Around 1997 and 1998, there were few surer bets in U.S. television syndication than Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys – especially the former. Actually a Hercules spinoff, Xena’s more serious (and yet still occasionally campy) atmosphere gained a whole new fan following. As the show took off, advertisers clamored to sign up, production values soared, and so did the price tag of goodies that were minted to impress stations carrying the series. At the time, I was working for a UPN station in Green Bay that carried both shows, and Universal had the spare dough to blow on lavish stuff like a bi-weekly CD-ROM of photos and promotional material for new episodes (most syndicators, including Paramount, just sent out print materials and B&W photos), or this letter-opener.
A dandy little sword-and-sheath combo, the Xena letter-opener instantly fell into the category of Promotional Goodies That Probably Wouldn’t Stay In The Building Long. Traditionally, stuff like this was just for show, and often wound up being added to prize packages, given to employees who were fans, or they just plain grew legs and walked off. (For the record, I was always one to ask before taking.)
There wasn’t a whole lot to this particular premium item, actually, and time has worn away some of its uniqueness. I’m not too sure of the pedigree of the letter opener “sword” itself, aside from “made in Spain” being embossed into one side of the blade, but the Xena logo gold-stamped onto the “sheath” was just about the only customization that tied it to the series in question – and as you can see from the scans and photos, it has worn off with time.
Universal and Studios USA, despite the money Xena and Hercules were bringing in, weren’t known for splurging on extravagant promotional items where their syndicated stations were concerned, so most of the other goodies I saw related to the show were yearly kits with photos and a CD-ROM, aside from the CD-ROM every other week during runs of new episodes.