Swords aren’t very practical nowadays, and aren’t seen too much outside of a Peter Jackson Middle-earth film. But I’ve long been fascinated with the subculture of modern-day folks who make and collect swords and other medieval items (for what purpose, I’m not sure). Hell, I once knew a guy who even spent a boatload of money on a full suit of armor at a local renaissance faire. Perhaps I can get some answers to my questions of why medieval weaponry has such a niche following, in Discovery Channel’s new series Big Giant Swords (title says it all!).
Big Giant Swords follows Irishman Mike Craughwell (“Irish Mike”), a YouTube sensation (tens of thousands of views per video) who has been designing life-sized replicas of weapons inspired by video games and 1980s fantasy sci-fi movies. He was launched into the spotlight after he was commissioned to make a life-sized, ornamental replica of a sword from Final Fantasy 7.
From solely making replica swords, Craughwell’s business now focuses on his own original designs. At around $2,000 a pop, and with some swords weighing up to 80 pounds and coming in at 6 feet long, Craughwell is used to taking his time to create these functional, metal masterpieces. But a new business model calling for two swords a week has forced Craughwell to make some changes; he’s assembled a sword-building team of “questionable” craftsmen and women, picked from the best — or rather, only — candidates available on Martha’s Vineyard, where he is based.
In the premiere episode of Big Giant Swords, Craughwell and his crew take on their first clients when they are tasked with creating a sword to rival Zeus’s mighty lightning bolt by a team of storm chasers and a Chakram (a bladed throwing weapon from ancient India) for an MMA fighter. With just half the time to do what normally takes a few weeks, Craughwell and his amateur sword building team have their work cut out for them (no pun intended).
Big Giant Swords premieres Jan. 13 at 10pm ET/PT on Discovery Channel.