The regular readers on this here blog thingy will know that one of my pet peeves is cheap, poor, inaccurate and otherwise needlessly mediocre reproductions of cool weapons that could very easily have been made to much more closely mimic the weapons they were inspired by.

Now I realize that cost is always a factor. And that many repro houses are simply out to make a quick buck off a blockbuster movie, anime or video game, but sometimes I think the lengths to which they go to save said buck makes no sense. A typical example was the first reproduction of the Zanapkuto Zabimaru from the Anime Bleach.

If you will remember, I was clearly not pleased with what they did to it. However I was pleasantly surprised to find another version of it that was a much better match to the anime weapon. And since I also had a couple of readers send me links to improved versions of weapons I had griped about in the past, I thought I’d make a little mini series of posts related to them.

So welcome to the first in the series: Cool Replicas – Part 1: Zabimaru

Renji Abarais Zanpakuto - Zabimaru

Renji Abarai's Zanpakuto - Zabimaru

[click on image to view full size]

Now THIS is a reproduction. This, my friends, is a solid steel version of Zabimaru, replete with all of the original evil spikes, points, and other bladed wickedness that Zabimaru tends to sport.

As you can see from the pic, this version is not a dumbed down version of the blade, as the other one was, and actually does a very good job of reproducing a design that would admittedly be very difficult to manufacture cheaply.

The pic below is of the hilt of Zabimaru, and it’s a good indicator of the quality of the build on this blade. You can see that there is a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of work went into the fit and finish of this replica.

Zabimaru - Hilt

Zabimaru - Hilt

[click on image to view full size]

However the most telling feature is how they captured one of the more difficult to replicate aspects of Zabimaru’s design: The blade spikes. In the Anime, Zabimaru is actually a sectioned blade, and each section is able to move independently, like a blade whip.

Each spike actually coincided with the transition between one segment of blade to the next, and created a very prominent ridge to visually make this distinction. Now the reality of it is that making a real sectioned blade would be almost impossible to manufacture at any kind of reasonable price point in real life.

The way the last repro I looked at handled it was to use a single piece of metal, and just carve out sections of the blade to form little bumps where the spikes were supposed to be… Yes, bumps. (BUMPS?!?! THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SPIKES!!! YOU HEATHENOUS WRETCHES!!!) OK, ok, just calm down… Whoosaaah… *sigh*

Zabimaru - Good Blade Spikes

Zabimaru - What Blade spikes are SUPPOSED to look like...

[click image to view full size]

Ok… So anyway, as opposed to what the last HACKS and CHARLATANS did, the pic above shows what those designers should have done. The smart thing. The good thing. The kind of thing that brings glory and honor to evil spiked weapons everywhere… 🙂 Add steel blade spikes to either side Zabimarus’ blade to replicate the ridges and spikes of the anime version! These guys are geniuses!

So overall, I’d have to say I’m pretty impressed with this rendition of Zabimaru. And work like this this clearly demonstrates something that I, and many blade enthusiasts like me, have said all along. There is really no need to go the dirt cheap route with a replica blade. Most folks will pay a little more for a well constructed replica, so there is a good business case for making high quality reproduction blades.

Zabimaru - A Replica with Soul...

Zabimaru - A Replica with Soul...

[click image to view full size]

All it takes is for a designer who is interested in quality, as opposed to just churning out trash. And if this replica is any indication, it means there actually exist living, breathing, thinking, non bean counter controlled replica houses who are just as interested in accuracy and quality as in making a buck.

It warms the glowing embers of my heart I tell ya. And that ain’t an easy thing to do…

Zabimaru – [Swords Swords]