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Sword Buyers Digest Christmas 2014
December 01, 2014
Yes indeed, it is THAT time of year again!
And in this, the last issue for 2014, we explore the strange crossover world of a Japanese sword movie classic gone anime with Dan's collectors corner, learn an unconventional and cheap way to never oil another carbon steel sword again, take a look at the unluckiest sword in history, watch Santa finally succumb to the stress and go postal with a sword (well, kind of) and discover some ways to avoid going postal yourself with a quick and easy guide to sword buying this Christmas (as well as a little "Christmas bonus" from yours truly)!
So grab a mug of egg nog or whatever you prefer this time of year and I will see you again at the bottom of this newsletter..!
1. From the Desk of Paul Southren
2. Collectors Corner with Dan Dacombe
3. No more Oils!
4. Bad Sword of the Month
5. Video of the Month
6. Santas Sword Bag: Christmas 2014
7. P.S. and P.P.S.
From The Desk of Paul Southren
Probably the most newsworthy bit of - er - news for this month is, SBG is about to get a brand spanking new forum!
Well, technically, it's not new per se - but rather as I was alluding to in previous issues of the digest, it is a return to our roots..
Until now we have had TWO forums, one with "Proboards" that we archived in 2010 and a second Phpbb forum from 2010-2014. But now, both are in the last phases of being merged back into one super stable, fast and powerful forum, the most stable platform ever ensuring we can continue to evolve and grow in the coming years.
Because of this, we will be skipping the best forum posts section in this issue as what we link to will probably not be active by the time you get around to clicking on it! So stay tuned folks, and if your usual bookmark for the forum doesn't work anytime soon, you can find the new link here:
SBG sword forum link page Otherwise, in preparation for the new unified forum, I ended up spending some time messing around with the look and feel of the SBG Sword Store and the sword store blog so that new visitors in particular will find a fairly consistent image across several very different platforms.
Collectors Corner with Dan Dacombe
Collector's Corner has returned as a regular part of the SBG Digest. Complaints about this development can be made to whichever spiritual figure you hold in esteem, but they won’t help one bit.
Sword Anime Review: “Samurai 7”
The Homage is a well-known literary device wherein an author paid tribute to a previous work by means of imitation or re-creation – many examples exist in written fiction. Expanded outside of the literary field there are countless examples in other media – television, movies, music – where an artist looks to a well-known previous work for inspiration, and produces a work often called a “remake.” One of the most famous examples of the Homage is of the iconic 1954 Akira Kurosawa film “Seven Samurai,” a story of a village beset by bandits and rescued by the titular group of samurai.
Widely acknowledged as one of the best films ever made, Seven Samurai was a landmark creation of Japanese cinema that spawned the Homage/remake 1960 Western film “The Magnificent Seven,” a cowboys-and-indians version of Kurosawa’s tale. The Western film itself became another pillar of cinema, being followed by sequels and eventually a television series. Truly, tribute to Kurosawa’s masterpiece had been duly paid.
OF COURSE there's an anime/manga remake of Seven Samurai. Because this is Japan, and if there’s one thing Japan knows it’s that everything is better with mecha.
The remake, imaginatively titled “Samurai 7,” takes the basic storyline of the classic film and adds giant mecha, floating battleships, cities built over bottomless pits, magic, cyborgs, cloning, flying swords the size of buildings, then expands the whole thing to 26 episodes. The bandits become mecha, the merchants who oversee the bandits have mecha, even one of the seven samurai hired to defend the village is a mecha.
I loved the 1954 version, and have watched it several times (once with our second child who was just 6 months old – she laughed, she cried, she crapped her pants. It was a bonding moment for us). I was well and truly prepared to hate this anime when I started it – but I didn’t. Despite the presence of large metal combatants everywhere, the series makes a genuine effort to stay close to the story of the original. Fans of the original film will notice the names of the seven main characters are the same, and several well-known scenes were adapted directly from the film.
I actually really enjoyed it – my overall impression was that the creators of the anime were trying their best to be respectful to the source material.
That being said, there were some changes that didn’t translate quite as well to the anime version. In an effort to make a world where giant mecha and human samurai can go toe-to-toe, the abilities of the samurai have to be somewhat “elevated.” So right from the get-go we have to expect that these samurais’ katana are of the “tank-cutting variety.” We get a glimpse of this in the first five minutes of the pilot, when the leader of the seven samurai – a man named Kambei – is fighting in the middle of an aerial battle between two armies of mecha and slices a city-sized flying aircraft carrier in half with his katana. Which is awesome, and wow dude is that guy ever cool, but when he has to get the village together to fight back against the relatively tiny bandit mecha the viewer tends to wonder why they don’t all just kick back and let Kambei do all the killing. He’s been set up from the get-go to be such a colossal badass that the armies of mooks the characters face seem really nonthreatening. It’s less of a question of if Kambei is going to win a fight but rather how many pieces his opponent is going to be in by the end. Especially hard to translate to anime is the character of Kikuchiyo, the giant peasant-turned-samurai who in the original was played by the incomparable Toshiro Mifune. Mifune portrayed the “buffoon” of the group with a gravity and depth that could leave you breathless, struck by the richness of his tragic story that starts and ends in a peasant village. Mifune’s Kikuchiyo is both the comic relief and the soul of the group of samurai, able to bridge the gap between samurai and peasant like no one else. Of course, the only way to follow an act like Mifune’s is to make the character an enormous, steam-powered mecha. It’s not all bad by a long shot. There’s some genuinely good writing here (for an anime), and despite my fears the story translated well to the new medium. I actually really appreciated the development of Katsushiro, the young and idealistic samurai who longs to be a hardened warrior like Kambei. And the characters of the peasants were given more screen time, allowing for more development of their characters. But as good of a show as it was, it mostly made me wish I was watching the original again. And you know what? That’s ok with me. The anime was good, and I encouraged those of you who are so inclined to give it a go. But if possible, let it point you back to the classic. The classic has it all – revenge, love, betrayal, courage, tragedy and humour. Samurai 7 is a fitting Homage to Kurosawa’s film, but the film certainly stands on its own. And whether you try the anime or not, you should check out the classic. Because as much as a remake can be good, there’s no beating the original. Not even with mecha.
No more oils: An Unconventional way to stop the sword oil toil…
Before anyone gets upset - here's a simple solution that I cannot claim is my own - but rather was found in a basket tied with fowlers' knots floating in the river (well, it was submitted by a digest reader who would rather remain anonymous) avoid "Pseudo Toshiro Mifunes and wannabe ninjas and samurais flooding me with email".
Whenever a friend wants to see one my katanas unsheathed, ok, I let them have a peek. BUT ALWAYS with the stern admonishment: "Please, don't touch the blade…” Greasy, probing groping digits seemed be drawn like magnets to touch the mystical blades surfaces.
Well, all the paper, oils and silly powder guff just became too much for me. My son in law (a former Marine) loves knives and has a small collection. I gave him a medium quality katana and he called me asking how to clean it after inquisitive friends have drooled and left their fingerprints all over it.
I began to think about it, how to protect the sword blades and keep them looking sharp, no pun intended. Now we know that there are those sword owners who just relish wrapping their swords in mystical humbuggery. E.g. if you unsheathe the sword, "It must taste blood!”
Or the whole powder ball, oil and special paper ritual.
Well, I started thinking about it. Most of the 'katanas' out there nowadays are from China and in fact stronger, steel requiring less TLC than mystic rituals demand.
So I tried car wax.Yep. Car wax. It is gentle to metal surfaces, but does remove stains. It, besides polishing the metal also protects it from moisture and helps repel greasy finger prints. I used Blue Coral, the old fashioned tried and true car wax that General Motors used to use on it top line cars. It cleans polishes and after a little buffing with a clean rag...it shines.
So, there it is, if you decide to put this into your sword digest, please, don't mention my name. I do not want a bunch of samurai wannabes telling me such treatment is blasphemy.
Try it yourself on a non-sacred blade that could use a little pick me up.
Bad Sword of the Month - The Unluckiest Sword?
I am not talking about the rust and patina, you might expect that on an actual antique Viking blade nearly 1,000 years old. No.
What makes this sword "bad" is that, from its debut at the battle of Stanford Bridge, everyone that has owned it has ended up being killed with it in their hand, and it seems that even with a bargain price of around US$180,000 or so.. Click here to read the article (Daily Mail.com)
Video of the Month
You better not scream, you better not cry, you better bleedin' well behave yourself kids because Santa has a two handed Dao and he is not afraid to swing it around!
Since this video is a bit tongue in cheek,
Here's another one
where Adam Savage from Mythbusters customizes a wooden sword into something quite special. A great idea that those of you with kids (or who are kids at heart) can try at home (yes, DO try this at home!).
Santa's Sword Bag for Christmas 2014
Hard to believe it, but it is THAT time of year again (well, not THAT hard to believe if you just watched Santa's sword form video).
Anyway, believe it or not - if you are planning on some swordy goodness as part of your Christmas wish/gift list for 2014, NOW is definitely the time to wake up and get cracking!
As a sword buyer, seller and industry insider - Christmas is both a great and incredibly frustrating time. Great is pretty self explanatory. After all, if you let everyone you know that you love swords - chances are that you will get one from everyone you know! Frustrating because, they might get you a cheap wallhanger and you have to fake a smile and refrain from launching a diatribe against SLO's (Sword Like Objects for new sword enthusiasts), they might buy you a sword you already have OR they might order too late and miss Christmas entirely.
It is this last one, ordering too late, that is one of the worst mistakes because - starting from about, well, from about NOW - the number of parcels UPS, USPS, FedEd, etc has to handle skyrockets - along with the chances of them losing, crushing or delaying your shipment, completely ruining Christmas..
So what is a good hearted would be Christmas Sword Buyer to do?
Naturally, if someone has made a wish list then it can be fairly easy to pick out the right sword. But if they haven't, how to avoid buying a duplicate or worse - total crap?
QUICK AND EASY GUIDE TO A SWORDY CHRISTMAS 2014
Basically, to keep it simple, I recommend buying from one of three online sword stores, depending on when in the month you buy and who you are buying for/what you intend to buy.
The first place to check out would have to be the old standby,
Kult-of-Athena - not only do they have a massive selection of swords, but they make it easy by separating the wallhangers from the functional swords - just look for the "battle ready" logo and you pretty much can't go wrong (true, it is debatable that some of their sub $100 swords are battle ready, unless by battle you mean taking on some LARPers with a steel sword! But at least it is clearer than most other sites with such a large and varied range).
Apart from the fact that they have such great pricing (few, if any, competitors come close) but they clearly label what is in stock and what is not, ship super fast, and inspect each sword before it goes out to minimize the odds of a Christmas day unboxing disappointment.
And for those of you who aren't sure what to get that special someone, check out their NEW PRODUCTS section as chances are the items there haven't been seen anywhere else yet and are very unlikely to already be in someone's collection already. Kult-of-Athena While Kult of Athena have something for everybody, at every possible price point, the second old standby would have to be Trueswords.com - especially for lovers of Japanese styled Katana.
They have been restocking like crazy the last few months and introduced literally hundreds of various grade carbon steel swords that you can find Here in their Hand made Swords Section Again, whether or not an item is in stock is clearly marked and kept up to date, shipping is LIGHTNING fast and they also have many special offers coming and going as we get closer to the big day. Furthermore, the vast majority of the swords they have restocked are new products that have not been seen before and come in a wide variety of styles and colors - so there is most definitely something for every Katana enthusiast.
Finally, well, I guess I should mention the SBG sword store - we don't have as many swords in stock as KoA and Trueswords, and we aren't quite as fast on the shipping either and not quite big enough to absorb the inevitable losses from impulse buys, rushed last minute orders for the custom Katana (what, you mean you don't have my custom order placed Christmas eve in stock ready to overnight ship! Shame on you SBG! Lol).
So instead, we recommend that sensible buyers like yourself get in early and check out our fastest shipping, best selection of in stock functional swords that are pretty much guaranteed to make it in time for Christmas here:
OOPS, I TOTALLY FORGET ABOUT (SO AND SO)What can you do if, at the last minute, you realize that you have forgotten that someone special who happens to be a sword lover? We don't recommend placing an expensive last minute rush ship order - chances are it will get mixed up, delayed or destroyed. Instead, how about considering some Gift Certificates so that the recipient can buy a sword of THEIR choice at THEIR pace!
Indeed, Gift Certificates are a great and inexpensive way to ensure a perfect outcome and send the perfect gift to be shipped at a safer, more leisurely pace.
Whichever way you choose, happy sword shopping - I hope this brief guide has been of some help to make Christmas sword buying easy and fun instead of frustrating and annoying!
And one final tip, if in doubt - ask! Send an email, pick up the phone or otherwise double check. Much better to take a few extra moments to be doubly sure than hitting the order button too early, getting no replies and messing around with chargebacks, etc because the sword you ordered wasn't actually in stock, etc - a scenario that is much more likely this time of year than any other!
Merry Christmas and a Happy Swordening New Year to you all. Talk to you again in February (we take a break from writing the digest over new years, so please don't ask where the January 1st issue is, there won't be one!).
It's not THAT scratched and dented, and with a little elbow grease, while still relatively expensive is the bargain of the year for the right person, that is for sure.. Project X: Scratch and Dent The coupon code is valid from now until the 10th of December, so don't hang about, with a little elbow grease you could make it into a truly amazing Christmas Gift!
P.P.S. Remember, we take a break from writing the newsletter over the new year so see you again in Feb! Stay safe, happy holidays and see you in 2015!!
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