They are incredibly nice! I handled some protos at Blade in June and it's making the wait that much harder. If you want details, then do a search. There was a lengthy discussion a couple of months ago.
My impressions after approximately three whole days: Definitely a winner, no question about it. I think the Mnandi is a design that incorporates both listening to customer (and non-customer) feedback, and also gives CRK a more customizable design than previous models.
Latter observation first: the inlaid Sebenza has been very successful, but there are limited options for inlay materials due to choices CR made in the inlay method--which sacrificed artistic possibilities in order to maintain working ability. The Sebenza and Umfaan were designed as working knives first, decorations came later, and had to fit into the performance envelope. The Mnandi, on the other hand, was designed with decoration considerations from the start, and CRK has stated that there will be a wide range of inlay materials available. Thus the Mnandi can show the "art knife" side of CRK, without compromising the working ability of the Sebenza design. This is not just a pretty face...while there's no way I'm going to test this, the Mnandi looks to have sacrificed very little strength to gain its good looks. The velvet glove does not compromise the iron fist within.
Response to feedback: no need to detail the massive amount of "what's wrong with the Sebenza, why I don't like the Sebenza, etc." discussions in this forum and elsewhere. Possibly I have a biased view (since I am in this camp), but a common complaint has been that the Sebnenza has simple (brick-like?) shape that emphasized working ability at the expense of ergonomics. CR has been listening, and the Mnandi is his response. To be succinct, the Mnandi is COMFORTABLE. Hold one, and you will instantly see the major difference from the Sebenza--curves. There are very few straight lines and 90-degree corners to be found on the Mnandi, and the design "works" both in a visual and tactile sense.
God is in the details: as in the Sebenza, there are outstanding design features in the Mnandi that are not immediately obvious. The clip is like nothing I've seen before, not formed from a flat strip but a three-dimensional design that is both strong and elegant. The opening method is completely in harmony with the design goals--a thumbstud would have been out of step with the smooth ergonomics found elsewhere. To call the opener a "thumb nick" is convenient shorthand, as this is far more than a narrow horizontal slot in the blade.
It's probably obvious by now that I am very pleased with my Mnandi.
Note that all the above is strictly my own opinion, and is based entirely upon my own limited information and observations. Your mileage may vary; objects are closer than they appear to be; do not fold, spindle, or mutilate. Or at least do it in private...
I think you pretty well nailed it sas! Is your Mnandi one of the all bead blasted protos or one of the ones with some polished areas (the edges of the slabs)? Have you clipped yours onto jeans or heavy khakis?
The slab faces are polished, visible just in the margins around the wood. The lock bar is bead blasted, as is the edges of the slabs. The letter that came with it explains that there were a total of 16 prototypes, the first batch of 6 had some tolerance problems that caused some of the wood inlays to crack, then there was a second batch of 10 that incorporated various improvements.
As much as I like the clip, for me the knife looks better without it. I generally don't use clips except on larger knives. I didn't do a lot of testing, but the clip worked on the corduroys I was wearing at the time.
Thanks for the pic, that really helps me a lot....it looks like I'll certainly need to get one of these rascals.
I'm with you on the no clip deal, they are an added bump that often doesn't flow with the lines of many folders, I tolerate some of them....just so I can carry more than one at a time, like my William Henry Carbon Fiber Lancet, wear it everyday in the shirt pocket and wouldn't be without it, but larger knives clip to the front pants pocket and another riding in a sheath on the belt are always handy...
The mnandi I had for about a week this spring was a prototype that was polished and all but impossible for me to send back I liked it that much.... SAS summed it up pretty well All I can say is that I am lookin foward to getting the ones I have on order... Nice scan BTW ...
The design of the Mnandi is incredible. I was able to handle a couple of the protos at the Blade Show last month. To say it was difficult not to preorder one would be an understatement.
Since CRK has stated there will be a wide range of inlay materials available, I decided to wait. I just hope they offer another type inlay (D.Ironwood) for early 2002 . I believe the Mnandi is scheduled for release in September.
I overexposed to get the wood pattern on the Mnandi to be that obvious. You can see it pretty clearly by how bright the blades are.
In person, it's a dark wood but the grain is pretty visible. A better digital camera would have helped. I'm going to do something about that in the next few months--the Minolta Dimage 7 looks good right now.
You're lucky to get one of those polished Mnandis (is it Mnandis or Mnandi for more than one? ) sas. They are really sweet. The production models will be sand blasted, for good reasons, but I really loved the look of those polished protos.