SBG Custom Katana and the Black Dragon Forge BLOG

SBG Custom Katana and the Black Dragon Forge BLOG: April 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Batch 22 Officially Open!

The title says it all.

Batch 22 is open and the Custom Katana 3.0 is officially taking new commissions for the next 2 weeks. I'll be keeping you all updated if we reach the forges maximum capacity early, but at this stage we should be closing off on the 6th of May.

Already the orders are coming in and I am seeing some very cool designs - seems to be a fairly even split between the iron and the work hardened copper sets and I'm seeing some really cool combinations so far, great to see that despite the streamlining it's still possible to come up with something very uniquely, well, you.

Have fun folks!

Click here to design and reserve yours now!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Yes, it's official - April 22 is the SBG Custom Katana relaunch..!

It's back from the brink of extinction after 5 years of continuous production - the SBG Custom Katana has been reborn!

The biggest problem we encountered over the last 5 years was the 'fiddly bits'. Now true enough, a custom made Katana is a very personal thing, so 'fiddly bits' come with the territory to some degree. But as we were the first and the only company to bunch a whole heap of orders together under one umbrella and STOP TAKING ORDERS until these were completed and shipped from the forge, the more basic the options chosen, the better. And most people DID pick from the basic options, and got GREAT swords that they still talk about today!

The problem swords were almost always the ones with minor deviations from the standard, i.e. a 12" tsuka instead of 11", an engraving in English (which if done wrong, meant we had to throw the whole thing away and start again) and because we offered a wide range of alloy tsuba, there were some delicate designs in there - and delicate designs should really be made of iron, brass, hardened copper or steel..

In short, after the last batches have been delayed by these kind of things and the error rate shot up due to the number of possible combinations we were offering, and the costs kept going up but we never passed them on - we were at one point quite recently ready to throw in the towel, wrap it all up and call it a day..

But tempting as that might be, we knew that there were still people out there who would be more than satisfied with one of our best made swords. The forge does GREAT work, how they managed to handle all those possible combinations is beyond me.. (I'm not all that good at maths, but the combinations seem to be in the billions!) - and their blades, well it was their blades that got me interested in them in the first place..

So instead, I went back to the drawing board.

And came up with this..

The number of combinations now are enough to satisfy the vast majority of people, but deliver a more consistent, better product. Everything has been upgraded - the alloy fittings are entirely gone, instead we have been able to get a reliable supply of solid IRON tsuba in a number of excellent configurations (i.e. Classic Mokko, C Ring Musashi, Crane, Kuramono - heck, even one of the one used on the original Kanbai Katana!) and match them with some basic iron fuchi and kashira.

But we go one better, because for one flat price if you want something a bit more ornate you can upgrade for free to a pre-matched themed ornate brass set. I hand picked these for their uniqueness and availability - classic designs like the Torakami and Tsunami to some VERY unique themed sets that are just begging to be put on a one off, unique sword design combination..

Here's some of my favorites..

Take the Tsunami design, give it a blue saya and blue ito with a solid bodied blade 27" blade and there is one design straight out. Or mount the Bunka set on classic black ito with white rayskin, a 28" blade with bo-hi and you have a super traditional looking blade. Or how about a classic 'Torakami' recreation as a Daisho set, or a black hobgoblin with red saya and folded steel...

You get the idea.. And that's just a sampling of the offerings!

I'm excited in that I think we have come up with the ultimate evolution of this line - the only drawback is, to do all this we had to raise the price by a fair bit..

We have been selling these swords below cost for a long while.. Our attempts to perfect the kissaki and the itomaki had already increased the price, now we were offering proper bo-hi termination, solid iron or exotic, premium grade gold and silver plated sets - something had to give, so we had no choice but the raise the price to $499.99 shipped (free in Canada).

Now honestly, while this is a jump, it has to be done - we can't keep the project going if it keeps running at a total loss every time. And when you consider now what you are getting, $499 is still a total bargain! ($499 is still VERY tight for what we are offering!).

Anyway, I am now in the final stages of preparing the product listing itself, adding in all the options and getting it ready for the April 22 relaunch.

But the good news is - it is happening. And I realize that the streamlining may upset some, but we need to it for the others that we KNOW we can delight, and keep this unique product alive on the market for those who want to make a unique sword that fits their taste and personality.

Like the 29" bo-hi Bunka set with white ito, black rayskin and black saya. Or an all Black steel, black iron solid bodied 28" Mokko with Burgundy Saya and rayskin saya wrap..

Yes, it's coming back. And I'm very excited - I'll have all the options and designs ready for the 22nd, so stay tuned folks.. If I could have done it all over again THIS is how I would have done it for sure..!

- Paul