When Sword Buyers Guide was first started in 2005, we had no idea that our site would actually become a major driving force to shape the sword making industry..
But a couple of years into the development of our site, our position as an industry insider allowed us some very unique opportunities.. And over a decade later, well - we've stacked up a few real victories, made some mistakes, and learned a whole lot in the process..
In this article we will look at all the different projects that we have been involved with over the years, and also provide you some insight into what is coming down the line..
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In 2008, we began our first foray into making Custom Katana as a response to people having numerous bad experiences attempting to buy Custom swords on eBay.
The demand was there, and understandably so. But the problem was too many people were getting ripped off by unscrupulous sellers (not much has changed). So when we were approached by not one but two individuals looking to collaborate with SBG to create our own custom Katana line, our journey into the world of exclusive SBG Special Projects began in earnest..
One of the projects - which was made in collaboration with 'ProSwords' had a lot of potential, ended up as something of a failure. Though it did give me my first taste in designing swords of my own - and as they say, quite often more is learnt from failure than success..
But the second project that started at the same time went on to become our famous SBG Custom Katana series, and while it too has had its fair share of trials and tribulations, this sword line continues to be offered to this day.
My choice of T10 tool steel for both projects, which was rare on swords below the $800 price point previously, also started something of a trend for using this steel for traditional style blades as it seemed to improve the overall durability of the blade and took a very attractive hamon temper line.
Project X started out in late 2011 and is a joint project between SBG and Ronin Katana, the largest manufacturer of Dojo ready Katana in the world.
The initial goal was to produce the very best Katana that money can buy outside of Japan by commissioning a series of swords with complex Soshu Kitae lamination and premium fittings, yet offering them at a price that almost any collector could afford.
Two years into the project, Project X began to branch out into high end traditional Chinese Swords with some limited runs, the most famous of which was the Jian of Marquis Yi (pictured right) which was made for us by Master Swordsmith Xiaolong Jiang - who would later become instrumental in another of our SBG special projects, Forge Direct..
Officially an offshoot of Project X (it is officially known as Project X - Forge Direct) the goal of this, perhaps one of the most ambitious SBG special projects, was to create a massive line of rare and unique traditional Master Smith forged Japanese and Chinese Swords available on a 'made to order' basis.
This would allow us to offer swords that may not have mass appeal and were too expensive to risk importing - with the end result that now we have over 40 unique designs available, including some that are so rare they have never been seen outside of mainland China.
Our most successful product to come from this unique concept was the Forge Direct Elite Custom Katana, which was several steps up in quality from SBG Custom Katana we started back in 2008, but with less customization options (and about double the price).
Since then, the project has expanded into several new and exciting directions, starting up a high end Fantasy Sword line and even collaborations with local artisans as part of our Legendary Swords Project (detailed below here).
Check out the entire lineup at the official SBG Sword Store:
Longship Armory joined the SBG Special Projects movement in 2015 and is a unique collaboration between its director, James Fang, Sword Buyers Guide and the legendary US based artisan, John Lundemo.
The aim was to produce several limited edition, SBG exclusive runs of 20 swords per run - and we started with the ultimate zombie slaying blade made from S7 shock steel - one of the strongest and rarest types of sword steels around.
A sword we named after the character created for our backstory, Furia - Sword of the Apocalypse.
After the second and final round of 10pcs were sold, our second project was created in conjunction with yet another of our SBG Special Projects, Legendary Swords: Project Eletreus (more on this later) with a Fantasy Pattern Welded Viking Sword we called "Odin's Oar", the blade of which was hand forged by KC Lund and hand finished by John Lundemo in his workshop.
But that is not the end, as more exclusive designs are being planned for the future, and while they are quite expensive (typically around the $2K mark per sword) they are truly limited edition and priced much lower than if they were ordered as a one off custom piece.
Scorpion Swords and Knives LLC is a small local US operation run by Chris Palmer making EXTREMELY tough and durable shortswords of various styles and cultures at his Missouri based workshop via the stock removal process.
The first sword made as a part of the SBG Special Projects series was a true 'Tactical Ko Katana' made from through hardened, monotempered 1095 carbon steel with a solid, immovable handle and blackened, rust resistant blade - and was destructive tested by Jason Woodard, who - despite his best efforts - was unable to destroy it..
After the initial success of the Tactical Ko Katana, we followed up with a Tactical Gladius, and then in 2017 - four battle ready Fantasy Swords which are also a part of the Legendary Swords Project, the most popular of which was the Goblin King Sword that was also tested by Jason Woodard and proved that despite its made up design, it was as tough as any other sword made by Scorpion.
But after careful and extensive negotiations with Scorpion Swords - we also offer, exclusive to SBG customers, a selection of FREE customization options - including changing the blade to two tone or black and the handle fittings from Black Linen Mircarta, Maple, Walnut wood or Bloodwood (plus optional lanyard hole)
Exclusive designs and full custom options only at the SBG Sword Store:
While Ryujin Swords are available at some other retailers, SBG was the first company to get involved with this project and have created a line of exclusive products quite different than what later competitors got on board with.
The concept was quite revolutionary, to take some high quality T10 tool steel blades, import a wide variety of fittings, and have them assembled in the USA instead of in China, allowing our customers to get a custom designed sword completed and shipped out to them within a week!
In addition to lower, flat rate pricing (some competitors offer a lower base price, but turn out $30 to $80 more expensive if the same customization options are offered) we also developed an extremely close working relationship with Ryujin allowing us to offer speedier shipments, higher levels of customer service and support, and ensure that stock levels are accurately reflected (many of the competitors offer products that are not in stock)..
Accurate stock levels, best prices and quality at the SBG Sword Store:
In 2017 we were approached by the owner of Musashi Swords, one of the largest manufacturers of affordable, entry level Katana, to design our own blade.
Naturally, we jumped at the chance - and the end result was a sleek, fast in the hand, traditional and strong Katana we Christened the Musashi Fast Cutter.
Affordably priced at just $199.99 - the initial run sold out quickly and more runs, and designs, are planned for the coming months and years ahead.
Perhaps our most ambitious of all the SBG special projects to date - Legendary Swords: the Eletreus Project, launched on the 20th of September 2018, ties together several previous collaborations with some new ones with the current line up including swords from both Forge Direct and Longship Armory - and many others currently in the works..
The basic concept is to create a line of fully functional, battle ready Fantasy Swords with a rich, integrated backstory and original Fantasy World called 'Eletreus'. Or, as summed up in our tagline:
"Fantasy Sword Art Made REAL in STEEL"
Many of the Sword designs in production for this line were actually designed by members of the SBG Sword Forum community from a sword design competition we ran in 2017 - and the swords made for them as a prize by several well known and lesser known sword manufacturers, most notably Blade Culture International in the Philippines.
While the line up starts out relatively small and humble, many swords are still in development, and there will be more opportunities to make swords designed by members of the sword community like YOU!
Here are a few examples of such designs made for us by Scorpion Swords all available here in our official sword store
At the same time, the site serves a showcase by some of the best fantasy sword makers of our time, and has and will continue to produce the best of high end one off or limited edition fantasy sword designs.
One such example is the second sword in our collaboration with Longship Armory - which perfectly dovetailed with our own philosophy of blending fantasy with reality with the creation of a the character 'Runa - Martyr of Stormwater' and the sword, Odin's Oar.
And in the same spirit, a high end Forge Direct Feathersteel blade to be mounted up by one of our own homegrown SBG artisans, Jeffrey Robinson with a soulful tale called 'the recountal of the Seraphim' and his design, the Seraph Aegis..
Forge direct has also branched out to add its own 'direct' contribution to the project with a range of original Wuxia (sword hero) inspired Chinese fantasy swords made by Longquan based artisan and certified rank 1 master smith, Michael Jie, and his selection of swords based loosely on and inspired by ancient Chinese myths and legends we have called 'the Lhasa Collection' that are as beautiful as they are deadly.
But all this, is just the tip of the iceberg.
There is a lot more to this project, and for anyone who loves classic high fantasy such as Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, D&D, video games such as the Witcher and classic Swords 'n Sorcery, this project will take fantasy swords to a whole new level.
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