A model enthusiast has spent three years painstakingly recreating this stunning replica of Lord of the Rings city Minas Tirith – using 420,000 MATCHSTICKS.
Patient Patrick Acton, 57, spent 3,000 hours building the model from scratch and has finally put the finishing touches to the 8ft by 8ft structure.
He has spent 33 years making matchstick models and his latest creation features a mind-boggling array of turrets, walkways and towers.
Every window and gangway has been carefully inserted to exactly replicate the original feature, which features in The Return of the King as the fortified refuge of Gondor.
Patrick built the fortified structure because he is a massive fan of the films and thought it would be a ‘challenge’.
Among his other creations are the US Capitol building for which he used 500,000 matches, the Spaceship Challenger, which took 200,000 matches and the Notre Dame cathedral which consisted of 175,000.
Careers counsellor Patrick, from Gladbrook, Iowa, spent a few hours a night in his workshop perfecting his Minas Tirith, which is supported by 24,000 small wooden blocks.
When it was finished, he had used a total of 420,000 matchsticks and around 12 gallons of carpenter’s glue.
He said: ”I love the film and thought it would be a real challenge to try and replicate the Minas Tirith.
”My family have got used to my hobby and I joke to my wife that it gets me out of the housework.
”It’s been a part of our lives since we were married and my wife is always thinking of new ways for me to get better at it.
”Because we live in the north central part of the US we experience lots of bad weather days which mean we are stuck indoors and it’s a cheap hobby that I really enjoy.
”I get lots of satisfaction seeing people get blown away when they see the models in the flesh and see every single match stick that creates them.”
Father-of-three Mr Acton started his hobby in 1977 after recreating a local high-steeple church out of 500 matches.
He originally used to buy matches from his local grocery store, before being forced to remove the tip of every match, until finding a supplier who provided them ready made.
He would also use bottles of school glue, a craft knife and a piece of sandpaper to perfect his ‘modest’ models.
But he has refined his skill and now uses specialist non-sulphur tip matches and has developed a way of crimping and bending individual sticks into curved shapes using needle-nosed pliers.
No water or steam is needed to bend them and once the curved matchstick is glued in place, it can be lightly sanded with no noticeable trace of damage.
The technique has helped Patrick add incredible detail to his 60 models, such as the Statue of Freedom on top of the Capitol dome and the miniature kings on the Notre Dame facade.
Patrick’s museum, Matchstick Marvels Tourist Centre, based in Gladbrook, Iowa, opened in 2003 and attracts over 10,000 visitors a year.