Web Video: Man at Arms

"I've built aluminum prop swords for a living. These are not aluminum props, this is a properly forged, deadly weapon."
Tony Swatton

Man at Arms is a show on YouTube's AWE Me Channel, where professional blacksmith teams use their skills to create real, functional versions of various fictional weapons. Initially master blacksmith Tony Swatton and his assistants would defictionalize a weapon based on fan demand. Later, a new season dubbed Reforged would focus on the Stagmer brothers as they combine weapons from different works into hybrid designs. After fan backlash, however, the Reforged team returned to adapting existing fictional designs as Tony's team did.

    Original series pieces 

    Reforged series pieces 


Tropes:

  • Awesome but Impractical: Some of the weapons are this despite all the love put in their crafting.
    • The Buster Sword is just too heavy to swing around. And that's despite the majority of the blade being aluminum, with only the cutting edge being steel. It's still an 80-pound sword. As they note when it's brought back out to show side-by-side with Sephiroth's Masamune in a later episode, with the Buster Sword they pretty much just lift it over a target and drop the thing rather than swing it.
    • The Diamond Sword has a very uncomfortable grip, but it's still a real blade.
    • Mj÷lnir had to be made with a hollow head to avoid being too heavy to wield. Or even lift, for most people. Tony said that after the video he intended to fill the hollow space with lead so that people visiting his shop would be unable to lift the hammer he'd been swinging around.
    • The team had to build the guard of Mihawk's Yoru out of wood, then top it off with brass (instead of making the guard solid brass), simply due to the fact it would have been too heavy to even consider wielding otherwise.
  • An Axe to Grind:
    • Gimli's axe and the Orcish battleaxe.
    • The Keyblade is of course a giant key, but Tony chooses to interpret the ward as a blade, making the weapon most similar to an axe.
  • Badass Boast: In the episode for Raph's sais, he talks about not being able to supply a computer file for the Asgardian swords he made for Thor to the props department for The Dark World because he made all thirty swords from the first movie by hand.
    Tony Swatton: There are no computer files, I hit it with a hammer! They're like: "No way, there's thirty of them, they're the same!" Yeah, that's what I do!
  • Bait and Switch:
    • They start out making the Scissor blade normally: drawing the pattern and plasma cutting the blade out of steel... Which they then throw out, whip out a bucketfull of actual scissors, and proceed to forge the blade out of those.
    • They forge, polish, and basically make a magnificent replica of Narsil from The Lord of the Rings, only to have a Sauron cosplayer come in and use their previously-made Sauron Mace to smash it to pieces, just like the fictional version, as a demonstration on what happens when you don't properly temper a blade. They then use the pieces to show how to properly reforge a shattered sword (since the movie version was Cool, but Inefficient at best) and turn it into a polished, beautiful, and properly tempered version of And˙ril, Flame of the East.
  • BFS:
    • Cloud's Buster Sword is by far the most extreme. Tony actually injured his back just by lifting it on his shoulder. It takes two people to use it, and it can only be dropped onto a target, instead of actually swung.
    • Sephiroth's Masamune is specifically compared to the above as a much more practical take on the trope; it's still a six-foot katana but you don't need two guys to lift it and you can actually swing it instead of just dropping it on your target.
    • Ichigo's Zangetsu is huge and wide similar to the Buster Sword but is sized small enough that you can actually kind of wield it.
    • He-Man's Power Sword and Reforged's Iron Man sword are more mundane large swords, the former being long enough that he had to forge it bit-by-bit and almost couldn't reach high enough to put it into his vertical heat-treating tank, and the latter described as something that would only be practical if you were actually wearing Power Armor.
    • William Wallace's Claymore is a more historically accurate example of BFS.
    • Squall's Gunblade. That being said, it's not as extreme as Cloud's Buster Sword, but it's still pretty big for a gunblade.
    • Inu-Yasha's Tessaiga is also quite a large blade, even though it's sized down to a wield-able level compared to the anime/manga (particularly noticeable is that it's not as absurdly wide as the anime/manga version).
    • The Dragonslayer from Berserk is taller than the blacksmiths themselves, and in the ending montage is large enough to crush wooden furniture.
    • Miwhawk's Yoru is too long to temper all at once, and despite having an even longer grip than the source material dictates it is noticeably difficult to wield.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: Hit-Girl's naginata is designed to split into two separate pieces.
  • The Blacksmith:
    • Tony Swatton, the person the show first focuses on, has, according to the opening narration, worked as a blacksmith for over thirty years, and made props (primarily weapons) for over two-hundred feature films.
    • Followed by Matt and Kerry Stagmer of Baltimore Knives & Swords, the Sibling Team that the Reforged season focuses on.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: The Predator wrist blades.
  • Blade on a Stick:
    • Edward Elric's spear from Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • The Reforged series "TMNT Super Weapon" combined the weapons of all four ninja turtles into a double-sided polearm.
  • Call Back: Sometimes previous builds will be referenced, like the Buster Sword needing a matching Masamune, or the Phantom Blade being made in part using leftover material from the previous series' Hidden Blade.
  • The Cameo:
  • Cool Helmet:
    • Rainbow Dash's chamfron, a cool helmet for horses, complete with unicorn horn for stabbing.
    • Dragonborn's Iron Helmet.
  • Cool Old Guy: Tony Swatton. He's clearly also a case of One of Us.
  • Cool Sword: All the swords created, naturally, since they are inspired by examples of the trope in fiction.
  • Cosplay: A few episodes feature a cosplayer (in a related costume) posing with the weapon or even testing it for the final sequence.
    • Sokka with the Space Sword.
    • Leona with the Zenith Blade.
    • Edward Kenway and two pirate lasses with the hidden blade and cutlass.
    • Ash Ketchum and Jessie with Honedge.
    • Blade with the Daywalker Glaives.
    • Kirito and Asuna with Elucidator.
    • A few Star Wars characters with the lightsaber katana, including Darth Vader, Bobba Fett and some stormtroopers.
    • The pony painted like Rainbow Dash to try out the chamfron might count too.
    • Inu-Yasha with the Tessaiga.
    • A Predator comes into their shop with a busted wrist blade and asks them to replace it.
    • Sauron makes an appearance, complete with his mace forged in an earlier episode, to smash Narsil and duel And˙ril.
  • Creator Cameo: Michael Maurino (a.k.a. Iron Stylus), art designer on the game League of Legends, is seen Squeeing over the finished Zenith Blade.
  • Deadly Disc:
    • Blade's Daywalker Glaives.
    • Captain America's throwing shields in Reforged.
  • Deceptively Simple Demonstration: The demonstrations at the end of each video tend to have multiple examples of this. By far, the most common example is smashing something made of glass with the weapon.
  • Defictionalization: invoked The entire point of the series is to make fictional weapons real. It should be noted that by "real", we (and the weaponsmiths) don't mean the aluminum prop swords they make as a day job. Each of the weapons made in the series is a real one with a steel cutting edge (except Thor's hammer or Sauron's mace, of course). Yes, even the Keyblade.
  • Drop the Hammer: Thor's Mj÷lnir.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Matt Stagmer, one of the blacksmiths from Reforged, helped Tony build Finnick's Trident.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: The workshop equipment is not to be played with. Tony reminds us on occasion that basically everything in his shop can kill or horribly disfigure you if you aren't mindful, as the Too Dumb to Live movie producer described below demonstrates. His old door had a sign on it saying something like "Authorized personnel only. No admittance. Everything inside is hot, sharp, poisonous, offensively rude, or all of the above."
  • Forging Scene: The biggest part of every episode, of course. This is basically Forging Scene: The Web Series.
  • Honor Before Reason: On the Kill la Kill episode, the Stagmers took a high-definition pic of the Scissor Blade, traced it on AutoCAD and plasma-cutted it with the computer, getting a perfect shape, just to toss it aside and do it manually, by forging together a bunch of actual scissors into the blade. To sum up, they actually made a working prototype that needed only to be sharpened and colored, and used it as a template to forge a weapon the hard way.
  • I Meant to Do That: Said by Grant Imahara on testing Leonidas' sword on a watermelon and only chipping off a little bit.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Mocked in the Reforged episode with the lightsaber katana; the stormtrooper trying it has a hard time hitting anything.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Once per Episode, one of these gets defictionalized.
  • Impressive Pyrotechnics: Mentioned during the Masamune video; during the Buster Sword's forging, when they stuck the sword into heat-treating oil, it caused an 8-foot tall wall of flame. They were anticipating something similar to happen when heat-treating Masamune's less-so-but-still-large blade and put on fire safety gear in preparation and naturally nothing particularly impressive happens.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: The reason for a katana being the weapon chosen by the Reforged gang to mash up with a lightsaber. A straight-bladed, double-edged sword would more closely approximate the range of attacks available to a lightsaber wielder, but there's no denying that a katana with a lightsaber hilt and a Galactic Empire emblem tsuba is cool.
  • Living Weapon: Honedge and Black☆Star's Chain Scythe are replicas of such, though this being real life, they aren't actually alive.
  • Luckily My Shield Will Protect Me: Captain America's shield and the Hylian Shield.
  • Man in a Kilt: To test out William Wallace's Claymore, along with Scottish swordmaster Dan Speaker, Tony and Brian don kilts.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: The TMNT super weapon is of course a combination of a bo staff, a sai, a katana and a nunchaku. It comes out as a double-ended polearm, sai on one end and short katana-like blade on the other, with the sai attached to the handle by a chain that can either be secured in place on the end via a bayonet-like locking lug or left hanging loose by the nunchaku chain.
  • Nerdgasm: Each finished piece certainly aims at causing this, and they know it:
    Tony Swatton: (with the Buster Sword) How many geeks out there are having nerdgasms right now?
    Brian: (with Masamune) You mean, including us?
  • New Season, New Name: The focus shifting from Tony's crew to the Stagmer brothers' team is accompanied by the subtitle Reforged.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Tony Swatton admits feeling affinities with Tolkien's dwarves, being himself a bearded, stocky metalworker.
  • Prongs of Poseidon:
    • Finnick's trident. It's a bit different from the ubiquitous design but it still fits.
    • Reforged's Ninja Turtles mash-up weapon evokes the appearance of a trident by sticking Raph's sai on the end of Don's staff.
  • Record Needle Scratch: The usual music marking the completion of a weapon screech to a halt when Sauron breaks Narsil.
  • Retractable Weapon: Two examples thus far, in both case requiring lots of painstaking work on the mechanism.
    • The Assassin's Creed hidden blade.
    • The Predator's wrist blades.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The Reforged team, after a few episodes of making combining weapons and receiving massive backlash for it, have returned to their roots and just make fantasy weapons again.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge:
    • Forging Ryuko's blade from a bundle of actual scissors. There's no logical reason for doing this.
    • The two tomahawks are forged for the most part under a two-hour time limit.
    • They go out of their way to forge And˙ril properly: forge Narsil using 19th century-or-earlier techniques only, smash Narsil into shards, then use more archaic techniques to forge the shards into And˙ril.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: The Diamond Sword, as a consequence of forging a blade in the cubic/pixellated style of Minecraft.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: Tony has said, in response to a question about the sharpest of all his weapons, that his forging will leave blades with a monomolecular edge in nearly all cases, and it's just a matter of which materials will best maintain that edge while being used.
  • Shout-Out: The Keyblade episode concludes with the blacksmith breaking through a door with the newly forged weapon and yelling "HERE'S TONY!"
  • Something Completely Different: One episode of Reforged has the team creating Skyrim's Iron Helmet, which doesn't even have any pointy bits to maim things with, and the ending montage has them attacking the finished piece with various weapons to show off its durability.
  • Stab the Sky: Tony likes to take this pose with the finished swords. Of course, it's obligatory with He-Man's Power Sword.
  • Staring Through the Sword: Another obligatory pose, with the Sword of Omens' hilt.
  • Take That: The final scene of each episode, where the completed weapon is shown cutting things, often contains some of these. Examples include:
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Whenever the violins kick in near the end of a video you know that you are about to see some flagrant weapon porn. And it is awesome.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: Tony bought actual nickel-iron meteorites to forge into Sokka's sword. One of the main challenges of the build was having to layer and fold the crumbly and brittle meteorite metal with higher-quality steel in order to get the blade to properly forge.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Tony often relates a story about a movie producer who came into his shop while he was working and, to say the least, did not respect all the dangerous equipment. He picked up a random knife off a table and slashed it across his palm to see if it was sharp, cutting it to the bone in one motion. After getting first aid, he returned to the workshop and picked up a hot chunk of metal Tony was just forging, melting his skin and fusing the chunk to his hand. In a panic, he dipped his hand in what he thought was water, but was actually a vat of acid. Here's hoping that was exaggerated...
  • Weaponized Headgear: Oddjob's Hat in the first season.
  • Wolverine Claws:
    • One of the weapons forged is a set of claws based on Wolverine's from the movie with the same name.
    • The first weapon of the Reforged season is their attempt to create a gauntlet of these claws as if the Dark Knight had designed it himself.
  • Wrecked Weapon: The Reforged team neglects to temper Narsil before winding up for the ending montage, only for Sauron to appear and smash the blade to bits. The second half of the episode features them forging And˙ril from the pieces.