My original company is Jade Dragon Jewelers, Inc. and as its name implies, specialized in jewelry. I have been making custom jewelry and related metal craft since the early 1970's, first as a hobby, then as a retail business in 1978. Although Jade Dragon Jewelers had a retail store front and did repair and custom work for customers directly, we also seviced 13 different Jewelry companies around the Central Ohio area, doing wholesale repair work, custom casting, lapidary, and stone setting.
It was during this period that I was introduced to titanium work and annodizing to create the unusual coloring. At the time, titanium was only available as surplus scrap from an areospace company near the airport. I began work on both of my titanium swords when we had the store. Although I closed the store in 1983, I continued to provide some repair and custom work services to the local Jewelry stores for several more years, but finally went back to a hobby status.
I think that I attended my first Science Fiction Convention in 1992 - Marcon. In their dealers area, I noticed a table that had a selection of ray guns made from machined aluminum and plastic. Many had strobes or touch-sensitive trigger effects. It was then that I began thinking about making SciFi props and weapons. My years of jewelry making and metal work now had a new outlet, and another hobby, electronics, also became an integral part of my work.
Most of my original work was done as a hobby, more to prove to myself that I could make "functional" weapons, at least as far as the special effects go. Some of the later props would become an integral part of costumes such as the Dark Trooper or a common Star Trek hall costume. Only a few of the guns ever sold, and these seemed limited to the props patterned after those in early Star Wars movies. Although there was interest in many of the other props, most never sold. During one convention, I dressed completely in black, with armor made from black rubber coated foam, and carrying a selection of these props. To answer inquires, I made a small number of "business cards" using black printing on clear transparency film. My character was a bounty hunter that showcased weapons for "Valhalla Arms". The slogan for the company was - "Send your enemies (and friends) to Valhalla"
In 1999 I produced a series of Light Saber props, all with sound effects taken from the Hasbro Lightsaber toys. Most of these had LEDs in the tip, although I wanted to do something flashier for myself. I had used neon in the large weapon carried by the Dark Trooper years earlier, and had a second transformer recovered from a blaster rifle prop. I integrated this into a light saber for myself, and then went on to produce several more in time for the Marcon Art Show. Although none ever sold, they were great attention getters. I did not have any business cards out, and so the poor art show crew had to keep giving out my contact information throughout the event.
In 2000 I produced business cards for the event to prevent this from happening again. However, I felt that Jade Dragon Jewelers presented little that could be associated with my SciFi props and weapons, so back came the Valhalla Arms name.
Valhalla Arms was also used as a ficticious company name that I used in developing sample business cards, product bulletins, etc. when building sample screens in various computer demos.