Posts Tagged ‘Futuristic’

Retro Active Futurism.

Friday, June 26th, 2009

I sometimes wonder what the term “futuristic” really means. Especially from an aesthetic standpoint. What, exactly, are the design criteria for making “Futuristic” weapons? I can see, functionality wise, how you could come up with a futuristic weapon. Basically, you devise some device whose functionality cannot presently be duplicated with even our most advanced technologies, and Voila! Futuristics galore.

But from an aesthetic standpoint, designing something to look futuristic seems a little… Difficult. I mean think about it. In order to design something really futuristic, we’d have to know what kind of aesthetic style people of the future might use. And who really know what that might be? Will plaid come back into style? Will giant shark fins reappear on cars? Will Leisure suits become hip again? Will black become the new black? All very weighty philosophical questions.

But in the absence of hard answers, of course, people improvise. In other words: They guess. Sometimes badly. Really, really badly. Case in point. The rather funky, (and, personally irritating, on many levels) sword below:

Futuristic Ninja Sword

Futuristic Ninja Sword

Yessirree. A so called “Futuristic” ninja sword…  *cough* Man… There are sooo many things wrong with that phrase. For instance, what makes anyone think a ninja from the future would even use a sword? Apart from die hard traditionalists, who would, in essence, not even be truly following the original spirit of the art, any real shadow warrior would be using light sabers, blasters, and antigrav, exploding, autonomous, homing shuriken. But those will be the topic of another post. Probably a good 30 or 40 years from now. Check back with me then.

For now, I’ll just rip on the sword. Just a little. Yeah. Gimme a sec, I’m gotta stretch a little bit. Don’t want to over exert my rant engine…

OK, I’m all warmed up. Let’s start with that blasted hilt. Which looks oddly enough, like a knock off of a rip off of a replica Hibben thrower hilt. Or something like that. Sans the little finger cut out, which looks cool, but probably isn’t particularly ergonomic. I’m gonna ignore the complete lack of a guard, since I already have lots to complain about, and one of you smarty pants is prolly gonna start some nasal diatribe about how there might be an “energy force field” for a guard and whatnot.

So I’m gonna jump straight down the blades throat instead.

One of my pet peeves are slotted blades. IMHO, they weaken the blade, and don’t really look all that great anyway. But of course, for reasons that escape me entirely, there are an inordinate amont of “futuristic” swords that have -slotted- blades. Why?!? Is there some unknown law of the universe that I am, wholly unaware of that dictates that slots be applied to “Futurize” a sword? Can someone throw me a bone here? Pass me a universal Universal Law translator or something? I just don’t get it. Which isn’t saying much, but still.

And then there’s the tip. Long, narrow and tapering. Ah. futuristic no? Cool? Maybe. If looks were everything. But… NO. It is absolutely NOT the tip any self respecting Shinobi warrior would use. There is a reason why ninjaken, and Japanese katanas in general, have such and abrupt point. That point style are strong. They are good for thrusts. They won’t break off if you try to stab through a car door.

<ahem>

Not that there are any good reasons to attempt to run a car door through with a sword, but the point is, those kinds of tips, the abrupt, chisel like, tanto/ninjato tips, can do it fairly easily. Provided the you’re not a wimp. Then there’s just no point in even trying, is there. Hey don’t get mad, I’m just saying. Ok, ok, fine. Look, my point is, in comparison to a real ninja swords tip, this tip = FAIL!

What more can I say. It almost seems to me like futuristic weapon design frequently consists of elements that generally appear less functional  and more primitive than thier modern day coutnerparts, somehow enhanced by SCIENCE!!!

Yeah… More like “blinded by science” I say. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for these acts of sacrilege…

Futuristic Jurassic Ninja Sword – [True Swords]

In the future, axes will become art…

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Today we have another entry into the “I traveled to the future and all I got was this lousy “I got beat by a wussy futuristic ugly stick” t-shirt…” category:

Futuristic Oval Axe

Futuristic Oval Axe

Yeah. A futuristic axe. Uh huh. And not just a futuristic but a futuristic oval axe… Oooohh, Aaaaahhh… Pthththh… Yep. Where to start… Ah, yes. With the head. Or whatever it is.

As axes go, well… it’s… something. It’s got an “oval” axe head, very much reminiscent of a traditional double bit axe, except with an ovoid blade, some weird cut outs and some funky trim. But despite it’s double edged appearance, it’s hard to tell whether this design was intended to be single or double edged, as the rear edge is shrouded by the pivot arm.

Yes. You read correctly. I said “pivot arm”. Why? because this axe head is mounted not to a shaft, but to a rotating arm, via a single central bolt. Why? Well, so that it can pivot down to one side of the shaft, of course. Why the pivot functionality? Errrmmm… Well… I dunno.

Maybe to enable it to be used as a replacement prosthetic arm for a battle bot? A small Transformer maybe? In fact, now that I think about it, I’d be willing to bet this whole design concept was a Decepticons doing… Sneaky bots, them… But I digress.

So this pivot arm is then mounted to the nifty, ergonomic looking grip, via a similar single pivot bolt arrangement. Having not had the pleasure of handling this, I can’t comment as to the efficacy of the locking mechanism, but based on the visible mechanics, I’m not particularly optimistic about it’s mechanical strength.

However not content with that iffyness, this grip has two added ovoid blades (more crescent shaped actually), one at the top, just beneath the head, above the pivot point, and one at the pommel, with the bottom one attached with yet more pivot bolt madness.

I have actually run into this design on several occasions over the years. And I can finally give voice to the thought that ran through my head every time I saw it:

WHAT THE…!!?!?

Why that particular response? Well, here’s my thing. In my admittedly neurotic mind, axes have traditionally been the brawn of the blade world. Big solid heavy heads, strong shafts, strong utility edge grinds, etc. They are not about finesse. When you swing an axe, it’s supposed to be with authority.

With this “futuristic” design, if you were to ever swing it, not only would you have to worry about the pivot locking mechanism holding, but also the fact that the whole thing is held together by two relatively puny bolts.

A locking mechanism and/or bolts that might gain an intense aversion to such treatment and decide to just pack it in and go home. Without the customary two weeks notice. Yeah. With something like this I wouldn’t be comfortable swinging it with any more authority than a chihuahua barking at a hungry Rottweiler.

That’s not to say I entirely dislike it. I like the talon-like shape of the grip blades. And notwithstanding the gimping of the rear edge with the cutouts and shrouding and whatnot, the head has some decent aesthetics.

And though I could do without it, I really don’t mind the over-the-top pseudo futuristic garbage people keep cranking out. (I mean seriously, from these excessively busy designs you’d think the designers think our future generations will all suffer from a serious global epidemic of ADD… Wait… Whut?)

But sometimes the sheer level of functional dysfunction I see in some of these designs really makes me wonder whether it’s really that hard for people to make functionally feasible and mechanically sound art. Perhaps I ask too much. Maybe I’m just an obsessive compulsive pedant who likes to rant about stupid blades. Perhaps I’m just insane.

It’s probably all of the above…

Futuristic Oval Axe thingy – [Anime Castle]

A Predatorial Shuriken

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

OK, So i’ll admit I’m not really the April Fools type. I sat thinking about all of the incredibly evil things I could have posted as an April Fools prank and realized… I just couldn’t do it. So instead, I’m gonna post about a fictional weapon that Ive always thought was very cool looking, but entirely impractical:

The Predator Shuriken

AvP Shuriken
[view full size]

This weapon was one of the cool weapons wielded by the race of Predators in the Predator series of movies. This particular shuriken was prominently featured on the AvP (Alien vs Predator) and AVP2 movies. Now the one featured here is a non-functioning reproduction shuriken, primarily because, well, this weapon would be near impossible to make work in real life, for reasons I’ll get into shortly.

I truly love many of the design details of this weapon. But what makes it such an intriguing weapon to me is primarily the subtle physical impossibility and impracticality of it. It is a weapon that appears, on the surface, to be physically plausible, but upon closer inspection, reveals aspects that are implausible, but so tempting close to real, that you cannot help but wonder if it would be possible to duplicate in real life.

AvP Shuriken – life size prop

AvP Shuriken
[view full size]

For example, looking at the pic above, you may notice that the overall design of this shuriken vaguely follows that of the Japanese Fuuma (or Windmill) shuriken, but departs from traditional shuriken design in it’s asymmetry. The blades are all biased towards one side of the weapon. Now besides the fact this this offends my sense of symmetry, this massive weight imbalance would also make it a very impractical throwing weapon. And yet, in the movie, it is thrown just as a Fuuma shuriken would be, without exhibiting any of the idiosyncratic flight characteristics that one might expect from such a poorly balanced weapon.

An even more implausible feature of the weapon is the great disparity between the retracted form factor and the fully deployed form of the shuriken. Below is a picture of the center section of the weapon with the blades extended:

AvP Shuriken – Center Section

AvP Shuriken - center Section
[view full size]

And here is a picture of the blades, again fully extended:

AvP Shuriken – Blades

AvP Shuriken -  Blades
[view full size]

In the movie, the blades are shown to extend out of the center section of the weapon. From the pics, it is apparent that a considerable level of nesting can and would need to occur in order for this to be physically feasible. By my count, there are six blades, each blade consisting of 4 sections, an extension/pivot lever, an outer extension sleeve, an inner extension sleeve and the blade proper. The weapons deployment sequence is shown in the clip below:

AvP Shuriken – Deployment

AvP Shuriken - Deployment

Sweeeet…! Incidentally, the little clip above may also explain the weapons asymmetrical design. If the blades were to extend in a symmetrical fashion around the circumference of the weapon, there would be no safe place to hold it during deployment without risking the loss of a few digits. If memory serves, I think these were used primarily as throwing weapons, so if I were designing it, it would be perfectly symmetrical, and would open in mid air when thrown, so as to avoid the awkward asymmetrical design. The asymmetry seems like a pointless trade-off if you ask me, but then again, I’m not an alien weapons designer…

Anyway, during retraction, the blade would have to retract into the inner sleeve, the inner sleeve into the outer sleeve, and the whole outer sleeve assembly pivot onto the extension arm, which would then all fold neatly into the center section, completely occupying that space. Sounds good in theory, except that, given the physical dimensions of blades, sleeves, etc, there should be hardly enough room for all six blades, let alone a deployment / retraction mechanism…

Of course, given the advanced nature of Predator technology, these technical details would almost certainly only be limitations of human technology, and would be little more than niggling little technicalities to a predator engineer.

In the end, however, it is the overall aesthetic of the blades, and the deployment mechanism that makes this weapon so captivating, and while the technical challenges would be great, the design is ultimately so close to something that could be made using current technologies, it would be very tempting to try…

I wonder if DARPA would be willing to give me a research grant for this kind of stuff… 🙂

AvP Predator Shuriken – [Black Aris]

A Galactic Gladiators Sword… NOT!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

So a long while back I came across this sword and stuffed it in my archives for future review… Primarily because it was black and it had some cool qualities. I can’t remember exactly what particular qualities… Hmm… Lesse… Right! It was black. And pointy… Alrighty then. Let’s carry on shall we. Allow me to introduce:

The Galaxy Shocker.

Galaxy Shocker
[view full size]

Now here’s the thing. For reasons I cannot fathom. I am really on the fence about whether this sword is cool or not. Honestly. I’m at a loss. On the one hand I could say the blade has some nice clean lines, and the hilt is simple. I like that about this sword. But then you have that wierd pointy thing on the pommel, which kinda ruins the whole effect for me. If not for that, I’d really take a fancy to the simplicity of the design.

Or perhaps I’m just getting persnickety…

Galaxy Shocker  – [True Swords]

A Killer Energy Sword

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Today we venture yet again into the world of replica video game weapons, and a hobbyists interpretation of a weapon from the wildly popular video game HALO:

Energy Blade from HALO

Halo Energy Blade
[view full size]

Now obviously, this is not an energy blade. This is what the original energy blade in halo looked like:

HALO – Elite Covenant Energy Blade

Halo Elite Covenant Plasma Sword
[view full size]

A very interesting concept, in the game, the Energy Blade (AKA Plasma Sword) is formed from a coronal energy discharge of some sort that worked in a similar fashion to that of a light saber. Anything touching the edge would be instantly superheated, which made it the equivalent of a hot knife through butter, except that pretty much everything else was butter… But I digress.

Since we obviously have not the technology to replicate plasma blades (or light sabers for that matter), the enterprising replica maker decided to use good old steel. A rather large chunk of stainless steel, in fact,  polished to a mirror shine. So no, it may not be a plasma blade, but yes, this could be almost as lethal as the real thing, were it to actually exist. Here’s another shot of the handywork:

Halo Energy Blade

Halo Energy Blade
[view full size]

Boy, look at the shine on that baby. I tell ya, I really wish the commercial production replica houses would put this much energy into making quality replicas of game and movie blades. They might end up being more expensive, but they would be worth every penny…

Halo Energy Blade (Covenant Elite Plasma Sword) – [Lionhearts Realm]

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