The best over-the-counter light stick you can buy06 July, 2013 by Chad
If you’ve attended any new concerts or travelled to Japan in the past year, you would have noticed that the whole light stick situation has sort of changed in recent times. A large part of this is due to the introduction of a powerful and affordable new LED glow stick maker and the product known as King Blade.
Veterans should be well aware of the name by now, but as always this short share is meant to be a quick update to our previous Light Sticks guide for the uninitiated. The King Blade pen lights entered the market early last year and took the idol faring community by storm.
Apart from its sleek polished design, there are many improvements to King Blades than the previously marketed LED light sticks. The first is its built. Previous Turn On pen lights and their imitators were flimsy at best, and their tubes broke easily from just one drop. Something inevitable when you consider that their sole purpose are to be swung vigorously at concerts.
King Blades are also a lot brighter than their competitors. The regular King Blade LED glow sticks come in a variety of 8 different colors featuring 3W bulbs with a brightness of 140 lumens. Lumens of course are the standard unit of measure for brightness. Regular chemical glow sticks measure between 80 lumens (for regular light sticks) up to around 200 for the 5 minute high intensity orange ones. Considering that the King Blades output a consistent 140 lumens for up to 10 hours on a single set of batteries, you can start to appreciate why these glow sticks have found as much popularity as they have.
Other LED light sticks like Turn On’s tend to run of the flat LR44 cells. These not only last much shorter but also costs quite a handful, especially in Japan. Unless you find some way to order them in bulk, the cost of replacing 4-6 LR44 batteries usually costs as much as purchasing a brand new LED glow stick. This kind of negated the purpose of using LED lights instead of the usual chemical ones.
The King Blade on the other hands has the benefit of running on 3 AAA batteries. Allowing for the option of using rechargeable batteries. This is of course a godsend for the regular concert goer. The trade-off is that it weights about 100 grams instead of the usual 50 or so grams, but is a minor one when considering that a King Blade and set of rechargeable batteries pays for itself in the long run.
King Blades are available anywhere other LED glow sticks are sold. Tokyu Hands and Don Quixote outlets carry them readily. They cost 2,000 yen each (or 2,100 after tax). The first generation of King Blade MAX came with a standard matt frosted or glitter tube, but are now also bundled with a shorter tube for more concentrated brightness in the King Blade MAX SuperTube series.
One thing worth taking note of is that the first generation King Blades all feature a white LED, and their color is derived from the tube just like most other LED glow sticks. However, the second generation MAX II and related King Blades now come with colored LEDs for richer colors.
Finally, Ruifan Japan, the company behind the light sticks also offers the King Blade X10 series. Though slightly pricier at 3,000 yen (3,150 with tax) this model has the ability to change colors in an elegant manner. By quickly tapping the power button, the X10 can change between 12 colors, while the newer X10 II King Blades offers 15 colors, and is also available with glitter and shorter tubes. Like the newer MAX II series, X10 derive their color directly from the LED, resulting in much deeper hues.
The King Blade X10 is my personal weapon of choice. While slightly dimmer than the regular King Blades, it’s still significantly brighter than regular glow sticks. It also comes with all of the pluses of the regular MAX sticks with the added convenience of being the only light stick you will ever need at a concert.
When it comes to sheer brightness, an over the counter light stick like the King Blade could never compete with DIY custom made ones. But then again custom ones would never be as convenient. The King Blade X10 combines just about everything one could ask for from a light stick into one handy package. The iPhone of the light stick world if you will.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.