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Blaze Truck Sharp

Fast, Rugged, Low-cost Radio Controlled Toy Car/Truck

Our kids love toy cars. They have ones that you can push around, ones that you can pull back and let fly, and even have a small Lightning McQueen Infrared RC car. The Lightning McQueen car is fun but really slow, can only turn while going in reverse, and gets stuck often. Chasing it around the house is a quick game as the kids can easily just catch up to it and pick it up. We wanted to get something faster, a little more rugged, and that could manage to torque its way across carpet, rugs, and various small toys scattered around. We also wanted to spend <$30.

After shopping around a few local stores and browsing online, we bought the Lutema Blaze Remote Control Truck. There are not a lot of reviews for these products, but the packaging looked professional and the features were impressive for this price range.

It’s worth noting that this is not a young kids toy and has small parts not suitable for ages 0-3. The recommended age listed on Amazon says 4+, but the side of the box says 14+. Definitely use your best judgement and supervise any use by younger children.

We wanted something that was rugged enough to drive around carpet, rugs, and hardwood while bouncing over toys and into furniture. We found the Lutema series remote control vehicles at one local retail store and they looked pretty solid. They retail for ~$30 but have also been available on Amazon ranging in price from $12.99 to $15.99. In this price range the Lutema remote control vehicles are quite a good deal, good value, cheap price. If you are looking for something more professional or something larger then you will likely have to spend out of the $15-30 price range.

Key Features:

  • Full directional control (independent Forward/Reverse and Left/Right)
  • Rugged build with flexible shock absorbing wheels and body giving enhanced stability
  • Sharp design and solid build quality & feel
  • Pretty fast speed
  • Unique traction wheels
  • Adjustable wheel alignment
  • Rechargeable battery pack (with charger) for the vehicle and a standard non-rechargeable 9V (included) for the remote.

The Blaze RC Truck speeds over hardwood and carpet without problems. It’s faster than I expected and can even spin out doing donuts on slicker floors. It’s able to drive right over smaller objects (e.g. small toy cars, train tracks). It has unique wheels that seem to give it extra traction. Most RC vehicles in this price range tend to have large rubber wheels that look shiny and dark. These wheels look a bit worn and dry, but the wheel compound seems to give extra friction.

Traction Wheels

The shocks on the wheels probably look more impressive than they truly perform. However, they do seem to give the truck a bit of a bounce and help recovering when driving over rough terrain and obstacles.

Blaze Truck Shocks

To keep things driving straight, the Blaze RC Truck includes an adjustable wheel alignment.

Steering Adjustment

When the car is turned on there is a glowing blue light coming form the cab.

Blue Light in Cab

The remote control is adequate but has a cheaper build quality and feel compared to the Blaze truck. In this price range, it’s hard to complain. It does function fine. The control does not have an On/Off switch but the light appears to only activate when one of the levers is pushed.

Blaze Remote

Conclusion

I definitely recommend this remote control truck especially at this low price.

Feature Rating
Performance on Hard Surface StarStarStarStar
Performance on Carpet StarStarStarStar
Performance on Grass Star
Build Quality* StarStar
Value StarStarStarStarStar
Cost <$30
  • Note initial built quality and feel was great. However our real axle broke after minimal use.

Additional information:

  • It’s footprint is about the size of a piece of paper folded in half: ~5.5” x ~8”
  • Lutema Blaze Truck 4CH Rechargeable Remote Control Truck – Yellow
  • Lutema Tracer Overlord 4CH Rechargeable Remote Control Truck – Yellow
  • Lutema Cosmic Rocket 4CH Rechargeable Remote Control Truck – Red
  • Lutema Tracer Overlord 4CH Rechargeable Remote Control Truck – Red
  • 27Mhz on the Blaze Truck/Vehicle.

Alternative Styles:

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Under Armour Coldblack hat

I’m not an avid hat-wearer. But as I get older and the sun gets brighter, wearing a hat has become quite commonplace for me. I’m not fan of the trendy wide brimmed stiff hats, trucker hats, etc. that are popular these days. To me those look less like wearing a hat and more like a caricature of wearing a hat. I prefer the simple curved baseball cap style. Normally I’d get a Nike or Adidas cap with a small, muted logo. I’m not a fan of a tight band around my head so I’d usually go with something adjustable.

Under Armour Shadow Cap

I recently received this hat as a gift to replace an aging Adidas hat that had turned from a stylish black into a faded dirty brown color due to the brown -> black die fading with use.

First impressions

I put the Under Armour Shadow Cap on and immediately noticed how “light” it felt. Not just weight, but also the tightness. While I normally wear adjustable hats, the issue still is that you had to make it tight enough to not blow off in the wind but not too tight as to give me a headache after an hour or so of wear. The Shadow Cap feels very secure and does not have that tightness.

The material on the top of the hat has a softer, silkier (though not shiny) feel to it instead of the usual stiffness of a normal cap. I think this helps the hat fit securely but you feel much less of a squeeze. Maybe somewhat more like the difference between wearing soft leather gloves vs. canvas work gloves.

Overall Look

When wearing this hat it looks pretty much like a baseball cap with a slightly more fitted look. While there are several designs and colors, I really like the black with the small muted grey Under Armour logo. On the brim there is a small unobtrusive imprint ColdBlack.

Pictures online tend to make the top of the hat look rather big; however, this is likely due to a piece of cardboard put in to help “display” the hat and keep it’s shape. One you remove this temporary cardboard, you can see that the structure of the top part of the hat is rather minimal. The brim is sturdy as any other cap.

Conclusion

I definitely recommend this hat.

Feature Rating
Comfort StarStarStarStarStar
Style StarStarStarStarStar
Cost $20-25

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We’ve been a fan of Whole Foods Almond Milk for several months. Pretty much once we discovered it, we loved. However, starting in May 2013, we started seeing some issues with the milk. In our blog about Frothing Almond Milk we have tracked the changes in foaming quality based on expiration date. While no ingredients have changed, these different batches have significant difference in how they foam leading us to believe that there is some sort of ingredient change or quality control issue.

Now several wholes foods seem to have cleared the shelves completely of their Whole Foods 365 Organic Almond Milk. At our local store, there’s not even a place for it anymore. We’ve been told it’s a production problem with their supplier. Estimates of a few weeks to a few months were given, but nothing solid yet.

Update July 11th 2013

According one of the Whole Foods Facebook Pages, the Milk is now back in stock. It could take a few days to actually reach the shelves of your local store, but hopefully it will be there very soon.

The official statement seems to be that it’s a “new recipe/formula” so hopefully it will be an improvement and one that is consistent carton to carton. From Whole Foods: “Wanted to give you a heads up that our 365 Almond Milk is back in stock, and still free from Carrageenan.”

Update July 15th 2013

Still no stock at our local stores. The rep at the Whole Foods here said that it would not be until August. Though there are reports of it being in stock in other states.

Update August 2013

Finally! It’s back in stock at our local stores. We’ve heard some mixed feedback here about the recipe, but so far we’ve liked it. Our primary use is for foaming milk to use in coffee and we are glad to saw that the new recipe is back to actually foaming and foaming well.

Whole Foods Foaming Again

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Alternative Frothers

Our favorite milk foamer/frother is made by a company called Froth Au Lait. Unlike most other automatic frothers that use a small whipping disc, the Froth Au Lait has two large spindles hat really work well. Both quality and volume of foam has been better than other frothers that we have tried.

Our frother recently broke and we tried contacting the company for support or or to buy a new one and just reached the infamous “sorry, this number has been disconnected or is no longer in service.”

Most of their products have been pulled of of Amazon as well. We’ve been in touch with a few other vendors who sell their product and they too are unable to reach the company. Their website is still up, but I fear that the company is not longer around.

Has anyone heard anything about this?

Froth Au Lait

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For those of you that have little ones, you know that throwing away diapers can be quite a stinky problem. Here we put two popular models to the test:

Diaper Dekor Plus Diaper Disposal System

vs.

Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail

Diaper Dekor Plus


When we created our baby registry, this is the model that several friends recommended. It was higher on the price-scale at around $50 with replacement bags going for about $16 for a two-pack.

Tossing the dirty work

When you have to throw a diaper away, there is a two door mechanism. First you step on the foot pedal to open the main door. Next, you have a spring loaded trap door that you throw the diaper into. Here you want to be quick because the stink will quickly pounce into the room when this door is open. You can try tossing it throw the door with a sharp throw, but this may also break the unit if you are too rough. Also, if your bag is a tad full then you make get the dreaded stuck door. This means that the door opens and the diaper fits in but just enough to keep the door ajar. While your first instinct will be to evacuate and run for high ground, this just mean the stink will be seeping into the room with violent effectiveness. So, your own option is to suck it up (no literally) and push your hand deep into the open door and smush the diapers down until the door closes. After this, you might want to seek out that higher ground. However, this means that your bag is full and you’ll need to return and empty or else you risk forgetting and repeating this entire process next time.

Loading a new bag

Cut & Tie Style

These bags are the cut & tie style which means that you are really getting one really long bag that goes a long way. Basically, when the device is full, you open it, pull the bag down, cut it (using the installed safety blade, then tie both sides (the top of the old one, and the bottom of the new one).

Diaper Dekor Plus Safety Blade

Once tied, you start filling into the bag where you have just tied the bottom.

Replacing the big long bag


Amazon tends to have them for a slightly lower price. Rated at ~1160 diapers

Every few weeks, you’ll go to tie the bottom of the bag and then pull it down for good measure and the whole thing will just pull out. This is your half bag that you just have to toss unused. It means that you now have to install the new “big long bag.” These run about $8/each and come in a two-pack ($16). When installing a new bag, you open up the entire top of the Decor and then pull out an oval-shaped plastic holder. The lid only open opens up about 45-60 degrees meaning that you have to wiggle the oval-shaped piece out.

Diaper Dekor Bag Replacement

Getting it out is pretty easy, but the challenge is getting it back in. The wiggle motion works fine, but now you have a huge $8 plastic bag around the side. So trying to wiggle it in means that the bag gets caught up and often pulls off and you have to start all over. Also the foot-pedal does not hold this part of the door open nor does the door stay open on its own. So you have to do all of this wiggling with one hand while the other holds the lid open.


These run as low as $20 for a four-pack giving a $5/each price. Rated at around ~1160 diapers

Amazon also sells the eco-friendlier green colored replacements for even less. We used these and found them to work just the same.

Overall aesthetics

The Diaper Dekor Plus is very modern, simple, and sleek. The oval shaped design fits well in the room without looking out of place.

Price

The Diaper Dekor Plus tends to run around $45-60 – which puts it on the higher end.

Our experience

When we started out, we loved the Diaper Dekor Plus. It was clean, easy, and nice.

However, once the stinky diapers came, our experience changed. Whenever we had to dispose of a diaper, the stench would pounce into the room like a cat jumping out of a bag. It was overpowering. So we started using a technique of throwing the tightly coiled diaper as fast we could through the send trap door. It has a strong spring on it, so it would shut quickly. This helped a lot. However, if the bag was just too full for that door to close, then game over. If you are holding your little one and can’t mange to stuff your free arm down the shoot, your room is toast.

The stench was so bad, that we ended up calling Dekor to inquire. They said that he trap door seal must be defective and would send us a new one. We installed the new door and tested again. Unfortunately, the stench was still there – no difference at all.

Changing the bags was not particularly difficult, but it was not easy either. First you’d have to open the door which let out a strange wave of stink. This was odd because this compartment never came in contact with the actual odor-causers. Nevertheless, it still had a strange odor. So you’d pull the bag down, use the safety cutter on the side to cut the bag free. Here is where you can really mess things up. If you cut it too short, you’ll never be able to tie the bag and are now left with a mobile stink bomb that you have to store inside 1 (or 5) other bags in hopes of protecting the odor. So you end up cutting it really long – which means less use of the bags. Still, as soon as you cut it free, you have that pouncing cat of an odor trying to claw it’s way through as you feverishly try to remember how to tie a knot before passing out.

Bottom line is that our room just always had a lingering foul smell. We liked parts of the operation, we loved the aesthetics, and we could have dealt with all the other issues if the smell was reduced. However because it failed in it’s primary operation, we can’t recommend it.

Conclusion: Diaper Dekor Plus

Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail


The Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail has a difference approach to with a strong focus on odor control. They do this by combining:

  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda dispenser
  • Unique twist close mechnaism
  • Individual bags with snap closure (vs. cut & tie)

Tossing the dirty work

When you have to throw a diaper away, there is a a single door that opens. You have to push a lock button on the top of the device, and then use your hand to open the lid. The lid opens to reveal two things. First you’ll notice a small capsule at the top with a baking soda holder/dispenser.

Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail  Baking Soda Dispenser

Next you’ll notice a blue cyclone looking thing in the center. This is the actual diaper bag that has a swirled twist close mechanism. So odor is kept inside the bag even when the lid is open.

Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail Twist

To dispose, you take the rolled up diaper and you push it into this twisted bag and push it in until it’s below the surface. Once done, you reach up and close the lid. Closing the lid activated the twist mechanism again which essentially pulls the dirty diaper down and twists the back shut once again locking in odor. For good measure, the baking soda capsule is also pushed into the center of this twist to both freshen and seal the center.

While we liked the initial convenience of the Dekor’s foot pedal, this process was much more odor free.

Changing the bag


~$16 for a 30-pack which is rated at a total of ~750 diapers.

The Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail uses individual bags. This means that when your pail is full, you simple throw away the bag and install a new one. This is in comparison to the cut & tie style of the Dekor.

To dispose of the old bag you first open the lid on the top and then turn the lock and open the panel on the side. On the edges of the twist where you dispose of the diapers, there is a plastic ring with four notches. You pull these out and then fold the ring in half where it clicks shut. Then you push the sealed ring down through the opening. You can then pull the sealed bag out through the side panel for disposal.

Installing a new bag is pretty straightforward. You pull the back through the opening and then open the ring and lock the four notches into place. Getting all four notches in place is a slight challenge but definitely not a deterrent. Once down, you simply close and lock the side panel and then close the top lid which will give the new bag its twist shut seal.

Overall aesthetics

The Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail is a very plain looking piece of plastic. It does not have the sleek modern look of the Dekor.

Price

The Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail runs just under $30 at Amazon or BuyBuyBaby putting it on the lower-end of the cost scale. Replacement bags run slightly higher than that of the Dekor giving you an estimated 750 diapers for $16 vs. as many as ~2000 for $20 on the Dekor.

Our experience

Our experience thus far with the Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail has been very positive. For us, the primary reason that you buy a diaper pail is for odor control. Otherwise you’d just toss the stinks into any trash can.

The Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail

Conclusion

The Winner: Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail

Odor Control

For odor control, the Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail definitely reduces odor compared to the Diaper Dekor Plus.

Use: Disposal

In disposal use, (if you ignore the odor issue for a moment) the Diaper Dekor Plus was a little easier to use. Stepping on a foot pedal and tossing a diaper through the trap door was a breeze. Unless of course the Dekor is full then you have a mounting problem on your hands.

However the Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail was also perfectly easy to use and controlled the odor during the process.

Use: Changing Bags

The Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail wins here as well. Changing bags was both easy and involved far less odor issues.

We like the more Eco-friendly (and cost effective) long bags of the Diaper Dekor Plus and would put up with the more involved bag changing process if it were not for the odor issues.

Cost

The Diaper Dekor Plus has a larger initial cost but a cheaper ongoing cost. The Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail has a lower initial cost, but the bags do cost a bit more. In the end, we give this a draw. On paper, the Diaper Dekor Plus could cost less in the end, but it’s also hard to truly measure the longevity of the bags with the “cut & tie” method.

.h2 Comparison Chart

Feature Diaper Dekor Plus Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Pail
Odor Control Star StarStarStarStar
Ease of Disposal StarStarStarStar StarStarStar
Ease of Bag Change StarStar StarStarStarStarStar
Initial Cost ~$50 ~$30
Bag Replacement Eco 4 Pack Refill Bags, 30 Count
Aesthetics StarStarStarStar StarStarStar
Overall Not Recommended Highly Recommended

Questions / Comments?

If you have any personal experience with these or any questions or suggestions, please let us know.

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