The Swiss Army Knife: 2010 in Review – Part 1Party On!
I think that's what I heard Victorinox say as their 2009 quasquicentennial anniversary celebration came to a close. The year 2010 dawned, and the fun never stopped. The fireworks started at SHOT 2010 with the announcement of a black Alox Damascus Pioneer
, the first Victorinox knife to feature a Damascus steel blade and featuring a hardness of HRC 60. Limited to a production of 2,010 knives these were snapped up quickly as they were slowly released in different regions, not officially reaching the United States until September. Looks like they could have easily sold twice the production run. I'd watch for more Damascus steel special editions.
There were many exciting events during the year , but at least in the United States I think 2010 has definitively been "The Year of Alox
". There were more than 15 different Alox knives released, all of these were Limited Editions (as with the Damascus), or even smaller Special Runs made for a reseller. Although the days of the Alox Soldier's Knife came to pass in 2008, I think they have properly celebrated its heritage this year.
Moving away from the collector's market for just a second, Victorinox was refilling the champagne glasses while they announced the 111mm liner-lock Grip Series
featuring red and black non-slip scales based on the dual-density PME-6 composite material that was first used for the 2008 Soldier's Knife in black/green. I think these scales really improve the 111mm line. Not happy with just a new coat of paint, Victorinox announced the new Dual Pro
model featuring a one-hand opening safety/belt-cutter/emergency blade. It looked a bit weird, but this is a great knife with a great tool configuration. In the United States, the Dual Pro X
model was introduced shortly afterwards featuring a plain-edged main blade and a Phillips screwdriver rather than traditional corkscrew; for those that like to open their wine the hard way.
The official Road Tour last year that saw the unveiling of the Victorinox Sunbeam trailer, was started up again in 2010 and traveled to other continents sticking with the slogan "Your Companion for Life" (YCFL). The road tour was marked with a few special products, and some of those were made available through retail channels for those that missed the tour stops. The Spirit RT
is a specially anodized, or otherwise coated, version of the Spirit-X. This special issue tool features black (officially anthracite), colored handles that look really sharp, and has the YCFL logo etched on the main blade.
Some standard sized 91mm knives debuted with new SoftTouch
scales, a rubberized like coating that is soft and does seem to really aid in retention. While not available on all models right away, I can see special issues of the many different models debuting in the future.
Back to where the party was really rockin', the Collectors corner. It wasn't just the colored Alox flood directed at North America that got everyone dancing, those in France and Italy sent up an impressive fireworks display with the announcement of a special Military Collection
. This was a brilliantly conceived concept that combined a couple popular trends resulting in 3 all black
multi-tools each in their own green belt pouch, packaged in a small wooden crate that was styled and painted to resemble a military shipping crate. The tools consisted of a Sentinel w/clip
, One-Hand Trekker/Trailmaster
, and a Spirit-X w/blasting-cap crimper
, all stamped on the main-blade with a series serial number n/199. Each of the tools are very hard or impossible to get outside of the collection at this time in most markets. These were likely the first all black SAK models produced; featuring black tools, springs, liners, keyrings, and even the clip on the Sentinel. Limited to just 200 sets and beautifully done, this one is a collector's, if not user's, dream.
In Switzerland and North America the military theme was also present in a special-run 1291 commemorative Soldier
(2008 design with yr 10 on tang). This very limited knife features a custom "1291 and Swiss flag" logo printed on the scales, and stamped series numbered on the main blade 25/n. This was the first special-run of the year to be numbered, and with only 25 produced remains the most exclusive.
I'm seeing colors... lots of colors
. Partnering with a couple individuals in Switzerland, Victorinox produced what I'm sure is a record number of small special-runs of Alox scaled knives in a single year. In the past Swiss Bianco seemed to have a lock on small special-runs of this nature. In 2010 it wasn't exactly the food-gates opening, but they opened the tap; for the first time we had a steady dependable flow. By mid-year the swimming pool had filled to the point that it was hard not to just jump in and wallow around.
- Solo - Black - Confederation Helvetica [February]
- Farmer - Orange – Standard Shield [March]
- Pioneer - Brown [May]
- Farmer - Violet [May]
- Farmer - Deep Green [June]
- Pioneer - Yellow-Gold [June]
- Pioneer - Red & Gold – de Sax [July]
- Electrician - Copper [July]
- Farmer - Grey [July]
- Woodsman - Light Grey (series-numbered) [August]
- Electrician Plus - Blue / Old Cross [September/October Delivery]
- Wilderness - Black Alox Scales , Black-Oxide coated tools, springs, and liners. New 93mm configuration [October]
- Wilderness - Orange Alox Scales, Black-Oxide coated tools, springs, and liners. [October]
- Pioneer - Sand-Gold (series-numbered) [November/December]
- Pioneer 2223/Sea Pioneer - Blue Old Cross and Marlinspike (series-numbered) [December]
As the months passed, and the knives got more unique the price of the small special runs started to increase; having already tasted the Kool-Aid, and with no other lemonade stands in site, it seems it became a case of grin and bear it. It is quite amazing that these small runs are even produced from such a large manufacturer, so hats off to Victorinox and all the others involved. Victorinox clearly is a different kind of company.
There were also a couple extra Alox knives from Swiss Bianco, another run of the recent Bushcrafter
model, and a widely anticipated run of Black Alox Farmers
. Unfortunately delivery issues with the first batch of Farmers caused a couple people (including myself) some unhappiness, but made me very thankful for all the other special Alox providers. They also introduced and started shipments of knives with Fireworked
main blades, a nice additional decoration. As fall was winding up, a second larger second run of Black Farmers started shipping; this helped cool the sting of the earlier sunburn. Before year end a second run of the Swiss Bianco exclusive Alox Ramblers
were shipping, in color and a few in Silver Alox.
Just when everyone was taking the new Alox knives each month for granted; WHAM!!
A new ball from left field. The new Schweizer Käsemesser / Swiss Cheese Knife
was announced! What a surprise! The first ever Swiss Army Knife featuring a dedicated Cheese blade. What took them so long? Even if you think your current SAK is pretty good at cutting cheese you'll want one of these to take to parties. Unfortunately there is a catch, depending on which country you're in obtaining one of these may require the help of a mouse-in-the-house (insider). This wonderful new knife was initially being made available only through Swiss Cheese Marketing AG, a marketing group for the Swiss cheese industry. Basically that means it may not be in the stores for a while. Their first promotion involves sending in Proof-of-Purchase seals from 5 packages of Swiss Cheese and a 20CHF note . A very interesting new model, and the first new Slide-Lock knife in quite some time. That's something not many, if anyone, ever expected to see.
So much fun, but what did Victorinox forget to bring to the party? Well they really missed out when they didn't spike the punch with some Mil-Spec Hard Anodized scales. For the last few years the flashlight hobbyists have been swimming in some great hard-anodized products, and once you drink that punch the colors look sweet but you go for the hard-stuff every time. In the plier based multitools there was lots of cool, but some party goers were really hoping to find a mini-version included with the party favors; there was lots of Spirit but no babies. Maybe the most disappointed were those looking for the standard party fare, as there really was not anything new in 84mm or 91mm goodies other than scale options. There was one new tasty cupcake, the SwissBianco Yeoman MkIII, but the early ones came without sparkles and that was sad. Trying to add sparkles was right depressing.Black to the rescue
; It wasn't just the year of color, and while the big red Käsemesser turned heads in 2010 the Swiss Army Knife put on a LBD and got just a little more sexy. The gorgeous black scaled Damascus Pioneer started things off with a bang. Outside North America the new Black-Logo scales appeared on 4 different models with gold charm added. The new Confederation Helvetica Solo rallied followers, before things slammed into high gear with the all black Military Collection. Black came to the people on the Road Tour featuring the Spirit-RT, SoftTouch Climber, and Master RT all dressed in black. The SoftTouch surface on the Climber produced a unique flat black, which hasn't been available before. October brought the veil down with the introduction of the all Black Wilderness knife, and then added the accent with the Orange Wilderness. Black was back with a vengeance. In the kitchen
; the party outside was too good for me to spend too much time in the kitchen, but there were a set of ceramic blade
knives that caught my eye. Classy with a razor edge, these should keep my kitchen going for many years. On the porch
; remember the Gardner? Sometimes known as the Florist when it has strayed into another part of town. This year it became the Blumenmesser
in Germany and started a Euro tour sporting fancy party clothes of Pink, Purple, Lime-Green and Sky Blue. A one trick pony, but if you're clever enough to change the hat you can change the trick. You look marvelous.
As the party wrapped up my head felt great, but my wallet was hurting something bad. I think I'll sneak in a short nap; I know the New Year is going to bring at least one more pretty face, and I have a feeling Victorinox may not be ready to stop the music.
Part-2 ... that would be the Wenger Camp...Happy New Year!