Get a Grip
One of the nifty things about all of the
spinners in this roundup (with the exception of the original TRON spinner)
is that they all use ¼" shafts, which means all of the different
knobs are compatible with all of the spinners. Want to use a Oscar DOT
knob with a SlikStik Tornado spinner? It’ll work.
Top Row: Oscar DOT, Oscar Engraved,
Oscar Tempest Repro, and SlikStik Standard
Bottom Row: SlikStik DuoTone, SlikStik O-Grip, and SlikStik Skirted
Oscar Engraved ($16)
Oscar Engraved Knob
The Oscar Engraved Aluminum knob doesn’t
have any special design features, such as a special shape or unique sculpting.
It’s a nice size (1.5") and it does the job well, but what
makes it stand out is the MAME logo engraved on the top of the knob.
This is a very nice touch, and makes what would otherwise be an ordinary
knob, well, cool.
Oscar D.O.T. ($15)
Oscar Discs of Tron Knob in Anodized Black and Natural Aluminum
The Oscar Discs of Tron (DOT) knob is
a fairly large (1 ¾") knob that has a very rounded, sculpted
shape with very nice “embedded” knurling in the side of the
knob. The side of the knob is basically smooth, but if you press in slightly
with your fingertips you’ll hit the embedded ridges. This makes
this knob great for games like Tempest, where you can spin the knob loosely
in your fingers and then quickly stop this spinner with just a little
more pressure. The shape is also “retro” looking (in a good
way). The unique shape of this knob, however, is what makes it so game-worthy.
I really like the feel of this knob during gameplay. The size, shape,
and unique knurling really set this knob apart.
The knob comes in two styles: black anodized
and natural aluminum. The black anodized knob looks great, with a nice "metallic
black" sheen. I actually prefer the natural aluminum knob, however,
because you can easily polish it up with some Brasso to a (literally)
mirror finish. Anodized knobs can't be polished (or at least, they won't
get any shinier in my experience).
SlikStik Standard (Discontinued)
SlikStik Standard Knob
The SlikStik Standard knob (now discontinued)
is another fairly large1 ¾" aluminum knob. It has good weight
and a nice knurling pattern on the side that allows for easy gripping.
Aside from the large diameter (which is great for bigger hands), it’s
a fairly ordinary knob. Like with the Oscar Discs of Tron knob, the large
size is good for “steering” games such as Pole Position.
It's available in six colors (natural aluminum and anodized black, red,
blue, purple, and green).
SlikStik Skirted ($18.95)
SlikStik Skirted Aluminum Knob (with the Anodized Colored Versions)
The SlikStik Skirted Aluminum knob has
a very unique shape, even more so than the Discs of Tron knob from Oscar.
The knob has a skirted bottom, a narrower “shaft”, and a
bulbuous domed top with knurled sides. In many ways this knob is tailor-made
for Tempest, but it’s actually great for very fine control over
any game that requires lots of little spinner moves and changes of direction.
It’s also the tallest knob in the roundup, which I found makes
this a very comfortable knob to use.
The only drawback to this knob is the
sharp machining on the knurling, which makes it feel as if you’re
slowly grinding your fingertips off while playing games. Luckily, a little
sanding can take care of this, at least with the non-anodized version
of the knob. Like the SlikStik Standard knob, the skirted knob is available
in five colors: natural aluminum and anodized black, red, blue, and purple.
SlikStik DuoTone ($17.95)
SlikStik Duo-Tone Knob in Blue
One of the more unique knobs in the roundup,
the SlikStik Duo-Tone knob is the same size as the now-discontinued SlikStik
Standard knob, but adds a smooth "indented" section in the middle. This
section makes a world of difference in gameplay, as it allows you to
lightly grip the knob during fast spinning, and yet still stop the knob
quickly when necessary.
The style of this knob is enhanced by
the fact that the indented section is cut after then anodizing process,
producing a sporty silver "ring" around the knob. This knob has replaced
the SlikStik standard. It's all that I've come to expect from SlikStik:
innovative, stylish, and all with a focus on playability.
SlikStik O-Grip ($19.95)
SlikStik O-Grip Knob, Blue Anodized Version
The O-Grip knob is another new knob from
SlikStik. Roughly the said diameter as the top section of the SlikStik
skirted knob, the O-Grip adds dual Buna polypropylene o-rings to the
sides of the knob. This is a compact knob with a great, smooth feel to
it, one that doesn't irritate the fingertips while still giving plenty
of "grab" when needed.
The current version of the O-Grip knob
has a reduced diameter compared to the original, which was closer in
size to the SlikStik standard or Duo-Tone knobs. I especially like the
size of this knob, and it seems ideal for fast Tempest-style gameplay.
Oscar Tempest ($16.00)
Original Tempest Knob (L) and Oscar Tempest Reproduction Knob (R)
A near-perfect reproduction of the knob
used on Atari's Tempest game, the Oscar Tempest knob is machined of aluminum
instead of plastic, and then anodized black. This gives it a cold, smooth
metal feel. The "knurling" pattern on the knob is slightly wider and
deeper than the original, and the fact that it's made of metal gives
it a harder, sharper feel.
While the knob fit well in my hand, I
found the sensation of spinning it a bit like holding a metal gear — the
knurling felt like it was cutting into the sides of my fingers, especially
when I made quick changes of direction with the Vortex spinner. The well-worn
original Tempest knob was extremely comfortable, and it's strange that
two knobs so close in design could feel so different in use.
Note: I didn't have as much trouble
when I used the Oscar Tempest knob on the Tornado spinner, as the lower-mass
flywheel in the Tornado didn't require as as tight a grip on the knob
to change direction.
(or tighter) knurling pattern might help — this may be one of
those situations where diverging a bit from the original design may be