Wicked Laser S3 Arctic Laser Review

This past summer there was a great deal of talk of Wicked Lasers producing an insanely powerful, 1 watt blue laser called the S3 (Spyder III Pro) Arctic. It was all over the web from Gizmodo to Squidoo.  They were discussing, not only how extremely cool/dangerous it is but how LucasFilm sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Hong Kong-based company threatening legal action if it did not modify the S3’s housing design or stop selling it altogether. So, being the Gadgeteer geek and Star Wars fan I am, I quickly requested to review the closest thing to a real lightsaber that currently exists.

There were many rumors of production issues, delivery delays, and the FDA leaning on Wicked Lasers for a multitude of safety reasons. All I know for sure is that it took Wicked Lasers a very long time to send me a S3 Arctic laser to review.

Although the wait was long and the path to me was somewhat complicated, Wicked Lasers’ S3 Arctic lives up to its (very dangerous) hype.

The S3 (Spyder III Pro) Arctic laser is truly sized and shaped like a lightsaber. The build quality is as good as all of the other Wicked Lasers I have reviewed over the years. The casing is made of 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, coated with a Mil-Spec Type III hard anodized in black finish. Its weight and feel are geek worthy.  It is like you are holding a real weapon.

Safety:

This laser is absolutely not a toy. The S3 Arctic is a Class 4 laser capable of blinding and/or burning someone almost instantly. I believe one of the reasons for its delayed shipment to customers was the fact the FDA pressured Wicked Lasers to engineer greater safeguards into it. Among those are Smart Switch technology, a safety interlock, and contact guard.

The laser is not intuitive to operate.  You definitely need to read the directions (something I normal do not do) to learn the ‘trick’ to turning it on and bringing it to full power.

Caution: Blue Light Hazard

Wicked Lasers do not only have a laser safety page, but a webpage dedicated to the hazards of blue laser light as well.

Wicked Lasers includes a set of lenses to modify the beam. These lenses include line effect, cross effect, galaxy effect, focusing effect, flashlight effect, floodlight effect and safety (20%). The lenses screw onto the front of the laser.

Wicked Lasers also includes a pair of their Arctic LaserShades to protect your eyes. However, even with the glasses on, the beam the S3 produces is too bright to look at for any real duration.

The S3 Arctic is not small by any means. This picture shows the Elite, Photonic Disruptor, Evolution Pro and S3 Arctic lasers aligned according to size. As you can see, the Arctic Spyder is many times the size/volume of the other Wicked Lasers I have reviewed.

Technical Specifications:

Name: S3 Series
FDA Accession No.: 0920211-000
Size: 228mm x 35.8mm
Weight: 378g
Wavelength: 445nm
Laser Body: 6061-T6 Aircraft-Grade Aluminum
Laser Finish: Mil-Spec Type III hard anodized in black
Transverse Mode: TEM00
Max Power: 1000mW
Min Power: 500mW
Beam Divergence: 1.5mRad
Beam Diameter: 5.0 mm
NOHD* 149 meters
Beam Distance 0.25 Lux 6856 meters
Required Eyewear O.D. 3.0+
Power Consumption: 3.7V @ 1A
Power supply: Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery Type 18650 (batteries and charger included)
Battery Lifetime: 120 mins
Switch: Push Button Constant On / Off, Lock-Out Tail Cap, Electronic Mode switch
Mode: Low and High Power modes, Pulsed and Constant Wave modes, Secure Lock/Unlock modes
Duty Cycle: Continuous
Expected lifetime: >5,000 hours
Warranty: One Year

The S3 is powered by a 3.7V rechargeable lithium ion battery (type 18650).  The lens, eye protection, battery and charger are all included with the laser.

There are a multitude of videos on the internet that illustrate how powerful and effective the S3 Arctic is. The video above is one of many available on YouTube. I made several videos of the S3 burning through a LEGO Darth Vader but thought the YouTube videos were better.

During my testing, I attempted to burn through several black LEGO (and numerous balloons). It was amazing how quickly the laser burned through the relatively thick plastic. The S3 was able to create/burn a hole in approximately a minute, to include burning wire smell and billowing smoke.

As laser technology progresses, the cost of (really cool) lasers continues to drop. A perfect example of this is how the S3 Elite Series laser have plummeted in price over the past few years….from nearly $600 to $50-80; now available in three colors no less. The S3 (Spyder III Pro) Arctic laser could not even be created a few years ago at any price. But with some incredible advances in the world of miniature optics, Wicked Laser’s have produced a small, very powerful laser at a very reasonable price ($299).

That said, there are three issues that come to mind that I should mention before you go out and order one; 1) shipping into the US (aka making it through US customs), 2) how dangerous it is, and 3) what are the real uses for a device like this…..thoughts and questions almost everyone that I show the S3 to mentions/asks. But those issues aside, the S3 (Spyder III Pro) Arctic is really cool and geekily fun to play with.

 

Product Information

Price:$299.95
Manufacturer:Wicked Lasers
Pros:
  • - Well made
  • - Quality materials
  • - Very powerful
  • - Shaped like a lightsaber
  • - SmartSwitch safety technology
  • - Includes various lens and safety goggles
Cons:
  • - Very dangerous
  • - Might not make it through Customs
Posted in: Miscellaneous, Reviews

{ 44 comments… add one }

  • Eric S January 9, 2011, 2:20 pm

    A friend bought one of these. It worked for a few weeks then died.
    He’s had MANY problems with Arctic trying to get it replaced.

    Still, while he had it, it is just as powerful as you’ve said. He put his hand in front of the beam and within seconds, it was hot. REALLY hot.

    1
  • Ronald January 9, 2011, 3:04 pm

    I copy your conclusion, why spend 300$ on something so dangerous and without any purpose?

    2
  • James D Wages January 9, 2011, 7:27 pm

    Dave, I appreciate the article. You mentioned “US Customs” as a problematic issue. So how then did you get yours cleared through US Customs?

    I have reviewed the Hong Kong seller’s on Q&A on that point in the past, and I couldn’t find any info on it at all. They had questions about it, but no clear answers.

    3
  • Alan Claver January 9, 2011, 7:42 pm

    There’s no problem with this laser making it through customs. Wicked Lasers follows all of the rules and regulations for the import of class 4 lasers. They also have a double money back guarantee if customs doesn’t pass their products.

    It’s only cheap Chinese lasers without proper documentation or safety features that get stopped.

    Of course, this has no bearing on the troubles that Wicked has had supplying this product. You do takes your chances if you deal with them. I picked up a REV 1 version when it was first offered and it is bright and dangerous.

    4
  • Julie January 9, 2011, 7:44 pm

    @James I can answer that… Wicked Laser sent the laser to me in Indiana and I turned around and reshipped it to Dave.

    5
  • andix January 10, 2011, 10:03 am

    this thing should be illegal, period.

    6
  • Andy Jacobs January 10, 2011, 2:58 pm

    “I see you have constructed a new lightsaber. Your skills are complete.”

    I love how much this thing looks like a lightsaber. Even down to how the safety-interlock knob looks like a Covertech nub.

    Wicked Laser Arctic? Wicked Cool.

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  • James D Wages January 10, 2011, 4:36 pm

    It is pretty scary. I think most people who buy these like the “concept” of the world’s brightest in-hand laser which can melt legos and pop balloons. But the fact remains that it could blind someone easily yet permanently, just by accidentally shining it across their eyes for a split second. For example, you’re shining it with your protective glasses on in a dark room when a child comes running it and doesn’t know what’s going on and your beam hits them just for a second, but now they cannot see. That’s the real danger of this “toy,” making it perhaps the most dangerous toy of them all — not lethal like a gun, but if you make someone blind by it, you are in some way sentencing them to a kind of death.

    So we can now see the benefit of a “real” Star Wars style light saber. A light saber has limit range whereas this “laser saber” can project itself almost as far as the eye can see.

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  • Charles January 11, 2011, 9:41 am

    I would think this laser is the perfect home defense weapon. If you are partial to the consideration of owning a gun to blow away someone breaking in to your house, then this could be a “milder” alternative. Say someone is breaking in to your house, you take this out, (I imagine just the beam alone would be a psychological deterrent) and shine it in their face. Sure the guy might be blind, but at least you didn’t kill someone.

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  • James D Wages January 11, 2011, 4:45 pm

    Charles, on some level I agree with you. But these days, Americans sue simply because they got up on the wrong side of the bed. Seriously. And thieves sue. And these thieves sometimes win. Imagine what someone might win from you in court, even if they broke into your home with the heartfelt “intent” to kill you, and then they became blinded forever by your laser — even though you did it in defense of yourself and/or your family! It is only fitting and just that they receive such punishment. But in America today, where is true justice? The outrageously large number of lawsuits and lawyers preposterous verdicts show that injustice abounds. Hence, one needs to be very careful before he or she uses a gun or laser as a defensive weapon at home or anywhere else within “the land of the free.”

    10
  • jason poseidon jackson January 22, 2011, 3:26 am

    wow i wish the laser would look like the ones on the movies

    11
  • Steve January 26, 2011, 8:05 pm

    In reply to using this laser for home defense. The easy way eliminate getting sued by someone breaking into your house is to kill them. Especially if they got hurt in the process of breaking in. You should look up legal cases about it. I found one case in which a guy fell down the stairs of a house he was robbing and the owner of the house has to pay his medical bill and for personal damages. It is ridiculous what people get away with these days.
    I do agree that better controls should be put on its distribution and sale. Anything class 3b and class 4 in the navy is treated like a gun so why is it less controlled for everyone else?

    Awesome laser though, too bad it has gotten bad reliability reviews or I would get one.

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  • Colby April 18, 2011, 3:10 am

    There has been too many issues with the Arctic. Better to get the 1 watt Spartan from http://www.dragonlasers.com. Design is not as attractive but performance is excellent.

    13
  • MarkL May 31, 2011, 10:14 am

    This device is great. It should be required equipment when mountain Climbing or wilderness excursions. If you get lost or injured it could be used as a beacon to alert authorties of your location. When shot skyward it can bew seen for a very great distance. You would not shoot straight at the aircraft as that would be illegal but shooting straight up whould allow the pilot to locate the distrassed team or individual.

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  • matt June 15, 2011, 1:12 am

    id better hurry and buy one of these before you idiots make them illegal! there fun cool, and only idiots would be idiots with them! if your smart then why not have one? why wreak everyones fun because you’d do something stupid with it and want them illegal?

    15
  • Stephany June 26, 2011, 5:20 pm

    I still don’t understand it’s use… you can’t use it as a laser pointer for class or with your pets, or to point out stars… what can you use it for, besides hurting someone? or a paperweight?

    16
  • GT July 21, 2011, 3:06 pm

    Ripoff company. They ship only a small percentage of orders so as to get a few good reviews. The vast majority of buyers lose their money and receive nothing but excuses.

    17
  • SW August 1, 2011, 12:42 pm

    I may echo GTs comment. I ordered one nearly a month ago and havent heard so much as a peep in terms of a shipping email. If and when it arrives I will be happy, but now Im just pissed…

    18
  • Gerrie August 29, 2011, 3:10 am

    I want to know where in south africa I can buy one please,I’ve been looking every where and I just get the small laser

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  • Mike August 30, 2011, 3:13 pm

    I bought the torch flashlight from Wicked laser and it arrived within 3-4 weeks. The product performed as advertised and on youtube. It burned a paper in 1 second. It is so bright, it lit up the whole block at night. Great tool for fending off wild dogs coming at you too. They can’t bite what they can’t see! Just as great at camping. You can’t get lost with it!

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  • Jack Ram October 24, 2011, 6:04 am

    I ordered the Arctic s3 in London, and it passed through customs and now it’s in my hands. It took a week to receive, so, can’t complain.
    The laser is insanely bright!!! Build looks and feels tough! And yes, I have burned a thing or two… Pretty cool!
    As for using it as a pointer or to play with your pets, they do supply you with a lens that weakens the beam by 80%, and in low mode, so it is less dangerous…

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  • Si January 4, 2012, 8:17 pm

    Great!…I look forward to having more pilots on my frequency being blinded by these fecking things…grrrr….

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  • Rich January 16, 2012, 9:59 pm

    I agree with Matt. Every time something cool comes out, there’s always some asshole that wants to ruin it for everybody else. That guy probably crosses his legs like a woman. It’s obvious that this is (not) a toy; in fact they even tell you that. But if your not man enough to except it, then join the ladies auxillary, and leave the rest of us men alone!

    23
  • Joe January 25, 2012, 10:00 pm

    Well I got my S3 Arctic and it only has taken a week to get it, I tried it out for a short time and I haven’t burnt anything yet but I’m looking forward to it once my battery charges up.

    24
  • jonzo January 28, 2012, 3:05 pm

    @James D Wages, Whenever you have an intruder, make sure you shoot them dead. That way they can’t sue you.

    25
  • junior February 15, 2012, 9:37 am

    I agree with Matt and Rich why the hell do you think they put warnings on those things it even comes with safety goggles, a lens that weakens the beam by 80%, a low power setting, a safety pin that stops anyone from using it but you and if some people are still stupid enough to blind or harm someone with one then pick on them not the people who just want to have some fun!

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  • junior February 15, 2012, 9:42 am

    don’t just ruin it for others.

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  • Tom March 11, 2012, 9:28 pm

    Is this laser legal in Australia?

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  • Joe March 14, 2012, 8:08 pm

    I think it’s pretty funny that the guys claiming that only idiots make mistakes and screw it up for everyone else have made mistakes in their spelling. There was a recent scientific study that found that everyone thinks they have “above average” intelligence, even really stupid people.

    Dudes, safety regulations exist for a reason. Unexpected things happen, and even smart/skillful people screw up. Be a man and accept the truth that none of us are perfect. We have to be careful, especially when someone could permanently lose their sight.

    29
  • GI May 24, 2012, 1:52 am

    Hey Si, I agree with you its all cool until some freeking idiot points it at a plane, happened to me once at about 6 thousand feets taking off at night. It was a green laser that light it up my cockpit, scared tha hell out of me, and the green light inside the cockpit (difused by the thick windows of a B737) wasnt fun.

    On a side note, what a cool laser but what would be a good use? except for lab works (absolute zero temperature was made with CD players laser).

    30
  • JRG June 4, 2012, 11:42 pm

    I got mine shipped within 2 weeks. And it works great!

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  • Jake September 1, 2012, 12:48 am

    I have a 500mw green laser now and it’s pretty powerful .
    The gadget freak I am becons me to buy this baby.
    You have to be careful with what your aiming at, reflective glass, mirrors and shiney objects can redirect the beam back at you.
    I wouldn’t use it inside the house, but outside in a safe area.
    This is something I like to have while camping out or hiking in the wilderness, in case you encountered Bigfoot or something that wanted to eat you for lunch. You could start a fire if you ran out of matches or if your lost it could be used as a beacon to identify your position. A definate survival tool.

    32
  • chenzo October 14, 2012, 1:11 pm

    in the world the will always be found an idiot that will play spin the gun, spray the petrol or poke a wasp nest.
    same is true with a powerful laser.
    if used with care ,,,many hours of enjoyment can be spent playing with it,…safety first. it is not a toy..respect it and never point at ANYTHING ALIVE!
    it will blow out tires on a car? mylar balloons through a storefront window, create a fire almost anywhere there are combustibles.
    so be careful and use common sense..
    chenzo

    33
  • crazydot February 21, 2013, 12:29 am

    Has anyone tried to make a beam corrector or expander?
    Found an add on ebay wondering if it’s even possible,
    love my S3, I just wish I could do something with it….

    34
  • Johnboy March 11, 2013, 4:45 am

    There is a 4x beam expander on ebay for the S3 Arctic. I picked one up, the things gets some serious range over the stock setup.. very cool stuff. Just search arctic beam expander in ebay.

    35
  • AnonReporter March 15, 2013, 6:39 pm

    This might be old news, but WickedLasers is now making a LaserSaber attachment for the S3 laser series. It does what the name suggests: turns the laser into a REAL lightsaber! As I have not purchased one, I cannot say if looking at the laser or tip of the plastic coating can blind you, however it does have a real cool efect with the 32″ blade. I might get one, it just appears to be that wicked.

    36
  • Malus June 22, 2013, 8:18 am

    @Jake
    A survival tool with only 120 minutes battery life…?

    37
  • Bill October 6, 2013, 9:00 pm

    Just purchased an Arctic. Took a few weeks to get because it is imported into the states but arrived as described. It is insanely bright! This is NOT a toy. It become uncomfortable on skin in seconds. Dark colored paper starts to burn in seconds. Watch possible reflection angles when you shine it on anything reflective. Buta, it is VERY cool. Trying to think of interesting ways to use it to make photographs. Just ordered the light saber and beam expander. DO NOT be stupid with this. It will blind you or your friends!

    38
  • Tyelr Smith October 17, 2013, 1:25 pm

    is it legal in illinois?

    39
  • Illinois Sucks October 21, 2013, 3:52 am

    Nothing is legal in illinois

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  • Jeremy October 22, 2013, 5:47 am

    I have used the navy’s version of laser defense because I am in the navy.. I can’t release names or information on it but it’s bad ass and definitely can blind people… I just ordered my article spider 3 and I can’t wait to test this bad boy out and see how it compares to the navy’s version lol

    41
  • Tyler Smith October 22, 2013, 8:50 am

    jeremy, where do you live?

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  • Jeremy October 22, 2013, 3:02 pm

    Sorry I’m not putting that information out there

    43
  • Pille October 10, 2014, 3:11 pm

    Yeah… Matt and Rich sound exactly like the reasonable and smart persons you’d want to have a laser-toy capable of permanently blinding people from a few hundred meters away.

    Don’t want to spoil those “mens” fun melting action figures just to preserve someones eyesight.

    P.S.: Rich, nice touretts, you must be popular with the ladies..

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