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 


Man at Arms provides examples of:

  • 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.
    • Mjölnir 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.
    • The Gravity Hammer is another weapon that's too heavy to be wielded efficiently by one person, and is just dropped on the target rather than swung. Clearly, you'd need a Power Armor for the added strength boost in order to lift it.
    • This is actually their stated reason for why it took them so long to get around to making the Greatsword of Artorias; it's an amazing piece, but it's also massive and extremely detailed, which would turn it into a very long project for the shop. Not that they let that stop them, mind you, but it did give them pause for thought (for reference, the blade alone from tang to tip is about six feet tall).
    • The crew built Voltron's Blazing Sword with the ability to hook up to a propane tank and shoot actual flames out the sides and top of the blade (accomplished by making it a two-piece blade, with hollow spaces carved in to project the flames, welded together). In addition to being every bit as awesome as it sounds (the visual effect is stunning), it's every bit as useless for combat as it sounds: sadly, the fire quickly goes out when actually swinging the sword.
  • 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 Andúril, Flame of the West.
  • 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 broad as the anime/manga version).
    • Guts's longsword 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.
    • During the making of Pyramid Head's knife, Matt muses that someone in the fanbase must have the knack out for him because they keep suggesting gigantic weapons that they know he'll have to spend hours grinding.
    • The Greatsword of Artorias is ever harder to wield than a typical BFS, because it only has a one-handed grip. Even lifting it up to drop on stuff for the demonstration was a struggle for most of the crew. Though at least it could still be done by one person, unlike the Buster Sword.
  • 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.invoked
    • From the Reforged series, Kerry Stagmer.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Arno Dorian with the Phantom Blade.
    • 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 Andúril.
    • Diana (League of Legends) with her Crescent Moon blade.
    • Master Chief with the Gravity Hammer.
    • Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) with her bow.
    • Asuna with the Lambent Light.
    • Xena with her chakrams.
    • Voltron with the Blazing Sword.
  • 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.
  • A Day in the Limelight: The main difference between the original series and Reforged: all the team from Reforged have their own episodes, where they work their pet projects with only minor help from the rest of the crew.
  • Deadly Disc:
    • Blade's Daywalker Glaives.
    • Captain America's throwing shields in Reforged.
    • Xena's chakrams.
  • 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 for bludgeoning weapons like Thor's hammer or Sauron's mace, of course). Yes, even the Keyblade.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: The Dandao sword episode has them cutting many cans of Smith & Forge Hard Cider, who provided some of the tolls used on the episode.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • Thor's Mjölnir.
    • The Halo Gravity Hammer.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Matt Stagmer, one of the blacksmiths from Reforged, helps Tony in some of the original series' videos, most noticeably during the making of 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."
  • Flaming Sword: For the Voltron Blazing Sword, the team decided to make it shoot flames. This is done by forging two blades, indenting one blade with grooves that act as channels for the flames to burst out, welding the blades together, and integrating a port where one can connect a portable propane tank to.
  • 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.
    • The Fate/stay night version of Excalibur. Making their initial piece of metal from a variety of different sources symbolically representing the other six classes of heroes of the franchise is awesome, but it was quite clear that the result of using so many different sources of iron gave the final result a very uneven piece of metal and turning that into a working blade was not a simple task. But they did it anyway.
    • Similar to Excalibur above is the Hattori Hanzo katana from Kill Bill. Matt noted that many fans wanted them to do a more traditional build, so the crew decided that they would start making the sword from scratch, following the traditional ways of Japanese swordsmiths. That includes making a real tamahagane (a type of Japanese traditional steel, basically a result of the Japanese hybrid bloomery and blast furnace iron smelting process called tatara) from raw iron ore and refine them (which is a time and labor-intensive work) into the proper steel necessary for forging the blade.
    • A challenge from the video's sponsors had them forge Narsil from The Lord of the Rings using only 19th century tools and techniques; the most technologically advanced thing they were allowed was a spring-powered power hammer, and it involved a lot of hard manual labor. They threw reason to the wind when they proceeded to use Narsil as an object lesson on why you always temper your blade lest Sauron smash it like glass, and they then reforged the entire thing from the broken pieces again, using 19th century techniques as per the challenge.
  • I Meant to Do That: Said by Grant Imahara after testing Leonidas's 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.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Discussed in the Erza Scarlet episode. It's pointed out that armor was the most expensive and laborious part of the knight's equipment to produce, and that knights were supposed to represent their kingdom's highest virtues.
  • 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.
  • Master of All: Ilya Alekseyev's specialty is armor, but is there anything he's not good at? Bladesmithing, etching, leatherwork, he does everything.
  • 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.
  • Nice Hat: Ilya Alexseyev from the Reforged crew has a leather top hat.
  • One of Us:invoked
  • 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: A few examples thus far, in each case requiring lots of painstaking work on the mechanism.
  • 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.
  • Royal Rapier: Asuna's Lambent Light. We get to see the blade compared to an historically accurate rapier, showing its exaggerated width, frequent with anime weapons.
  • 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 Andúril properly: forge Narsil using 19th century-or-earlier techniques only, smash Narsil into shards, then use more archaic techniques to forge the shards into Andúril.
    • Making The Bride's katana from raw iron, smelted into actual tamahagane strictly following the Japanese tradition.
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Spoiled by the Format:invoked Seeing them seemingly wrap up the Narsil build half-way through the video should've clued you in that that wasn't the only build we'd be seeing for that video. Them shattering the sword they had labored over to give an object lesson on why you should temper your blades, followed by reforging the broken pieces into Andúril, however...
  • Stab the Sky: Tony Swatton 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.
  • Sword Cane: Jacob Frye's cane sword, of course. Includes a short blade on the side of the handle, and a retractable scythe at the tip of the cane.
  • Take That: The final scene of each episode, where the completed weapon is shown cutting things, sometimes contains one 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 temperNarsil 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 Andúril from the pieces.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WebVideo/ManAtArms