London Boat Show 2016: Doggy Bag

Category : Blog, Press

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While pets are an unlikely companion on the open seas the problem of their fur getting wet is still something plenty of dog owners have to deal with on a regular basis.

With the doggy bag you can easily dry your wet companion within seconds, simply lay the bag out flat and get them to sit on it then zip it up so that that everything other than their neck is covered, finally dry as if you were using a towel but with the added benefit of not getting your hands wet.

The bag is made of a special material that absorbs anything your dog throws at it from muddy water all the way to sand and all you have to do is tumble dry it every few months as if it were wool then shake it outside and watch all the dirt fall off leaving it good as new.


London Boat Show 2016: Outdoor Bean Bag

Category : Blog, Press

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After you’ve spent a small (or perhaps large) fortune on a boat as well as the constant maintenance work that comes with it you want to relax on the open seas and what better way to do that with a bean bag? No seriously.

The creatively named Outdoor Bean Bag is exactly what it sounds with just two exceptions the first being that it’s highly water resistant. Of course no matter how well your stitching skills are no textile product can ever be 100% waterproof but the Outdoor Bean Bag comes pretty close, not only does it use a premium water resistant fabric but the beans themselves are contained within a polyurethane bag so that even if you throw it overboard and don’t fish it out for a few hours all you need to do is leave it out in the sun and it will be as good as new.

The second and arguably more innovative feature has to do with the design of the beans themselves, when force is applied to the surface the beans spread out and maintain their shape as well as a solid structure, this means that whether you use it as a chair, sofa or even an oversized pillow it will always adapt to suit your level of comfort. Unlike memory foam, once a person gets off of the Outdoor Bean Bag it reverts back to its regular shape allowing you and multiple other people to each have a customised seating experience.


London Boat Show: Land Rover BAR

Category : Blog, Press

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The America’s cup is the pinnacle event for sailing where teams around the world come together to push the boundaries of design and technology to win the oldest sports trophy in history. Despite the cup’s origins in the Isle of Wight the UK team has yet to win it although all that is set to change with the recent partnership between Land Rover and Ben Ainslie Racing.

With the Emirates New Zealand team currently in the lead, the bar is still set pretty high although the combination of Land Rover’s lead designers/engineers and a team lead by four-times Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie means the UK now more than ever has what it takes to #bringthecuphome to its rightful place.


Hyper Japan Christmas Market: Food stands (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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If you’re going to an event like Hyper Japan you pretty much have to try the Japanese food despite how expensive it is. One of the most interesting taste experiences I tried this year was eating mackerel that has been dipped in to a glass of warm sake I don’t know how or why it tastes so good but it does, it tastes almost as if the mackerel was marinated in champagne and in every bite you get such a rich flavour on top the meatyness of the fish. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone whenever the opportunity arises.

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I for one have never really been a fan of macarons but for those of you who are you are spoiled for choice not just with the sheer number of flavours but also the attention to detail with some of these aesthetically, who wouldn’t want a macaron shaped like a cute bear’s face? I tried the sakura (cherry blossom flower), rose and lavender which were all very nice, I as tempted to buy a box of assorted macarons but as a rule of thumb any food at a convention will always costs a lot more than outside of it.

The final food I tried for the first time was something I have seen before but always been cautious of, i’m talking about green tea flavoured ice cream. At £2 per cone it’s not too much more than a traditional ice cream but it’s so much nicer, of course being inside a stuffy convention hall means you have to eat it quickly or else it will melt.

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Of course I had to have the usual street food favourites takoyaki, karaage, gyoza and a dragon tail. The dragon tail (above) is the simplest and cheapest of all the options and makes for a nice snack but flavour wise it’s not much more exciting than you would expect it to be it’s just rice, shrimp and nori.

There were other foods and drinks I wanted to try including instant miso soup dispensers, ramen and everyone’s favourite drink Ramune but one can only eat so much over 3 days and it’s good to have something new for next time.


Hyper Japan Christmas Market (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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Due to the ever rising popularity of Hyper Japan for the first time there have been 2 events this year, the usual one during the Summer and now a Christmas Market which was held at Olympia. Last time I mentioned how disappointing Hyper Japan was as it was a medium sized event trying to expand in to a large sized venue which resulted in lots of leftover space and wide walkways, this year they corrected that problem by using a smaller venue and spreading the event over 2 floors.

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If you’re going to an event like Hyper Japan you pretty much have to try the Japanese food despite how expensive it is, this time there were more food stands than ever including instant miso soup dispensers, green tea flavoured ice cream macarons and of course the usual street food favourites takoyaki, karaage, gyoza.

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After eating your fill there were plenty of video games to play including Mario Kart 64, Street Fighter with the arcade stick and Dance Dance Revolution. While I may not be a good dancer there were plenty of other games (primarily retro) to play and even if you come alone you will definitely find someone who’ll be your player 2.

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There were plenty of stalls selling Japanese products from replica swords and pocket fans to pokemon cards and kimonos. While the quantity was not as large as any previous Hyper Japan it catered to the vast majority of people at the show. When you’re not attempting to succeed at Kendama (Japanese ball and cup game) or almost being fooled by the hyper-realistic Japanese food there are constant performances on stage from musicians, chefs and artists showing their craft for the public to see.

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Even the Sake Experience makes a small return with a grand total of 3 stands where you can taste a variety of sakes. As expected the Hyper Japan Christmas Market was nowhere near the scale of the usual events in the summer but for what it is it’s enough to satisfy people.That being said I don’t think the Hyper Japan Christmas Market should charge the same amount to get in as its predecessor (£12). Not everyone wants a huge venue where it would take a huge amount of time and energy to see everything instead Hyper Japan condensed everything that makes its events in to a more bite sized experience.


Hyper Japan: Nintendo (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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As per usual Nintendo had several areas dotted around Hyper Japan to show off their existing games, consoles and even demos of upcoming games. While I can’t deny Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Captain Toad Treasure Tracker where all highlights nothing stood out more than the Wii U Smash Bros.

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In order to play it you first had to play and win a match in the 3DS version of Smash Bros (which I lost in) then you had the chance to go on stage and fight live on the big screen for fun and for glory. Many people say they are pleasantly surprised with the 3DS version as they thought it would be awkward to play however I can confirm that excluding the chunky slab of metal attached to the 3DS so we couldn’t steal it the gameplay was fluent and before the match started they did show you they controls. Not every character was available however we did get to see newcomers like Megaman (who I played as), the Wii Fit Trainer and the Villager tussle with veteran fighters. If you were lucky enough to win your round in the 3DS Smash Bros (which I didn’t) you got the chance to play it on the Wii U in on the big screen in front of a cheering audience. Although Amiibo showed an appearance in what was perhaps the world’s brightest display case it Nintendo didn’t show how it would be used in the game.

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Perhaps the 2nd most popular game hence the 1 1/2 hour line was Hyrule Warriors. This Zelda skin of the popular game Dynasty Warriors was an action filled hack and slash game with barrages of enemies coming at you and overkill attacks to disperse of them. One complaint which I found out happened to pretty much everybody is to do with the key-mapping on the gamepad. Every Zelda fan knows you press A to open a chest but so many people ended up wasting their special attacks instead according to Nintendo the keys are mapped to the Dynasty Warriors game style however there is an option to change them for a more Zelda-esque experience.

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Originally a mini-game in Mario 3D World Captain Toad Treasure Tracker has the protagonist Toad exploring 3D environments in order to achieve a star. While it is in the same style as Mario 3D World and Mario Galaxy it is a much slower paced games with little emphasis action. The road from A to B is not always simple although it does requires patience, timing and utilising the gamepad to create new pathways.

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As for 3DS games I have already downloaded the demo of Tomadachi Life so I didn’t need to try it again. The game is a life simulator although not a serious one like The Sims or an open one like Animal Crossing. After creating a Mii as the main character you move in to a block of apartments on an island with other Miis, by interacting with the other Miis you can create friendships, find lovers and even raise a family. One feature I would have liked to seen is a world where each Mii is controlled by an actual person instead of a CPU this would have brought a lot more meaning and depth to how people interact with each Mii in the game although to Nintendo’s defence they wanted it to be a lighthearted, not-so-serious game which isn’t a 1:1 mirror of reality. This is most evidently seen in their controversial decision to not include same-sex relationships in the game.

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The final game I tried for less than 10 minutes was Pokemon Art Academy. The Art Academy series is not one I have played before this being a designer I do not see the need for this as I already know how to draw. During my session I sketched, inked and coloured an image of ???, The result was okay considering the limitations although I also do not understand the need for this as the 3DS and even the Wii U as they are not the ideal mediums for learning how to draw digitally, I leave that up to the iPad for casual use and Wacom tablets for professionals.

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Despite not playing Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros on the Wii U like I wanted to I thought Nintendo’s did a great job of selling themselves at Hyper Japan and appealing more people in to buying a Wii U. Hell I even bought one last week! More on that soon.


Hyper Japan (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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This year the Hyper Japan took place in Earl’s Court 1 which had a huge amount of space in it however it might have had a bit too much. The event itself was bigger than last year’s one at Earl’s Court 2 but it still felt like it was too small of an event in too large of a venue. Spacing aside there was a wide variety of activities going on including talks on Japanese culture, live cooking shows with free food given to the audience and the chance to sing with Wii Karaoke U.

The Sake experience this year didn’t have as many types of sake to try as last year however there was a lot more variety with what was available. Some that stood out to me included the Funaguchi Kikusui,  Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura MIO sparkling sake and the Gekkeikan Yuzu Nigori. There was free cheddar cheese and crackers to help pace the alcoholic content that comes with 25 shots of sake in a short time-span.

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Having missed out on The Sushi awards last year I also gave that a try. It was at a much faster pace than I expected with chefs making sushi at lightning speeds then piling it on your plate and sending you to the next stand, there wasn’t even enough time to eat it until the very end. While visually appealing food porn is definitely a turn on for people the taste has to at least match if not surpass it’s appearance which it of course did with flying colours.

There were plenty of other stands at Hyper Japan not related to food or drink including a place where you can buy replica swords (although you are forbidden to open the packaging until you get home), a school offering you the chance to write your own message on a fan in Japanese and a plethora of merchandise from cute plush toys of burgers to art books from Studio Ghibli.

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Another highlight was the Nintendo section where people could play demos of Monster Hunter 4, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Tomadachi Life and if you were lucky enough to win your round in the 3DS Smash Bros (which I didn’t) you could play it on the Wii U in on the big screen in front of a cheering audience.

While it was certainly a great event which I recommend to anyone who is even remotely interested in Japanese culture I don’t think it lived up to the hype, it certainly is in the same category as Comic Con it still felt like it should have made a lot more use of the space at Excel 1 like Eurogamer did.

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Clerkenwell Design Week (2014)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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Despite knowing about Clerkenwell Design Week for many years this year was the first time I had the chance to visit, while it spans over the entirety of Clerkenwell I only focussed on the main building.

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There were many amazing designs scattered around the building from lighting to products however what stuck out to me was furniture.

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One of the most amazing pieces was the Leica T camera which was milled from a single block of metal, every single detail was thought of when designing this camera from the form and aesthetics of the main body to the lens that came with it.


Eurogamer (2013)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

About 3 hours after I got off the plane coming back from America I went straight to Eurogamer. After getting lost for 30 minutes and paying a taxi driver £5 to drive me to Earl’s Court I arrived at the venue, the exhibition was huge and included sections for Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Retro games, Indie games as well as PC games such as Surgeon Simulator although I went straight to the Nintendo section.

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I had already played Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD at Hyper Japan so instead I played the new Donkey Kong Country game which is a series I have never actually played before but would definitely consider buying when I eventually buy a Wii U. Also on show was Mario Kart 8, Pokemon X and Y as well as Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds but didn’t get to play them because if I waited in their huge lines I wouldn’t have gotten to play PS4.

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As expected the line for the PS4 was just over an hour although we were being kept entertained by videos of the awesome games we would soon be playing. When we eventually got to the front we were given 2 game tokens each of which entitled us for a specific demo level or 10 minutes of a game of our choice.

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First I played Octodad which is a game about an Octopus who has a wife and kids although no-one knows he is an octopus, throughout the demo level you have to find your tuxedo, get dressed, and give your bride her wedding ring all while trying not to smash everything to pieces and keeping your identity as an octopus a secret. The game is meant to be stupid and funny and it succeeds in both categories. While playing Octodad it was also the first time I held a PS4 controller and I liked it. While it’s true the Playstation’s controllers are almost always the same but with some ergonomic alterations the introduction of the touch pad in the centre is an interesting feature however this comes with the very minor but still annoying point of having to move the start button in a place which feels very awkward to press it as it’s too close to the action buttons.

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The second game I stood around for 30 minutes to play 10 minutes of was called Knack which is essentially an action / fantasy game with lots of magic and fighting. As you progress throughout each level you collect orbs which make you stronger and give you access to new spells to the point where you’re basically capable of destroying cities without any problem at all. Just like Octodad this game unfortunately didn’t offer touch screen support so I didn’t get to try out what it would be like but apart from that it’s a good game and definitely one I would get if I get a PS4 at launch.

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I wanted to try out the Xbox One but didn’t have time due to waiting in so many lines however I hope to try that as the first thing I do at Gadget Show Live in November. The retro gaming section was very popular and had everything from the original Gameboy with Tetris inside it to the more obscure consoles like the Vectrex. While most of the well known games like Mario Kart on SNES were being played I took this opportunity to plays games I hadn’t played like Psycho Fox although I quickly found out why I hadn’t played games like those before. They were terrible.

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Before I left I got to play The Wonderful 101 on Wii U which is just as amazing as I thought it would be. You control a miniature army of superheroes who battle through the level using their combined strength to turn in to giant fists, guns, swords and other various weapons. The game switches perspective from the TV screen to the gamepad for certain areas which really takes the advantage of the 2nd screen and interacting with how you play each section of the game. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to defeat the boss as Eurogamer had come to a close however I hope to continue this at Gadget Show Live and finally make my decision on which console to buy PS4, Xbox One, Wii U.


Designjunction: The Vamp (2013)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

Taking up a large section on the first floor of Designjunction was a collection of speakers ranging in size, audio quality, brand and age but they main product being showcased was not a speaker itself but a peripheral for one.

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The Vamp is a cube shape with a chunk taken out of it and when connected to a speaker via special cables it can then manipulate it wirelessly without the need for upgrading your speakers to a new bluetooth enabled one.

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 The beauty of this is not just the form of it but the fact that it makes what some might consider obsolete (at least in comparison to today’s technology) a slightly more advanced piece of equipment which is more user friendly without impacting the audio quality.


Designjunction: The Materials Library (2013)

Category : Blog, Press

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Another place I have known about for a while but never been to is the materials library. As you can imagine it’s exactly what you think it is, a library full of materials ranging from wood to metal, plastics to glass and even smart materials which react to the environment or certain situations their put in.

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The team behind materials library also create their own materials and objects based which explore both the art and science behind what a material is as well as its function. While at Designjunction they let people take samples of wood which at first I thought were their business cards but wasn’t so I took pine, beech, poplar and birch as well as a business card. It seems that you can visit them but only if you have an appointment so soon I will book one and hopefully do a more in-depth review of them and what they stand for.


Designjunction: Re craft (2013)

Category : Blog, Events, Press

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One of the last stands I saw at Designjunction was for a group called ReCraft which helps give people simple ways to create new products from things lying around the house. Unlike other initiatives that do this ReCraft uses the minimum amount of equipment with the most extravagant tools being a drill or a glue gun although depending on what you create you can get away with basic things like paper, scissors, or string.

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It kind of reminds me of MakeDo which is aimed at kids to get them active and learning craft skills through playing although this one is more for the DIY person, eco conscious or just someone who is bored and looking for something to do at home during the weekend project.


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