Monday, March 28, 2011

Review of Knockaround Sunglasses

UPDATE: After reading this, seem my updated review here.

If you're like me, you've seen the ads on Total Frat Move, and other websites, for Knockaround sunglasses. Given their low price ($7.00 per pair for Originals, $14.00 per pair for Premiums) and large variety of styles, they've looked pretty appealing. However, the gigantic "Knockaround" logo on the side has really been a big turnoff. For a while now I've wondered just how good or bad they really are. A quick search of the internet did not reveal any real reviews, though.

After they started offering several pairs with mirrored lenses, though, I decided to bite the bullet and order a couple of pairs (I'm a sucker for mirrored lenses). I figured I would try to scrape the logos off, and if I was successful, I'd have two decent pairs of cheap sunglasses. If I couldn't, I'd only be out $30.

Due to the fact that they could almost be mistaken for Oakley Frogskins, I got a pair of the Black/Sunset and Frosted Grey/Red Sunset. It was nice to see that Knockaround gives you several options for shipping, with both USPS and UPS. Mine arrived after a few days and I opened them up. I was a bit surprised at how light they were, but they seemed pretty well made (having purchased a couple of $10 knock-off Wayfarers on Ebay, the quality was actually very good in comparison). While they didn't seem like they'd fall apart, I did have some reservations about how much abuse the frames could take due to the type of plastic they were made from.

This is how the grey pair looked with its logo (I should note that I had already started scraping before I took the picture):

Using an old trick that I'd heard about on the Ask Andy forums, I used a penny to easily scrape off the logo on the grey pair. I basically got all of it off. Here is what they looked like when I got done:

Here is how the black pair initially looked:

I started trying to scrape them with the penny first, but I hit a bit of a snag. The logo seems to be applied in a different way and it wouldn't really scrape off. I accidentally scraped a little too hard at one point and left a little bit of a gouge. I wasn't really sure what to do, so I did a little Googleing and found some model train forums that talked about ways to remove paint from plastic. One poster actually mentioned using Pine-Sol. While this seemed weird, already being in possession of some, I wiped some on and let it sit for a few minutes. I started scraping with my fingernail, and slowly but surely, I was able to start to remove the logo. Every now and then I applied some more Pine-Sol and would scrape again with my fingernail. After a while, this is how they turned out:

Not perfect, but certainly an improvement from the logo. From more than a couple of feet away, it's pretty difficult to spot.

So, now being in possession of two sweet pairs of sunglasses I started wearing them around. In sunlight, the lenses worked well, though they did have a bit of fogginess (as is typical of lower-quality lenses) if facing directly towards the sun. Although I initially liked the grey pair more, I ended up wearing the black pair more. But after about week of wearing them, I noticed a small crack had formed above the left lens. Here's a picture:

While I don't usually baby the things that I own, I do take pretty good care of things, especially small, expensive things like sunglasses. I can't really say how this cracked developed. In the time I had them, they weren't sat on, and I don't think I placed anything heavy on them. I'm not sure if it came from stretching while putting them on my face or what. Obviously I didn't pay a lot for them, but I would have expected them to hold up for more than a week. I had planned on buying some sort of glue to patch them up, but before I could they finally broke:

Knockaround clearly states on their website that they don't accept returns, and now it's pretty clear why. Oh well, I'm out $14. The grey pair seem to be holding up better, possibly because the type of plastic they're made from is better.

Would I recommend Knockaround sunglasses? Yeah, probably, especially if you're looking for some to take on a trip to the beach or some other place where sunglasses could easily get lost or broken. They have a large variety of good looking-styles, including a number of pairs with mirrored lenses, they're pretty cheap, and the lenses do a good job of tinting the sun. Best of all, the horrible logo can be removed, though it may take a bit of effort. Don't expect to much out of these, though. Be prepared for them to break, and if they last a while, consider yourself lucky.