Conan is and always will be an iconic hero to many. For most of us, it was the original film, Conan the Barbarian released in 1982 that introduced us to the Hyborian Age, a mythical time taking place before the city of Atlantis sank into the ocean.
Since then, there’s been other movies, games, and memorabilia, so I’ve gathered the five that are dearest to my heart and represent Conan the best.
The film that launched a career as well as some epic fantasy movies. Conan the Barbarian embodies everything that I love in a fantasy flick.
Featuring beautiful landscapes ranging from snowy chains to vast deserts and crowded cities. There’s plenty of adventure, mischief, and carnage and there’s never a dull moment.
Conan’s direction in life is changed forever when, as a small boy, his parents are slaughtered mercilessly by unknown reavers, and Conan himself is sold into slavery. The only lead he has to go on is a mysterious snake symbol the reavers use as a banner.
Conan is a slave well into his adulthood, and that’s where a lot of his mighty strength comes from. He learns his warrior’s skills by first surviving and then dominating the brutal fighting pits, and subsequently being trained in the martial arts (sword fighting, not fist fighting), finally becoming the fearless warrior we all know, and love.
Eventually earning his freedom, Conan sets out on his own, and his adventures begin from there.
Everything that comes to mind when thinking about the word “Barbarian” stems from this movie. A heavily muscled, mostly-brawn-with-some-brains warrior who cleaves through hordes of enemies with a large two handed sword and manages to overcome all obstacles, no matter how deadly or horrific.
It has to be said that Conan’s ability to instill loyalty in his friends has saved his life on more than one occasion too and it’s his burning personality as much as anything else that sees him through.
Conan isn’t just physically strong, he has bottomless depths of inner strength also.
It’s worth mentioning that the music and sound effects are also fantastic, with moving scores that stir the heart, meaty thumps as swords cleave through bone and muscle, and the sharp ringing of blades as they clash against each other.
Not always realistic perhaps but who’s looking for that in a fantasy movie!?
- The original Conan Movie that launched Schwarzenegger’s Career
- Superb Epic Fantasy Adventure
- Beautiful musical scores
Conan the Barbarian is the best Conan movie ever made, in my opinion. In the second film, Conan the Destroyer, he’s already beaten his childhood nemesis and has firmly established himself as a prominent slayer and is now working towards new ambitions so the story isn’t as epic.
The remake has some great actors and scenes, but it doesn’t beat the magic of the original.
There’s a very strong chance I’m seeing things through glasses of nostalgia, though and the other Conan movies are by no means bad, they just don’t have the same spot in my heart that I have for Conan the Barbarian!
If you ask most people which is their favorite Conan movie from the original two, chances are they will say Conan the Barbarian. As I mentioned above, Conan the Destroyer isn’t bad at all, it’s actually very good but in a different way.
The difference in ratings for both films (R for Conan the Barbarian and PG for Conan the Destroyer) highlights some of the main differences in these two movies.
Where the Barbarian goes for more blood and guts, the Destroyer goes for jokes and giggles. There’s still plenty of action in there, it’s just not as dark and grim as the original. To illustrate what I mean, let’s compare the two thieves from each movie:
Conan’s thief sidekick Subotai is a more serious, self-assured and braver fighter in the Barbarian whereas Malak, the thief in the Destroyer is more concerned with saving his own skin, stabbing enemies in the back and looting precious gems which he then proceeds to swallow (probably to collect later!?).
Where Subotai is happy to hack and slash just as much as Conan, and only sometimes resorts to archery, Malak hides at the first sign of hostility and waits until all the focus is on his allies before he stealthily knifes someone in the back, with little or no risk to himself.
Where Subotai would gladly follow Conan and save his life, Malak would sooner leave the group and only stays with the rest of the adventurers because a) it’s currently safer for him, and b) there’s a strong prospect of riches to be gained.
The film plays on Malak’s comedic character constantly because of these flaws.
Akiro makes a welcome return in the Destroyer and is the only other character apart from Conan himself to appear in both movies. Conan’s motive for completing the quest in the Destroyer is to bring back to life his slain lover from Conan the Barbarian, but she does not make an appearance, unfortunately.
- Lighter themed but still awesome
- Wider cast of interesting and diverse heroes and heroines
- Still Sword and Sorcery at its finest!
I recently watched Conan the Destroyer again, and I enjoyed it a lot more as an adult than I did as a kid. I’m glad I decided to watch it again as I had a fairly poor view of it before.
Many hardcore fans of the original disliked it for its lighter tones but it’s still a great movie, and it’s a grand shame that more weren’t made with Arnold as the lead.
If you haven’t heard, there were plans to make a third movie, called Conan the Legend or Conan the Conqueror with Arnold reprising his role but it’s still up in the air as to whether this film will ever get made at all…
As a self-professed Conan fan, I can’t believe it took me so long to find and read the original stories. I don’t think I was more than vaguely aware that there were any stories to be brutally honest and that will be my everlasting shame!
Did you know that the stories were written as early as 1933? That’s 4 years before The Hobbit was published in 1937 by Tolkien and 50 years before the original film!
I was a little worried that the writing style would be off-putting given its age and a few words are now considered archaic, but honestly, I loved every bit of it.
The stories actually start out with Conan as the King of Aquilonia, which is a Kingdom he wrested from an evil tyrant, and even though his life is ever in peril (in one story he is the last survivor of a five thousand strong force, and he’s still fighting, though outnumbered astronomically), he manages to overcome the odds in the best heroic ways.
It’s great to see how some of the characters from the movies evolved in the stories and if you’ve ever been a fan of any kind of fantasy books, I’d highly recommend picking these up, particularly since they don’t cost a lot.
I was also left wanting more after watching the Conan movies, I always wanted to know what happened to Conan and to hear the rest of his adventures and Conan: The Definitive Collection is the key to the magical chest of hidden Conan lore.
As a collection of short stories, it’s not one epic novel, and Robert E. Howard doesn’t write in chronological order either as he colors in Conan’s past, present, and future.
Personally, I like this though as I could finish one story per night and be excited to read the next one either straight after or the following night. They also don’t suffer from the over-descriptiveness which I didn’t like in the Lord of the Rings and was kind of boring to read. I tended to skip those paragraphs, to be honest.
- All 18 of the original stories from Robert E. Howard
- Learn more about the world of Conan from its creator
- Each tale will unfold a little more of Conan’s history
If you’re like me, and Conan is something special, then I’d highly recommend picking up this collection as it fills in so much more about Conan and the Hyborian age.
The things that the movies only hint at are explored through eighteen engaging stories, and it answers a lot of questions that had bounced around my mind for the past 30 years or so.
Made possible by the more than three million dollars pledged by Kickstarter backers, the Conan board game is now a reality. I was a little worried at first that it was just going to be a cheap board game taking advantage of Conan’s popularity. There have been a few duds in the past, so I was understandably wary.
Luckily, this game is actually quite good and with such a massive amount of money pledged, the creators, Monolith were able to meet some stretch goals too. What that means is more playable characters and adventures to go on.
The game itself is for 2 to 5 players where one takes the role of the evil overlord and the rest play as heroes. Expect plenty of arguments about who will be playing Conan…
Every good dungeoneering/adventure game I’ve played had excellent models, and Conan doesn’t sell you short there either. The base game comes with 74 life-like models and includes 4 heroes with 6 allies, 5 monsters (think boss/mini boss) 4 Evil Leaders and a host of Hyenas, Archers, Guards, Pirates and Pict Hunters.
There’s also 8 scenarios included and each take roughly ninety minutes each which for this kind of game is really good. I’ve spent many hours on other board games only to find we couldn’t finish in time so we either leave everything out, in the hope we can play the next day or pack it all away with the adventure unresolved.
The quests themselves are based on the 18 stories from Robert E. Howard so if you have read or are going to read them, it can lend an extra sense of atmosphere to everything.
One of the main mechanics in Conan is the energy gems. To make actions, you have to spend your energy gems and if you’re not careful, you will overexert yourself and won’t be able to fight. This lends a more strategic element to the game, and you can’t just hack and slash without a care for your precious energy gems.
If you enjoy the base game there’s also expansions with new quests, models and heroes available for you to buy so there’s plenty of longevity in the game.
- Finally a spectacular Conan board game
- 74 Excellent miniatures included
- 8 Scenarios with more available on the internet
- Extra content is already available!
This board game is something that’s filled a long-empty niche. The fact it did so well on Kickstarter is a testament to the fact that there’s still legions of Conan fans worldwide.
The gameplay won’t take too long so it will be easier to entice people to play and one lucky person gets to play as Conan! Who wouldn’t love that!?
5. Conan: PS3
There have been a few Conan games over the years, and they’ve ranged from mediocre to decent. This particular Conan game is one of the better ones and has you playing Conan like the ferocious, sword wielding maniac we all know he is.
You unlock new moves by slaying enemies and also choose which power-ups to level. There’s a variety of weapons modes, from sword and shield, two-handed and dual wielding. Seeing as I’m a Conan purist, I always play as a two-hander in any game I play!
Unleash your inner rage as you decapitate enemies, chop them in two, rip out their intestines and sever limbs from their bodies. Conan leaves nothing to the imagination as he slices his way through hordes of enemies/culminating in epic boss fights.
With this in mind, I wouldn’t recommend this game for kids. There’s far too much blood and violence for that. Apart from that, Conan is an awesome game which comes with rave reviews from anyone who’s played it.
- Pick up any weapon and use it at will
- Pick up an unfortunate enemy before you toss them onto spikes
- Gruesome and brutal hack-and-slash combat
Play Conan as he’s supposed to be – a battle frenzied, savage brute who will carve his way through entire lands because… well, because that’s what he wants to do!
Ahoy Conan lovers, I hope you enjoyed this splattering of Conan items. There should be something for everyone here, and if you’re like me, they’re all for you! I really can’t get enough of Conan, and he’s definitely impacted my imagination over the years.
Just in case you’re looking for some more information, I’ve prepared this simple buyer’s guide for you, enjoy!
Conan Board Game
If you’ve ever played any board games like Warhammer Quest, Hero Quest or Descent, to name a few, it’s definitely worth getting the Conan board game. If you’re buying this as a gift for someone, I’d advise it for ages of a mature 13/14 and up.
I used to get board games when I was younger, but I didn’t have the patience to learn the rules, and nobody in my family was interested in playing (aw) so I just messed about with the figurines.
If you’ve never played a board game like this before, then I’d only recommend buying this if you think you have at least one other person interested in playing and you’re happy to invest around two hours for your first sitting.
It always takes longer to play your first game as you’re not used to the rules, and you need to get used to everything first.
The Conan Movies
I’d be surprised if somebody found this article but hadn’t already watched the movies. If you haven’t watched the movies, please do, and if you can only afford one, definitely buy Conan the Barbarian.
These movies have aged well, and even 35 years after they were made, I still enjoy them so much. If you’re a Conan fan too, I’m sure it’s the same for you!
Crom’s Chronicles (Conan: The Definitive Collection)
Unless you’re completely averse to reading, I can’t advocate these stories enough. I’ve always wanted to know more about Conan, his adventures, and the larger world and through the original stories I can.
They’re really easy to read, and any kids who like to read will enjoy these too – especially considering they’re mostly 5 chapters each which you can read in thirty minutes or so.
It’s available on Kindle, and if you don’t own one, as long as you have a tablet or smartphone, you can get the Kindle app for free, like I did.
Conan Video Game
Mindless gory fun. It’s not for everybody, but any teenage male and older is sure to love this game, especially if they’ve played anything similar. If you’re buying it for someone else, please be warned it is a gory game, even if it’s five years old.
It graphically displays the violence and savagery you’d expect from this kind of game, and if you don’t like that kind of thing, you won’t like this game. If blood and gore don't bother you, you will love playing this game.
That’s all I have to say regarding Conan for now. I’ve reviewed five of the greatest and best Conan items you can own and add to your collection. You’ve probably already got at least one or two of them, and it would be great to add more to it.
Inside everybody is a two handed maniac waiting to reave and thieve!