An axe to grind

Last month’s review left a bad taste in my mouth. Not because I essentially dismissed the planned monthly review in its favour (that one’s coming this month), but because the one-handed battle-axe, BWS-8, was just so immensely stupid and I simply couldn’t get a hang of it.

I'm not a halberdThis axe is a good example why knowing few basic ergonomics in fictional design pays off on the long run. This design just ticked me off. Even when compared to the worst offenders in Klingon bladed weapons, like the House of Duras’ knife, the BWS-8 Flugelberte fails at being a good, modern axe.

I discussed some how the direction of the handle’s curve affects the strength of the swing. What I didn’t mention is that the curvature BWS-8 has would break your wrist. Not only that, but because the blade is so oversized, that means the amount of force experienced by the TSF’s hand and wrist is much larger, causing far more wear and tear than what you’d get from a more sensible design.

But Aalt, it needs to have a wide blade to cut through the BETA.  Axes don’t cut, they chop. Not all swords are meant to cut either, they are made for slicing. For example, the katana was made as hard as it possibly could be with the low-grade river iron Japanese had, and thus was very easy to break and chip. The rule of thumb is; the harder something is, the more brittle it is. Makes you wonder what sort of bullshit the Mohs-15 hardness they’re pulling, but I guess that should be its own post. Because of the hardness of a katana, it was used to slice alongside the blade, hence its curve. It could not stand cutting or chopping motions. Japanese took the design from the Chinese and stuck with it, never really improving on it or finding something better for whatever reasons.


This split is from a single underpowered swing. The axe we are looking at here is a Fiskars Splitting Axe, designed to have that wedge shape to push the wood apart. A battle-axe does not have this wedge because it is intended to push through the armour with sheer weight it has behind it and split whatever is underneath, and a wedge in there would just be in the way. Split being the keyword. A battle-axe is a weapon that combines the destructive weight of a battle maul with a blade, making it a weapon that crushes and cuts. You may be lucky with a sword’s swing, it just cuts you open, but with an axe swing, you’ll be left with much serious breakage.

You know what’s a more sensible weapon design that BWS-8? Getter Tomahawk.

FIGURE-002459_04[1]It’s a straight handled tomahawk with a textured maul. It also has a decently shaped pommel to let your hand grip unto for maximum swing. It’s blade is not overly complex or huge in size, but it’s in the higher end of things. The handle is slightly too thin, generally speaking, but just as TSFs are made of bullshittium, so is the Getter Robo.

Even Getter Dragon, all things considered, has  more sensible axe design. The spiked balls at the tip just make it retarded, but in terms of size and proportions, Getter Dragon’s tomahawks are very well-balanced. After that the proportions just get out of hands with Shin Getter Robo, while New Getter Robo actually having maybe the best design when it comes to function.

So, you may be asking Why was this worthwhile to write about? Because it’s 101 of design. When you are designing for what essentially is for human hand, you are limited in what you can do in the name of the health of that hand. If you are designing a weapon, like an axe, you should be required to design so that it would excel in the in the principle function of what an axe does. You do not design an axe to slice like a sword, you make it chop. And of course, one has to take the length into consideration as well…

ZerAxe…which in BWS-8 is far too large. That is not a one-handed axe any more, and it’s swinging that thing takes incredible strength and power. Compare it to the size that the Getter Robos above had them. That is the size one-handed axes go. It doesn’t need to be a hatchet, but more sensible. An axe in that length could be handled with one hand, but in that case the size of the blade needs to be scaled down quite a lot.

historical battle axeSee this guy? He is swinging historically accurate battle-axe that is around the same length as the BWS-8. The axe head is much smaller, as it can cause a lot of damage as it is. Remember; an axe is supposed to chop into your opponent, not cut it. Battle axes as a standard have long handles for reach and power. With the size of the head on BWS-8, swinging it would be heavy and extremely difficult, requiring the Jump Units to give the TSF full-body swing. If the head was smaller and more practical, it could be swung like a practical axe-type weapon. Even better, if the handle was straight, it would not cause immense wear and tear to the units’ wrists.

An axe of this size, or axe in general, doesn’t seem to be the best solution against the BETA. It’s a weapon of rule of cool, just like the BWS-3 Great Sword. Here’s the kicker; if BWS-8 was just arched forwards, it would have better power behind it. However, because the handle is facing the wrong direction and the overall design is undulating, that means it strains itself with each blow on those bits and would be cumbersome in battle. Yes, even in historical records, axes arching like that are rare, few belonging to cavalry, and sometime after the 8th or 10th century those vanished in favour of what we usually have now. But this is sci-fi, and as such it should have the highest tech solutions possible. Or just model a bardiche rather than make an overly complicated and overblown design.

A halberd it ain’t.

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