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Evolution 2163

Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 62,275 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Evolution
« on: September 16, 2006, 04:02:50 AM »
It's kind of neat to see the multitool evolution, going from the PST which started the plier based multi revolution (even though it wasn't the first as some claim- more on that soon!) to the current offerings.  One of the things that really fascinate me is the variety of ideas that made it, and the ones that didn't, not to mention the shifts in focus over the years.
Originally Tim Leatherman had a few ideas in mind- at least as far as his story goes.  He never meant to compete with SAKs as he felt that one needed both tools- screwdriver and pliers, so he developed what eventually became the PST to compliment a SAK.  Also, the PST (and many of the other "first generation" multitools) were meant as emergency tools that really didn't do anything particularily well, but did many things well enough.
Nowadays it seems that multitools and SAKs are often at odds, especially now that Victorinox and Wenger are offering plier based multis, and Leatherman is offering multifunction knives.  So much for complimenting eachother!
Of course, in any competition, it is the consumer that usually wins as manufacturers compete with eachother to offer better functioning tools and we end up with multis that are no longer supposed to be "emergency" tools, but are now trying to replace a regular toolbox!  Or at least parts of it.  More and more tools are being added to each model for greater versatility, and the tools themselves are being made to a higher standard to perform more duties.  I think it's only a matter of time until someone makes a battery operate "powertool!"
Also, it's kind of neat to look back at some of the designs that were definately innovative, but not so successful... The SOG ParaTool comes to mind, with it's sideways folding head, the SOG Switch Plier which tried to mate the multitool with the "tactical" stylings of an automatic knife, the Schrade Tough Tool with it's sideways handles, the original Wave with it's liner locking blades, but utter uselessness for lefties, or the Victorinox Auto Tool that was so big they couldn't even put a belt loop on the sheath for fear of people's pants falling down!
Some of these are comical now, but when they were first produced they were revolutionary.  Some features, as with any evolving entity or product, worked, and some didn't.  It is really neat to be able to see the evolution at work, and to collect some of the samples that didn't.  I kind of feel like an archeologist (that's Archie Oogly to Flintstones fans!) by collecting and maintaining these "missing links" of the multitool world.
Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Banner Member No Life Club Posts: 1,524
Re: Evolution
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2006, 05:40:50 AM »
 8)Very cool analysis, thanks.

T
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Evolution
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2006, 06:07:43 AM »
Nicely worded summary Def.
You make several excellent points. I too have enjoyed watching the multi tool evolve, but while there is a definite upside in new and improved features, there is also a downside. It's called "survival of the fittest." Back in the 1990's, every cutlery company in town was bringing out their own multi tools. Schrade, Buck, Al Mar, Spyderco, Kutmaster, Wenger, Kershaw, etc. Yes, some of their offerings were weird, but we all benefited from the competition.
One by one however, in a market dominated by Leatherman, these small players fell by the wayside. Now only Gerber, Vic, and SOG continue to offer any alternative to the Leatherman line-up.

I like it better when there are more players in the game.

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 62,275 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Evolution
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2006, 11:21:21 AM »
It is too bad that some of the other companies have dropped off.  I have even heard speculations that the whole multitool industry is on the downswing, but I find that hard to believe since the surviving companies are offering larger, more diverse lineups than ever before.
Victorinox keeps coming out with different versions- I thinj there are what, three different SwissTools (not counting the "extras like bit holders), at least three different Spirit models, Leatherman has 5 different Juice models, two Charges, etc.  I would say at this point we are probably looking at having more variety of tools available from the few remaining contenders than we did when there were more contenders.
Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Sr. Member Posts: 387
Re: Evolution
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2006, 11:42:30 AM »
Great read & good insight Defender! The Market will decide which ones rise to the top & which will fall by the roadside. This is always good for the consumer as the Companies compete to put out better products.
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 62,275 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Evolution
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2006, 12:03:51 PM »
It's just nice that this is a ride we've been on recently.  The farther away one gets from the period of development, the harder it is to acquire the "failures."  Of course, there really aren't any failures per se, as each different tool, regardless of it's success level, affected the market in one way or another.  Who knows what kinds of tools we'd be looking at today had the Schrade Tough Tool been more popular, or the SwitchPlier been a resounding success?
Of course, even the ones that fell down started with great ideas, and even if they didn't make it, the ideas are still out there.  At the risk of beating on the SwitchPlier, it may not have been a great success, but it paved the way for the Gerber Recoil.  Same basic idea, different method of execution.  It will be interesting to see how long the Recoil lasts, and whether it was popular enough to spawn any other spinoff multis.
Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,213
Re: Evolution
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2006, 03:11:31 PM »
I predict we will now start to see more and more tools targeted for specific market niches. Tools that are designed primarily for a certain application. One example is the SOG/Paladin Powerplay tools, built for electronic techs and people in telecommunications. Or how about the new Leatherman pruner tools.

Once the average multi tool consumer has a favorite general-purpose tool, like say a Spirit or a Wave, and a little scissors tool, like a Micra, why else would they buy another new one? Manufacturers will be forced to come up with new reasons for people to buy new tools. No matter what the business, it's all about sales.

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 62,275 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Evolution
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2006, 05:18:18 PM »
I couldn't agree more.  The same thing started to happen with SAKs in the 80's (or so) when they started to really expand the specific market models like the skateboard models, skiier models etc.  Of course, multis always seemed more geared to workers- plumbers, maintenance techs, computer techs etc, so maybe we will see more specialization to certain trades rather than certain sports?
Whatever happens next, it will likely be quite interesting.
Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.

 

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