3D Printed Swords for Transformers: A Round-Up of Mini-Reviews.

A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

3D-printing is an amazing technology; it is finding medical uses, making industrial prototyping an awful lot easier, and putting gadget personalization into the reach of just about anyone with even a basic amount of computer literacy.

However, today at AddAltMode, we’re not here to talk about all these amazing world-improving technologies. We’re going to talk about the use of 3D-printing to make custom accessories for action figures. And guess what? There’s a thriving community of Transformers fans, arming their robots with unique 3D-printed weapons. Today we’re going to pull some 3D-printed blades off the sword-rack and look at them in detail.

Aucepic Anlace by Fakebusker83

So, the first sword on the list is Fakebusker83’s Aucepic Anlace. This sword, and several of Fakebusker’s others are designed to strongly resemble the energy weapons wield by ‘bots in the Fall of Cybertron videogame.

This energy sword from Fall of Cybertron is a clear inspiration for the Aucepic Anlace.

This energy sword from Fall of Cybertron is a clear inspiration for the Aucepic Anlace.

An “Anlace”, for those who don’t know is a medieval short dagger with a broad tapering blade. This anlace makes a suitable broadsword for deluxe-class figures, or an acceptable dagger for larger sizeclass.

*makes lightsaber noises* Zzzwhing! Zzzwwhuuum!

Sword-blades made of energy is such a classic science-fantasy trope. Don’t think about it too much, though, because it makes no sense whatsoever. Just go with the Rule of Cool.

It is sold in two parts – hilt and blade, meaning that you can obtain the blade in a transparent material to make a crystal sword or energy sword (both solid science-fantasy tropes). Also, there are a choice of two blades – plain and “energized”. Of course, I went for the energized variant, which has a blade covered in scifi-looking gubbins. Given a quick coat of a transparent red glaze, and with the handle painted appropriately, the result is quite good.

The colours I chose to paint this sword in now make much more sense.

The Aucepic Anlace wielded by Beast Hunters Wheeljack.

Overall, I’d say this is one of the better custom accessories for Transformers available on Shapeways. Its strong resemblance to the source material and the sculpted detail make it interesting to paint, and it’s really quite easy to get a resultant accessory that enhances the figure it’s installed on.


Astral Sword by Hokieken

Next, let’s look at another model with some fictional inspiration behind it; the Star Saber, Excalibur for robots. This legendary sword is found in episode 46 of Tranformers Prime, actually stuck in a bloody rock, and can only be pulled out by the Rightful King of England Optimus Prime.

Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

The Star Saber, in the Autobots’ base in Transformers: Prime.

Of course, Hokieken of Alt-mode Customs hasn’t labelled his/her model as the Star Saber  instead calling it the “Astral Sword“, but it’s clear from where the inspiration derives.

My face is up here! Stop staring at my ...blade.

The Astral Sword. Absolutely not Excalibur. I realise now that I should have painted the backwards-facing part of the hilt to match the blade. D’oh!

Anyway, the Astral Sword makes a nice star Saber for a Deluxe Optimus Prime to wield, it’s got a long-enough hilt that it could potentially be wielded in one or two hands, bastard-sword fashion, given that the (presumably Deluxe-sizeclass) wielder can fit both hands in front of his chest (FOC Optimus can’t, due to truck bits, hence no photos).

In terms of show accuracy, it looks fantastic, unless you mis-paint it, and then add lacquer so it can’t be painted over… yeah, no one’s perfect, least of all me. It’s worth obtaining in a polished plastic, rather than in straightforward White-Strong-&-Flexible plastic, to avoid the visible print lines, and grainy texture, that sometimes show up in WS&F.

In general, though, there’s not too much to say about this one: it looks show-accurate in terms of it’s proportions and the details are good, but it’s pretty small. It doesn’t really have the sheer size necessary to evoke the Star Saber for a Voyager-class or larger figure.


5mm Broadsword & Surgeblade by Trent Troop

Next up – two swords by writer, illustrator, voice actor and geek polymath Trent Troop. (I think that guy is really cool.) Troop’s swords are a little more generic than the first two — with no obvious video-game or cartoon references in their design, they’re just simple science-fictionalized swords. This makes them suitable for other action figures with 5mm-post based hands as well as Transformers.

Firstly, the 5mm Broadsword, a simple, hefty blade with a short 5mm post handle and a small hook-like accent at the base of the blade. I love this design. It does everything it needs to do with a minimum of fuss.

When it comes down to it , a sword is just a really big knife.

Simple but effective: this sword with be fine for any appropriately-scaled sci-fi or fantasy action figure, not just these robots.

Again, there’s not a lot to say about this, I really like it, but can’t quite put my finger on why. There’s something about it’s shape that makes me think of the G1 Dinobots, but again, I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Secondly, the Surgeblade, a spindly crystalline-looking sword.

This is like a fine duelling rapier: it makes the other swords here look brutal.

This is like a fine duelling rapier: it makes the other swords here look brutal.

I’d ordered this in Transparent Acrylic with the intent of dyeing it to make it red. However, it didn’t take the dye nearly as well as the other transparent plastic items I’d bought from Shapeways. These other items had more intricately-textured surfaces, and it seems that RIT Dye sticks better to plastic in grooves and depressions. Actually, their White-Strong-Flexible plastic takes dye extremely well, which shouldn’t be surprising, since it’s basically nylon, chemically. Their clear plastics are acrylic based, and it seems that they just don’t dye as well with the dyes that I’ve tried. Seeing as dyeing was a failure, I just painted it in non-translucent paints. It still looks quite nice, but it wasn’t what I was aiming for.

I should have posed Prowl with this: Axe Cop!

This is an axe, not a sword, but it shows how RIT dye takes to Shapeways’ clear plastic. It sticks best in the crevices and edges, but smooth-textured surfaces don’t get much. This axe, called the Galactic Dichotomizer, was designed by fakebusker83, who also made the first sword discussed in this post.


Mecha-Macuahutil by … Me!

Finally, I’m going to include a plug for something I made: a 5mm-post scaled macuahuitl (ma-kwa-hwee-tul) – an Aztec-styled sword. I made this for my custom G1 Skullcruncher based on the Beast Hunters Knock-Out mold. It’s inspired by the (frankly terrifying) swords made by the craftsmen of the Aztec Empire (and some other Meso-American civilisations) from carven wood and obsidian razors. Macuahuitl were the ultimate development of stone-bladed weapons, and a single well-placed blow could cut a man or horse in half.[Citation needed… Go on, then.]

Seriously, I just feel sorry for Mach Kick.

Ready to cut Mach Kick in half; it’s a mercy-killing, really. Inset: There’s an additional post on the hilt, so figures with a socket on their back can store the sword there.


Summing up

I’ve probably only scratched the surface, and I’m sure I’m missing piles of other good things, but it seems that for toy customisers, Shapeways have a sword for every occasion. Of course, if you can’t find anything in their selection that suits your needs, you can always design something better yourself. Maybe your designs will be mentioned here next time I write a post like this.

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2 thoughts on “3D Printed Swords for Transformers: A Round-Up of Mini-Reviews.

  1. I like to say I know a lot about geek culture (I think I do!)… But when I first came to this site and spoke to you two, you both opened up a new world to me that I didn’t know existed. Toy/figure modifications is something I didn’t know had a proper market!

    Nice reviews as always, B 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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