Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Build your own papercraft Iron Throne!

I enjoyed HBO's Game of Thrones, even though I have yet to read any of George R. R. Martin's books. (Well, not those, anyway; I read the Wild Cards books way back when.) And the other day, for some reason thrones came up at work, and I was thinking of the Iron Throne. If you've seen any promo pictures from the show, you've probably seen it:


No spoilers, especially since I'm going off memory here and haven't actually read it: before the start of the series, a king unified the land by conquering the hell out of it. As the old barons and nobles surrendered to him, the king took their swords, and had them melted into his throne. Which is kickass, if not particularly practical or comfortable--in-story, characters have mentioned getting cut just sitting on the damn thing; which is a pretty good metaphor: fighting your way to the throne is hard enough, but you can't rest easy when keeping it is a pain in the ass to boot. Still, the Iron Throne does send a message; even if I figure it's like using your vanquished foe's skull for a goblet: symbolic, but not entirely functional.

(I also have no idea how medieval blacksmiths would've made that thing; although I do like the notion of a somewhat crazed king dumping a mountain of swords on them and screaming at them to make him a goddamn throne, right now.)
Since Conan has it on him, you can see his sword multiple times in there.
So, I had a hankering to build an Iron Throne. From years of collecting action figures, I had a big honking pile of swords. But, I didn't have enough for this, and even if I had, I wouldn't necessarily want to bend them up and glue them. So, we're working with the cheaper medium of paper! We're not going for an exact replica, more of a homage. Or a swipe, either or.
Crappy template!
First, you'll need a printer, glue and a gluestick, tape, comic backing boards, scissors, an x-acto knife, and probably a black sharpie. For my throne, I gathered up all the action figure swords I had handy, and experimented a little: the swords that were mostly flat worked better for this, and I scanned or copied several...I probably should've counted how many. Oops. Below is one of the scans I used; I just saved it to a flash drive, took it over to Kinkos (about a block from my house) and got a couple color copies, and a lot of black-and-whites. (Partly because the whole thing is going to be on the gray side anyway, and partly because I had no idea what I was doing.)

Using one of the backing boards, make a base. The front is vaguely trapezoidal, and as you can tell by the crappy template there, was drawn in about two minutes with a pencil and a Borders gift card with five cents on it. Slap one together and tape it up. (Or, if you go to a craft store, you could doubtless get a hunk of styrofoam or something in a shape you like, then go from there.)

Now, the swords. Here's a scan of some of the ones I used: I know there's Conan and the Devourer of Souls' swords, two from Ultimate Nightcrawler, and I think Loki's and Taskmaster's; all from Toy Biz. The Black Knight's Ebony Blade from Hasbro is in there, one from DCUC's Deathstroke, 200X Masters of the Universe He-Man and Teela's swords, and MOTUC's Vikor as well. And...one from an old Witchblade toy, Excalibur from that Merlin figure I got a while back; and some more I don't really recall. Mostly flat ones work best for this, OK?

You're going to want most of them printed on just plain paper, but you'll want some either printed on card stock or glued to a backing board before you start. (You probably want the color ones on card stock.) Then, get cutting! And cutting. And cutting. Be careful with the crossguard, since it's really easy to bend them right off. How many do you need? Um...gee, I really should've been counting when I started this, but a lot.

Starting with the ones on plain paper, start gluing the swords to the base in layers. A lot of the swords in the Iron Throne are bent or melted then hammered into position, and I think the whole thing is just swords on top of more swords, so that's the effect you're going for. You will want a few of the swords on card stock for the sides: think of them as making the armrests. Really uncomfortable armrests. There are a couple swords in there that I glued to the backing board, then glued another cutout on the other side, so I could use it on the sides and it would look OK from front or back.

For the back, take a backing board, and if you used the template size, you want to cut out a piece about three gift cards high. The bottom third is going to be mostly behind the main section, but you'll want to overlap the swords on there.
On the backside, use a bunch of the black-and-white ones for the blades pointing up that remind me of lines from a child's drawing of the sun. The HBO version has well over a dozen on the back, but you can cram in as many as you think looks right, or can fit. Keep slapping them on, until you like the look of it. If any white areas don't look right to you, use the sharpie to black 'em out.
A couple of notes: Again, the flatter swords work best. You can see He-Man's sword in there, and it was a bear to try and cut out; but Skeletor's sword might not work at all. (I'm thinking the 200x version, there.) If you had a modicum of Photoshop skills and wanted to do this, it would probably be pretty easy to set up multiple versions of the swords you want to use on the same printout. A throne made out of He-Man's sword, or Lion-O's Sword of Omens, would look sharp. Ha. Ha.

Even though a lot of action figure swords are made out of plastic that should be in quotation marks, it would be mighty tough to actually get enough to build a plastic Iron Throne. For example, Ultimate Nightcrawler is an all right figure, comes with two swords, one double-bladed, both terrible; but even then you would need dozens. If you have the skills, you could take an impression of a sword you wanted to use, then cast it in wax. Keep in mind, we're already way out of my skill set here, but if you make a ton of wax swords, you could probably bend them enough to cobble them into shape. The other idea I had was to use metal snips, or some sort of sword-shaped cutter, to punch them out of tin or something...that seems like a good way to cut the hell of your fingers.

You might be wondering why Negative Man, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman are in the pictures, instead of a He-Man or Conan or something. The ones I have aren't poseable enough to sit on it! Or they have stiff fur loincloths or capes. That's why in all the Bastards of the Universe strips, it's usually Beta Ray Bill on the throne (from the Mephisto Marvel Select figure) and even then his cape makes that a little tricky.

If you build your own throne, let me know how it turns out, or leave a comment with a link!



2 comments:

Dale Bagwell said...

Just wow man! Nice work on your throne. I'm thinking about it myself, but I really don't have anywhere near the amount of swords you have. Still, damn good job Goo!

Love the Negative Man comment by the way.

You could've easily come up with a Hemorrhoid joke you know?

SallyP said...

That is...AMAZING! Seriously, that is some dedication to your craft!