Posted in Random

Brickfest Live Review

Brickfest Live is a LEGO fan event that travels around the country and sets up for a weekend in each city that it visits. It’s not the only LEGO fan event available but the only one that I have attended in the last decade.

My husband bought me a VIP ticket to the West Palm Beach event as a Mother’s Day gift, he and the kids would have general admission which meant that I could enjoy the event by myself first, I was SO excited!

While my review is of the West Palm Beach event that already passed, from what I have read on other reviews it’s practically the same experience at every location so I decided to write this to help others that may be wondering if the event is worth it.

Based on the website there looked to be a lot to do and I couldn’t wait to experience it all, sadly some parts were disappointing so I will list each feature advertised and what I thought about it.

VIP– Thumps up
Benefits: 1 hour early admission. Lanyard with VIP badge. Bag, exclusive minifig and LEGO accessory pack.
I attended the Sunday event and there were less than 10 VIP guests on line at 9 am so I practically had the entire place to myself. Since it was so empty the organizers allowed my family that was hanging outside waiting for general admission to start to join me early. I liked having the exclusive mini figure, talking to other VIPs the figure is overall the same but the heads are different, mine has a standard face which is a slight bummer but not hard to fix since I have hundreds of LEGO heads in my house. The LEGO accessory pack was a pretty full bag with weapons and other minifig accessories.

Derby– Thumbs Up
Children have 5 minutes to build a car and then the event staff will race them for you. This is a high demand activity so if VIP, make sure to do it before general admission starts. My kids had fun with it.

Glow Zone– Thumbs up
There is a display of glow in the dark builds plus several tables for you to build your glow in the dark creation. I had lots of fun with this.

Theater– Thumbs Down
The website advertised theater and trivia but it was not available at our location.

Architecture– Thumbs up
There is a large skyscraper model with tables to build your own architecture designs. I enjoyed it but not as much as other parts.

Mascots– Thumbs Down
The website advertised this but we didn’t see a single one in the 5 hours that we were at the event

Models– Thumbs Down
The website uses a plural term for this but we only saw 1 model.

Robotics– Thumbs Down
Yet another thing that was advertised but was not at the event. It’s very disappointing because my kids love robotics and were really looking forward to this.

Floor puzzle– Thumbs Up
This was a fun part. You are given a LEGO plate and a diagram to lay out your bricks which will be part of a giant 30,000 piece mosaic for a mystery character. You can come back and do it again. Because I was there early I got to do the very first tile. Shammy and I did it about 7 times and loved it.

Build wall– Thumbs Up
This is fun free play for the kids, just bins of bricks and a LEGO wall for them to create whatever they want.

Mini golf– Thumbs Down
This was disappointing, it’s a just a very lame mini golf course that has LEGO bricks glued around the edges. It wasn’t challenging at all and not very “LEGO-y”. My son that loves mini golf wasn’t interested in doing it again after 1 round.

Jr Builders– Thumbs Up
This looked like a fun area for toddlers to play with giant soft bricks and Lego Duplos. Mine were too big so we skipped that area, if you have toddlers, this will probably be their favorite part.

Mosaics– Thumbs Up
I had more fun with this part than my kids did. There are several templates available and you use 1×1 bricks to create the picture and then place it on the wall. The variety of designs seemed limited and although there were several bins full of bricks, some colors were difficult to find.

The Brick Show Experience- Thumbs Up
This is a YouTube Lego show that had a booth at this event, we didn’t stay for the actual show but the kids got to get an autographed photo. It looked like only one of the hosts were present.

Gaming– Thumbs Down
The website advertised LEGO video games but they were not available at our location. This was very disappointing for my youngest as he loves LEGO video games and he was looking forward to trying out new games to request for his birthday.

Space– Thumbs Down
Again, mentioned on the website. Nowhere to be found at the event.

Brick Pit– Thumbs Up
Like a ball pit but with LEGO! All of the bricks were one color and you could build whatever you wanted, my kids instead made brick angels and pretended to swim, they have thick skin!

Marketplace– Thumbs Down
There were only about 7 vendors. I didn’t see any vintage sets sets and only a few custom builds. It was mostly minifigs with outrageous prices. There was a lot of variety in pricing, one vendor had a Darth Maul minifig for $13 while the vendor behind him had what looked like the same minifig for $33. So comparison shopping was a must.

One vendor had current and recently discontinued sets for either MSRP or much higher. I could have gotten the same sets cheaper on Amazon or Ebay. The only vendor that I liked made crafts out of LEGO such as bow ties, earrings, bracelets, Christmas ornaments and more. I mostly shopped from him and the bow ties are so cool that I even got one for myself.

Conclusion

This event is mainly geared for kids so if you are an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) there isn’t as much to do but it can be a fun experience. Admission is very pricey and the regular price was not worth it in my opinion. My husband took advantage of a Flash sale and Groupon deal which saved money but it still felt like a ripoff because so many of the advertised attractions were not offered.

While I had a good time, I don’t know that I would pay to attend again if it returns to my area. It does make me want to check out competing LEGO shows.

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting

Pley Toy Rental Review

This post includes affiliate links.

I was recently approached by Pley, a toy rental company offering me 1 free month of service with no obligation to review although they would appreciate that. I decided to give the service a shot since it is something that I had looking into and considered trying in the past.

As part of the sign up process I got to select which toy we wanted to receive, I was afraid of renting a LEGO set due to our experience with another toy rental company and my kids being heartbroken at having to return them so I chose a different toy that my children had expressed interest in at the store.

Order processing was super fast! I got a shipping notification within minutes of submitting the order but the shipping method used was very slow so the cross country trek took over a week.

Box opening
Box opening

The toy pieces arrived in a mesh zipper bag with laminated instructions which I like. There were no pieces missing and the kids were super excited. There was a surprise gift included for my son to keep, a silicon Lego bracelet that he could attach bricks and minifigures to, he loved it!

What I liked:

  • Affordable plans
  • Quick shipping notification
  • Toys are sanitized
  • Environmentally friendly- the website keeps track of reduction in CO2 emissions
  • No commitments, easy to cancel.
  • 500+ toys to choose from including 400 Lego sets
  • User friendly website, easy to report problems such as missing pieces
  • Free gift- my son was surprised to get a LEGO compatible bracelet to keep
  • Laminated instructions
  • Customizable wish list, select categories to be suggested toys, x out the ones you are not interested in, star the ones you want to get
  • Ability to buy the toy if the child wants to keep it
  • Pley donates a toy to underprivileged children for every new member
  • Ability to print return label from website if you loose the one included in the box
  • As soon as the return tracking is active you can choose next toy that you want which saves time in waiting for the next toy
  • Referral program.  You can earn free months of service by telling your friends about it.

 

What I didn’t like:

  • No search feature for toys, I have to scroll through pages and pages of Lego sets and can’t search by name
  • Some toys are not a good value. I saw several Lego sets that can be purchased for less than the cost of 1 month’s subscription so I recommend using this for bigger Lego sets and fancy toys to make sure that you are getting a good value
  • Despite it shipping quickly, it was with a slow method that took over a week to arrive, time is money when you are paying a rental by the month.
  • Toy purchase price was a couple of dollars higher than the regular price at several local and online stores

 

The kids were captivated
The kids were captivated

About the toy itself

We chose the Nano V2 Helix 180° toy.  This is something that the kids had showed interest in at the store so we decided to try it.

The toy instructions were practically useless, not very user friendly but thankfully the toy wasn’t hard to figure out.  Once assembled the boys had a lot of fun playing with it and customizing the configuration of the tunnels.

The bug would sometimes get stuck on its side and we had to right it before it entered a tunnel otherwise it would get stuck on the tunnel, other than that it was a great toy.  The boys liked it enough to want to keep it but we chose to return it to buy a slightly different version of the toy that offers more configuration options.

 

 

 

Pley plans
Affordable plans with no commitments

Bottom Line

This toy rental service is a great concept and fits a need in the market. This service is good for people that have limited space and don’t want to accumulate toys that don’t get played with after a while. Your child can play with the same toy until the novelty wears off and then choose something different.

It is also good for when your child wants a very expensive toy that you don’t think would be a good value long term. For example, I love building with LEGO but don’t want to spend several hundred dollars on a fancy LEGO set that I will only build once. With Pley I can rent it, build it, take pictures, play with it for a bit and then return it without such a huge hit on my wallet.

 

Disclosure
I received a free toy rental with no obligation for a review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Protection, Random

The Quest for the Perfect Holster part 3

Click here for Part 1

Click here for Part 2

Continuing my search for a conceal carry holster, I tried 3 new options, the Femme Fatale Lace Soxxx, Flashbang Ava Hybrid IWB Holster and Alpha Belly Band.  Here are my thoughts below:

Femme Fatale Lace Soxxx

The only picture that I took of the Lace Soxxx, I disliked it so much and found it unsafe so I quickly packaged it up to mail back.
The only picture that I took of the Lace Soxxx, I disliked it so much and found it unsafe so I quickly packaged it up to mail back.

Pros: very feminine and cute, no bulk

Cons: sizing is not adjustable at all, tight fit if you don’t have skinny calves, difficult to adjust position once on, good retention but gun slid a little, better for smaller gun, it felt dangerous with my Ruger Lc9s.

When I first researched Femme Fatale I read reviews for the Ankle Soxxx that said that you put it on just like a sock so I thought that this would just be a lacy version of that, I was wrong. The hook and eye closure was very difficult for me, it’s like putting a corset on your leg but the angle is all odd and difficult and it’s so tight that you can’t just put on and then rotate.

I know that the holster has to be snug to work but it felt too snug. It fit perfect at the bottom where the measurement was taken for sizing but very tight at the top so I guess that it’s designed for women with skinny calves as I had a slight “muffin top” on my calf and it had left a deep indentation on the skin after only a few minutes of use.

I did not like that the safety on my gun was flipped off when putting it in the holster. The large difference in weight between my legs made walking odd, I felt like people could tell that I was walking differently. Due to me having bad knees from a previous injury I could tell that extended walking would be torture. Ankle holsters are not for me. It’s a shame as it concealed very well on yoga pants. It would be a good thing to try for someone with good strong knees and a very small gun.

 

Flashbang Ava Hybrid IWB

20160616_104926 I had been wanting to try a hybrid holster for a while. I had been torn between the Crossbreed Mini Tuck and Alien Gear3.0 IWB and had planned on buying Alien Gear due to price, reviews and awards but life had other plans.

When it was time to exchange the ankle holster the vendor that I used didn’t carry either of those options available so I chose the Flashbang Ava instead.

Pros: the leather is truly buttery soft, contours well to my curves, distributes weight of gun over a bigger area, good retention, height/cant/retention adjustable. Combat cut, Conceals better than single clip IWB holster.  Left hand version available.

Cons: clips feel loose and are big, time consuming trial and error adjusting clip position in 25 possible variations.

flashbang collageThe holster is very comfortable and conceals better than my single clip Rawdog Tactical or TWAW IWB. Not all positions were equally comfortable or concealable though. I still can’t carry on my back due to the same problem with my curves where there is a big gap between the gun’s grip and my back so I have a bulge on my lower back.

Side carrying is comfortable and conceals well as long as I am wearing a “regular” t-shirt and not a “women’s” t-shirt. Carrying appendix is the most concealable across the different outfits that I’ve tried but when I sit down the top of the leader “pinches” my muffin top which requires a quick adjustment; this is not a big deal at home but when in public that movement can draw attention to that area. I can’t lower the rise for deeper concealment because then I would stab my thigh when sitting down.

The holster overall looks very well made but the clips leave a lot to be desired. They are the worst clips of any holster that I’ve tried so far. Too flexible and pop off too easily for comfort even when using a gun belt. I have tried carrying around the house and one of the clips slides up and stabs me in the stomach, when I look at it it’s halfway off my pants. The clips are very big to accommodate a wide belt but that just means that there is about a 1/2″ protrusion that stabs my skin. This has happened repeatedly with both jeans and cargo pants. For this reason, I can’t wear this outside the house because I can’t trust the clips to keep the holster in place.

I will be replacing them with Ulticlips to fix that problem (waiting on shipment to arrive) and I expect that to fix those issues. Once the clips are changed I expect that will be my holster of choice for anytime that I wear jeans and pants with belt loops.

 

Alpha Belly Band holster

Pros: Inexpensive, good concealment, no extra muffin top, Made in the USA, ambidextrous

Cons: rough against skin, very wide, velcro on empty holster is noisy in completely silent environments

I had been planning on trying TWAW Breathable Belly Band Holster but due to money constraints I hadn’t been able to order. At almost twice the cost, the Crossbreed Modular Belly Holster was out of the question for the foreseeable future as far as my budget was concerned.

As I struggle with concealing in the horrible Florida heat I decided to search for a cheaper alternative that would hopefully tide me over for a couple of months. I came across an article comparing several belly holsters and the Alpha Belly Band had a pretty decent review talking about it’s breathable elastic and a price ($16.95 shipped) that couldn’t be beat so it was an inexpensive effort to try it out.  The fact that it’s sold by Amazon and I had account credit available was a plus.

Not bad for a $17 holster. I don't consider this a permanent solution but a good starter holster if on a tight budget
Not bad for a $17 holster. I don’t consider this a permanent solution but a good starter holster if on a tight budget

Some Amazon reviews complained about the inaccuracy of the sizing but I found it to be true to size. I measured to wear it above my natural waist as I am tired of hip and waist holsters riding up. The band is much wider than I anticipated but it still fits in my short torso and I don’t expect it would be too bad for other people.

The holster is designed as a “one size fits most medium and large guns” and my gun is on the smaller range of the scale so there is a lot of space for a longer muzzle. The velcro retention strap is something to get used to but necessary. It looks and feels like a medical brace and I guess it’s not too far off since the company that manufactures it a medical products company and they probably use the same materials.

The elastic feels very rough on my skin so I need to wear a tank top underneath, having that extra layer of clothing and the fact that it’s so wide makes it too hot for the Florida outdoors in the summer but it’s suitable for indoor use and the cooler time of the year. The elastic is supposed to be breathable but I haven’t haven’t found that to be very much so.

Magazine or knife holster is convenient
Magazine or knife holster is convenient

The holster is designed for “crossdraw” which isn’t as odd as I feared and it’s actually helpful to me since I’m cross dominant. Like with any other soft holster, re-holstering is a 2 handed job. I don’t know how well a Kydex insert would fit on this although the elastic is stretchy enough that it would probably work. The magazine holster looks too small to fit any magazine at first glance but it’s stretchy enough that it holds my gun’s magazine and knife.

As much as I love black, I ordered a beige one in hopes that what they say about lighter colors being cooler is true, there is no way that I could do white.

Concealing in a regular t shirt or loose printed top is great but I get too much printing on a juniors and women’s size shirts so I won’t be able to use this for those outfits.

Going to the bathroom is super easy, the same as not carrying. Draw time is much slower than carrying in the waistband but it’s better than not carrying at all.

After a long day wearing it, it started to ride up but it was stopped by my breasts so it mostly stayed in place although it bunched up a little at my bra line.  After many hours of wearing it felt hot and a little uncomfortable by the evening. By the time I took it off I was relieved and discovered a slight heat rash in my stomach that cleared up quickly after I cooled off.

While it won’t be part of my EDC, I’ll keep it on hand for occasions where no other holster will work for my outfit.

 

The Final Verdict:

After trying 8 different holsters, while I did not find THE ONE, I think that I have some good choices to wear with different outfits. I may try other holsters in the future such as the TWAW Breathable Belly Band but I won’t be in a rush to do so.

So what did I choose?

For jeans/cargo pants- Flashbang Ava Hybrid with Ulticlip
For yoga pants, leggings and skirts- Fancy Pants Original Holster
For when nothing else works with the outfit- Waist Holster Bag