Fantasy swords, being products of the imagination, naturally come in all kinds of wondrous shapes and sizes.
In our sub US$300 price range, there are a plethora of swords to choose from with a fantasy theme. However, only problem is, most are nothing more than display ornaments - and many are so poorly executed that they fail even at that...
However, scratch below the surface - and sort through all the junk - and you can divide fantasy swords into two main categories: high quality display swords and functional fantasy pieces.
Both of these are quite rare in the sub US$300 price range, but they are there if you know where to look.
So take a journey with me now through the looking glass into the world of high fantasy, both magical and futuristic, as we meander through the exotic mindscapes of the pure and unfettered imagination...
Now as I mentioned, there are a lot of very cheap fantasy styled swords available that are extremely questionable...
Most have extremely shoddy construction and are made for cents on the dollar in Pakistan or China, which becomes even more apparent when you 'pop the hood'...
Unfortunately many of these swords look OK when they are photographed (in one piece) for the web, but are a major disappointment when you get them in your hands. And like many cheap stainless steel swords, the biggest problems with these swords is that they are constructed very poorly, often with loose (or soon to be loose) rattling hilts, fragile and/or brittle blades (that can sometimes be sharpened - which is not only a bad idea - but potentially lethal to the wielder if used!) and a complete lack of attention to detail.
Watch the video below to see what I mean...
Video: Cheap swords EXPOSED
Many sellers of cheap and nasty swords prefer you don't see this video...
Fortunately, you don't have to pay a huge amount of money to dramatically improve the quality.
While the number of quality decorative blades is much less than the 'piles of crap' you can pick up for $20, there are some that stand head and shoulders above the rest.
But there is one name that comes up time and time again, Kit Rae.
Kit Rae, in conjunction with United Cutlery, has been a designer of decorative fantasy swords and knives since 1984 and it is his designs that are the most commonly imitated with cheap knock offs.
As can be expected, the knock offs don't even come close to the real thing, and to make matters worse, some highly unethical sellers actually put up an image of original and then ship a $20 knock off instead, so be very careful where you buy them from...
Anyway, Kit's work creating fantasy knives, swords, axes and other hand weapons has a certain distinct flair and flavor - with an attention to detail that is extremely rare at this price point.
Considering that you can pick up the original designs for around the $150 mark at such sellers as Trueswords.com, they are truly excellent value for money, and while the swords are not 'battle ready' (made from stainless steel, they are definitely not to be used for cutting - see our article on battle ready swords to know why it's not suitable) they more than fulfill their function as true three dimensional fantasy art and blow everything else right out of the water...
There is something very powerful and 'magical' that happens when you fuse fantasy with functionality...
Personally, I feel that by making fantasy swords functional, it somehow seems to bridge the gap between the ethereal and the real - bringing an otherworldly design to life and giving it a very real presence that you just can get from a stainless steel decorative piece...
Despite this though, truly practical fantasy swords are very rare in the sword market, though most of the major manufacturers of historically inspired battle ready swords make one or two each.
Part of the reason for this rarity has to do with design constraints. In other words, many of the typical blade geometries depicted in fantasy simply don't work in the real world.
However, let's take a look at a few swords that DO work in the real world. And as we will see, some of these fantasy swords work very, very well indeed...
Hand made in the USA by Chris Palmer, Scorpion Swords are some of the toughest short swords around. Many are inspired by popular TV series, movies and video games - but here is one of our own creation, designed by a SBG member - the Goblin Sword which was part of a now discontinued project we attempted to add more options for collectors of functional fantasy swords.
While the project was discontinued, the swords made by Scorpion Swords are still available - read the review below to get an idea of what to expect.
Windlass Steelcrafts have probably made more tempered carbon steel, full tang fantasy blades than just about every other manufacturer. Only problem is, as is often the case with Windlass, many of the best ones have been discontinued...
However on the bright side, there are still several designs that have withstood the test of time. And many more that have either just come out or are around the corner.
The majority of their fantasy designs are based on either role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons (ah, memories of a misspent, proudly geeky youth!) or official replicas based on books such as the Heron Mark from the wheel of time.
Below are some reviews of some classics that are still in production.
While Hanwei only really have one sword to contribute to our functional fantasy line up, it's arguably one of the best (and the cheapest around).
When it comes to a solid variety of a tough fantasy blades, Darksword Armoury pretty much have the market cornered at the low to mid price point.
Over the years, they have refined the models they offer, and are the only company to offer fully functional versions of the LoTR Ranger, Anduril and Witchking swords, plus some of their own unique fantasy designs.
Fantasy swords inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkein and the Lord of the Rings Franchise are typically decorative in nature. Some, such as the official ones made by United Cutlery might not be real swords, but they are very detailed and attractive.
But for functional, battle ready replicas - two companies have come to dominate: Darksword Armory and Kingdom of Arms. Both have their advantages and their disadvantages, but between them there should be a Ranger sword replica suitable for even the most demanding collector..
Many of the best custom made swords are original fantasy designs. From names such as Jody Sampson, Michael 'Tinker' Pearce, John Lundemo, Brendan and Jeffrey J Robinson just to name a few - all make original, highly detailed and beautiful Fantasy swords from their own rich imaginations.
The prices for swords like these are understandably in the thousands and wait times - both on waiting lists and waiting for the sword to be completed - is often close to a year or more..
But as you will see, they are worth it.
While most of the time when making custom fantasy swords, it can be very hard to find someone who can make it within a reasonable time frame and for something less than $5000..
Due to their popularity, the custom sword fitter reviewed below can't help a whole lot with the wait time, but they have a stellar work ethic, are highly regarded by the sword community and are the most affordable option currently available post pandemic.
You may be interested in a tutorial on how to turn the BLADE of ANY sword into a fantasy style runic engraved piece with our guide to electro chemical etching that you can use to add a decorative pattern to ANY blade using vinyl stencils!
I should also mention that there is some crossover between Fantasy swords which are based more on art and pure imagination and those which are replicas of blades seen in various movies, comics and Japanese Anime of course. So for more fantasy swords that are based on the latter category, check out our guide to TV, Anime and Movie swords here
I hope this information on fantasy swords has been helpful.To return to the SBG Homepage from Decorative and Functional Fantasy Swords, click here