Ask: Cheap Tangles

An anon asks:

hi!! do you know where you can get cheap (under 10#) smooth tangles (no textures/bumps) ???

As a general note for folks asking me this sort of thing: I need you to tell me where you’re located! I can’t provide more than a general answer, otherwise. In addition, I’m Australian, not American, so while Tumblr does lean often towards US-based resources and vendors, I won’t have the same on-the-ground experience as an American stimmer does.

It also helps to mention if you’re after offline or online vendors, and if your budget includes or excludes shipping costs.

As an example for why location matters, I’d say that the best place to get cheap (Zuru) Tangle Jr Classics would be K-Mart at $4 AUD, but this isn’t useful if you’re not based in Australia. Likewise, if I say Amazon has a set of three for $7.95 USD, that’s unhelpful for folks based in Australia, as we can’t (easily) purchase items from the global marketplace. If you’re not in Europe or the UK, this listing at Tink n’ Stink for £3.25 GBP isn’t as useful to you, either…

For smooth/non-textured Tangles, anon, you’ll be wanting to look at the Classics and Metallics by Tangle Creations and the Classics, Metallics and Wilds from Zuru. All of these Tangles are smooth and untextured. Most stores that stock Tangle Jrs will have smooth ones–sometimes stock levels change, depending on how the stores sell their stock, but the way Zuru batch their Tangles means that the Classics/Textured and Metallics/Sparkles come together, so it’s rare to find a textured Tangle Jr without an untextured one on the shelf as well. A Tangle Jr Classic is the easiest Tangle to find, in my experience.

Here in Australia, offline resources include K-Mart, Toyworld, Australian Geographic and Kidstuff. (My K-Mart stores have fluctuating stock, in that they sell out quickly and will be off the shelves for a little while until they get a new batch, so you need to check regularly and often.) In the US, I believe Tangles have been seen at Walmart and Target, along with several specialty toy stores. In the UK, toy store The Entertainer stocks them.

For knock-offs, consider Wish, Aliexpress or eBay. These will be much cheaper than branded Tangles but you very often get what you pay for–quality varies widely. It’s been a while since I’ve bought a knock-off Tangle: the most recent one I bought was this translucent version, and while I think it’s exceptionally pretty, it was so stiff, like most knock-offs, that I had to lubricate it before using. Once lubricated, though, it was one of the better fakes I’ve ever had–but that’s no guarantee yours will be the same. So do know that when you buy knock-offs, it’s a bit of a gamble in terms of how well you like what you get. I’ve some I love and some I can’t bear using.

(If you do go the knock-off route, check out my Tangle Mods and Care Guide for how to improve these Tangles.)

Lastly, check out the #tangle tag if none of the above works for you–I do tag everything to make it easier for people to search for information about toys.

Originally posted on @stimtoybox on August 08, 2018.

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Review: Insect Water Ball, Toyworld

A purple-tinted translucent liquid-filled puffer ball-jelly squishy hybrid, filled with pink, blue and yellow plastic insects, sitting inside a clear plastic bag atop a red watermelon slice pillow. The plastic toy insects inside the puffer ball are blurred out by the layers of plastic and the water inside the ball, resulting in pink, blue and yellow blobs. Small, fine purple-tinted protrusions emerge from the ball, but their translucence provides a dimpling effect, like looking at the inside of a see-through golf ball.

Price: 2 for $10 AUD

Dimensions: 7 cm across when slightly flattened.

On paper, this should be an amazing toy: it’s a liquid-filled squishy with soft spikes on the outside, like a puffer ball, and hard plastic toy insects inside the ball.

I can roll the ball in my hands for texture and poke a finger inside the ball to touch the coloured insects through the skin of the ball, providing more textured things to grab and stroke. I can also squish down on this like a balloon stress ball or puffer ball, causing the ball to bulge on the sides, and pull on the fronds like a puffer ball. And, for all of those things, this ball is amazing. For a fantastic design mingling multiple forms of stimming and sensory options, I give it all the points.

(I promise that those coloured blobs are plastic insects. My old camera isn’t capable of handling a layer of plastic bag, the translucent skin of the ball and the water inside the ball to focus on the insects.)

So why do I have this ball remaining inside its plastic bag, as far away from my desk as I can get it while still remaining in my room?

Smell. I don’t mean the usual plastic puffer ball smell, which I find abhorrent as is but consider a fair risk when buying these. I’m not sure what this smells like–chemical plastic crossed with ammonia? It’s bad. It lingers on my hands for a long time after handling and I can’t wash it away with ordinary hand soap. I’m going to put it outside to see if I can air it, but I’m not hopeful.

If you don’t have any difficulty with chemical odours and you really like the sensory possibilities in this kind of puffer ball/jelly squishy hybrid, you may wish to take a risk on it. Otherwise? I can’t recommend it.

Originally posted on @stimtoybox on November 22, 2018.