Archive for March, 2008

30
Mar
08

A Uniquely Ornate Dragon Sword…

Without a doubt, I’ve blogged about my fair share of Dragon swords in the past.  Some were deserving of the title, but most were not. But every now and then I run into a design that is unique and exceptional. And today I just so happen to have run across such a weapon.

Ornate Medieval Dragon Sword

Ornate Medieval Dragon Sword
[view full size]

Now this sword is unique in more than a couple respects. Take the blade for instance. It seems to be a cross between a Japanese and European design. It is not quite as curved as a Japanese Katana, however it doesn’t appear to be completely straight either. It carries a three quarter length fuller, without which I might easily have taken this blade for a Japanese make, based on the profile of the blade point, which looks very stereotypically Japanese. If I had to classify it I’d say it was a Japanese saber, though I’d ask that you not quote me on that… 🙂

But an even more interesting aspect of the design is how the dragon theme is implemented. The scabbard employs the liberal use of a dragon coiled around the sheath as the scabbard end cap and the attachment points for chain belt hanger. Bu what is perhaps the most interesting feature on the sword is the dragon hilt design.

Unlike most other dragon swords that feature a dragon “motif” the hilt of this weapon makes extensive use of a dragon’s anatomy, rearranging it to fit the practical needs of the hilts design, rather than simply decorating a traditional design with a dragon motif.

On this weapon, just below the ricasso, you can see that the dragons wings and forelimbs have been extended to form a guard, with the dragon facing the direction of the blade. In fact the blade seems to spring from the dragons chest. Continuing down you can see that the body of the dragon is also the grip, and not content to stop there, the designers curved the ridged scaly tail of the dragon back forwards to over the grip, stopping  just in front of the outstretched front limbs to form a knuckle guard.

While I will admit to having seen a similar knife arrangement with the blade coming out of the dragons mouth, and the front limbs forming a crude guard, I don’t think I have ever seen this done in combination with outspread dragons wings forming a large guard in this way before.

All and all, quite an engaging design, worthy of the Dragon moniker…

Ornate Medieval Dragon Sword – [Tulip Collectibles]

28
Mar
08

The Cutlass Supreme…

LOL no, you ninnies, I’m not talking about the car, though I’ll admit to a little tomfoolery with the title, being a little word play on the automobile of the same name. But I am talking about today is a weapon made infamous by pirates, but was also a popular general purpose weapon if the buccaneering age… The Cutlass!!

1917 Cutlass

1917 Cutlass (Cold Steel)
[view full size]

In Hollywood, while the cutlass is primarily portrayed as the weapon favored by pirates, it was in fact a very common naval weapon, used by pirates, regular sailors and even naval military forces, all for the very same reasons. In a previous wannabe pirate sword post, I explained a bit what the characteristics of the ideal pirate swords were. In this post, we will get to see a much more accurate cutlass design a little closer.

As you can see from the pic above, the cutlass is more or less a single-edged, mid-sized saber. This particular example carries a curved blade, as did many others, though they were not all so. However for the average seafarer the curved blade was very useful, as it allowed longer cutting strokes to be delivered within a much smaller radius, something that would have been much harder to do with a longer curved blade, like a Katana, and even more difficult with a longer straighter sword, like a rapier.

Yet another characteristic of the ideal sailors weapon, be they pirate, merchant or military, was that it be fairly simple to use, as your average sailor received little in the way of training with weapons. It is a little known fact that most pirates, in contrast to how they are portrayed in the movies, were not highly skilled warriors. Many were simple sailors, conscripts from captured vessels, or aimless ragamuffins attracted to piracy by the promise of an equitable share of the loot. Few were the highly trained, swashbuckling sword fighters depicted in the movies.

The cutlass was a fairly simple weapon, fairly heavy, of median length, had no edges facing the wielder, and unlike most other highly specialized land bound dueling weapons, needed no major training to use. This made it ideal for both experts and novices alike. It’s weight made it easy to handle by feel, made it easier to land chopping blows with, and the additional blade material also made it strong enough to be used as a general purpose shipboard chopping and cutting tool for wood, leather, rope, etc. So, while in the hands of an experienced sword fighter it could be a lethal weapon, it was also your basic idiot proof sailors weapon/tool of the day.

Provided, of course, that the idiot in question wasn’t prone to stabbing themselves in the foot. Or even worse, the eye. Hey, things happen. Not all eye patches and wooden legs were come about in a glorious battle… I can guarantee you that much… 😛

Anyway, the version shown above also happens to be one of my favorite saber designs, because in addition to a nice, but not-too-ornate guard, a three quarter length fuller and simple wooden scales, it also incorporates two additional features that are not always seen in your stereotypical cutlass design. Namely, a clip point tip, which would both enhance it’s thrusting ability, and enable the tip to be used for finer cutting work where necessary, and finally, but certainly no less important, a totally sweet jet black finish…

Can’t beat that with a baseball bat… 😀

1917 Cutlass by Cold Steel – [True Swords]

26
Mar
08

Blades of Chaos…

A reader recently asked where to find replicas of Kratos’ swords from the video game God of War. I found a few, but found them all rather disappointing. But I thought I’d talk about a couple of them, and whine, as usual, about how the replica sword industry is a source of constant disappointment to yours truly.

Now before I begin my rant, I should mention that these are both wall hangers that were never intended to be used for anything more vigorous than cutting a rebellious watermelon in half. And even though I doubt either would endure the watermelons retribution very well, I’m going to try and be objective about it, and rank their “goodness” based on aesthetics alone, as opposed to their functionality or durability, like I usually do. Which probably sucks anyway. 😛 .

So without further ado, here’s my verdict:… Epic Phail.

What? Was that too quick? Insufficient deliberation? I beg to differ. What!? You’re wanna argue with me about it? Fine. I’ll explain why they phail. But you better put some coffee on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Following are the two best of breed (IMHO) of the replicas in question:

Kratos’ Blade of Chaos – Large

Kratos Blades of Chaos - large
[view full size]

This first sword is a full size version of the blade. I believe this would actually be close to the correct length of the blade, except the profile is completely wrong. Too skinny, not pointy enough and not thick enough (I’ll talk about this in more detail later).

Kratos’ Blade of Chaos – Small

Kratos Blades of Chaos - Small
[view full size]

Now this blade is much better looking. It has a much more accurate blade profile, with properly (relatively speaking) pronounced points… But it’s waaaay too short. Seriously.

What is perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this is that both of these are close enough to perfect that had the designers of both put their heads together, they *might* have come up with a decent replica. But nooooooo, that would be toooo easy…

To illustrate my point (and set up for my rant), I thought I’d show you a crop from of one of the wallpapers I found for the game. This is what the Blades of Chaos are supposed to look like:

Kratos’ Blades of Chaos – God of War

Kratos Blades of Chaos - God of War
[view full size]

See there? Wicked little slabs of steel ain’t they… 😀 Now while it is readily apparent that the video game versions are much more sinister looking than the replicas, it may not be obvious exactly why. So let me explain a little bit. It’s all about thickness, points and edges.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the video game version is much pointier. But it’s points are not simply a product of the blade profile. These swords are not especially long, but to be proportionally accurate IRL, these swords would actually have to be very thick, I’d guess somewhere in the region of 2″ – 3″ thick. Conservatively. Probably more. Yes. Rather massive slabs of steel. But back to the (my) point.

Which is that, based on the pic, (as assuming the blades are identical, and symmetrical along the spine) then what we have here is a really, really thick blade, thick enough that the edge bevel for each side can still be relatively steep in relation to the flat of the blade. Because of this edge geometry, the points are enhanced because they create a much sharper angle in relation to the flat of the blade, and to the adjacent edges. This, in combination with a quite justifiably evil blade profile in it’s own right, is what gives the edge its merciless appearance.

Hopefully now that you understand the mechanics of this particular edge style, it should be easier to see where the replicas fail.

The first blade is long enough, and has the right number of points, however the point transitions of the blade profile are not sufficiently sharp, the acutely angled edge profile does not appear to have been used, and the gauge of steel used does not appear to be thick enough to effectively employ the acute edge effect in any distinctive way anyway. In other words: It is an Epic Phail.

The second sword fares much better. The steel is a little thicker gauge, the blade profile is much closer to the original and there is an obvious attempt to replicate the sharp angles of the edge seen on the original. However what should have been sharp adjacent edge transitions have been smoothed over, completely killing the effect, and what’s more, the blade is waaay too short. So while it is not quite an epic phail, it isn’t quite the sword it could have been.

It’s a shame really, perhaps one of these days, I’ll get up off mah great beeg bahookeh and actually make some accurate replicas myself instead of just talking about it… Perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe I should quite playing armchair sword critic until I start making my own swords again…

.

.

.

.

BWAAAA HA HA HA HA HA…. Naaaaaah… Don’t think so…

24
Mar
08

A mutant set of wolverine-like claws…

Those of you who are fans of the X-Men will undoubtedly know of Wolverine and his infamous adamantium claws. Now I came across a weird set of blades, and the first thing I thought to my self was, if wolverine ever underwent some kind of crazy, out-of-control, mutation, this is probably what his claws would turn into:

Razor Warrior

Razor Warrior
[view full size]

And No, in case you are wondering, I don’t think this was intended to be some kind of uber wolverine claw replica. At least it doesn’t seem that way. But then again… Either way, it is an interesting take on the whole hand held claw weapon thing.

As with all the other Wolvie style dealios, we have three primary blades, but that is pretty much where the similarities stop. The blades on these are actually dual tiered, with the bottom blades conforming somewhat to the original Wolvie design, with a few modifications, such as slots cut into the blade, as well as a wider ovoid grip.

The grip is an interesting departure from the norm, since it also includes two polished end pieces that allow for an extended grip that give each finger a grip area, as opposed to most of the others, where only the middle three fingers are used, or you have a knuckle-duster like design. In addition to providing additional side protection for your valuable little piglets, I’d imagine this would be a much more comfortable arrangement.

Speaking of which, the second tier of the weapon features a set of short smaller sub blades with an interesting twist. The rear of the top blades are connected by a bar that looks like it is intended to rest over the back of your hand when being wielded. Now this is an immense improvement over the other designs, which either featured no anti-rotational design aspects, or incorporated nubs that just as likely wear holes into the skin between your knuckles.

All in all, though this makes no claim to being a Wolvie claw, it seems to have been the most ergonomically designed variant I have yet seen, and would have been more justified than most to be given the honorary “Wolvie claw” title…

Awww, who am I kidding. I would probably have complained that this looked nothing at all like Wolverine claws, if they had named it such. I guess there is no pleasing fanatics. But it still gets props for being the one wolvie-like claw weapon most likely to be used by yours truly, were I ever given a choice between the lot.

However the designer still gets demerits for being unable to come up with any display stand design that would have been an improvement on the freakin’ farm tractor deal they’ve got going on here… Srsly… 😛

Razor Warrior – [Collectors Edge]

22
Mar
08

A Funky Mini-Scimitar…

Obviously I’ve come across my share of funky looking knives, but every now and then encounter a blade that I both love and hate at the same time. Actually, that bipolar reaction occurs more often than I’d like to admit. But in this case I think it is justified. Supporting my plea of “Not Bipolar” I submit, for your review, Exhibit A:

Double Cobra Stinger

Double Cobra Stinger
[view full size]

OK, I’m the “bad news first” kinda guy, so I’m gonna jump right into what I dislike about this blade. And I can sum it all up in two words: “Bad Hilt”. In essence, the guard, grip, pommel, et al., while unique and “out there” and all that, just kinda… Sucks. Yeah. That would be the technical term for it. Epic Suckage. And here’s why.

First, I like to see usability in my weapons. And frankly, that grip ain’t doin’ it for me. Not with that kinda short sharp curved handle. Now if I had tentacles for fingers instead of hands, then yes, maybe, this might be a workable weapon. But since I’m stuck with a pair of somewhat beefy hands, (you might even call me ham fisted, but I wouldn’t recommend it.) this would be a no-go.

And then there’s the whole “double cobra” guard dealio. Basically, I don’t like it. I can’t tell you why exactly, but there it is. Maybe the guard is too dynamic, and the transition from guard to snake too sharp. Let see. Perhaps if they smoothed it out more it would… Hmmm… Nope… I still don’t like it. *sigh* Too bad.

But let’s get to the stuff I do like about this weapon. That, can incidentally, also be summed up in two words: “Blade Profile”. Uh huh. I luuurve it!!! From the title of this post it should be apparent that this blade follows very closely the shape of a large scimitar, except scaled down a tad. The deeply curved edge of the black blade is simply sweet.

I’d also add that the little scorpion stinger tail at the pommel was a nice touch. Notwithstanding the fact that it is totally out of theme with the rest of the blade, had the rest of the hilt been simpler, non snake focused, and more ergonomically designed, I think it might have made a nice additional touch.

BTW, blade designers, please note: mixing animal and insect anatomy is the perfect recipe for ending up with silly names like “Cobra stinger”. Seriously. Do you find a Cobras fangs insufficiently intimidating that you have to add a scorpion stinger? Perhaps I’m being a little persnickety about stupid details on account of my not liking the design, but sheesh!

But, getting back on topic, the lines of the spine, the ricasso, the notches rear of the ricasso, are very nicely done, and even the transition bit between the ricasso and the guard are not bad. The etching in the black blade was unnecessary in my opinion, but is not sufficiently distracting to be any great detriment, and actually, for once, adds a little positive character to the blade.

All in all, the blade is absolutely where it’s at with this weapon. Real pity about the hilt…

Double Cobra Stinger – [True Swords]

20
Mar
08

A Chinese Barbarian Sword…?

So today we have a weapon with some rather familiar lines:

Chinese Barbarian Sword

Chinese Barbarian Sword
[view full size]

Now this is a pretty hefty sword design. But contrary to how this is described, it is not really a “barbarians” sword. I think the medieval Chinese were way more cultured than their western counterparts. But I digress. This is, in fact, a variation of a design commonly referred to as the Chinese War sword design, distinguishable by their medium length blade, with a wide, very scimitar-like blade profile, the simple straight guard, straight grip and the large ring shaped pommel. In black. My favorite shade of steel.

As you can see from the pic, it has a serviceable point, but because of the width of the blade, it would not have been a particularly good thrusting weapon. No. This, ladies and germs, is a cutting and cleaving weapon. The deep belly of the blade would make for an excellent close quarters slashing weapon, and it’s weight and the strength of that extra wide blade would have brought a terribly chop happy smile to the face of any Chinese barbarian (or for that matter, any scurvy Pirate) that happened to be in a foul mood on any given battlefield day…

Chinese Barbarian Sword – [True Swords]

18
Mar
08

When does a knife turn from tool to weapon?

OK, this is a trick question. It depends on whether you are using the legal definition of “weapon” or the practical one. And in case you were wondering, yes, the query was inspired by yet another interestingly named fighting weapon:

Bodyguard Full Tang Fighting Tool.

Bodyguard Full Tang Fighting Knife Tool
[view full size]

Now this is a neat little knife. A single piece blade, with a mildly contoured handle, and cut outs that might actually be useful. I especially like the blade, simple straight edge with a westernized tanto point, clip point on the back, sharp straight angle on the front edge. Kind of like a cross between a traditional boot knife and a tanto with no grip. Nice.

But what also caught my attention is how it was described as a “tool” on the site I found it on. Notwithstanding the fact that they include “full tang” and “knife” in it’s description, despite these being a painfully obvious facts, the “tool” nomenclature raises a rather thorny philosophical question. Is this any more a tool than any other knife? Or any other weapon for that matter? In my humble opinion, No. Absolutely not. In spite of what anyone may have you believe, a weapon, in fact any weapon, is a tool.

Yep. Don’t believe me? Look it up. A weapon is a tool, and any tool can also be a weapon. And what’s more, almost anything can be pressed into service as a weapon.  So what’s the difference? It’s design purpose? Maybe. One could definitely argue that a Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife has no useful purpose beyond inflicting grievous bodily harm upon anothers person.

But that would be ignoring both it’s historic and aesthetic value. To some, (myself included) it is more than just a knife. It’s a piece of history. An object d’art. And a quite beautiful one at that. As benign as an modern art sculpture. Just in steel. But no more, or less dangerous than the one wielding it.

Just a random thought for the day… 🙂

Bodyguard Full Tang Fighting Tool – [True Swords]

16
Mar
08

A Funky Double Bladed Fighting… Weapon?

Today we have yet another entrant into the “Black Ronin” series of blades.

Black Ronin Dual Fighter

Black Ronin Dual Fighter
[view full size]

Now this weapon I find interesting because… I don’t get it. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to like about the weapon. The matte black finish, the dual, westernized tanto style blades, these are all very cool.

But usually weapons that make significant departures from the standard design usually do so for a reason. For most weapons, I can figure it out just by looking at them and thinking about how those changes make them different and how it would affect it during it’s use. But this one… I got nothing.

Obviously, from the name, this is intended to be a fighting blade of some type. But the way it’s designed, it kinda seems like it would work against you in certain circumstances. The upward pointing blade, well, ok, I can see that offset working to improve your reach and protecting your valuable digits. Maybe.

But the downward one… I dunno. And now that I think about it, this design would also make the chances of grip rotation in the hand more likely. In other words, since the blade is offset from the handle, if it’s hit from the side with sufficient force, it will want to make the whole thing rotate around in your hand. Kind of like a really old fashioned hand drill. Possibly ending up facing you…

LOL OK, I’m exaggerating, but it does really look like an old fashioned hand drill… Maybe that’s why marketing had to resort to the tried and true “Black Ronin” treatment. Perhaps this weapon designer missed their true calling…

Black Ronin Dual fighter – [True Swords]

14
Mar
08

A Gunlike Crossbow…

Here is an interesting crossbow design:

Gun Crossbow

Gun Crossbow
[view full size]

[view XL Size]

Now as crossbows go, this is quite the looker. Melding design cues from the medieval hand held firearm with that of the venerable crossbow we get: The medieval gun crossbow. Sporting what looks like a medieval flint lock hand gun grip attached to a small cross bow. It’s just all kinds of style right there. The medieval warriors answer to the modern hand gun. 🙂

Anyway, one of the things I really like about this weapon is it’s simplicity. You can practically count the number of moving parts on this weapon with one hand. And yet it’s simplicity does not diminish it’s effectiveness one whit. Even though, compared to a full size cross bow, this would have been very weak. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. It could have been quite lethal at close range.

Yet another interesting thing about this weapon is that it is sporting a rather neat little feature that I don’t often see in medieval crossbows. Fore and aft adjustable sights!! If you look closely at the pic you’ll notice two posts with aiming apertures pinned to the right side of the crossbow. To be honest, I’m not positive about their adjustability, but the fact that they are pinned to the side, as opposed to being fixed to the latch plate, may suggest they were adjustable. Yep, this little beaut’s got all kinds of bells and whistles… Ok, so maybe one or two. But back then that was a lot.

And it would have been easy to conceal. At least compared to a full sized crossbow. There was even a little ring in the butt stock so you could hang it from your belt. Talk about shooting from the hip! And the beauty of it was, back then, no concealed carry license would have been required. Ah, the good old days… Gun control was all about “Robin Hood”ing your crossbow bolts… 😉

Gun Crossbow – [Realm Collections]

12
Mar
08

Jedi… Or Samurai… Why not Both?

I came across an old favorite of mine not too long ago… A fusion of old and new. Actually of Old and really, really old, but I think you’ll understand once you see what I’m talking about:

Samurai 3000 Katana

Samurai 3000 Katana
[view full size]

Now If you look closely, you might see why I’m calling this a new old design. On the one hand, you have an acceptable facsimile of a Japanese Katana blade (I say “acceptable” facsimile because it has been violated in a couple of ways I’ll mention here in a bit), and on the other hand we have what looks, for all intents and purposes, like the handle of a light saber… Futuristic? Or retro-futuristic… I can’t decide…

Now this particular variant caught my eye because of the black treatment that the blade received, and because of the interesting aesthetic of the blade. As you can see, unlike the traditional sharp, straight, angled point that a traditional Katana possesses, this has a much smother, curving transition to the point. This design would make for easier thrusting, however this design would also make the point weaker than the traditional sharp chisel like profile of the traditional Katana. But from an aesthetic standpoint, I like it. It looks pretty sweet!

Moving down, we see two additional blade modifications. First, the bottom quarter of the blade is serrated. I suppose it could be a useful change, given that that particular section of a sword is rarely used for much other than deliberate cutting strokes. Serrations might make it more effective… Maybe… Meh…

However right next to that we have the dreaded faux fuller, or blood grooves, in this case a set of three or elongated slots cut out of the blade. *shiver* I can understand the aesthetic sales value of this particular kind if blade defacement. It supposed to make it look cooler, and more futuristic. But all I see when I look at those things are unnecessary structural weakness… *sigh*

Anyway getting past the ugliness, we have a very interesting hilt design, consisting of a melding of Star Wars light saber style motifs with some other traditional touches mixed in. a very interesting combination. The guard is perhaps my favorite part of the hilt. The rest, while cool, I could do without. Or perhaps with some major simplification.

Now obviously this is not intended to be a battle worthy sword, as the hilt is made from a metal casting, however I got one of these before they came out with the black blade version, and two things struck me immediately.

The first, was that the grip was too ridiculously uncomfortable to be used in any meaningful way, and that, for all their impressive abilities, it would appear that Jedi knights were extremely poor designers when it came to ergonomics. 😛 I mean seriously. did you ever really take a good look at Lukes light saber grip? Absolutely horrible ergonomics!

What is even sadder is that the Sith had a much better grasp of ergonomics than the Jedi. Look at Darth Mauls dual saber, compared to what the Jedi were using (except for Mace Windu, who had perhaps the most awesome light saber in the entire Jedi Council) that was actually a great light saber design. And then there was Count Dookus elegantly curved saber grip… Sheer genius… I could go on, but I think you get the point… And, as usual, I digress… Massively…

Anyway, here, in the galaxy we call home, the second, more important thing I noticed about this sword, was how incredibly well balanced the sword was. I’d almost say it was perfect. Even better than some of the high quality battle ready Katanas I’ve hefted, which was a pleasant, but bittersweet surprise, as I don’t trust it enough (or am not brave enough) to subject it to any cutting tests… A real shame…

But for those of you who would like to see what it’s like to grip the hilt of a Jedi weapon, and actually able to cut something (if you dare), this sword would be a good ticket for that particular flavor of torture… Except without a zero weight energy blade, of course…

Check back in a few decades… I might be able to blog about them then…

Samurai 3000 Katana – [Realm Collections]




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