Posts Tagged ‘Shuriken’

Abominable Batarangs…

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

I ran across an interesting set of throwing stars, of a rather counter intuitive design. Yes, I said counter intuitive.  Yes, I know, not exactly the words you’d expect to see in the same sentence as “throwing stars” but that’s just how it is. Let me show you the counter intuitive goods:

Rainbow Batman Batarangs

Rainbow Batman Batarangs

Yeah… Rainbow Batarangs. Two words you never thought you’d see in the same sentence no? “Rainbow” and “Batarang”? Yeah, me neither. But there it is. A far cry from the rather beautiful, jet black batarangs of The Dark Knight. And entirely out of character. The Bats does not do light colors. I can pretty much guarantee you that.

In fact, I think the day that the Batman uses rainbow finished batarangs is the day he trades in his black (or navy blue, depending on what era you are partial to) superhero costume, and dons a multicolored spandex body suit and cape, complete with a big, bright, rainbow colored clown fro, and big red nose. At which point even the Joker would probably throw in the towel, and give up his life of crime forever. I kid you not.

But don’t hold your breath. It ain’t ever gonna happen. The Bats just ain’t that kind of guy.

Either way, you are hopefully beginning to see why I consider these designs are  counter intuitive. But wait! There’s more! Besides the completely off color scheme, I find the batarang design fundamentally flawed. Yes. I do. I really do.

Oh don’t look at me like that, I idolize the Bats just as much as the next guy, In fact, he is actually my favorite superhero, followed closely by Wolvie. But I still think this batarang design just… Sucks. Yeah. That would be the technical term. Batarang Suckage. And you can quote me on that.

You do know I can hear you right? No reason to yell. “Blasphemy!”, “Sacrilege!”, “How dare I!?” Whatever. Put a sock in it. If you’ll stop frothing at the mouth in rage and anger for a moment, I’ll explain why I feel as I do.

First and foremost, the first and original incarnation of the “Batarang”, as it was called, was never intended to be a shuriken. It was intended to be a custom, Batman designed boomerang. Combining a high tech computer controlled propulsion system, with the traditional Australian throwing weapon design, it was designed for double duty as either a traditional boomerang whose trajectory could be modified, or a simple impact thrower.

That implementation made sense. Even though it was much smaller, the boomerang-like curved shape of  the weapon, (even if it did have uncharacteristically sharp inner contours) and even the name, all made sense: Bat+Boomerang=Batarang!

However with the advent of “Batman Begins” (at least in the movies) the batarang concept was corrupted in homage to his Ninjutsu training. The weapon, which actually became quite a distinctive character, (Yes, I said “character”. Weapons are just as much characters in movies as the actors that wield them. But this is a discussion for a nother post.  🙂 ) was recast as a bat styled shuriken.

And that is where they went wrong.

A quick look at any of the many, many traditional Japanese hira shuriken (throwing star) designs, will quickly reveal that they all have one characteristic that the batarang does not. They are generally radially symmetrical in at least 3 axes. And those that aren’t are throwing spikes, or bo-shuriken, which are completely different.

Now this multi axis symmetry has several benefits. It helps make a shuriken’s rotation consistent and predictable in midflight. It also positions the bulk of the mass of the weapon behind each point and as it rotates towards the target, so as to increase the depth of penetration upon impact. And it also increases the chances that a point sticks into the target by giving each point the greatest possible amount ot time pointing to the target for any give number of points, and for any given number of rotations, as it flies to the target.

And therein lies the kicker. The batarang design, violated and heinously pressed into services as a bat shuriken, completely flies in the face of this tried and true conventional wisdom, and is only symmetrical in one axis. Down the center. It’s center of gravity is offset from the line of it’s points, and it is assymety is such that it is only likely to stick at one of two positions.

Now that’s just poor shuriken design if you ask me. I can see the need for the Bats to have some way of marking his work, and a bat shuriken is certainly a cool one, however I don’t really see the point of compromising the design of a weapon in order to do so. He could just as easily have used a symmetrical 4 point shuriken, utilizing a half bat wing for each point. Or even a whole bat.

So long as it was radially symmetrical, it would have worked brilliantly. And it would still have conveyed the whole Bat-thing just as well. But I will admit that the concept of the Bat shuriken is still kinda cool. I Just wish they didn’t have to completely obliterate the effectiveness of the weapon in order to achieve those cool aesthetics…

Rainbow Batman Batarangs – [The Happy Ninja]

A Mini Ninja Tool Kit.

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

And just in case you are wondering, no, I am not talking about a tool kit for little ninjas. Though, as a side note, I am sure they do exist and are just as deadly as their larger counterparts. But no, they will not be the topic of today’s post. Rather I will be talking about ninja weapons. I’m sure you have all seen those gazillion piece ninja sword sets, that have hira shuriken in the guards, small knives, throwing spikes, and blinding powder in the saya, etc. etc, etc. Well, today I ran into a small scale version of that kit. the Ninja Battle Tanto set:

Ninja Tanto Battle Set

Ninja Tanto Battle Set

Yessiree, everything the aspiring ninja might need for a little clandestine action, all in an ultra mobile, compact form factor. Now technically, I think it is inaccurate to call this a “battle” set, since to my knowledge, Ninjas are not traditionally known to engage in “battle” in a traditional sense. They were more the special forces/guerrilla type, experts in asymmetrical warfare. So I prefer to call this the Ninja “tool kit”

And it’s got lots of cool tools. in addition to the cool little jet black, full tang tanto, with a push dagger hidden in the pommel, it’s got a sweet little sheath that holds three bo shuriken, and a small compartment for Tashibishi (aka Caltrops) that could be thrown on the ground to dissuade any pursuers eager to expedite your demise at the completion of a mission. 😀

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of excessive amalgamated accessorization. Putting too many things in one place can cause problems. I can see those bo shuriken getting caught on things as you walked by, maybe even interfering with the deployment of the knife, so I’d probably find a better less snag-likely place to put them. And the same goes for the caltrops box. It’s a cool idea, but I think it would hinder any kind of low profile knife carry. It would also get relocated.

However the push dagger in the grip ois a nice touch, and I really do like the profile of the blade on this tanto. It has the traditional tanto profile, with a false edge which would give it a great combination of both cutting and thrusting ability. Pretty cool design. So, Do a little trimming and relocation of the sheath accessories, and Voila! A nice little ninja EDC kit.

Just the kind of thing any enterprising ninja might need. 😀

Ninja Tanto battle set tool kit – [True Swords]

Pauls Problematic Projectile.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Today, while doing a little pic gathering for a future post on shuriken, I ran across a sweet triple razor thrower I thought you all might like to see. And no, regardless of any similarity the description may have to any number of commercial disposable razors, it is, in fact, a hira-shuriken style thrower, designed by Paul Ehlers:

Paul Ehlers - Triple Razor Throwing Star

Paul Ehlers - Triple Razor Throwing Star

Now I have to admit, this is a nice looking thrower. A good 5.25″ of heavy gauge swirling steel blades. The three blades are adorned with a set of three equally wicked looking scallopped edges/points on the inside of each razor arm, accompanied by a neat cross drilled pattern. And at the end of each arm a large sweeping razor edge, looking for all the world like thier sole purpose in life is to sever the jugulars of whichever unfortunate happend to be in thier path.

If ever there was such a thing as an evil hira-shuriken, this would be it. For many reasons. Which I will, of course, expound upon shortly. No, you may not go to the bathroom. Hold it. This will only take a minute. Sissy.

Anyway, in case it isn’t obvious, this weapon is designed to kill you. Yes. Say what? No, not the person it is being thrown at, but the person who threw it. Yeah. Really. I mean look at it. Reeeaaally look at it. Do you think those absolutely sinister edges on the inside of the shuriken are intended for the target? No, I didn’t think so. And have you noticed how conveniently shaped everything is so that it would guide your fingers right to said inside edges/points should you not be paying attention even slightly? Yeah… You see that now don’t you?

And did you know there is a reason why shuriken use points instead of blades? No, it’s not really for safety, though that is a good byproduct of the design. It’s because the smaller the impact surface area, the better the penetration. A point just sticks better than a blade. So why, exactly would someone use a blade on a shuriken? Yes, I see a few neurons firing and the light bulb clicking in some of your skulls out there… Yes… That’s it. It’s so they can cut the thrower! (Yes, that means you dufus.)

So yes, this blade is wicked. Evil. Sinister. Diabolical even, in a beautiful, sexy and lethally attractive kind of way… Errrmmm… *cough* Where was I? Ah. Homicidal tendencies. Yes. As I was saying, sure, get it, if it suits your fancy, but just don’t think for a second it has your best interests in mind. And whatever you do, do not bequeath anything to it in your will. Just put it up on a wall. A plaque. A pedestal, whatever, and worship it from afar. Trust me, you will live a lot longer that way.

Paul Ehlers Triple Razor Thrower – [True Swords]

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]

The hollywood glamour of the Ninja throwing star…

Friday, January 18th, 2008

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]

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