This Local Prop Master and “Game of Thrones” Fan Built His Own Iron Throne
See how it stacks up against the real one when the show’s final season premieres Sunday, April 14 on HBO.
If you’re like most fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones, inspired by George R. R. Martin’s magnum opus novel series, you’re probably eagerly awaiting the premiere episode of the final season airing this Sunday. Maybe you’re planning a viewing party with friends, or getting GoT-themed drinks and snacks (or costumes) ready.
But if you’re Kalihi native Keoni Maemori, you’ve taken a love for Game of Thrones to an entirely new level. This local prop master and filmmaker, who started as a production assistant on Lost, built his own Iron Throne—the literal seat of monarchy in the fictional capital of King’s Landing, made up of melted swords taken from conquered rulers across Westeros—from nearly 400 (plastic) swords, foam and fiberglass.
“When I started watching Game of Thrones, I was enthralled when I saw the chair for the first time,” says Maemori. “I started gathering ideas and thinking about how I might build one myself. The original vision for the throne in the books is around four stories high, so I decided to stick to making the television show version.” Back in 2013, Maemori ordered four cases of swords in bulk from China, then started attaching them to a plastic chair with EVA foam filling in the gaps. But tragedy stuck when he returned home from work one afternoon and discovered it missing. The bulky-item collection crew had taken his half-finished throne to the dump, he says.
“I was working on it in the front yard and they must’ve grabbed it,” says Maemori. “I was pretty depressed and I gave up on the entire thing for maybe a year. But then there was a convention coming up and I figured, eh, might as well rebuild.” Less than a week before Comic Con Honolulu in 2014, Maemori hustled to construct the second chair. The total cost was about $2,000. After he set the swords in foam, he added a layer of resin and fiberglass as a protective seal. “It holds better this way but people at the convention say it’s too coarse. I had to explain that in the show, Aegon the Conqueror said that ‘a king should never sit easy,’ so there you go,” he says, with a laugh.
The throne was a big hit with GoT fans and cosplayers. Maemori started taking it around to other conventions and began getting noticed. Not just at events, but also on the highway: “When I’d drive to places with the throne in the back of my Chevy Tahoe, I had to put the tailgate down for the throne to fit. Everybody driving behind me can always see it. Now, I’m that guy with the Iron Throne in my truck.”
As word spread over the years that Maemori had a pretty realistic-looking Iron Throne available, he started getting called to other events: birthday parties, graduations, weddings. “I’ve been to a couple ‘red’ weddings based on the show, where there’s fake blood splashed on the tables,” he says. “I took it to an Alcoholics Anonymous weeklong convention. I took it to an event hosted by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legal Foundation. Most times, the throne’s there to send a message of strength or resilience.”
At every event, two or three swords inevitably fall off the throne due to wear and tear, but Maemori has replacement parts. He estimates his throne has seen maybe 400 swords total since being built. And the guests who’ve taken a seat include Dwayne Johnson (“It was at a Hawai‘i Five-0 event when he was in the Islands shooting Jumanji”), Gov. David Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “Both Ige and Caldwell happened to be at the Okinawan Festival on two separate years. I’m not sure if they watch the show, but Ige said he felt very uncomfortable sitting in the chair. Caldwell had no problem.”
Does Maemori have any predictions for the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones? “I’m certain that we’ll see someone from a previous season come back and fool ’em all,” he says. “I think Littlefinger is gonna come back somehow. He’s gonna be the one sitting on the throne at the end.”
Interested in checking out the throne and possibly getting your photo taken? Maemori’s bringing it to Comic Con Honolulu Aug. 2 to 4, and is also booking snapshot sessions at his studio in Kalihi. To find out more, visit facebook.com/jhmproductions or follow the throne on Instagram: @IronThroneHI.