Conan the Barbarian Atlantean Sword
20th Anniversary Edition
A hands-on review by Patrick Kelly
Let me tell you of the days of high adventure!
I remember hearing those words for the first time while seated in a dark movie theatre over twenty years ago. A scene that I will never forget then followed that opening dialogue. That image of molten metal flowing across the screen in the shape of a sword, accompanied by a booming score by composer Basil Poledouris, is simply unforgettable. The motion picture Conan the Barbarian not only launched the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger; it also left an indelible imprint on the minds of an entire generation of young sword lovers. While not exactly in the class of a Shakespearean drama Conan the Barbarian was still a high-budget endeavor, and is today considered to be a fantasy classic. As a young sword collector whose journey was just beginning, I remember thinking that if I could only have one sword it would be one of those which I viewed up on the big screen.
Now, thanks to the efforts of Albion Armorers, it is now possible to not only own a sword like those used in the movie, it is now possible to own nearly an exact copy of them. Over two years ago Albion Armorers began the process of gaining the rights to manufacture these well-known bits of cinematic history. Gaining the license to manufacture these swords was quite an undertaking in itself. Howard Waddell and Company invested a large amount of time and effort (and expense) in order to bring these swords to life for the sword-loving community. Anyone who has held the final product in his or her hands will agree that it was well worth the effort.
Over the years there have been numerous replicas made by various companies, none to the exacting standards that Albion has chosen to employ. Albion's commitment was such that they chose to involve the sword's original maker, well-known sword maker Jody Samson. Jody is now a full-time employee of Albion Armorers and directly oversees the production of the company's Conan line. The film's director, John Milius was also involved the process, as Mr. Milius was still in possession of the original film swords. All of this time and effort has resulted in swords that are dead ringers for those used by Big Arnold and friends. As I stated in the beginning of this review these swords are "near exact" replicas. There are two key differences in the new swords. First, the originals were made with blades ground from 440C stainless steel. The Albion versions use blades ground from 1075 carbon steel. The originals were also made with no distal taper in the blade. Apparently the film's producers were concerned with durability. Albion's versions feature blades with a fifty percent distal taper. Other than these two points, I doubt if Conan himself would be able to tell the difference.
There are currently two swords in Albion's Conan line: the Atlantean and the Father's Sword. The Atlantean is the subject of this review.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Albion Armorers of Wisconsin.
Fit and Finish
The Atlantean arrived packaged in Albion's usual white cardboard box. Within that box, however, was a pinewood box especially made for the sword. The outside of this box was attractively branded with Albion's company logo. Within the box the Atlantean was securely held by wooden braces, and tied in place with twine. I doubt if even some of our professional commercial carriers could unduly damage this sword in transit. Many Atlantean owners have apparently utilized this box as a means of displaying their sword.
The Atlantean's grip is bound with a special cord that replicates that used on the original. The grip is tightly bound and sealed with some kind of epoxy. The end result is a very attractive grip that provides a firm gripping surface.
The above comments should not be taken as a criticism of the Atlantean specifically, or of Albion's manufacturing methods in general. Collectors choosing to buy the Atlantean aren't searching for a high-performance sword, or even a historically accurate one. What they're looking for is a piece of cinematic history that they can call their own, and the Atlantean delivers this in abundance. During the long process of making this sword a reality Albion fielded many requests for changing various details of the sword's construction in order to improve its handling qualities. I firmly believe that Albion took this point as far as is possible. The intent was to manufacture a replica of a specific sword. If too many details were changed the Atlantean wouldn't have been a true replica at all. The final product is a sword that, while heavy, is made from quality materials and assembled with much attention to detail.
About the Author
Patrick is a State Trooper serving with the Kansas Highway Patrol. He has been fascinated with edged weapons, particularly the medieval sword, since early childhood. Not only is Patrick thankful for any opportunity to indulge in his favorite hobby, he is also blessed with a wife who tolerates a house full of sharp pointy things.
Conan™, Father's Sword™, and Atlantean™ Sword are registered trademarks of Conan Properties
Photographer: Nathan Robinson