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jedimastergray73

jedimastergray73
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Member since: 29.07.2009

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      31.12.2010 15:32
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      Highly recommended !

      ~~~ Introduction: Ravensburger Jigsaw Puzzles ~~~

      My dad has always been a keen "puzzler" and since he retired hardly a day goes by when he is not either doing a crossword, studying a Sudoku Book or standing over the dining room table "studying" his latest jigsaw puzzle. He says it keeps his brain ticking over and, more importantly, he says he thoroughly enjoys the challenge of doing the puzzle and the sense of achievement he gets when he puts the last piece in.

      He also swears by Ravensburger Puzzles as in his words they're "the best quality jigsaws you can buy" ... which is something I discovered when our son was two and my dad bought him a set of Ravensburger Thomas The Tank Engine Mini Jigsaw Puzzles.

      Personally, I have never been a massive jigsaw puzzle enthusiast at all ... I'm a "give me an Xbox 360 controller and I'm happy" kinda guy !!!

      ~~~ The Star Wars Villians 500 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle ~~~

      The Star Wars Villians Jigsaw Puzzle has 500 pieces and on opening the box you can clearly see that it has been produced to the highest standard. Each individual piece is quite thick (making them both strong and sturdy) and the picture side has an almost glossy finish which highlights and enhances the stunning colours and detail which make up the completed picture.

      As for the picture itself, where can I begin ? Well for starters, as a Star Was fan, it's an absolute joy to look at because it features three of the Star Wars Saga's most iconic "bad guys"; An Imperial Stormtrooper, Darth Vader and Boba Fett ! Each of these three characters have had a third of the jigsaw devoted to them and have been painted by an exceptionally skilled artist. The Stormtrooper is in a defensive pose firing and Imperial Blaster, Darth Vader is clenching his fist in a scene that has clearly been inspired by The Empire Strikes Back and Boba Fett is launching into the air with his jetpack gushing out fire.

      In addition to this, all three pictures are very dramatic and the artist has not only captured the magic of Star Wars but has also created three images that almost jump out at you due to a clever use of light and shadow. Noy only is this a well made puzzle but it is also a fantastic visual feast !

      ~~~ My experiences so far as a "puzzler" ... ~~~

      When I first opened the present I have to admit that I was a little disappointed because as I mentioned earlier I am not a jigsaw puzzle enthusiast at all. However, my skeptisism quickly vanished the moment I opened the box ! With my son safely tucked up in bed I emptied the contents onto the table and just like my dad I very carefully sorted out the pieces into two types (edge pieces and middle pieces) ... see, I did pay attention as a child, dad !!! The next thing I did was to join all the edge pieces together ... which took me well over an hour. With the edge pieces done I was ready to start filling in the middle and if I am being 100% honest I found this challenging and fun. Whilst doing the puzzle I have realised that Ravensbuger do indeed make high quality puzzles as each piece fits perfectly into place with a satisfying snap ... the nearer I get to completing the puzzle the more impressive the picture looks ...

      At this point in the time the puzzle is around 75% complete ... it has been a busy time of year ! Every time I walk past the table I stand over the puzzle and try to place a few more pieces in ... it has been mentioned that I look quite a lot like my dad in terms of posture and facial expression !!!

      Finally, I'm not sure if the fact that I have claimed the dining room table as a puzzle zone has been the most popular decision I have made this year either but up until now it has been "tolerated". It has been suggested that I "invest" in a puzzle mat and seeing as I am enjoying doing this jigsaw so much who knows ... maybe I will !

      ~~~ Cost & Availabilty ~~~

      This puzzle cost just £8 from the Puzzle Store at Meadowhall and believe me it has generated hours of interactive entertainment. It looks stunning, has clearly been produced to the highest standard and is something I can put back in the box and take back out again on a rainy day. Ravensburger Puzzles are sold at all good toy stores and if Star Wars doesn't interest you am more than sure that you will be able to find a puzzle with a picture that matches one of your interests.

      ~~~ Final Thoughts ~~~

      As an avid video games fan who has recently picked up a jigsaw puzzle for the first time in years all I can say is that it has been a refreshing and highly enjoyable experience ... thanks dad !

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      • Mattel Batman Batmobile / Toy Car / 147 Readings / 144 Ratings
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        20.12.2010 22:11
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        Holy dooyoo Toy Review ... To the Batmobile !!!

        ~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~

        In 1939 artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger collaborated on Issue 27 of Detective Comics and introduced a new character called "The Batman". Now, 71 years later, the character they created is still going strong ...

        In the seventies Batman was given his own cult TV series and from the late eighties he was given his "silver screen" debut and quickly became an iconic movie character (who to this day is still constantly being re-invented). He also appears as an cartoon hero for younger viewers in "Batman: The Animated Series" and is still a DC Comics "regular" on the shelves of any comic shop you wander into.

        Now, you might not be a Batman enthusiast yourself but you will surely have heard of the "Bat-Cave", the "Bat-Signal" and of course the "Batmobile" ...

        ~~~ THE BATMOBILE: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION ~~~

        The Batmobile is possibly one of the most iconic vehicles that the superhero genre has ever created and over the years it's had numerous designs. One thing, however, that has always remained the same is the fact that like it's owner the Batmobile is sleek, powerful looking and packs an array of state of the art technology and weapons.

        Toy manufacturers have, of course, constantly kept up with Batman and the Batmobile has been a bestselling toy since I was a kid. These days Batmobiles appear in many different toy lines, from the small die cast vehicles that school children can keep in their pockets to large scale remote control cars that appeal to the gadget freaks ... there's a Batmobile out there for everyone !!!

        ~~~ THE MATTEL BATMOBILE ~~~

        The Mattel Batmobile was produced about two years ago as part of the "Batman: The Animated Series" toy line. This range was aimed at younger fans and is therefore more of a toy than a collectable. The "Batman: Animated Series" toy line consisted of a number of single figures, playsets and vehicles that enabled fans to re-enact their favourite scenes from Gotham City ... the Batmobile was possibly the most sought after toy in the range (and has since been recently re-packaged and re-launced).

        In terms of the design the Mattel Batmobile cleverly blends the classic Batmobile appearance with a hint of futuristic technology. Yes it looks sleek and cool and sophisticated but it also comes packed with plenty of action packed technology too. At the rear of the vehicle the "fins" are made from a clear blue plastic which yet again blends the classic design with a futuristic theme and of course the Bat Symbol appears on the front of the vehicle (just as it appears on the front of Batman's costume !

        What about the technology though and does this toy pack a Kapow-like punch that would make Batman's creators proud ? Well the answer to that question is ... it does indeed ! Firstly, by pressing the button at the rear of the Batmobile you a treated to a light and sound show that includes a vrooming engine, a zooming acceleration sound effect and a splendid wheel screeching noise. The hidden LEDs also illuminate the light blue tail fins ... which is actually quite an impressive effect. In addition to this there's also a second button which you can press that reveals two hidden missile launcher which flip out ffrom the side of the Batmobile ... and yet again the missile launchers are accompanied by a range of authentic light and sound effects.

        Sadly, Mattel decided to go the way that so many toy manufacturers have gone and released the Batmobile with a "Action Figure Not Included" message ... but seeing as Batman: The Animated Series toys are everywhere these days it shouldn't be too hard to find a Batman action figure to sit inside the Batmobile should you manage to track one down.

        As a toy car the Mattel Batmobile is extremely well designed and more importantly it's also very well made too. I bought my son this toy second hand from a carboot sale and it was in perfect working order ... several months later I can honestly say that it's had plenty of bumps and bangs and scrapes from my toddler and is still in one piece. As a Batman fan myself I can fully appreciate just how "cool" this toy is ... and if I was a child again it would certainly get played with on a daily basis.

        ~~~ PRICE & AVAILABILTY ~~~

        As I mentioned earlier, I bought my son this Batmobile from a carboot sale during the summer for a bargain price of just £2 ... but have since seen the same toy in a number of stores such as TK Maxx, Quality Save, Home Bargains and Wilkinsons (usually selling for around £10). Toys R Us also stock an impressive range of Batman: The Animated Series toys too but I think the Batmobile is now out of stock and sitting in the warehouses of many of the bargain stores I have just mentioned. It may be worth checking out eBay too because at the time this toy was released it was a "best-seller" so there may be many parents out there who are now in the process of having a clearout (???).

        ~~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~~

        The Mattel Batmobile is a very impressive toy ... beautifully designed, packed with impressive features and extremely made and tough. Highly recommended ...

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          20.12.2010 02:54
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          Wired for Sound ...

          ~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~

          I have owned an Xbox 360 for around four years now and I am an avid gamer. I often play online games and (as any online gamer will know) using a headset is an essential part of the process as it allows you to communicate with your fellow gamers whilst experiencing the soundtrack and sound effects of the actual game itself. Up until a couple of months ago I had simply used the standard Xbox headset that came with the console but a friend of mine had recommended "upgrading" to a Turtle Beach Headset as (in his words) I would be "blown away" !

          ~~~ THE TURTLE BEACH X11 HEADSET: INITIAL SET-UP ~~~

          On opening the box I was initially quite disappointed to see quite a few wires. One of the reasons I love my Xbox is that unlike previous consoles I have owned the Xbox 360 has both a wireless wifi system as well as wireless controllers. I personally hate wires and had enjoyed the sense of freedom that playing on the 360 seemed to create. However, the wires were there for a reason and after a quick perusal of the instruction booklet it didn't take me long to set the headset up (essentially, all you need to do is connect the audio wires to the TV and link the TV's audio port with the console). I also discovered that the headset has a USB link to the console too ... this link is a strke of genius as it provides the power to the headset so there isn't a need for any batteries ! I am aware that Turtle Beach have also produced a wireless version of this headset but it retails at well over £100 which (in my opinion) makes putting up with a few wires seem like a sensible thing to do !!!

          To be completely honest the wires did not seem as problematic as I thought that they were going to be ... but the real test of whether the headset justified the £40 I paid for it would only be discovered once they were used ... with that in mind I fired up the 360, inserted the Modern Warfare 2 disc and, using the words of my friend, I prepared myself to be "blown away" ...

          ~~~ THE TURTLE BEACH X11 HEADSET: TRIED & TESTED ~~~

          In terms of functionality the X11 Headset is far more advanced than the standard Xbox headsets that come with the console. This is because the headset cleverly allows you to personalise the audio levels of both the game itself and the live chat you hear when playing alongside other online gamers. You can also set your required sound levels during the game and even have the option to put the live chat element in "mute mode" should you find what you are hearing either unhelpful, distracting or offensive. This in itself is a massive improvement to my previous headset as I now find that I no longer have to end an online gaming session when I seem to be up against a player whose favourite word seems to start with an "F" !

          However, that aside, the one aspect of the Turtle Beach X11 Headset that makes it worth every single penny is the amazing quality of the sound experience it creates whilst playing a game. Not only is the sound crystal clear but it is also put into a realistic context in the way the sound itself is delivered. Let me explain ... an enemy soldier stepping on a twig behind you sounds like it is behind you, an aeroplane flying overhead does indeed sound like it has just passed over your head and in the heat of a battle the explosions you hear are realistic brought to life by the fantastic surround sound capabilities of the headset you are wearing. This not only adds a more realistic feel to the gameplay itself but it also allows you to respond to realtime events within the game. Therefore, if you hear a twig break behind you ... you either run for cover or turn round and make a stand !!!

          Finally, Turtle Beach have combined a stylish design with lightweight materials to create a headset that is extrememly comfortable to wear ... so much so that, to be be honest, it doesn't even feel as if you have a headset on at all.

          ~~~ TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ~~~

          >>> THE HEADSET <<<

          * 2 40mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
          * Speaker Frequency Response: 30Hz - 20kHz, >120dB SPL / 1kHz
          * Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz - 15kHz
          * Cable length: 4.877m
          * Weight: 233g

          >>> THE AMPLIFIER <<<

          * Headphone Amplifier: Stereo DC-coupled, 35mW/ch, THD <1%, Frequency Response: DC - 30kHz
          * Mic mute switch
          * Xbox controller 2.5mm input jack
          * Maximum analog input level with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mV rms)
          * 3.5mm plug for mic output
          * 3.5mm plug for line input
          * Weight: 36g
          * USB connector for power
          * Dimensions: Height (1.27cm), Width (5.08cm), Depth (1.905cm)

          ~~~ PRICE AND AVAILABILTY ~~~

          Turtle Beach headsets are everywhere ... just try googling "Turtle Beach" ! The X11 Headset retails between £30 and £70 but the average price seems to be around the £40 mark. I purchased my headset from my local Game store and paid £39.99. I have noticed,however, that in the run up to Christmas Game have been doing some pretty tasty offers with these headsets ... the kind of offers where you buy a certain game and get to buy the headset for half price. Therefore, if you are considering "investing" in a Turtle Beach Headset yourself I would recommend that a visit to your local Game Store may be a good starting point.

          ~~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~~

          I have been using my Turtle Beach X11 Headset for a few months now and I have not been disappointed at all. As a communication device it delivers crystal clear comms between other online players and yourself that the standard Xbox headset failed to deliver. Added to this is the fact that the actual gameplay itself is enhanced due to the the surround sound output of the two powerful speakers. My friend had told me that I would be "blown away" and he wasn't wrong. If you are an avid online gamer or would simply like to further enhance your 360 experience then an X11 Headset is highly recommended ...

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          • Gear4 Streetparty PG73 / PC Speaker / 92 Readings / 89 Ratings
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            16.12.2010 21:50
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            Proof that a bargain price tag can also be a best buy too... highly recommended !

            ~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~

            When MP3 players were first launched they took the world by storm and it was almost unbelievable that a small handheld device would enable you to take your entire music collection with you on the move. It was of course Apple that took the MP3 player to new and dizzy heights and with the success of the iPod came the inevitable battle between hundreds of manufacturers who flooded the market with a variety of "unofficial" accessories. You only need to walk into an Apple Store to realise that official iPod accessories are quite expensive so it's easy to understand how manufacturers such as Gear4 have found that there products have become bestsellers.

            Anyway, I recently bought a 2nd Generation iPod from a friend for an extremely reasonable price and decided that I would keep it in the kitchen so that I wouldn't have to have the sound system from the living room on at an almost deafening level if I wanted to listen to music whilst cooking a meal. All I needed then was an iPod dock to connect it to. The choice was mind boggling and iPod docks were being sold for as cheap as a pound and as expensive as an actual iPod !!!

            I didn't really want to spend too much so when I found the Gear4 Streetparty on Amazon for just £6.99 I thought I would give it go ...

            ~~~ WHAT'S IN THE BOX ? ~~~

            The Gear4 Streetparty Speaker system is essentially a plug and play docking system that can be used the second you open the box. The box contains the docking unit, 4 AAA batteries and an instruction manual ... all you need to do is insert the batteries connect your iPod nano and you're up and running ! The model I have is black but in terms of appearance looks exactly the same as the image provided by dooyoo ...

            ~~~ TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS ~~~

            * Dock Type: Single Case Speaker System
            * Compatability: 1st & 2nd Generation iPod Nanos
            * Number of Speakers: 2
            * Speaker Type: Active
            * Signal Input: Analogue
            * USB: Yes
            * Wattage per Speaker Channel (RMS): 3

            ~~~ TRIED AND TESTED ~~~

            The Gear4 Streetparty has an extremely simple yet quite eye-catching design and as a docking unit is easy to use and performs well. It is also compatable with both 1st and 2nd Generation nanos and the design of the unit works well with the size and shape of the iPod itself.

            The real test, however, is the quality of the sound and, despite the bargain £6.99 price tag, the Gear4 Streetparty kicks out an impressive audio output that in my experience iPod docks costing ten times as much fail to deliver. My own music collection is extremely varied and whether it's rock, indie, pop or dance the speakers never fail to capture each individual note and even when I have the music on quite loud the sound is crisp, clear and fills the room with sound.

            In addition to this, the Gear4 Streetparty is also extremely well made. It's both strong and sturdy and the design of the unit also protcects your nano (which fits snuggly and securely into the front of the dock in a space that holds your iPod firmly in place). In terms of these speakers being portable I would have no issues carrying this dock from A to B as the iPod nano is both securely attached to the unit and protected by the overall design. The nano also compliments the design of the dock too which for me is another bonus as all too often MP3 players look lost or out of place when connected to some of the larger or more extravagent looking speaker systems.

            So far, so good but if I did have a negative comment to make about the Gear4 Streetparty it would be that it didn't come with either a mains connection or a remote control unit. I do know that the docking units that are powered by a mains connection also charge your iPod whilst you are playing your tunes and although the Gear4 Streetparty gets several hours of use out of 4 AAA batteries it is annoying when the batteries start to run out power and you need to change them. As for the remote control I know it's not an essential item but it would have been a nice touch !

            ~~~ PRICE & AVAILABILITY ~~~

            Gear4 products are available everywhere thesedays and can be found at almost every major electrical retailer and department store as well as being on the shelves of numerous "bargain" stores. It's a similar case online where you will discover that the Gear4 Streetparty (nano) is being sold for as little as £6.99 on Amazon but is also being sold for as much as £39.99 on the official Gear4 website ! It certainly isn't worth £40 quid but if you are looking for a reliable speaker dock for your iPod nano that kicks out an impressive room filling sound for less than a tenner then the Gear4 Streetparty won't disappoint.

            ~~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~~

            With a mains connection lead and a remote control unit this would have been given 5 stars. However, that aside, the quality of the sound, the eye-catching yet simple design and the £6.99 price tag has made the Gear4 Streetparty one of my "best buys" of 2010. It may not be a cutting edge gadget or a market leader but in terms of pumping out the tracks stored on my iPod nano it certainly delivers ...

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              13.12.2010 21:59
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              May the Forks be with you ... but not on Chinese take-away night !

              ~~ INTRODUCTION ~~

              A couple of weeks ago on the journey between work and the railway station I went into Forbidden Planet in Leeds for a quick browse and as it's almost Christmas the store was packed to the rafters with goodies ! The Star Wars merchandise was particularly impressive and, seeing as it was payday I purchased a 2011 Star Wars Calendar for the house, an Artoo Deetoo Playdoh Set for my son and a Yoda mug for work ...

              I was just about to pay for these items when I noticed the Lightsaber Chopsticks hanging from a hook behind the counter ... seeing as I am always trying to add new and unusual items to my Star Wars collection I bought a twin pack.

              ~~ LIGHTSABER CHOPSTICKS ~~

              Japanese sci-fi manufacturers Kotobukiya have consistently produced a range of high quality Star Wars gifts and memorabilia over the years and the Star Wars Chopsticks are a great example of a functional product with an authentic movie feel.

              The two pairs of chopsticks have been extremely well designed because in terms of screen accuracy they are both perfect ! The detail on the lightsaber hilts is impressive and nothing has been missed (every single curve, groove and button has been included). Similarly, the blades themselves are also authentic looking as they have been created using a transparent (almost luminous) material which looks highly effective against the metalic colour of the hilts.

              The Darth Vader chopsticks are 9 inches long and the Yoda chopsticks are 7 inches long and they are sturdy, strong and dishwasher safe. I think that this is important to point out because they have clearly been manufactured with longevity in mind and haven't simply been mass produced as a gimmick item !!!

              Finally, in addition to the chopsticks you also get two chopstick stands which you can use to balance your chopsticks on. Each chopstick stand is made from clear perspex and has the Star Wars logo etched on it in the same colours as the lightsaber blades.

              ~~ COST & AVAILABILITY ~~

              The twin pack of Kotobuyika Lightsaber Chopsticks I purchased cost £11.99 from Forbidden Planet which is pretty reasonable because not only are they well made but they are also pretty impressively screen accurate in terms of scale and design. They are for sale at the Official Star Wars online store (StarWarsShop.com) as can also be found on Play.com too for around a tenner. In addition to the Darth Vader and Yoda twin set you can also buy a Luke Skywalker and Yoda set as well as a Mace Windu and Darth Maul twin pack.

              ~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~

              One of the hardest things I find when writing a review is choosing a title ... and this review started out as "The Utensils Strikes Back". I had finished the review and wasn't happy with the title at all so changed it to "The Soy Sauce is strong in this one" ... I still wasn't happy !
              Then I remembered a joke that a friend once told me ...

              Luke Skywalker and Han Solo take Princess Leia out for a meal. Princess Leia has pasta, Han has a steak, and Luke opts for noodles. Luke can't seem to get the hang of the chopsticks though and ends up dropping food all over the table ... he gets upset, annoyed and then angry.
              Just then the spirit of Obi Wan Kenobi appears and offers the young Jedi a few words of wisdom ... "Use the forks Luke ... "

              Admittedly, not the best joke in the Galaxy but a great title for this review !!!

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              • Olbas Inhaler / Coughs, Colds & Flus / 98 Readings / 98 Ratings
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                05.12.2010 16:39
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                Avoid ... stick to original Olbas Oil if you want fast and effective relief.

                ~~ INTRODUCTION ~~

                I recently wrote a very positive review about Olbas Oil ... a review in which I whole-heartedly recommended this most magical mixture of natural ingredients to anyone who needed to battle the symptoms of cold and flu. At the moment I feel a little under the weather and whilst at the supermarket noticed a product that I have never tried before ... an Olbas Inhaler. As it was less than a pound I thought I would give it go.

                ~~ THE OLBAS INHALER: TRIED AND TESTED ~~

                The Olbas Inhaler is essentially a small tube with an outer sleeve. It is recommended for anyone over six years old and has a warning on the packaging to use it no more than four times an hour.

                To use it all you need to do is unscrew the sleeve, insert the tube into your nostril, close your other nostril and breathe in through your nose. As an Olbas "fan" this sounded like a wonderful idea. The soothing vapours of Olbas Oil had apparently been captured inside a handy tube meaning there was no need to be messing around with tissues. In addition to this, it was also a product I could take with me in my pocket and use whenever I needed to clear my stuffy head and blocked nose ... that was the theory anyway !!!

                In reality I found the product to be hugely disappointing ! To begin with unlike "pure" Olbas Oil it didn't instantly relieve my symptoms. With Olbas Oil all I need to do is gently breathe in the vapours and I find my nose clearing quite quickly and any stuffiness in my head feeling relieved. With the Olbas Inhaler I discovered that you have to actually breathe in quite powerfully for the product to have any sort of outcome.

                This in turn lead to another problem when I found that the actual process of inserting the tube into my nostril and breathing in through my nose was actually giving me a headache. It seems that in order for it to be in any way effective you do need to put quite a bit of effort in and I was left feeling both lightheaded and out of breath !

                My final issue with this product was that it just didn't seem to have an authentic Olbas "fragrance" and on closer inspection of the packaging I discovered that the active ingredients within the product are significantly different to the ingredients in Olbas Oil. I am not sure why this is the case but the main ingredient in the Inhaler is Levomenthol (40%) and somehow this gives the vapour that is released a fragrance that it actually significantly different to Olbas Oil.

                ~~ ACTIVE INGREDIENTS ~~

                * Cajiput Oil (20%)
                * Eucalyptus Oil (20%)
                * Peppermint Oil (20%)
                * Levomenthol (40%)

                ~~ COST & AVAILABILTY ~~

                My Olbas Inhaler was just 87p from Asda and having checked out a few proces online whilst writing this review it seems an average price (the most expensive I found was £1.49 and the least expensive was just 50p). It may be significantly less expensive than a bottle of tradtional Olbas Oil and you could be fooled into thinking it a better purchase ... my advice would be to stick to the original product !

                ~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~

                On first appearances this seems like an essential item for anyone who finds Olbas Oil soothing. It is easy to use, handy to take with you and much less of a fuss than using traditional Olbas Oil. In reality, however, it is a poor substitute for the genuine article ... it takes a lot longer to work, the vapour that is released seems less effective and if you are blocked up and struggling to breathe then the actual method of using it (and the effort needed) leaves you feeling lightheaded.

                The greatest disappointment, however, is the fact that this product doesn't even seem to be connected to the Olbas Oil I know and love. The vapours have a very different smell and the effectiveness of this product is shocking !!!

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                  19.11.2010 22:46
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                  Highly recommended !

                  ~~~ DATA STORAGE ~~~

                  These days data storage has become an essential part of so many people's daily life. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that USB devices have become the simple but effective way of storing sizeable amounts of data and taking them with you wherever you go. They are small enough to fit into the palm of your hand yet they can hold an entire music collection and your most treasured photos and there's still room for the odd CV, spreadsheet and report ...

                  When data storage devices first hit the market they were of course very utilitarian in appearance but it wasn't long before they started to evolve. These days, of course, they are sold in a variety of different colours, shapes and sizes ... and many are based on popular themes. As a Star Wars fan I was delighted when I realised that Mimobot had released a range of Star Wars USB Flash Drives and I went straight online and bought myself a C-3PO one. However, I also received the Darth Maul USB Flash Drive as a gift and despite being fond of my original purchase I have to admit that it's the Darth Maul one that goes everywhere with me these days !

                  ~~~ THE DARK SIDE OF DATA STORAGE ~~~

                  What Mimobot have got so "right" is to combine something very useful with something very cool ... and it's this perfect mix of both substance and style that makes the Darth Maul USB Flash Drive such a wonderful gadget. The Flash Drive itself is a wonderfully designed (and chunky) charicature of Darth Maul. The USB connection is (of course) hidden and can be accessed by pulling apart the head and body of the character. It's also important to point out that this is a very well made USB Flash Drive and feels sturdy. Infact Mimobot are so confident with their product that they include a two year warranty in the box and will replace the USB Flash Drive free of charge should it either become damaged or stop working. I'm sure that you will agree that it's that kind of guarantee that adds a little more confidence when making any purchase.

                  ~~~ ADDED EXTRAS ~~~

                  In addition to this product being both eye-catching and extremely useful Star Wars fans will also be delighted to know that each Mimobot also comes pre-loaded with a range of exclusive (and official) Star Wars content. The Darth Maul USB Flash Drive contains several wallpapers, icons, avatars, videos and soundbites that can be transferred onto your own PC, laptop or mobile phone ... it's geek heaven !!!

                  ~~~ WHAT'S IN THE BOX ? ~~~

                  Mimobot's unique packaging is almost as well thought out as the design for the product it contains. Inside the packaging the USB Flash Drive is presented in the two seperate halves and there is also an additional treat of a Mimobot protective "carry case" ! Not only does this provide protection for your Mimobot and enable you to attach the Flash Drive to a key ring but it has also been cleverly designed to look like Darth Maul's Sith Robes ... once gain demonstrating that Mimobot have combined substance with style !

                  ~~~ PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS ~~~

                  * The Mimobot USB Flash Drive comes in three sizes (2.0GB & 4.0GB & 8.0GB).
                  * The dimensions of the Flash Drive are as follows ... 60 x 27 x 13mm.
                  * It can stores data, pictures, videos and music.
                  * The device is classed as a Hi-Speed 2.0 USB.
                  * It is both MAC and WINDOWS compatible.


                  ~~~ THE MIMOBOT STAR WARS RANGE ~~~

                  In addition to Darth Maul, Mimobot have released a range of Star Wars themed Flash Drives and what they do well is to relaese these as "limited editions" so that they do not swamp the market or end up in the bargain bins ! Fan favourites such as Luke Skywalker, Yoda, R2-D2 and Boba Fett have all had the Mimobot make-over and in terms of both functionality and style they have all proved to be best-sellers. If you are tempted by the Dark Side of Data Storage yourself or know a Star Wars fan who would love one of these as a gift then the 2GB Mimobots retails for around £25. They certainly are not the cheapest USB Flash Drive on the market but in terms of the unique design, the "free" carry case that's included and the bonus Star Wars content on the actual Flash Drive then they are (in my opinion) an original gadget that's worth splashing out on !!!

                  ~~~ BREAKING NEWS ... GET YOUR VERY OWN "FREE" STAR WARS MIMOBOT ~~~

                  I popped into GAME briefly on the way home from work today and saw that the eagerly anticipated sequel, The Force Unleashed 2, has been released as both a "standard" and as a "collectors" edition. The good news for Star Wars fans is that for just an extra tenner the collectors edition comes with a whole host of goodies ... one of which is a Limited Edition STARKILLER MIMOBOT !!! To say that Mimobots usually sell for around the £25 mark it almost makes sense to spend an extra tenner because in addition to the Mimobot the collectors edition also comes with a variety of other "freebies" ...

                  ~~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~~

                  It's fun but it's functional. It's well made too and it works like a dream. The added extras are a nice touch too as is the two year warranty that gives a little extra reassurance. As a stocking filler for a Star Wars fan it's something that they would treasure ... it's also something that they would find very useful and would be sure to use on a regular basis.

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                    14.11.2010 00:05
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                    Welcome to the world of "Fridge Raiding" !!!

                    ~~~ Fridge Raiders ~~~

                    A year or two ago I can remember seeing an advert on TV for Mattessons Fridge Raiders. It featured a bloke who turned into a werewolf and spent his nights raiding his fridge ... it was quite an entertaining advert but it didn't make me rush out to the 24 hour supermarket to buy myself a pack. Infact, up until today I have never even bought a pack of Fridge Raiders or even tasted one ...

                    Today, however, I was passing the fridge at my local Costcutter and they caught my eye. I had only popped out for a Lotto ticket and a bottle of milk too, but, you know how it is ! They were on offer so I bought three packs for the price of two. They usually sell at 82p a pack ... so three packs for £1.64 seemed like a bargain.

                    I returned home, popped them in the fridge and sat down to watch the X-Factor ...

                    ~~~ Fridge Raiding ~~~

                    During an ad break during the X-Factor I jumped up to make a drink and whilst getting the milk from the fridge grabbed the Roast Chicken pack of Fridge Raiders.

                    My initial reaction after opening the packet was "Is that it ?" because despite the actual packet being quite large the "Bites" themselves are quite small and 80% of the pack seems to be fresh air ! In terms of taste they wer actually pretty tasty ... unlike other meat based snacks I have tried they didn't taste artificial and the "roast chicken" flavour tasted genuine rather than tasting manufactured. As I said before, however, each individual bite is quite small and as they are quite "more-ish" the pack was quickly emptied and I found myself wandering back to the fridge to grab another pack.

                    ~~~ MMMMMMattessons ~~~

                    Each 65g pack of Mattessons Fridge Raiders contains 15 bite sized pieces of cooked and ready to eat chicken and the packaging clearly states that they are 100% "seasoned chicken breast". Of course the product itself isn't actually 100% chicken (that really would be too good to be true wouldn't it?) but on closer inspection of the packaging I did discover that they are an impressive 91% chicken ... which is considerably higher than similar meat snacks.

                    A pack of Fridge Raiders contains 111 calories and just 4.5g of fat and in addition to the original Roast Chicken variety also come in the following "flavours" ... Southern Fried Chicken, Barbeque, Tikka and Vindaloo. I bought the Southern Fried Chicken, Tikka and Original Roast Chicken ones.

                    ~~~ Final Thoughts ~~~

                    Mattessons Fridge Raiders certainly aren't the best snack I have ever tasted but they are from the bottom of the list too. They are very meaty, they do taste quite authentic and they do come in a range of flavours that will appeal to a wide range of people. However, one pack of these didn't fill me up (which was disappointing) and I found myself wandering back into the kitchen to raid my own fridge ...

                    I'm not saying I have turned into a werewolf yet but I can now sympathise with the character I once saw on the Fridge Raiders TV ad as he must have been bloody starving !!!!!!!

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                      07.11.2010 18:21
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                      Impressive, most impressive !

                      PLEASE READ > Before you read this review I would just like you all to be aware that although I do not own this product I was present at the product lauch and have since spent an entire extended weekend thoroughly testing it out ... essentially as I want to buy one myself ! During that weekend, I used all of the features I have described and was impressed by how well the product worked, it's ease of use and the quality of the visual and audio output. Also, I am in regular contact with one of my best friends who still owns this product and as far as he is concerned it is both durable and efficient and he has had no technical issues, problems or glitches in the year and half that he has owned it. I would not write a review on a product that I had no experience with ...

                      Anyway, many thanks for reading my newly added introduction and I hope you enjoy reading the rest of my latest review.
                      Best wishes, Gray.

                      ~ ARTOO DEETOO, WHERE ARE YOU ? ~

                      R2-D2 is perhaps one of the most iconic "droids" from the Star Wars Saga and Nikko have created a product that is simply "out of this world". What they have essentially done is to create a fully functioning half scale R2-D2 Unit and packed it full with an impressive amount of technology.

                      ~ R2-D2: THE "ULTIMATE" PROJECTOR ~

                      Firstly, as a media projector, Artoo performs an outstanding job. This is because just like the on-screen Artoo he can move. The remote control allows you move him backwards and forwards and he can also turn ... which means without having to touch the projector unit itself you can fully control where you would like your projected images and movies to be. In addition to this, his head unit can also turn from left to right and when you combine this level of movement with the fact that he can also tilt and automatically focus the image you suddenly realise that the accuracy of the projected image is far more superior to that of any other projector on the market.

                      This in itself would be fantastic, but there's more to this little droid then you could possibly imagine. So, before you read another word of this review, don't let the word "projector" make you think that this is simply a gimmick because it isn't. Nikko haven't just produced a projector with a Star Wars theme, because what they have actually produced is a complex home entertainment system that will serve your every need.

                      ~ A DROID WHO CAN SERVE ALL YOUR HOME ENTERTAINMENT NEEDS ! ~

                      So, having dealt with the basics let's move on because underneath that shiny dome R2-D2 has mind-boggling array of functions that will have any technology enthusiast grinning from ear to ear !

                      With a press of a button on the impressive looking Millennuim Falcon Remote Control you can open up Artoo's hidden control panel. Here you will discover that Artoo can play all your favourite CDs and DVDs. If you fancy watching a movie beamed onto your bedroom ceiling then just tap the remote control and Artoo will trundle around and beam the image upwards. However, if you don't want a movie as a projection then plug Artoo into a television ... because when not in "projector" mode he becomes the coolest looking DVD player in the Galaxy !!!

                      With fully integrated surround sound speakers, R2-D2 is also an impressive sound system too ... add to this the fact that Artoo is also compatable with your xBox, PS3 or Wii then you can start to realise that in terms of a complete home entertainment system the Nikko R2-D2 is something rather special indeed.

                      So far I have told you that R2-D2 can project images and movies onto any surface and through your televison, that he can play your Cds and DVDs through his integrated surroud sound speakers and that quite magically he can be made to trundle around your home by using the remote control ... but what else can he do ? Tech fans read on ...

                      ~ R2-D2: FULLY SUPPORTS ALL THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY ~

                      In addition to everything I have decribed Artoo is also fully up to date in terms of the latest technology and compatability. For example, if you own an iPhone or an iPod then feel free to access Artoo's hidden iPod dock ... not only will the droid play your tunes through the impressive surround sound speakers but he will also beam your iPods menu onto a nearby wall. He is also fully compatable with a vast array of data sticks, USB devices and memory cards.

                      Also, imagine if your boss wanted you to deliver the winning sales pitch. Why not take Artoo along with you. Not only will R2-D2 provide you with the technical wizardry as he tootles into the board room and beams your powerpoint presentation onto the wall but he will also be able to transmit any data you need to send out to your colleagues ...

                      ~ R2-D2: EVERY STAR WARS FANS DREAM PRODUCT ~

                      Finally, in addition to the impressive array of technical specifications in terms of image projection accuracy, home entertainment functions and media compatability the Nikko R2-D2 projector is also the most impressive Star Wars remore control toy that I have ever seen. I have already mentioned that you can fully control Artoo's movement using the remote control unit but he also comes packed with a variety of pre-loaded sound effects from the Star Wars movies.

                      Imagine inviting your new girlfriend around to watch a movie. The lights are dimmed. The pizza has arrived and the drinks are flowing. Then without warning R2-D2 trundles through the door, pivots his head and beams her favourite chick flick onto the screen

                      ..................................................................... GENIUS !!!

                      >>> THE R2-D2 PROJECTOR: PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS <<<

                      * The size of R2-D2 is an impressive 190mm (H) x 140mm (W) x 75mm (D)
                      * This means the R2 Unit is exactly half the size of the model used in the movies.
                      * The weight of the projector is a hefty 10kg ... but there are hidden carry handles within the droids legs.
                      * R2-D2 can be plugged directly into the mains but can also run off a 7.2 NiMH battery.
                      * The impressive thing about the battery is that it automatically recharges itsefl so Artoo is always ready and fully charged.
                      * The specs for the display system are as follows ... 2x LVDS DLP with DDP 2230.
                      * The maximum projection size is 6.6 m diagonal (260')
                      * The minimum and maximum projection distances are 1.0m/10m
                      * The image resolution is 1024 x 768 XGA
                      * The brightness is 1800 Lumen
                      * The contrast is 1800:1
                      * Input connections are as follows ... RCA (composite video), mini DIN (S-video), RCA (Audio L/R) and DVI-I PC/Mac.
                      * And finally the output connections are as follows ... stereo headphones jack, optical audio digital OUT, RCA Video, RCA Audio and a 5 channel FM wireless audio transmission.

                      >>> THE DVD & CD PLAYER SPECIFICATIONS <<<

                      * The projector has a fully integrated DVD/CD player.
                      * The gadgetry is truly wonderful and a hidden slide-out control panel can be accessed to control all of the projector's functions.
                      * It fully supports the following media formats: DVD-video, DVD-R/RW, WMA, MP3, MP4, JPEG, DivX 3.0-5.03.
                      * The audio specs are an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 Ch, DTS 2.0.

                      >>> IPOD, GAMES CONSOLE, MEMORY CARD & USB COMPATABILITY <<<

                      * In addition to it's DVD/CD player functions this projector is fully compatible with all models of iPods.
                      * Simply connect your iPod to the iPod Dock (hidden within Artoo's body) and all audio, photo and video files can be accessed ... Artoo even projects your iPod's menu onto the wall !!!
                      * Gamers will also find that Artoo can be used to enhance their gaming experience as the he is also compatible with xBox, PS3 and Wii.
                      * Finally, Artoo also supports all SD memory cards, smart media, multi media cards, USB flash memory sticks ... and in addition to video, images and music can also deliver high quality power point presentations, slideshows and animation.

                      >>> SOUND & AUDIO SPECIFICATIONS <<<

                      * Artoo has fully integrated speakers (stereo and surround sound)
                      * These speakers are 2 x 10 W giving a total of 20 Watt audio power.
                      * The speakers include tweeters to further enhance the audio capabilities.

                      >>> THE REMOTE CONTROL UNIT <<<

                      * The remote control unit is a fantastic highly detailed 1/100 scale model of the Millennium Falcon that comes with an impressive looking stand.
                      * As expected, the remote control can be used to control all the "normal" features of the media unit (such as play, pause, rewind, fast-forward etc)
                      * However, in addition to this the remote can also be used to bring R2-D2 to life ...
                      *R2-D2 can move forwards, backwards, turn left and turn right.
                      *His body can also be tilted to enable ceiling projection.
                      *Just like in the movies Artoo also has rotating headunit (45º left, 45º right) ... and again this feature can be accessed whilst the unit is functioning as a media player !

                      ~ WHAT'S IN THE BOX ? ~

                      * The R2-D2 DVD projector.
                      * A Millennium Falcon remote control
                      * A stand for the Millennium Falcon remote control
                      * A power cable
                      * A 7.2V NiMH battery (R2-D2)
                      * 3 AA batteries (for the Millennium Falcon remote control)
                      * 3 AA batteries (for the Millennium Falcon stand)
                      * A lens cover
                      * An instruction manual (CD format)
                      * A quick set up manual (Booklet)
                      * A 2 year manufacturer's warranty from Nikko.

                      ~ COST & AVAILABILTY ~

                      The average cost of the Nikko R2-D2 projector is around £1000 at the moment but this is a massive reduction from the launch price of £2,500. The product itself was lauched at Celebration Europe in 2007 as part of the 30th Anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars movie. I remember watching the product being demonstrated and thinking "I gotta have me one of these" !!!

                      ~ HELP ME DOOYOO MILES, YOU'RE MY ONLY HOPE ~

                      At this point in time I am currently saving up to buy my very own Nikko R2-D2 projector. I own a massive amount of Star Wars merchandise that I have collected over the years but to own one of these would be (in my opinion) the icing on the cake. A couple of months ago I visited a good friend and fellow Star Wars fan who had one of these at home and believe me it fully lived up to expectation. The audio and visual quality that the unit produced was extremely impressive, the gadgetry (in terms of hidden controls and iPod docks) was superb and the size and scale of R2-D2 himself was breathtaking. The one thing, however, that makes this product worth every penny is the fact that under the shiny dome Artoo really does contain every single media need that you could ever possibly need.

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                      • Olbas Oil / Coughs, Colds & Flus / 129 Readings / 129 Ratings
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                        07.11.2010 00:29
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                        Highly recommended !

                        ~~~ TIS THE THE SEASON TO BE SNIFFLY ~~~

                        Tis the season to be sniffly ...
                        Tra-la la-la laa, la-la laa laaaaaa !!!

                        That's right folks the number of shopping days left until Christmas is being hotly debated on mind-numbing daytime TV shows and whilst outside the Autumn scenery is pleasing to the eye it's also the time of the year that many of us start with the snuffles, sneezes, coughs and wheezes !!!

                        In the supermarkets the B-B-Q stuff has been packed away and the medicine section seems to have suddenly become quite congested ... often by people suffering from congestion themselves !!! The lemony drinks, the cough "sweets" and the all in ones are the best sellers of course but let's not forget the natural remedies too ...

                        ~~~ OLBAS OIL ~~~

                        Olbas Oil is an inhalant decongestant that provides quick and effective relief from colds, catarrh, sinus problems, hayfever and bronchial and nasal congestion. It's a wonderful blend of pure essential oils and contains only natural ingredients. It also has a unique menthol fragrance ... a fragrance that has been created by a 70% blend of Eucalyptus and Mint Oil.

                        The fragrance of Olbas Oil is almost as recognisable as the rather old fashioned brown glass bottle it comes in. However, don't let the "old-skool" packaging fool you as Olbas Oil is a very popular product and is widely used when it comes to fighting the symptoms of a cold.

                        ~~~ SIMPLE TO USE ~~~

                        The easiest way to get the Olbas Oil straight to work is to simply remove the top and waft the bottle under your nose ! It's almost a miracle of nature that something so natural can be so effective ... but it really does get straight to work and provides an instant remedy to the symptoms that so many of us suffer with.

                        However, what most people do is add a few drops of Olbas Oil to a tissue ... the bottle itself has a "dropper" so this is easy to do. The tissue can then be taken with you and can then be used to provide instant relief by helping you to clear your stuffy nose, sinuses and head whenever you feel the need. The fragrance of the oil lasts for a long time too which makes buying a bottle of Olbas Oil extremely good value for money.

                        Another effective way of using Olbas Oil is to add a few drops to a tissue at night time and leaving it by your bed or tucked inside your pillowcase. Be warned though ... I once added a few drops to directly to my pillowcase and woke up in the morning with my eyes feeling as if they were on fire. Therefore, if using this product to provide nightime relief for young children I would recommend adding a couple of drops to a tissue and placing the tissue on the floor or under the bed where they will get the benefit without risking a similar outcome !

                        A third, and final, way of using Olbas Oil is to add a few drops to a bowl of boiling water and grabbing a towel to create a steamer. This method is extremely effective if you suffering from severe nasal congestion and a stuffy head. The Olbas infused steam provides genuine instant relief ... you can breathe more easily, your sinuses feel clearer and the pressure within your head is significantly eased.

                        ~~~ COST AND AVAILABILTY ~~~

                        Olbas Oil is available everywhere and in recent years a number of Olbas Oil themed products have been released too (such as Olbas Tissues). However, these are (in my opinion) inferior to the original product and my advice would be to stick to the genuine article as it is by far the most effective. Also, at around £4 for a large 28ml bottle your Olbas Oil will last you throughout the entire snuffly season and you'll still have enough left to help combat the symptoms of hayfever when the B-B-Qs go back on sale ot the supermarket !

                        ~~~ INGREDIENTS ~~~

                        Eucalyptus Oil BP (35.45%)
                        Dementholised Mint Oil BP (35.45%)
                        Cajiput Oil BPC (18.50%)
                        Menthol BP (4.10%)
                        Wintergreen Oil BPC '49 (3.70%)
                        Juniper Berry Oil BPC '49 (2.70%)
                        Clove Oil BP (0.10%)

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                          05.11.2010 00:29
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                          Ralph McQuarrie, the Force will be with you ... Always.

                          ~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~

                          In 1977 George Lucas introduced the world to a "Galaxy Far, Far Away". It was a Galaxy ruled by the evil Empire. It was a Galaxy where a young boy would set off on an adventure and discover his destiny.

                          It was also a Galaxy that introduced to us many memorable characters ... a beautiful princess, a happy go lucky smuggler, an enigmatic bounty hunter, a twisted Sith Lord and a wise old Jedi Knight. The Star Wars Galaxy was also inhabited by a multi-coloured array of aliens, creatures and droids.

                          ~~~ ARTOO & THREEPIO ~~~

                          Two of these "droids" were called R2-D2 and C-3PO. "Artoo" and "Threepio"are perhaps two of the most iconic characters to have been created by any Sci-Fi movie and even today their popularity is a strong as ever ... how many of you who are reading this review have seen them both recently wandering around a certain electrical store in the commercial breaks that provide us all with a few minutes to make a quick dash to the loo during the X-Factor ?

                          What many of you won't know, however, is that at the time that the original Star Wars movie was being created Artoo and Threepio had a very different look ... a look that was originally created by a truly wonderful artist called Ralph McQuarrie.

                          ~~~ RALPH McQUARRIE ~~~

                          Although George Lucas wrote and directed the very first Star Wars movie it was the artist Ralph McQuarrie that brought many of his weird and wonderful ideas to life. Darth Vader's mask, the armour worn by Stormtroopers and the Millennium Falcon were all created using the conceptual artwork and designs that were lovingly hand painted by McQuarrie. Many of the exotic locations and creatures were also created by McQuarrie who, incidentally, spent months on set alongside George Lucas bringing the "Star Wars Galaxy" to life !

                          In 2007, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Star Wars Saga, Hasbro released an exclusive range of "McQuarrie Concept" action figures. These were action figures based on the original concept sketches that Ralph MQuarrie produced ... the very first two packs that were released were "Luke Skywalker" and "R2-D2 & C-3PO" and they were launched in London in July 2007 at the Star Wars Celebration Europe event. I remember the day well and I was one of the thousands of fans who queued for over an hour to be one of the first people to get my hands on them !!!

                          On the day I paid £15 for the pair ... and that night I remember logging on to eBay and seeing that they were selling for an average price of around £70. They were produced as limited edition figures (hence the crazy eBay prices) and are therefore pretty hard to track down thesedays. However, if you do visit Toys R Us (who actually launched the promo figures at Celebration Europe) you may be lucky as they do occasionally have the odd McQuarrie Concept figure hiding amongst the other Star Wars toys !

                          ~~~ McQUARRIE CONCEPT R2-D2 & C-3PO ~~~

                          Whilst the McQuarrie Concept R2-D2 & C-3PO figures are an essential collectable for any Star Wars fan they are also a very special piece of movie memorabilia in their own right. This is because the production process has taken an original concept sketch for two of the most famous robots in movie history and has brought this artwork to life by creating two three-dimensional action figures. Th attention to detail is admirable and if you look carefully at McQuarrie's artwork on the packaging then you quickly realise that Hasbro have created a product that truly celebrates the artist's talents and achievements.

                          ~~~ McQUARRIE CONCEPT R2-D2 ~~~

                          In the movies Artoo Deetoo is a shiny white and blue astromech droid with a silver dome who trundles along on three legs. Although the general design and shape of the character remained very similar the McQuarrie Concept design you realise (when looking at the action figure) that the original idea for R2-D2 was much more utilitarian. The concept action figure is plainer in terms of colour (being simply a matt silvery-grey) but is much more complex in terms of "gadgetry" ! Whilst the on-screen Artoo often surprised us when his shell opened to reveal a hydro-spanner or a small cutting blade we see quite clearly on the concept action figure that the original idea was to have a droid with dozens of fold away extendable arms with a variety of purposes. This version of R2-D2 is less "cute" and much more "complex" ... but the idea behind the evolution of this character is also clear to see.

                          ~~~ McQUARRIE CONCEPT C-3PO ~~~

                          The shiny golden droid that appears on-screen in the Star Wars Saga is perhaps the most strikingly different in "concept" form. McQuarrie's original designs for C-3PO are much more "human" in appearance and the action figure appears more graceful and alive than the C-3PO that eventually was created for the filming of the movie. If anyone can remember the poster for the classic early sci-fi motion picture Metropolis then you will be able to see clear parrallels between the concept version of C-3PO and the futuristic robot that appeared on that poster. McQuarrie's Threepio is a dull bronze colour, with a human-like sorrowful expression and slender arms and legs. The shiny, awkward moving e see on screen is often rather clunky looking in contrast to this version.

                          ~~~ TOYS OR COLLECTABLES ? ~~~

                          Whilst the McQuarrie Concept action figures are clearly toys they would have very little relevance if given to a young Star Wars fan to play with. If you were looking to buy a younger Star Wars fan a couple of action figures then I would suggest buying them something from the new Clone Wars range. These toys are much more relevant as they are based on the new wave of CGI generated heroes and villains from the latest movie and ongoing TV series from Lucasfilm.

                          However, for an adult Star Wars fan or an older child with a genuine interest and understanding in the legacy of the Star Wars Galaxy then these action figures are highly recommended. On one level they are a little piece of movie memorabilia for every fan to own. On another level they are a a very personal celebration of the life and work of a very talented artist who worked tirelessly to bring the Star Wars Galaxy to life.

                          ~~~ FINAL THOUGHT ~~~

                          I once had the pleasure of meeting Ralph McQuarrie and on my wall at home I have the framed print of his original painting of Darth Vader which he signed for me. He was one of the most passionate and engaging people I have ever met and the way in which he discussed his creativity and how he found his early inspiration will stay with me forever.

                          The next time you watch a Star Wars movie just remember that although George Lucas is the man we always associate with the Star Wars Saga it was the artist Ralph McQuarrie who picked up a paintbrush in the early seventies and originally created so many of the visual treats that have made the Star Wars Saga such iconic and recognisable movies they still are to this day.

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                            02.11.2010 00:01
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                            The Star Wars Scanimation Book is highly recommended ...

                            Scanimation is magical ...
                            Scanimation is a wonderful blend of technology and tradition ...
                            Scanimation is bringing the Star Wars Galaxy to life at a bookshop near you ...

                            ~~~ Scanimation ~~~

                            Scanimation was created and developed by Rufus Butler Seder. The technique uses a patented technology that combines jumbled up artwork and images with a black and white striped piece of clear plastic to create a sense of motion and movement when you look at the image. The end result is a picture that literally comes to life when you turn the page and look at it. And, here's the clever bit, you don't need any special kind of glasses, you don't need to twist your neck to a certain position and you don't need to strain your eyes ... because all you have to do is look at the image and the magic of Scanimation brings it to life !!!

                            ~~~ The Star Wars Scanimation Book ~~~

                            In the Star Wars Scanimation book Rufus Butler Seder has carefully selected a dozen of the most iconic scenes from the Star Wars Saga and has magically brought them to life using his Scanimation technique.

                            Open up the book to discover the Millenium Falcon flying towards you as the Death Star explodes in the background, turn the page to watch Luke Skywalker riding a Taun Taun across the icy wastelands of Hoth and prepare to be amazed as yet another turn of the page reveals the dramatic lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. You literally won't believe your eyes as each new page you look at becomes a miniature movie ...

                            The Star Wars Scanimation Book has a unique charm. The optical illusions themselves are simply fascinating to look as they are essentially 2-D flat images which have somehow been brought to life. It costs around £10 and is, in my opinion, well worth it as it is a book that is genuinely entertaining and will be something you want to look at time and time again.

                            ~~~ Final Thoughts ~~~

                            I can remember going to a science museum when I was little and looking at some Victorian "moving picture" lanterns. I was amazed that the faster I moved the wheel the faster the picture moved. I also remember the museum guide explaining to us all that this was the very first "moving image" and would become the idea behind the technology that was later developed into a technique that lead to the very first motion picture being made.

                            In the Star Wars Scanimation book that same sense of wonder has been well and truly captured ... and you don't even have to be a Star Wars fan to appreciate the magic of this truly innovative book.

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                              25.10.2010 01:59
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                              Mini but mighty !!!

                              ~~~ BOBA FETT ~~~

                              As a character Boba Fett may not be as instantly recognisable as Darth Vader but the role he plays within the Star Wars Galaxy is just as important.

                              Within the Star Wars movies he was the Bounty Hunter who captured Han Solo and froze him in block of carbonite during the events of The Empire Strikes Back. In Return Of The Jedi, the "good guys" got their revenge and Boba Fett met a sticky end when he was thrown into the hungry mouth Saarlacc on Tatooine.

                              However, that was not the end of Boba Fett !!!

                              Despite having only a handful of lines in the original Star Wars Trilogy, Boba fett was clearly a "fan favourite" and his character was soon brought back to life in the ongoing series of Star Wars novels.

                              ~~~ LEGO STAR WARS ~~~

                              Several years ago the Star Wars Galaxy and the global phenomenon that is Lego collided with the release of the very first Star Wars Lego sets. The idea itself was so simple but, at the same time, so brilliant. Iconic Star Wars characters had been reinvented as Lego Mini Figures and they were an instant hit ! When Lego started to develop video games they chose the Star Wars Saga and very quickly captured the hearts and minds of kids and "big kids" everywhere.

                              ~~~ THE LEGO STAR WARS BOBA FETT KEYRING ~~~

                              The success of the Lego Star Wars range of toys, games and collectable merchandise has been most impressive and at the centre of this success are favourite characters such as Boba Fett. There's just something "cool" about the way that Lego Star Wars looks ...

                              The Lego Star Wars Boba Fett Keyring is a testament to the genius of the whole "Lego meets Star Wars" concept. As a Lego Mini Figure Boba Fett looks simply awesome. The iconoc Mandalorian Armour that Boba Fett wears has not lost any of it's style or substance and the visor, jumpsuit and jetpack are all screen accurate ...

                              Boba Fett is one of my own all time favourite Star Wars characters and I bought my Lego Star Wars Boba Fett Keyring from the online Lego store a couple of years ago for just £2.99. They aren't sold in many places though and if the Lonline Lego has sold out then I suggest you try and find them on eBay.

                              These days, Boba Fett joins me on my daily commute and hangs proudly from my laptop bag. He gets quite a few approving looks too ...

                              ~~~ FINAL THOUGHTS ~~~

                              If you a know a Star Wars fan then why not treat them to a Lego Star Wars Keyring. They're small, they're practical, they're great value for money and would make an excellent stocking filler. Above all ... they're cool !!!

                              THANKS FOR READING !!!

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                                24.10.2010 02:26
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                                Complete and utter bladderwrack ...

                                I love Original Source products and have been using them for years. Their range of products are constantly being created and then re-created and their formulas range from the delicate milky ones that leave you feeling calm and realxed right through to intense menthol solutions that wake you up instantly ! I have been particularly impressed by their "Original Source Men" range too ... and have purchased numerous products that have all left me feeling clean, refreshed and impressed !

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                                Imagine then, for a moment, the excitement I felt recently when I discovered and then bought what I felt would be another excellent product from Original Source. And then try to put yourself "in my shoes" and imagine how I felt throwing the container away after using it just the once !

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                                The product that I refer to was ORIGINAL SOURCE MEN REHYDRATING SPORTS WASH WITH NORWEGIAN SEA KELP AND ROCK SALT ... a product that claimed to "Put back in what life takes out" !

                                It was also a product that was described on the packaging as being ...

                                "Inspired by the oceans, this mineral packed formula will have you feeling lively in no time. What fresher way to start the day?"

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                                The container, like all Original Source products, was both simple but somehow eyecatching and the liquid inside was a beautiful shade of blue. It had all the signs of being another quality product until the moment I opened the cap. Ah yes, the moment I opened the cap ... I remember it like it was yesterday because it was at that point that my senses were cruelly assaulted as the product had one of the most disgusting aromas I have ever experienced. I actually felt physically sick !!!

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                                I simply wasn't expecting an Original Source Product to smell that bad. Maybe I had allowed myself to be lured ino a false sense of security? Or maybe my expectations were too high. All I know was that as a result of being an Original Source "junkie" I was expecting something wonderful.

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                                It's actually quite difficult to put the aroma of this product into words but the closest I can get is to share an experience that I hope will enable you to "smell" it for yourselves ...

                                A few years ago I lived by the sea and would often go down to the seafront for an early morning run. Quite often my run would take me past the harbour and sometimes when a fishing trawler had returned the crew would have all the nets stretched out on the quay and would be hosing them down to get them clean and ready for the next voyage. The smell that this process created was disgusting ... a sickening mixture of saltwater, seaweed and fish. It was also the aroma that Original Source seem to have captured and added to their bottles of Norwegian Sea Kelp and Rock Salt mixture !!!

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                                On closer inspection of this product's ingredients I noticed the word "bladderwrack". I then Googled this word to discover that it is essentially seaweed and believe me, despite all the natural goodness that bladderwrack does actually contain it is also known for it's pungent aroma.

                                Original Source claims that there isn't a "fresher way to start the day".
                                However, I would have to strongly disagree with this claim. The product itself didn't smell refreshing at all and the sour smelling liquid had a weird "fishy" aroma. All I can say is that when I glanced on the bathroom shelf and saw that I had still had a few more squirts of Original Source Mint Shower Gel left I felt relieved !!!

                                Whilst I have often admired Original Source for creating a range of "bold and exciting" formulas and fragrances I genuinely feel that this time they have completely got it wrong. The Norwegian Sea Kelp and Rock Salt hair and body wash my sound refreshing but it simply does not deliver. In my opinion feeling clean and refreshed does not involve using a product that would leave you smelling like the inside of a fisherman's welly !

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                                  20.10.2010 12:31
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                                  Just in case you hadn't realised ... it does contain seeds !!!

                                  ~~~ WARBURTON'S BREAD ~~~

                                  Warburton's have a fantastic heritage and reputation when it comes to making bread and their Seeded Batch Loaf is a testament to their skills ... don't be put off by the fact that this is essentially yet another loaf of brown sliced bread on the shelves because this loaf is both tasty and good for you.

                                  ~~~ THE SEEDED BATCH LOAF ~~~

                                  Warburton's Seeded Batch Loaf is a sliced brown loaf that contains an extremely generous helping of five very healthy seeds ... linseed, millet, poppy, sesame and sunflower seeds. Not only is it a very healthy loaf but it also tastes delicious.

                                  To be honest, I have never been a fan of brown bread but several months ago we decided to give this a go and since then we have become addicted ! There is rarely a week that goes by that does not see a Seeded Batch Loaf find it's way into our shopping trolley !!!

                                  ~~~ TEXTURE AND TASTE ~~~

                                  I think that the main reason that this loaf gets my vote is because unlike a lot of brown bread it does not taste bland. The seeds themselves genuinely enhance the flavour and in my opinion also help to keep the bread tasting fresh and moist. In the past I often found that if I made a sandwich with brown bread it all seemed a little dry and tasteless ... in sheer contrast a slice of Seeded Batch Loaf tastes wonderful on it's own with just a little butter !

                                  The bread itself is soft and springy and the seeds give it a delightful grainy texture that actually enhances the bread ... it is ideal for making healthy sandwiches and serving with soup. It also makes wicked toast ... and a couple of slices of Seeded Batch Toast in the morning is a fantastically healthy way to the start the day !

                                  ~~~ NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION ~~~

                                  >>> Kcal (132 per slice)
                                  >>> Fat (4.1g per slice)

                                  In addition to this Warburton's Seeded Batch Loaf also contains Soya, Wheat Gluten and Barley but does not contain either milk or eggs.

                                  ~~~ HEALTH BENEFITS ~~~

                                  This loaf is a wonderful combination of both brown bread and seeds and is therefore naturally high in fibre ... the ingredients themselves are all extremely healthy and proide many of the essential elements of a balanced daily diet.

                                  ~~~ BACK TO THE SEEDS ~~~

                                  I know that Warburton's are extremely proud of their bread making heritage but am not actually sure if they are equally as proud of our current Education System ! Despite the fact that the loaf is clearly called a "Seeded Batch Loaf" and that you can clearly see the seeds for yourself they have made sure that they have included a warning that "THIS PRODUCT MAY CONTAIN SEEDS" !!!

                                  ~~~ PRICE AND AVAILABILTY ~~~

                                  Warburton's Seeded Batch Loaf is available everywhere and comes in two different sizes ... 400g and 800g. This week my 800g loaf was bought from ASDA and cost me £1.35 and from what I can remember the smaller 400g loaf is roughly around half the price. It certainly isn't the cheapest bread on the market but to use a phrase I often heard my parents use "you get what you pay for" !!!

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