And now for something… Different. Having recently watched the final episode of the Lord Of The Rings, I was reminded of a rather crude weapon that had been prominently featured in an earlier installment of the series. I speak of none other than the “scimitar” of the Uruk-Hai, the Great Black Orc.

Uruk-Hai Scimitar

Uruk-Hai Scimitar

The first thing that struck me was it’s deceptive apparent simplicity. At first glance you might think that this was a easy weapon to make, easily mass produced. And compared to pretty much every other sword in the movie, it certainly would be. But closer inspection reveals that it is not as simple as it appears. Nor is it a scimitar. Intrigued? Read on.

First look at the handle. The inside edge is semi-elliptical, with a secondary partial ellipse cut out of top to form a crude hilt. That alone would require more skill than I imagine your average orc could muster, and would be unnecessary anyway, since it was going to be wrapped, and issued to Uruk-Hai, who’s hands, I’m fairly certain, would not require any such coddling. Then there’s that weird reverse spike. Also unnecessary, in my oh, so humble opinion. I’m sure it was great for armor piercing, but given the strength of the blade and of the Uruk-Hai wielding it, I doubt they would have had any problems doing damage to, (or even through) armor with a few well-placed “Louisville slugger” type swings.

For it’s intended use, this “scimitar” could simply have been a straight slab of steel with one sharp chisel edge and a narrow, leather wrapped section at the base for a handle. But whoah! What’s this! It doesn’t really even have an edge! Gasp! What? They can make elliptical recesses, but can’t even put a working edge on the thing? And a Scimitar is supposed to have a curved blade. Do you see a curve in that blade? No. Ok, I get it now. A straight bar of unfinished steel, no edge, and a spike on the end. This isn’t a scimitar. ITS A SPIKED STEEL CLUB! LOL : )

I realize that I’m arguing the fine design points of a fictional blade designed to be wielded by a fictional creature and this is a movie prop after all. Whoever designed it was trying to design something primitive, brutal, dark and sinister, and though they took a step away from an entirely primitive theme and added some contemporary touches purely for marketing reasons, I still love the design. But there is a lesson to be learned here…

A scimitar, or, for that matter, any bladed weapon, is a much more complex tool than most realize. It is not enough that a weapon look like a weapon. They must be designed to meet the needs of the environment or task they will be faced with. This is often what separates a barely functional $100 blade from a quality $1000 blade. Of course I can’t afford a $1000 blade. Or I’m cheap. OK, just gimme the freakin’ club. Breathe a word about this to anyone and I’ll club ya…

Uruk-Hai Scimitar