Posts Tagged ‘Wrist Mounted’

Cool idea, really bad implementation…

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

There are some weapon designs that are actually very cool (and arguably equally wicked) in concept, but really fall short of their potential in design and implementation. I came across one such evil seed a while back, and thought I’d post about it…

Skull Mayhem

Skull Mayhem

[Click image to view full size]

Now this right here, is what I call a hand blade. And it’s pretty self explanatory. It wants to kill you. No. really. It does. And for this reason, it features a not so obvious but rather dangerous design detail, which we’ll get to in a minute. But on to the wickedness.

In essence, this is pretty much a metallic demon/vampire skull, (personally I’d go with “Angry Master Demon Vamp” But that’s just me) with a set of three pairs of blades attached to it, coming out at either side of the skull, and beneath a very wicked looking set of teeth. The largest, topmost set consists of a large curving blade with quadruple edges, one on the top half of each inward curving blade and the other edge on the bottom half.

The single round grip is attached to a bracket that is bolted to each primary blades on either side. Beneath the main blades are a set of smaller, but longer and more sinister looking blades extending downwards and inwards from approximately where the skulls mandibles should be. IMHO the coolest blades of the set.

The last pair of blades sit in between the second set, and extend downwards from the teeth, specifically from the large fangs, forming a long and rather formidable looking set of black steel fang extensions. Given the reach of the middle pair of blades, I doubt the smaller pair are really neccesary, but I certainly can’t argue the evilitude of the whole combination…

Altogether this would make for a rather effective hand held battledrome blade, except for that one, rather nasty little caveat, that I alluded to earlier. The grip. Yes. This weapon seems very well put together, with a grip set in a steel bracket that is bolted quite securely to the largest set of blades. BUT this single grip is where the problem lies.

With a single grip, this whole contraption is capable of freely rotating around (forwards and backwards, to be exact) the grip. Which means on one day you may have the top of the skull trying to attach itself permanently to the back of your hand. And on another day, you could have the bottom blades trying to slit your wrists.

Either way, unless you’re an emo looking for a really cool way to go out, this is probably a bad choice of weapon for the underground deathmatch gladiator type. However, I do like the aesthetics of this piece. Large black blades, fangs, bladed skull wings… Awesome. And had someone had the forethought to place a rear wrist brace/bracket on the thing, it might have been an absolutely unholy terror in the death match circuit…

Perhaps that was the whole point. Maybe the designers were scared. Maybe they gimped it because they were terrified of what their creation might become. Frightened pantless that their creation might come back to eviscerate them…

Pffft… BWAHA HA HA HA HA AH HA HHA HA HA…

Wusses…

Skull Mayhem – [Collectors Edge]

How NOT to design a wrist blade…

Monday, July 21st, 2008

So today I found some time to do my internet blade browse thing, and came upon this little no no…

Close Quarters Combat Fighter - Click to view full size

Close Quarters Combat Fighter

[click image to view full size]

Now this is a no-no for reasons i will get into shortly, but it is ostensibly a rather cool looking little wrist weapon. It’s got a steel fist plate/guard with recesses that are used to store a pair of stainless steel spikes (with leather thong tassels, no less), and the front of the plate is formed into these three spikes that project out over your knuckles.

This is the kind of thing that would be cool to pull out of your pocket and strap on your fist, with a menacing glare, just before a barfight. At least in theory. In practice, you’ll just have to hope your would-be opponent is sufficiently dissuaded to back down based on it’s rather sinister aesthetics alone. Because I can almost guarantee the fight might not go exactly the way you might think with this thing on…

Though it may not seem particularly obvious, there are some rather problematic design flaws with this weapon. The biggest, and one which I talked about a little bit in my Assassins Creed Blade Guide, is the need for a stable platform upon which to mount any wrist or arm mounted blade. This weapon, unfortunately, does not have any such secure mounting.

If you look at how this weapon is designed, you will see that the metal plate/hand shield is riveted to what looks like a nylon mesh web, to which a strap with velcro has been attached. In the front there appears to be a covered elastic band that has been bolted/screwed to the plate somehow. All seems well and good, you might think, until you realize the following:

1. Velcro, when used by itself, is perhaps one of the worst ways to secure a wrist mounted device. In this case it was used to ensure a tight fit of the rear strap, regardless of the wearers wrist size, because that secure fit is a very neccessary requirement of a wrist worn weapon. However because velcro is designed to be pulled off with little resistance, all it would take is a sideways glancing blow from something else to loosen it, or even worse, make it come off altogether.

Velcro does have the strength to be used for applications like these, but needs to be part of a properly designed fastening mechanism, with a secondary fastening device, wrap, strap sleeve, or lock mechanism covering the velcro strip, in order to make sure it can’t just be pulled off once it’s secured. Or just a regular tried and true buckle. So… – Strike One.

2. That band on the front? The elastic one? That’s a nonstarter. First because an elastic band will never give you a solid mount for ANYTHING that will be used in this fashion. It will move when you don’t want it to, allow the whole thing to slide backwards when you need it to stay in one place, and will generally be a major nuisance. It really needs to be another nylon/velcro strap.

And I can’t see how exactly this is fastened to the plate underneath, but using a couple of screws with an elastic strap doesn’t seem too bright of an idea either. You run the risk of the strap stretching out and slipping out from under the screws/bolts/plate, whatever they have under there. Just not the best idea. So for that – Strike Two.

3. The last is not as obvious a problem, and probably wouldn’t be such a big deal if the straps weren’t such a mess, but if you look at how that rear strap is attached, you’ll see that it isn’t really attached to the plate. It’s stitched to the nylon webbing an inch or so after the plate ends. This, IMHO, is a problem. A rather insidious one.

In general things like this work best when the mounting straps are attached to the most rigid part of the platform, which, in this case, is the metal plate. NOT the flexible nylon webbing. Either the webbing should have been smaller, or the plate should have been longer, but either way, the velcro strap should have been attached to the rear of the plate.

Seriously, when a weapon mounting strap is attached to a flexible, non-rigid spot on your wrist mounted weapon, bad things tend to happen when it is used… Trust me. The possible resulting carnage to the wearer if it is used like this would not be pretty. So all I’m going to say is… Steeeerike Three!

So, in summary: PHAIL WRIST MOUNTED FIGHTER BLADE IS AN EPIC PHAIL.

But for most of us, we can overlook all of that glorious phail, because it does look cool. Be nice to hang up on your wall. Or for some impressive LARP action. Just don’t count on it for any real CQC. At least not without a major redesign. Actually it would be really easy to redesign, and would be a fairly formidable weapon if properly outfitted and secured. So maybe it’s not a total loss.

But I do have one  little question… What’s with the freakin’ tassels?!?

Close Quarters Combat Fighter – [True Swords]

Vamp Hunts and Dhampirs and Swords… Oh My…

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

You may recall, many posts ago, (if you have been following along) I mentioned how many vampire slaying stories have a Dhampir, or half vampire (in contemporary media also called a “Daywalker”) as the lead protagonist, using their vampirically enhanced abilities in conjunction with their ability to resist factors that would traditionally kill normal vampires (such as daylight) as weapons against their full vampire foes.

Well, today we have the weapons of yet another such protagonist for scrutiny. The blades of none other than Rayne, vampire slaying femme fatale from the game BloodRayne:

Bloodrayne – Raynes Blades

Bloodraynes Blades
[view full size]

Just look at those curves. A long, double edged blade sporting a set of complex curves that just don’t stop, but somehow manage to end in a wicked looking point. And yes, I am referring to the blade, though Rayne isn’t exactly lacking in that department either, if you just so happen to be into haemophages and such. But most definitely my kind of blade. It’s a thing of beauty. I’ve loved the contours of this blade from the first second I saw them in the game.

While these are a rather evil pair of blades, they are not without their faults. For one thing, they are huge! Not the kind of thing that would be easy to carry around. But of course for the career vampire killer, there is always a good, and often unique, solution for such problems. Unfortunately the replica above, while the most practical I have seen, just does not do them justice. So I shall have to resort to game art. Let me show you what the harness for these blades are supposed to look like:

Bloodrayne 2 Game blades

Bloodrayne 2 Blades
[view full size]

Above is a pic of the dead sexeh duo themselves, Rayne and her blades. Totally killer. Literally. 🙂 As you can see, she’s got quite the set up going with those blades. A dual band bracer gauntlet setup, with the blades attached to a special swiveling hinge that allows for two degrees of vampire slashing freedom of rotation. In the game, she’s also able to lock the blades out of the way up by her elbows when she isn’t using them. No scabbard required.

But like I said, all is not perfect. As you can see from the pic, there really doesn’t seem to be a locking mechanism built into these things. So the whole locking thing is suspect to me. Not to mention that based on these pics, she would be locking it with the larger blade facing inwards. In my book, having a few razor edged feet of steel next to my skin would not be the preferred way to stow a blade. In fact it would make me downright nervous.

But then again she is a Dhampir, so she can probably afford to be hard core like that. Gotta respect any women who knows how to handle her blades like Rayne does… 🙂

Raynes Blades from BloodRayne – [King of Swords]

Phyreblade’s guide to Altairs retractable blade (From Assassins Creed)

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I had been considering doing a piece on retractable blades for a while, and was finally motivated to do so by a post I recently got in my suggestion box. A reader, Zach B. commented about his build of an under-hand retractable blade, similar to what the assassin Altair uses in the game Assassins Creed:

Assassins Creed Poster
[view full size]

In general, I love blogging about game weapons with real-life counterparts, but obviously, this game is pretty new out, so there are no official (or unofficially) produced rip offs… err production “replicas” of the Altairs retractable blade to be had for review.

However, since the games release, there have been numerous attempts to duplicate this weapon, and while YouTube is replete with videos of home made “Assassins Creed” blade contraptions, I noticed that, due to a lot of conflicting concept art from the developers, there is actually a lot of confusion about this blades design.

So, in typical blade nerd fashion, I thought I’d try to sort things out. Not necessarily to replicate the game blade, but rather to come up with a practical, real life design for such a weapon. Now let me preface the following by saying that, for your average dweeb, walking around with a spring loaded blade up your sleeve is an incredibly bad idea. There is a reason why these kinds of weapons were not common, even when they were legal. They are highly impractical, not to mention that they are an accident literally waiting to happen.

But, for those of us who like to live on the edge, love the aesthetics and the mechanical challenge of designing wacky weapons, and are insane enough to try, (notwithstanding the very real possibility of self impalement), I’ll go on. Proceed at your own risk. But remember, Altair has no ring finger. Think about it… People, please, do NOT try this at home…

Mounting and Placement.
For any wrist mounted blade to have the stability and strength to be used effectively, it must be properly mounted. This means a solid (inflexible, like steel, very thick/stiff leather or wood) mounting platform, preferably formed to the shape of your forearm, and a minimum of two straps to keep it in place, one at either end of this base. Your best bet would be to use the entire length of your forearm, with a minimum of two straps, one placed at the wrist and the other just before the elbow, to maximize the weapons stability. Altair has this covered quite nicely, as he used full length bracers with three straps:

Altairs Bracer
[view full size]

Now looking at this concept art for the game you’ll notice that the blade seems to come out from the spot where Altairs ring finger ought to be. In the game, this is not the case, and is entirely impractical for any real life assassin, (unless they are a mutant, like Wolverine) so we will disregard this little snafu, and assume the blade is mounted under the forearm, and not actually in his hand. Next stop, blade design.

Blade Support and Design
Now here is another area that has been thoroughly bolloxed on account of multiple conflicting concept art. In the game, Altairs blade uses a nested rail delivery system, where the blade is housed inside of a set of nested sleeves, which run on an internal guide rail. The sleeves extend sequentially, outermost rail first, then inner rail, and finally the actual blade, once both sleeves are fully extended and locked:

Assassins Creed Blade with double nested sleeves

Altairs Nested Sleeve Blade system
[view full size]

Now here is where the confusion begins. Depending on which art you are looking at, Altairs retractable blade either has two sleeves, or one sleeve:

Assassins Creed Blade with single sleeve

Altairs Single Sleeve blade system
[view full size]

Now nested sleeve systems have the advantage of being able to fit in a retracted form factor that is only a fraction as long as the weapon is when fully extended. This means a much more compact housing. However this comes at a cost. The added complexity of automating the extension and retraction of multiple nested sleeves require smaller, more delicate parts, necessarily manufactured to very close tolerances, that would make the whole mechanism more prone to failure.

In fact, in my opinion, the ideal system would actually use no sleeves whatsoever. And given that you have (and should really use) the entire length of your forearm with which to conceal both the blade and the deployment mechanism, I don’t really see the point of implementing such an elaborate system. Not to mention that a single, fixed-length blade would be stronger, faster, more reliable, and infinitely easier to automate than a shorter blade mounted in multiple sleeves. Which brings us to the our deployment system.

Automation
A very important aspect in the operation of any stealth weapon is an equally stealthy activation mechanism. Preferably one that can be activated ‘hands free”, in a manner of speaking. And Altairs got one. In the first concept picture above, we can see that there is a little harness attached to Altairs pinky from the blade housing. This is intended to be his blades activation switch:

Assassins Creed Blade – Ring/Cable Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Mechanism
[view full size]
[video here]

However, in one of the promotional vids for the game we see Altair having to press a button to release a switch that activated his blade:

Assassins Creed Blade – Button Activated

Assassins Creed Blade Switch
[view full size]
[video here]

Now truth be told, this button is probably one of the more complicated ways of doing this. Indeed, you can see that it’s actuation would be counterintuitive, as it would require you to place your fingers in the path of the out going blade in order to activate it. In any case, from the numerous videos of him in action, we can see that Altair simply flexes his hand away from the blade to activate it, so we can assume that a button based activation system is not used. A finger ring cable is a much more flexible way of doing this, and the one I’d go with.

So far as the actual deployment mechanism is concerned, if we stick with the simple, single blade (no sleeve) approach, we can actually use a very compact dual spring double action out-the-front switch blade mechanism. They are simple, reliable and fairly easy to implement. I won’t go into schematic detail here, as it would extend an already excessively long post, however, I can point you in the direction of a buddy, and fellow knife fanatic Sinza, with whom I run a forum (Exotic Automatic) with a lot of helpful diagrams, as well as a break down of some common double action OTF mechanisms. Go on over and check his site out if you have the hankering for a more technical look into the topic…

The Blade.
Finally, we come to the point (pun intended) of all this, which is the design of the actual blade itself. As I mentioned earlier, I favor a single blade approach, with no sleeves, housed in a simple, dual spring loaded guide rail, in the style of your regular OTF switchblade. So far as the blade itself is concerned, we would need to meet a few specific criteria. The blade would need to be long enough to penetrate thick clothing and still puncture vital organs, thin enough to be able to slide between a persons ribs, yet thick enough to resist bending. Throw in double edges, and a sharp point, and we have a winner.

Interestingly, these are the same basic design specifications of the contemporary Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife design, which I will talk about in a future post. Nonetheless, this should give our assassins blade all of the required features to be a terminally effective assassination tool… And that’s all I’ve got to say about that…

Yet Another Uber Battledome Blade!

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

In a previous post we looked at an out-of-left-field hand blade by Tom Anderson, another killer blade designer, called Critical Mass. Well, I found yet another revision of this freaky blade type, looking for all the world like it belonged on the set of Mad Max…

Critical Mass II - Tom Anderson

Critical Mass II - Tom Anderson

Now this weapon is a bitter sweet comeback to me, because although it appears to me to be an improvement on the original Critical Mass design in many areas, it also takes a step backwards in a few others others.

For instance, on the original Critical Mass, the handle was placed fairly far forward, and had a “hood” that extended far enough back that it rested on the users forearm. Though this design left your actual hand exposed, it allowed for a great deal of control of the weapon. On this weapon, although the hand is pretty much covered, it pretty much stops there. You have much less leverage, and therefore less control.

And then there is the mounting point for that front blade on Critical Mass II. I’ve never understood why you would make a fairly wide blade, and then weaken it at the attachment point by narrowing it just before the hilt. Again the first version did not suffer any such weaknesses.

An Ornamental Katar

An Ornamental Katar

Of course I would be remiss not to mention that the basic weapon design does appear to have at least superficial similarities to a perhaps much more practical weapon, called the Katar. The Katar is a punch-blade style weapon of Indian decent. Some of them have mechanically actuated split blades, also called “Scissor Katars”, and yet another variety called the “Hooded Katar” have a shield over the back of the hand. Given also that it would probably be a lighter and faster weapon, I would probably prefer to use a split-blade hooded Katar if given a choice, over either Critical Mass weapon.

Video Game Scissors Katar

Video Game Scissors Katar

Nonetheless Critical Mass II does have a lot of strong points. Literally. It is simpler and the blades are much more effectively placed than in the first. It is probably also lighter and faster than the first. It provides much better hand protection, though it could have benefit from an extended hood for both forearm protection and extra support and control.

But given the sweet lines of those, oh-so-beautiful black blades, the menacing spikes on the guard, and the overall no nonsense look of the piece, I’d say it’s a winner. I dare you to disagree. I dare ya. I double dog dare ya. I triple dog dare ya… Yeah… Whatever.

Critical Mass by Tom Anderson – [The Collectors Edge]

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