Archive for January, 2008

30
Jan
08

A Slingshot… On Steroids!!

When I was younger, my Dad got me a slingshot. Nothing fancy, not like the amazing steel and super rubber stuff they have today, just a simple wooden “Y” with some old fashioned vulcanized rubber. I tell you I had a ball with that thing. When the rubber got tired and broke/died, I sourced new rubber from old car inner tubes and such. When the wood “Y” frame finally broke, I made a new one from whatever was at hand. I loved that thing. But not as much as I would have loved this…

Slingshot Crossbow

Slingshot Crossbow
[view full size]
[view super sized]

Whooo Boy! Now THAT is a Slingshot. Lets see here: A heavy duty, steel reinforced wooden crossbow stock. A strong, spring steel crossbow prod with lots of travel. An all steel cocking/trigger/release mechanism. Yep, ladies and germs, mix that with children, of both the young and old variety, with some time to kill, and what we have here is a bona fide recipe for all manner of projectile based shenanigans.

Notwithstanding the obvious trouble one could get themselves into with such a weapon, this is just a sweet looking slingshot crossbow. And they even retained the little “Y”up front to make it easier for traditional sling shot purists to aim! That is just schweet! Seriously. Now I am actually thankful that we didn’t have things like this when I was growing up. If my dad had gotten me one of these, there would have been no end to the mischief! But I’d have been the coolest kid on the block, because, let’s face it, crossbows are just cool.

In fact, I’d say if you mix any weapon with a crossbow form factor, it becomes like 10 times cooler. Don’t believe me? Look:

  • Bow (Cool.) + Rifle Stock = Crossbow: Super Cool!!
  • Pistol (Sweet.) + Crossbow Prod = Pistol Crossbow: Uber Sweet!!
  • Slingshot (Noice.) + Rifle stock = Crossbow Slinghsot: Hella Noice!!
  • Imperial Blaster Carbine: (Awesome.) + Crossbow Prod = Bowcaster: Mega Awesome!!

Any questions?

Crossbow Slingshot – [Knights Edge]

28
Jan
08

A Real Fantasy Axe…

In my last post you got to hear me whine incessantly about a Fantasy axe that was neither fantastic nor axe-like. This time around, I thought I’d show you what a real “Fantasy Axe” is supposed to look like:

Fantasy Axe

Single Hand Fantasy Axe
[view full size]

Now this is what an axe is supposed to look like. Big broad blade. Wide curving crescent shaped edge. Plenty of cheek to the axe head. This: Axe. The other thing..: Not Axe. I’m sure you agree.

Now ironically, while I’m happy to say that this is most definitely an axe, I must admit that as fantasy axes go, it’s not particularly “fantastic”. It’s pretty much what any regular axe should look like. Thats not to say that it isn’t a good looking axe, because it is, but rather that the “fantasy” label was really not necessary. This axe is needed no such fanfare to look like it means business. There are a few interesting features on this axe that are subtle, but lend to this no-nonsense look.

Fantasy one hand axe
[view full size]

If you look closely at the pic above, you’ll notice that the axe handle is tied with a leather thong, tacked in place using broad headed nails. Also the handle itself is not actually straight, but rather has a very subtle “S” curve to it, with a slight flare at both the grip and eye ends. This particular design makes for a cool aesthetic touch that also just happens to provide both bumps and ridges on the handle which would improve the wielders grip tremendously compared to a straight, plain wooden shaft.

The Axe head is also interesting. The blade looks like it was made out of a heavy gauge plate steel, folded over to create an eye, and welded together to create the cheek and blade. The shaft appears to also be pinned in place through the middle of the side of the eye, which also sports an interesting set of opposite matching “V” notches at the top and the bottom, with the top of the handle being carved out to match. Yet another interesting feature is that the rear of the eye sports a very long, thick, rectangular impact surface. conceivably to enable the wielder to inflict blunt trauma against armored foes. Yep, fun all around.

Anyhoo, overall, I like the many simple and subtle design features of this axe. Certainly beats the over-modernized, super non fantastic non-axe I was faced with before. Just goes to show, subtlety and simplicity can be a very beautiful thing…

Fantasy Axe – [By The Sword]

26
Jan
08

Another Silly Axe Fantasy…

Ok today I thought I’d talk rant about yet another fantasy weapon that makes no sense:

Fantasy Battle Axe

Fantasy Battle Axe
[view full size]

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that this thing looks cool. The two blades are actually very sinister in appearance, and just lend the weapon an overall meanness that I like. However this looks to me like it would work better at the end of a spear shaft, than as an Axe…

So here’s my question, is it just me, or does the picture indicate that the blades on this thing rotate freely around a central shaft? Rotating blades? Are you serious? Do the actually want to be able to cut with this? Oh, my bad, I guess they don’t. Because it’s a fantasy weapon. And we all know that fantasy weapons are only allowed to inflict fantasy wounds…

And just to confirm that I’m not on crazy pills or anything, does this weapon look like an axe to you? Yeah, huh, no. OK. I thought not. Cause it isn’t an axe. It’s an double bladed bowie. That’s what it is. Not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “Fantasy Axe”.

Ok, maybe by a really great stretch of the imagination, but that would really be stretching it. Come on people, slapping the “Fantasy” label on a weapon does not give you license to come up with any stupid weapon design and slap the name of a completely different weapon design on it

And if you believe it does, I happen to have a “Fantasy Crown” I’d like you, and all of these other marketing folk, to try on. It’s made of razor wire dipped in cyanide, but hey a regal “Fantasy Crown” should be a well deserved reward for you “fantasy designers”… 🙂

Fantasy Battle Axe – [Collectors Edge]

24
Jan
08

More Kooky Khukuris…

In the comments of the post before last, I was asked by a friend what kind of sword I would pick for personal defense/offense were the world to be suddenly plunged into a post apocalyptic state where firearms no longer worked. My answer?: A Japanese Katana.

However it was a rather incomplete answer. In reality, I would not be limited to 1 weapon, and even if we retained the artificial “no firearms” limitation there would still be quite a number of considerations that would go into how many weapons I would carry and which ones. It is a topic I think worthy of a dedicated post.

However today, I thought I’d talk about one of the specific kinds of knives I might carry around with me for utility and defense purposes. Namely, a Gurkha Khukuri (aka Kukri) . Or a variation thereof:

Alice’s Khukuri

Alice's Kukri
[view full size]

Now the observant movie going folk among you might be asking: “Isn’t that emblem on the blade from “The Umbrella Coporation”?” Indeed it is. And the reason is because this particular Khukuri is a replica of the pair of Khukuri used by Milla Jovovichs character “Alice” from the “Resident Evil: Extinction” movie. In the movie, she worked those Khukuri like there was no tomorrow. I suppose it would be accurate to say she was trying to ensure that there actually was a tomorrow, and being suitably motivated to do so, well, I’m sure you get the picture… 🙂

Interestingly, the Khukuri has made an appearance in other post apocalyptic movies, such as “Cyborg” (one of Jean Claude Van Damme’s characters favorite weapons) and “Waterworld” (Kevin Costners “Mariner” used one to rather terminal effect). Now while the movies are a great (but sometimes unrealistic) showcase for the Khukuris flexibility, there are actually a lot of good real world reasons why a Khukuri would be a great blade to have as part of your arsenal in a post apocalyptic world.

The Khukuri is actually a very flexible and capable weapon design. It is a large knife with a stout spine, that carries all of it’s weight at the top half of a forward canted blade, making it an excellent chopping tool. But the unusually angled top half of the blade still retains a strong, sweeping cutting edge, so it is also a great cutting weapon, though not in the same way that a Katana is. And while thrusting isn’t really it’s forte, it does have enough point to be used for stabbing action. Although some of the more contemporary designs marginalize that particular weakness:

Kukrage (Paul Ehlers)

Paul Ehlers
[view full size]

Notice the sharp point, the knuckle guard, the saw back spine? Most of these features you’d find on your average survival knife. But here they are in Khukuri form. And its all black! Ha! Now this is a Khukuri I’d love to have, come the apocalypse!!

Yet an additional advantage of the Khukuri is it’s packaging. It is actually a fairly compact design, for what it can do. It is shorter and than a machete, but because of it’s stout, top heavy design, can be used like one. And it’s rugged build would make it suitable for the many tasks that you would not want to abuse a Katana blade with. A large bowie knife might also have fit this bill, but, no offense to the bowie purists among you, a Khukuri just feels balanced better to me, and looks a whole lot cooler… 😛

So while it might not be my primary combat blade, it would certainly be a great utility blade. With offensive capabilities. A good all around, general purpose blade. I’d never leave home without it… 😉

22
Jan
08

An Automatic Knife on Steroids…

A couple of months back I encountered a very interesting automatic, spring loaded, blade design from the movie SAW. Now I have never seen SAW, or any of it’s sequels, so I hadn’t been privy to the various supposedly gruesome weapons that the movies featured, but I will say, I might go see all of them, just to see weapons like this in action:

Saw Blade Gauntlet
[view full size]

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of people being killed. Especially not in the purportedly gruesome ways that the movie depicts. Though from what I have read, the series illustrate a complex subtext about the raw, cold hearted drive of pain and vengeance, humanity, self sacrifice and survival. As a student of the human psyche, that might be one of the main reasons I might go and see this film. To be honest, that’s not entirely true. I really just want to see the weapons… 😛 But, as usual, I digress.

We are here today because I am a huge fan of blade aesthetics and mechanics. And this blade has a healthy portion of both. I was very impressed both by the aesthetics of the blade, as well as the with the amount of work that went into the mechanical aspects of it’s construction. It incorporates a lot of ideas I have kicked about in my head for many, many years, as well as a few I had not thought of.

Now the page I found this described it as a nonworking replica prop from the movie, but to anyone with a mechanical frame of mind can see how this blade was designed to operate, and boy is it a thing of beauty. Of course, given that this was from a hollywood movie, the fabricators who originally came up with the design had the funds to build whatever they wanted, and it shows in the way it is constructed.

There are a lot of parts and fabrication that went into this design that your average garage fabricator might find difficult to duplicate unless they are excellent welders and machinists. For instance look at the deployment mechanism. The little “spidey paddle” mechanism is affixed to the gauntlet via a custom fabricated pivot point welded to a flange on blade carrier bracket. a very nice job, with the paddle custom bent to fit the contours of the wearers wrist and hand.

Not that this mechanism is terribly complex or anything like that, but the rail delivery system is unique in the world of such weapons, and overall the fit, finish and attention to detail are superb. Much better than what most of us would be able to come up with in our garages. Not that we aren’t trying.

A good knife maker friend of mine, Sinza who is probably even more inspired by these kind of weapons than I am, has a site dedicated to his knives, and a forum dedicated to the construction of weapons like these. If you fancy a peek at what can be done with common household fixtures and parts from home depot, mosey on down to his site for a gander. He’s got a pretty cool collection automatics to boot.

Sadly, the SAW blade gauntlet got pulled from the shelves almost as soon as it was made available. Still don’t know for sure why, but my guess would be reasons related to either copyright issues or irrational fears. But in any case, things like these, Wolverines claws, glaives, multi tools, combo weapons, all the unique and wonderful gadgets James Bond ever got from Q, etc., are things that have fueled my imagination for decades. So I’m always stoked to see something this cool, that isn’t just movie magic…

20
Jan
08

Corinthian Steel: Much better than Corinthian leather…

OK so this is probably not a fair comparison, since the original “soft Corinthian Leather” touted by Ricardo Montalban in the 70’s Chrysler ads were not actually made in Corinth, Greece, but New Jersey. But that’s not the point. The point is… at the tip of this unique Corinthian sword design… OK, ok, so that was a bad pun. Sue me.  😛  :

Corinthian War Sword

Corinthian War Sword
[view full size]

Now this is a cool war sword. And I’m not just saying that. This design has a few unique features that make it stand out from the rest of the crowd. while I like the shape fo the blade, with it’s relatively straight lines and very strong point design, all of the design magic starts at the hilt, or more specifically, the ricasso.

This sword, similar to one I blogged about recently, also sports an encased ricasso design. The ricasso surround possesses contours that are very reminiscent of a corinthian helmet. This shell continues into the curved claw like guards lat look as if they are riveted in place on either side of the ricasso, for a very interesting effect. If you look at it just right, it looks like the ricasso and guard combine to form a horned Corinthian helm! Or it could just be my imagination…

But the fun doesn’t stop there. The guard tops a wood grip, with a single steel ring set at it’s middle, and is capped with an equally unique pommel. But perhaps the most interesting design feature of this sword is the steel strip that runs the length of the hilt, which seems to have been riveted in place, from just above the ricasso, through the guard, again to the ring at the center of the grip, and finally down to the pommel. A very interesting design feature indeed.

While that steel strip looks cool, I can’t help but wonder how it would affect the feel of the weapon, were it to be used in combat. It doesn’t look like it is actually riveted to the grip, just to the steel rings, but still, wood grips are there for a reason. Handling heavy steel weapons without the benefit of a slightly softer grip material is murder on the hands. Trust me. I’ve tried it. And it’s not fun. Every impact gets transmitted directly to your fingers. And the way that steel strip is attached, I can totally see it completely obliviating the impact absorption abilities of the wood grip.

But then again, as usual, I’m being a dweeb, and attempting to evaluate a display sword on the merits of it’s combat practicality. Just ignore me. It’s a cool sword, and I love it’s aesthetics. Even if I’d never go into battle with this particular sword… 😛

Corinthian War Sword – [Heavenly Swords]

18
Jan
08

The hollywood glamour of the Ninja throwing star…

As a great fan of Ninja lore, I’ve always loved the Hira-Shuriken, or throwing star. It was a very useful tool for the Japanese Ninja, but simply not as lethal or as universally effective as Hollywood has made them out to be. Nonetheless this Hollywood glorification of ninja throwing stars has spawned some rather unique variations, like the following pieces of junk “art”:

Shiflett Iron Cross Twister

Shiflett Iron Cross Twister
[view full size]

OK, so this is hira-shuriken pocketknife hybrid design. Very cool lookin’. But of course, the first question that popped into my head was… “A ninja would not touch this with an extended length manrikgusari…”.

Folding blades are neat in concept, but even if they are cool and open in mid flight, so you don’t have to stand there for 5 minutes opening them up before you throw them, they always introduce structural weaknesses, and you can never be sure the blade locks will survive the chronic repeated impacts of throwing… I think I’m gonna pass on this one…

Shiflett Tech Twister

Shiflett Tech Twister
[view full size]

Now here I thought I was making progress. Then that little nerd in my head deigned to raise his screechy voice at me: “Buuuut why are the points all split in half? Won’t that weaken the points?” Blasted geekoid… But good question. No good answers. Save perhaps because it makes it looks a little cooler. But we all know a true Ninja craves not things like “cool”. Only strength, efficiency and functionality. So we move on…

Ninja Shuriken

Ninja Shuriken
[view full size]

AHA! What’s this!? Ninja Shuriken! Now this is a design I could see a ninja using. Simple, effective, solid, reliable, What more could a Shinobi Warrior want? Look at the thickness of this weapon. The sharp points. It would be heavy, and strong… Except for one thing. It’s cast from some cheap metal. If you look closely you can see the casting imperfections superficially covered by black paint. Dagnabbit! The points on this thing are gonna wear down to nothing, in mid air, during your first throw…

At the end of all of this, as I sit here writing my conclusion, I realize two things. First, I am torturing myself for no good reason. After all, there are actually a good number of perfectly good stainless steel hira shuriken designs available that I have chosen to totally ignore, just to rip on the stupid Hollywood and TV inspired cheap rip offs reproductions.

Second, I am anal retentive, and need to seek help about that shrill voice I keep hearing in my head that I sometimes wish I could burn out of my skull… It’s OK now though. I’m fine. No, really, I’m fine… 🙂

Ninja Shuriken – [True Swords]

Shiflett Tech Twister – [True Swords]

Shiflett Iron Cross Twister – [True Swords]

16
Jan
08

The combat spear…

Today we have yet another treat from the infamous movie “300”. I present to you the signature polearm of the Spartan army, the long spear:

“300” Spartan Warrior Spear

300 Spartan Spear

[view full size]

Now some people underestimate the power of the spear. People look at it and say, “Well yes, it’s cool for throwing, and for distance attacks, but beyond that it’s useless. Not so. It has it’s drawbacks, yes, but in the hands of a skilled warrior, a spear can be just as deadly as a sword. People don’t realize how functionally flexible a spear can really be.

Besides the obvious advantage of being a good projectile weapon, a spear at full length is a great distance thrusting tool. the fact that a spear was usually used with both hands meant a skilled warrior could be both fast and accurate with their strikes. And while a spear was more or less it useless for slashing, depending on it’s design it could also be used much like a staff weapon. Once you got it spinning, it could be used to deliver some serious blunt trauma. And if grasped at half length it could be used like a short thrusting spear/sword.

Interestingly, in the Movie “300” we are treated to numerous sequences where the long spear is shown used to it’s maximum advantage. In large numbers, an army armed with spears could keep even mounted, well armored attackers at bay quite efficiently. And even in one on one combat, a spear can be quite the effective stand off tool, keeping an opponent at “spears length”, as it were, and making their supposedly “faster” close in weapon, like an axe or a sword, useless.

And lets not forget also, that unlike a sword, a spear is much easier to throw, and the ability to engage the enemy at long distances was a big advantage to a spear wielding combatant. Given also that the amount of steel that was needed for a spear was usually only a small fraction of that used for a sword, you could make many more spears with the same amount of steel.

300 Spartan Warrior Spear

300 Spartan Warrior Spear
[view full size]

All of these factors combined are what made the spear such a flexible, formidable battlefield weapon. But besides all of that, I just happen to like this spear because its got that really mean looking, sharp point, it actually comes apart, and as we all know, flexibility is golden when it comes to weapons like these. And of course, being spartan, this one has that “Don’t mess with me, I’m Spartan…” look…

But ultimately, and most importantly, while most other spears are of light colored woods and chrome, this one is all black… You can’t beat that with… anything. No wonder the Spartans were so full of WIN! 🙂

“300” Spartan Warrior Spear – [True Swords]

14
Jan
08

Axes of the Glorious Klingon Empire!

 qaleghqa’neS! Welcome to the next installment of “Weapons of the Klingon Empire!” Today, we take a look at Klingon axes! The axe is a rather uncommon weapon in Klingon battle, for two reasons. The first being that, in close quarters combat, such as narrow star ship corridors, or cluttered bridges, large axes would have been more of a liability than a benefit. Naturally, once Klingons became a fully space faring race, battle axes became obsolete.

The second reason is that the betleH, the universal Klingon melee weapon that replaced almost every other, was designed to allow both close-in and extended reach techniques in close quarters combat. It was so well engineered for Klingon melee battle techniques, that no other large weapon could really come close to the kind of versatility the betleH offered the Klingon warrior.

As a result, most of the axes we will see today are Klingon designs adapted from medieval, pre-starship weapon design. First up, the ‘aqleH.

The ‘aqleH

 The Klingon 'aqleH

 The ‘aqleH (or half betleH) is perhaps the most modern combat axe of the Klingon empire, developed for planetary based forces to use against a blitz attacks by mounted aggressors. Developed is perhaps not the best word, more like adapted, since, as you can see, it is essentially a standard betleH, cut in half and mounted on a shaft.

Because of it’s considerable length, this weapon would never see the inside of a starship, however for the same reason, it also served double duty as the only Klingon polearm of note, though historically, polearm weapons were rarely used at all, since Klingons found much greater honor in close quarters quarters combat.

The ‘alngegh

The Klingon alngegh

 The Klingon ‘alngegh is a medieval Klingon design that reflects many of the similar design philosophies of human battle axe development, spawned in the face of heavily armored opponents. The heavy, wide curved blade, allowed it to be used for both slashing and chopping against lightly armored foes, while the spiked rear head made it a great weapon for piercing heavier plate or mail armor.

Indeed the function and use of this weapon was identical to that of it’s human human counterpart, but in this axe you also begin to see the spark of what eventually inspired the design of the magnificent betleH known as the Sword of Kahless

The jey’naS

 The Klingon jey'naS

The third, and final axe weapon of Klingon origin that I am aware of is called the jey’naS. The jey’naS is a unique double bladed axe design, but unlike traditional medieval Human axe design, this weapon features a unique double hook blade design. It’s hard to tell what inspired this particular design.

Because of the voids behind each blade it would not be a particularly strong chopping weapon, and would have been fairly useless against armor, so my guess is that this  weapon probably predated the ‘alngegh. However it would have been quite adequate at slashing duty.

Also the head of this axe is not only pinned onto the shaft, but also has a long tang that extens all the way down through the shaft, and is secured to a metallic pommel, just below the widely flared base of the grip. The flared base would give the wielder a very secure purchase, and the extended tang and buttcap would make it very resistant to extension forces.

Combine those design elements with the large voids, and very sharp points at the bottom of each hook-like blade, and you can see this being designed to trap an opponents weapon, or possibly even hook, impale and unseat a fast moving mounted aggressor. A fairly stereotypical Klingon tactic, given that they tend to prefer close up face time with an opponent.

But all in all the jey’naS is also one of the more unusual, but aesthetically pleasing axe designs I have come across, though I am torn between it and the ‘alngegh for my favorite Klingon axe design. They are both great weapons with all the curves and points you could ever want out of an axe…

Sadly, that ends this episode of  “Weapons of the Glorious Klingon Empire”. Special thanks to Kri’stak Forge, and the Klingon Imperial Weapons Guild, for keeping the flame of honor alive. I hope you’ll join us for our next installment. Until then, I bid honor to your great house. Qapla’ batlh je!

Kri’stak Forge – [Klingon Imperial Weapons Guild]

12
Jan
08

The potbellied little crossbow…

As promised, today I have a post about a weapon other than a blade. In fact it is a post about a funny little crossbow pistol I ran into earlier this week:

Belgian Crossbow Pistol

Belgian Crossbow Pistol
[view full size]

Now I found this to be an interesting design, though the design is not without a purpose. Crossbow pistols designed to fire heavy metal bolts would often be made such that there would be as little contact between the bolt, the string and any part of the crossbow as possible, presumably to reduce frictional losses that would otherwise be incurred by trying to make it run on a rail, like other crossbows.

Because the draw length is so short, power has to come from a very strong bow prod, in this case a short, springy steel bow. A steel crossbow prod can generate a lot of power over a short distance, however at those speeds, if the bolt/string had to run across a rail every time it was launched, both the rail and the string would wear out very quickly.

For these reasons, short, powerful crossbows like these were sometimes built with no rail, and a large gap to ensure that the vibration of the spring didn’t cause it to hit any part of the crossbow. But while this little crossbow is probably fairly lethal, I have to admit that I still think that deep belly between the string latch/catch and the bow prod is a little excessive.

Perhaps I’m just being nit picky, but If I were designing such a weapon, it would have just enough gap to clear the bow string, but nothing more than that. This design, as it stands, just reminds me of a little, hand held, potbellied pig that fires lethal steel bolts…

Belgian Crossbow Pistol – [Medieval Weapon Art]




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