Photo: Andrew Liszewski (io9)
Toys and CollectiblesAction figures, statues, exclusives, and other merchandise. Beware: if you look here, you’re probably going to spend some money afterwards.  

There are lots of wonderful toys and gadgets in the Star Wars universe, but it’s the lightsaber that most fans would love to get a chance to try in real life.

Imagination-powered lightsaber toys have existed as long as the films have, but Hasbro’s new Star Wars Lightsaber Academy adds some new tech to make the toys feel more real, and to help you learn how to properly wield one like a Jedi...or a Sith.

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Photo: Andrew Liszewski (io9)

Star Wars Lightsaber Academy is reminiscent of Lenovo’s Star Wars Jedi Challenges from a few years ago. But while Lenovo’s toy had aspiring Padawans placing their smartphones in a special headset to create an augmented reality experience using a lightsaber hilt as a game controller, Hasbro’s Star Wars Lightsaber Academy simply connects the lightsaber to a mobile app over Bluetooth to track the movements and motions of the weapon. It’s a simpler approach, and at $50, Hasbro’s experience is about $150 cheaper than Lenovo’s, but still manages to deliver a lot of fun.

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Photo: Andrew Liszewski (io9)

Padawans first select a master (and their path down the light or dark side of the Force) to train them in the lightsaber arts. There are five characters to choose from, including Yoda, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker, Rey, or Darth Vader, which is then reflected in the color of their lightsaber’s crystal and its telescoping, simulated plasma blade.

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Once the saber is then connected to the Lightsaber Academy app, training begins, with kids recreating poses and moves that are tracked using motion sensors in the lightsaber itself, and scored for accuracy via the mobile app. It adds a bit of extra replay value when playing all by yourself, and the upgraded motion-sensing technology makes lightsaber sound effects more accurately matched to the movements of the blade.

Photo: Andrew Liszewski (io9)

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Battles might actually be the toy’s best feature, however. A pair of lightsabers can be connected to the app, and as two players spar using the moves their virtual masters taught them, they’ll rack up points in the game until one is declared the winner. No one’s going to lose a hand given the lightsabers use the same hollow tubes we’ve seen on these toys for years, but it’s entirely possible that one combatant might learn an upsetting truth about their parents. Players will also earn experience points as a result of the bout, which allows them to level up in the app and unlock additional features and content.

Star Wars Lightsaber Academy is expected to arrive sometime this fall, timed closer to the release of Episode IX, which will hopefully have a real title by then.

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