Movie Prop Replicator
Andrew Wen, 36, Master Replicas, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Interview by Matthew Boyle

(FORTUNE Magazine) - I was a Star Wars fan in the 1980s. I knew the lightsabers were not real, but I wondered how the heck they made them. Now I design collectors' versions of those props. We have a big Disney license, but Lucasfilm is our bread and butter. About 60% of our products are Star Wars. We sell limited-edition items to high-end collectibles shops and less expensive replicas to Best Buy and For the Darth Vader helmet, we cast a mold off the actual model worn by Hayden Christensen. But some things are totally digital. So Lucasfilm gives us a lot of computer-design shots. I have to make them into real working products. Take our FX lightsabers. There is an LED light bar inside and it comes with sound effects triggered by motion and impact sensors. This past year we sold a couple hundred thousand. We have a new one coming out in two months--the double-bladed Darth Maul FX lightsaber. It's seven feet long. Some guys return our stuff, and when we ask why, they say, "My wife made me because it costs $500." I've heard that George Lucas gives our props as gifts. That is the ultimate compliment. Top of page