I have to say I was super excited to see this design enter into the Knuckler Roller scene. Maker Ted Spence goes out of his way in the description on his Mamba Metals website of his Thumbell to give credit original creator of the Knuckle Roller by including this text: “The Thumbbell is an adaptation of the Aroundsquare Knucklebone (originally designed by Matt Hiebert).” Props for the props given there. That says a lot about a product when the maker can be humble enough to give that kind of attention to giving credit.
That being said, it is a fast moving market with the Knuckle Rollers right now. Ted’s original inspiration was to offer a lightweight, all metal alternative to the existing Knucklebones from AroundSquare at the time. Ted decided to release the Thumbell in not 1 but 3 sizes…but did not beat AroundSquare to the market on offering different sizes. After talking to Ted for a little I got the feeling that he felt misunderstood by some members of the Knuckle Roller community even though he went out of his way to give proper credit where it was due. That being said I can attest to his character after talking to him on the phone. He is a genuine guy just making these because of his own personal interest and because he saw a way he could elaborate on an existing concept. The thing is just nice to look at….and to roll with.
The product is great! IF you are on Facebook you can find a Mail Call video on our Spinreview page that captures my honest reaction when opening them. Really impressed right off the bat. The large size is the one I personally love the most, just because I find that is what I have been using the past few weeks. I enjoy the lines and speed of a larger Knuckle Roller. I have to say both the models with and without the cutouts are great. Now if you are really into pushing the envelope with tricks and such I would have to say going with the cut out models on the medium and large will really add some extra grip that might allow you pull off a trick that you would struggle to do with the non cut out model.
There are a few choices on finish you will need to make as well. All of the models offered at the moment are cast out of bronze in the lost-wax method (hence some pitting will occur as seen in the photos). You can get high polish with no patina, or a natural bronze or a dark patina. As his product description states: “Each Thumbbell is sealed with a thin polymer coating specifically formulated to protect the finish; however, as with all bronze alloys, the finishes will naturally change with use, time, and environmental conditions. Therefore patinas may wear away or new patinas may develop.” I personally like the Natural Bronze and the High Polish the best.
So how do they perform? As you can see in that Mail Call video I could not put them down. In fact I was using them extensively for a few days straight and came to love them all, every size and finish. The main thing that I noticed mainly in the Large size and slightly in the Medium size is that the cut out in the design that starts on the shaft and is tear drop shaped can have a slight hotspot to it. Nothing that a little sanding with some 150 grit paper didn’t take care of but enough for me to mention it to Ted in our conversation. He was grateful for the feedback and will likely address this in the mold for future batches. Do not let that discourage you, in fact some of you real EDC people might be into the fact that you could use it as a single channel cheese grater in a pickle. For reals….I would not let a small child play with a large one that has not had the hot spots sanded down, which is not a tough thing to do. After 5 mins mine is uber soft on those spots. I used the Large extensively and never suffered any injury, but you do notice the wear on your fingertips more than you would a fully smooth roller due to all the texture of the cutouts. Very similar to using a Banksia Pod roller, those have a ton of texture on them as well.
For a collector of Knuckle Rollers I would have to say these are a must check out item. Super cool and a great addition to a collection because they are as much a treat to look at as they are to use in my opinion. Throw on that killer Mamba Metals snake head logo and add a nice black felt pouch that comes with every Thumbell and you have yourself a winner here kids.
Head over to the Mamba Metals site and check these out…oh did I forget to mention that he also offers some very unique Beglari items too? Well maybe it is because I am way way way behind on the Beglari scene but I am trying to catch up .They tricky little devices those Beglari.
Weight with cutouts
- Small: 25 grams
- Medium: 32 grams
- Large: 42 grams
Weight without cutouts
- Small: 28 grams
- Medium: 36 grams
- Large: 50 grams