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The awards catagories are as follows.
1. Overall knife of the year (highest number of votes from catagories 2 & 3)
2. American made knife of the year
3. Imported knife of the year
4. Most innovative American design
5. Most inovative imported design
6. Best buy of the year
7. Investor/collector knife of the year
8. Manufacturing quality award
9. Accesory of the year
10. Knife collaboration of the year
11. Industry achievement award
The catagories are chosen by the entrants, the winners are chosen by the booth holders. One judge per booth, one vote per catagory, the judge cannot vote for thier own entries.
I sure agree with James on this one. "Factory" knife winners should be available in sufficient numbers so that the average Joe (no offense intended to anyone named joe
) can buy them at a normal retail price point. Hand made prototypes, limited runs/limited distribution with unusually high prices (relative to "normal") seem like unreasonable entries in a non-custom class.
James, Sid. Many of the new designs are introduced at the Blade Show to solicit ELU (& distributor/dealer) opinion. These opinions often change the production piece. Once the piece is in production, if the ELU finds fault with something, it is in many cases too late to make changes to the tooling.
Also, Show goers want to see what is the newest new. It is not nearly as new if it is already in production, tooling time and all. Most of the "New" cars shown at a car show are not in production at Show time.
Consider the presentation of a new prototype or concept knife at a show like Blade as a form of marketing research?
Spyderco is introducing several new concepts at the show. What if the ELU want it bigger? or smaller? or ??? Now what? We cannot provide for the ELU the best possible product without their honest opinions. As seen fronm the eyes of the manufacturer.
Isn't soliciting opinions different than competing for awards, though? You can show new models and get feedback, but awards should go to the knives that make it as far as general production. Otherwise we might soon see "concept knives" like concept cars, which will never see a production line but are just there to draw attention and win votes. Not that a concept knife is entirely a bad idea to try out a radical new aspect of a design, but it doesn't show the same kind of commitment and effort that producing 1,000 units of that knife does.
Look at the Kershaw / Onion Task series. Without the full-scale production they've shown, that knife would be nothing more than an oddity (which it probably was when it won its award) - but they have gone from a neat individual's idea to a practical prototype to actual production of a knife in this totally new configuration. It is the last step that is the most important when you are talking about awards that go to the production knife industry. Otherwise all the awards might go to extravagant concept pieces or small-run toys like the pricier Microtechs.
You bring up a very good point. The show seems like a great place for ELU feedback on a proto-type piece.
This still seems like a different class to me because as an uneducated ELU thumbing through a magazine at a check out stand in a store somewhere, when I see "factory" I will think affordable and available today. Perhaps we need to encourage a division between factory and custom for proto-types?
I know one thing the winners will show up in advertisements, shortly there after..even when the production models are not available.(but not in all cases)
This creates a demand and also gives time for changes. Anyone gonna play golf while in Atlanta?
I would assume that a Blade Show award for a factory knife would go, not to a concept knife, but to a knife that the company expects to have in at least early production by the time of the next SHOT show, though we know that "Murphy" works at a lot of knife factories, even the best.
This is like giving a "great software" award to a beta test version, or maybe an alpha test version.
The knife that inspired my comment was in fact the Kershaw-Onion Random Task. Last year it won a trophy, not as an actual factory knife, but as a prototype, hand-made by Ken Onion, which Kershaw was publicly committed to producing. The knife that won the award had a hand-rubbed finish, and I was amazed that a factory would do that.
Well, it turns out that factories don't do that, not for less than the price of a William Henry that is, and the first production knives had a mechanical glitch or two. Bitten fingers. Ouch.
Now Kershaw and Ken Onion have made changes here and there in the knife. The last one I got in the door locks up solidly, doesn't wobble, and opens with a snap. That's the version I'd like to see submitted for judging in the factory knife categories.
Maybe there should be two categories for factory knife awards: Product Introductions and Products Introduced Last Year, now in production with some end user experience.
James, you and Corduroy present some excellent points. Perhaps somewhere there is a better synthesis. We have won awards for knives already in production as well as concept Models. Like most Manufacturers, Spyderco does not base it's production schedule on the Blade Show. It depends at what level development of the product is at.
We are currently trying to distinguish "Concept Models" from "Prototype Models" because of Sid's point. Magazines writers, in an effort to provide information to their readers will oftren take photos of designs while they are still in the conceptual stage. Being shown primarily to learn ELU reaction. As opposed to Prototypes where the decision (comittment) has been made to produce the design (even with modifications).
Spyderco is currently trying to avoid having photos taken of desgns for which the comittment to produce has not yet been made.
We'll see if this helps solve that problem.
We too have seen designs win awards that never really go into production. Blade magzine has responded to this problem by making it part of the rules that the designs enterred must be comitted to production before the next blade Show.