Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Brick Miser: Brick Fidget Spinner Showcase 5: Fantolon Hand Spinners

We've come to the end of our little showcase of brick spinners. ...And at this point, I'm as sick of brick spinners as I am regular fidget spinners. Let's bury this niche with these last few brick spinners from a company I'm only guessing made these: Fantolon.
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Name: Hand Spinner
Distributor: Fantolon?
Model: 55120A-D
Pcs: N/A













Yes, for our last stop, I bring to you a set I know absolutely NOTHING about! ...Even more so than usual. These have no name, no packaging, no company, nothing that I can use to track down who made these.













 There are model numbers, but that doesn't lead me anywhere.







 The only thing I have to go on is the listing I bought these from, which says the "Brand Name" is "Fantolon."












Typing it into eBay brought up zero results, and when I used AliExpress, it just brought up a bunch of unrelated brick sets and knock-off minifigures from different companies.











Doing a Yahoo search, the only fidget spinner result was this one at Fidget Spin Store, where they're listed as the brand name for some Star Wars-themed metal spinners. If "fantolon" means something else and this is just a placeholder name, I have no idea...













At least they included the instructions, so I don't have to guess-build based on the images. ...Maybe I should try that with a set sometime. See what emerges from the depths of imagination not meant to be trodden in...






















But for a company and a line that apparently don't exist, there's a rather nice banner for it on the listing. This is how I know it's called "Hand Spinner", which, like the LELE branded line, makes no sense. And it's not made by "Parameter" either(at least I don't think it is, since a search turned up nothing with that name related to brick sets) so it's still without a company. What it DOES have is the coolest and most imaginative art I've seen for a spinner line yet! We have blueprints in the background, dragons of fire and ice warring it out around the spinner, some Engrish telling us "Creative Assembling Your Own Hand Spinner", and a Guitar Hero-esque logo in the upper-right where the dragons continue to battle! ...I'm not counting this as the packaging, since I have no idea if packaging even exists, but if I did, it would be a perfect 5/5!













Unfortunately, we need to return to the material world and look at what actually exists. And... These sure exist...!













These are the strangest color schemes of any of the spinners we've looked at. Reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, etc. These look like cheap carnival rides, or the stuff you get at the state fair for winning a game you paid a egregious amount to play... To be technical, they're the most... "Kitsch" colored of the spinners.













Each even has its own way of holding onto it. One has a large gear, another has a dome, the next has a transparent nub, and the last has a curved plate! We've seen each line have varied ways of holding onto the spinners, but to have a different method for each of their models is something new. Guess they just told 4 different people "design something", and they did and shipped it out the next day. Didn't even bother to form a brand.













But how do they spin? ...Well, in addition to each one having a different way of holding it, each one spins a little differently as well. This one with the orange plates has little nuts on the other side of the orange pieces, so if they're put on too tightly, the thing won't spin. But after a bit of adjustment, it's all taken care of. You can push down as hard as you'd like and it'll spin fast and smoothly without any problems.

Also I love that when you spin it, it produces a purple halo. Intentional? I have no idea. Maybe it's a magical device and I'm calling on the satanic powers of Barney the Dinosaur.













The one with the nubs is, of course, hard to hold onto, so it's difficult to get a good spin out of it. But once you do, it's pretty smooth and nothing needs to be adjusted to keep it from scraping against the center.

I also like the halos this produces. Looks like a big ol' gummy ring. Yum.













Then we have this one with the domes. ...And this is one that falls into the "you can't push too hard on it" category, since the pieces on either side will clamp against the middle. And since this has relatively smooth surfaces to hold onto, it's very easy to have it fall out of your hands. ...Still, once it gets going, it goes for a good while.













And yes, now that you mention it, it DOES look a lot like a similar one from the LELE Hand Spinners line! It a palette swap, there's no transparency, it has domes on both ends as opposed to a dome and a gear on either end, and it has little blue nubs instead of orange gears, but it's the same function.













Unfortunately, it doesn't work quite as well as the former, as it is prone to falling apart if knocked too much...













And finally, we have this multi-colored one that looks like one of those spinny rides from a carnival. ...Maybe the transparent buttons are actually people who have turned several shades of sick?

They made the rod WAAAAAY too long for this one, so it has two different "modes." Either you push the gears on either side close enough together to keep it spinning but not rubbing against the sides and try to hold onto the tip of the rod.













Or you push the gears to either end of the rod and hold it that way, tilting the middle as you go. Either way, it produces a decent spin. A bit of slowdown, but at least I can press hard on it without worry.

And that's the line. And with it every single brick fidget spinner I could find. We've seen some good ones, some bad ones, some flashy, some dull, some that worked perfectly, some that didn't work at all, and overall... I'm sick to death of this craze.















 Let's go back to Rick Rolling each other.

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Quality: The quality is actually quite decent, with pieces that fit together just fine for the most part and plastic that feels just fine. Not Lego quality plastic, but maybe Block Tech at the very least. However, I am knocking off a point or two for one of the models easily falling apart by simply tapping it...






Design: While not the most aerodynamic of all the models we've seen so far, everything does work and keeps spinning for a good amount of time. However, I don't like that they incorporate the nubs and domes we've already established makes these impossible to hold. Plus there was one that scraped against the middle if you pushed it too hard. Still, they work and they're inventive enough to set them apart from everything else we've seen.







Creativity: ...Well, they're all different colors, and very loud and cheesy colors at that. Is that creative or just laziness, I wonder? The fact that the colors are bright enough to form halos and even blend colors is also a nice touch either way. So while they're not that varied and they don't have any custom features like the previous few lines, there is something about them almost hypnotizingly colorful enough to keep your attention.







Readability: Same as the other lines. Short, small, all there, no problems.






Packaging: ...What packaging?







Compatibility: Mostly your standard Lego & Technic parts. Nothing too out there that wouldn't work with a standard set.






Overall:






Maybe the score would have been higher if I looked at this set first instead of last, but compared to everything else we've seen, these are... average. A few points given for the majority of the pieces not having any problems clicking and staying together, but they lack the flashiness of LELE, the innovation of KAZI, and the utter stupidity of 818. Still, if you want a brick fidget spinner on the cheap and you don't care about collecting boxes, check these out. You could do better, but you could also do much worse...

The Brick Miser: Brick Fidget Spinner Showcase 4: KAZI Finger Spinners

You know how I questioned how well brick fidget spinners would work without any sort of ball bearings or other device to keep it spinning? Well, KAZI is here to fix that and demonstrate their custom spinning mechanisms with their line of fidget spinners! ...I'm sure nothing will go wrong here...
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Name: Finger Spinner
Distributor: KAZI
Model: KY001
Pcs: 17-29+













...I don't have an intro at this point. Let's just dive in.













These come to us from KAZI, or "Open Mind KAZI" as the Chinese text on the front states, which is another China-based building brick manufacturer and distributor. ...Yeah, on this blog, go figure, right?



















I actually found out quite a bit about KAZI and its parent company Kaiyu Toys. So much so that I'm going to save it for a later review and just focus on getting through the many fidget spinners I still have to talk about. Don't worry, I have something lined up relatively soon that will involve KAZI.













Once again, we have a line named "Finger Spinner", which is also what 818 named its models. Not a whole lot to complain about, since it gets its point across and it's more accurate than LELE's "Hand Spinner" line.













 Though I can complain about the condition of the boxes I got these in, because YEESH! You may have noticed that some of the boxes from the previous lines weren't exactly mint, which is a common occurrence with ordering cheap merchandise from overseas, but here, they didn't even bother to provide any sort of packing material or other safeguards against the package being crushed. I know it's probably unfair to mention it here since it's not the company's fault one of their resellers gave no cares about quality, but when else am I going to mention this? I'm a little pissed, to put it mildly...













The box itself is relatively bland, just depicting the fidget spinner with motion blur against a white background, which since the previous two lines at least gave us color backgrounds, is a little LESS than what we've already seen.













Though here, the cartoon hand has mastered spinning these with one finger, so clearly these spinners are for the more "advanced" crowd.













Most of the text on these boxes is in Chinese, save for the name and a single English phrase. The text underneath the title reads "Fingertips Gyros", which is an accurate alternate name for these.













The top text in the lower left defied automatic translation, but the bottom text tells us that "Fierce rotation continued quickly and lasting." Yeah, we've already heard this before, and we've still yet to see anything resembling proof of that claim.













One side just has the usual "Don't give to little children, follow the instructions, don't get wet, etc." mandatory safety warnings.













While the bottom contains information like name, material, manufacturer, address, phone, and other things you'd see on a shipping list. Once again, we're denied any Engrish given to us by either the company or Google Translate's literal translation...













The only other English on here besides the name is in the bottom right-hand corner, where they boast "2in1 Fusion"!













Which they go into more detail about on the back, where they demonstrate that we can indeed join two of these fidget spinners together. But we'll get to that when we get to that.













And once again, we have a line that boasts the exact same model number for each set, without even a "KY001-A, KY001-B, etc." to differentiate them...













But they did at least remember to include which number in the line each one is. ...Great. That'll help anyone trying to Google these...













KAZI is also a company prolific enough to include a QR code on their packaging.


















...However, like the QR code on the Nanoblock boxes we looked at last year, all it does is take me to the Google Play app of WeChat. Maybe there's a page on the app that explains more about the company, but I don't want to risk potentially opening my phone up to attack from evil bootleg brick companies...













You may also notice a lack of instructions on the boxes. Because this time, we have actual instruction sheets! I was going to say how used I am to just seeing the instructions on the box and that at this point, it makes more sense to print them on the box as opposed to wasting paper; however, it does explain how to set up the mechanism that will be very important later on, so it's probably best that they chose to print the instructions separately and with large pictures.













And ok, I guess they DID print the model numbers with "-1", "-2", etc., but they didn't print them on the box, so my nitpick still stands.













These sets also contain a "6-12" age recommendation, meaning I am 13 years too old to be playing with what I paid them money for... Still, there's no "0-3" symbol on the box, so I can't make my usual joke about the punishment for anyone between those ages. ...Good, because I was running out of ideas relating to fidget spinners...













And here's the set! Not as flashy as the Hand Spinners we looked at last time, but still interesting designs nonetheless. They have a very retro-futuristic design to them, very geometric and abstract, sort of like something you'd see in Tron or a PC adventure game from the early 90s.























Strangely enough, they could also be mistaken as models for microscopic structures, like viruses and proteins. ...Well, when Dr. Mario releases his line of antibiotic fidget spinners, I'll know what he's fighting!













Like the previous Hand Spinners, most of them seem to be made out of less-conventional bricks, even more so than the previous batch, including these green, pointy, angled versions of bricks you usually see on the front of mini boat and car sets, these white R2-D2 body bricks, and some golden sloped "fin-like" bricks usually found making up the sides of vehicles. These aren't as obscure as what Hand Spinners incorporated, but I haven't seen them commonly used, so it's still a nice touch.













In fact, there's only one that's primarily built with Technic-style bricks













And one that's primarily made out of common bricks, most especially those fin-like flat plate bricks. So this line gives us a bit of everything.













But the most unique feature about these sets are these custom gyro pieces, which come in pieces ready to assemble. This is something I brought up at the beginning of this showcase, as I pointed out that it would be hard for brick-based fidget spinners to retain momentum without something that resists friction more than a plastic surface would.













 In this case, they actually make an attempt to make these behave more like a regular fidget spinner via this metal ring that rests inside the gyro and further decreases the friction of the pieces rubbing against each other.













So at the core of each of these spinners is a three-pronged mechanism with a pole through it, on which gear pieces are attached to hold onto while spinning.













Then each outer piece slides onto one of the prongs and provides the weight and wind resistance to, theoretically, keep it spinning.













The result is a much smoother spin than most of what we've already looked at, and one that doesn't lose speed when tilted. This is a very ambitious little gadget that almost makes these feel like actual fidget spinners!













...Unfortunately, this doesn't also mean the fastest of spins, as most of these models will only spin for about a second before coming to a dead stop.














 Admittedly, this may be slightly my fault. I didn't notice with the first few I put together that there was a little nub that fit into a hole in the socket that kept it in place. This means the mechanism is slightly bent and tilted, causing friction between the pieces and severely limiting its spin.













And since the halves of the gyro click into place once put together, I couldn't take them apart again to fix this.













I did try to pry one apart to fix it. ...I think I made it worse in the process...













But I eventually realized my mistake and correctly lined up the rest of the models, so the rest spun without that additional source of slowdown.













Unfortunately, I couldn't fix the other major problem with these spinners, which was, you guessed it, the build quality. Since these are made of larger bricks than most of the previous spinners and they're not as securely fastened, plus the usual dubious plastic quality of the bricks, it's very easy for them to fall apart if hit in the wrong place or spun too quickly.













This was mostly only a problem with the top three spinners, as the other golden one was secured on the bottom, the blue one was made from smaller and more secure pieces, and the green-and-red one was made entirely from Technic pieces. So the bottom three spun without the threat of falling apart.













But THEN there's the other problem common to these brick spinners, namely that the gears are set so close to the center, they can rub against it and prevent it from spinning! So once again, I need to pull the gears slightly away from the center and hold it gently to get it to operate normally! How hard is it to set a little barrier on these rods to control how far down the gears can go?













Apparently not too hard, since most of these didn't have that problem! I could press down as hard as I pleased and the gears never went beyond a certain point! ...It's just a grab bag at this point. Some work in some areas, others do something else well, some stick together, others fall apart with a touch, some spin, some don't, and most of them are just too frustrating to work with...













However, these two spinners, the blue one and the Christmas-colored one, stuck together, didn't fall apart, and had no problems with additional friction, allowing for a long, impressive spin. So forget the other models in this set and just grab these. ...Or a regular fidget spinner, whatever.













But now the moment we've all been waiting for: the "2in1 Fusion" the front of the box bragged about! This is accomplished using these small cylinders that some of the sets come with. ...Note that I said SOME, meaning only half of the sets have the pieces, so if you didn't buy the complete set, you're most likely out of luck...













To attach them, take the bottom gears off of two spinners(preferably the ones they assign on the box, but there's really nothing preventing you from mixing and matching), then combine the rods using the cylinder.













And this is what you'll get after you've paired up and combined each of the sets. And... it's completely pointless... If spinning one of these faulty spinners wasn't hard enough, try spinning two of them at the same time!













And since one of them is wider than the other, it's difficult to spin both at the same time since you'll either just be spinning the larger one or continually slowing it down because you're reaching in between the big one's slats! And some of the rods aren't even long enough to make a solid connection, plus you're dealing with the spinners that can come apart easily, so if you do manage to get these up to a good spin, they're most likely going to fall apart in under a second...

In other words, don't fall for their gimmick. Keep them separate. Like peanut butter and pickles...
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Quality: The quality is what we've come to expect from brick spinners and third-party sets in general at this point. The bricks can range from being overly stiff and refusing to connect to falling off if you so much as breathe on them. Also, the pieces on either side of the center rod are once again built so close to the center, they can prevent it from spinning with some of these. However, the plastic itself isn't that bad and is quite close to Lego quality. They even remembered to include texture on the surfaces of some of the smooth, slanted pieces, so there was a bit of attention to detail. And the custom gyro pieces snapped together just perfectly, with the metal ring in the center snug, secure, and spinning the bricks with ease. If bricks didn't fall off due to loose connections, I would believe these were actual Lego pieces and a creative custom job for an ambitious cash-in project. ...As is, they're FAKE Lego pieces and a creative custom job for an ambitious cash-in project.







Design: This is possibly the most ambitious and well-thought out design for brick spinners we've seen yet. The custom gyro in the center(if assembled correctly) reduces friction just like a regular fidget spinner and keeps the pieces from rubbing against each other like the previous spinners did. Then you just need to find some pieces that can slide onto the mechanism's prongs, spin them around, and you have a pretty decent fidget spinner! And what they designed for the sides of each spinner work just fine, being smooth and aerodynamic enough to resist air friction and large enough to casually flick to spin. ...However, the bricks they chose may have been too big, since, combined with the inconsistent brick quality, some of the larger ones are prone to falling or flying off depending on their speed and how hard they're hit. The smaller sets are the ones that hold together the best and provide the longest spin. ...But that may be because you're not fighting with them as much as the larger ones. So while the execution is iffy, the concept and general design of these is near genius!






Creativity: I LOVE that they went the additional mile to create custom gyros and make these closer to fidget spinners than any other brick spinner I've come across. It's a very simple mechanism, but it works almost as well as the ball bearings in a regular fidget spinner and greatly reduces the slowdown from tilting these. The designs also show some creativity in their abstract, "dream-like" structures, legitimately looking like something out of an early-3D game made with an old Macromedia program. If a kid was to present these at a science fair as models of bacteria or molecules or the like, it might just fly. They're simple parts used to create complex designs, they're fun to look at, and there's more imagination here than I usually see in cash-in sets. ...However, I'm knocking off one point because their "2in1" gimmick didn't work and was overall unnecessary...






Readability: Once again, with the very low amount of parts these models have, there's no real chance of skipping or misunderstanding a step. They're clear, concise, and work just fine.






Packaging: The boxes I got these in are absolute crap. ...But that's more likely the fault of whomever I bought these from. Judging them based on the actual design, they're... ok. It's not a completely white background, as there are some gray patterns behind the models that offset the solid colors, but compared to the previous packaging we've seen, it's just... bland. The Chinese text was too straightforward and there's almost no English on these boxes, let alone any to make fun of. It's even lacking the "will help kids be smarter" claim, which is really disappointing... I guess the "2in1" claim could grab people's attention, but seeing how well it worked, it won't keep it very long. So the packaging does its job(at least when unsquished like mine), but it's even less eye-catching than the previous lines.






Compatibility: Most of them are comprised of standard and slightly obscure building bricks, so they wouldn't have much trouble being compatible with other similar lines. However, to use the mechanism would require either Technic pieces or an adapter brick to use with regular building bricks, similar to what each side of these spinners incorporate, so it wouldn't be too difficult to use any of these pieces with similar lines.






Overall:






I love the idea and creativity behind these sets, but I really wish they worked as well as they promised. The mechanisms work just fine(if set up right), and it's a blast seeing a custom, imaginative piece produced for a third-party budget set, making these possibly the closest to actual fidget spinners a brick spinner can get. But the inconsistent build quality, the pointless "2in1" gimmick, and the other hiccups common with cheap sets all serve to bring the score down a bit. If you are interested in these sets, just go buy the blue and Christmas-colored ones and leave the rest alone. ...Unless you're the kind of guy who superglues their brick sets, in which case, go crazy! ...Just make sure to line up the sockets for the mechanism correctly first...