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The Riddle of Steel Diary
The Remaking of the Conan Swords
by Howy and Amy of Albion


You see things; and you say, 'Why?'
But I dream things that never were;
and I say, "Why not?"

George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

That which does not kill us
makes us stronger

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)


10-31-07

A Special Message to Our Customers and Supporters

We would like to thank our thousands of customers and other supporters. It is because of you that our efforts to bring you the most authentic and exact reproductions from the Conan films happened - at least for a short time.

When we first started to pursue this project back in 1998 (hard to believe it has been almost 10 years now), people told us we were both completely crazy and monumentally naive.

Over the years, we discovered that they were right.

But we did it anyway.

It took three years of bureaucratic runarounds and dead-ends, fund-raising and contract negotiations to get the rights.

When we finally heard that we got the contract, we played the Conan score over the shop intercom in celebration.

Now, we had to figure out how to make them.

We were a small start-up sword company with a big empty building and a small handful of employees, most of whom had never made a sword before.

And we had to pick two of the most difficult swords to make as our first projects - The Atlantean and Father's/Master's Swords.

Luckily, one of those few people was the legendary Jody Samson. Jody gave up his shop in warm Southern California and came to snowy Wisconsin to teach us. He worked tirelessly under adverse conditions, restoring castings from the original studio molds for remolding and production casting, designing the blade blank for machining and production grinding, and teaching our staff how to hollow-grind.

Jody had made three of each sword for the film twenty years before, but helping us figure out how to make thousands of each was a challenge.

We documented every stage of production through the "Riddle of Steel" diary (below) - customers seemed to like following the process with us. I guess it was one of the first "blogs" before the term even existed.

Over the six years of production, we have burned through a lot of staff people, investment money and machinery to bring these swords to life. There are so many people to thank for their part in making this happen that it is impossible to even make a comprehensive list. Above all, however, I want to thank my wonderful wife, Amy, who was willing to throw herself into this and make her crazy husband's dreams a reality. Next, we all want to thank the amazing Mike Sigman, who kept everything together through the years.

We would also like to give special thanks to: John Milius, who loaned us his original swords as reference, and gave us a lot of moral support over the years; Ron Cobb, who freely shared his original concept drawings and other source material; and Tim Huchthausen, who sold us the original studio molds.


Albion as a start-up sword company was, in many ways, fundamentally shaped by the Conan Project - the same ethic of going back to the original swords and recreating every detail, not just a "look-alike," where "good enough" is not good enough - these are the same principles that we apply every day to our historical work. We "cut our teeth" as it were on the Conan swords - "born in fire and sword" - and the two quotes at the top of this page say it all.

Every time we would start to feel depressed about what we had gotten ourselves into, when things were going badly and contract renegotiations got ugly, we would go back and read the testimonials from our Conan customers. That kept us going and reminded us why we were doing this.

It was all about making a shared dream come true.

Back in 1982, when the lights went out and the film started with Conan's father making the Master's Sword, I knew that I had to have one. When Conan found the Atlantean Sword in the crypt, I knew I had to have one.

Over 20 years and well over a million dollars later, I'll finally have a pair of my own when all customer orders are finally filled.

It has been an amazing experience - someday, we may write a book.

"Crom, I have never prayed to you before, I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad, why we fought or how we died. No, all that matters, is that two stood against many. That's what's important. Valour pleases you, Crom, so grant me one request: grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to hell with you!"

Warmest regards and heartfelt thanks,

Howy

Copies of
The Special Conan Issue
of Warrior/Film Swords Magazine
are still available for
$10 plus shipping and handling

The issue is chock full of information
about the making and remaking of the Conan swords, rare color photos, interviews with John Milius, Jody Samson and more!

This is destined to become a rare Conan collectible - get yours now
while supplies last!



7-31-07
It has been a wild ride, but it is coming to a close. We have decided to not renew our contract with Conan Properties. Therefore, the Conan items we make will only be available through October 2007. Our authentic Conan pieces are only available through the Filmswords.com and Albion Europe websites.

9-16-04

The prototype of the Conan the Barbarian Subotai's Sword is finally complete.


Go here for more photos.


9-3-04
Recent Testimonial
...You totally surprised me with the Father's Sword.
The white Albion box came and I couldn't figure out what it could be because I thought it would be a while for these swords to be done but there it was. I had missed it since I handled it at the Blade Show, but now I have my own. Whoo-hoo!
Now I just can't wait for the Destroyer Atlantean to come and keep the Father's sword company.
These swords are indeed all people say they are and more. Love it, love it.
Thanks Mike, and all you folks at Albion for keeping guys like me happy and broke.... and give my regards to Jody, the master... who brought these wicked beasts to life.
-- Vay

9-1-04
Recent Testimonial
My Atlantean Sword #221 arrived on Friday.
It wasn't a suprise as I was expecting it. Michael at Albion has been great at keeping me informed as to what was going on. I had the sword shipped to me at work since I spend more time there than at home, so I had to wait until work was finished to finally open the package up. After opening the shipping box and sliding out the wood container that held the Atlantean, I took a moment and said to myself..."Are you friggin' nuts to spend that kind of money on something that has absolutely no practical use whatsoever!!! Maybe you should have your head examined to see just how much of your brain has turned to mush!!!"
But then I opened the wood box up and took a look at the sword and the only word that came to mind was..."Damn!"
I couldn't help but shake my head to the fact that I now owned a sword that was probably worth more than my car. I pulled it out of the box, I wasn't suprised at the feel of the sword the quality of the workmanship that went into it, I'd held one before.
A little bit of backstory for you: Like just about everyone else who has one of the Conan Swords or is going to get one, I fell in lust for the sword when the movie first came out. And every time I saw the movie again, whether it was on TV, video, or more recently DVD, I would get the bug to own one. I stumbled on the Albion website not too long after they first came out with the Riddle of Steel Diary (thank you Google), and of course I wanted one. But once again it was cost over practicality. And the saving grace in the fact that on the website, anytime that I actually started to talk myself into one, I could just hit that little X in the upper right hand corner and I was safe.
That all ended last June in Atlanta. For the past few years I have been going to the Blade Show in Atlanta, and this year I noticed that Albion was going to be there. Road to Doom. I knew that my only hopes were A) Albion wouldn't bring any of the Conan swords, B) The swords would be overrated pieces of junk, or C) the guys at Albion would be a bunch of Jerks and I would not want to buy one just to spite them. No such luck. I entered the show on the first day, and made my way around the floor drooling at all the shiny sharp things all around me. This is pretty much like chum in the water.
I finally make it to the Albion booth and, sure enough, there they are, big as day, both the Atlantean and the Master's Swords. I walked up and met Michael Sigman, Customer Service Regent. Unfortunately he was not a jerk, a Rat Bastard maybe, but not a jerk. Not only was he nice and helpful, but he actually hands me the Atlantean.
Doom arrived.
The thing was big, beautiful, and solid as a rock. I was hooked but good. That was on Friday. The Blade Show is a 3-day deal, and everytime that I walked by, Michael just grinned and handed me the sword, kind of like tugging on the line to set the hook even deeper into my lip.
By the end of the show I had given him my down payment. Don't get me wrong, I don't blame Michael, or anyone at Albion. Nor do I have any regrets. The sword is worth every penny, and I'm proud to own one. Unfortunately, now I can't help but look at the Master's Sword, Valeria's Sword, and the Vic Anselmo Beastmaster sword and think..."What the Hell!". The Road to Doom is very long, and very expensive...but very very cool. Thank you Michael and everyone at Albion,
-- Chad S. Bishop


7-09-04
Great News for Conan Fans
Due to increases in efficiency and lower costs to produce our Anniversary Conan swords, we are now able to pass those savings on to you by rolling back our prices!

New prices:
Barbarian Atlantean: $2,500
Destroyer Atlantean: $2,500
Father's/Masters Sword: $3,000
Valeria's Sword: $2,000
Subotai's Sword: $1,850



4-27-04
Recent Testimonial
On 3/9/04 my Atlantean arrived, a day to remember forever.
I arrived home late from work, and not too happy about that; however, my luck was about to change. I approached the front door and behold a large box staring at me. Could this be my blade?
I closed in on the box quickly and indeed it was as I had hoped. My heart raced and my excitement continued to build, hurrying to get the door open.
I opened the box and what an excellent packing job. Then I removed the wooden box that held my blade. The box was very sturdy, also nicely done. It seemed I could not open the box fast enough. I removed the top of the box and there was my Atlantean.
For a while I simply studied the incredible detail throughout the piece. It is unbelievable.
I finally grasped the massive sword and the balance was perfect. Yes, it's a bit heavy but totally manageable, and actually appreciated by this warrior. After all, Conan was no weakling.
I have purchased several swords through the years and nothing compares to this. It is truly my prized piece and I have been waiting a long time for the "real" Conan sword.


Gene and his Atlantean

Words and pictures cannot fully reveal the beauty and strength of this weapon. Overall, I am speechless on the quality and detail, and so thankful that it is authentic and not for only hanging on a wall.
I wish to say thank you to all who made this possible, it truly is a dream come true. And special thanks to Jody for the deadly edge.
-- Gene


1-31-04
Recent Testimonials
...Bubbling with youthful enthusiasm, I quickly opened both crates -- to first behold the immensely powerful and large, widely bladed Father's sword.
This sword is truly a splendid work of art with a barbarous weight yet nicely balanced.

The Vic Anselmo sword is also magnificent. I drew this sword from it's crate and was first struck by it's lithely curve like a crescent moon. The fine-honed blade reveals a demoniac tip with potential deadlier than the strike of a serpent.


Smithery is hard work. Hammering out and sculpting a sword is no less laborious than wielding that sword in battle. I truly appreciate the hard work and astonishing talent Jody Samson and the entire team of people are blessed with at Albion Armorers. You definately bring dreams into reality. With admiration and appreciation...
-- RICK ROBINSON



...Hi, Its me, the proud owner of Atlantean #112.

Well its been Just over a week now since my Atlantean arrived, I've been grinning ever since!

Firstly I must say I was very impressed with the packaging, best I have ever seen! When it came to opening the pine box I was literally shaking with anticipation, The smell of real wood as you open the box gave me the sensation of being in a wild Cimmerian forest.

At first I was nervous handling this monster sword but you can't just display this item because it screams "Touch me," it gets into your soul and cries out for you to study its every angle and detail, oh and what detail... the volcano, the skull, the boat, the runes and the fearful sea dogs on the hilt.

I read the independent review on your site and was a little worried about the casting flaws they mentioned, I needn't of been, if there is any imperfections they are very small and they belong there, just as the original Atlantean had them, It looks and feels like it was crafted in a forgotten age.

No matter how often you pick it up you just don't want to put it down, 8lbs? I cant believe it weighs so much, it just feels like a natural extension of my arm! I'm not a huge Cimmerian but even I can swing this sword about for a while without too much effort.

The sharpening job you guys gave Atlantean #112 is unbelievable, when you sharpen something you really don't mess about! I have been waiting for this sword since 1984, 20 years!

Every hour of the wait was worth it, I've followed your website for ages watching my dream become reality for many people and now its my turn, I just hope now I can save up in time to get a Fathers sword.

My thanks go to Jody a true master of steel maybe even a god! and to all you guys at Albion, Thanks so much for making this dream come true for me and so many others, especially Mike! for making the transaction so painless, whatever their paying you its not enough!

I still cant believe I actually own an Atlantean, It just hasn't sunk in yet. I have enclosed a pic of me with it.



I can't wait to see what you guys come up with in the future! Keep making dreams come true,
-- Lee Scrutton UK


...Currently I'm a first year law student and now I understand the kind of hassles Albion had with Conan Properties/Marto to justify the initial production delay.
I used to think Albion's swords were expensive, now I think they deals of the century, all things considered with regards to the legal hoops you have to jump through, and not to mention the quality your swords exhibit. Anyone who has gone through a closing or divorce knows how fast your money gets burned up... I can't imagine what Albion's legal fees were in dealing with [this] alone. Regards
-- Rob


Conan Project
Fangs Dagger Casting arrive

The first four Fangs Daggers are being finished, with details hand-restored after investment casting in steel and the grips wrapped and detailed in leather.


1-19-04
From Our 2003 Conan Upgrade Contest WInner
...I’m dumbfounded.
Here I am, on the road, and I log in to check my email and find out that I won!
Holy smokes, it’s just unbelievable! I’m pretty sure the last thing I won was a free apple pie at McDonald’s.
Now I’m faced with a real dilemma: which one to pick. My favorite is the Father’s Sword, but the Atlantean is awesome as well. Please give me a couple of days to think on it and I’ll email you my decision at the next email check.
Now I need to go find a crowbar to lever my jaw back up off the floor.
My very best regards to all of you at Albion/Filmswords,
-- Sam E.



10-10-03
Conan Project
Tower Dagger Completed
Jason, Rob and Mark have completed the first run of Tower Daggers. The hilt components were cast from waxes carved by Leif, the blade designed by Jason from original prop specifications, and CADD design and blank milling by Steve Fisher.

In this case, dagger is a misnomer -- with a blade over 16" long and 1.5" wide, this is more of a shortsword!




10-02-03
Recent Testimonial
...We picked up the Father's Sword and I was floored by the packaging, and upon opening the packaging, I was stunned by the quality and workmanship of the sword.
I never expected it to be soooo good.
It is just like the image on the website, and after a less than satisfactory previous experience [with another company], believe me, it was such a relief to view such a magnificent piece of art.
I am continually amazed by the detail of the relief work on the pommel and the guard. The runes on the blade are marvellously executed, and set it off so nicely.
Even though the weight is posted on the website, I never expected it to be so weighty, and I wonder how you managed to balance it so well.
A superlative piece of work. Thankyou everyone at Albion Armourers. Dreams do come true.
-- Jerry


Conan Project Update
Leif has finished the Subotai waxes and has fitted them to the tang plug. Now, they will be sent off for molding and casting in bronze while the first blades, designed by Jason and Steve, are being ground.




9-12-03
Destroyer Atlantean™ Prototype Complete!
The Destroyer Atlantean is complete and we are ready to go into full production, after we receive final approval from Conan Properties.

The Destroyer Atlantean is two inches longer than the Barbarian Atlantean overall -- an inch longer grip and an inch longer in the cutting edge of the blade. Other differences: the ricasso is slightly wider on this version of the Atlantean, the steel langets are more "hooked," and the grip is wrapped with round leather lace.

As on the Barbarian Atlantean, the hilt components are cast in solid bronze from the original studio molds, the blades ground from 1075 steel and heat-treated in the Albion Forge Shop. The runes are deeply engraved on both sides of the blade. Comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Jody Samson.

Wait times for this sword will be only 2 weeks from time of order. Payment plans are available.

A side-by-side comparison of the new Conan the Destroyer Atlantean and the Conan the Barbarian Atlantean


8-14-03
We have begun final design work on 20th Anniversary Editions of Valeria's Sword™ ($2,500) and the Mother's Sword™ ($1,500) from Conan the Barbarian.


Valeria's Sword original film prop


Mother's Sword original film prop

Reservations for these 20th Anniversary Editions of 1,000 swords each can be placed with a $500 deposit.
More details to follow!

7-28-03
20th Anniversary Atlanteans are now in stock, ready for immediate delivery.




Albion is having so much fun with their Economy Sucks sale, that Film Swords wanted to get in on some of that action. We're having another Upgrade Contest! Order a 20th Anniversary Atlantean or Master's (Father's) Sword between July 28th, 2003 and December 30th, 2003, and you will be automatically entered to win an upgrade* to a Limited Edition version of the sword you purchased. (Limited #9 of each has been reserved for this contest), hand-ground and signed by Jody Samson. Only 10 of these swords will be made, making this a rare collectible with an initial retail value of $10,000.

*The winner must be willing to return the 20th Anniversary Sword purchased in like-new condition, in its original packaging, in order to receive the Upgrade.

Recent Testimonial
...Dear Mike, Howy, Amy, Jody and everyone else at Albion who is responsible for bringing dreams to life.
Much the same as the way I felt that I climbed down into the tomb and pulled the Atlantean (sans dust, cobwebs and decay!) from the dead king's hand myself when I opened that box last year, I feel like Conan's parents handed this Sword to me right after they finished creating the masterpiece when I opened the box today containing the Fathers Sword.
So true to what appeared on the screen before my eyes for all these years. There's not much to say that hasn't already been said. Yes this Sword is at least as impressive as the Atlantean, but the Atlantean was the one I truly adored since I was a child.
As much as I thought I was prepared for this by having already seen how impressive your craftsmanship is (Atlantean) I was still stunned and speechless when I first looked upon The Fathers Sword. Looking into the empty eye sockets of the elk's skull you can almost "feel" the dismal spirit of Crom and the Cimmerians, and the harshness of the land that those grim people hail from.
For some reason I thought this Sword would be more awkward in handling than the Atlantean but it actually balances better and actually feels much lighter despite all of its mass.
The castings, the runes, the blade, the leather wrapping.. all unbelievably perfect. Master's Sword is a fitting name. Stunning.
As I've said before, to thank you a million times still would not suffice. Owning The Atlantean was certainly a dream come true, but to sit here and look at both Swords in front of me goes well beyond any dream I have ever had. Now I am convinced that Crom DOES in fact listen, afterall, he sent us Albion Armorers! Sincerely and with my best wishes always,
-- Clifford Catropa

Fangs of the Serpent Dagger
Leif is currently working on polishing and detailing the wax for the prototype casting of the Fangs of the Serpent Dagger. Here is a preview photo of the mold with the wax in place.



6-2-03
We are happy to announce that we are totally caught up with 20th Anniversary Atlantean Sword™ orders and now, for the first time ever, Atlanteans™ are in stock and ready for immediate shipment. We are also in full production on Masters (Father's) Swords™ and are steadily working our way through the backorders on those as well.

Here's a photo of some of the swords in this week's batch near completion:


For those of us who have been along for every (sometimes agonizing) step of the multi-year journey to bring these swords to life again, it is amazing that you can see 10 or 20 Atlanteans™ or Master's (Father's)™ Swords in the final assembly process for shipment at any given time. Just think, for the last twenty years only three of each sword existed in the world.

We'd like to thank some of our partners who have been there from day one helping us achieve this major milestone and for getting the ball rolling in Year One: Jody, John Milius (and Leonard!), and of course Jason Dingledine (our first staff person and fellow dreamer who was there for the very first Conan Toast "... and hear the lamentation of d'er women") ; and for all those folks who have joined us starting in Year Two: Mike (for the always excellent customer service); Mark (production lead), Rob (our master at figuring out how to replicate the look and feel), Roger (wood, wood, wood!), Renee (I need this yesterday!), Eric, Leif, Lars, John (the machine man) and Steve "The Daywalker" Fisher on CNC designs; and the great folks at Masters in Metal and Daniels Engraving.

And, of course, every one of the hundreds of people who have bought one of these swords -- for your patience, enthusiasm, and support during this long process.

The letters continue to come in...

It is difficult to put into words my feelings as I opened the box of my Father's Sword. It was literally a dream come true to be holding such a masterpiece of art and craftsmanship. In the twenty years since I first saw the sword on the silver screen, I never really believed I would ever be able to own one. So to see the Father's Sword along side my Atlantean sword is simply beyond description! I want to offer my sincere thanks to everyone involved who helped bring these magnificent swords to life! They truly are works of art!
Regards,
--Eric

Dear Mike,
I received my Fathers Sword today. Unbelievable!!! What an awesome weapon sitting there in its crate. When I took the sword out I was floored by the weight of it yet amazed by the balance, perfect! This is quite a weapon. I have many swords in my collection, all finely made but this sword is the crown jewel. I have been waiting a long time for this, not just since I ordered it almost 18 months ago but since I first saw Conan at the theater more than 20 years ago. Well let me tell you all it was well worth the wait. A fantastic job by all involved from Albion Armorers to Jody Samson. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all for the preparation and work put into making this sword become a reality for me. Thank you all.
Yours truly,
-- Ron Caputo

Dear Mike & all folks of Albion
At last! FATHER'S IS HERE!!!!!! All worth the past week's sleepless nights & horrible tension! In fact I received it on 20 May,but it took me a while to accumulate all pics I've been badly wanting to share with you all!
As to the sword, now... it is with great reluctance that I say, nay, ADMIT, that in many respects it IS superior to the Atlantean. That a bad thing? you may ask... HARDLY. So, after the arranged usual, standard (that befits all Albion products) little ceremony/ritual of the removal of the wooden lid, we (everyone present) happened upon a small... well, a 39-inch long and some 7 lbs heavy miracle. It did strain eyes to say the least, after gazing at it for the rest of the day. The hilt is phenomenal, just a dream, so beautifully wrapped in leather. The pommel is a bit bigger than that of the Atlantean, and the guard.... well, lets just say this is as massive a guard as you can get! And then the blade with its full-length runic inscription... unbelievably wide, particularly at its emerging from the elk's antlers, narrowing down gradually towards the point, but... with great sadness I realized when I took measures that it's still a BIT WIDER than my beloved Atlantean blade, whose blade width I considered as the absolute & perfect max (sigh). Jody did marvels in sharpening this one, I actually cut my thumb on its first cleaning & oiling!
All in all, a TRUE MASTERPIECE. Milius was absolutely right to favor this one over the classic Atlantean. As for Albion's contribution: lets just say that the 1st one was merely the impression. This one is the INDICATION.
Keep it going guys! And all the best to that great customer service guy of yours! He truly delivers.
-- Chris

...I just want to let you know that I received my Atlantean Sword and that I am overjoyed with how marvelous it is. It is far more spectacular than I could have ever imagined. When I first saw Conan the Barbarian at the age of four, I knew that I wanted that sword. For years I have bought cheap imitations that didn't even come close to the original. Finally someone is making accurate and FULLY FUNCTIONAL replicas of the best swords ever made. Once I visited your site I knew beyond a doubt that I had to have one of your Atlantean Swords. The most difficult part of buying the sword was convincing my wife that I absolutely had to have it. But now that it has arrived, even my wife thinks that it is amazing. My original thoughts were that I would never touch the sword since it was so expensive, but I was wrong. It is so beautiful that I can't put it down. When my sword first arrived, I was awe struck. The blade is wider than any I have ever seen and the weight of the sword has a perfect balance to it. The fact that I had mine sharpened made me a little nervous to swing it around at first, but after awhile you can't resist. I look forward to getting the Fathers sword next and then scabbards. Thank You so much for making this Conan fan very happy.
--Jason T. Pope

5-22-03
Here are some emails we received in the last couple of weeks from our customers:

... I just wanted to say that I have looked upon the greatest piece of art I have ever seen in my whole life. Words cannot describe the beauty of the Father's sword.
As much as I love the Atlantean, this sword just jumps out at you. The blade and runes are flawless.
I can't thank you guys enough for recreating the two greatest swords of all time. Keep up the great work.
-- Vince Votta

...I'd just like to say again how much I appreciate your work! Yesterday I received the US version of "Conan the barbarian" on DVD. I only knew the German version - the US one is at about 5 minutes longer, and the German version has different soundtrack in some scenes also. I love that movie, especially the original, that you can not buy here. Well, I own it anyway now, thanks to ebay.
Thank You again for making that fantastic sword! Keep up the good work! When the scabbard no. 3 for the Atlantean is ready, count me in for a new order. A true "fan" --
-- Joerg Hennies

... Dear Howy, Amy, Jody, Mike, Jason and everyone else at Albion/FilmSwords:
On Monday I received my Atlantean. What a beauty! Thank you so much!
After I have seen the movie for the first time in 1981, I never thought for a second that twenty years later I would own a perfect copy of the sword. That's a real miracle, thanks to you guys. Thanks again for making me happy. Warmest wishes
-- Thomas Mulack


If you like our work (or even if you don't!) and want to rate us, visit the Castles on the Web site and register your vote!

3-17-03
Conan.com is up and running -- a great new website devoted to our favorite character, hosted by our good friends at Conan Properties!

Here are a few shots of the Master's (Father's) Sword fully assembled. Now, we will ship off the prototype to Conan Properties for approval.


Leif has almost completed the carving of the hilt components from Subotai's Sword, based on the original prop in our collection.



Roger Ellis of Treasures Unlimited has prototyped a very cool display box for the Atlantean Sword. This box will be available in oak and will be lined with felt or velvet, and will be available soon in both tabletop and wall-hanging versions.

2-21-03

We have finally obtained an orignal screen-used prop (shown below) of the Fangs of the Serpent Dagger™ and have begun the remolding and restoration process to bring you an accurate and authenticated replica. This original was loaned to us from the private collection of a person involved in the making of the film.



Conan Dagger
We also began assembling the first prototype of the Conan Tower of the Serpent Dagger™. The initial wrapping has been done, now it must be wrapped again, starting from the pommel side.



1-17-03
Atlantean customer Troy Bargatze has continued his work developing the awesome display he has designed for the Atlantean. Here is an "in process" picture of the carving of the sea-dog heads and the braziers that will adorn the display.





Another customer sent us this cool picture of his Atlantean display -- complete with Certificate and film poster!



01-13-03
We received another great email from a customer who just received his Atlantean:

 ...Well, after enviously suffering through reading other's glowing testimonials about their glorious Atlanteans, I finally get to add mine! (It seems like after awhile, all of these " I finally have it!" stories begin to sound like the same person, and in a way they are...)
 Now I've known since first seeing Conan in '82 that I must have this sword, but I was amazed to discover when I read the Riddle of Steel Diary and testimonials just how many others felt this exact same call. That film has turned out to have inspired so many of us with its incredible production design, stirring music, and epic scenes. It even steered some of the most fortunate of us to become professional artists, designers, and of course, swordsmiths!
 Thanks, of course, go to all of you at Albion for finally making this "destiny" achievable. I would also like to add my special thanks to the Albion crew for holding such a high standard for the quality of products and excellence in customer relations. You have definitely earned your solid and well-deserved reputation.
 Now this part is for the folks who like to peruse the testimonials like I did: What is the Atlantean sword really like in person?
 Well, when you open the box, you are struck with the fact that this really is THE sword from the Atlantean tomb. After all those years, here it finally is! And it is old -- I mean ancient old -- "fresh from the tomb" so to speak. Crom!
 If you had it sharpened by Jody, there's a charming little warning paper folded over the blade informing you that it is "VERY SHARP, MORON!" (ok, I added a word, but it's basically there in spirit)
 So after about a minute of just staring dumbfounded at the thing and trying to take it all in, someone probably says, "Aren't you gonna pick it up?"
 Oh yeah, you can do that now. After all, it's YOURS isn't it?
 Somehow it doesn't seem yours, though (your thoughts are still of it firmly clutched in the Atlantean general's hand).
 You suddenly remember to press "play" on the paused Conan Soundtrack CD -- carefully cued to "Atlantean Sword".
 So you slowly reach down and grasp the handle (so that's what the cord feels like... wow, it's a lot more rugged that it looks in the pictures), and you start to pull it out of the box.
 There, it's out!... and, whoa, it's HEAVY (my God, was this the sword Arnie was swinging around like that?!!!).
 You instantly picture yourself dropping it clean through your foot, and grip it tighter with both hands. You hold it up and, of course, look right at those crosspiece heads and blade runes. Grrr- little bronze sea monsters of death! (So that's what the top/bottom sides of the head look like! Wow, these runes are really deep.)
 Damn, this is too cool... Wow!... Damn.
 You have an idea! After looking around, you pick up a scrap piece of paper, pause a second, and then run it slowly along the edge of the blade. It splits in two without effort...
(You become even more aware that this is indeed a real honest-to-God weapon, and reaffirm your desire never to be the dope in the idiot/sword injury story that leaves respectful folks shaking their heads).
 Then, of course, you immediately head for the nearest mirror. (Oh, yeah- bring it on, Thulsa Doom!).
 Cue the title music...

Enclosed is a pic of my Atlantean when it arrived on Christmas Eve.



I'm off to continue work on my Atlantean swordmount!
-- Troy Bargatze

12-20-02
We got some great news from our friends at Conan Sales Co. (Paradox Entertainment) -- they have found blueprints for several helms from Conan the Barbarian and will be sharing them with us, to assist us in getting our re-creations perfect!

12-05-02
Troy Bargatze was kind enough to send us concept art for the beautiful display he has designed for his Atlantean sword

Display concept art


11-22-02
The Atlantean
by Lazarus Nin

for countless hours I sat there staring,
studying every curve
My bloodshot eyes gazed and quivered,
like the tingle in my nerves

all these years that i had been searching,
All quenched for what I sought
The sword bringing what was best in life,
albion had finally wrought

checking the magnificence with the film,
The images did not lie
I knew what i saw and saw what i knew,
all of fate could not deny

The price was so high yet justly meant,
For a weapon so finely made
I hone my skill and gather the money,
For the future the sword will aid

I cannot tell what lies in the future,
except for what I can feel
Many Questions I will seek and ponder,
even the riddle of steel

Jody has finished grinding and polishing the first Father's Sword prototype blades and they will go off to Daniels Engraving for EDM early next week.


The first Father's Sword blade

11-12-02
We received this great email, along with pictures, showing how one of our customers converted the wooden shipping crate into a nice display for his Atlantean....

 ...I have to say that I am still coming to grips with the fact that this is not a dream. My initial interest was in the Father's sword, but knew that I would eventually want a set, so I went ahead and started with the Atlantean. Wow; I cannot wait to see the fathers sword now! My friends are awe struck and most won't even touch it for fear of hurting themselves or it! "Bah!" I say, and thrust it into their shaking hands. "This is no toy; This is an artifact!" The look on their faces and the smile and warmth that radiates upon them holding this sword is awesome. Heck it's been over a week and one of my friends is still grinning like a fool.

The Atlantean on display

"This is no toy"

 I decided to make the box a little more presentable by staining all the wood with an Ebony wood stain. I then knocked out the wooden braces, and lined the inside with Red Velvet. I then placed the wooden rests back and re-nailed them into place. I picked up a sheet of Lexan (yea, the stuff they make bullet-proof windows out of!) and cut to fit. Slapped on some hinges and hand painted the Albion Mark fire red. I shall be doing the same with the Fathers Sword next March; they will make a nice combo next to the hearth...
-- Alex Oster

11-08-02
We have added a long list of new collectors-edition products we will be introducing in the coming months, thanks to our new sublicense with Conan Sales Co. (now managed by the really nice folks at Paradox Entertainment ) and Marto, all made here in Wisconsin to the same exacting standards as our Atlantean and Father's Swords and with the assistance of the original artists.

Subotai's Sword
Valeria's Sword
Conan's Helm (CTB, Battle of the Mounds)
Subotai's Climbing Knives (CTB, Tower of Set scene)
Conan's bronze axe (Battle of the Mounds)
Fangs of the Serpent Dagger
Conan's Dagger (CTB, Tower of Set scene)
Atlantean King's helm (crypt scene)
Atlantean Shield (crypt scene)
Conan's Shield (Battle of the Mounds)
"Mother's Sword" (Cimmerian village/beheading scene)
Wheel of Pain Amulet (CTB and CTD versions)
Conan´s Girdle/swordbelt (CTB and CTD versions)
Conan's leather vambraces (CTB and CTD)
Conan's Pitfighter weapons and armor
Conan's Headband (CTB and CTD)
Conan's Katana (from Khitan training scenes)
Unique wooden display plaques, boxes and stands for each sword/dagger/helm
Scabbards for each sword
other Hyborean Age products not from the films, but from REH's original stories
(Howy's personal favorite: a shagreen hilted Western Broadsword with a shagreen scabbard)
and signature Conan items from the art of Barry Windsor-Smith


We have a lot of work to do! If you have any suggestions or wish to be the first to place a reservation, please let us know (email quest@albionarmorers.com or call 1-888-806-HELM)
!

11-07-02
At long last, we have the first few Father's Sword guard castings -- and they look great! We'll post more photos after we have them antiqued and highlighted.

Father's Sword guard in bronze

We also just received this fantastic poem from one of our customers about his Atlantean Sword:

Poetic Gratitude by a Poetic Wiseacre


Long ago my Path began,
When I was of age to decide.
It happened when I read a comic book,
A tale of Thor's wildest ride.

So young, no words were spoken,
But understanding was instinctive.
Right then I chose, without a doubt,
The Warrior's Path; it's distinctive!

My parents took it not too serious.
They figure, like all things done,
By the young shall soon be purged,
Once I had aged near twenty-one.

Then they let me watch the movie,
Of Conan and his Riddle of Steel,
And then all other Paths were broken,
Beyond any argument or appeal.

The later study of martial arts,
Taught me of the knife & the stick.
It gave me love of the hammer & the sword,
And even the lightsaber, made with movie magic.

At "fever pitch" of my weapons training,
I chose my personal prizes.
First of them was the Atlantean sword,
Among my armaments & surprises.

For all this time there were none who sold it,
And I just settled for fine custom work,
For I had pondered buzzing Mr. Samson,
To one day help me settle this personal quirk.

You can imagine my surprise,
When Albion advertised!
And a year-and-a-half later,
The Atlantean Sword had finally arrived!

It was the first November morn,
When the package finally came in.
Crom must've smiled at me,
When I popped the top & looked in.

What Craftsmanship! What Quality!
What Beauty! What Magnificence!
Such a fine blade of power & fury,
Balanced with Timelessness & Excellence!
Happy & proud, I truly am! I hold a piece of Heaven.

'Tis more than enough to overlook,
My so-so listing as number fifty-seven!
And the timing was fortuitous.
The opportunity so clear,
To be a showman just two days later,
At the local Renaissance Faire!

I walked among the crowd,
The blade cradled in my arm,
Careful not to poke or jab,
Or put anyone to harm.

I was met with many stares & gapes,
And several had asked me about,
Where did I get such a weapon,
A blade so strong and stout?

Many thought I'd done the impossible,
Perhaps by Chance or Divine Mishap,
That I managed to buy this big baby,
From the local blade-vendor's pile of crap!

I gave many of the admirers,
The chance to heft the blade.
They took the moment and were thankful,
Their smiles certainly did not fade!

Thank you all for bestowing me,
A weapon of power & wrath.
Though if the truth were spoken out,
'Tis a stepping-stone on the Warrior's Path.

May Fortune, Luck & Prosperity,
Bless & benefit you all!
And I will wait for the Father's Sword.
Is it going to arrive next Fall?


-- Daniel Woon, Las Cruces, New Mexico

10-30-02
Today we received another, very touching testimonial from a customer in Japan...

 ...Ever since I made this order, several months ago, I was wondering what I could write about the Atlantean which had not been written before.
 My first experience is rather short, but I'm going to try to share it with you, for it may be of some interest. I received this morning a statement from Japanese Customs telling me that there was an issue about the package, because Japanese law is quite an inconvenience about possessing a sword.
  A phone call later, it was explained that I had to acquire an import certificate from another service which, in turn, required me to ask for a sword holding licence from my local police office.
 So I had to go to the police, to whom I explained the characteristics of the Atlantean (I had brought a copy of the special issue of the magazine with me). The policemen of the weapons division were very kind and understanding -- and by the way one of them did know of Jody Samson, whose fame has reached Japan... But law is law, and the Atlantean being a real weapon which, even unsharpened, may be used to kill somebody, it is forbidden to buy one. Only a sword inherited from one's parents may be, as they told me. So the licence had to be refused.
  As a consequence, permission to receive the package containing the Atlantean was not granted to me, and I went to the Tokyo International Post Office, where it was held by the customs, to have it sent out of Japan.
 I sent it to the house of my parents, living in France. Before that, the Post Office employees let me open the box to see and hold the sword, one single time, before it left the country.
 I want here to underline the fact that all these people, policemen, as well as post office employees, were not vindictive at all, but could not break the law. What they did was only their duty. Moreover, letting me holding the sword was not their duty, but they did it out of kindness. It's something I feel thankful about. So I had a few minutes during which I discovered this great object I could only see photos of, or read other peoples' impressions for months until now. All that time waiting for the sword to be made was worth it. Even if it was for a short moment, I held my own Atlantean, I could feel the blade in my hands, and I could admire the artwork of the castings. I understood why a sword so perfectly achieved could not be considered as something other than a weapon. It is so well balanced that I did not have the impression of wielding a 4 kg heavy sword!
  At the end of this perfect moment, I had to send the sword away, where my parents will take care of it until I can take it again. I don't know how long it is going to take until I see it -- months, years or never -- but thanks to your work and thanks to these very kind Japanese people, I think I know, now, what this sword means.
Thank you so much, again.
-- Augustin Vidovic

10-28-02
The nice folks at Daniel's Engraving sent us a transparency proof of the Father's Sword runes -- we checked it against an unground blade blank for scale, positioning and proofed the runes -- it looks great!



8-5-02

Here is a great poem sent to us by the winner of last year's Upgrade Contest:
Serenity's Edge - by Matthew R. Skrobanski

7-22-02
Today we received another touching note from a customer who received his 20th Anniversary Atlantean™. We are deeply honored to have been of some small service to this fine member of our United States Armed Forces:

Dear Mike, Howy, Amy Jody, and Everyone at Albion Armorers,
  Where do I begin?? I guess the beginning would be the best place. I have been a fan of the Conan movies since they were first released over 20 years ago. I remember sitting in the movie theatre, and watching with anticipation as the movie came on and the scenes started to roll across the screen. I remember sitting there in awe as Arnold fell into the hold of the Great King that died on his throne. When he took that awesome blade from the hands of the King, and began to remove the crust that formed on the blade, I was so engrossed. I remember telling my sister that I would one day own that blade, and I am so very proud to say that my day has finally arrived. I am serving in the U.S. Army and while I was taking some driver's training for some new vehicles that we will soon receive, a package came for me, from your wonderful factory.
 I must say that when I got to the box, my heart almost jumped out of my chest. I felt like a kid in a candy store. My hands started to sweat, and I was shaking nervously in trying to get it opened. All I could do is STAND THERE !!!. I was frozen in the moment, to see that blade for the first time. There truly are no words to describe what I felt. When I touched the hilt, and removed it from the box, I was awe struck to finally be holding a true work of art, after so many years of searching, and wanting -- to just be in the presence of this blade is overwhelming for me. This blade, with it's wrapped cover announcing that it was sharpened by Jody Sampson, was too awesome to even believe. To hold it, and feel it's weight in my hands was an experience that I have waited for all of my adult life.
 Ever since I found you (Albion Armorers), I have been looking forward to this wonderful day. In my many conversations with Mike, he never once told me just how perfect this blade would be, he never said to me just how awesome it would be to actually hold it in my hands -- he did however tell me to be prepared for an experience that I would never forget. I must say that his words don't even begin to describe the feelings that I had today. I want to thank you all, for all of your hard work, your dedication, your love of swordsmanship, and your attention to the most extreme detail in this blade. It is truly a MASTERPIECE of art and workmanship. I will truly treasure this blade, and I will be sure to pass it along to my son and make it a family tradition, when my time comes to an end here in this life. This labor of love that you have undertaken has not gone unnoticed, it is sincerely appreciated from the depths of my heart and soul. I am forever in the debt of all of you for making this dream of mine a reality. Thank You once again,
-- Leonard Campbell, Infantryman, United States Army

7-22-02
Last weekend Albion held demonstrations at the Village of New Glarus "Tastes and Treasures" Festival, including some tameshigiri-style test cutting by Jason Dingledine with our most popular stock sword models, and the show stealer was the 20th Anniversary Atlantean™ Sword. Both in Asia and Europe, test cutting was an integral part of a swordsman's training and the testing of sword blade performance. These Japanese straw mats were supplied by our friends at Bugei Trading Co. and are the standard test cutting material at Albion. The more mats included in the rolled target, the more difficult the cut for both the swordsman and the blade.

Here is a short mpeg video showing the results of the cutting demonstration with the Atlantean™ Sword: (The file can be played or downloaded and played -- for best viewing, we recommend that you download the free version of RealPlayer Basic at real.com or Windows Media Player 7.1 available free from Microsoft.)

The Atlantean™ Sword Cutting Demonstration (triple mat roll, single mat roll)

7-18-02
An email and photos we just had to share from a customer who received his 20th Anniversary Atlantean yesterday:

Dear Mike, Howy, Amy, Jody and Everyone at Albion,
Today, at 11:00AM, my 20th Anniversary Edition Atlantean arrived. Forever will the 17th of July 2002 remain a memorable date throughout the rest of my life.  The sword arrived safely and on schedule without flaw in the shipment.  Even as I signed for the sword I knew I stood upon the threshold of a major and momentous event in my life which is the realization of what so many have expressed in their testimonials before me ... the achievement of a long-awaited 20-year dream.  Looking back, as I read their testimonials before my sword arrived, I could only imagine the magnificent masterpiece of work that their eyes were witness to and what must have been going through their minds and hearts as they wrote their excellent testimonials and thanks for their dreams being fulfilled by Albion.  Yet, even those wonderful testimonials could not prepare me for the true magnificence of what my eyes beheld when I opened the superb packaging that the sword was shipped in.

  Crystaline and clear, as though being shot with a diamond bullet, the realization of the fulfillment of this beloved and long-awaited dream impacted me as I drew this marvelous masterpiece from its well-crafted shipping crate for the first time ... and I am not ashamed to say that some tears began to flow as I was emotionally caught up in the joy of the moment.  As I drew the Atlantean from its shipping crate the blade dragged for a moment against the wood making it sing just a bit and the sound of it alone was enough to make one realize that what was being held in hand was not a mere look-a-like replica, but an individual work of the greatest craftsmanship and diligent attention to detail.  Gazing along the lines of the blade, its straight trueness graced with intricate and supple curves in the right places heralded a beauty that was difficult to take in all at once.  Even the fuller is the most perfect I have ever seen.  The excellence of the EDM engraving of the runes exceeded my wildest expectations.  The detail in the sword's hardware is far beyond the scope of justice that could be rendered to it through any photograph, no matter how excellent the photography.  It is literally a piece of art, a master's work, that must be seen in order to be truly appreciated in its complete fullness.

  I am forever grateful for the sharpening of the sword that Jody placed upon it.  He has given it an edge that is Excalibur sharp and the edge is so perfect that one does not readily realize that the blade is sharpened until one feels the edge itself (very carefully I might add!).  Jody, thank you most graciously and sincerely for the excellent sharpening that you gave to my blade.  You are truly a master craftsman who is unparalleled.  I once sent Albion an email in which I said that I believed the creation of the Conan swords would become a hallmark in swordmaking history ... without a doubt I believe this has already happened with the creation of the very first of your Conan swords and that each succeeding one is yet another piece of swordmaking history added to Albion's well-deserved credit.
  With the fulfillment of this dream, Albion has touched my life in a very profound and wonderful way.  Were it left to my own device, I could go on and on about Albion's excellence and quality, yet I think I would just be reiterating the sentiments of those who've rendered testimonials before me and those who will be receiving their Atlantean and/or Father's Sword after me.  Likewise, if I were to try to articulate just exactly how much the achievement of this dream means to me personally or how deeply I respect and revere Albion Armorers and all the excellent people who comprise it, I believe I would only fail for there are no words adequate enough to render my deep and heartfelt gratitude to all of you for making this dream come true or the credit for your excellent work that you so richly deserve.  Therefore, I will close my email by merely saying a deep and heartfelt "Thank You!" with all sincerety and with every essence and fibre of my being. 

  Albion truly is the benchmark for quality and excellence in swordmaking be it a sword from the Conan project or one of their many other exceptional items.  I must add sincerely that the professionalism, excellent character and genuine courtesy of everyone at Albion is without compare.
With Warmest Regards,
-- Jim Lindsey

7-17-02
This was a busy week for Conan deliveries! More customers received their swords, and wrote to tell us what they thought. Man, do we love our jobs...

Dear Howy, Amy, Jody and everyone else involved with the Conan Project,
We all have dreams. Very rarely in life does a dream come true. One thing I can think of that may be comparable to the joy of having a dream come true is the pride that can only come from making someone elses dream come true. Everyone at Albion Armorers should have that overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. If half of the people who have received their Atlantean feel the same way I do about finally posessing this thing that was for all of my childhood and on into my adult life, nothing more than a dream and a fruitless search, then you have touched that many people's lives in a way that most people never will. I'm not even going to try to describe my feelings about the Sword itself. A thousand e-mails and a thousand dictionaries full of words could never justifiably describe the quality, craftsmanship and detail of this fully functional, beautifully deadly work of art. Nor could they describe my personal feelings. It is impossible to prevent your mouth from hanging agape from merely looking at the Sword. Actually handling it is almost paralyzing. My hands were shaking as I was untying the leather thongs holding it in place in its shipping crate. I only hope that I never need to use it to defend life because I don't think I would be able to take my eyes off of it long enough to concentrate on my foe!

For those of us who read the Conan novels, we know how picky he was about his swords and his uncanny eye for good steel. If there was a Conan, he would be proud to make this Sword the prize of his collection. It cannot be matched. In my opinion, not even on The Anvil of Crom could such a Sword be forged. I wish I could say more but I truly have been left speechless. I just can't find the words. To state it straight forward and simple, Thank you Albion Armorers, for the dream of a lifetime finally realized. Who says Crom doesn't listen?!? Sincerely and with my best wishes always,
-- Clifford Catropa

06-25-01
Here is a shot of the latest batch of Atlanteans™ being final assembled.

Ready for final assembly

06-05-02
We recently had John Milius' original Conan the Barbarian swords independently appraised by Darren Julien of Entertainment Rarities LLC, an associate of Sotheby's auction house. Below are the two appraisals:

ENTERTAINMENT RARITIES.COM, LLC
An Associate of Sothebys.com

APPRAISAL

The Atlantean Sword From The Epic Film "Conan The Barbarian"

This is the sword that Conan finds it in the tomb of a warrior-king of Atlantis in the 1982 Epic film "Conan The Barbarian". The basis for the Atlantean sword being valued higher than The Father's Sword and/or The Master's Sword, is that it is the one of only three ever made (and the only one known to have survived) as well as it being Conan's sword used throughout the film. The nick in the blade of the sword is certified by the Director, John Milius, to have been caused during the filming of the climactic "Battle of the Mounds" scene, where it was used to break the blade of a Father's Sword prop in a key action of the film."

Crafted By: Jody Samson

Appraisal: $390,000

 

ENTERTAINMENT RARITIES.COM, LLC
An Associate of Sothebys.com

APPRAISAL

The Father's Sword and/or The Master's Sword From The Epic Film "Conan The Barbarian"

This sword was made by Conan's father on the film's opening scenes in the 1982 Epic film "Conan The Barbarian"

Crafted By: Jody Samson

Appraisal: $220,000

This appraisal would indicate that the original Atlantean Sword™ is quite possibly the highest-valued sword in film history, with the Father's Sword™ a close second.

Conan the Barbarian

 

Our 20th Anniversary Atlantean alongside the original movie sword:

The Original and 20th Anniversary Swords

The Original and 20th Anniversary Pommels

The Original and 20th Anniversary Swords

20th Anniversary Atlantean in Shipping box

2-21-02
We got our first email from a customer who has received his Atlantean™ sword:

Dear Albion Armorers and Mr. Samson,
  The purpose of this e-mail is to tell you my thoughts on my new Conan Project 20th Anniversary Edition Atlantean Sword that I received yesterday.
  First, I thought it would be appropriate to tell you that I have been waiting for this sword to come into production (or reproduction) for roughly fifteen years. I have been paying close attention to all of your "Riddle of Steel Diary" postings over the past year and a half, and my expectations rose steadily higher with each one. I am not a poet, but I will do my best to describe my feelings about the sword.
  The 20th Anniversary Edition Atlantean Sword is simply breathtaking.
  Your work has surpassed my expectations. The sword is larger than life. I know it sounds like I am embellishing, but it is truly amazing to look at.
  I cannot thank you enough for taking up this endeavor and doing it the right way. It is a credit to your company's integrity by analyzing every detail by using the experts who created the sword in the first place.
  I am very satisfied with my purchase and I cannot wait to show this sword off. If anyone were to have any questions on the meaning of an "investment grade sword", they just need to look upon and hold one of your 20th Anniversary Edition Atlantean Swords created by your company.
  I am impressed with the packaging of the sword as well. The sword arrived quickly and without any problems.
  In conclusion, I would just like to thank you once again for the sword. All of you should be very proud of your hard work. This sword will surely impress a lot more people in the future. I will do my best to get the word out on this sword. Something this good should not be kept secret.
Sincerely,
Chad Grogman

And that's what its all about.

2-15-02
It is a great day! Conan Properties has approved the Atlantean Sword™ prototype! The first Atlanteans™ will be shipping today -- unfortunately, a little out of sequence, as the blades that have been fitted to certain castings came back from the engravers before others. However, by the end of the month that will be all straightened out and all of the early orders will be filled.

1-10-02
The first 20 blades are now at Daniels Engraving in California, ready to be EDM deep engraved, using the original electrode from 20 years ago. We should have the prototype back next week, and the remainder of the first batch the following week. Pictured below is Mariah cleaning and oiling the blades as she packs them into the specially made shipping boxes (10 blades each) a few days ago.

Mariah cleaning blades

12-28-01
And the winner of the upgrade contest is... Matt Skrobanski of Virginia!
Here is what Matt had to say when he was notified:

Dear Howy and Amy,
This truly is a wonderful surprise !!!! When Mike contacted me at work, I could barely contain myself, and I'm sure he can confirm that!!! Winning the contest has made me happier than you could imagine. It was amazing enough to me to own a reproduction of the Atlantean, but now to own a Limited, is comparable to owning the Holy Grail !!!! ( O.K. maybe a little exaggeration, but that is the feeling!!) I never would have thought that an ordinary Joe like myself would be given this opportunity. The Atlantean was the sword that started it all for me and has been a constant dream. Just ask Beth, Lil' Matt, and my parents back in New York. Everyone knew that I was already getting the Father's and Atlantean, but now, well at least when I called everyone at 10:30 P.M. last night, they know that if you wish it, and believe it enough, anything is possible. I cannot seem to put in words what this means to me. You have given me not only a lifelong dream, but the start of a family tradition where I may hand down these swords to my boy, and then to his children.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Honor and Light.
Sincerely,
Matthew R. Skrobanski

Congratulations, Matt, from Jody and all of us here at Albion!

12-13-01
We installed a grip on the prototype, complete with cord wrapping. The blade is still unfinished and without runes, and the castings are still not antiqued and buffed. Other than the aging apparent on the original sword, the two are identical.

The original and our reproduction

12-11-01
Jody's shop has been working overtime, finishing Atlantean™ blades. The first 25 should be ready for heat-treating at the end of this week, then they must be cleaned up and sent for etching. Jody has personally supervised every step of the finishing process (including a lot of hands-on with each blade) to make sure that these replicas are authentic and perfect in every detail.

Many many blades

 

12/08/01
We received samples of the Atlantean™ and Father's™ Sword pommels -- they look great! The bronzes will now be cleaned up, antiqued and the highlights buffed, just as Jody did on the originals.

Unblackened pommel
Rough Father's pommel

12/03/01
We received the wax of the Atlantean™ pommel and the first casting of the Atlantean™ guard today. The guard is perfect -- the casting now needs to be detailed and polished. The wax is perfect as well and casting will begin on those this week.

In the picture below, the rough casting has been placed on an unfinished blade to show the final fit.

Bronze and Blade

Jody's shop has completed the final grinding on the first 5 Atlantean™ blades (they look fantastic!) and they will be ready for heat treating over the next couple of days -- then it is off to hand finishing. After that, they will be sent to California for the EDM engraving, then back here for final assembly. 20 more blades are ready for the final grinding of the edges, and ten more are getting the flats and tangs finished.

11-26-01
The sample investment wax for the Atlantean™ guard arrived from Equestrian Forge -- it is perfect! Jody was very pleased. Casting can begin immediately.

Movie sword with wax and blade blank

11-06-01
We received the first sample wax of the Father's Sword™ guard today from the foundry. There are a few tweaky changes that Jody wants to make, but we are very close to casting bronzes now. The Atlantean guard and pommel should be here by early next week for final approval of the waxes.

Father's guard wax and blade blank

Jody has been training staff to finish-grind the blades the way the originals were done. Here he is teaching Michael "Mikey" Guenther how to correctly grind an Atlantean™ blade on the same BurrKing machine Jody used 20 years ago to make the first blades.

Jody and Mikey

10-30-01
The first Atlantean Sword™ blades are being run on the CNC (Computerized Numeric Control) milling machine. Yesterday, Jody and I went to High Tech Machine (in nearby Paoli, Wisconsin) to watch the process, compare the rough cut sword to the original, and make a few minor changes to make them more exact. Once the blades are rough cut, the swords will be heat-treated and finish ground and polished under Jody's supervision here at Albion. More pictures to follow over the next few days!

Blade being formed

10-24-01
Work is being completed this week on the remolding of the hilt components, under Jody's supervision. Here is a preview of the pommel of the Father's Sword™, with the wax next to the pommel of the original sword from the film. Next week we'll add pictures of the final waxes for the Father's Sword™ guard and the Atlantean Sword™ components.

Movie original and wax original

10-01-01
We have tabulated the results, and the winner of the contest is Donivan Potter, with a guess of 309.69" (25.8 feet) -- the correct answer is 26 feet (312"). Congratulations, Donivan!

9-20-01
We received the first prototype Atlantean™ blade and two aluminum blades (from which mold plugs will be made for casting hilt components.) Jody was thrilled with the machine shop's progress. There are a few minor tweaks that need to be made in the programming, but everything is working out extremely well.

Pete has ordered 500 lbs of the specially made cord for the Atlantean™ grip (that should last us a while!). Can anyone guess how much cord (in inches) it takes to wrap one Atlantean™ grip? Send your answers to contest@albionarmorers.com and the closest guess received by next Friday (9/28) wins an Albion t-shirt!

In approximately 2 weeks, we'll be starting on the cutting and finishing of the first 20 Anniversary Edition Atlantean™ and Father's™ blades, and Jody will be starting on the Limited Editions.

09-12-01
Jody has arrived! He has been busy all week setting up his shop here in New Glarus, Wisconsin, and preparing for the making of the Limited Edition blades.

What's he up to?
Everything is red

We took Jody over to the machine shop last week to meet the machinists and look at the programming and prototype blades so far -- he was pleased with their progress. They had finished the aluminum plugs for the Father's Sword™ and we'll be sending the plasters and the plug to the foundry this week.

8/28/01
I got a chance a chance to read some of Milius' script for "King Conan -- Crown of Iron" -- wow! If it moves forward the way John envisions it, it'll be even better than the first film! "Moriarty" on Ain't It Cool has a review of it as well, with lots of excerpts -- go here to read all about it (and remember to leave some feedback -- let's make sure this movie gets made, the way only Milius can envision it!)

8-11-01
It has been a busy month since we last posted any news. This will bring you up to date:

Jody will be moving here by the end of August, to supervise the production process personally.

We have located a manufacturer who can exactly duplicate the cord for the wrapping for the Atlantean sword™, size and color are perfect -- it will be custom made, so we'll have to buy a ton of it (literally!). Also found another source that can supply us with the leather lacing and wrap for the Father's sword™ -- again custom made to our specs -- David Morgan, the same guy who made the whips for Indiana Jones...

Found a source for the skins and other furs needed to do exact reproductions of the 4 versions of the Atlantean™ CTB scabbards and the Father's sword™ scabbard... We will also be recreating the Atlantean™ scabbard/belt from CTD and another Father's sword™ scabbard based on Ron Cobb's production drawings...

We'll be running the prototype blades on the CNC machine as soon as the custom tooling arrives (to get the hollow-grinding correct, we had to have special tools made) -- probably at the end of August (when Jody arrives). One challenge after another, but when you are trying to recreate something *exactly*, 20 years later, it gets a bit insane...

7-10-01
Steve Peffley finished the Atlantean blade drawings today. Now we can proceed with making aluminum plugs for the molds and making the first castings. Also from these drawings, we'll be making wire-frame images that can be fed into the CNC machine.

Atlantean Blueprint

6-28-01
The Atlantean plasters arrived from Jody today -- they look even more fantastic than he described. The level of detail is amazing -- even sharper than that on the original swords. I took a few pictures to share. Jody also supplied an aluminum model of the tang and ricasso, which we have shipped to Steven Peffley for reference, which shows the side bevel on the ricasso of the sword -- a detail often missed. Once the CADD drawings are complete, we can start making blades.

Plasters from mold

Steve finished the Father's sword CAD drawings and sent those to us as well -- they look perfect and exact to the originals in every detail. From these, wire frame models will be made that can be imported to the computerized milling machine to make exact duplicates in steel.

Father's sword blueprint

6-15-01
Jody has completed the minor corrections to the Atlantean plasters and will be sending them to us next week for review and photograph, before we send them to the foundry for production remolding. He says that they are fantastic, and he compared them to the original swords used in the film and they are a perfect match in size and detail. He has almost finished the Father's sword plasters as well. I (Howy) sent Ron Cobb's original drawings of the Father's sword to Steve Peffley, our researcher and designer, to create CAD drawings of the blade. From these, we will create aluminum tang inserts for the molds (to ensure a perfect fit for the blade) as well as the production blades. Jody will check them for accuracy and the machine shop will also create a prototype for him to look at from these drawings. We will preview the drawings here when they are complete and approved.

6-11-01
Brian Q. Kelley's video footage of John Milius' original set of swords is up on the page and available for viewing. Check it out here. For best viewing, we recommend that you download the free version of RealPlayer Basic at real.com or Windows Media Player 7.1 available free from Microsoft.

5-23-01
Received the plasters from the foundry of the Father's sword guard-- took a few pictures and then sent them off to Jody. Jody will restore fine details and remove bubbles and other imperfections and return them to the foundry for remolding for production castings. The Atlantean plasters should be arriving any day now...

Plaster skull

4/26 - 4/30/01
We traveled to L.A. to visit Jody (what a great time!). He made arrangements to have John Milius' original swords there for us to examine and photograph. (Complete weights and measurements are now listed under each original sword's page).

Original Father's Sword
Original Atlantean Sword

The hilt components of both swords have developed a rich dark green patina over the years. Both are in remarkably good shape as well. The swords came complete with their scabbards and we documented those for replication as well.

A few observations: the original sword blades did not have any distal taper (per the studio's instructions to Jody -- they were concerned about breakage) -- our replicas will have a full 50% distal taper. Hefting the original swords made me (Howy) also want to rethink the solid bronze castings as well. I spoke with Jody and Alex at the foundry -- they both believe that we can lighten the castings by as much as 50% without compromising strength or design integrity, while making the swords fully functional.

While in LA, we also stopped by Daniels Engraving and met with Bill and Judy and took a tour of their plant. We saw the original EDM machine that did the runic engraving on the original swords (still functioning well after 20 years) and on which the runes for our replicas will be done. Bill still had the original graphite electrode for the Atlantean, and believes he still has the electrodes from the Father's sword runes and the special fixtures they manufactured for the EDM machine. Both Bill and Judy expressed excitement about being able to do these replicas for us. Bill said it before, and he said it again, "It's like visiting a dear old friend." When we were surprised that they still had the electrodes after all these years, Judy said "It was one of our favorite projects. It's hard to part with things like that!" They were so pleasant -- we look forward to working with them on this.

While we were at Jody's shop, Brian Kelley of Personal FX stopped by to document the original swords on digital video. He will be editing a short video on each sword for us that we will be featuring on the page soon.Well, it was way too soon, but we had to bid Jody a fond farewell and take the redeye back to Wisconsin -- we still have a lot to do!

4/24/01
Spoke with Alex at the foundry. The molds, though in perfect condition otherwise, are 20 years old and as a result are brittle. To make an original set of waxes and remold would mean losing between 3 and 5 percent of size (wax shrinks as it cools). He suggested a unique solution. Certain mixes of plaster expand rather than contract as they dry -- by mixing the correct formula, he can achieve a 1:1 ratio and get exact plaster castings from the molds, then make new molds from those for production. This way, the waxes we get from each mold will be exactly the same size as the original waxes, hence the castings will be exactly the same size as the castings for the original swords. Jody was pretty excited to hear that.

4/19/01
Spoke with Bill Daniels of Daniels Engraving, the company that did the engraving on the original swords 20 years ago. Made appointment to see him, and bring him the original artwork by Ron Cobb of the runes. He believes that they have one of the original electrodes for engraving and we appear to have the other one (courtesy of Tim H.) Bill is looking forward to working on these swords again -- "it's like seeing an old friend again" he says. The runes, as a result, will be deep and clear like the originals were, not like the surface etching seen on imitations.

4/18/01
Jody got a chance to see John Milius' original swords again today (thanks to Leonard, John's excellent assistant). He was both awestruck by the chance to see the swords again after 20 years, and humbled by how much his technique has improved over the years. "The ones I'll be making for the Limited Editions will be better than the originals," he told Howy.

4/17/01
Received the original molds and drawings from Tim Huchthausen, via Jody Samson. The drawings include originals and copies of production sketches by Ron Cobb of an earlier version of the Atlantean Sword™. This version has a blade with a sharper point and longer quillons, along with some runic detail on the hilt components, some of which did not make it on to the final Atlantean. Jody actually likes this one more.

Mold of Atlantean pommel Mold of Atlantean guard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Mold of Father's guard

The molds are in great shape for having been in storage for 20 years. The detail is amazing, and much more refined than the film castings. Howy took some clay impressions from the molds (not as fine detail as the wax will be, but it gives a good idea of size and basic shape.) They match up perfectly with Ron's original drawings. Now, it is off to the foundry.

 

 

 

 


Original design drawings for Conan movie

 




 

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