Pat Acton, a former career counselor in central Iowa, spent some 1,000 hours a year between 2007 and 2010 building a matchstick model of the mythic Minas Tirith city from “Lord of the Rings.” The finished replica contains 420,000 matchsticks and 23,000 small support wooden blocks. It stands over six feet tall in the Matchstick Marvels museum Acton founded.
“Number one is I’ve been a JRR Tolkien fan since I was a kid,” Acton told Business Insider. “The movies reignited my interest in ‘Lord of the Rings’ and I wanted to build something iconic from the story.”
The model includes hundreds of city buildings, the Citadel, the Tree of Gondor, and the White Tower of Ecthelion, all of which should excite LOTR fans.
Acton has built matchstick models for the past 23 years as a hobby, but after retirement he took on a three-year contract to construct models full time withRipley’s Believe It Or Not. He has about a year and a half left on that arrangement now.
“I used to buy all the matchsticks the grocery store had and cut the tips off myself,” Acton said. “I was just interested in the pure wood. But it’s time consuming to cut the tips. After about 10 years, my wife said, ‘Why don’t you contact the match makers and ask to buy them without the tips?'”
People buy matches so rarely these days that when Acton gets them, they’re made-to-order. He uses U.S. wood matches like Fire Chief, Blue Tip and Diamond, and goes through a half-million match splints every year.
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