OTHER KNIFE DESIGNS BY KIT RAE
Kit has designed numerous knives for various companies and supervised design for many licensed replicas that are not part of the Kit Rae Fantasy Art brand. Many of you have asked for a list of those items, so here it is.
This list includes United Cutlery, Rigid, Colt, Harley-Davidson, Hibben, and a few other brands going way back to my early career. It may not be complete, but it's pretty close, to the best of my memory. The list starts back in 1985 and goes to the present -- Kit Rae
BRAND: UNITED CUTLERY
UC209 Scorpion – Another standard UC boot knife for many years.
UC501, UC1119 Indiana Jones Bowie – My first movie license design back in 1988. The original president of United Cutlery, Kevin Pipes, was a big Indiana Jones fan like me. He got us in the door at Lucasfilm. Initially we were going to make the machete Indy uses on the rope bridge in Temple of Doom, but it was just so plain and boring looking we wanted to design a new one, a relic that Indy would have picked up in his travels. I sketched dozens of designs, but still could not come up with a good one. I designed and designed, right up to the morning when we were supposed to meet with Lucasfilm and make the deal. I finally came up with the design, drawing on a hotel napkin at breakfast. Kevin got the license deal completed and we were invited to see a screening of the third Indiana Jones film, which was about to be released, in the theatre on Lucas Valley ranch. I called the knife a Khyber Bowie since it had some characteristics of a Khyber. The painting I created for the packaging was turned into a poster that won an ADDY award that year. The knife was hugely successful. UC had a few 3x size Indy bowies made for our showroom and a few of our top customers.
UC720 Stealth Defense Comb
UC728 Wasp Dagger – Another variation of my split blade design.
UC951, UC952, UC953 Never Surrender Bowies – My version of what I saw as a traditional bowie knife.
UC1124 - 1128 NASCAR Folding Collectibles
UC1146 Omega Liner Locks
UC1184 Black Ronin Sword
BRAND: GIL HIBBEN CUSTOM DESIGN SERIES
I must first say that before you read this understand that there are many people involved in the various aspects of designing a knife, not just the person who’s name goes on it. Some people may be shocked to find that a knife from the “Hibben Knives Custom Design Series” was not actually designed by Gil. Many were, but many were not. This was not an attempt to deceive anyone, it is just that it takes many people to create a successful knife line. We always attempted to keep the spirit and integrity of the line intact. Our goal was always to make a great collectible knife line that would make people happy. Many have questioned who actually designs the Hibben line and who designs my knives due to the similarities, so here is the straight story.
For the record, if there had never been a Gil Hibben or Paul Ehlers my knives would look totally different. I was heavily influenced by their custom knives along with several other great custom knife makers.
UC453 Double Shadow – After the success of the first United Cutlery "Hibben Custom Design Series" knife, the Silver Shadow (a name I came up with for a Rigid folding knife but we used for the Hibben line instead) in 1989, UC needed a follow-up knife. We looked through photos of Gil’s custom knives, most designed by the wonderful Paul Ehlers and skillfully turned into 3-D art by Gil, but they were just beyond what we could do on a production basis at the time. The Silver Shadow was basically just a custom V-42 stiletto so it was not that hard to make, but we wanted something more stylish and custom-looking. Gil did a few designs, really nice survival type knives as I recall, but none of us thought that was right for a follow up. Gil was used to making custom knives and he could do whatever he wanted, but we were limited to the realities of modern production methods.
I had been working on futuristic designs for the film Total Recall, which we were trying to get the license for at the time, but we were too late to get anything in the film. One of the designs I came up with was this split blade knife with a futuristic handle. We all liked the knife and one of UC’s owners, Kevin Pipes I believe, suggested it for the next Hibben knife. I was a little upset at this but then I thought, this knife may not get made at all if we don’t do something with it, and Gil makes knives that other people design all of the time. Gil still has to turn a flat, 2-D drawing into a 3D work of art, which is no easy task. I redesigned the handle, same shape as the Total Recall knife but all smooth shapes, and changed the grip to wire to match with the Silver Shadow, and kept the unique split blade as is. I did not think Gil would go for it but I showed it to him at the Blade show in Knoxville, Tennessee that year and he liked it and said he would make a custom version.
Several weeks later Gil’s custom knife arrived and it was an incredible feeling to see my knife design turned into a real handmade knife by one of my favorite knife makers. Gil made the guard and pommel out of brass and used a different material for the handle but we decided to go with the polished metal and wire wrap look of the Silver Shadow to keep continuity in the line. I think this was the first time we started using the phrase “fantasy knife”. David Hall suggested we call it the Double Shadow, since it had a split blade and was the follow up to the Silver Shadow. It went on to become one of the most successful knives in the line, and has appeared in more movies and television shows than any other UC Hibben knife. Here’s a short list of its appearances: Babylon 5, Crusade, Space Rangers, White Dwarf, Gladiator (not the Ridley Scott one), Hideaway, Timecop, and The Fifth Element. It recently made an appearance in Star Trek: Nemesis thanks to Gil sending his contact at Paramount a few samples.
UC627 Highlander Bowie – When it came time for the third knife for Gil’s series we again stole another of my UC knife designs, this time a camp bowie I was working on, and customized it in the polished metal and wire look. We also made my original design as a UC knife, the UC469 Serpentine Bowie, so I did eventually get my name on the design. The Highlander was used in the X-Files episode The Calusari with a modified handle. It has appeared as a toy accessory and even was used in a nude Gallery magazine pictorial (thanks to Jimmy H. for the copy of the issue). In the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers, Woody Harrelson throws the knife and the camera tracks it spinning through the air as it flies into a persons back side. Not my favorite movie knife scene.
UC700 Raven – Since I was becoming UC’s primary knife designer I kind of willingly took on the role of coming up with design of the Hibben knife each year at this point. This time I was determined to make something that had the “look” of a Hibben custom fantasy knife instead of converting something I had already done. I wanted something with that flowing, elegant curvy look that people would identify with Hibben. I looked at many of his incredible fantasy knives trying to find one that could be simplified into a production knife. If I remember correctly, the name of the knife I finally settled on was called the Elf Dirk. That was the basic shape I played off of, even though the final knife barely resembles it. I created many versions of this and sent the best one to Gil. He suggested some changes and we were off. We went for a black chrome look this time, and a fluted wire wrapped handle like the original Hibben knife, which I think had a sheep horn handle. I wanted the black look because of some of the custom knives I had seen made by Buster Warenski and Fred Carter were all black plated. We thought this would work for Gil’s line and it did. The finished knife was very successful. I’m not sure Gil ever made a custom version of this one. It appeared in an episode of Chris Carter’s excellent television show Millennium.
Klingon Version of the Raven – Gil and I worked on this modified version of the Raven for Star Trek: Generations. It is the one held to Soran’s (Malcom McDowell) throat by B’Etor, one of the Klingon Duras sisters. The producers picked it because it had a Klingon look. I redesigned the blade based on one of the production designer’s sketches and added the Klingon lettering. Gil added the spike and made the new blades, which were placed in stock Raven handles for the film props. A friend of Gil’s made the Klingon symbols on the hand guard. The ones seen in the film were dirtied up to make them look used. Gil later made 19 custom versions of this, one of which I am the proud owner. The toy action figure of B’Etor also came with the knife as an accessory. As a huge Star Trek fan this was a blast to work on, as know it was for Gil as well.
UC750 Raptor – My second attempt at making a knife that had that “Hibben” look. I think I got a little closer this time, though I had Klingon knives in mind more than anything, as I was into Star Trek: The Next Generation at the time, specifically the developing Worf story line. This was very bizarre when the knife was actually later used on Deep Space Nine! I was so into this one that I carved a fossilized raptor claw to use for a photo shoot of the knife to be used in our ads (see the photo gallery). I wanted everything to be perfect for this one. I also made a 3-D dinosaur scale embossed surface for the sheath. This knife was used in the film Mortal Kombat and was featured on the cover of Blade magazine.
Klingon Version of the Raptor – The stock knife was used in Deep Space Nine by Dax to threaten Captain Sisko in a mirror universe episode. It had a very good close-up. I think the episode was called “Through the Looking Glass”. It was also seen on the weapon wall in Worf’s quarters in a few episodes. After this I began to see Klingons in full dress wearing the knife at Star Trek conventions! This knife, along with most of the previous ones, was on display at the Star Trek experience in Las Vegas. Gil’s versions of two of the show’s primary swords are there as well. Gil was named the “Official Klingon Armorer” by Paramount.
UC849, UC850 Warbird – I admit I failed miserably on this one. I based it on a Hibben custom knife. I can’t remember which one. The final design came out too fat and stubby looking and I was not happy with it. I don’t think Gil was either. I did not spend enough time on the model for the handle parts. Double-edged knives were becoming a problem to ship into Europe so I also made a single edged version, which looked even worse.
UC898 Dragon Lord – This was not designed as a Hibben knife at first, but as a Kit Rae knife, but after the gang saw it, it became a Hibben knife. I really just wanted to do my own thing with this one and designed what I wanted to see in a fantasy knife. Out of all of the knives I have designed this is one of my all time favorites and I really regret that my name is not on it, but the insatiable thirst of the UC Hibben collector had to be fed. This one was also popular with the Star Trek Klingon crowd. It appeared in many television shows and films. Several very good close-ups are in an episode of The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. A modified version appeared in the Spawn movie and the Spawn toy graveyard play set even had a little plastic knife. Most UC/Hibben collectors I have heard from tell me this is one of their favorites in the line.
Hornet – This one is based on one of the custom Hibben/Ehlers designs. I only redesigned the hand guard and pommel a bit. Otherwise it is Paul Ehlers’ design.
UC1099 Hornet short sword – Same as above but I designed a short sword blade for it. Also used as Hibben’s 40th anniversary sword.
UC1169 Jackal – Another design meant for my line but it looked like it fit in with Gil’s so we used it. One of my favorites. Use extensively as Faith’s knife in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show. It was recently used in Star Trek: Nemesis by the clone Picard, Shinzon. Featured heavily in the movie poster and marketing campaign. Another one I regret not having my name on, but if it were not for Gil’s association it probably would have never been used in Star Trek. It came as an accessory with the Faith limited edition action figure and the Shinzon action figure from Nemesis.
GH2000 Griffyn – I really tried to make something that looked like a real Hibben custom knife this time, with multiple blades. We really pushed the envelope for a production knife. Not an easy one to make. Interesting but not one of my favorites. It came from a sketch I did for what would eventually become the UC Steel Apocalypse series. It did not translate to the smooth surfaced Hibben knife very well.
GH2009, GH2010 Scorpion – Another one designed for my line, but again, we needed a new Hibben knife and it fit the look so it was used there instead. This is one of my favorites. Gil made a custom version of this one at one point and it was featured in Knives Illustrated magazine, erroneously credited as a Paul Ehlers’ design.
GH2014, GH2015 Tigershark – I worked for about a month trying to come up with the next design and just could not get anything that I liked enough to show to Gil, then at the last minute I came up with this. It actually all came together in about five minutes. Sometimes pressure brings out the best. Gil made a few changes to the back of the blade, but otherwise it is exactly what I designed in that five minutes. A really beautiful knife. Another one that pushed the production envelope as far as it could go. Probably the most difficult one we ever made.
GH2025 Eye of Drakonus – It was getting harder and harder to come up with something for Gil’s line that did not look like something from my KR line. I had been questioned by customers for the previous few years who was the real designer because it was becoming obvious that my designs for UC, KR, and Hibben all had a certain look. I suggested that this time we do a real collaboration and use both of our names on the knife. I designed about six knives and sent them to Gil. He picked out his favorite bits and we went back and forth by fax modifying the design to this final version. This one actually has more of Gil’s design ideas than any of the others, a true collaboration. It is probably the last one I will design for or with Gil because I want to focus on my own line and keep the looks as different as possible. I’m sure some will say my 2004 Kit Rae knife, the KR19 Archeros, looks like a Hibben knife when they see it, and in a way it is. I have been designing what I thought the Hibben “look” was supposed to be for so long that it is a permanent part of the way I design fantasy knives.
UC866 Pro Thrower Axe
UC946, UC947, UC948, UC949 Cord Grip Throwers – Needed another thrower for the line so I came up with this different version of the classic Hibben thrower. Gil made some changes when he made the protoypes. The final follows his design pretty close.
GH2012 Series Folders (bottom knife in photo) – We needed a follow up to the first Hibben thrower so I took a folder I had designed for UC and redesigned it as a Hibben folder with a blade styled after one of Gil's. One of the most well made folders on the market at the time, but it did not sell very well. It made a comback in 2009 as an assisted opening folder under Gil's line.
CT1 Bowie – The first release in the second generation Colt knife line from United Cutlery. Made by Camillus Cutlery in New York.
CT0095 Safari Hunter
HD1 Lockback – Based on my Rigid lockback tooling, which was in turn based on a lockback design I lifted from an original Rigid factory knife from the 1970s.
HD17 Live to Ride Lockback
RG1, RG2 Liner Locks (middle knife in photo) – My first folding knife. There were many, many Japanese copies of this knife made. Before the days of détente ball bearings to hold the blade closed! It was very dangerous to keep one in your pocket. I remember Sal Glesser from Spyderco coming to United's booth at the Blade Show in the late 1980s (I think), handing me his business card, and asking me to call him if I had any designs I would like to show him. Spyderco was one of the only companies at the time that made stainless, one handed opening, folding knives with pocket clips. They owned the market back then.
BRAND: COLUMBIA SPORTSWEAR
CL0103 Cathedral Peak Hiking Staff
SL37 Roll Tech Utility Knife – Another version of the Colt Revolver knife. Still not what I wanted. One day we will make this knife right.
WR0100SG, WR1010SG, WR0102SG Large, Medium, and Small Stag Bowies – Blade art only.
BRAND: EPIC WEAPONS
BZ001 Frostmourne Sword – Based on the 3D models created for the Blizzard Warcraft 3 game. I designed and supervised the replica for Epic Weapons.
BRAND: VALYRIAN STEEL / SONG OF ICE AND FIRE
VS0001 Longclaw Sword – Sword of Jon Snow from George R.R. Martin's book series, "A Song of Ice and Fire." This is more of George's design, and the license holder, Jalic. They picked the the blade and hilt parts they liked from several of my designs and I put them together.
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