably expensive, would be something where it's built in to the figure and then it connects to power through one of the feet in the base and then you have a single USB going out from there that powers the whole thing, no visible wires on the figure no visible control box, etc at least it would make it the easiest possible version of using USB power.
I think the feet option sounds great, but like anything, there will be drawbacks. A main one I can see without really thinking about it too much would be from a business standpoint. Besides the obvious cost increase for that for body redesigns and things of that sort, if you receive one that doesn't work, it's not as simple as sending our a new piece. You're now going to have to replace the entire body, which would get more expensive. I could totally see how it would work though and it does sound great, but I'm not ready to count out USB sabers yet.

I, like most, rarely use these effects. However, I may start using them more with this USB venture. It's pretty easy to wire it up like I do the lighting on my shelves. Right now I use USB charging blocks because I've had a few laying around and I'm able to attach them to under the shelf where you don't see them at all. Just like anything, if you put it the little extra time you can hide the wires. It's not ideal right now, but I still prefer it to the button batteries personally. But I can totally see both sides to this argument.
 
I think the lights look pretty good but the power box is a pain. Too bad there couldn’t have been a way to have a single wire to power all the lights (except maybe the saber). The lights could be stronger but in low lighting they look good.
 
I'm one of the weirdos who actually likes the old lightsaber arms, mainly because I keep my display room dimly lit enough that they work, and because it's easy to hide some thin wires under the outfit (I've considered CCFLs but they always come across way too bright and overpowering for my taste).

I'm not too crazy about these new versions though with the super thick cables that hang straight off the lightsaber hilt and are impossible to hide. Have a feeling I'm going to need to replace all of that with my own wiring when I start getting them in.


20240305_182033x.jpg
 
Wholeheartedly agree. Even more when additional lights (Kenobi Vaders chestbox, for example) become USB powered: I have no intention of any wiring in my cabinets, the whole point of these guys are clean displays for me, figures only.
 
I am not a light up guy, but I like the OBK Vader's light up features. Enough that I am going to drill a hole in my detolf. :panic:
 
I personally would be fine with dropping light up features all together. I don’t even put in that batteries for them. Did that with the first Iron Man over a decade ago, wasn’t all that impressed and then just haven’t bothered since. Maybe offer a ‘light up’ edition as a deluxe offering but leave the standard figures unlit and I’d be happy to save the few bucks. If they could easily be displayed with lights on as much as I’d leave the lights on in an occupied room, then I’d be more interested. But even if we could easily plug them in and turn them off with a light switch, those bulbs will eventually go out and I’ve yet to see HT offer replacement bulb packs. Once they’re dead they might as well not have had the light feature if they can’t be replaced.
 
To me USB is a step in the right direction. Now they have to up their game with light-up and develop a technology similar/close to CCFL so the effect is convincing.
 
It will cost them money to figure out an alternative method, so that's not going to happen.
 
I think the feet option sounds great, but like anything, there will be drawbacks. A main one I can see without really thinking about it too much would be from a business standpoint. Besides the obvious cost increase for that for body redesigns and things of that sort, if you receive one that doesn't work, it's not as simple as sending our a new piece. You're now going to have to replace the entire body, which would get more expensive. I could totally see how it would work though and it does sound great, but I'm not ready to count out USB sabers yet.

I, like most, rarely use these effects. However, I may start using them more with this USB venture. It's pretty easy to wire it up like I do the lighting on my shelves. Right now I use USB charging blocks because I've had a few laying around and I'm able to attach them to under the shelf where you don't see them at all. Just like anything, if you put it the little extra time you can hide the wires. It's not ideal right now, but I still prefer it to the button batteries personally. But I can totally see both sides to this argument.
X-Plus does something similar, but the battery's go in the base and the foot has a hole to connect to the base.
 
I personally would be fine with dropping light up features all together. I don’t even put in that batteries for them. Did that with the first Iron Man over a decade ago, wasn’t all that impressed and then just haven’t bothered since. Maybe offer a ‘light up’ edition as a deluxe offering but leave the standard figures unlit and I’d be happy to save the few bucks. If they could easily be displayed with lights on as much as I’d leave the lights on in an occupied room, then I’d be more interested. But even if we could easily plug them in and turn them off with a light switch, those bulbs will eventually go out and I’ve yet to see HT offer replacement bulb packs. Once they’re dead they might as well not have had the light feature if they can’t be replaced.
It takes a really long time for an LED to burn out even if you keep them on all the time.
 
The USB sabers will never leave the box except for when I offload them on to Ebay. I personally think light up sabers look atrocious and cheap. Never mind the chore of having to hide wires.

Wish they'd do away with them and drop the price by about $30 or so tbh.
 
To me the wire for the saber on Vader isn’t so bad. It’s black and blends in with his outfit fairly well. Plus if you angle it right you can make his arm cover a lot of the wire.
 
I'd wish - re batteries - the switches weren't so delicate, the sockets/springs so cheap... but usually only do a few pics and pull out the batteries. Curious about the USB but haven't gotten a figure in yet to see how I feel about it. Tho I suspect it's equally delicate.
 
The USB sabers will never leave the box except for when I offload them on to Ebay. I personally think light up sabers look atrocious and cheap. Never mind the chore of having to hide wires.

Wish they'd do away with them and drop the price by about $30 or so tbh.
No they're not the best, but having a bunch of unlit sabers in the display looks far worse to me and incredibly boring.

I do think there should be a cheaper electronics-free option for those who don't want them though.
 
I haven't seen the new USB sabers in person, but it's safe to say that after seeing this company try their hand at electronic features for over 10 years, that they are not very good at incorporating them into their high-end figures in a way that doesn't make them feel like a toy you'd find in a Target.
 
Can't say I care too much for light up features. Even if you buy good quality batteries for them, they still don't last too long. I also don't care for all the wires coming out the back look either. It's sort of find for Vader since it's black on black and you can kind of hide it with proper posing/futzing. But others, it sticks out much more.

I would much prefer an internal, rechargeable lithium battery like what Morgan's Workshop does with his Iron Man mods, at least for lights that are part of the body. Even though I rare use it, it's still a lot more pleasant to just use the key fob to turn all the lights on my MK85 than to have to undo all the panels to flip those small switches.

For the lightsabers, they could make a separate hilt that use those small batteries like what InArt included for Gandalf's Moria staff. It might make the hilt a little oversized but it's better than having a wire and having to take a whole half arm off.
 
No they're not the best, but having a bunch of unlit sabers in the display looks far worse to me and incredibly boring.

I do think there should be a cheaper electronics-free option for those who don't want them though.
Couldn't people get luminescent spray paint. I seem to remember a youtuber (I can't recall who) who repainted all of his HT sabers and they looked good.
 
Back
Top