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Sword Buyers Digest - August 2008
August 01, 2008
Good to see you all again!
This is a pretty big issue again, so I’ll dispense with the rambling as quickly as possible so you can get into it! With a new category of swords imminent to the site, a brand new competition for the artists and photographers in the SBG family, some serious sword industry news, and a nice dash of levity with Dan’s Collectors Corner article and the video of the month, there is quite a bit to get through!
Hope you enjoy it!
1. SBG SITE NEWS AND UPDATES
It’s been a busy month behind the scenes at SBG, even though it may not have looked that way on the surface. If you read the ‘what’s new section’ it’s actually a little embarrassing, only 5 new reviews added and then nothing... But trust me, I’ve got more projects on the boil at the moment than you can poke a sword shaped stick at...!
Most of these will not become apparent until later in the year.. I’ll tell you more about them as they become closer to completion.
But this months project is a bit of a change of pace for SBG – fantasy swords! As a life long fantasy role playing geek myself (a ‘Gamesmaster’ none-the-less!) fantasy swords have always had a special place in my heart. However as most of the swords on the market are wallhangers, my love for mythically designed swords has until recently been confined to pen, paper and imagination only...
But that is changing. These days there are enough functional fantasy swords out there these days to make it worthwhile creating a dedicated fantasy sword section. And I’ve even softened my stance a little on some of the better quality ‘fantasy art swords’. While they aren’t supposed to be functional, I’ve become open minded enough to take a second and much closer look at them, and been suitably impressed...
Designs such as those by Kit Rae have enough merit to at least deserve a decent close up pictorial review (a sneak preview below).
It’s not really a change in focus, as most of the swords we will be covering in this section are functional (think the Dark Sentinel, Guardian Sword, Twinkle, Icingdeath, Heron Mark, etc) – but rather a brief interlude for fantasy sword lovers who love the idea of something that would only really work in a land infused with magic...
To watch the reviews as they are added – be sure to visit the SBG News section or better yet – subscribe to the RSS feed for up to the minute additions.
CALLING ALL ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS
Now as you may know SBG has a somewhat neglected and hastily set up store here at Cafe press – where there are listings for a series of items such as T-Shirts, Mugs, etc with the official SBG logo on them. Of course, in reality as much as you might love SBG and all that it stands for, the designs are a bit more like ‘employee’ uniforms than something cool and exciting that you would want to wear around the place. ;-)
So to help liven it up a bit, and to increase the pool of money available for future competitions and giveaways, I’ve come up with the following competition!
I am looking for members to submit their own original artwork, be it high quality photos, computer generated graphics or hand drawn – to be transformed into a range of high quality and exciting products that anyone in the sword community would be proud to wear.
Including the SBG Logo somewhere in the design is a bonus, but is not necessary. Though if it is possible to incorporate it into the design it would help spread the word when people wear them to Taikais, sword shows, Ren-Faires, etc.
The only limit to these designs is your imagination – if you want to be serious or funny, that is completely up to you. Some risqué photos such as we saw in the 2008 calendar are acceptable, and indeed these photos can be resubmitted with a non-calendar theme (after all, I’ve seen people say on the forums that if they could have a T-shirt of some of the lovely ladies from the calendars they would buy it in a heartbeat). Just make sure that it is just a bit risqué if you know what I mean...! ;-)
I know we have a lot of skilled artists in the SBG community, so this is a chance for you all to immortalize your work and also help to create a pool of funds that will be used exclusively to fund more competitions, giveaways and other projects to benefit the community over the coming months.
The only other thing is that the picture quality needs to be very high resolution – between 200-300 DPI and as large as possible so it can be resized down to fit on the various designs rather than stretched out if you know what I mean. More info on this can be found at the cafe press site here:
The competition will run for 3 months, until October 31st, at which time I will select a first place winner and two runners up. The first place winner will receive a their choice of ANY sub $300 sword or item at the SBG Sword Store, plus will also receive a small package of goodies featuring their design from cafe press. And the two runners up will get a $100 SBG Sword Store Gift voucher each to use at their discretion.
I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with! Submissions, questions, comments and ideas will take place on THIS thread at the SBG Sword Forum, though you can of course also contact me privately at any time.
Click here to check out the thread of the forums and get started
July was a bit of a slow month for the sword industry, and the news that is coming out is a little grim in parts...
With the global economy being how it is, prices have been going up across the board. As of today Albion swords, which are expensive enough at the best of times, have gone up 11% (though you can still pick them up at a lower price at Kult of Athena – though how long even KoA will be able to hold it remains to be seen). Likewise, even our beloved Generation 2 swords will increase in price from today! Darksword Armoury have already adjusted both their wholesale and retail costs. And there will be more to come very soon as manufacturers who have been absorbing the costs to date now have no choice but to follow suit...
However, it is not all bleak news. With increased pressure will come further refinements and fierce competition to try and deliver a better product for the best price possible. Yes, we may see some companies really struggle or even go under as the market gets tighter. But generally speaking, while prices may increase by between 9-11%, the natural competition in what is essentially a micro industry should ensure that the evolutionary trend of the last 6-12 months will start to accelerate even faster than before...
So while the prices are going up - watch this space, because the continuing competition and friendly rivalry is about to get very interesting – that is for sure!
To stay on top of developments in the sword industry as they happen, be sure to check the SMG Newsfeed often - or better yet, use the RSS feed to get announcements in your RSS reader.
“My First Blade”
At the age of twenty, much sooner than many of our friends and relatives and about 7 years younger than the national average my wife and I got married.
We have no regrets, even though at first some naysayers kept dropping helpful tips such as the divorce rate in Canada or tales of their own failed marriages.
My wife, wonderful patient woman that she is, made a point of being very polite to these well-meaning but misguided folks, which distracted them while I snuck outside and filled their vehicles with puffed wheat. We were a great team.
Now, let me tell you, the first year of marriage isn’t necessarily a picnic. We had many obstacles to overcome, since neither of us had lived with someone before that point. No one, that is, except for when I lived with my college roommate. That arrangement was much less like a marriage and more like the Cold War, if the Cold War had involved Russia soaking America’s boxer shorts and sticking them in the freezer.
Yes, my new wife and I had to contend with charming personality quirks (most of them mine), including but not limited to snoring, preferences involving food, or the way I would insist on humming Ride of the Valkyries when I was plunging the toilet.
That being said, we did well. Great, even – six years later and no signs of quitting yet, unless when I get home today she’s run off with the mailman (which she wouldn’t, because we pick up our mail at the post office – it’s a marriage saver!).
Even one year in we were pleased at how much we’d grown in maturity and closeness. So close, in fact, that my wife decided to buy me my first sword even before I realized that I wanted to become a collector (she reads minds, which is alternatively cool and creepy, depending on what I’m thinking when she’s doing it).
Here’s the situation: it was our first anniversary. We didn’t have much money – I had just graduated with a degree in Social Sciences (majoring in psychology and sociology) and was receiving everything the industry had available for such graduates (bubkus), while my wife was just heading into a PR/Marketing program that we weren’t getting student loans for.
It looked like the 1-year anniversary in Hawaii would have to wait (it’s still waiting, actually).
So, we decided to buy each other little gifts. Even though we didn’t have alot of money we wanted to make the other feel special, so we put alot of thought into these gifts. I had been wearing a Celtic knotwork ring on my right hand that she had bought me when we were dating, and I decided to find a matching one for my wife. Not bad, eh guys?
I’m like Hitch, but shorter and slightly less African-American.
My wife had a tougher time. The only jewellery I would ever wear had come from her – my Celtic ring and a similar pendant, plus my wedding band – so I didn’t really need any other personal ornaments.
My suggestions of movies or new jeans or maybe (just maybe) a subscription to Wizard Magazine had all seemed too lacking in meaning for a first anniversary gift. She knew I loved anime and Japanese culture, but she wasn’t sure what kind of gift would fit into that category. She wandered the mall, pondering mightily (which is the only way to ponder, in my opinion), until she saw it. The one and only time she would ever buy something from a store called “The House of Knives,” and she did it for me. Now that, friends and neighbours, is love.
So the time came to exchange gifts, and she loved the ring (score one for the white Hitch), and then came out with my gift. I was very excited as she handed me a long cardboard tube, covered with Japanese lettering – I realized right away that this was in all likelihood a weapon.
I had always loved katanas, and my heart thumped in my chest at the thought of having an actual sword in my hands. It was lighter than I expected, and I wondered if it could perhaps be a wakazashi? I had read James Clavall’s “Shogun” and a number of other works on Japanese culture and weaponry, and thought that the single-handed close quarters sword would be just as cool. I pictured myself with the wakazashi across my back, drawing it one handed and looking extremely cool (in my mental picture, I was also wearing a kimono). Eagerly, I ripped into the package.
Out fell large amounts of packing peanuts, and a short tanto in a black saya (scabbard).
For those of you who don’t know (as my wife didn’t, though I happened to posses this little tidbit of knowledge), the tanto is a Japanese samurai’s personal disembowelment device.
When the samurai was dishonoured, he would kneel down and perform an elaborate ritual called seppukku, cutting open his stomach and spilling out his innards. A very, very painful way to die – so some lucky samurai would have a buddy standing behind them to chop off their head before the pain overwhelmed them and caused them to cry out and lose honour. I looked, and a small card attached to the sword’s saya confirmed my guess; this was indeed a tanto. To bring the point home, my wife had just given me an instrument of suicide as an anniversary gift, rather like if she had gift wrapped me a noose.
How to react? What was I supposed to say? I thought that things had been going so well! I had tried to embrace her pizza topping suggestions (even though I drew the line at pineapple), and I didn’t think I snored that much. I even tried to hum quietly while I plunged the toilet. What gives? I met her gaze and saw that she was waiting apprehensively for my reaction.
“You don’t know what this is, do you?” I asked.
“Sure, it’s a Japanese dagger.”
Wordlessly, I handed her the card. She read it, slow horror dawning upon her face. Once she was finished, we stood there in an awkward silence. Eventually we laughed about it, but for weeks afterwards I looked over my shoulder. After a few months, though, things were back to normal.
Want to know the best part? Next year, she bought me another one. Is she trying to tell me something?
Thoughts on Steel
Differentially Tempered European Swords
Sakujiro Yokoyama's Account of a Samurai Duel
August 11 Duel – Tsafa and Adam, so watch this space!
Technically, this isn’t a sword video. I know, I know – the shame of it all...
But it IS a medieval blade. And it is too cool and funny to pass by the opportunity to share this one with you all (not to mention, the gent in the video is also a fellow Australian, and us Aussies gotta stick together don’t ya know!).
His name is Terry. And he is, to put it quite plainly – a total maniac.
Or as Terry puts it: “Ever since I was a boy I have had a burning desire to chop. Some call it an obsessive compulsion, others have told me i'm clinically insane. But for me it's simply a release. When I have my axe in my hand and i'm ready to slice open an inanimate object, it's like I go somewhere else - I call it - the choppy place.”
These aren’t serious axe tests of course, but it a whole lot of good clean ‘choppy’ fun. Enjoy!
Hope you enjoyed this edition of the Digest, a very big month ahead for SBG with the midnight oil all primed and ready to burn. So until next month, stay safe and have fun!
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