Behinds the scenes of the
In early 2009 Gil Hibben got a call from Sylvester Stallone. Sly was beginning production on a new movie, "The Expendables", and wanted Gil to once again makes some signature knives for the film. This was going to be an all-star action film written, directed and starring Stallone. It was scheduled to be released in a year and a half later in August of 2010.
Stallone is a long time collector of Gil's knives and of course Gil had already made the iconic knives for Rambo III and Rambo IV for Stallone. Sly had been looking at Gil's website and he really liked Gil's "Alamo Bowie".
Gil made up a couple with macassar ebony handles and sent them off to Stallone.
Now they needed something for Stallone's character in the movie. Gil came up with a totally new design, a wickedly sleek toothpick, a went to work grinding the blades.
Here you can see Gil's sketches on his workbench and how the blade will be completed.
Gil topped the toothpicks off with ivory Micarta handles.
Stallone liked the blades but he wanted the handles changed. He wanted the ivory micarta handle on the Bowie and a darker handle on the toothpick. Gil suggested the the ivory Micarta handle could be scrimshawed with the Expendables logo that would be seen throughout the movie. They agreed this was a good idea and Gil had his friend and scrimshaw artist Rick "HutcH" Hutchings do the job.
The customized versions of the Bowies including a prop version that could be used to look like it was sticking in something (or somebody).
Gil also had on of his United Cutlery auto assist folding production knives customized and sent it along.
The United Cutlery auto assist Pro Folder design by Gil.
Gil customized the knife by adding an ivory Micarta panel on the handle and had HutcH scrim the Expendables logo on it.
Stallone liked this so much that he wrote in a scene just to show it off. A close up would be seen when Stallone used the folder to cut open a bag of cocaine in the movie. The scene was shot but unfortunately it was later cut out in editing.
While Hutch was doing the scrimshaw work, he also made a mammoth ivory pendant that he sent along to Stallone. Sly was seen wearing it during production of the movie.
Gil finished up the toothpick knives that Stallone would use in the movie with maroon Micarta handles.
And again made a prop version which was used in a close up in the film.
Gil also worked closely with the film's prop master, Kent Johnson and visited with him in California.
When production was about to begin, Sly called Gil again and asked him to make a personal knife for him. Gil made a huge lockback folder based on the Rambo III knife design. Sly liked it but he wanted some modifications in the design and then he wanted three more made, one for himself and tow that he wanted to give to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis when they met to film their scenes. Sly autographed the first version and sent it back to Gil.
Gil made the changes in the design and made the new knives. Sly want the knife he gave to Schwarzenegger scrimmed with "To Commando From Rambo".
HutcH made a custom cigar cutter with mammoth ivory handles and scrimmed with a skull and sent it along with the knives.
Sly responded by sending a nice thank you note to HutcH.
Gil made another special version of the Expendables Toothpick that he sent to Stallone. This one had a black Micarta handle with an ivory inlay scrimmed with the Expendables logo.
The Expendables opened in 3,270 theaters in the U.S. in August of 2010 and was a huge success. I had the pleasure of seeing the film on opening night with Gil and Linda. It was the #1 movie in box office ratings with an opening weekend gross of over $34 million. After worldwide release, the film, which was made on a $80 million dollar budget, has grossed over $275 million in theaters worldwide and that is not including DVD sales. With that kind of success you can bank on a sequel.
Gil's knives were prominently seen throughout the film and he was acknowledged in the closing credits.
As with the movies knives Gil made for Rambo III and Rambo IV, Gil made a limited edition series of 100 each of handmade full size exact replicas of the movie knives to sell to his collectors. I designed the certificates of authenticity that Gil signed and included with each knife.
Gil honored me with a couple of the prototypes to add to my collection of Hibben knives.
In addition, Gil also made a very limited series of 15 Expendables Elite Sets that includes all three Expendables knives specially marked with matching serial numbers and included in a custom cherry display case.
Gil and the movie studio also licensed United Cutlery to make lower cost factory reproductions of the knives and they are for sale now at knife shops and in catalogs.
I also had the privilege of writing a feature article about the movie knives for Blade magazine which ran in the November 2010 issue.
As always, it is great fun hanging around Gil's shop and getting a first hand look at all of the amazing creations that spring forth from this extremely talented man.
Sometimes I even let him test them on me.