In our ongoing Collector Spotlight series, we’re taking a closer look at collections and their collectors! This week, we’re featuring Yusuf, a Tolkien fan who loves collecting prop replicas, particularly weapons, from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.
If it seems like you have seen some Yusuf’s collectibles before, you might be right! Yusuf is @Morgul_blade on Twitter, and he has been sharing photos of his Tolkien collection for a while. In fact, he was the winner of our first ever #TolkienCollection Photo Challenge prize! (The theme was The Two Towers, and–surprise, surprise!–it was a photo of all of his weapons and props from the film that won the contest!)
If you, like Yusuf, are a lover of weapons and armour, you’re in for a real treat with this one! All of the pictures you are are about to see are of items that are straight out of Middle-earth!
When did you first realize/decide that you were a Tolkien collector?
I’ve always had a fascination with medieval weapons and armour, therefore, when I found out that replicas of the weapons from The Lord of the Rings had been made and were available to purchase, I knew I had to get my hands on them. At first, I only wanted a few items: sword, scabbard and a helmet. However, after purchasing my first few pieces and putting those on display, the idea came to me to decorate my whole room with weapons and armour from the movie. That’s how my Tolkien collection started and thus grew.
What was your first Tolkien item?
The first item I bought was Anduril.
What item in your collection was the most difficult to obtain?
The Sword of Samwise Museum Collection by United Cutlery was rather difficult to get my hands on. I had left it a little late before deciding to buy this sword, and as it’s a limited edition piece, it was sold out in most places. After continuously searching online, I found one for sale abroad but at a slightly higher price than usual. It was a must have piece for me, so I bought it regardless.
What was your most recent purchase?
My most recent purchase was the Limited Edition Black Arrow from Weta. The arrow measures over six feet tall and hangs from the ceiling in my bedroom.
Which character do you most identify with and why? Do you own that character’s weapon?
Umm! I would say Mr. Frodo. I like the thought of travelling and going on adventures, but in actual fact, I mostly love chilling out at home (watching a good movie whilst “enjoying a few well-earned comforts”) haha. For me, home is where the heart is for sure. And yes, I do own Sting.
If you had to pick, which weapon would you say is your absolute favourite? Why?
PLEASE don’t make me choose, LOL. I love all my weapons, but if I had to choose, I must say I do have a soft spot for Sting. I have the limited edition Museum Collection Sting from United Cutlery; the detail, craftsmanship and overall feel of the sword along with its hardwood and glass display is amazing. Hopefully the other weapons don’t know I have a favourite, haha.
Be honest…have you ever shot Legolas’ bow?
Even though it is fully functional, I’m afraid I haven’t; the reason being I don’t want any marks or even a scratch on it. Yes, I know it’s a poor excuse, right? As with all my weapons, I like to keep them in mint condition. Then again, my mum has been rather annoying recently, so I may be tempted to give the bow a go…ONLY KIDDING!
Do you have any items that were actually used on the set of the movies?
I WISH! Unfortunately I haven’t, although I would seriously love to get my hands on any of the items used on set. However, if I could have one item in particular from the set of the movie, it would be Bilbo’s Mithril Shirt. I think it looks fantastic and it would be a complete joy to own. Well, one can only hope. Maybe one day!
We’ve talked a lot about weapons, but you have other things in your Tolkien collection. Can you tell us about those?
Yeah sure! Some of my larger items are my banners which I bought online. Due to their size, I needed a large enough space to display them, and as the passage walls leading to my bedroom are relatively high, it was the perfect spot.
Other items in my collection include jewellery, one of which is definitely my precious: Aragorn’s ring (the Ring of Barahir) is my most recent purchase and by far my favourite. The ring is from Jens Hansen, and it’s their interpretation of the ring based on the description given in Saruman’s book, so it’s slightly different from the one worn in the movie.
I also have a small version of The One Ring which was a gift from my uncle who is a big Tolkien fan himself and was the person who introduced me to The Lord of the Rings; therefore, I call him Uncle Bilbo.
Some more of my collection includes Sauron’s helmet and gauntlet along with Elendil’s helmet, the phial of Galadriel, Aragorn’s pipe and, more importantly, his crown.
Further items include Thorin’s map and key, Arwen’s Evenstar Pendant, Kili’s Rune Stone and Gandalf’s white staff. The idea was to collect an item from each of the characters, but I wanted to own all pieces associated with and belonging to Aragorn as he’s my favourite character. There’s also my Collectors Box Set DVDs which are still sealed.
You have so many great props from the films, but are there any that you are still waiting to get?
Yes, all of them, LOL. There are quite a few that I have in mind; among them are the Orcrist scabbard and the Morgul blade. Also The One Ring from Jens Hansen is a future buy, but it is pretty expensive.
As for the rest, you will just have to wait and see. I will of course share the pics so make sure you follow me on twitter, haha.
What do your friends and family think of your collection? How do you explain to non-collectors or non-Tolkien fans why you collect?
Most of my friends and family love my collection as they’re fans themselves. However, a few of them do question the size of my collection and think it’s over-the-top, but that’s ok as they still enjoy taking a sneak peek when they come to visit. As for explaining to non-collectors or non-Tolkien fans why I collect, it’s easy; once I start talking about LOTR and they see my enthusiasm for the movie/book, they understand why I collect. Also, I explain to them that for me, it’s all about escapism; my collection brings me closer to Middle-earth, and it’s a way of making part of my fantasy a reality.
Call me crazy, but usually when I meet someone for the first time, one question I always ask is what their favourite movie is. Then I tell them mine, after which I pull out my phone and start showing them pictures of my collection.
Where do you go to find items for your Tolkien collection?
I’ve always found and purchased all my items online. It’s easy, convenient and usually has the best prices. A few of the online stores I’ve purchased items from in the past are Battle Orders LTD, Archers Emporium, and of course, eBay.
Do you have any tips for other collectors?
I have a few tips I could share, I guess. For anyone who’s looking for a good deal on any item search online, I always Google my items many times before making a purchase.
When it comes to displaying your collection, visualise what the item would look like in your chosen spot and make sure that you double check the measurements. I usually stand in the middle of my room and picture different items in various places. I sometimes end up standing there for ages. You could perhaps display similar items together or have a wall dedicated to your favourite character; it all comes down to personal preference.
Also, keeping the collection clean is important, I just use a soft dry cloth to clean my weapons and it seems to do the job. When it comes down to the quality of the product I would recommend going with well-known manufacturers who make officially licensed products; the build quality and overall look is much better in my opinion but it all depends on your budget. Nevertheless, you can still pick up good non-licensed products. My collection mainly consists of products from United Cutlery, the Noble Collection and Weta Workshop.