Hollywood Blacksmith Recreates Classic Pop-Culture Weapons in a New Web Series
Two crew members battle in front of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle van
Clarence Alford Photography
Walking onto the set of the new web series Man at Arms, released today, it soon becomes clear that the Sword and the Stone, Tony Swatton's shop of goods, is every (convention-going) boy's dream. There are Roman soldiers, scantily clad female mannequins in leather and metal costumes, and very familiar props -- like Jack Sparrow's sword and Hook's namesake.
Swatton has been in the business of providing handcrafted, custom works for costumes since he was 15, but he truly got his start at the tender age of seven, when he would take rocks that he'd found and throw them into a rock tumbler. "That's why it's the Sword and the Stone, because I still cut gemstones," Swatton says.
Most of his recent jobs involve more metalwork, such as creating horse armor for Spike TV's Guys' Choice Awards. But audiences will see him combine sword and stone firsthand in a future episode featuring Finn's sword from the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time (it's an animated show, but he created a real one anyway).
For Swatton, early in his career, lack of sufficient funds and impatience ended up being blessings in disguise. "I met the guy who made the Conan swords and bugged him about getting a knife," he says. "It was too expensive, so I made my own. And then I saw another guy making armor at a Renaissance fair and watched him at work. He was too long a wait to get the armor, so I made my own."
One of the first pieces he ever did was a road warrior-type costume he created when he was around the age of 16 or 17. It was inspired by Vernon Wells' character of Wez from Mad Max 2, and he wore it to LostCon. "They wouldn't allow me to enter the costume contest as an amateur, so they had me go into the master-professional class," he says. "And I took second place to some really phenomenal costumers."
These days, he gets a wide range of requests: from making peg legs for dogs to consulting on the research and development team for the commercial space exploration company SpaceX regarding space shuttle parts. One of his more challenging projects was back in 2001, when he built a 7,000-pound, perforated steel sculpture at the Hollywood and Highland Center. Then, of course, there is the continued demand for props and costumes for blockbuster films and hit television shows -- all of which can be done, thanks to the rear shop that contains over a million dollars' worth of production equipment.
When asked what his favorite piece has been --and he has a lot to choose from, from swords for the Pirates of the Caribbean series to knives for Heat to jewels for The Ring -- he answers, "My favorite thing is my current project. So, the next thing I'm working on is what I'm really excited about."
Man at Arms highlights the sorts of challenges that Swatton seeks in his projects. Every week, he will recreate iconic weapons from pop culture past and present, including Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Man at Arms debuts on Break Media's newest channel Awe.me today with a replica of Jaime Lannister's sword from Game of Thrones. The Sword and the Stone, located at 723 North Victory Blvd in Burbank, is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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