Conan The Enduring
"The secret of steel has always carried with it a mystery. You must learn its riddle, Conan. You must learn its discipline. For no one-no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts...
"This you can trust."
When John Milius's CONAN THE BARBARIAN was released in the summer of 1982, it became an overnight phenomenon. The film was lightning in a bottle; a stunning cocktail of John Milius's nihilistic and unforgivingly violent screenplay, Basil Poledouris's thundering and unforgettable score, Ron Cobb's visionary conceptual artistry, and the introduction of the man who would become the greatest international action movie star of all time: Arnold Schwarzenegger. The magical combination was all born from the classic pulp literature of the late, great Robert E. Howard.
After it was first published in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales, Robert E. Howard's Conan would live and die and be resurrected a number of times. In the 1960s, it would be the artwork of the legendary Frank Frazetta, whose transcendent paperback cover designs would introduce Conan to millions of new readers across the world. In the 1980s, Conan’s resurrection came thanks to the writing and directing of John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the archetypal anti-hero. And perhaps no symbol better exemplifies the motion picture incarnation of Conan than his sword.
"Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars..."
The world of Hyboria was meant to have existed 10,000 years before written history and before the Earth reclaimed lost civilizations such as Atlantis. Conan’s sword was an ancient weapon, meant to have come from one of these lost worlds, its "riddle of steel" a forgotten thing itself. Based on a design by conceptual artist Ron Cobb, The Atlantean, was brought to life by the fantasy sword smith Jody Samson. Samson made the blades out of real steel, using a blend of historic and modern sword-making methods. The fittings of the "hero" versions of the sword were made in cast bronze by the "lost wax" casting method where a wax master is made to melt away and be replaced with a bronze duplicate during the high-temperature casting process.
For filming, many different versions of the Jody Samson hero sword were made to facilitate the very realistic (and very gory) battle scenes that John Milius envisioned. Special effects maestro Nick Adler developed lightweight fiberglass versions, blood-letting versions that would pump stage blood to simulate wounds, torso rigs that would make it appear that an actor had been run through by the sword, and a “hero” retractable version where the tip of Conan’s blade would disappear to create the illusion that he had skewered his victim.
John Milius's CONAN THE BARBARIAN was more than just one movie, one script, one adaptation of a beloved literary character-it was a phenomenon. John Milius was able to take Robert E. Howard's stories, Frank Frazett'’s artwork, Basil Poledouris's music, and Arnold Schwarzenegger's magnetism and amalgamate the parts into a greater whole. The result still lingers with anyone who saw CONAN THE BARBARIAN in his formative years, and it is something he is unlikely to ever shake.
Over the years, Prop Store has had a vast array of props, costumes, weapons and artwork pass through their hands. Many of these pieces have already found homes with collectors, but some remain in the Prop Store collection and others yet are still available to collectors who wish to relive the magic of 1982's Hyborian summer.
A set of leather chest armour worn by one of King Osric’s (Max von Sydow) Royal Guards in the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Conan The Barbarian. This and others like it were worn in the scenes halfway through the movie when King Osric requests the assistance of the three thieves in rescuing his daughter from the hypnotic Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). The stunning bespoke armour sits on the shoulders and wraps around the waist, and is hand made from leather with distinct round marks covering the tan skin and embellished with bronze metal plates, leather wrapped rope and fixed together with leather thong and metal rivets. It is in an aged condition, much of which is intentional from its use on set. There are no sizes marked on this great piece and is one size fits all. Also included are a set of matching gauntlets which are created and fabricated in exactly the same manner to complete the rugged look.
A blood letting SFX sword used by Sandahl Berman as Valeria in the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Conan The Barbarian. This incredibly rare sword is constructed of a metal suede covered handle and pommel with a fibreglass blade painted to look like metal. The sword has a metal pipe projecting out of the pommel where the fake blood was fed into the blade, the pipe is angled so that it would fit up the actor’s sleeve. The sword blade is hollow with a few small holes near the end which allow the blood out when required. This gives the effect of blood spurting out when injuring the opponent. A great opportunity to own a prop from the movie that made Arnie a star. Measures 102cm (40") long.
Just as the art of Frank Frazetta had helped Robert E. Howard's Conan to endure, so, too did the work of John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2011, Conan the Cimmerian would live again in a new incarnation. This time, it would be through Marcus Nispel's direction and the scriptwriting of Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, and Sean Hood. Atop it all, though, would be the star power of Jason Momoa, who imprinted himself on genre audiences everywhere through his portrayal of the Dothraki horselord Khal Drogo in HBO's adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s GAME OF THRONES.
"I live. I love. I slay. And I am content."
Just as John Milius had built upon the Conan mythology that came before him, Marcus Nispel did the same. Within this new incarnation of Conan, there were shades of the character's past. The story hewed closer to the spirit of the Robert E. Howard stories than Arnold Schwarzenegger's version. Frazetta's imagining of Conan was again apparent from the release of the first teaser poster. Within Marcus Nispel's film, there are many visual and verbal homages to 1980's original adaptation, but perhaps none more than in the weaponry.
The weaponry designed by Ron Cobb and Jody Samson have themselves become part of Conan's legacy. From the Father's Sword to Corin's sword to the sword that Conan himself carries, the artistic influence of John Milius's 1982 original is apparent.
Thirty years later, though, the actual physical manufacturing of props and prop weaponry has greatly evolved. In 2011, the swords of Conan are more the "riddle of aluminum" than the "riddle of steel." The "hero" versions of the weaponry are made from aluminum rather than heavy steel. The material is easier to manufacture, cheaper to reproduce, lighter to wield and safer for the actors. "Stunt" versions of the weaponry were produced from a compressed bamboo material that is super lightweight and extremely durable compared to plastic or fiberglass. The paintwork on these is so expertly done that the material is basically indistinguishable from metal upon anything but a hands-on inspection.
Just as they were in 1982's CONAN THE BARBARIAN, the props from the new film are works of art. Prop Store is proud to present an exclusive collection of original pieces to collectors everywhere. Below are select examples of what has passed, what is available and what is it yet to come.
Conan's Hero Aluminium Sword from the 2011 action movie Conan The Barbarian. Born in battle and orphaned as a boy by the evil Khalar Zym - a man hell-bent on restoring the broken mask of Acheron to raise souls of unspeakable evil and enslave the whole of Hyboria - the hardy child grows into a barbaric young man, existing to simply live, love and slay, and wields this sword throughout most of the blood thirsty action packed movie, taken from the bloody battlefield.
With his impressive stature and rippling muscles, Jason Momoa takes on this mammoth titular role in the 2011 revamp of Robert E Howard's classic tales of Conan the Barbarian, originally portrayed in the 1980's by the equally muscled Austrian bodybuilder-turned-actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This impressive sword has a blade made from cast aluminium, intentionally given a pockmarked and grained appearance and rounded tip for safety, the guard, hilt and pommel are all made from cast resin. The T-shaped guard is wide and thick, painted to resemble metal, and leads up to the ribbed grip decorated to look like dark leather bound with horizontal wooden loops, tipped with an elaborate pale engraved "horn" pommel. It is in an excellent condition and shows much evidence of use on set with small nicks in the blade and minor scuffs to the handle, measuring 101cm (39.75") long. A truly iconic hero character weapon from the movie.
Conan's aluminium "father's" sword from the 2011 action movie Conan The Barbarian. Born in battle and orphaned as a boy by the evil Khalar Zym, the early scenes of the movie follow Cimmerian father Corin teaching his young son, Conan, the fundamentals of the fine art of sword craft, instilling in his son a healthy respect for the weapon that will one day be his, once he is ready and earned the right to posses the iconic sword. Corin wields this sword early on, then Conan himself, grown up and vengeful, can seen battling with it in the closing scenes of the movie, as well as villain Khalar Zym and witch-daughter Marique.
This iconic piece is modeled after the legendary design created by Ron Cobb in the 80's for the original Conan movie, and features the instantly recognisable small skull and horn guard with a small distinctive hook on either end, a handle decorated to look like it is bound in leather and a detailed fanned pommel. The blade is made from aluminium that has been intentionally darkened and rubbed back to give it a well used and aged look. The highly desirable piece measures 106cm (41.75") and is in excellent condition.
A Shaipur Monk's ornate spearhead used in the 2011 Jason Momoa action movie Conan The Barbarian. The monks are tasked with guarding the sacred Temple of Shaipur and the last pureblood Acheronian, Tamara, a young woman unaware of Khala Zym's hunt and wicked intentions for her and her invaluable blood.
These weapons were used by the defenders of the temple when Zym finally tracks them down and unleashes hell on the peaceful residents. Made from cast resin, the distinctive weapon has a short blade, incredibly ornate central section and long narrow handle shaft which was cut from the rest of the spear after filming. The main feature of this particular style of weapon is the oriental dragon figure curling around the centre of the shaft, painted a combination of deep red and gold with metal ring clutched in its mouth. It measures 71cm (28") and is in a very good production used condition.
For 80 years, Conan has endured. Now, the character and films can live on for all time in your personal collection.