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Something New On The Bench!

This is how each knife starts, pencil and paper - Not CAD

This is how each knife starts, pencil and paper - Not CAD

Many makers tend to relay heavily on CAD programs to start their design process.  Will relies on pencil and paper instead. While the final designs are translated to a digital format for machining he prefers the initial approach to be akin to Leonardo.  From there he will make several changes, alterations and variants before moving on to physical prototype.

The prototype stage has many steps but is summed up like this. First you have to hold the piece in your hand to make critical changes in angles and positions. Then when you move back to the paper the design continues to evolve again. After which a final (or near final) prototype is cut and shipped and put through mock testing to verify geometry or on this project the ability to perform numerous slashing, hooking and gutting maneuvers all while maintaining the perfect body weld for instinctual use.

This new project has Will going back to his contracting and training days. Days which had him black and blue from neck to ankle while studying Sayoc Kali. The decision to study Chris Sayoc's method was from a need to blend tactics that could be boiled down and made into a hit list for a teir-one team and ultimately used for various tactical teams who needed a short and sweet list of maneuvers.

Will is really excited about this new design which promises to be another great multi-use tool for both the explorer and the operator.

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A Few Cool Vulture Facts...

Many people don't realize that Vultures are a very valuable part of our ecosystem.  Vultures also have some incredible traits that keep them in a class all to themselves.  Here are a few of my favorite facts.

1) Vultures have incredibly strong stomach acid, almost 100 times more potent than that of a human.  This allows them to eat some very nasty things like Botulism and Cholera without getting sick. In fact this is one of the more important facts in the species. Vultures help control the spread of these deceases to humans by consuming carrion and cleaning the landscape of garbage.

Having a smooth head keeps the vulture relatively clean, not this guy.

Having a smooth head keeps the vulture relatively clean, not this guy.

2) The Bone-Eating or Bearded Vulture is one intense bird. It lives on a steady diet of bones and dyes its feathers blood red, giving it the reputation of one of the most metal birds in the animal kingdom.

The bearded vulture, the red accent around his eye is the reason for the red in our logo.

The bearded vulture, the red accent around his eye is the reason for the red in our logo.

3) The Rüppell's Griffon and is the highest recorded flying bird at 37,900 feet above mean sea level. They don't usually fly that high but many griffons do soar many thousand feet up in the sky. Infact they are routinely seen cruising over the Himalayas. They are also one of the species that partake in the Sky Burial (more on that later).

The Ruppell's Vulture is one high flyer.

The Ruppell's Vulture is one high flyer.

While this is only a few of my favorite facts regarding vultures, they are a vital part of our earth and need our protection. In many parts of the world they are killed for being dirty and gross while other countries murder them for their bones to practice Voodoo rituals in any event they are dwindling in numbers and should be treated with respect. Now in recent years in many parts of the world we are seeing a rise in old world diseases like Cholera and mass outbreaks of botulisms.  Many scientists attribute this to the shrinking number of wild vultures.

Will-

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A Little Gift From My Buddies At FN.

Who said size doesn't matter?

Who said size doesn't matter?

For those of you that aren't in the know, in my previous career I was in the training and contracting industry. So there is special spot in my alter ego for excessively aggressive armament.  So every year at Shot Show I come home with something outrageous and totally not practical.  This year I had my eyes set on the compact SAW from FN. While not exactly the thing you need for home defense, it is just the thing you want your local home invader to see you carrying while in your boxers while sporting a bump helmet.

This is just what I need... Plus it's too heavy and complicated for my wife to use, especially on me when I come home with it!     Will-

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Shot Show 2017

It's that time again, SHOT SHOW! While I am getting to loath Las Vegas I still love going to Shot. This year we set up a custom knife for the guys at DSA. Teaming up with a couple of Illinois companies, Black Rhino (kydex makers) and Trident Defense (custom firearms coatings and mods) we produced the leading look for this years limited edition package for DSA - The Hades Package.

The Cholera Mk2 in black wash finish, Kirinite lava grips and a red bone bead.

The Cholera Mk2 in black wash finish, Kirinite lava grips and a red bone bead.

The knife is our standard Mk2 Cholera with a finish we started offering last year, the Black Stone Wash.  While the finish is touchy to balance and produce on a production line on a big knife we decided to offer this finish for the next year.  Will thinks the look is a perfect antiqued finish for a good balance between the tactical black everyone loves and the patina feel of an old tool.  The Kirinite handles are really cool and make the knife a true custom.

Kirinite Lava grips.

Kirinite Lava grips.

Everyone at shot who saw the entire kit put together were all hot and bothered. Trident did a great job with the red and black distressing battle worn look.  We outfitted the sheaths in Carbon Fiber with red rivets and the red bone bead is designed to look like the operator kept a souvenir from the last demon he slayed while battle his way through the underworld to ultimately take out Hades.  

The Hades kit offered by DSArms Inc.

The Hades kit offered by DSArms Inc.

The Hades kit in all it's glory in the DSArms booth.  This entire kit is being offered as a limited edition purchase from DSArms Inc. Till next year...

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The Move To The New Shop.

The end of last year was a really cool time for us. Vulture was outgrowing the humble office area we grew up in. We had plywood floors covering the carpet, boxes taped to the walls to guard against marks and most days had to run our big ass compressor at night when everyone left.  Not to mention the constant vibration in the walls when the tumbler was tumblin'.  While our new space is not that much larger in total size we are finally in a space that will allow us to grow.

Prepping and sealing the new concrete floor.

Prepping and sealing the new concrete floor.

The new shop has some killer concrete in it. Polished and smooth so cleaning up messes will be a snap. Plus we will be able to blow out all the dust from the winter buildup from building. We have a lot of plans sitting around trying to fit what we need in the shop while setting up 6 more work stations for processing. Speaking of process, dealing with the regulations for build out was a real shift in gears and kept Will occupied and full of stress.

The walls were going up fast and decking was the last thing on the list for rough inspections. But before all that could start Will hung a brand new flag from Anin. Turned out the one ordered was a bit big but he has a saying, "go big or go home." All the contractors loved the flag and with the over head door open you could see it clear! The overall build out took a ton of time especially the move of all the tools. We made over 15 trips with the trailer and spent countless hours packing and unpacking. Just when we thought we had enough room the stairs came in and took up so much floor space.

Shop grub... As long as it's hot on a cold day.

Shop grub... As long as it's hot on a cold day.

We are now almost up to speed on the line and will be launching a few items this spring that have been on the board for a while. It just made no sense to start a major launch only to screw everything up while in a move. The new shop is running well and we have a new piece of equipment coming in soon that will excite a lot of customers!

We will keep you informed as to the next few updates on the shop and a few long anticipated items that are finally launching. Till then...

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154CM Stainless Steel

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154CM Stainless Steel

As many of you know our Mk1 knives were made from 1095 HC steel and were differentially heat treated.  Customers were asking for a knife that wouldn't oxidize (rust) as fast or at least something they didn't have to maintain as much.  I also wanted the customer to be able to see and feel the actual metal.  So we made a move to Stainless Steel.

We then started to evaluate steels and work with price points and heat treating options.  As you may or might not know there are a ton of really great steels in this category including all the super steel powder metals that are all the rage.  Well I had to set a limit to the build and that was cost.  I didn't want the customer to bear the brunt of the cost of super high end steel.  Our knives are based on 3/16" stock and really have a lot of steel in the knife which can get very pricey considering steel is sold by the pound.

There is a company motto I came up with... "Build It Right - Build It American." So using lesser quality foreign steels was out of the question.  Ultimately I chose to work the Mk2 program all based on Crucible Steel 154CM which is a great stainless with one of the most balanced make ups in the industry.  This steel was actually developed for the aerospace industry and more specifically jet turbine blades.  That seemed fitting as I my first product was in the aerospace field.  Heat treating was also a major importance as we wanted to squeeze out every possible strength out of the steel.

Being in a major city has it's advantages, like quality high end heat treating facilities.  We chose to work with a major house even though the cost was a bit higher, they had the better facility and proven track record.  Our Mk2 knives come out at 59/60 HRC and each batch is tested after it's second cryo process for hardness. We use the exact recipe that is specified by the mill for this steel and is a controlled product for consistency and durability. That way the steel is the strongest it can possibly be without causing issues with brittleness.

Sharpness was also a concern and with balancing costs and quality of steels 154CM fit the bill perfectly!  At the end of the day the customer has to have a blade or tool that they can defend or depend their life on, no compromises.  Remember I carry these knives everyday and unlike some of the bigger shops out there on the production side I choose to build a product that I would be proud to use and show off to my friends.

Thanks again,

Will-

 

 

 

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Blade Show 2016

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Blade Show 2016

May was a really busy time for the crew.  We were jammin' almost 14 hours a day getting ready for Blade Show.  While we had been moving towards a Mk2 program on the Cholera and Talon fixed blades there was still a ton to get done, like build the company trade show booth!

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This year we moved from the table section of the show to a proper booth.  The girls at Blade Show really did a great job getting us a tremendous location for our first booth show.  The location was perfect, we were in the middle of the section on a corner right next to Medford Knife and Tool and across the isles from Kirinite and MicroTech Knives. 

Building the booth was no easy task as I had envisioned a look that was inspired by a WW2 machine gunner's nest.  We sourced some great items and started the pre-build process in the shop and in the parking lot.  Everything looked good, we were able to build a great booth with expedient items and were able to make one trip in the loading dock under our own power.  Talk to anyone who does trade shows and they will tell you that there is a ton of walking from one end of an expo hall to the other.

Well as expected, the booth went up just as planned and all the worrying was for nothing.  My lead sales guy, Denis was a real trooper and took on the job of assembly with me while Mat ran back and forth making sure we had what we needed.  POW all done, in place and powered with battery packs and solar panels from Goal Zero!

The first day of the show we took on a fourth guy to help out, my long time friend Sam who flew in from Chiciagoland to give us a genuine OooRah form the Marine Corps.  That first day was filled with a ton of people checking out all the new knives and sizing up our latest release, the Drigung Axe which was a real show stopper.

The weekend was filled with seeing past customers meeting new ones who came to check us out and pick up there new Cholera Mk2.  We also had a few drinks and laughs and then more drinks and even more drinks in the lobby of the hotel.  Shame really, this year was absent of falling chickens...

Look for our booth next year in the same exact spot and a big shout out to everyone who stopped by and all the new customers who trusted their purchases with us!

Will-

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Thars' Gold In Dem Dar Knives!

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Thars' Gold In Dem Dar Knives!

I meet with a very interesting indivdual one day who questioned me regarding the use of 1095 steel in the knives. His major concern was that while the steel was a true standard and allowed for many great attributes it lacked the 'sizzle' of a truely unique blade. My response to him was "well did you see my gold version?" He laughed but quickly stopped when I presented the prototype. I knew I was on to something... This gentleman turned out to be a professional hunter who had purchased both the production grade and an investment grade knife.

My idea for this type of knife is 2 fold. 1- Offer our customers a limited edition blade that really looks cool without getting into the fantasy world. 2- Was to create a one of a kind linage to the Cholera for the more diserning buyer without going nuts. As it turned out Titanium Nitrade coatings are just the ticket. While most manufactures have done the rainbow treatment in the past I didn't thing that this would be a suitable 'pimppy' finish and stuck with the standard gold.

So I sourced a medical/aerospace contractor who would coat the knives with a true 2-3 micron finish repeatedly (cause you know how I alway go OVERKILL). This finish will not only act as a hardener on top of the heat treat but also a corrosion barrier for the 1095. I realize that it may not be everyone cup of tea with the gold finish but for the customer who likes to be a bit different they won't worry about seeing another in the field.

Well here they are all ready for their first limited run. The knives will feature a brown leather sheath, white linen micarta handles, the standard double red liner and engraving of the serial number and logo. The lanyard cord it still up in the air...

Will-

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2014 Best Knife - Gear Institute

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2014 Best Knife - Gear Institute

For years Gear Institute has been running really solid gear reviews with a really simple to understand rating of 1 to 100.  We were put in touch with their knife and multitool editor a few months back and submitted a Cholera to the years running for the fixed blade category.  Remember so did all the other big knife house like Gerber, Esee and the likes.  

I received a call from the editor asking a few questions as to design principles, background and other topics like who the hell am I and how the company got it's start.  It was really hard for him to grasp that we went from adventure straps to knives in one swoop.  After giving him a bit of background on what Vulture was set up to do he then set out to prove to the world that our knife had no place in the community.

The Cholera right at home...

The Cholera right at home...

The second call came in and there was a totally different sounding editor on the phone.  I was like he had dropped 20 years in age and was jumping up and down say you did it! Did what I asked? Your knife just scored 100 out of 100! Still excited on the phone I started to understand the seriousness in his score.  He went on to explain to me that in the history of Gear Institute the Cholera is the only knife EVER to score this high.  Sure others have come close but didn't get to the top.

Designed NOT Drawn...

Designed NOT Drawn...

Over the last few months we have gotten the same type of great reviews on the design and build quality most times out performing the testers favorite blade!  I am so excited that everyone is receiving us with tried and trued remarks it's hard to explain!  Thank you to all the customers, fans and editors that took the time to spend their hard earned money on our products!  My main focus is to design the best gear your money can buy, after all who want's to buy a piece of gear multiple times.

Will-

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Cholera - A Terrible Disease

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Cholera - A Terrible Disease

Cholera is one of those diseases that you wish and hope you don’t get as it can be deadly. But most people don’t understand that Vultures control the spread of this nasty ailment in their normal daily life.  Vultures are capable of eating items riddled with the disease without the disease spreading past their stomach.  Most people miss understand our comment about “Vultures can live with cholera in their bellies” but this is what is meant by the comment.

On another note it is a terrible disease but as it turns out it makes one hell of a knife name.  All the Vulture Equipment Works knives and tools will be getting their names from a term associated with the entomology of the Vulture species.  I thought this was a better way to name our knife and tool offerings rather than just some random goofy name with no real meaning.  Sure it makes people squirm and question our thought process but hey if they can’t get past the name then they are pretty small in their own entomology.

The two knives for the first release are the Talon and the Cholera.  Both of which feature things like heat treated 1095 high carbon alloy steel, full tang construction, linen micarta handles, custom profiles for specific design principles as well as some great kydex sheaths with rotating molle compatible clips.  Hell we even supplied a fire steel that features 2 magnesium fuel rods.  While these are just the tip of the iceberg for us, hopefully you can see the time in details I spent putting them together.

Will-

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Antarctica?

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Antarctica?

Alright so some of you have heard that our gear was used on a few expeditions this year with awesome success.  So here is what all the buzz is about… Yes that is Prince Henry of Whales in the picture with Scott Brady from Overland International.

1) Back a few months ago we decided to sponsor a young group of adventurers and overlanders from Expedition Overland on their 60 day adventure into the Yukon Territory of Alaska.  During this adventure they documented the entire gear up, personal stories and the adventure ongoing in a 12 part mini series that can be watched on their website.  After all dust and mosquitos settled they emerged from the bush with their cameras in hand and a new found respect for the gear we call Vulture!  Our gear lasted through some of the toughest environments they have been through yet and allowed them to do multiple different things like rig cameras to roof racks and hang out of aircraft.  Will you be doing the same…? Perhaps.  They were so happy with how the product faired and all the cool things that they did with the rigs they set out to make a commercial based upon their brand depending on our brand, pretty cool!  On top of all that we were awarded the coveted “X-Seal” for best camera accessory (a title only earned never purchased)!

2) A phone call went out from Vulture HQ to a group of explorers that are documenting a monumental task, drive all seven continents!  That group is calledExpeditions7 and is headed up by a group of long time international vehicle based explorers from Overland International. The Phone call went like this, “hey would you like to try some new gear?” These guys mean business and have done some amazing journeys all while documenting the adventure with film crews and renowned photographers and film makers like Bruce Dorn.  So you can imagine the skepticism on the other end of the phone but with a little picking from the big bird himself they said “let’s take a look.”  Well the rest is history, like real history! Scott Brady got on the phone with me as the box was being opened in their office and the staff were completely blown away.

The guys from Expeditions7 at the South Pole sporting Vulture Gear! Photo courtesy Overland Journal

The guys from Expeditions7 at the South Pole sporting Vulture Gear! Photo courtesy Overland Journal

I think the comment was “Holy #$%!, what did you build this for? Mars?”  That being said the team took the gear on the toughest and most grueling challenge yet, the Antarctic!  Their mission was simple as well, drive across the Antarctic Shelf from one side to the other!  If you know anything about the region you know that it’s cold (not as cold as a Chicago winter – LOL) and the gear you need to wear is big and bulky as well.  “No Problem Dude” William told Scott, “just open it up and sling it across your jacket, trust me it will fit!”  Needless to say that the equipment performed awesome and left everyone with a greater sense that if they did go to Mars their equipment would be safe and rigging would be a snap.  Even Prince Henry of Whales thought is was a great looking piece of gear.

So with all that said what does the strap come down to?  Really just a uber cool piece of gear that will last you a life time of use, enjoyment, comfort and fun.

Will-

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The blades take flight.

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The blades take flight.

The Vulture “Cholera” fixed blade made it’s debut at the 2014 Shot Show in Las Vegas. This convention is the who's who in the outdoor shooting / tactical / hunting markets with thousands of people walking the floor all having spent several thousand dollars just to get there. We were located in the tactical l.e. room with all the greats like Daniel Defense and AWC suppressors so the room was filled with a real buzz.  Countless people and operators from around the world remarked consistently that the Cholera was the “best knife of the show."  I even picked up 2 major SWAT teams for trials and possible placement on the team as the standard issue blade.

Prototype 3 of the Investment Grade Cholera. (Now since retired)

Prototype 3 of the Investment Grade Cholera. (Now since retired)

The knife is very simple in it's design and the profile lines but getting the right geometry took years of tweaking.  I was designing the profile to work from many years of field work over several different careers.  While more time consuming and sometimes yielding a dud, the design process will always give you a more stable profile for years of service.

The specs are all there on the Cholera product page so check it out and see for yourself.

Will-

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Oh that is cold!

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Oh that is cold!

Back in early 2013 we did a freeze your a** off corporate video shoot.  It started helplessly enough.  “Hey Ross want to go and shoot the corporate video?  Sure, when?  Next weekend of course.  Ahhh Bill it’s February and isn’t that plane outside… Nah its in a hanger what are you worried about? Just wear some long underwear, HAHAHAHA!  Oh Ross did I mention that the plane is parked in the upper half of Minnesota?

We showed up late the night before the shoot to a howling wind ice crusted streets.  We checked in to our rooms and turned the heat up to max.  We decided to check out a really cool pizza place recommended by Andrew Zimmern called Pizzeria Lola.  Just as promised the "kimchi pizza" was to die for and the "Sunnyside" rocked with guanciale (pork cheeks) and sunny side up eggs! A couple of local beers and stick a fork in us we are done. I went to bed dreaming of a beach somewhere warm for I knew that the morning would be dreadfully cold.

Kimchi pizza at Pizzeria Lola - Minneapolis, MN

Kimchi pizza at Pizzeria Lola - Minneapolis, MN

We woke to an incredible situation - the tires had frozen to the parking lot!  I started the 4Runner and noticed that the gauges were frozen over as well from all the moisture that was trapped inside from last night.  After letting the truck come up to temp we started on our way to the Minnesota Commemorative Air Force hanger.

We arrived to a great scene, tons of planes jammed in a hanger with this massive B-24 in the middle. Parts were all over the floors stacked and laid out in perfect sequence. Carts with tools from all the rebuilds and maintenance that goes on over the winter lined the aisles.  If your not a gear head it wouldn't strike you as cool but I am and took almost an hour just walking around and looking at the the planes.  

Ross inside the B-25 cargo area. CAF Minneapolis, MN

Ross inside the B-25 cargo area. CAF Minneapolis, MN

Ross did a great job working in such a tight space and with such limited heat and we went to work with no script just wingin' it so to speak!  The video is ok but the experience and location was out of this world.  One day we will go back with more gear and lights to redo the clip.

Will-

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Ring - Ring

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Ring - Ring

“Ring Ring, Thank you for calling American Airlines how may we help you?  I need a ticket to join some friends in Arizona for a bit of R&R…” That was the beginning to a great trip with PhaseONE and their PODAS photography adventures with Kevin Raber.  PhaseONE purchased a pre run set of A4 straps for all the attendees on that trip.  Another big assist by Kevin, thanks again!  We had a blast taking pictures of sunrises and sets in the Monument Valley region.  Rocks, desert dunes and canyons rounded out our trip.  There is such a sense of family on PODAS trips it’s hard to explain.  There were jokes upon jokes and pictures upon pictures, it was really nice to get out and put the strap through more tests and be with other photographers again.

We returned to “Ring, Ring, Ring — Thank you for calling Vulture Equipment Works how may we help you?”  Hello this is B&H and we would like talk to you regarding stocking your straps”.  The rest of that story is history.  And Pow another fine gentleman named Joel was kind enough to place their order and away we went with yet another great retailer.

Will-

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Just another day in the neighborhood...

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Just another day in the neighborhood...

Lets back up a few months to recap.  Bam! Photo Plus Expo in New York started it all.  We had taken a modest booth at the show and did a bit of sponsorship with the event.  Oh man was response overwhelming both in support as well as interest. Most people had never seen this type of gear and were skeptical at the price and look.  After a bit of handling they were taken back… “It looks bulky but WOW it is really light” was the most common comment behind “Say what… $180 for a camera strap?”.  We knew that the price would be hard for some people to understand initially and true it’s not a perfect fit for some people.  But after they played with the machined aluminum quick release and saw that is was a true system they were able to understand.  The next morning after the show I woke to a scary sky and just made it out of New York before Sandy arrived.

By October of 2012, everyone here was excited, we had launched our product during the holiday season with Calumet Photographic.  They placed a very nice order and populated all their retail stores with inventory. Thanks again Calumet for the great start and your support! Especially Scott H. at the Oak Brook location and Ben in corporate for going the extra mile it is really appreciated.

Will-

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It's on it's way...

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It's on it's way...

Here is the mock up of our new corporate signage and trade show booth display.  It is a B-24 panel that has been painstakingly polished to a mirror finish then adorned with our logo which has been hand painted in the exact way the old nose art was done in the 40’s!  We have waited long for this piece to arrive and now only days away from it’s arrival we can’t wait to break out the pry bar and uncrate this bad boy!

Will-

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