Grabhandler is a new tool from Mission Models, makers of famous Etch Mate tool. Grabhandler was designed to make it easier to create grab handles mostly for armor models in any scale, but should be very useful for sci-fi and ship modelers as well. I'm sure car and plane modelers could also find some uses for this new tool
Grabhandler is made of high quality steel, oxidized to prevent corrosion. It was designed using CAD (Computer Aided Design) system and manufactured with CNC tools (Computer Numerically Controlled) what assures highest precision and high quality of finish. On the photo 1 above you can see the set: tool comes in bubble wrap bag, with instructions printed on one sheet of paper and packed to small cardboard box.
The tool is relatively simple in construction. It is composed of two profiled steel plates - the lower has three index pins attached to it, while the upper has corresponding holes drilled with high precision. Upper part is indexed in both inches and millimeters. On one end there is a knob on a screw. Somewhere inside is a spring, which separates both halves of the tool as soon as you loosen knob. To hold the material in the tool you just insert it between the two steel plates and tighten the knob. To insert or remove material from behind the front pin, you have to pinch the rear of the tool to "open" it - see photo below.
Pictures below illustrate how the tool works. You insert the metal rod between the tool halves (copper wire in this case, but as the tool is made of steel, it will work just fine with much harder metals) and slide it to the desired position. Width of the smallest handle you can make is 1.25 mm (0.05") and the widest indexed step is 26.7 mm (1.05") wide. Actually you can use the wide end of the tool to make even longer handle (or rail): 38.1 mm (1.5"). These are "inner" dimensions of the handle, so make sure you measure the right distance when making the handle to fit existing holes in the model. You can bend handles upward or downward - the tool is symmetrical.
In instructions there is information that you can use your fingers or flat tool to create bends. But I personally strongly suggest using a tool - it is difficult to create a tight and even bend with fingers. On photos below you can see that I used the back of No.10 blade.
Below you can see some examples of what can be made using the tool. Creating several identical handles is very easy - as long as you use the same "step" on the tool, you will get exactly the same size of handle. The only other tool you need to create scale grab handles, except for the Grabhandler, is something to cut the wire - I used small side cutters.
Of course bending round rods is just one use of the tool - it can also be used to bend flat metal strips. As an example I used a brass strip - a piece of photoetched brass fret.
Below you can see the same strip of brass as above, bent several times.
Final verdict is that the new Mission Models product is a really useful one. It can make creating grab handles much easier. Not that making handles is particularly difficult, but if you need a lot of them and want them to be perfectly formed and even in size, things can get more complicated. Grabhandler resolves those problems - making handles has never been easier! I have not used Mission Model's Etch Mate tool, but I'm sure it is equally high quality and those two tools could create a nice duo, as Grabhandler can also be used to bend flat brass parts and can support Etch Mate in this task. More width "steps" on Grabhandler means that some simple brass parts can be bent "in one move" while with Etch Mate you would have to relocate parts in the tool to get the same effect. I may be wrong here, but I believe that even the smallest bending "finger" of Etch Mate is wider than the tip of Grabhandler, so you can actually easily bend tiny PE parts with Grabhandler, which are just too small to fit under Etch Mate's fingers and not disappear completely under them.
But as they say: nothing is perfect... Grabhandler is a really great tool, but it comes at a price. At $55 it is just $10 cheaper than Etch Mate. Of course the price is fully understandable once you see the quality and precision of build of this tool, designed and manufactured with hi-tech technologies. But still it may be too much for some modelers. I personally feel that while Grabhandler is extremely useful, it is a bit too expensive. Etch Mate seems to offer more value for money. But I'm judging it from my Polish perspective - it is quite possible that American modelers will find the price well matched to the high quality and usefulness of this tool.
Many thanks to Jon Tamkin of Mission Models for the review sample!