Knock-Off Tangle Jr
(Note: both listings have been updated by the sellers. I paid $1.49 USD for the first listing and $1.02 USD with free shipping for the second.)
As everyone knows by now, I bought a bunch of cheap eBay Tangles for experiments. (I actually bought one from the second listing because the scale of the Tangle in the auction picture looked more Palm-like, but it turned out to be a standard yellow/red/black knock-off (third photo, second from bottom). Since it only cost me $1.30 AUD, though, I’m hardly upset.) The Tangles I got from both these auctions are identical in plastic feel, even right down to scratches and marks left by the moulding process.
With the exception of the white GitD Tangles, these are the worst Tangles I’ve ever bought. I love the mint/seafoam links, and it’s great that they’re using colour combinations different to those used by the branded Tangle Jrs. The increasing range of fakes means there’s a lot of great options to fit most stimmers’ colour preferences.
These Tangles, though, are too lose to hold a firm coil when resting on my desk; they flop to one side or fall apart completely. While the mint-piece Tangle above is shown doing holding a decent coil without the aid of a plastic bag, once I’d played with it for five minutes it became as loose as the orange and black Tangle. Branded Tangles and the higher quality fakes (the galactic-print Tangles and my first lot with the older-style logos) hold a firm coil. The big problem, though, is that they’re too stiff to easily rotate, twist and entwine in my hands. I know other stimmers won’t find them as much a problem, but because of my hand pain they aren’t usable without lubrication.
Thankfully, lubrication has made a massive difference so far, to the point where I can comfortably use these Tangles without pain. The third photo shows real and lubricated Tangles compared to two untreated Tangles (bottom of photo) - they’re so stiff I can’t get the untreated ones to lie flat. It is a risk, because I don’t know how well this will work long term, but I think it’s worth trying to improve these cheap fake Tangles.
Having now ordered a few different lots of fake Tangles, I’ve noticed that the fakes I like best - the galactic print and the old-logo fakes - appear to be direct castings of real Tangle pieces. They have raised production numbers on the pieces just like branded Tangles, the links fit tighter together, they turn smoothly (sometimes more loosely than the real Tangle) and they all have the ability to hold a proper coil. The Tangles I like least have no production numbers, looser fitting links, floppy coils and stiff rotation. I’m guessing these ones aren’t direct castings, and I think it shows. Since this is impossible to determine before purchasing because of sellers sending out stock at random, I don’t think this observation is of a lot of use.
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