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Whilst browsing on Amazon looking for a gift for my friend, I was left rubbing my head wondering what to get him. I love buying gifts for people, but I do get in a tizzy and have to get something that I perceive to be the perfect gift for the recipient. I can spend hours agonizing over what to go with. On Amazon, there's a multitude of products on offer with something for everyone. However, unless you have an idea of what you are looking for it can seem like a minefield. Eventually, I was just throwing random search phrases in, hoping something would appeal. After shuffling through Amazon's pages I was intrigued by a curled up purple man by the name of Paul. I decided to take a closer look, and decided that this would be a nice little gift to go alongside a few other bits. Paul is a purple, rubber man that is curled up holding his head in a sorry state, looking rather stressed. What a great idea for a stress ball. It certainly appealed to me. I just loved the concept. I also thought this would make a good gift for anyone, as we all need a bit of stress relief from time to time, as everyone is subject to stress with the many demands of life. When Stress ball Paul arrived, he was packaged in that toughened plastic that takes a lot of effort to get open, and often leaves a stressed feeling. I suppose this is a good way to test the product. I wasn't going to open it, as I wanted to give it as a present. However, I was curious of the texture and I just couldn't resist him. The glossy purple man looked as though he would be soft and sticky feeling. My curiosity had me battling with the annoyingly, frustrating packaging for what seemed like forever. I finally managed to release my new friend and I was ready to relieve some of that stress and tension. I found that he fits perfectly in the hand, and the fact that he is a curled up man makes him a good shape to manipulate in the hand. As a stress reliever it works brilliantly. He is soft and squishy and can take a good squeeze, and each and every time he reverts back to his original shape. This alone is impressive, as he certainly gets a good going over. The smooth texture feels nice in the hand, and the soft and pliable material gives enough resistance for it to benefit. I find Paul to be far, far better than an ordinary stress ball, not just because he is a purple, vivid, nude man with a smooth bottom, but because the shape fits comfortably in the hand and the extra nobly bits - his feet, are fun to manipulate, too. He is smooth all over apart from on the sole of his foot where he is imprinted with his designer's name - Suck UK. Paul is a great man that always gives me a smile every time I pick him up, and the purple colour is rather relaxing, as is the soft but resistant material he is constructed from. He is of a good quality, and worth the retail price of £7.50, as he's not just gimmicky and fun to look at, but he is actually fun and relaxing to handle. My son requires fidget toys, and Stress ball Paul certainly appeals to him. He often opts for Paul when he dives into the fidget drawer. My little boy is in fact stronger than I, and he has a stronger grip. He has certainly pulled and squeezed Paul about and tested him to the limits. Surprisingly, after months of torture Paul is still in great shape with no damage, cracks or signs of wear. If he is left rolling about on the carpet, or in a bitty drawer, he does attract fluff and the likes. When this happens, I simply give him a wash under the warm tap and this restores him back to his super smooth, clean self. I'm glad I decided to open Paul and keep him for myself, as he has proved to be a good little buy. Unlike other stress balls that get forgotten about or damaged after a short time, Paul is never to be forgotten and he is always happy to be squeezed to an inch of his life. Another advantage of Paul is that he doesn't roll away when placed on a surface, or if he is dropped, and the size and shape make him easy to fit into a pocket or bag to be available for those stressful times. I have only praise for Paul, as he's bold, cheeky and fun! I find him nice to manipulate when I'm concentrating or bored, as well as when feeling stressed. Stress ball Paul is a great companion to have to hand to help you through difficult times throughout the day. He is good to use in the home, or would be just as good in an office, or work environment. He makes a great gift, but why not get one for yourself? You won't be able to resist him. Relieve the stress and take it out on Paul.
Stress Ball Paul (from Suck UK) ----------------------------------------- It's no secret among my friends and family that I am a bit of a stress-head. I would love to say that I am as cool as a cucumber and handle everything that comes my way with composure and control - a Henry Winkler type character of coolness personified who can laugh off troubles that would defeat a lesser man. Alas, I am nothing like the Fonz and fall into the category of said 'lesser man'. I will let the most trivial and insignificant of issues grind me down into a quivering wreck of anxiety. How will I manage to get all this work done by Friday? Will my train run on time tomorrow or will someone have thrown jelly on the tracks? Did I remember to lock the back door when I took the bins out? Is tomorrow even bin day? So well documented is my stress-like nature that the gift of a stress ball was always likely to come my way sooner or later. Roll on 'Secret Santa' 2011 and my expectations were confirmed. However, whilst the concept of a stress ball was predictable this precise product was not. === What (who) is Stress Paul? === Produced by Suck UK as part of their 'Dead' range of products, Stress Paul is a rubber stress ball shaped to the form a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Paul, the unfortunate man in question, is curled up on his side in a foetal position with his hands on his head having inevitably succumbed to the crushing burden of life's traumas. He is completely smooth and lacking in all facial and bodily features (a good reason to be stressed out if you ask me!). The only distinguishable marking on Paul is the company name, Suck UK, imprinted on sole of his left foot. Fortunately I have never found myself in such as bad an emotional state as Paul but can still sympathise a lot with him, which is probably why I like this stress ball so much. He conveys the simple message - 'no matter how bad you think your troubles are, things can always be worse'. This notion is very stress-alleviating in itself and despite being designed as a gimmicky tongue-in-cheek novelty I think that it is actually a very good idea. Paul is made from soft purple rubber and is very squidgy indeed. He is a lot squishier than I imagined after first seeing him pitifully curled up in his packaging and he does compress quite a lot when squeezed. Paul is really easy to squeeze and compress and I can easily make a clenched fist with him in my hand. At the same time he does have a good level of resistance which allows him to function as a great stress reliever and he will always spring immediately back to his original shape no matter how much you take it out on him. I also think purple is a very good choice for Paul since this is the colour I most associate with worry and stress (blue being reserved for depression or sadness). Stress Paul's dimensions are 6 x 8 x 3.5 cm which allow him to nestle nicely in the palm of my hand. Not that I'm bragging, but I consider myself to have slightly large hands however still think that Paul is universally proportioned to fit most hand sizes. The rubber feels quite strong and robust and I expect it will stand up to everyday squeezing with no problem and as a result last a very long time. === Usefulness === Obviously some things are credible concerns such as whether or not you have locked the car and where you have put your wallet. These things require urgent action and cannot be alleviated by a quick squeeze of a stress ball and then forgotten about for the rest of the day. But for the times when a quick release of anger is a sufficient solution to calm you down, Paul is on hand (pun intended). I have Paul curled up on my desk where he stays firmly in place due to his non-spherical shape (a downside of many conventional stress balls). Instead of shouting to the high heavens the next time my laptop gives me the blue screen of death I find that I can now control my sudden bout of anger long enough for me to calm down and take control of the situation. I won't be donning a leather jacket and styling a pompadour anytime soon but I am certainly less likely to be mistaken for Yosemite Sam. More often than not though, I will use Paul simply as something to fiddle with (no sniggering back there!). Whilst watching TV or reading a book on my Kindle I will squeeze Paul in my hand and find this quite therapeutic and relaxing, which can only be a good thing. A decent level of effort is required to squash Paul and, as a result, he can also double up as strengthening tool for your hand and finger muscles/tendons. Instead of buying one of those expensive purpose-built hand strengtheners, Stress Paul will do a very decent job and allow you to build up muscle strength in your hand. With constant use I expect I will soon be dishing out my fair share of bone-crushing handshakes. For the times when Paul isn't in use he simply lays there waiting for the next time the Sky TV signal cuts out or when I next stub my toe on the coffee table. He does look quite good on my desk next to my laptop; almost ornate but in a humorous way. He also attracts plenty of amorous glances from people who come by. If Paul realised how popular he was he might be in less of a state! === Downsides === The only real downside to Stress Paul is unfortunately an annoying one. He is made of soft rubber as previously stated but the material is a sort of squishy jelly like substance which attracts dust really easily. Just by placing him on a table he will pick up any dust particles and crumbs that may be there. Not long after removing him from his packaging he started to accumulate bits and quickly lost his nice shiny purple appearance. After a while he looked noticeably grubby and not something that I really wanted to pick up and start squeezing in my hands. My solution to this is a bit of sticky tape which, when applied and removed from Paul, removes most of the dust particles fairly quickly. It is easy to get into the crevices because he is so flexible so you can remove most of the dust in a matter of seconds this way. Unfortunately though, it's not long before he is back to his filthy self; much the same as a dog will go and roll in the mud after being washed. It is tiresome after a while constantly cleaning Paul up and this in itself raises my stress levels. Not to mention trying to find the end of the sellotape so I can de-fuzz him! Another downside to Stress Paul is the packaging he comes it. The unfortunate choice here is the heat-sealed clamshell packaging that is notoriously difficult to open and the cause of worldwide 'wrap rage'. You know the type - the stuff that electronic products usually come in that require a strong pair of scissors or a knife to hack your way into. The irony of choosing this type of packaging for a stress toy is as much baffling as it is comic. After I had forced my way in with a craft knife I was in desperate need of stress relief! Fortunately, this is a downside that you only have to suffer once with Stress Paul but it is annoying nonetheless and entirely avoidable with better packaging. === Would I Recommend === I think Stress Paul is a great novelty idea and raises a smile with a lot of people that see him. He does function as a stress toy remarkably well however I am not entirely sold on the idea of stress balls as a credible way to alleviate stress. They are handy for the times when I feel like putting my fist through the wall but are not a long term solution to my habitual worrying. Paul's downside of attracting every mote of dust from the air is also annoying and a significant drawback ruining what is an otherwise attractive and amusing product. There is certainly no shortage of stress balls on the market and I will not profess that Stress Paul is the best one available. However, if you are looking for a stress ball that is quirky and amusing whilst at the same time still being effective then Stress Paul is an excellent choice. If you can tolerate his propensity to attract dust and bits then he will be a great desk-side companion for when the next bout of frustration strikes. The message he communicates of "how bad can things really be?" is a refreshing and useful notion that helps keep things in perspective and makes me think more rationally before launching head first into a cloud of anguish and despair. To get your hands on Stress Paul you need look no further than Amazon.co.uk and at a price of £4.79 (at the time of writing) you can acquire your very own small purple man; who is having a nervous breakdown so you don't have to. Thank you for reading :)