May 21, 2017

[Sponsored] Lens review: GEO Crazy SF-75

Yoooooo!

Once again I'm back reviewing another pair of lenses sent to me by the amazing Sweden-based circle lens shop called CirclelensesEurope, also known as Cirkellinser. ^_^ I've done a couple reviews for them earlier so, in case you're curious and missed out, check them out here and here ~! 
This time around I'm reviewing a crazy lens the GEO Crazy SF-75! These lenses often have other names added to their number code name (SF-75), most commonly "Flame Eyes" or sometimes even "Vampire" but some people just call this kind of lens design for the Darth Maul eyes since they are often used by cosplayers for the iconic eyes of the Sith Lords from the Star Wars universe.

The lenses I'm reviewing in this post were kindly sponsored by CirclelensesEurope, aka Cirkellinser. Rest assured knowing that all my reviews are purely 100% my honest opinion. I don't ever compromise the truth.

The discount code "SHIRO" gives you 10% off on any order placed on both CircleLensesEurope and Cirkellinser – feel free to use it! ♥



Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.2 mm
Water content: 40±2
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)


Note: To all my Swedish readers, please scroll to the end of this post for a summary in Swedish. // Till alla mina svenska läsare, bläddra gärna till slutet av detta inlägg för en sammanfattning på svenska. :)


Before I start with the actual review of the lenses I want to tell you all a little about CirclelensesEurope, also known as Cirkellinser. You might wonder why I'm mentioning two stores but the catch is that it's actually the same store, just for two different markets – CirclelensesEurope is catering for the whole Europe while Cirkellinser is especially for the Swedes. Both sites have the same people behind it, the same products for sale, ship from the same place etc so yeah, the only difference is basically that the other one is for people living in Sweden. Neither of them is a copycat or a scam site so no worries there – you can buy from either of them with confidence!

Both or their sites are fresh, inviting, cute and easy to use. There is not a staggering amount of circle lenses to choose from since they seem to focus on just a couple lens brands – GEO and EOS, respectively. But what CirclelensesEurope lack in options they make up for with incredibly high-speed and cheap shipping – it's a flat price of 3€ for anywhere in Europe. The fast shipping puts CirclelensesEurope at an advantage over Asia-based lens stores because yeah, if you're a cosplayer and need lenses urgently (let's say, a week before the con) then they might very well save your costume!

Regarding the shipping and handling time I want to say that I've always received my orders extremely fast – most commonly already on the next working day. Shipping to Sweden is usually 1-2 days and to the rest of Europe it's 3-7 days and it also says on their site that they ship out within 24 hours.

If you wonder to what European countries (note: they do NOT ship outside of Europe!!) they ship to then this is what it says on their site:
We deliver to following countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and Austria.
Their customer service is dependable; they seem to answer within 24 hours, even during weekends! Customer service is also really kind and easy to approach while still having that professional air to it. All in all CirclelensesEurope is a very easy and smooth shop to deal with, safe to buy from and I would warmly recommend them to all fellow European (and Swedish) cosplayers and circle lens fans! They are a really good store, honestly.


 ~***~ Lens review continues ~***~

The lenses arrived in a small regular white bubblewrap envelope that easily fits into your average mailbox. On the envelope was a cute little 3D smiley sticker.



Inside the white envelope the lenses are packed in a small cute drawstring bag! With the order also came a free lens case, a business card with a hand-written 'thank you' note on the back, a GEO Medical information sheet (because I received GEO lenses) and, of course, the shop's own leaflet with information about their guarantees, wear & care etc – a really good piece of advice for all the first-time contact lens users.

~***~

I put the lenses to soak in ordinary contact lens solution before wearing them – it's not recommended to wear circle lenses right out of their original vials/packaging! I have no problems inserting them and the lenses don't sting my eyes or such; I also don't feel them when I move my gaze around. One thing that they do though is blur my vision because of the small pupil hole, which also means that I see yellow corners in my vision field in any kind of poorer light conditions; it's nothing that you don't get used to and it's to be expected with any kind of crazy and animation lenses.

One lens in.
My natural eye color is a light blue-gray but I do have a faint golden-ish ring next to the pupil. As is to be expected by crazy lenses these completely cover up my real eye color! The color is really opaque, pigmented and vibrant. There's no shading or anything so the color looks really fake but hey, who buys crazy lenses expecting them to look natural? Like, really?

The design is just a solid yellow color with some irregular flaming edges that is a shade between orange and red; it makes you look like the bad guy from a science fiction movie and that's pretty boss. These lenses could also bring that little extra to any kind of werewolf, vampire, alien, dragon or even a possessed look for the next wild carneval party!
The size increase is quite modest – it's there but you don't really pay attention to it. I rarely buy crazy lenses for enlargement effect anyway, I buy them for the special effect.

Lens photos ahead!
All photos taken by me during a May afternoon with a clear sky.
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.


Apartment room light. Natural (window) light.
Apartment room light, standing in a dark corner.
Flash photo.
White light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors storage room. Natural light from the side.
Basement floor. Poor natural light.
Outdoors, facing the sun while being in the shadow.
Outdoors, back against sun.
Outdoors, facing sun.
I instantly noticed that once I had both lenses in that they were of vastly different colors! One lens is several shades brighter while the other appears duller and more muddy in color, as well as a bit more transparent (insufficient color print?) and it's honestly impossible to miss. I'm suspecting that it's a manufacturing error – it could happen to any pair of lenses and I was just unlucky, in other words. Sith Shit happens. :'( I'm not gonna lie, of course it's disappointing because it looks dumb –and makes the lenses unusable for serious costuming purposes– but I really can't blame CircleLensesEurope; it's not their fault that manufacturer errors exist and, just to compare, I've gotten defective lenses from several big and popular Asian circle lens stores as well. 
Also, the color difference is not visible until the lens is in the eye – or at least I didn't notice anything in the vials, nor when I held the lenses on my finger; there's also no chance that I put them on the wrong way since it's really easy to tell the right side apart from the wrong side (because wrong side is considerably lighter). I also want to mention that I checked the batch numbers on the vials and both lenses are from the very same lot, surprisingly enough.

The comfort is mainly good but a bit unpredictable. The first time I wore these lenses I could easily wear them for 3,5 hours (I had to take them off for work after that) without feeling them anywhere – I know I could have worn them at least a couple hours more with no problems. The second time I wore these I experienced frequent dry bouts on and off and I had a hard time to wear them past the first hour because my eyes felt so dry, yet I still persisted for 4 hours before I gave up. I've had very dry eyes lately so take my comfort grading with a grain of salt because yeah, the first day I easily wore these for 3,5 hours while the second time I struggled after the first hour. I have dry and sensitive eyes naturally anyway, by the way. I'm pretty sure that if you don't suffer from the same eye problems that I do then these would surely be comfortable!

Distance photos! Original Sith Lord style, of course.



Regarding CircleLensesEurope I need to mention that they and their Swedish counterpart sadly don't carry prescription lenses for the time being. I don't know if they plan to start selling those anytime soon but I keep my fingers crossed since a lot of people have vision defects, me included, and need prescription lenses to see. My own vision defects are minor enough (-0,50 on my weaker eye) that I can get around just fine with plano lenses but yeah, if you can't wear lenses without power I'm really sorry to say that, sadly, CircleLensesEurope doesn't have what you need. :'(

Remember, if you make a purchase at CircleLensesEurope or Cirkellinser you can get 10% off any order if you use the discount code "SHIRO" during checkout – enjoy! ♡

Short summary:

Color: 9/10 
Ignore the defect and it's an intense flat yellow color with a fiery flame rim. Not for the faint of heart.
Design: 7/10 
A simple solid lens with a flame design on the outer rim. Looks badass!
Opacity: 10/10
As is to be expected from a crazy lens – really good color coverage.
Enlargement: 4/10 
Modest enlargement. It's there but it's not all that noticeable, perhaps because of the eye-catching extreme design.
Comfort: 5/10 
Easy to wear (no stinginess etc) but a bit unpredictable on my dry eyes. Ranges from really comfortable to drying after a couple hours. Gives yellow corners in the vision field and occasional blurred sight in poorer light conditions.
Naturalness: 0/10 
Unless you turned to the dark side of the Force and your eyes suddenly changed then no, not really.


• Sammanfattning på svenska

Vad är cirkellinser? 

Cirkellinser är kosmetiska linser som till en början mest användes i Asien av idoler, modeller och liknande men som har, på sistone, blivit alltmer populära även i västvärlden – särskilt bland ungdomar som har ett intresse för japansk populärkultur. Det som skiljer cirkellinser från vanliga färgade linser är att dom kommer i otroligt många olika designs och färger (även onaturliga färger så som röd, rosa och lila etc) samt att dom får dina ögon att se större och vackrare ut! Cirkellinser finns att köpa både med och utan styrka. Det är flest unga kvinnor som använder cirkellinser men även män, transpersoner, ickebinära och andra har insett hur roligt det kan vara att byta ögonfärg lite nu och då för att testa på något nytt och spännande.

~~~~~~~~~

Cirkellinser är en svensk online-affär –förmodligen den första och enda i vårt avlånga land som säljer äkta "circle lenses", numera även kända på svenska som cirkellinser. Tyvärr så säljer inte Cirkellinser linser med styrka i dagens läge.

Denna gång valde jag att recensera ett linspar som heter GEO Crazy SF-75 (bilder finns ovanför!) då dem verkade riktigt balla med sin intensivt gula färg med flammor i kanterna. Linserna anlände inom nån enstaka arbetsdag i ett vadderat kuvert. I kuvertet fanns även ett visitkort med en handskriven hälsning på baksidan, ett gratis linsetui samt linserna själv som var förpackade i en fin liten snörpåse.

Linserna är superfräna, heltäckande och passar perfekt till att exempelvis cosplaya en Sithlord från Star Wars med de ikoniska ögonen – de syns på väldigt långt avstånd också! Dessa linser går även galant att komplettera looken med om man ska klä ut sig till vampyr, varulv och andra läskiga varelsermaskeradfesten!
Tyvärr hade jag otur och fick ett linspar med tydlig färgskillnad linserna, men detta är ett produktionsfel och sånt händer – det inte Cirkellinsers fel; jag har fått defekta linser även från de största cirkellinsbutikerna i Asien. 

Dessa linser har varierande bekvämlighet för mig; jag har haft riktigt torra ögon på sistone och första dagen jag testade dessa kunde jag lätt ha dem i flera timmar utan problem. Andra gången fick jag kämpa för att inte ge upp efter första timmen då dom kändes torra. Jag är dock rätt säker på att om du inte har torra och känsliga ögon som mig så är det säkert inget problem att bära dessa linser! De är lätta att sätta in, skaver och kliar inte – men däremot så gör dessa linser så att hörnen i mitt synfält blir gula och/eller suddiga, främst inomhus. Den blurriga effekten sker då linsernas pupillöppning är mindre än på din typiska icke-crazy cirkellins, vilket gör så att när du vistas i ett utrymme med sämre ljusförhållanden så blir din pupill naturligt större och "krockar" därmed med linsen. Man vänjer sig fort vid det dock.

Linserna fick jag från Cirkellinser, en av mina sponsorer, i recensionssyfte. ^_^ Men fast jag inte själv betalat för detta par så påverkar det inte min ärlighet. Jag kan med handen på hjärtat säga att Cirkellinser är en professionell och pålitlig hemsida. De säljer endast äkta cirkellinser som är tillverkade i Korea. De innehar även en äkthetsgaranti samt öppet köp i 30 dagar – allt för att du ska känna dig trygg och nöjd! Beställningar som gjorts före klockan 14:00 skickas samma vardag och frakttiden inom Sverige ligger på 1-2 dagar och kostar endast 19 kr. Jag kan rekommendera deras onlinebutik till alla som är intresserade av att prova på att använda färgade kontaktlinser!
 
Min kod "SHIRO" ger dig dessutom 10% rabattdin beställning hos dem, glöm inte det!



Thanks for reading!
A huge thank you to CircleLensesEurope and Cirkellinser for making this review possible!

~ Shiro Samurai out.

May 14, 2017

MH4U Eldaora's Taus Hunting Horn cosplay prop [part 1]

Hello geeks and fellow hunters!

I've wanted to do a Monster Hunter costume for years now (I'm a huge fan of the games!) but I've been hesitant to start because of the difficulty level of the designs. I finally got the push that I much needed when a major school project came up and I wanted to make something big and impressive for it. I thought that I could start by making a weapon from the games and save the armor for later.
After going through a lot of weapon candidates from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, I decided on making a Hunting Horn. It's one of my main weapons in several of the installments, one that I use a fair lot and enjoy playing with, especially in multiplayer hunts. So yeah, once I had decided on that I wanted to try my hands at making a Hunting Horn I only had to figure out which one – there's a lot to choose from! I soon came to the conclusion that the Eldaora's Taus (aka Rusted Kushala Daora one) would be a fun challenge to make and it looks really pretty too!
Also, I want to mention that this is my first time making a cosplay prop of this caliber and difficulty and also my first time using PU-foam for a bigger project; I've only used expanding foam previously for small stuff like a spearhead etc. There will be a lot of learning involved.

Note: this project is split into several parts because otherwise it would turn into a kilometer post; I need to document my progress carefully (many photos etc) since it's a school project. Some photos in this post are taken with my SLR camera, while others are taken using my crummy cellphone camera. This is why the photo quality varies, sorry about it. 

Let's do this!



I couldn't find any references of said Hunting Horn, the Eldaora's Taus, on the internet so I had to start my own game and take some photos of it myself. My camera had a really hard time trying to capture the colors accurately from the screen, but the photos above are as close as I could get.
 
Around the end of last year (November something) I started this project. The first step was finding a wooden pole that I could use for the base. I found one in my school's garage that had a broken tip, most likely it had been a broom before and the broom part had broken off. It didn't matter to me that the top was broken because it would be covered inside the bulk of the weapon anyway – aka the "horse head". I know it's not really a horse with the horns and all but yeah, during the early stages of my work some other students and my teacher asked me what I was making and, well, it's so much easier to just say "oversized hobby horse" instead of starting to explain that I'm making a huge-ass monster slaying cosplay prop to people that don't even know what cosplay is...

I needed to make a base for the general shape of the head part. I asked Sacchan for help with cutting out two identical horse-shaped heads out of thick cardboard that I had saved over the years. I hoard things that I think might be useful for cosplay purposes later on. I then taped them together but made sure to tape the whole thing in a V-shape to give it a bit more dimension and depth.

Cardboard base cut-out on wooden pole.
I realized afterwards that the ears were misplaced and thus useless but luckily it doesn't really affect anything because the whole thing was to be covered in expanding foam (PU-foam) and then carved into shape anyway. I couldn't have placed the ears right anyway because my cardboard is only 2D while the prop is 3D, if that makes sense...

I started adding foam to the build. I had to take turns spraying each side to try to get them as even as possible, which proved to be hard since the foam expands so much. This part of the process is really slow and it's better to be patient and careful than try to foam many different spots at the same time
– I did this mistake and ended up being unable to find a position that I could put/balance my work to dry (too many fresh spots on both sides of the horse head) that would keep all the newly foamed areas from shifting positions because of gravity. So yeah, I could only watch as the foam either fell off or moved significantly and thus I wasted half a big can of PU-foam. Needless to say I was really mad at myself and wanted to throw the whole thing out of the window...

First layer of PU-foam.
3 big cans of foam later... #epämääräinenmöykky
You might notice on the photo above that there's something white on the pole – it's filler that I tried experimenting with to see if I could thicken the upcoming shaft for the Hunting Horn. Turned out that it's really annoying to work with but it does stick to the wood after some careful application. I did realize halfway through that it's too tedious and time-consuming, especially considering how little thickness it adds and how much I need, and so I stopped putting filler and waited for a better idea to show up. 

Started test carving the head.
I started carving with a mora knife to get an idea of if I had enough foam or not. Turned out that some spots needed more and I had to use a fourth can of foam. I also had to use some foam to cover up carving mistakes...

This (school) project stood still for some months meanwhile I changed schools, which meant that I couldn't work in the garage anymore and had to take my project elsewhere – which meant that the only possible other place was to take it to mom's car garage, or well, that little work room in the back of it. I also had to figure out some things regarding my school change and what teacher would be my supervisor for this project. Luckily my new art teacher was also willing to take up this project as well! The reason I opted to ask the art teacher out of all possible teachers I could have asked is simply because this is a creative project duh and I thought that an art teacher would understand it the best and be able to help me with any issues along the way, material choices if I got stuck etc. My supervising teacher was awesome enough to lend me a full roll of chicken wire and tools for working with it when I said that I'd need to use some to make the base support for the horns and some other parts later, score!

This is the "stand-by" state that it was in for months.
On 8th April I went to mom's to celebrate Easter with my family. On the same go I took with me my creation, along with a shitlot of primer sprays, spray paints and whatever else I had lying around in my apartment that I might need for this project. I mean, I got a car ride to mom's so of course I'd bring with me all the stuff that I might potentially need to finish this MonHun prop!

A couple days later I continued to shape the other side of the "horse head". I had a hard time carving it because of pains so I didn't progress a lot on that day. At least stepdad had given me another tool option instead of the ordinary mora knife – a really handy saw! I don't know what it's proper name is in English but it was a godsend.

My carving tool options. (middle one is just the knife sheath)
The head's general shape is starting to look like something...
I returned to work on this project after approximately a month, on the Mother's Day weekend in Finland (aka this weekend). I continued by carving out the head in more detail and to slim it down. It was important to get the head as ready as possible so that I could measure it and make the horns and ears separately at school the next week. It's too cumbersome to move this large prop around and, to be honest, it might not fit into a car once the horns are attached... 

Head slimmed down and details added.
I didn't notice it at first but I accidentally measured the eye placement wrong (I only used eye measure, pun not intended) and so one eye was higher up than the other. Good thing it's only foam so I could easily cover up the faulty eye hole with more foam and carve it out again in the right spot.

Once the head was more or less finished (for now) I continued to make the mane/hair/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. This was a bit tricky because there's quite some depth going on and I needed to plan it and think in "layers" before I started sawing off big chunks randomly. I started by carving out the upper bulk of the mane on one side and then carefully mapped it out in my head where the lower one would be.

Started shaping the mane... or whatever you want to call it.
Once one side was in good shape I turned around and made the other side. Too bad I only managed to make the upper mane bulk on the remaining side before I noticed that there's not enough foam – the mistake earlier (when I put too much foam and it slided etc) had made it so that the sides were not of the same thickness. Good thing I had a spare can of PU-foam lying around, waiting to be used – I knew that I would need it. Ennakoi, tiedät kyllä miksi. :D

Put the prop on the garage floor, plastic underneath for protection.
Added PU-foam to the lower mane half.
I left it on the floor to dry. I must say that I'm actually a bit surprised by how well it's turning out so far, despite the errors along the way. Can't wait to get more progress done!
I will need to come back later to carve out the lower mane on the side that I foamed and then add some more foam to the tip, to get it similar to the side that I already made. Wow, now that sounded clumsy. Once that's done I can move on to foam the backside of the head, to make it big enough to carve out the back mane – but I'll get to that later.

Next up I'll continue with carving the lower remaining bulk of the mane, as well as go and start progress on the horns and ears. Keep your eyes peeled for the second part!

May 12, 2017

Lens review: Vassen Natural Sparkling Red

Good day people!

Today I will review a quite different circle lens, namely the Vassen Natural Sparkling Red! Despite the lens name implying that it will be red it's actually not the case – it's a big transparent lens with the only thing being red is the inner arrows pointing towards the pupil. But what these lack in color they make up for in effect!

Let's get to the review!



Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.5 mm
Water content: 42%
Life span: 1 year (I recommend 6 months)


A majority of the body of the lens is colorless, meaning that the final outcome is highly dependent on what your natural eye color is. The design features a thick black limbal ring, some gray "shadows" at the edges that have some lines running towards the center, as well as the characteristic small red arrows. The arrows themselves aren't all that noticeable, to be honest – they just give a tinge of red to your eyes, like a thin ring running around your pupil. It's nothing that will be noticed unless the viewer is very close to you, but it's a fun little detail nonetheless.

One lens in. Notice enlargement effect.
As you can see I have light blue-gray eyes and to me it looks like these lenses pronounce the grayness of my eyes when worn. Depending on what your real eye color is these lenses will come out looking very different from wearer to wearer, but one thing is sure – there will always be a really pretty and noticeable halo effect! The halo effect is pretty much guaranteed thanks to the transparency and the size, which is bigger than a natural iris.

These lenses are generous in size and it's definitely the most noticeable trait, together with the halo effect, of course. In a way I like the lack of color because this is a lens meant to enhance your eyes rather than do any dramatical changes, save for the size boost and the prominent limbal ring.

Lens photos ahead!
All photos taken by me during a May afternoon with a semi-clear sky.
There's no color filters or such on the close-up photos and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.


Natural room light in my apartment.
Bathroom light.
Facing a window in the corridor.
Flash photo.
White light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors storage room. Natural light.
Basement floor. Poor natural light.
Outdoors, facing the sun while being under the shadows.
Outdoors, back against the sun. (aka facing wall)
Outdoors, facing sun.
When it comes to comfort these lenses felt a tiny bit scratchy at first but my eyes got used to them in a matter of minutes. They are quite comfy otherwise – no stinging feeling, red or teary eyes etc. I do notice though that these do blur my vision occasionally, not by much but it's enough to be noticeable.
I guess I could say that comfort is above average for me; I have sensitive and/or dry eyes and I could wear these for around 4 hours with no problems, likely a couple hours more. Most lenses I've had lately dries out for me in about 2 hours, so 4 hours is pretty good in comparison.

This is definitely not a lens that you buy for the sake of color – you buy it for the lack of color. ;) It's a cool and unique lens, something quite different from what's commonly available in the market. If you want to try something that stands out in its own way then the Vassen Natural Sparkling series is something to check out!

And lastly, a couple distance photos!



Short summary:

Color: 1/10
I can't grade it for color because there's barely any color, lol. x) The little red there is hardly does anything for the overall look and the gray is just for effect shadowing.

Design: 8/10
It's different, it's something out of the ordinary. Really simple yet pretty translucent lens with a thick limbal ring and some tiny red arrows for detailing.
Opacity: 1/10 

These lenses are colorless and thus the point is that your real eye color will be there!
Enlargement: 8/10
Really big!
Comfort: 6/10 

Quite decent, actually. Felt a bit scratchy at first but it went away quickly. Blurs my vision occasionally but doesn't dry out too fast; I can easily wear these for 4 hours with no issues.
Naturalness: 5/10
If we ignore the size –and the fantastic halo effect– what we have at hand is a quite natural circle lens.

Thanks for reading my circle lens reviews! ^.^
Shiro Samurai says baibai ~