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The main difference is the plasma Star Wars Lightsaber features a variable length display. The handle features patented battery-operated touch grip activation. YOU control the speed and length of the display. Grip tighter to fully light.

Glass tube inside - may not be suitable for young children!
Star Wars Plasma Lightsaber
Star Wars Plasma Lightsaber

The main difference is the electroluminescent (EL) Star Wars Lightsaber does not feature a variable length display. The display is either on or off. People buy these units as they can duel with one another without fear of breakage.

No glass tube inside - definitely suitable for young children!
Star Wars Electroluminescent (EL) Lightsaber
Star Wars Electroluminescent (EL) Lightsaber