The vast Conan universe has a lot of iconic characters, places, items, and of course weapons. We’ll be looking at the companies creating various collectibles and replicas based on the world of Conan, as well as other Robert E. Howard creations.
Museum Replicas are an official license holder, and makes replicas (and letter openers!) based on the original Conan the Barbarian movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger from 1982. We spoke to Robin Chaudhuri who’s the sales and licensing director.
How did you get started in the replica business?
We’re actually military contractors for combat kukri knives and dress and drill sabers for many countries including the US Marines, but got our start in 1943 supplying kukri’s to British Gurkha Regiments stationed in India. Our parent company, Windlass, began exporting in the 1980s and got noticed by the 1990s by the fledgling consumer products licensing companies at that time. It was a young industry when you consider prop replicas as a category. Knowing we were experts in bladed weapons we were approached to make replicas for other licensees. These included MYST/RIVEN, Warhammer, Marvel’s Blade and so forth. When researching the products requested, we would always come across other items with potential that never seemed to make it onto those companies radar. After seeing the growing success of the prop replica category, but lack of expansion deeper into properties beyond hero items we knew we could make and sell ourselves we jumped in. It peeked for us in the last decade where we acquired the licenses for Marvel’s MCU, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Kingdom of Heaven and of course Conan to name a few. Robert E. Howard properties from the beginning have held a strong interest with our staff.
What goes into making a Conan sword?
The parts are cast using the lost wax method in zinc alloy and then plated in brass and hand finished for an antique look. Brass is a heavy alloy and the Zinc allows us to keep some of the weight in check for better balance and feel. Each mold was created using the hero sword for reference and the casts made at the time. What we are particularly proud of today is the blade. It had always been a beauty in stainless steel, but any real fighter will tell you that’s not ideal in battle, and of course, would not have been able to be forged in Conan’s time. We now offer a 1065 high carbon steel version which has a full tang and is hand forged… really. If you look down the flat of the blade in the light you’ll see the hammer strokes. It is then tempered in computer controlled ovens resulting in a tough, stout, flexible blade. Real function is built into it should Thulsa Doom ever return! Each sword has approximately 20 man hours into them. The swords are popular and sometimes go on backorder due to the fact they aren’t mass produced, but we know the true Conan fan will appreciate the time spent on them and materials chosen. They are worth the wait!
Which is your most popular Conan product, and why is that?
The full size Atlantean sword sits just ahead of the Father’s sword, but each is incredible to hold and own. The simple answer is that these are the coolest weapons that Conan kicks butt with. Who doesn’t want that feeling?
There are a lot of unlicensed copies out there. What would you like to say to people looking to purchase one of those?
Sadly, there certainly are. First, the materials and processes we use are superior, authentic to the period and unique to the fully licensed version. Second, the source materials and details are second to none for accuracy to what you see on screen. Third, and this goes directly to purchasers, a copy always leaves you wanting in the long run, buyers remorse can set in. Finally, we want to encourage true fans to support the property and not the counterfeit market that undermines and hurts us all. As that seedy underbelly continues, it severely limits what we can bring to the fans in breadth of product.
What other Conan or indeed Robert E. Howard properties would you like to make replicas for?
Most of the properties hold interest for us, but we’re kept very busy with Conan. We’re proud to focus our efforts on it as it continues to grow and be loved by the fan base. We would want to stay in the sword and sorcery realm for sure, but Cthulhu has held a curious place in our thoughts as well…
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Robin!
We’ll be back with more spotlights on Conan replicas, collectibles, and more!