Since there appeared to be quite a number of people who were still slow swimming in AntsyLabs “small pool”, I thought I might touch on the other fidget toys that is currently in vogue…. The Spinner.
It seems that in schools, the fidget tube is quite passé. All the kewl kidz want a spinner. While I waited on the delivery of my Gen-U- ine™ Cube, I took a flyer at one of the Chinese sites and over on eBay and ordered a couple for myself. The double ended brass unit and the wheel both came out of Hong Kong, and the black aluminum one shipped out of Chicago. Each of them was about $7.99… all with free shipping.
All “spinners” rely on the same bearings that are used in skateboard wheels. Please can very in quality quite a bit. Apparently, the very best skateboard wheels feature ceramic bearings inside a ceramic collar. The other variable is the number of actual ball bearing within the bearing itself. They seem to vary from as few as six, all the way up to as many as 16. Needless to say, at this price point, I didn’t get ceramic bearings, and there are only eight balls in each bearing. Tony Hawk is not rolling on these.
Here you can see the brass spinner disassembled and opened up for view. In this case, it appears that the bearing is actually brass as well. The darker bearing is the one out of the black spinner.
The spinner body itself very solid and is rather well milled, although it could be better finished. You can see easily that the polishing could’ve been better done. Irregardless, it has a wonderfully heavy feel in the hand. Theoretically this heavy counter-weighting should allow it to spin for an extended length of time. Unfortunately it is made totally irrelevant by the fact that the bearing construction is so loose that the unit’s ends can be wiggled up and down 5 or 6 mm. Unless it is spun on a flat, stable surface, there is so much vibration that the unit cavitates badly and slows down within 30 to 45 seconds. This is not the “spins up to four minutes” that was advertised on the site when I purchased it. These spinners are almost always advertised as “fidget toys”, so any inability to use the toy while held in your hand pretty much makes that impossible.
It was also advertised to have an “amazing fast and stable ceramic center bearing, specially designed by our factory” and the spin-time was indicated to be 3 to 4 minutes. The good news is my purchase price on this unit was refunded in full because of these misrepresentations. Both the quality of the product you receive, and the service can vary widely among the individual Chinese vendors, but, the marketing platform they use through AliBaba provides an excellent buyer protection plan. [Interestingly enough the spin-time claim seems to have been removed from the current offering after my complaint through AliBaba, and that vendor is no longer claiming that it has the ceramic bearing]
Moving on to the very similar black spinner… This one is quite a bit lighter because it is made from some type of aluminum alloy. Is equally well machined, and it certainly has a better bearing, but it does not make it all the way to three or four minutes of spin either. It will go for just over two minutes, and it too has a bit of cavitation if you’re using it in your hand. Nowhere near as bad, but some nonetheless.
Finally, the wheel is very, very satisfactory. It has a solid brass rim around the plastic wheel, and while the bearings are not outstanding they do give something approaching a three minutes spin. The best part is that this one can easily be balanced on your finger and allowed to tilt gyroscopically. If it had a solid brass wheel and ceramic bearings I believe this would be truly outstanding as a fidget.
The idea of a “spinner” seems like a nice addition to your EDC, and a good compliment to your Fidget Cube. They won’t satisfy your pending clicking addiction, but they are nonetheless quite soothing. From looking around on the net, it appears like you can get pretty heavily invested in these… upgraded bearings for more and more extended spins, interchangeable parts, funkier thumb-caps that let you do balancing tricks on a pencil tip… there are all kinds of options out there if you want to spend the money.
I saw the same units that I purchased offered at prices that ranged from about $7 to around $21. I strongly suspect that you are going to be getting the exact same unit at whatever price. My limited looking about indicates to me that if you want a truly decent one, you are probably going to have to move up to the $30-$50 range. However, at that price point, I think that you’re going to be getting something that really is pretty nice. If it appeals to you, and you have the money, go for one.
EDIT~5/2/17: As regards the “peanut” shaped spinners- I saw them for sale at a smoke shop here locally. $5.99 and they had the same wibble-wobble problems as mine. Not as bad as the brass one, but enough to make the fidgeting no fun. Leave these cheapos to the grade school kidz.