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Customer Reviews: 760
Top Reviewer Ranking: 456
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Kevin Nicholls "jaded, aging hipster" RSS Feed (Milford, MI)
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Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle 1.1QT Hammertone Green
Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle 1.1QT Hammertone Green
Price: $23.71
60 used & new from $12.07

3.0 out of 5 stars Same design, but the materials and quality aren't the same., July 29, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The green Stanley is iconic for good reason. Keep it clean, don't overfill it, and it'll probably last longer than you will.

I have an older one (maybe from the mid 90's?) that I've used, and never gave much thought to. I was happy to see what (if any) changes had been made, and was kind of disappointed.

While the thermos is mostly made of steel, there are some plastic pieces, and to be honest, they feel kind of cheap and unfinished. You could drop the old bottles from a cliff and they'd just dent. Something tells me the plastic on the newer ones would crack or shatter. It's not just the handle (though it is a good example). I'm talking about the ring around the cup interior and interior cap, too. That's a loss of a star, in my book.

I'm not really interested in taking a political stance there, but the premium you'd normally pay for an American-made product is still baked in to the price of this Chinese-produced thermos, which I don't think is very fair to consumers or people who used to make these domestically. I'd much rather pay a few bucks more for the older level of quality. If you're keeping count, that's where the other star was lost.


Disney/Pixar Cars Color Change Ramone's Auto Body Shop Playset
Disney/Pixar Cars Color Change Ramone's Auto Body Shop Playset
Price: $34.99
2 used & new from $34.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun, but bring a towel!, July 27, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My kid is really in to Cars, and was excited about this from the moment she saw the box.

Assembly was very easy. It took maybe five minutes to get it stickered and put together. I was expecting the elevator to be spring-loaded, but it's just a manual slide, which is actually quite a bit nicer. Ramone changes color exactly as advertised, but with caveats: the cold water literally needs to be ice water, and the warm water needs to be quite warm for the color transitions to be vivid and dramatic.

There are really only a few drawbacks:
1) There isn't a very large selection of Color Change characters to add on.
2) The additional characters are kind of expensive -- $7 for a current-generation Lightning McQueen.
3) Not all of the additional characters are easy to find. Want Mater for $7? Good luck with that.
4) There really isn't a good water retention design here, so you won't want it around anything that can't get wet. It might be an "outside toy" for some, or you'll want to consider putting it on a large towel.

Otherwise, this toy kept my kid mesmerized for quite a while. An excellent gift for a Cars fan.


SOL REPUBLIC SHADOW WIRELESS In-Ear Headphones with Microphone and 3-Button Remote - Steel Black 1140-01
SOL REPUBLIC SHADOW WIRELESS In-Ear Headphones with Microphone and 3-Button Remote - Steel Black 1140-01
Price: $99.99
5 used & new from $77.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Thumping bass, outstanding comfort, you won't beat these at this price!, July 22, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First things first, you have to keep in mind that Bluetooth earphones for less than a hundred bucks aren't going to sound like custom IEM's connected to a tube amp. And with that in mind, on first listen, it's shocking that these are such a bargain!

Without any break-in, the bass was just nuts. Seriously, I doubt my Shure 535's could put out bass like this. Harder and clearer than I have EVER heard from earphones. And yet, reproduction of mids was okay, too. Highs, on the other hand, got a bit shrill. When you're listening to something relatively simple (e.g. older hip-hop, folk, some dance music) these earphones really shine. Though in more complex arrangements (even stuff like 80's synthpop), the sound can get muddy. Muddy or not, these are also the loudest earphones I've heard that weren't being driven by an external amplifier.

Brilliant for listening on the go, but if you want something for critical listening, these will leave you disappointed.

Almost as impressive as the sound, though, is how comfortable these are. The neckband is very flexible, and intelligently weighted to stay on without feeling heavy. The wires are just long enough, and much to my surprise, the included earbuds fit, stayed in, and sounded good. I'm used to spending extra for Comply TX series foam tips, but the included (allegedly "free for life") tips were good enough.

Even the box had a very upscale look and feel to it, helping to ensure this would truly be well-received as a gift.

Normally, I bash earphones and can come up with a reason to dock at least a star, but Sol Republic has truly struck the perfect price / performance balance here.


D'Addario All Natural Cork Grease - Box of 12 Tubes
D'Addario All Natural Cork Grease - Box of 12 Tubes
Price: $40.15

3.0 out of 5 stars Goes on clumpy, and doesn't last very long., July 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
From opening the Chap Stick sized tube, I was kind of unimpressed. Especially when I found that D'Addario's cork grease has the consistency of old Chap Stick. It goes on kind of clumpy, and almost seemed to be absorbed by the cork on my tenor sax. I even tried a bit on a briar pipe and vulcanite stem, with similar results.

I've been pretty devoted to Rico cork grease for over 20 years, and unfortunately, D'Addario hasn't changed that.


SteelSeries Siberia P300 Comfortable Gaming Headset for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
SteelSeries Siberia P300 Comfortable Gaming Headset for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
Price: $99.99
2 used & new from $96.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good sound, GREAT comfort, and a smart design!, July 20, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I tend to be fairly critical when it comes to headphones, but these really impressed me at almost every turn.

From opening the box (which is quite nice, if you're giving this as a gift), there seemed to be a lot of attention to detail. The headphones didn't feel particularly light in my hand, but when I put them on, I was really, REALLY surprised by how comfortable they felt. Not having the support structure integrated to the headband makes a real difference here.

I especially like the way the microphone retracts in to the left speaker. It doesn't feel cheap at all, and flexes perfectly. I've never seen that combination in a headset microphone at any price.

That's when I figured the design would outshine the audio quality, but even there, it was much better than I had expected. Bass had lots of punch, and the high end didn't clip or crackle. Midrange could be improved upon, but at this price, it's hard to complain. Really the only legit complaint I could come up with here, is when you turn your head, the foam loses its contour and seal.

Other than a few minor details, it's a solid buy for the price.


Arrow Fastener PT18G Arrow 18G Brad Nailer
Arrow Fastener PT18G Arrow 18G Brad Nailer
Offered by Nationwide Tool
Price: $43.40
18 used & new from $36.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't stand out in a crowd of nailers that cost less., July 15, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've been pretty happy with my manual Arrow staple gun, and have always preferred Arrow-brand staples for their resistance to bending, so I was hoping that the nail gun would be just as nice. To be honest though, it's pretty mediocre.

Holding the gun, it felt really, really similar to the WEN 61720 nail gun I bought a few years ago. Comparing them side by side, I started to notice nuances like the absence of a window showing how many nails are left on the Arrow, and how the spring-loaded caseback didn't seem to be very secure, compared to the less expensive WEN nailer.

Heck, the WEN nailer came with a plastic case and a bit of lubricating oil -- sure, both of them were nothing impressive, but they rounded out the package. Not so, with the Arrow nailer. In fact, the only thing that the Arrow seems to have going for it, is topping out at 120 PSI vs. 100 PSI for many 18 gauge nailers. But the thing is... you almost certainly don't need that extra "oomph" with 18 gauge. And side-by-side, the Arrow didn't do anything special at 120 PSI that it didn't do at 100 PSI. Perhaps more importantly, the WEN seemed to perform just as well.

At the time of this review, the nearly identical (and mostly better) WEN costs 25% less than this. In fact, you've got several choices for 18 gauge brad nailers for under $50 bucks here on Amazon, and this one's one of the most expensive, probably because someone stuck an "Arrow" sticker on it. It's an easy choice, in my book.


Louisiana Grills 55405 Competition Blend Pellets, 40-Pound
Louisiana Grills 55405 Competition Blend Pellets, 40-Pound
Price: $37.04
5 used & new from $26.67

3.0 out of 5 stars I'd buy it if Amazon was out of Perfect Mix., July 13, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Using CookinPellets 40PM Perfect Mix Smoking Pellets as my basis for comparison, I found some pros and cons with both, and I think the "best" is going to be determined by what you're cooking and how you're cooking it.

For example, this blend doesn't have nearly the smoky tang of CookinPellets Perfect Mix, which is confusing, as the only difference in hardwood is that Competition Blend doesn't have apple wood. I honestly would have thought the opposite would be true, but tri-tip roast doesn't lie.

On the other hand, these pellets are just a little smaller in size, and in my experience, this translated to being able to make adjustments faster in my Mojack Pitmaster. Though, I also found they burned a bit hotter, which altogether got me thinking that these are probably better for a day of BBQ, rather than low-and-slow cooking.

Finally, what I really liked about these pellets is that the ash seemed much lower than the CookinPellets Perfect Mix.

All things considered, they're okay pellets. But since I couldn't help think that these were better for grilling than smoking, I had to look at it from that perspective. And from that perspective, if I'm grilling, there are many better, cheaper options (lump, Wicked Good briquettes, heck... even Kingsford Competition Blend) unless I'm getting showy in the back yard.

For smoking, I'd save a few bucks, deal with the extra ash, and go for CookinPellets Perfect Mix.


Sterling Silver Cushion Cut Created Emerald and Created White Sapphire Earrings
Sterling Silver Cushion Cut Created Emerald and Created White Sapphire Earrings
Price: $81.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice quality, and outstanding value., July 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have to admit, the price of these had me thinking they would look a bit cheap or gaudy, but the pictures (and price) don't do these earrings justice. The emeralds look like typical lab-created emeralds you'd see in the mall, but the surrounding sapphires give the illusion of diamond chips. Unless someone was asking, or really scrutinizing for "fire" in the light, they could pass for being much more expensive.

At first blush, you'd probably think these will come out in the evening or at events, but they're sized just small enough to look good anytime -- without being so small that they aren't noticeable. They're a little bit heavier than they look -- not quite the weight of a quarter, if I was guessing. And while I expected them to be a bit "old lady", they're a bit more contemporary in person.

The presentation box is nice enough for gift-giving, but the box for the presentation box had tape, which ripped the finish of the box. I'm not sure how you'd avoid that, and frankly, it cheapens the nuance a bit.


Sentinel FM120P 12-Sheet High Security Micro-Cut Paper/CD/Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket, Black
Sentinel FM120P 12-Sheet High Security Micro-Cut Paper/CD/Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket, Black
Price: $119.99
5 used & new from $107.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A decent shredder for the price, with some downsides., July 11, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Maybe I've just been spoiled by AmazonBasics shredders, but this shredder by Sentinel seems really... wimpy.

For one or two sheets, it tears right through them, faster than most shredders -- even ones that aren't micro-cut. But, once you get in to multiple pages or envelopes, the FM120P struggles. So much so, that I decided to try out the 12-page rating. I used cheap inkjet paper, stacked 12 of them nicely together, and halfway through, they kicked this shredder's butt. I had to back out, and try again.

Now, I will point this out: when I backed the paper out, I only had one little "crumb". I was expecting a confetti mess, like most other shredders I've had over the years. I'm not sure if that speaks to thoughtful design overall, or if they knew you'd be backing out a lot of paper. Either way, it was a pleasant discovery.

One of the more disappointing aspects of this shredder is the ergonomic design. The paper slot is very unforgiving about paper that has folds or creases, so you need to line it up just right. And where other shredders in this price range tend to be a bit large, this is rather compact -- so if you use it often, there's going to be more bending, and more emptying, due to the smaller basket size.

For the price, it isn't bad. But ultimately, I think if I was going to spend the money on a micro-cut shredder in this range, I'd probably go with the Amazon Basics 12-sheet micro-cut shredder that offers a wastebasket that has 1.7 gallons more capacity, and for a warranty backed by Amazon where I don't have to jump through many hoops if something goes wrong.


Monster High Deadluxe High School Playset
Monster High Deadluxe High School Playset
Price: $149.97
9 used & new from $122.98

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculously overpriced for what it is., July 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's big, and it goes with the Monster High theme, but I'm totally puzzled by the price.

The plastic is dollar-store quality plastic, The accessories are easy to lose, and again, just hard plastic. Same goes for the furniture -- just lumps of plastic that don't do anything. At half the price, I'd say "it's not supposed to *do* anything, use your imagination", but short of plastic that moves from left to right, it's really just an overpriced playscape for Monster High dolls.

You could say the same about the similarly-priced Barbie Dream House, but at least that has an elevator.


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