It’s hot and unforgiving in the parking lot behind Sword & Stone. This seems appropriate, given the nature of Tony Swatton’s business. Blacksmithing demands a certain tolerance for extreme temperatures. Yet even so, most of the crew working on the season 2 finale of Man At Arms have taken shelter in whatever shade they can find.
Swatton, the star of Man at Arms, is a blacksmith-self taught, incredibly skilled and, despite his gruff demeanor, something of an artist. He has been a blacksmith for more than 30 years and has worked out of his shop, Sword & Stone, for 15. Tony has created swords, daggers and all sorts of other weapons for a number of productions including, Pirates of the Caribbean, Hunger Games and Teen Wolf.
It’s been a year since Tony began working on Man At Arms, a sleekly produced web series featured on AWEme’s Youtube channel. The series follows Tony as he recreates a variety of iconic weapons: Oddjob’s hat from Goldfinger, Jamie Lannister’s sword from Game of Thrones, and one of Tony’s personal favorites, Raphael’s sais from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
As Tony emerges from the depths of his shop onto the hot asphalt, his crew snaps to attention like a battalion of army cadets. Sword in hand, it’s easy to imagine him as Robert Baratheon surveying his troops.The illusion breaks slightly as I realize the weapon in his hand is actually Sora’s keyblade from Kingdom Hearts.
A four-foot-tall pink plastic castle is wordlessly presented in supplication and, once the cameras are rolling, it takes only a single swing from the keyblade to decimate the toy.
The keyblade is offered to me and despite my eagerness, I can barely keep the thing aloft for more than a few moments. This isn’t a prop. It’s the real deal-a fully functional weapon. Heavy and dangerous. Even the ward (the little key crown) is sharpened to do maximum damage.
Though the inspiration behind these weapons tend towards pure fantasy, Tony is able to create fully realized and beautifully intricate versions out of clumps of metal. It’s not just the final product that’s magical. The process is intriguing to watch.
Each episode is relatively short, around five minutes. Tony walks us through his process, step by step. His somewhat intimidating presence belies his friendliness, and he proves to be an engaging host. Even someone who might think he or she has no interested in metalworking will find it hypnotizing to watch someone as dexterous and talented as Tony ply his craft.
The entire first season can be found on AWEme’s youtube channel and the second season has just premiered the first episode. Man At Arms has certainly made a fan out of me, and I advise you to let them do the same for you.