Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My collection (V): Xena's FIN Katana "Twin Sister"

Hey again!

Continuing these brief reviews about my personal most relevant props and replicas, today I bring you one of my most priced items: my Xena FIN katana.

This, by all means, is NOT Marto's Xena katana replica, nor a replica either. This is a 100% screen-accurate "twin sister" katana of the one used on the series, made by the same expert katana masters that built the original prop for FIN. That means my katana is painstakingly identical to the prop in every way, an exact match to the tiniest detail.

The katana and the Saya (sheath) in full length.
The hilt - Tsuba (guard), Tsuka (grip) and Kashira (pommel).

The whole sword is gorgeous, but let's take a closer look.

The hilt is typically composed of three pieces: the Tsuba (hand guard) the Tsuka (grip) and the Kashira (the butt cap or pommel). Both the Tsuba and the Kashira are engraved with beautifully crafted brass reliefs representing bucolic scenes of a nightingale or a phoenix (in mythic symbology, the female counterpart to the male dragon - that adorns Gabrielle's katana). 

Close-up to one of the sides of the Tsuba (guard).
Close-up to the other side of the Tsuba (guard).
The Kashira (pommel) and its relief.
Complementarily, the Tsuka (the grip) is composed by a bright red Tsukaito (handle wrap) that hides a very intricate dragon Menuki (palm ornament). Robert Tapert commented in an interview that the red was the chosen color for Xena because it reflects her fiery passion.

The Tsuka (grip) and the Menuki (palm ornament).

On the other hand, the Saya (the sheath) is on its own merits a piece of art as well. Made of a stunning deep marbled garnet material with a pearly finish, its ends and its middle section are also adorned with brass reliefs that continue the theme of the nightingale/phoenix.

The Saya (sheath) in full length.
Close-up to the top of the Saya (sheath).
Close-up to the middle section of the Saya (sheath).
Close-up to the tip of the Saya (sheath).
All the different ornaments of the Saya (sheath) aligned.

Altogether, the katana with its sheath is a piece that results very impressive in person. I feel very very lucky to have found it - and more so of having it reunited with the original Gabrielle katana prop (which I'll show you next).

I leave you know with some photos of FIN featuring Xena's katana.

Gabrielle also used Xena's katana, when... you know... Xena lost her head.

And there in a cool-looking stand in Yodoshi's house/temple. 

Hope you enjoyed this entry :)
Have a good day!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My collection (IV): Creation Ent Gabrielle's Staff 101/500

Hello people!

As I said in my previous entry, this past weekend I've been shooting new photos of my most important props and replicas - so it's due time to resume the entries in the section "My collection".

Today, let me present you my Gabrielle staff replica (or Gabwhacker) sold and distributed by Creation Entertainment.

Full pic of the staff - an image quite difficult to take!

As all the other replicas sold by Creation Ent, the Gabwhacker was directly made by the propmasters of the show in New Zealand as an "exact" reproduction of the prop seen onscreen.

And I say "exact" because by the time they made the staff replica both propmasters and distributors hard learned an important lesson: if you make a 100% screen-accurate replica, faithful in every detail to the original prop, then there WILL be people who'll try to pass the replica as a prop. In other words: scams are likely to happen.

Their decision was thus to variate certain features of the replica to make it different to the prop and also cheaper to produce. In this particular case, they substituted the real fabric in the middle section of the staff with printed canvas, and used synthetic fur instead of real animal fur in the top.

Let's take a closer look to the "highlights" of the staff replica:

The Top - Synthetic fur and brown leather wrapping.
The Middle Section - Leather wrapping and fawn twine.
The Middle Section - The "fabric".
Let's take a closer look to the printed canvas so you all can see what I mean. The fabric should have a rustic weaving texture (actually it looks like it does), but it's a mere effect - the canvas is actually flat.

The canvas - A nice-looking yet "cheap" option.

I would have personally opted for a different approach - there are more effective ways to mark replicas without losing the screen-accuracy. But the did what they did, and to be fair the result doesn't look bad at all. 

Now that I mention this, there's another aspect that I suspect they "tweaked" - the wood rod. Don't ask me why but I have the feeling the rod is not made out of wood but resin. This would be difficult to prove without breaking the replica, but if anyone has a say about this let me know.

>> EDIT 1: I've been told by several sources that the rod is indeed wood. Some speak of pine wood, although I'm no expert and I can't tell myself.

End tip of the staff.

Now a photo with all the details together. It was really fun montage to make!

All the different sections of the staff aligned.

Unlike other Creation Ent replicas, I don't think I've ever seen staffs with the "NZ made" stamp, but it's possible they exist.

>> EDIT 2: This has been confirmed as well! Some staff replicas do have the stamp. Thanks to Epiphany David and Sarah for the heads-up.

Finally, the COA. I'm lucky to have number 101/500, a very nice cipher. A curiosity: shortly after my number the propmasters started reducing the quality of the staffs and getting "lazier" about the details - making uneven twine wrapping, using dark brown fur or even applying yellow leather! So I'm more than happy to have been able to find this particular piece.

The Certificate of Authenticity.

This is all! But before I leave, let me share with you some pics of our mighty Bard of Potedaia using her trademark Gabwhacker. Battle on!

Gabrielle and her staff in Season 2.
Gabrielle and her staff in Season 3.
Gabrielle and her staff in Season 4.

Until the next one!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Updated photos!

Hello Xenites!

Today I'm proud to announce I finally did some "homework" I've had pending for a long time: to update the photos I have of my props and replicas, and to add some new and improved shots.

I invite you to check the entries under the label "My collection" and take a look at the brand new pics! I've also tweaked the written info in some of them to add some new insight on the pieces.

My collection (I): Creation Ent Original Chakram 385/500

Brand new photos of the Original chakram.

- My collection (II): Creation Ent Yin Yang Chakram 116/500

Brand new photos of the Yin Yang chakram.

- My collection (III): Creation Ent Xena's Battle Sword 25/500

Brand new photos of Xena's battle sword.

- Reunited at last!

Updated photos of Xena and Gabrielle's katanas side by side.

I hope you all enjoy the new pics. Over the course of this week I'll be adding new entries of "My collection" with new info and photos of the katanas, my Gabrielle staff, and more.

Stay tuned people!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hercules and Xena: Wizards of the Screen (II)

Hello everybody!

I just wanted to continue a little bit with the info about the Universal Studios attraction about Hercules and Xena (read the first part here).

It turns one of the main appeals of the attraction was the queue itself - as happens today with rides such as Harry Potter, the queue was decorated with original props from the series! Isn't that cool?

Photo courtesy of Chris from Xena Stuff.

I borrowed these two incredible pictures from the great site of fellow Xenite Chris, Xena Stuff (hope you don't mind, Chris). You can read her post about the Herc&Xena attraction right here.

Photo courtesy of Chris from Xena Stuff.

In the pics we can see several original chakrams (I'm assuming made out of different materials depending on the scene), a trademark Xena sword, scabbard and breast dagger, a whip, a Hera peacock feather, what looks to be a quiver, a pair of Xena boots, gauntlets, an axe, several swords and daggers, a pair of sandals and some fur/leather pieces.

I would had loved to see those pieces in the flesh back in the day, but as I mentioned in the first part, the attraction was closed down many years ago. A real pity because now the park would have had a real cult-following kick-ass attraction! Guess they didn't think of that.

Hope you liked the entry folks!

Have a great day!

Monday eBay Roundup (XV)

Hello everyone!

New Monday, new Roundup. I'm trying to make an effort and do at least these entries to fully get back to "blog mode". They are at least a constructive way to put to use my daily Xena props hunting! Ok, so let's see, what new goodies are available for sale this week?


   > Manufacturer: Todd's Costumes
   > Number: 157/3000
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: mechanicalboy
   > Price: $199 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: I think I've never reviewed one of these. Todd's breast daggers are one of the most perfect, faithful and overall gorgeous replicas he's ever made. Unlike his other replicas, the breast dagger is completely screen-accurate, but there are many other reasons to love it. The scorpion base, for an instance. Or the red coloring of the leather (unlike the replica made by Creation Ent). This particular piece is part of his very first run of official daggers for Davis Panzer (back when they were still numbered) and is a very low number. If you like the breast dagger, this is a must have at a very reasonable price!


   > Manufacturer: Todd's Costumes
   > Number: Unknown
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: notanangel79
   > Price: $300 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: I might haven't reviewed many of these either. Todd's whips are also quite cool. It's not as screen-accurate as Creation's, though - but it's a very good replica. The color of the "hilt" should be silver instead of gold, but the handle has the right size and shape, and you can bet the whip itself is great. This one here is a bit pricey (above all compared to other pieces I've seen around) but not too bad either. The listing says the COA is included.


   > Manufacturer: Todd's Costumes
   > Number: Unknown
   > COA: Not mentioned
   > Seller: notanangel79
   > Price: $300 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: Same seller. This chakram seems to come without COA - so unless the number is etched in one of the sides (they did that sometimes) there's no way to know if it's a high or low number. This chakram doesn't look too new - it has visible stains and scratches.


   > Manufacturer: Marto of Toledo
   > Number: Unknown
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: gizmoboarder
   > Price: $599.99 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: Oh! It's been a while since I last saw one of these. Beautiful katana, yet (as I've stated before) certainly inaccurate. More so if, as we do have here, we speak about a 10th Anniversary Gold Piece. But beautifully made nevertheless - the craftsmen at Marto know their craft. They have exactly the same price we saw last time (here) and I suspect they might actually be the same.


   > Manufacturer: Marto of Toledo
   > Number: Unknown
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: gizmoboarder
   > Price: $649.99 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: I think the same about Marto's Xena 10th Anniversary Gold katana, with the exception that this one is a tiny bit more screen-fauthful. For some reason it's more expensive than Gabrielle's.


   > Manufacturer: Marto of Toledo
   > Number: Unknown
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: gizmoboarder
   > Price: $495 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: This one is a first. I've seen some of these sell privately, but not on eBay (at least since the time I have the blog). It's very rare to see three of the Gold edition pieces sell together. This sword in particular is my least favorite, because it's the least screen-accurate and is off in more than just a few details - the shapes are all wrong and it does' have paui shells but mother-of-pearl inlays (wrong material). It might still work for a collector's piece.


   > Manufacturer: Marto of Toledo
   > Number: Unknown
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: roberthsnipes
   > Price: $599 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Same replica and same opinion as above. The only substantial difference is that this seller ships internationally, while the other doesn't. So if you fancy it and are not in the US this is your chance!


That's all for today.

Cheers guys!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hercules and Xena: Wizards of the Screen (I)

Let me continue with the videos! ;)

For those of you that didn't know, I'd like to share this video about what was the Hercules and Xena attraction at Universal Studios Florida.

When I discovered it BLEW my mind because it's sort of a hidden episode-crossover of Hercules and Xena (I always loved those and felt more were happening offscreen, in between what we spectators saw in the episodes).

The real fun starts on minute 3:20.

The attraction opened in 1997 and was closed down in 2000 - it seems because it wasn't as popular as the park intended it to be. Take a look at this link of the Universal Wiki for more info:

Enjoy the video guys!

READ THE SECOND PART: Hercules and Xena: Wizards of the Screen (II)

The incredible life of Lucy Lawless!

Hey all!

Fellow blogger Kenderciko posted this video about the life of Lucy Lawless on his site Siempre nos quedará Potedaia, and I couldn't resist sharing.

The video (an interview made by Celebrity Profile) is AMAZING and shows the life of Lucy since she was born to when she left Xena. It might seem a bit long but trust me, it's worth it and you'll watch it in no time!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday eBay Roundup (XIV) - I'm back!

Home sweet home!

Sadly and happily at the same time, my travels have finished, at least for a while. So it's back to business for me, folks :) From now on that my life is more organized I'll keep the blog more updated - besides I have tons of overdue articles and content to share. Wait and see!

But for now, let's resume our lovely Monday Roundup (yay!). It's been a while, so there are quite many new things to take a look at. Let's see.


   > Manufacturer: Creation Entertainment
   > Number: 401/500
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: julesnavymickey
   > Price: $117.56 ($123.50 already) plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: This chakram comes as part of a huge HUGE lot of Xena merchandising and memorabilia. And if you want my opinion, incredibly cheap (though the reserve price hasn't been reached yet). The lot includes a Marto Xena sword reproduction, a jacket, pendants, photos, bags... many many things. The chakram itself is a late creation replica, so it'll include the "NZ made" stamp, but includes the shadowbox and the COA. A great opportunity!


   > Manufacturer: Creation Entertainment
   > Number: 245/500
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: lwil5117
   > Price: $550 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: Believe it or not, another lot of Xena stuff with a Y&Y chakram. This one is considerably more expensive, but: there's no reserve, the number is lower (hence there's no NZ engraving) and it also includes the intact shadowbox and the COA. $550 is not at all a crazy price for a Creation Ent chakram, so this is certainly a fair chance as well.


   > Manufacturer: Creation Entertainment
   > Number: 399/500
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: fairview_collectables
   > Price: GBP 850 ($1,359.87) plus shipping

   > Opinion: Sigh. This is what happens when one goes away for a little while - too many chakrams! lol This time, a S4-ish original chakram also by Creation Ent, also with the COA. Do notice that it presents one of the rare shadowbox models that only later numbers included. Not so later to have a NZ made engraving, that is good. For me this is the more perfect original chakram model ever made by Creation (what I call the Third Generation chakram in my Comparisons) - but this particular piece is VERY pricey unless you have your salary in UK pounds.


  > Manufacturer: Creation Entertainment
   > Number: Not numbered
   > Seller: beatles-rock
   > Price: $50 (free shipping)

   > Opinion: This might not be a prop or replica itself, but it's very related to them, and I know many collectors will be interested on it. A Creation Ent chakram COA, valid for all models. It's usual to find chakrams without COA (often misplaced by previous owners and never found) so this might be a very good opportunity to "complete" your piece and add it a bit more of value.


   > Manufacturer: Todd's Costumes
   > Number: 399/500
   > COA: Included
   > Seller: beatles-rock
   > Price: $1,250 plus shipping

   > Opinion: Also for sale this fancy and heavy Gold chakram produced by Todd's Costumes for Davis-Panzer during the 10th anniversary of the series. I mistakenly believed these chakram had been made by Marto of Toledo, but Todd Coyle clarified he's the real author of these pieces.


   > Manufacturer: Romans Empire
   > Number: Unnumbered 
   > Seller: romansempire
   > Price: $549.99 plus shipping

   > Opinion: I don't usually review Roman's listings because they are kind of always on eBay - but this is special. He's listed a deal including one of his original chakrams (I talked about it here) and a pair of his Gabrielle's sais replicas. Cool deal!


   > Character: Unknown
   > Material: Brass
   Papers: COA from Turners
   Seller: socani
   Price: $14.83 plus shipping (only USA)

   > Opinion: A cool and cheap brass vase anyone? It's a prop from the Turners Auction - and as usual it could have belonged either to Hercules (HTLJ), Xena (XWP) of Young Hercules (YH). Make sure to let me know if you spot it in any episode!


   Seller: lehtonen
   Price: AU $249 ($218.87) plus shipping

   > Opinion: Production pieces are always way cool. This one comes from Australia, and for what the listing says it's a 15 pages document that includes diagrams and pictures of the village and the Ixion cavern from the episode "Orphan of War". There are also pictures drawn on the back of some pages. If you like this kind of prop this might be a good opportunity.


That's all for now. Many chakrams, huh?
Stay tuned, more to come soon enough!