If on any other weekend you were to enter the foyer of the Cobb Galleria Centre and witness a man with a half-dozen sheath knives on his belt rummaging through a camouflaged backpack you would have perfect cause for alarm.
However if it's the last weekend in May, you should hurry over and ask if he's planning to sell some of those knives. The BLADE show is in full swing and from the looks of those handles he's a Busse fan and since it's the second day of the show I bet the Busse booth has been picked clean and this might be a rare opportunity to get that Steel Heart your wife has been wanting.
This being the first year I am not chained to responsibilities like school and work I was able to attend the show in Atlanta. Here's some pictures and words of my trip.
Tried my best to get sleep the night before but ended up falling asleep only slightly before 5am. The 7am wake-up call was harsh but I bounced out of bed, ate a quick breakfast and packed my EDC bag with things I thought I might need. Turns out the list I wrote the night before only had two things on it: snacks and water.
Guess I could have just left the damned thing in the car.
Quickly closing the bag to avoid my friend seeing the contents, lest she suffer from a traumatic laughing fit, I ordered the guard dog to stand watch and soon we were speeding down six-lanes of relatively sparse Interstate 85 traffic.
As usual I achieved record time to our destination; the Cobb Galleria.
Since we arrived right before the show started there was ample parking. Turns out it takes a little bit of work to get to the entrance from the parking deck. First you need to climb up a steep tunnel that brings Running Man
Then you sit in an elevator with a slightly grumpy friend because she spilled coffee on herself during the ride and then you made fun of her glasses...
Next you stand in a long line waiting to buy passes to the show...
The guy in front of me had a Charge on his belt. Pretty sweet; time-to-multitool-sighting was less than 3 minutes. Surprisingly no one bats an eye when you photograph the gentleman's posterior occupying the place in line ahead of you.
As you near the end of the line security guards and event staff start barking at you to get your money ready, you pay, get stamped and enter the show. As soon as you cross the doors into the hall you are hit with the lights and sound. There are people and shiny things everywhere but like a beacon of light the Spyderco booth pulls you in.
Past the Benchmade booth with their indifferent representatives. All I wanted to do was handle the new Rift!
Although the best parts of the Spyderco booth aren't allowed to be photographed, the prototypes and concept knives, I did grab some pictures of the show award winners from Spyderco.
Back to the prototypes and concepts I had the pleasure of meeting Joyce Laituri of Spyderco. She was extremely helpful in showing me the different concepts and asking me my opinions of them. There was some exciting variety in the case; a G10 Lava, the Khukri and Barong, a Mini-Manix with the shrouded ball-lock from the P'kal, several ethnic knife concepts, digital camo G10 and a lot more. It's going to be another good year for the Spyderco fan.
After almost an hour I was finally forced to remove myself from the Spyderco booth so others could see the knives. Moving down the aisles I saw the guys from Fenix flashlights. They had the full product line; the colored HAIII on the E01 looks amazing, the TK10 feels like it's worth at least twice what they're asking and no, they cannot do anything about my malfunctioning ZebraLight H50 unless I mail it back to them (
I spoke to the man at the Utica Cutlery/KutMaster booth for a few minutes about the MultiMaster line of tools. The MultiMaster tools are okay but I dont think they do anything exceptional and fit/finish seems a little below standard. However, he did have an interesting topic to converse about. According to him Utica produced the first knife and tool blades for Leatherman when the latter was just starting out. He said it went from 3,000 pieces the first year to 25,000 the third year when Leatherman moved into their own factory. Being a skeptical sort and never having heard this before I listed quietly so I could toss it out here and see what everyone thought about it.
The Leatherman table was small but staffed by really friendly representatives. They had the full line of tools on display; I handled the only two I have no experience with; the Genus pruner and the Skeletool. The Genus was so nicely produced I wanted to buy one just for the fit and finish. The handle rotates smoothly and the whole tool feels like it would be comfortable to use. I don't know about the Skeletool though, the non-congruence of the handles is kind of weird for me. I plan to buy one still but it threw me for a loop having to adjust the tool to comfortably use the pliers.
The aisles on the right side are devoted to sales. Every variety of edged implements are for sale in this area, autos, swords, OSS escape tools. Now, having never seen one for sale I had no idea how much one of those OSS tools cost. I recognized it from Bob's Before there was Leatherman
posts and wanted to handle one just to see how it felt. The seller opened the case and told me to have at it, I checked out the saw blades, the plier action and the general feel of the tool before flipping it over and seeing the price. Now, I may have mis-read the priced tag but I'll be darned if it didn't say "3,500.00" which I guess is dollars. Dang, $4.00/gal gas really does increase the price of consumer goods. Later on I saw another example in better condition for 3,995.00$, probably a steal at that price. Of course, if you're shocked by the prices you see some vendors offer a friendly reminder:
In the center of the floor is a large case with all the show award winners; here's my favorite picks:
And my personal #1 favorite pick:
Haha, I'm just kidding of course. The SOG Contractor is too silly to exist, almost like it belongs on the wall of a chain restaurant as a relic of some begotten hayseed. It does feel pretty solid in the hand but it just has too many miscues. In more well-designed news; SOG is coming out with a new version of their Access Card. It appears to lose the superfluous tools and pocket clip and has a skeletonized handle for lighter weight and a great blade shape. Anywho, back to the important knife in the case; did you see that 100 blade knife? I could spend days checking out all the tools. It looked awesome, I am still lamenting the fact that that was one of the few things at the show I couldn't touch.
Word to the wise if you plan to attend in the future; do not eat at the concessions inside the hall. Not 30 feet downstairs in the main building are a Subway and Chik-fil-a. They have reasonably priced junkfood, not like the concessions with their $5.00 barbecue sandwich including no
sides and no
drink. After choking down the awful excuse for a barbecue sandwich we made our way outside into the blazing sun to watch a sword demonstration conducted by James Williams. Mr. Williams puts on an excellent show, able to both entertain and teach he shows techniques, gives a little history lesson and fields questions in an expert manner. FYI; a slightly morbid audience member queried him on the mats and he stated that the one on the left would be "slightly more than an arm" and the one on the right would "be about a torso." Ew.
Slowly becoming aware of the increasing temperature, when his demonstration was concluded I quickly ducked back inside and resumed my search for the one thing I wanted to buy at the show. I could have purchased a 14 inch balisong or a 38 inch samurai sword, or a $4,000 OSS Escape Tool but not one of the hundreds of vendors there had a dang Kershaw RAM for sale. Not one! I was even willing to pay MSRP+ for it! Guess it pays to get there the first day if you plan to buy.
After spending an hour or so canvassing the show for the RAM with no luck I called it quits and we headed out. It was too much to see and comprehend in one day. Do I watch the seminars or walk the floor? Which demonstration do I sit in the sun for? Next year I'm going all three days. I was surprised at the amount of women and children, I never expected to see a troop of Boy Scouts haggling with a dealer over the price of samurai swords. For those interested I saw precisely one booth babe, at the RAT Cutlery table.
Overall, not anything new multi wise but it was nice to talk to the reps and handle some models I don't own. It was interesting to see all the Maxpedition worn by showgoers. Seems like every other person had a Fatboy over their shoulder, although I guess this event is one of the few places you can wear that type of thing and actually fit in
. Despite only being able to attend for one day it was awesome and ended nicely, saw a funny license plate, a building under construction and ate about 12 pounds of Italian food.
Taking stock of the catalogs that were foisted upon me I have one Paratool's worth of reading material to look through. A pretty nice haul considering most of the catalogs aren't easily available otherwise.
*Fun Leatherman facts from the calender at their booth:
+Leatherman makes 14,150 tools per day
+The Wave has 373 production steps.
+In the first 25 years of operation Leatherman sold 46,901,682 tools.
Misc pictures, it was a big show.
If I remember anything else I write it up.