Monday, December 16, 2013

Comparisons: Xena sword

Hey people!

As promised, here's a post about sword comparisons :)

My brother told me I should write about all the things I've learnt about props and repros, mainly how to tell them apart. The idea is giving people the kind of information I so wanted to read when I began collecting. He's completely right, so there you go! Here you have a basic list of tricks to be able to differentiate props and some replica brands. I hope it'll prove handy for those new to collecting, or just people interested on this kind of stuff!


Now, there are many Xena swords in the market, some better and some worse. I'll be analyzing only three types of them, which are the ones I consider to be the best. These are:

- The original props: I'll be using them more as a reference than anything else, but still, you might get lucky and find one of these. It that happens, this might help you to identify them correctly.

- The Creation Ent replica: under my perspective, the most accurate replica there is. Very rare and difficult to find.

- The Todd's Costumes replica: a quite nice replica. It has a very decent level of accuracy, though many details vary from the one seen on-screen. However I've seen plenty of people trying to pass them as props... yet another reason to help people identify them.

So, which are the little details that give away which sword is which? How can we tell them apart? Let's do it step by step:

- THE HILT:

The hilt is by far the most recognizable part in any Xena sword. It's also the best part to spot some of the biggest differences among all the versions.

From left to right: Resin prop sword, Creation Ent replica and Todd's Costumes replica.
Photos by Cheri (aka MyXenaWP) and Otsillac.

> Material: The first aspect that always calls my attention is the material. 

- Original props tend to be made out of resin, rubber or foam. Those are the typical production materials. There are some on metal, of course, but they are exceptionally rare, cause were used only in counted times.

- Creation and Todd's replicas are always metallic. Never resin.

>> EDIT: It turns out Todd's Costumes DID make some resin sword replicas. They are very rare, but they do exist. You can recognize them through the same other points written below.

>> EDIT 1: I have found some pictures and precious information about this early resin replicas. They were painted by hand using a product called "Rub 'n Buff" (a wax-based metallic finish) and had to be handled with extreme care, as the silver finish could be damaged, dulled down or rubbed off due to excessive handling. Additionally, the patinas seem to be applied in a "clumsy(er)" way than in Mr Coyle's later versions of Xena's sword.

An early resin Xena sword replica by a yet unlicensed Todd's Costumes.
Photo by Pshepp1390.
The handling instructions included with Todd's resin sword replica.
Photo by Pshepp1390.

Then, one thing is clear: if you see a resin sword, it won't (usually) be a Todd's nor Creation replica. A prop? Just maybe! More on that later.

> The Pommel: Notice how both the original prop and the Creation Entertainment replica have the very same pommel. It's kind of ellipsoidal, like a flattened sphere. On the other hand, Todd's pommel is bigger and rounder - it looks more spherical. 

From left to right: Resin prop sword, Creation Ent replica and Todd's Costumes replica.
Photos by Chris (aka Carbonek), AUSXIP and Xena10Ares.

> Leather Grip: Next aspect is the leather grip. As far as I'm aware of, the three of them use real leather. However, Todd'd replica is noticeable different due to the fact its leather is more embossed. Do you see how the joints between the leather strips are more visible? The original prop and the Creation replica are more subtle. 

There is, however, one thing that differentiates the prop and the Creation Ent replica. If you look at the biggest paua in the center of the hilt, you'll see it has a golden ring around it. Well, in the prop (as in Todd's replica) that ring and the leather never touch. There is an "empty space" of hilt material in between, of trapezoidal shape. Nevertheless, the Creation replica has this space filled with leather, and thus the center ring and the black strips of the handle touch each other. 

> The Guard: The shape of the guard is always very distinctive. You can see the prop and the Creation replica have practically the same shape (after all, they came out of the same molds). But Todd's is slightly different. The "arms" are broader and the paui shells in them are smaller. That gives the sword a "bulky" feel the other two don't have. 

Also, in the Todd's replica the paui are inserted in the metal, instead of just glued over the surface like in the others (as you can see in this pic). 

Creation replica: the paua is simply glued over the metal surface.
Photo by Otsillac.

> Color: You may have already realized there is another significant aspect that differentiates all the versions - their color. 

- Original props tend to be inconsistent regarding color. Ones are yellow, others are orange, others copper... There are factors that explain why those changes (stunt weapons aren't meant to be "seen" on-screen too much, for an instance), but they don't matter much now. What does matter is that there is consensus Xena's sword hilt is made of copper. Official pics show us so, as well as most written official information. Props used for close-ups had always copper coloring, and that proves the point as well.

Complementarily, accents and weathering in original props are almost always made in green hues.

- Creation Ent replicas consistently present a dark or old gold base tone. Although there are hints of copper added through layering, the result is not as much red/orange as in original prop swords. On the other hand, accents and weathering are primarily in brownish colors, though they also have some small details made in green (only visible in very close distances).

- Finally, Todd's Costumes replicas are almost always painted in a light gold or yellow tone. Later numbers barely have any weathering in the hilt, but earlier numbers do. It's usually green.

On the left in both images, a Todd's replica. Notice the lighter tone of gold and the green accents. On the right, a Creation Ent replica, with a brownish and older-looking gold tone.
Photos by Otsillac.

>> EDIT 2: The hilt patina in Todd's Costumes early resin sword is a deeper and more evident hue of green. I'd say it seems more intense and concentrated, and a bit less "washed out" than his metal version.


Close-up to the hilt of Todd's Costumes early resin version.
Photo by Pshepp1390.

- THE BLADE:

Apart from the hilt, the blade also gives us valuable information to identify the three different versions.

From left to right: Resin prop sword, Creation Ent replica and Todd's Costumes replica.
Photos by Chris (aka Carbonek), AUSXIP and Beatlesrock.

>> EDIT 3: For your interest, I include yet another photo of Todd's Costumes early resin replica, this time a full show where you can appreciate the blade.


The slightly different shine of the "metal"gives away that this replica is painted resin.
Photo by Pshepp1390.

Brand Identifier: The first aspect we must seek is the existence of any kind of engraving or logo close to the hilt.

- Xena props usually sport some hand written name (whereas not very visible), referring to the person who was intended to use the item (Lucy, Zoe Bell...). This happens sometimes with swords, but it's not as usual as in other props or screen-used costumes.

- Creation Ent replicas always have the sentence "New Zealand made" engraved in one of the sides of the blade, very close to the hilt.

- And the Todd's replica has the "Xena WP" official merchandise logo. At least the ones Todd Coyle (creator and replica maker of Todd's Costumes) did when his products were licensed. Nevertheless, he did make swords before of that, and they surely won't have this logo.

The Xena logo in the Todd's Costumes sword replica (left) and the "NZ made"
stamp in the Creation Entertainment replica (right).
Photos by Otsillac.

> Stress marks: Stress marks also vary from one model to another.

- The ones seen on-screen change between episodes. Generally, the sooner the episode the lesser stress marks there are. But we can find some exceptions. Stunt weapons usually didn't have as much detail as the props meant to be properly seen, and some of them lack any kind of marks.

- Creation Ent replicas have subtle marks to make the blade look battle-worn, but these don't stand out too much without the right lightning.

- Todd's Costumes replicas have deeper and more visible marks, in the form of black lines that cross the blade from side to side. They normally are more weathered than Creation stress-marks, and look blacker - thus they stand out much more, even with bad illumination.

Resin Prop swords with different degrees of stress-marks.
Photos by Chris (aka Carbonek).

>> EDIT 4: Finally, I see fit to also include a close-up to the stress marks visible in Todd's Costumes early resin replica. As mentioned above, the patina (black in the blade) is quite less subtle than in the metal version, and has a more "painted" look to it.


Close-up to the blade accents of Todd's Costumes early resin version.
Photo by Pshepp1390.

Blade's shape: Finally, there is one last factor to consider - the blade's own shape. This one is easy: while hero props (not stunt swords) and Creation replicas look somehow curvaceous and irregular, Todd's swords present more straight and regular lines. Their blades are more uniform, and their width is almost the same from the hilt to the pointy end.

***

That's pretty much it. As you can see, it's not that difficult. It just takes time to analyze some particular aspects, basically color, shape and proportions. Details are important!

Anyway, all have pros and cons. I hope this post help you decide which one of these versions you prefer. Or help you buy your replicas more consciously, without fear to be deceived.

A recent example. Some people wanted to sell me this cut-out sword, trying to pass it as an original prop. Do you see why it's fake?



It's made of resin yes, but the shape is NOT correct for an original prop. Look at the pommel, or the guard. It's been clearly cast out of a Todd's Costumes sword replica.

>> EDIT5: The somewhat odd texture and color scheme reveal this isn't part of an early resin Todd's replica either.

If you don't see what I'm referring to, be patient. Inspect the photos thoroughly and try to find your own rules. Be patient! And if you have any doubts, feel free to contact me :)

Until the next one, guys! Enjoy some Xena pics with her sword





Note: All photomontages by me. Original pics by collectors Beatlesrock, Carbonek, MyXenaWP, Otsillac, Xena10Ares and me.

14 comments:

  1. I have one of the Creation ENT swords..(and Gabby's staff) is there a market out there for them right now? Where would be a good place to advertise/get an idea how much they are worth?

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    1. Hello April! Yes, there's definitely a market for replicas out there. Send me an e-mail and I can give you some tips on current prices :)

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  2. Had a thought - if someone has cast a Todd replica to try and pass it off as the genuine article, why has nobody ever cast the original to make replicas? Surely this would be THE best way to ensure perfect shape. And with 3D printing these days, it could be scanned into a computer.

    Oh, and the word you are looking for is "pommel" for the bulb on the end. Some are quite ornate and beautiful.

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    1. Well, that would depend on scammers having the real deal to copy in the first place. And you are right about 3D printers - shape would be exact, though painting would be a pain to reproduce. But I'm sure there must be some "perfect" fakes out there trying to pass as props.

      Anyway, even if they nailed the paint, that takes us to a totally different issue: prop validation. Besides the seller's word (only valuable if there's trust involved) the only real "proof" a collector can have is the papers (COAs). And I've seen quite a few forged documents... But usually there're always clues that set off the alarms

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    2. Oh no I mean in order to sell it honestly as a replica - no funny business. Things like the Todd's Gabby belt are "patterned from the original" so it surprises me people aren't making more of an effort to make props that follow the old ones exactly, and an officially licensed company like Todd's might well have access to such pieces for reference.

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    3. Yes, I know what you mean. I wonder the same. That's why I like Creation replicas the best, because they are exactly like the original props, except for a few details. That might bother some people, but those differences are important - if not, the original wouldn't be recognizable respect the copy. I know this happened with the Creation Ent Original Chakram replica, thus why they changed things in the rest of their reproductions: the sword has the leather differently placed, the Y&Y chakram has different pitting, the sais are not weathered, the scabbard has a different type of binding, etc. But yes, even if those changes are necessary, more accurate replicas would be great.

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  3. Thanks for the marvelous article! It's very useful :P

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  4. hi I could use your help with a xena sword. there is a guy on ebay selling a resin prop sword but can't give any information about it when asked. I was wondering if you could tell me if its a fake or not..

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/hero-resin-xena-sword-prop-with-metal-rod-down-center-/231273929285?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item35d9001a45&_uhb=1

    I hope that link works

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    1. Hello Ashley!

      Thanks for the question. I already spoke about these swords in one of my Monday eBay Roundups. This is NOT a prop nor a licensed replica, but a homemade resin copy the seller or someone else made using a Todd's sword as a base.

      It's easy to tell because paint is different, and because unlike Todd's resin swords this sword has no real leather (the leather part is just resin painted in black).

      The auction is a bit vague on purpose, I believe, as many potential buyers would not regard this positively.

      Hope this helps!

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    2. Thank you so much. it seemed really strange so I thought I would ask the experts.

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    3. You're very welcome, it's good to help :)

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  5. I know that the last posting on here was almost 2 years ago, but I am having a difficult time identifying some of my Xena items. I think I have an earlier version of the Todd's costume replica's. I'm having a hard time putting a price on it and I can't find a whole lot of information on them. I was wondering if you would be willing to help me.

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    1. Hello! Sure! Please e-mail me whenever you can and I can take a look at it :) My e-mail is: secretkabeiros AT gmail DOT com

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