Mini Review – Pen + Gear Blank (3×5) Index Cards

I’m not sure I need to explain the usefulness/necessity of index cards to you. I’m also not here to try and figure out what the best index cards in the world are (does Clairefontaine make any? If yes, then they’re probably the best). But WalMart does sell reasonably priced index cards under their in-house Pen+Gear brand (which is a poor name, but that’s not relevant, and I’m here to take a look at whether or not those are worth purchasing if you’re just looking for some (whichever) index cards.

(Note: I got blank cards, so I can’t remark upon anything concerning the ruling)

The dimensions of the cards themselves seem to accurately reflect the labeling, which is a good start. The paper is a bleached-white with a slightly pulpy texture that makes me think that over time or in sunlight these will become yellowed and brittle faster than your average paper products. This texture does make for a pleasant writing experience that is mostly smooth with a hint of feedback. Its ability to take ink and potential damage from eraser is about what you’d expect. Permanent markers, alcohol markers, and fountain pens will all bleed through, while even thicker fineliners (felt pens) don’t show through, and erasing doesn’t cause significant damage. If fact my only real gripe (though it is a big one), is that they are quite floppy for being “cards”. They’re flimsy, flappy, and easy to tear if handled frequently, meaning they would work poorly if one wanted to use them as say… index cards. Not only does this lack of stiffness detract from their main purpose, but it negates so many of the other things that index card were useful for in the past, like being structurally integral parts of craft projects. (Unfortunately, this can only knock the product down so far as, recently, I haven’t seen a brand of index cards that maintains the proper rigidity, so the best bet there is to make your own from card stock, I guess).

If you’re looking for small cut pieces of paper for various reasons, like taking quick notes, testing swatches of ink or paint (though they may buckle), or organizing recipes that you don’t handle often, these will work just fine. And even though they won’t really work for maintaining a card-catalogue (who even has those?) they aren’t exactly anything less than I expected for the price.


Review – Maped Globe Pencil Sharpener

I’m a sucker for globes. I see a globe and I buy it. Well… that might not be necessarily true, but it was in this case. I saw a globe on the shelf and bought it. It was only later that I learned it was a pencil sharpener (and more expensive than the dollar I thought it was worth). I was actually unaware that Maped was an office supply company, but does that say anything about the quality of their globe pencil sharpener?

With such a cheap and small product, one can’t expect a large degree of accuracy, and that is certainly the case here: Great Britain is fused to the rest of Europe, islands in the Pacific are comically uniform (and poorly labeled), Kamchatka is colored as if it is part of North America, and Mexico south is apparently South America. Beyond that, the actual quality of the product isn’t held to a high standard either. Mine came with a few paint chips and scuffs; while that isn’t the worst thing, it is very noticeable at the small scale.

But, none of that matters unless the sharpener works, which it doesn’t… very well. Obviously, any blade screwed into a cone will sharpen a pencil, and this technically does that, but out of the box it is dull enough to tear at the wood, and the cone misshapen enough to turn the pencil tip into a fragile needle. Technically, it does sharpen a pencil (and I’ve had some “sharpeners” that didn’t) but it makes an ugly and fragile mess. The position of the hole isn’t much better, being in the “stand” part of the globe, and thus, pointing down, it dumps little bits of graphite onto whatever surface you set it on.

I can’t really recommend this one, even if you’re a globe fan. The illustration is poor, the metal is nothing special, and the sharpener is of shoddy quality while being badly positioned. I’d only really get it as a curiosity if it was on sale for 50¢ or so.

Review – Jurassic World Tyrannosaurus Rex Lockdown Playset

As you might have guessed from my last Jurassic World toy review, I am a Jurassic Park fan, and a T. Rex fan. And while most of the toys from the current Jurassic World toyline didn’t interest me, a few did. The first one being the Chomping T Rex I previously reviewed, and the second being the T. Rex lockdown playset that I will be looking at this time.


The first part of this set is a T. Rex figure that is just a repackaged Basher and Biter T. Rex. It has the same paint, the same terrible proportions, and the same poor gimmick. I’m not as bothered by the many easily visible screw-holes as others seem to be, but they are a mark of getting a lesser quality product. Overall, it’s a disappointing figure that I wouldn’t have purchased on its own. It does offer some play value with its head biting and thrashing gimmick (this is accomplished by moving the tail) but there are too many faults to catch up on. At least it is almost the right size to look like a juvenile next to the larger Tyrannosaurus figure.


The other parts of the set that are not the fence are even more disappointing. The gyrosphere is really bad. It is a small sphere of plastic with a cardboard cutout of a person inside. And there seems to be a problem in the manufacturing/packaging of this product that scratches each ball in the same place (though this could be dino-damage, another thing Jurassic park toys have been doing forever that I’m not really a fan of). I just wish this set had come with a human figure to get eaten, even if he was one of the little dinky figures the rest of the line came with, instead of this ball of plastic that can barely be played with and almost (if not entirely) breaks the suspension of disbelief in toys. The other thing is the net launcher, a weird looking hook with a spring that you put a piece of rubber on and fling it across the room. I guess it’s relatively safe and it will knock the dinos down, but it won’t look like you “captured” them with a net. Still I can almost see it being a fun toy to mess with; I just wish they had used that plastic to go toward something better. If they had combined the gyrosphere and net launcher plastic and made a better version of one or the other I would be happy, but here I’m just disappointed. Both of these items went back into the box.


And finally, there is the good part of the set, and it doesn’t disappoint (for the price and size of the set at least): the fence and gate. Both of them look like redone (and slightly smaller) versions of the Jurassic Park gate that came with the command compound all of those years ago. It’s more film accurate to the Jurassic Park original than the sequel, but it looks quite nice, and the logo sticker is well done. The gate itself is smaller so older vehicles won’t fit through, and while the fences are smaller they are more solidly built, and it seems like this set should stand up to play pretty well. Some of the assembly points for the gate might be weak, but they are still stronger than the older version. There is also a secondary gate with a silly gimmick for the gyrosphere to smash through. It looks good when stood up, but I think the “shock” gimmick could have been improved. Still, it’s a decent play feature. The fences and gates are pretty well sized to keep the small bashers and biters figures in, but not really any of the larger ones.

I should mention at this point that I didn’t pay the MSRP of $25-$30, I paid $20 for this set. And, as a collector, I think the fences and gate were worth the money. But I’m not sure I would pay an extra $5-$10 for all of the rest of the junky plastic in the box. The dinosaur, gyroshpere, and net launcher are sub-par toys and display pieces, and the fence is a bit smaller than I think it really should be. I still don’t regret the purchase. I like it, and most collectors know of the problems with the Jurassic World toyline. As a toy for kids it would highly depend on the kid whether or not the set is worth it. It’s just bordering the price line where exactly how much they will like it really counts. Fun can be had with the set, but I might look elsewhere first for higher-quality toys. And as for collectors, I’d recommend waiting to get a deal on this one. It is one of the two pieces of the Jurassic World toys I would say are essential for fans, though, and maybe a little expense is justified.


Mildly Relevant Reviews – Zebra V-301 Fountain Pen (and Modifications)

The last few minutes of this review sum it up if you don’t want to see my process of attempting to make the pen work.

Table Topics Family 59 #117-118


1. What would you most like to know about the future?

2. Would your rather be a wealthy movie star or a poor scientist who cures cancer?

ANSWERS By: Austin Smith

1. If I am right about how humanity will be destroyed.

2. Is that even a question, I’d get to cure cancer, that’d be a amazing. And I’m sure I could use that to get someone to buy me dinner or something every once in a while.