THE BAD GUYS OF J.R.R. TOLKIEN'S MIDDLE EARTH
-Reconstructions by Matthew Amt-
I started doing historical reenacting in 1980, and have been involved in the Middle Ages, the American Revolution, the English Civil War, Roman (very intensely since 1991), Ancient Greek, and a couple other things on the side. (See links at bottom of page for evidence.) And now I want to be an ORC! Well, not really BE one, just assemble all the clothing and gear, an "impression", as we say in reenacting. It's only fair, since Tolkien was a big part of the reason I got into reenacting in the first place. So it's kind of like coming home again!
Actually, I will be doing at least two impressions for starters. The Uruk-hai were always my heroes, and I loved the ones in the movie. But they do not match Tolkien's admittedly vague descriptions in the books. So, thought I, Do both! With my usual dedication to accuracy, I am attempting to recreate an Uruk-hai based closely on the movie, and an entirely different outfit following the books. Along the way I'll knock out some things for other orcs, too, either from the movie or the books. Orcish things by other people may also show up here, with their permission. There is also a page of non-orcish items which I have made, and a page about Tolkien's orcs in general.
Oh, by the way--I am NOT making this stuff to sell! This is just a "how to" page, I am not in the costume or armoring business. I can give you hints and advice, but remember that a lot of guesswork and estimation is going on, here. Read on!
This page last updated 12/2/06.
MY "MOVIE ORC" IMPRESSION
I have broken this rather large page into three: this Home page
(with intro, links, and sword
description), Clothing, and Armor.
* Costume Links
* Links to my other interests
* Uruk-hai Clothing * Uruk-hai Armor *
At left, the big debut at Balticon 2004. I decided
to go with the steel helmet
and no mask, for the sake of hearing, seeing, and breathing! To
comply with the weapon policy, I made a leather-covered steel scabbard
for the sword and leather "booties" for the shield spikes. (Photo by Judy
At right, showing the leather helmet with the full mask, before I made the shield--that shown is my "book orc" shield. I also don't have nice orc skin (and could really use about 20 pounds of muscle!), so brown wool 15th century hosen and an old faded black shirt serve the purpose here. The mask is a commercial latex Lurtz mask from Entertainment Earth. There is also a view without the helmet. (Photos copyright Jane Walker.)
After seeing "The Fellowship of the Ring" four times and then spending two days studying the fights at Amon Hen in slow-motion, it was clear that Uruk-hai clothing and armor is VERY COMPLICATED! Scouring the Net for photos has helped a great deal (see costume links below). The costume section of the Special Edition DVD of "Fellowship" is terrific for many details but still confusing on some major issues. I emailed the nice folks at the Weta workshops in New Zealand and asked them about patterns or drawings, but (understandably) anything like that is still proprietary information, top secret and not available. They did tell me that the busts and figures from Sideshow Toy were sculpted by the same people who designed the costumes and armor, so they are quite accurate.
The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare, by Chris Smith, has
some excellent photographs. You WILL want this book if you are
doing a Mordor or Moria orc! However, I think the photos on pages
122, 124, and the bottom left on 130 might be prototypes or
pre-production photos, since they do not match what I'm seeing on the
screen. The drawing on page 124 also seems doubtful. But
they can still be useful and I certainly won't treat them as
The materials I am using are "real", i.e., steel, leather,
copper/brass/bronze, that sort of thing, simply because that's what I'm
used to working with, and I like the feel of realistic armor and
Plastic, vinyl, latex, and other "modern" materials were used in the
costumes, but these are beyond my experience. I am using some
and lightweight garment leather and probably some synthetic-blend
that I wouldn't use for historical clothing or equipment, so I'm
"cheating" a little. You should definitely use modern materials
take other shortcuts if that is what you are comfortable and satisfied
with. Be an orc of any sort, and I'll be happy to go raiding with
you! See the Links on the Uruk-hai
Armor page for sites that tell about making armor from craft foam
and other easy-to-use materials.
* Uruk-hai Clothing * Uruk-hai Armor *
* MY "BOOK ORC" IMPRESSION * PVC CHAINMAIL * NON-ORCISH PROJECTS * ABOUT ORCS *
|Here is my sword. I cut it from scrap steel, 1/8" thick, using an electric hand-held saber saw. Total length 31", blade 25-1/4" by 2" wide. The spike is 3-1/2" long by 1-1/8" wide at the base.|
http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/--Lord of the Rings Costume site. Go to "Characters" and then "Nasties" to find the Orcs section (or http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Nasty/Orcs.htm directly), with some photos and links. There is also a good Lurtz page, http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Nasty/Lurtz.htm.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LOTR_Costume/--Costume discussion group, very high-traffic but almost nothing on orcs, unfortunately... (You'll see me helping with other armor and weapon questions, though)
http://www.numenoreen.com/ --The Images section has a list by subject heading, including 156 images of Orcs!
A section on general armoring, http://www.warofthering.net/armoury/orcsironsmithy/.
Lot of individual orcs in
13 pages of European cards
http://www.theonering.net/movie/scrapbook/ --Known as the "TORN" site. HUGE mass of photos to slog through--check back periodically as more new pictures get added.
http://www.sideshowtoy.com/lotr_home.html --All the licensed collectible items. The orc figures and miniature helmets are good sources of information.
http://uk.geocities.com/aragorn_elessendil/welcome.htm--section on Orcs, plus a couple other shots under Aragorn. Views of the back!
http://www.decipher.com/lordoftherings/cardlists/index.html --Decipher Collectable/Gaming Cards, with useful photos
http://www.fantasyplanet.cz/lotr/ --Yet another image-intensive site, but some good stuff if you can get it to load... (Better just to follow the direct links from the AlleyCatScratch site above.)
http://www.moviepublicity.com/nltheatrical/lotr2_photos.html --A couple good ones here
Wellington ROTK Premiere Photos--http://www.theonering.net/scrapbook/group/1190/ Couple good ones here, too.
http://www.lordoftherings.net -- The Official Site! Not a ton of really useful photos, but can't very well leave it off the list.
Construction of a Moria Orc, by Ed Martinez and Nina Kempf-- http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Nasty/Orc/Making/MakeMoria.htm. OUTSTANDING work!
Transforming a man to a Moria orc-- http://www.sideshowtoy.com/lotr/moriaorc_gallery/index.html
http://www.hi-impact.org/, http://www.studiocreations.com/howto/index.html --These two sites provide lots of really useful info on making plastic armor and such. The Studiocreations site even shows you how to make your own vacuumforming table. (Thanks, Maral!)
Costume cons-- http://www.costume-con.org/
Parts and Technical--Andrew
Young's website, including Nazgul gauntlets, Star Wars, and more
You like Nazgul? Check
out Guillaume's gauntlet! Black 18-gauge steel, 30 hours of work!
For events or gatherings to
wear your costume at, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LOTR_Costume_Gather
Frodo Orc Mail tutorial, by
Frodo Orc Disguise Helmet Tutorial, by Carolyn
LINKS FOR MASKS, LATEX PROSTHETICS, ETC.
Armory--Leather orc armor (Uruk-hai inspired)
By-the-Sword--http://bytheswordinc.com/acatalog/LARP__Live_Action_Role_Playing_.html. New LARP section has polyurethane helmets and armor. No Uruk-hai items so far, but nice Moria orc armor.
--I bought my Uruk-Hai (Lurtz) mask from here. (Looking under
Type for Masks is quicker than browsing through the whole Lord of the
FX Tailor, Denmark--http://www.fxtailor.dk. Nice
selection of orc masks and other items.
Theatrical supply, etc.
LRP Store (UK)--http://www.lrpstore.com/contents.asp. LARP Weapons, Leather Body Armour, Liquid Latex, Masks, Gauntlets, Swords, etc.
--costumes, wigs, feet, etc.
http://www.Action-Actors.com --Muscle suits. He's done an Uruk-hai costume, too!
http://www.furnation.com/timber/pros/prosthetics.html --"How To" prosthetic parts
http://www.nightmarefactory.com/santa.html#misc --Prosthetic ears, etc.
htm&ORDER_ID=!ORDERID! --Orc masks--click on big "2" for Menu 2, LOTR sign, scroll down to masks, etc.
you can find armor or other items for sale in the "Classified" section
GENERAL ORC LINKS
Arms of Middle-Earth
hobbits, but good folks to play with at DragonCon
--Orc Roleplaying Community--Includes articles on Orcish language!
Red-Hand Orcs, LARP group--http://www.redhandorcs.org/
Here Be Dragons: The LRP
http://www.angelfire.com/rebellion/urukhai/ --Includes Internet Shrine to Lurtz and other fun stuff.
LEGIO XX, The Twentieth Legion--http://www.larp.com/legioxx/ --This site has sections on Armoring Hints and Leatherworking, as well as a large page of Suppliers, aimed at the historical reenactor but meant to be generally helpful.
My Greek Hoplite Site--http://www.larp.com/hoplite/
Midgard, medieval living history and reenactment--http://www.larp.com/midgard/ --Also with some potentially useful stuff, including Armor, Clothing, and Shoes sections.
I don't have websites for the later periods that I have also reenacted, but do have a few photos. Revolutionary War, both British Light Infantry and American Continental Line (currently most often with the First Maryland Regiment). The English Civil War (1640s), both a pikeman and a musketeer in Hampden's Regiment of Foot.
And some other odd
Oh, yeah, who am I? Matthew Amt, a federal government worker and long-time historical reenactor, matthew_amt AT yahoo DOT com . (Be sure to put something distinctive in the subject line, like "orcs", or your message might get deleted as spam!) I've been calling myself "Ugluk". And this is all for fun of varying degrees, so any snide, insulting, or inflammatory remarks I may direct towards Elves, tarks, or snivelling little halflings should not be taken TOO seriously!
This site was constructed using Netscape Composer, and seems to work fine with Internet Explorer, too. I know, I should be using a black background, but I find them annoying and hard to read so I went with "Cool Marble". Many thanks as always to Jay Finch of Larp.com for providing the server space!