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According to Warhammer: 40,000 lore, the Power Fist (also known as the Power Glove) is a late-41st millennium weapon wielded by honoured Space Marine Captains and Chapter Masters. While slow to use, its powerful hydraulics mean the fist can hammer straight through the side of tanks, and end conflicts with a single, powerful blow. And yet, despite the fist’s theoretical technological prowess, no one has seen fit to turn it from fiction into fact.
That is until Sega, clearly with a marketing budget surplus to burn through by the end of the fiscal year, decided the best way to promote its latest real-time strategy game Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3 was to build a replica 3000psi Power Fist, and then have journalists and influencers smash things with it. Yes, it’s a classic PR stunt the likes of which gaming hasn’t seen since that time THQ asked people to literally break into parked cars with a hammer and steal copies of Red Faction: Guerrilla(!), or when Activision renamed Edinburgh Zoo’s wolverine “Logan” to launch X-Men Origins.
And it’s just as brilliantly pointless.
Based on the in-game Power Fist model from Dawn of War 3, the real-life Power Fist is a hodge-podge of 3D printing, high-tech materials, and good old fashioned garden shed bodgery [Ooh er! -Ed]. The body of the fist is made from a glass reinforced nylon monocoque, a composite material similar to that used on the nose cones of Formula 1 cars. I’m told that the 9.6kg fist is the largest single block of the stuff ever made, measuring a cool 45cm in length and 30cm in width. The fingers of the fist, which do all the heavy hitting and weigh a hefty 6kg on their own, are made from “aerospace aluminium,” and milled into existence by a CNC machine.
The fist section blasts outward from the wrist by way of a pneumatic double action air cylinder, controlled by a bi-directional solenoid valve. Paired with two 3000psi air tanks, the same kind used by paintball guns, the fist delivers 3000psi at 520mm per second. A perfectly timed swing will apparently deliver 3,388 newtons of impact force, more than the average heavyweight boxer’s 2,500 newtons. While the fist won’t punch through an armoured tank like its fictional inspiration, it will punch through a brick wall. Or a a pile of crockery. Or a My Little Pony dream house.
Wielding the Power Fist isn’t as simple as picking it up and taking a swing. First, it’s attached to a camera stabilising rig, effectively a full body harness that spreads the weight across your body kind of like an exoskeleton, while an articulating arm makes the fist easier to swing. A grip and trigger, pulled from an off-the-shelf Black & Decker power tool, controls the arm, although in my case its affable creator was stood nearby with a kill switch to cut power to the 18V batteries (also pulled from a Black & Decker) in case a hand got trapped in the feisty return mechanism.
And firing the thing? Well, even though I’m a lover not a fighter, there’s a sick joy that comes from wielding 3000psi of uniquely destructive power. My swings may have been pathetic, my boxer’s stance all wrong, but thanks to technology I smashed though a terracotta pot, crushed a pile of washing up, and sent brightly coloured plastic shards of a My Little Pony dream house flying around the room.
Ars Technica UK