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    Keeba Rage Unlocked: Pottermore’s Patronus Quiz

     

    Recently, J.K. Rowling‘s Pottermore finally released a Patronus quiz. Myself along with many other Harry Potter fans had been waiting eagerly in order to find out what our personal Patronus would be. The quiz, however, was disappointing at best. The quiz was timed, hosted on a buggy website, and had very few questions. I was extremely upset by my results. You can see my entire reaction to the quiz in the newest episode of Keeba Rage below.

    Did you take the quiz? Let me know what your result was, and if you were happy with it in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for all of our awesome video content.

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    Geekery, Rants
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    A Close Encounter with the Hello Kitty Cafe Food Truck

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    I know, everyone likes Hello Kitty. She’s adorable! Even so, apparently everyone still underestimates her popularity. Including the people who run the Hello Kitty Cafe’s food truck. Including hundreds of fans who showed up today to check it out. Including me.

    When I left my house around noon in hopes of catching the Hello Kitty truck, I really had only a vague idea what I was doing. I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of food would be offered, or how long I’d be there, or if there’d be a crowd. I brought my camera, some sunblock, and a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages (because I was playing in a Facebook-based quidditch trivia tournament at 5 p.m.). I was prepared to stand in line. Or so I thought.

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    My view from the back of the line

    I’ve been a Hello Kitty fan since I was five or so – my dad would bring me Hello Kitty souvenirs when he went to Taipei, Taiwan starting in the mid-’70s. Today I still have my share of Hello Kitty merch – t-shirts, a keychain, a purse. It didn’t occur to me to wear any of it today, but lots of other people did. I saw t-shirts, mostly, but here and there you could see a clear kawaii influence. Parasols! Mini-bun hairstyles! And lots of geekery. Turns out, the Hello Kitty fan base (more adults than kids) also loves Pokemon, “Star Wars,” “Doctor Who,” and cute Chucks. Ah, my people.

    When I heard that the Hello Kitty food truck was coming to Oakbrook Mall in Oak Brook, Ill. this weekend, of course I planned my day around it. Not very well, as it turns out. I forgot the sunblock in the car, didn’t think to eat beforehand, and walked around the mall for like 30 minutes before I figured out where the truck was parked (in front of Urban Outfitters, duh). By the time I arrived, my phone battery was already depleted from trying to catch Pokemon – which I didn’t do much of, seeing as I was plumb out of Poké Balls. I debated for a few minutes as to whether or not I should bother to get in line, because the posted menu consisted of donuts, cakes, cookies, macarons, a water bottle, a mug, and t-shirts – and the donuts were already sold out. The offerings didn’t seem very filling, and the line was already pretty huge.

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    This is the closest I got to the macarons, which are in the bowtie-shaped boxes

    I decided I’d get in for a few minutes and see how fast it moved. I was right behind the mom of a little girl in blonde pigtails who declared passionately, when asked if she was sure she wanted to do this, “I’ve been waiting for this my WHOLE LIFE!” It wasn’t too bad, so I stayed – but it got worse. I had time to re-read Quidditch Through the Ages and memorize the entire list of fouls and the names of the 13 English teams. Then I had time to memorize the entire list of broom games of the wizarding world that were precursors to quidditch. Then I was able to memorize the entire lineup of European quidditch teams. Then I memorized the names of everyone who had ever played quidditch. Then I memorized the length and width of the quidditch field, and the names and previous names of all the positions of all the players, then the history of the Golden Snitch (it was introduced in 1269). And then I was sick of quidditch.

    So I made friends with a mom and seven-year-old daughter who told me all about their charm necklaces and gave me a catalog. I petted two tiny puppies in line with me, one of which was wearing a Hello Kitty harness. I listened to the Harry Potter conversation of the people who were right behind me until they gave up. I admired someone’s “Doctor Who” bag, which had Tardises (Tardisi?) on the outside and cartoon Doctors along the inside lining. I spotted some friends who had been in line since 9:30 a.m. And then I got thirsty. Everyone in line had someone else with them who was passing them drinks from Argo Tea, except me. At one point, we passed waters down the line to someone, and I wasn’t the only one tempted to just grab the cup and drink it myself. So many people around me were sucking down bubble teas that I started brainstorming ideas of how to get myself one (Taskrabbit? Paying the seven-year-old girl to do it? Bribing someone in line for their drink?). In the end, the mom and daughter offered to save my place, and in return I got them bubble tea and water. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers, saving those of us who are way unprepared.

    I managed to not take any pictures of people wearing cool things, but I did get a picture of a tiny puppy in line!

    I managed to not take any pictures of people wearing cool things, but I did get a picture of a tiny puppy in line, being petted by my seven-year-old friend

    I snaked my way through three sets of zig-zagging line separators designed to contain us as we slowly got closer to the pink food truck. At some point I figured I was in it for the long haul because I had already been in line for two and a half hours. I was maybe 40 minutes from the end when the macarons ran out. The truck employees first passed word back that three boxes only were left.  I said, optimistically, “Well, as long as there are still some on display at the front of the truck, there are still more left, right?” At which point a person in the truck took down all the boxes of macarons at the front of the truck, and my new mom and daughter friend gave up and went to go get macarons at Godiva instead. I was about 20 minutes from the end when the cookies ran out. There was no food left, and my Facebook-based quidditch tournament was about to start.

    Hell hath no fury like a crowd deprived of Hello Kitty sweets. A bunch of people left disgusted, and others went up to the truck and asked about the situation – could the people who were left at least get the bags (free with a $25 food purchase) for standing in line for four hours with nothing to show for it? It’s my understanding that the employees called in, but were not allowed to do anything for anyone. More rumors, naturally, ran rampant – there were no mugs left, they were going to stop selling after another 15 minutes so they’d still have merch left for tomorrow, that sort of thing.

    My phone, an ancient Samsung Galaxy S4, had been turned off early so I’d have battery power for the quidditch tournament, should I still be there at 5 p.m. I was. I was the first on my team to play (as Keeper). It was Slytherin vs. Hufflepuff (I’m a Puff). The question that was asked…was NOT IN QUIDDITCH THROUGH THE AGES. It never is, especially when I’ve spent the last three hours in line memorizing every fact about quidditch in the entire freaking book. I answered it correctly, immediately, probably because the answer had come up in a study session with my fellow Puffs at some points (yay me). Then the Slytherin Seeker caught the Snitch. Tournament lasted 3.5 seconds, score 100-10, which ties the shortest Quidditch game on record. A fact I know because I spent three hours memorizing every fact about Quidditch in the entire freaking book.

    20160813_201732Meanwhile, in the line, things had reverted to controlled chaos. The line seemed superfluous, as the truck had completely closed down and the workers were selling out of a tent next to it, as fast as they could. Some people  were convinced several lines were now being formed, and yelled at the mall security to stop letting people buy over those of us who’d been standing in line for four hours. There were 50 (or was it 15?) mugs left, and the free bags were long gone too. The rest of us in line had to have SOMETHING to gripe about, so we complained about how long people were taking to decide on which style of t-shirt to get, because after four hours in line shouldn’t you pretty much already know? A bunch of people also started getting on the Facebook page to complain.

    In the end, I left with a mug, a $25 t-shirt, and two pins. The pin is my badge for sticking it out. I wasn’t even planning to buy the shirt, but, well…there weren’t any cookies.

    Curses, Hello Kitty Cafe food truck – turns out, the people in charge were just about as unprepared as I was. We suburban Chicagoans (and some Wisconsinites, and some Hoosiers too) are a tetchy lot, and we don’t like when people run out of food. If I were a real wizard, I’d find a curse and hex the people in charge (okay, maybe not, since I’m a Hufflepuff). As it is, I don’t actually believe in magic, so I’m going to sit here drinking tea out of my new Hello Kitty mug, wearing the hell out of my new pink t-shirt, and wondering if Hello Kitty cookies are really just that good. I may never know.

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    Yaya Han’s new cosplay fabric collection is out!

    The Yaya Han Collection Fabric (2)

    This past weekend at C2E2 in Chicago, I saw probably more costumes than I ever remember seeing at the comic book convention. Now, I’m no cosplayer myself (I mean, I can technically sew…). However, I can certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into creating costumes, and I’ve often marveled at how lovingly crafted they are. And yes, I’ve wondered, where did she get that material and how does he go to the bathroom?

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    Cosplayer extraordinaire Yaya Han, speaking yesterday at C2E2 about her new line of cosplay fabrics, says she was “honored and flattered” to be tapped to help out with the fabric line.

    So, earlier this year when I heard about Yaya Han’s line of cosplay fabric, I was interested in an academic and abstract way. I very well might have gotten more into cosplay when I was younger if I knew at all where to find stuff (I used to dress up as Deanna Troi because it required one low-cut flared dress and one Starfleet logo communicator pin). And I like pretty fashion things.

    Given the coalescing of mainstream culture and cosplay represented by my very anecdotal observation about the proliferation of costumes at C2E2, this feels like an idea whose time has come.

    The Yaya Han collection, an exclusive line created by CosplayFabrics.com with input from Han and available only at JoAnn Fabrics stores and joann.com, officially debuted on Friday. In fact, I hear that some people at C2E2 were already wearing costumes made from them. I had a chance to experience the fabrics for myself on the show floor; now, I have no idea what constitutes great cosplay fabric, but I can tell you many of them do stretch in four different directions as advertised and there are some really lovely colors and patterns.

    “Sourcing fabrics has been an intricate part of cosplay,” Han said at her press conference, noting that in the past, cosplay has often consisted of dyeing, manipulating, and digging deep in terms of research. Finding the very materials needed was a huge part of the process. So, streamlining this part of it helps cosplayers in a big way: “This puts the focus on creativity, instead of running around finding things,” she said.

    Yaya Han cosplay fabrics

    A rep demonstrates the four-way stretch capability of one of the fabrics on the show floor.

    The fabrics are now easily accessible by everyone within driving distance of a Jo-Ann Fabrics store, which is huge. Previously, specialty fabrics like these had to be purchased online, which made it impossible for cosplayers to determine quality, flexibility, breathability, durability, texture, and accurate color-matching. In addition to accessibility, Han believes it’s important to offer a variety of materials and colors in different designs for different genres, from anime and steampunk to fantasy and superhero. And naturally, comfort is a big deal too.

    It sounds like Han and CosplayFabrics.com are already looking forward to expanding the line, which currently consists of 75 different fabrics across 16 different categories. They include four-way stretch spandex, four-way jumbo spandex, brocade and coutil fabrics. Coatings include foil, leather, and embossed armor plate. So, if demand is high, the Yaya Han collection could be here to stay – and it might get bigger and better.

    For cosplayers, this could represent more than just another step in the right direction. It’s also recognition that cosplaying is an innovative and creative art form, one that’s becoming more popular, more visible, and more mainstream. “The most wonderful thing here is that somebody noticed us little cosplayers,” Han said.

    CosplayFabrics.com appears to be open to feedback on how to improve the collection, once everyone has had a chance to actually experience the materials in real life, so go check it out at your local store and see what you think. I’d be interested in hearing input from actual cosplayers as to how the fabrics really work.

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    Geekery, Hot Topics, News
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    Help the Monsters, Help My Dream

    Wallace Phelps Monsters Anonymous

    “You’re the guy who is with Jeremy London, aren’t you? The zombie guy?” The security guy for the celebrity room seemed star struck when he noticed my writing partner Jason Robbins and myself’s presence. Jason confirmed our identity and the tattooed mountain of manhood pulled back the curtain to escort us so that we didn’t have to wade through the throngs of fans waiting to meet Jeremy and the other cast members of Kevin Smith’s “Mallrats” at Pensacon in Pensacola, Florida.

    When Jeremy saw us, he hugged us all and made certain to introduce us to Joey Lauren Adams who is best known as Alyssa from “Chasing Amy.” We got settled in his area and people smiled and asked each other where they knew us from. We had to be someone if we were in the “Mallrats” area. An older man walked by and looked at Jeremy’s headshots and posters, pausing long enough for me to nod to him, trying not to freak out when I said, “Mr. Cummings…”

    His familiar soothing voice responded, “Hello there!” Jim Cummings, the voice of Darkwing Duck just said hello to me. What is my life?

    Every bit of this is thanks to a new short film I helped write called, “Monsters Anonymous.” In the film we sit in on a group therapy session where the classic movie monsters of the 1930’s try to cope with modern audiences not finding them scary. Frustrated and irritated with the continuing popularity of zombies, they learn a powerful lesson at the end regarding relevancy from the very zombies they vilified.

    Just a few months prior, I almost gave up. In my journey to make a better life for my little girl, it seemed like I was making negative progress and it wasn’t fair to her due to many personal setbacks and tragedies.

    Then randomly my writing partner sent me the idea and partial script for “Monsters Anonymous,” asking for help fleshing it out, it didn’t surprise me none. He had done this kind of thing before and I love the challenge. He explained he would be given a little money to produce a short 12769508_10153932498499004_501892817_nwith the members of an acting class he was in.

    I liked the idea so I agreed to rewrite it for him. I added jokes, restructured the scenes, and inserted new characters to make it more lighthearted and when Jason received my draft work, he said it was one of the funniest things I had ever written. I explained that it was just my first pass on it, but Jason gets excited and can’t help himself sometimes. The next day he told me that he sent it to everyone including his acting teacher, “Mallrats” and “Party of Five” actor Jeremy London.

    It wasn’t until we were in Jeremy’s home working out the ending that he had come up with that it hit me that this was real. After the story meeting, he and his wife lead us out telling me that “Monsters Anonymous” was one of the funniest scripts he had ever read and this is the guy who read “Mallrats” before filming, which is one of my favorite comedies.

     

    The last few months have been incredibly surreal. Just a few months ago, I wrote a letter to myself entitled, “I Hope,” where I basically asked myself if this was all going to work. I asked if my little girl would ever get to see the type of life I want to provide for her. Now, I have co-written a movie in the living room of the lead actor in the movie that got me wanting to write movies, Jeremy London.

    The star of Kevin Smith’s first movie, “Clerks,” Brian O’Halloran has agreed to star in it and there is so much more I want to be able to tell you, but at this stage, I cannot.

    I understand that this short film alone will not bring me to my dream of providing my princess with a better life while doing something I’m passionate about, but I’m a whole lot closer than when she was born and it feels amazing.

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    If you have ever felt like a dream of yours is out of reach, please believe me when I say that you can do it. Right now we are running a Kickstarter campaign to get funding for “Monsters Anonymous” and at certain levels you will have the opportunity to spend the day with us as we shoot the film. You will be able to get professional zombie make up and be an actual member of our cast, but the real value will be in the experience. There is nothing more inspiring than to be with a group of passionate people who want nothing more than to create.

    No matter who you are or what you want to do with your life, take a deep breath. If you can complete that breath, you still have time to achieve your dreams.

    Unboxing Loot Crate’s February 2016: Dead

    Desirai Labrada and husband John Henry unbox “Dead” the February 2016 Loot Crate. Loot Crate is a monthly subscription for fans of pop culture, and gamers alike. Included in each box are t-shirts, gadgets, collectibles and more. The February theme is “Dead” and includes exclusive items from AMC’s The Walking Dead, and Deadpool.

    The Vampire Diaries/The Originals Blue Ray, DVD + Digital Download Giveaway

    The Vampire Diaries and The Originals DVD Covers
    Fans of The Mommy Gamers podcast are no stranger to how much I love vampires, specifically The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. I’ve actually just returned from my third tour of Mystic Falls (Covington, GA). You can hear about my first tour in Episode 48: A Vampire Diaries Special. I also might have maybe met some of the cast.

    First – we have four blogger exclusive interviews with the creator of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals, Julie Plec. These super fan videos feature Julie confessing her favorite moments & top 5 episodes from the recent seasons of both The Vampire Diaries The Complete Sixth Season and The Originals The Complete Second Season.

    About The Vampire Diaries/The Originals

    About The Vampire Diaries The Complete Sixth Season

    The Vampire Diaries continues its sixth season with more delicious drama to sink your teeth into. In season five, after a passionate summer with Damon, Elena headed to Whitmore College with Caroline, not knowing Bonnie sacrificed her life for Jeremy’s. Meanwhile, Stefan and Caroline’s friendship deepened as they stood up to the Travelers, a nomadic witch tribe driven to strip Mystic Falls of magic and cast out its supernatural residents. In the shocking season finale, Damon, fearing he would lose his loved ones on the crumbling Other Side, made a huge sacrifice to bring them all back — with catastrophic and heartbreaking results. Season six follows the characters’ journey back to each other as they explore the duality of good versus evil inside themselves. Matt Davis reprises his role as Alaric Saltzman, recently returned from The Other Side. Plus, the season will make you misty-eyed as the departure of a major character will turn lives upside down and leave us asking what happened to Mystic Falls.

    The Vampire Diaries Season 6 Blue-Ray[button type=”big” color=”purple” link=”http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Diaries-Season-6-Blu-ray/dp/B00T5D4LB2/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1440979863&sr=1-2″]Buy Now[/button]

    Own The Vampire Diaries The Complete Sixth Season on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD September 1, 2015.

    Contains All 22 Episodes From The Sixth Season Plus Two Featurettes, An Audio Commentary, The 2014 Comic-Con Panel, Deleted Scenes, And A Gag Reel

    The Vampire Diaries on Facebook
    The Vampire Diaries on Twitter

    About The Originals The Complete Second Season

    As Original vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus Mikaelson returned to the vibrant, supernaturally charged city of New Orleans in season one, he was stunned to learn — along with his siblings Elijah and Rebekah — that Hayley, a werewolf, was pregnant with his child, and his vampire protégé, Marcel, whom the Original siblings had thought long dead, was ruling the French Quarter. Soon, a bloody war escalated between vampires and witches — the stakes raised by powerful teenage witch Davina and by Klaus’s bond with Cami, a student with a painful past — and a ruthless pack of wolves seized the opportunity to stage a violent coup. Now, in season two, a new status quo must be adjusted to, as the newly empowered werewolves control the city. Klaus struggles with weaknesses as Elijah desperately tries to save Hayley — now a hybrid — from a vicious spiral of self-destruction. Meanwhile, with the re-emergence of several Mikaelsons, “family is power” takes on new meaning.

    The Original Season 2 Blue-Ray[button type=”big” color=”purple” link=”http://www.amazon.com/Originals-Season-2-Blu-ray/dp/B00T5D4MVQ/ref=sr_1_1_twi_blu_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1440979955&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Originals+Season+2′]Buy Now[/button]

    Own The Originals The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD September 1, 2015

    Contains All 22 Episodes From The Second Season Plus Never-Before-Seen Featurettes And Much More!

    The Originals on Facebook
    Ask The Originals on Twitter

    Giveaway

    Oh god… I’m school girl squealing and hard core fan girling about doing this giveaway! I’m going to make it really easy on you to enter to win. Take the “Are you Fit for Vampire Life?” Quiz below to find out if you have what it takes to be a creature of the night. On September 1st come back to take a new “Could You Be a Supernatural Being?” Quiz – the app will be automatically updated with a new quiz experience, so be sure to take both! Leave a comment with at least one of your quiz results below before 11:59 pm EST on September 14, 2015 for your chance to win. Feel free to scroll through all the images from the shows and come back every week for new unlocked content.

    Official Rules

    Each household is only eligible to win (1) The Vampire Diaries Season 6 or The Originals Season 2 chosen at random via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

    A winner will be selected at random by 11:59pm EST September 16, 2015. Be sure to leave your email, facebook, or twitter handle so we can contact you if you win.

    [box type=”info”]This post contains an affiliate link. You can read more about our official disclosure policy here. Information and prize provided by Warner Bros. [/box]

    Ride in Mad Max-inspired Uber Vehicles During PAX Prime

    Mad Max vehicle

    The upcoming open-world action game Mad Max from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developed by Avalanche Studios, available Sept. 1, will be bringing The Wasteland to Seattle at PAX Prime, where Uber (just when I thought they couldn’t get any better) will be offering Mad Max game-inspired vehicles for riders to select from in the area. That’s right. I repeat Warner Bros. Interactive Ent. and Avalanche Studios teamed up with Uber and will be offering Mad Max game-inspired vehicles for riders to select from in the area. Not gonna lie, I’m super jealous right now. My husband is an Uber driver and his jaw dropped when I told him about this. Having cupcakes and ice cream delivered is pretty sweet, but this, this is EPIC!

    If you happen to score an Uber ride in one of the Mad Max inspired cars please tweet us some pics @TheMommyGamers. I’ll just have to live vicariously through you.

    Mad Max game Uber vehicle

    Photo Credit: @Swift_sh0t

    Mad Max game Uber vehicle

    Photo Credit: @Swift_sh0t

    What:

    Uber riders will get a chance to ride in vehicles inspired by the Mad Max game at PAX Prime in Seattle from Aug. 28-Sept. 1.

    Who:

    Uber riders at PAX Prime in Seattle

    Where:

    Washington State Convention Center

    When:

    Friday, Aug. 28-Monday, Sept. 1 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. PDT

    About:

    The Mad Max video game introduces an original story set within the universe of Mad Max and features deep car customization that impacts its handling, metal-grinding vehicular action and gives players a vast arsenal of mobile weaponry within The Wasteland. Players become Max, the lone warrior who must fight to stay alive by engaging in vicious on-ground fighting, as well as physics-based vehicular combat, against savage factions who are fighting for domination and survival in this gritty, dynamic open-world.

    Pre-order Mad Max and get The Ripper, a fully upgradable Magnum Opus car body by visiting: http://www.madmaxgame.com/buynow/

    Developed by Avalanche Studios, Mad Max will be released on Sept. 1, 2015 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC.

    Equilibrium Urban Survival Gear Review

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    Equilibrium USG – What Is It?

    I love bags. I have a nice collection of geek-themed stuff holders that I don’t use all that often because I’m afraid of staining them, or losing them, or wearing them out. At C2E2 in April of this year, though, I discovered Equilibrium USG. This company, based close to me in Skokie, Ill., creates functional, modular bags. They’re extremely durable, flexible, secure, padded, and customizable. So, naturally, I had to test one out. It took until late July for me to get my bag, as they’re made at a factory in the Philippines and then put together here, but this month I was finally able to take it on a trip with me and test the thing out.

    The company likes to call its gear “the LEGOs of bags.” For the P.A.C. system (Portable All-Purpose Containment), there are two available types of base, or harness – a basic one, and one with more storage called the Vertex harness. There are four types of “payload” – your basic storage component, including the Recon Prime, shown above. “Ordnance” refers to smaller accessory-style bags that can be attached to the payload or harness or SKYN. Then you have the SKYNs themselves. These come in many different designs, or you can design your own, as long as there’s no copyright infringement.

    The durability and water-resistance of the bags comes  from high-grade material – 840 and 1680 denier Ballistic and Cordura nylon (the same sort of thing used for making bulletproof vests) and YKK zippers with reverse tape. The insides are lined with polyethalene sheets for rigidity and protection. Each Recon features more than 250 assembled parts, sewn together.

    By the time I received mine, I had pretty much forgotten how to operate it, so this past weekend I stopped by Equilibrium’s booth at Wizard World Comic-Con in Chicago. (I also picked up an ORDN-50 Heat while I was there.) But I’m so glad I stopped by. Company representatives showed me how to attach my new Heat to the front and sides of my base, to my harness, even to my SKYN. I can attach all kinds of things to my harness. I can turn my SKYN inside out and put things on the front of my bag, too. I am clearly deficient in imagination, because none of things had occurred to me on my own.

    Do Equilibrium Bags Perform As Advertised?

    2015-08-24 08.48.21

    My Assault Panzer with two SKYNs.

    I’ll be honest. I have an awesome Lo & Sons bag that I usually prefer to travel with, because it’s got this handy pocket that allows me to slip it over the handle of my carry-on luggage, and it’s so roomy. I took a look at my new slash-proof Assault Panzer, and thought it looked small and too rigid. I wanted something that would be able to handle a bit of a bulge, in case I brought back lots of souvenirs. I switched all my belongings to my Lo & Sons O.M.G., and then I changed my mind. What the heck. I was traveling light, and I really wanted to test my Equilibrium bag out. So I switched everything back and stuck my sunglasses into one of the outside mounting straps. My USG felt really balanced on my back, once the harness/base (basically, a vest that attaches to the “payload”) was on. Then I had a brilliant idea. I realized that because the harness is separate from the actual bag, it also does fit over the carry-on handle. This made me very happy, as it was the main reason I’d been thinking of leaving my USG behind.

    The verdict: I’m sold. This is actually the first backpack I’ve owned that I actually prefer to wear on my back. It’s comfortable, not too bulky, and doesn’t look huge on me (I’m a rather small person). I could have put it on my luggage handle so that it was supported by my suitcase, but mostly I didn’t.

    I don’t have that many accessories yet, and I feel like my Panzer doesn’t have enough pockets, but it does have a “secret” pocket behind the SKYN where I store my ID and cash. There’s also one on top perfect for all my chargers. I admit I have not tested the slashproof capabilities of my USG, and I hope not to ever have to do that. Also, I haven’t yet tested out the bag’s messenger-like and cross-body capabilities, but it’s designed with a very slight curve, so it fits snugly into your body as a messenger or cross-body bag.

    Is There Anything Else I Need to Know?

    When I returned from my trip, my kid and I stopped at Culver’s for dinner on the way home from the airport. Almost instantly an employee behind the counter asked about my bag and where I got it and wrote down the company information so she could get one, too. And this isn’t a one-time occurrence. The cool factor of Equilibrium USG bags cannot be denied.

    The main downside is that these bags can be pricey. The Recon Prime that I covet runs between $100-$140 based upon size (S, M, L). But it has so many pockets! And a separate laptop compartment that will fit items larger than my 11.5″ MacBook Air! And lots of mounting straps! A custom SKYN runs $50, and the tricked-out Vertex harness can cost $105. The problem with the prices is that I keep wanting to buy more. Just like LEGOs. I think I see what they mean now.

    Also, my kid keeps begging me to let him take my USG to school because it’s so cool. He doesn’t even want to use it with a SKYN, because the black and orange look of my USG is apparently cooler than my Totoro SKYN. I’ve promised him that when I upgrade to the Recon Prime, he can have my Assault Panzer.

    Final Thoughts

    Aside from the fact that I can’t ever remember the names of any of the parts I’m purchasing – “Assault Riot” and “Recon Prime” evoke nothing descriptive to me at all – I do like this system. And until, well, today, I was still mixing up harnesses and bases (I felt like the “base” should be your main bag, not the thing with the straps on it). Also, there are just so many straps and attachers sometimes I’m not sure what to do with them all. But Equilibrium makes a durable, well-designed bag, and I’m looking forward to adding to it, figuring out configurations, and getting more geeky SKYNs. I’m grown up, but I still like toys, and this is one I can both play with and utilize in an adult manner.

    For more information on Equilibrium USG, visit www.equint.com.

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