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Who is your favorite Toa?


 May 12, 2004

The Rebel

I'd like to start out with a short lesson in military armaments. Raphael's weapons, known as "sai", are not actually swords as they are so often portrayed (particularly when used by either Raphael or Marvel's Elektra). They're primarily a defensive weapon, of a type often known as "sword-breakers", which includes a very similar weapon known as a "jitte" (same basic shape, but with one less tine). The "blade" is usually just a tapered rod, and rarely had a sharp point, so while you could injure someone by jabbing them with it, it's about as effective as a large screwdriver. When used properly, your opponent's sword blade can be caught between two tines, which can be used to pin or even break the blade by twisting your wrist to press the tines up against the blade. Of course, it's much more cinematic to have Raphael using them to climb brick walls...

I said before that Michelangelo's nunchaku were the deciding factor in whether I could actually make all four Turtles, but I never counted on how tricky it would be to make Raphael's sai. Jitte would have been a lot easier, since I could have used 1x2 flat liftarms to link the two plus-rods together. Unfortunately, there's a round hole in the middle of the 1x3 flat liftarm, and that was the most realistic design I could think of. After playing around with it a bit, I suddenly realized that while it wouldn't work on a stand-alone sai, it could be made to work on one that's being held. By adding a half-bushing to the center prong, the 1x3 liftarm is held firmly against Raphel's hand, which solved half of the problem. Pushing the rear tine through the liftarm a bit prevents it from rotating by locking it in the hole on the side of the socket joint, and the forward tine is pushed through to better match the length. That dealt with everything but the hilt. Like all of the Turtles in the new cartoon, Raphael's weapon grip is wrapped in cloth that's the same color as his mask. The obvious solution would be to give his sai the same hilts as Leonardo's katana, but sai hilts are not long enough to be held in a two-handed grip. The simple solution would be to leave it of completely, but I really wanted to stay consistant between the four Turtles. The solution I ended up picking was to use one of the old red TECHNIC bushings. This proved trickier than I'd expected, as they were only used in sets released in 1974-1977, but I did manage to find one person in the US who had two for sale.

What with all the jumping and kicking and jump-kicking going on, I decided that one Turtle should be in a basic standing pose. The sai are as difficult to pose as the katana, as they're about the same length and a lot wider. Fortunately, Raphael is commonly seen wielding one or both of them with the hilt pointed up, which is not the case with Leonardo.

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