Considering that I just posted a link to an article about stage fighting, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the swords that we use.
There are two basic types, though you may find variations.
We had three of these for iSundae II, and we discovered a couple facts about them:
They flop when hit too hard. These swords just don’t like to be used. Good for show, but if you’re doing a fight scene, get something a little bit stronger.
Painting them is a bad idea. Rebekah decided to paint all three of our swords with some metallic spray paint, and we discovered very quickly that the paint just flakes off when you fight with the swords. We have several takes of fights with these swords that are ruined by flying paint chips.
So the conclusion on soft plastic swords: Costume prop only, don’t paint them, and definitely don’t fight with them.
They are almost impossible to bend or flop. However, they tend to break when dropped onto hardwood floors. This is easy to fix, though, because they go back together with hot glue pretty well.
These hurt if somebody gets hit with one. Not as bad as getting sliced by a real sword, but you can be left with a stinging hand if your partner forgets their moves.
Some are better than others. We had two different brands of swords. One brand chipped easily along the edges, while the other brand was a little harder to damage.
Conclusion: Hard plastic swords are good for what you need them for.
Where to Buy Them
Unfortunately, the hard plastic swords are difficult to find in stores. Recently, I’ve only seen soft plastic swords around in places like Wal-Mart and Target. You might think that it gets easier around Halloween, but, alas, no good swords were to be found in my local stores for the last two or three years. (Halloween is a good time for battle axes, and the plastic black ones hold up pretty well in fight scenes.)
Obviously, if you use plastic swords, they won’t sound right at all. It’s a little tedious to add a metal sword sound for every little clash in the movie, but in my opinion, dubbing sword sounds is a lot better than getting sliced by real ones.