The Bagga is a brass mod from top to bottom. The body and contacts are all solid brass, though we had the option of a gold-plated center pin, which we used in our test runs. This gives it an exceptional level of conductivity — the Bagga, in fact, has shown to have less voltage drop in our load tests than any mod we’ve tested so far, and it’s less by quite a respectable margin.
The brass doesn’t just add connectivity; it also really makes the Bagga stand out in a crowd. Ours arrived with a shiny mirror polish, though we don’t expect that to last long, given brass’s tendency to tarnish quickly. We look forward to seeing how the Bagga looks once it’s had some time to build up a little patina. The tubes are engraved with Wu Tang’s logo, a serial number, and “Philippine Pride,” written in the ancient baybayin script used in the Philippine islands since possibly as far back as the 13th century.
[Editor’s Note: At least we think that’s baybayin. If any of our readers would like to confirm that, or let us know we got it wrong, feel free.]
It comes with two tubes: one for an 18650 battery, and a second tube for use with an 18350. While we were somewhat disappointed that there is no 18500 tube available, Wu Tang has stated that there will be one for his next mod, which he has said will be named “El Capitan.”
The Bagga has a bottom-mounted button that is quite similar in appearance to the style of button used on the newer iHybrid models. The cutouts around the button, however, are more decorative than functional, as they’re really too small to fit a finger through. However, the cutouts do allow the Bagga to stand on end without the button being pressed, which we find a lot more practical than the locking ring used on many other mods: it’s definitely nice not to have to keep locking and unlocking the button just to be able to put the mod down.
The Bagga was extremely well-received by the members of our group buy, who almost universally praised it for its workmanship and performance, though there were some complaints that the black etching on the mod rubs off too easily.
Few mods have the sort of following, or the level of hype, of the iHybrid. The limited editions of the Genesis hybrid, which are released every couple of months or so, fetch high prices on the second-hand market — prices so high that many have complained that the supplies are kept low to artificially inflate the price of used iHybrids. Perhaps to counter these claims, Faceless of iHybrid Mods recently introduces the Pure: a low-cost, widely available version of the iHybrid intended for the mass market. Built continuously, rather than in small batches like the limited editions, and sporting a reasonable $99 price tag, the iHybrid Pure is intended to be an iHybrid that can be obtained by anyone, not just a lucky handful with either a lot of money, good timing or inside connections.
The iHybrid Pure is an aluminum hybrid mod, currently available in a black anodized version, though stainless steel and titanium versions are planned as well. Built for an 18490/18500 battery, it’s a relatively small mod, measuring about 123mm in length, and 22mm in width. It’s not quite as small as some other aluminum hybrids like, for example, the Vapor Craze Noble 1, but the 18500 form factor allows the use of a Kick or Crown with an 18350, if desired, which may make the Pure more attractive to those who prefer a regulated vape to a mechanical one.
We had some issues getting the iHybrid Pure ready to test. The cap fits very snugly on the two O-rings that hold it in place: so snugly, in fact, that we had a hell of a time getting the cap off. It took at least a couple of hours of twisting, pulling and swearing before we finally got ours open, an effort made even more painful by sharp edges on the window cut into the tank cover. If you have the same sort of issues we did, we highly recommend using very thick gloves, or risk some really nasty gashes in your hands before you’re done. In addition to a little bleeding, our Pure also suffered some fairly deep scratches when we started to get frustrated and attempted to jimmy it open with a small screwdriver.
Eventually we got the cap off, and we’re hoping now that we’ve lubed up those O-rings a bit, that it won’t be a problem in the future. Under the hood is a fairly typical deck for a Genesis hybrid, though the inclusion of a screw next to a second hole could allow the use of dual wicks, if one were willing to forego a fill hole. The wick holes are around 1mm, sufficiently generous for a decent-sized mesh wick. The screws are all Phillips-slotted, with the positive screw being sufficiently large that finding a screwdriver to work with it should be very easy, though a smaller one will be needed for the negative screws on the deck.
We had a few issues with hotspots when setting up the iHybrid Pure, though that’s just as likely to be the luck of the draw as anything related to the Pure. We wrestled a bit with hot spots at both the top and bottom of the coil, but that sort of thing is to be expected from almost any Genesis.
Voltage drop on the iHybrid Pure was, as expected for a hybrid, quite low — though even for a hybrid, the Pure performed remarkably well. While the inability to attach atomizers meant we were unable to perform the exact same tests we would on a conventional mod, voltage drop in our more limited load testing was extremely low: less than 3% of battery voltage, or about .12 volts from a battery charged to 4.2 volts. Frankly, we were pleasantly surprised. As owners of the now-discontinued but much more expensive iHybrid Standard, we find the Pure outperforms it by a fairly wide margin.
The Pure’s dual-spring, bottom-mounted button will be familiar to those who have previously used a recently made iHybrid. It is responsive and fired reliably, and a screw on the inside of the switch allows a small amount of throw adjustment. While the Pure has no locking ring, the button is inset into the base, but cut-outs in the ring surrounding the button make it relatively easy to press the button without having to hold the hand in an awkward position.
We’ll come right out and say it: we never liked our iHybrid Standard. The finish was wildly inconsistent, and the performance, while good, was nothing to write home about. The Pure has changed our minds a little about iHybrid Mods: it’s a clean, well-built little mod, with some of the best performance we’ve seen from any mod to date. With its sub-$100 price tag, the Pure should be a no-brainer for anyone who’s ever wanted to find out for themselves what all the iHybrid hype was about.
Super-T Manufacturing seems to be known primarily for two things: building great mods, and consistently missing estimated ship dates. Fortunately for Super-T, if you keep doing the first, people are willing to overlook the second.
We put in an order for an Precise ELA, Super-T’s first telescoping mod, back in early January. At the time, as now, the estimated ship date was six to eight weeks. A few days shy of June, today’s vape mail finally included our ELA. The reasons for the delay were many and varied, but on the bright side, those of us waiting for our ELA’s had a shorter wait than for Super-T’s previous project, the Shockwave. That one took about a year between the time pre-orders started and when they shipped.
So, why do people keep coming back to Super-T? That’s a good question. As the Precise ELA was our first of their mods, we were a bit curious why people would be willing to wait up to a year from one of Super-T’s mods. On paper, the ELA sounded great: corrosion-resistant gold and rhodium-plated brass contacts, a quick-release telescoping function that made changing batteries easy and fast, and of course, everyone we talked to who owned a Super-T mod raved about how well-built it was.
We have to admit, when we opened up the box containing our Precise ELA, the first impression was definitely good. We had ordered ours in a satin finish with brass accents, and everything you may have heard about the finish of super-T’s mods is true, if our ELA is any indication. The satin finish is just gorgeous. It’s very similar to that of our satin silver Provari, actually, with one major difference: this is not a painted finish, and won’t chip or wear down over time like that of the Provari. Even better, the finish, along with the rest of the ELA, is covered by a lifetime warranty.
Telescoping the mod to fit a range of batteries — from an 18350 all the way up to an 18650 with a Kick or Crown, with an optional extensional tube, is about as easy as it gets. While other mods may make you spin tubes for what feels like forever, the Precise ELA uses what Super-T calls a “positive locking mechanism.” A quarter-turn of a locking ring at one end of the bottom tube unlocks the telescoping section. Once unlocked, the telescoping tube can be adjusted to whatever length you want, and the ring turned again to lock it down. It is much faster, and ultimately easier on the finish of the center tube, than any other telescoping mod we’ve reviewed so far. It literally takes a second or two to release the telescoping tube, and maybe another second or two to lock it into its new position, and once locked in, there’s no need to crank it down extra-tight to get good battery contact and eliminate tube wobble, like on many other telescoping mods.
ELA switch unlocked (left) and locked (right)
Another thing that’s easier to do on the Precise ELA than on other mods is to lock the bottom-mounted button. Like with other Super-T mods, there’s no locking ring to extend — something that, on other mods, seems to lead to the bottom cap falling off about as often as it leads to locking the button. On the Precise ELA, locking the button is as simple as sliding a small tab in the center of the button. One little click, and the button will no longer fire when the mod is placed on end. However, one little thing about the button that should be mentioned: when placed on end, the Precise ELA rests only on that button; the bottom of the mod is somewhat tapered. While we’ve had no problem resting the mod on end, the surface area touching the table is quite small, and it’s not going to take much to knock the ELA over. As we’ve seen one person describe it, the ELA stands about as stable as a drunken frat boy. While it seems a simple enough matter to just lie it down, that’s not going to be a very viable option if the ELA is used with a Genesis atomizer that will leak if it doesn’t remain upright.
The center pin is adjustable, utilizing a rather easy-to-use screw-type adjustment. There’s quite a bit of adjustability in the pin, and we’ve had no trouble getting mods to sit flush with the top of the Precise ELA. The adjusting screw on the bottom of the cap is very generously-sized and easy to hand tighten for good contact with the atomizer’s center pin. The threading of the top cap is of the standard 510 variety. While there is no eGo threading, it’s not likely this will be an issue for many, as we suspect not many people buy a mechanical mod like the ELA intending to use something like a Kanger T3 on it. The standard 510 top cap handles things like Genesis atomizers very well, and ours is very smoothly threaded. Our Precise ELA also came with a second top cap with adjustable draw for use with atomizers and cartomizers that feed air through the bottom. This cap is relatively easy to install, though we did have to peek at the videos on Super-T’s website to make sure we were doing it right the first time. Once installed, a simple twist of this top cap adjusts airflow for a tighter or looser draw.
Precise ELA in 18500 mode
At $189.99 from Super-T Manufacturing, the Precise ELA is firmly in high-end mod territory. However, unlike many other builders of high-end mods, Super-T does most of the manufacturing in-house on their own machines, with a goal of cranking out ELA’s as needed to meet demand. While they’re obviously still ramping up the process, the Precise ELA is not going to be one of those super-rare mods that sells for insane prices on the second-hand market, as the wait to get one directly from Super-T should always be relatively short. This alone takes a bit of the sting out of the price tag, as it should eliminate much of the after-market price gouging that happens with other similarly-priced mods.
Performance of the mod on our tests was exceptional. The brass contacts, plated with gold, and then again with corrosion-free rhodium, allow the mod to retain a great amount of voltage under load. In our tests, the Precise ELA averaged around 95% voltage retention, or about a .2 volt drop on a battery charge to 4.2 volts. While this is quite good, the rhodium plating should ensure that, if we were to test it again a year from now, it would score roughly the same, which is not the case for mods with pure brass or other contacts which oxidize very quickly.
So, was the Precise ELA worth the six-month wait, and the wallet-draining price? We’d say yes, definitely. It is an extremely well-built mod, with looks, performance and a warranty to match. Having spent some time with our ELA, I think we finally understand now why people are willing to cut Super-T a little slack when they miss a shipping deadline. If slipping the date a few months leads to a mod that’s built as well as the Precise ELA, it’s definitely worth waiting for it.
Quite a few very good mods have come out of the Philippines in the last year, and as the year rolls swiftly to a close, we’ve got our hands on the Kaleido, the first mod from newcomer Standout Vapes.
The Standout Vapes Kaleido is a modular mechanical mod that can accommodate battery sizes from an 18350 up to an 18650, crafted from a two-toned combination of polished brass and stainless steel.
Designed and built in the Philippines, the Kaleido looks something like a cross between the Astro mod by Kato and the Metal Madness Vapors Poldiac. Mechanically, it resembles the former a bit more than the latter: like the Astro, the Kaleido is a bottom-firing mod; the brass disk which looks like a side-firing button is a purely decorative addition, though the intricate engraving does an excellent job of hiding the vent hole drilled into its center. A serial number is engraved into the button along with the “Standout Vapes” name: the unit we tested had serial number 084.
The Standout Vapes Kaleido feels quite substantial in the hand, in large part because there’s a lot of metal there, particularly in the top part of the mod where the stainless steel sleeve on the outside of the mod encloses a brass sleeve on the inside. This give the mod a weighty, solid feel, which combined with the excellent finish and construction of the mod really make the Kaleido look and feel like a top-quality device. Threading of the tubes, caps and reverse-threaded brass locking ring is also about as smooth as we’ve seen on any mod we’ve reviewed.
The combination of brass tubes with the Kaleido’s adjustable copper contact pins add up to a mod with a very high degree of conductivity, and the Standout Vapes Kaleido performed exceptionally well in our load tests. Performance was very consistent between firings, and the mod exhibited very little voltage drop. Voltage retention exceeded 97%, or a voltage drop of roughly .12 volts from a battery charged to 4.2 volts, placing the Kaleido at the very top of our performance scale for mechanical mods.
The Standout Vapes Kaleido’s button has quite a bit of stiffness to it; while it does have a locking ring, we’ve haven’t felt a need to use it. The amount of pushback from the spring is more than strong enough to prevent the mod from firing when placed on end. While this makes the button quite stiff, it’s also got a short enough throw that the mod is still fairly easy to fire, but some may want to replace the spring with one that makes the button a bit easier to press.
Overall, we’re very impressed with the Standout Vapes Kaleido. The build quality of the mod is top-notch, particularly for a debut from a new manufacturer. The looks of the mod are striking, and the performance is some of the best we’ve seen in a mechanical mod. At a suggested retail price of 4,700 Philippine Pesos (about US$107), the mod is also very reasonably priced compared to other high-end mods. Considering the impressive construction of the Kaleido, and the mod’s excellent performance, we can’t recommend the Kaleido highly enough. Standout Vapes has set the bar very high for their freshman offering, and we look forward to seeing what these modders in store for the future.
We’ve had the Poldiac on our “must have” list for some time, based purely on the glowing reports we’d heard of its performance. However, not only is it a rather expensive mod, with prices starting at €150.00 (that’s about USD$195 at today’s exchange rates), but it’s sold in small batches at erratic intervals. When we saw the “Full Satin Edition” stainless steel model go on sale at Greek-based Metal Madness Vapors a short time ago, we decided to go for it.
The wait was agonizing, but extremely short for an overseas order. We placed the order on March 25th, and there was a very short delay due to one of the parts we’d ordered being out of stock, a problem quickly solved via email shortly after the purchase. Our Poldiac was marked shipped on the 29th, and was handed off by the UPS guy on April 1st. Having grown accustomed to waiting a week or more for anything from another continent, receiving the Poldiac two days after it left Greece was a very pleasant surprise.
It may seem like a small thing, but we have to mention that the packing for our Poldiac and assorted other parts was the best we’ve seen from any vendor. Each tube, and the Poldiac itself, came surrounded by pressboard with grooves cut in it to hold the tubes inside, like a block of wood with a cylinder cut through it. The box could have been bumped, dropped, punted and probably thrown off a small building without any damage to anything inside it. We’re pretty careful with our mods here, but our Poldiac will probably never again be as protected as it was inside that shipping box.
Playing Dress-Up with the Poldiac
Poldiac with AC9 Genesis Atomizer
You may note from our photo that our Poldiac isn’t all satin-finished stainless steel like we mentioned at the beginning of the review. The Poldiac is very modular, and it’s very simple to change its appearance. While we’re still using the stainless satin “shirt” (the sleeve that goes around the head of the mod, with a hole cut in it for the button), body tube, and caps, we’ve replaced the stainless “pants” (a tube which slides down onto the body) with a satin-finished brass one, because we’re masochists and can’t help loving brass even though it will mean a lifetime of polishing to keep it looking shiny. All of these various parts, from the head and body to the shirt and pants, can be swapped out for different looks, and to accommodate various battery sizes. Some of them aren’t even necessary for the mod to function — it’ll work just fine without the shirt and pants, for example, if you happen to have nudist tendencies. It will, of course, look a little strange naked, but admit it, most of us do.
The Poldiac has a side-mounted magnetic button with a relatively short throw that’s very comfortable to use, and has reliably fired for us every time. Even without a spring, the button has a good amount of pushback to it, and having it flush with the head makes it difficult to accidentally press it. Even so, the shirt can be rotated to lock the button in place and prevent accidental firing, if desired. It’s also possible to configure the Poldiac so that the button is mounted at the bottom.
The silver-plated center pin is widely and easily adjustable, making it simple to allow atomizers to sit flush with the mod, using just a twist of a screw. One potential gripe here, though: the head of the Poldiac is completely flat, with no air grooves cut into it. While this gives it a very clean, uniform look when used with something like a Genesis-style atomizer, it could prove problematic for anything that needs to pull air in through the bottom. If this becomes enough of an issue, we may see the release of a different top cap style in the future, but an upside of the modularity of the Poldiac is that the addition of a new cap would be as simple as screwing off the old one and replacing it with a new one.
A downside to the modularity: The Poldiac is a complex beast. The first thing we did when we got ours was to take it apart to see how it ticked, and then we had to hit Google up for advice on how to put it all back together. There are a lot of parts involved, and while they all fit together very well, it’s not always obvious which parts go where, particularly a few minutes after the box has been opened. Piecing together our Poldiac was a lot like trying to build an Ikea desk without the instructions. It was possible, but there was a little frustration involved, and a few choice curse words. If you’re the type to disassemble new mods, we recommend paying attention while you’re doing it to save yourself some grief.
The Megatron is a beauty. Constructed of thick, solid stainless steel with brass contacts, we probably should have been warned before taking it out into the sunlight. The Megatron is polished to a mirror finish so reflective that there was a moment just after unwrapping it from the packing materials that the sunlight flashing off its surface was literally blinding. The Megatron is not a mod for those who are obsessive-compulsive about fingerprints: it is, unabashedly, a beautifully highly-polished mod that is going to attract fingerprints like donuts attract cops.
The QZI Megatron is a bottom-fired mod, with an adjustable-throw button that is wonderfully designed. A few twists of the button will lock it into a position flush with the mod, preventing it from firing, and it can be twisted back out to a position comfortable for firing. An adjustable mechanism on the inside of the switch allows the internal throw to be adjusted as well, to account for variances in battery sizes. Between these internal and external throw adjustments, we were able to make the button on our Megatron work exactly how we wanted it, with exactly the amount of distance between the “on” and “off” positions that was comfortable for us. The switch, while very easy to manipulate, has a large spring more than sturdy enough to allow standing the Megatron mod on end without it firing, even under the weight of what is a rather hefty amount of metal.
QZI Megatron in hybrid drip mode
The QZI has all the hallmarks of a quality mod: the finish is flawless, the threading is smooth as silk, and the laser-etched engraving is deep and crisp. Optional tubes are available to handle a range of battery sizes from 18350 up to 18800, meaning this mod can be used with a Kick even with an 18650 battery, something we’ve found to be relatively rare.
A Hybrid… or Not
With the QZI Megatron Rebuildable Atomizer or the QZI Megatron Genesis, the mod goes into a Hybrid mode. Rather than use a 510 connector, these atomizer screw directly onto the tube’s threading. This provides a very clean, integrated hybrid-type look, as well as the kind of performance you would expect from a hybrid. While these atomizers cannot be used with other mods, as they lack any kind of standard connector, this tight integration with the Megatron Battery Mod provides excellent conductivity, with negligible voltage loss.
And the Megatron Genesis is an extremely nice piece of work. With dual-coil capabilities, generous wick holes, and adjustable dual air intake, this atomizer cranks out vapor and flavor as good as anything we’ve seen, and it looks gorgeous doing it.
Under the cap of the QZI Megatron Genesis
Under the cap of the QZI Megatron Genesis
The QZI also has a separate top cap with a 510 connector so that it can be used with non-QZI atomizers, giving the best of both worlds: the performance of a hybrid when used with QZI atomizers, without giving up the ability to use any other 510-compatible atomizer.
The QZI Megatron Rebuildable Atomizer
The Megatron Rebuildable Atomizer is designed as a silica-based dripper. Setup is about as simple as it gets with a rebuildable: large, generously-slotted screws make it easy to attach coil ends, and we were even sent an instructional video with setup tips and hints in the days just before our Megatron arrived. We had our Megatron up and running in minutes with very little effort, and it’s cranking out huge clouds of vapor with excellent flavor. Generous amounts of wire and wicking material were provided with the atomizer; certainly enough that we could have botched the job a few times and still had extra left over.