Thursday, 24 March 2011

The axe as a status symbol

It's finally happened. The tool most people don't know how to use properly has become the status symbol of the yuppy. Now, folks who have never done any manual labor in their lives can hang an axe on the wall and look at it with fond admiration while bragging to their friends. All this for the low price of....

$445 USD

That's right. No it's not made of Optimus Prime's right bicep, nor was it used to wipe out all the dinasaurs. It's just an axe with a painted handle. Even though I'll be giving this farce more advertising, you need to see it to believe it.

I know my way around axes and could tell on sight that this was in fact a Tuatahi work axe, which can be bought at this particular point in time for $212 USD. So for a little paint on the handle and a brand name stamped into the wood, you pay a princely markup of $233 This to me is not only a scam, but it's BS marketing at it's absolute worst. Read this tripe and if you can understand what the heck he is writing about, please feel free to enlighten me...

"As mean as it gets. Our Heavyweight will step up and be an extension of your entire body if you know how to swing."

What does this even mean? So if someone stupid enough buys this axe and finds it less than orgasmic while swinging it around their apartment while sipping a martini, it's not the seller's fault as obviously the purchaser doesn't know how to swing an axe. If a person knows how to swing an axe chances are they won't be paying $445 dollars anyway and will stick to the old beaten Plumb axe their dad used.

Hold onto your hats, here comes a rant....

How did this all come about? Is nothing sacred anymore? First designers ripped off old worn and torn jeans which used to be earned legitimately by busting one's arse at work. Then it was the bed hair and after that the bicycle. All these used to be symbols representing the financially strapped and struggling who couldn't afford new jeans, posh haircuts and a car. Now they've grown tired of these and the marketing types have moved onto what was typically reserved for the real men. You know, those guys who didn't give a warm tin of tobacco spit about image and the "cool factor". They have stolen the axe.

Reading some of the dribble on this page has made me realise how carefully thought out the whole concept is. You see, you appeal to the urges that a man has to feel tough and masculine. You even offer him an experience, in this case it's a, and I quote:

"truly unique brand experience"

I am not sure what this is, but it sounds exciting. Then we talk about the code of being a man:

"There was also something else my father taught me in Algonquin Park…
A code.
The code of man. The principles which make a boy into “a man”. Qualities which engender respect and beget leadership. My father’s code was passed on to me around the campfire that was fueled by the wood hewn by our axes."

I mean really? I would be ASHAMED putting this kind of rubbish into writing. He even gives the axe a plug, like it really played some mystical role in his road to manhood. I'd bet my last tin of baked beans his dad didn't hack any trees down with a $445 yuppy axe (this will be shortened to yax in future). To make matters worse, this guy admits to founding the Best Made Co.

Which is another marketing company that simply re-badges other products and charges a ridiculous mark up. I work hard in trying to teach people how to resurrect old axes so that they can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment and possibly pass this skill to others. I do this so others can save money, learn a practical skill and understand what goes into making an axe. It stands to reason That I feel like I am at the opposite end of the spectrum to these types of companies and emotive advertising. You see, regardless of what the advertising tells you, it's just an axe. Yes, they use high quality axes, but, unless you practice using them you may as well have a $12 special taken from the bargain bin at your local hardware store. The price contradicts what the advertising is trying to sell you, because no-one in their right mind will spend that money on a tool that will get beaten and scratched in daily use.

The sad thing is, Tuatahi axes who make the Base Camp X axes make an excellent product that does not need the extra fluffing to sell itself. The axes have an excellent reputation amongst axe racers world wide and is often considered one of the best for the money in the world. So why do I care? Because I don't like the emotive and dishonest advertising used by those "middlemen" looking to rip people off. Do yourself a favour if you want a good axe and buy it straight from Tuatahi.

In fact, when you talk to Jo, tell her Paul from Norway sent you. I'll have my Tuatahi axe in a couple of weeks because I don't consider the modifications done by Base Camp X and Best Made add anything to Tuatahi axes at all. Stay posted for my review of the Tuatahi work axe and if you absolutely must spend money on something, feel free to send some my way.


  1. LOL. I think you are right on the money. I also love the exotic names, the "Colossus" and the "Eruption". I feel more like a man just by writing about it. :)

  2. Right on. The $1500 fire bowl is another classic fraud.

  3. Yeah, I called it like I see it. Silly names for products that are overpriced don't impress me much.

  4. BTW, we are eagerly awaiting your review of the tuatahi. is that a racing axe or a working axe?

  5. Hello Federico. I'll be reviewing the Tuatahi Working axe as I figured it's the axe most people would consider for processing firewood. It is actually on it's way here so I'll have to wait a few days yet. Be sure I will do a very thorough review with loads of pictures.

  6. Do you know who makes their Pioneer axe? Its a 3.5 lb head, looks real nice, but obviously I dont care to pay the markup for some shiny paint job.

  7. G'day Greg, my guess would be that the Pioneer is made by Council Tool co. You can save about $90 USD by copy and pasting this in your browser:

    The Base camp X Pioneer is the Council Tool Premium Hudson Bay Axe.

  8. I would suggest from the picture it is China Made Snow & Nealley pre buy-out of S&N. Although from what I have read they are still importing heads from China at the time being.

  9. totally spot on! it just doesn't feel authentic. you might be interested in this new company because it parodies this sort of ridiculousness!

  10. I just plan on painting my current axe (after I pay 6 USD to get it sharpened.) :)