Sunday, October 02, 2011

More Conan Replica Sword Choices!

I have a correction to make. Apparently, other -- even better! -- versions of the Conan movie sword replicas are available from other sources.
The Kult of Athena website ( has several different replicas to choose from. This includes the top of the line replicas from Albion which are priced in the $3000 range. (I don't have one of these, in case you were wondering what to get jrf for Christmas this year.) You can even go the "el cheapo" route and get the lowest quality sword for $39.95.
It's good to have options.

Watching Deadliest Warrior Does not make you a Ph.D

I thought I'd long grown use to the fact that when people go to the Renn Fest they drink a little too much, they talk a little too much, and they talk a little too loud. I even thought I'd grown innured to the fact that some folks become instant experts at the Renn Fest.

But the guy behind me at today's joust was too much. He was providing running commentary to twins dressed as gypsy girls (see It was obvious that his knowledge was derived from drunken viewings of Spike TV's Deadliest Warrior and not any academic study.

"Jousts were bloody duels to the death. They just kept hammering away at each other until somebody got impaled through the chest."

Oh, please.

On the other hand, a few years ago, I was very pleasantly surprised to be sitting behind a man pointing out the parts of the knight's armor to his young son -- in painful detail and perfectly accented French: sabatons, pauldrons, poleyns, gorget, cuirass, tassets, etc. I could follow him, but I couldn't have done that from memory. 15th Century armor is not my specialty -- though it was clearly his. This guy obviously had studied more than the last D&D Complete Fighters Handbook.

Today I saw a man in beautifully turned out Viking Era Russ Trader kit. It was so understated, I nearly overlooked him. He had a close cap, brilliant red and black Russ coat, a blue wool tunic, oatmeal-colored wool trews, and brown leather boots. The best part was his bead necklace, with square, multi-colored glass beads. This was a man who knew his Dark Age costuming, and I'm sure he knew he was about 500 years out-of-fashion at an English Rennaissance event. Unlike the score or more of Capt. Jack Sparrow look-alikes who were probably blissfully unaware the Black Pearl isn't due to sail for about 200 years.

I love the floorshow at the Renn Fest. But I really enjoy it when I stumble across an actual expert.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Blast from the Past: Vintage Highlander Movie Review

While I've never thought this movie was perfect, I've always considered it a classic. If nothing else, it deserves serious props for being an original idea. In an age when all we seem to get a remakes and sequels, that should mean something.

Of course, there's been off-and-on talk about a reboot for this franchise too. But it is one case in which I think a solid trilogy planned from the start and shot back-to-back would do more justice to the concept than the original. Especially if they kept the awesome soundtrack.

But I don't have enough faith in Hollywood to do it right.

Leo Howard, Boy Badass

I have underwear older than this kid, Leo Howard ( He's all of 14 or 15 years old, and already he's managed to act as two of my fictional heroes: Snakes Eyes and Conan the Barbarian. What is up with that?

Not only that, but young Leo was probably the best thing in Conan 3D. I found him far more interesting to watch than Jason Momoa.

Now that, my friends, is a badass scene. That's mythic. And some punk kid pulled it off. Too bad the rest of the movie didn't live up to it.
This test of manhood is similar to tests various warrior cultures put their boys through. It most reminds me of the test for membership in the Irish Fianna, which the legends tell us required a young man to have his hair braided and then run a course through the forest. If he was caught, he failed. If a branch cracked under his foot, he failed. If a braid came unraveled, he failed. he had to be able to leap over a branch as high as his forehead, pass under one as low as his knee, and he had to be able to pull a thorn from his heel without slowing down.
In fact, there's quite a lot from this scene which called Irish myth to mind. The great Irish hero, CuChulainn, was only a boy when he took up arms and started defending Ulster against its enemies. And, of course, the Celts of CuChulainn's time took heads in order to prove the number of enemies they'd slain in battle.
I suspect this echo of Irish myth is coincidental, but Robert E. Howard (Conan's creator, and no relation) would've approved. He was a serious Celtophile, and always imagined his Cimmerians as the ancestors of the historical Celts.
Anyway, for better or worse, Leo Howard is caught up in the "Mighty Mouse Machine" -- he's appearing on the Disney Channel's show Kickin' It, about a strip mall karate dojo. I suspect we'll hear more from Leo.

Classic Conan the Barbarian Movie Sword replicas are available again!

Windlass Steelcrafts, through Museum Replicas, is offering three replica swords from the film classic Conan the Barbarian. Valeria's Sword, the Father's Sword, and the iconic Atlantean Sword are all up for sale on the web site with an estimated shipping date of October 2011.

The blades are 1085 high carbon steel and tempered to 52 HRC. The two manly-man swords are priced at $295, while the she-thief's sword is $195. I don't think those prices are unreasonable for decent swords, and the pictures do look like pretty decent replicas. My only gripe is that the grips look a little thick, especially on the Father's Sword.