**SPOILERS** for the season premier of The Walking Dead
Following several cameo appearances, Cold Steel’s Axe Gang Hatchet took center stage in the long-awaited season seven premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The premiere drew in a huge audience of 17 million viewers, including Cold Steel CEO Lynn Thompson himself.
Since the episode aired two weeks ago, Walking Dead fans have flooded Cold Steel with emails and private messages. “We had no idea how huge this would be,” a Cold Steel representative told us. “In the gruesome premiere our axe almost became a character in its own right.”
The axe has been part of main character Rick Grimes’ arsenal since last season. But, in the season seven premiere, it was central to the plot. The story reaches a climax when Negan’s mind games put Grimes in a heart wrenching dilemma: use the Cold Steel Axe to chop off his son Carl’s arm or witness the execution of his entire group.
It was a cruel move in a transition of leadership, which already claimed the lives of two lead characters. “It was just brutal,” says Lynn Thompson, Cold Steel CEO and Walking Dead fan. “It’s tough seeing a character you’ve followed for years just broken down like that.”
In season six, Grimes uses the axe in a protracted fight to save the Alexandria Safe-Zone. “Seeing our Axe Gang Hatchet as Rick’s axe totally made my day,” Thompson tells us.
The Cold Steel Axe Gang Hatchet is named after an infamous early 20th century Chinese gang that has now become an iconic part of martial arts cinema. Movies like Project A Part II feature gang members wielding traditional Chinese butcher hatchets as weapons. Cold Steel took inspiration from classic Kung Fu movies when it released its own version of the Chinese hatchet several years ago.
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A taste for Cold Steel weapons runs in the Grimes family. Rick’s son Carl carries a Cold Steel Laredo Bowie as his bladed weapon of choice. “It’s been fascinating watching the story of our Laredo Bowie as it’s been passed between characters,” Thompson says. “It’s like it’s had its own story arc. I like how they re-use props like that to create a narrative.”
Axe featured in image: Cold Steel Axe Gang Hatchet