Happy new year everyone! The haze of the Christmas and New Year bring-drinking-eating-insanity has now cleared and what lies in its wake…. the massive task of getting all the N64 parts and bits I own reviewed (including the Stang Boy review) and uploaded on the WTFwiki.info website. Bring it on that’s all I say.
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Alrightly then, Stang Boy Customs. This dude makes some of the nicest custom controllers I’ve ever seen. From N64 controllers to Game Boy, this guy has probably the most ascetically pleasing products I’ve ever seen. Part of his line up includes these carbon printed N64 gears. During my initial research for the Ultimate N64 stick guide, Stang Boy came up quite a few times. Many please customers and reviews over Reddit made me want to acquire some of these for dissection.
Now to be clear, these are quite obviously 3D printed using carbon technology….. HA HA so carbon printing isn’t a method…… it’s a company:
Well that explains that then! I do have to say that these gears look resin printed. Filament has distinct lines that do not lend to making smaller parts like N64 gears. In 2022, resin printing is king if going down the 3D printed route.
Image from N64gears.com
Ordering the gears and first impressions
I calling the period between mid-2020 and mid-2021 the period of sadness for N64 stick tinkerers. Kitsch-Bent were offline, SS64 didn’t have anything going on and a lot of projects that were close to release now… were a year off at least. In this mix Stang Boy gears were also out of stock. Now fast forward to the tail end of 2021. I was updating the N64 master guide and decided to check Stang Boy’s sexy as hell products and low and behold…. N64 gears were back in stock (V1b6 to be exact).
Ordering was a breeze, the website is very easy to use (https://store.stangboycustoms.com/). The gears are reasonably priced, however I ended up paying more for shipping than for the 5 sets I ordered. This is just a location issue (US to UK) though and something to be considered when ordering overseas. It encourages either bulk buying or getting a Stang Boy custom controller and some gears to justify the shipping.
The packaging was your generic envelope to which the gears were carefully bubble wrapped. On first glance, I have to say, these gears look very very tidy. A lovely charcoal finish and felt very sturdy, not cheap and flimsy. They had the classic 3D printed lines on them, however it is reminiscent of resin printing rather than filament which produced a more uniform product.
The texture felt a lot more smooth than other 3D printed offerings which is a massive plus as any bumps or grooves can affect play due to other parts rubbing against each other in a unproductive way, causing friction.
Installation was easy, the teeth on the gears looks good, no dramas!
Game: Goldeneye 007: (As usual) Aztec and full Any%/RTA
All OEM parts used are 9/10 – 10/10 (Bowl and Stick)
Using Whiteted’s donated grey controller.
A change of pace for this review as I decided to do it live and do a full game run instead of stick with the staple levels. I have reviewed 3D parts previously and wanted to really play test these in as many levels as possible, included less demanding ones.
One thing that was present straight off the bat was a grindy left and right movement. This is probably due to the materials and maybe some plastic ‘flashing’ (Where there is left over plastic attached to the parts that can be removed easily). But not all is lost… the up and down movement is SMOOTH! Like super smooth like…. Exactly how you would want a stick to feel.
As you can see from the Everdrive readings that there is much larger range going up. This persists over all the tests. Aside from that the right, down and left readings never peaked above 80.
That first reading of 93 was me seriously pushing on the stick to achieve this reading, as were most of the more highest readings. Up reading aside, these ranges are very respectable and acceptable when looking for replacements. It’s also worth considering that the OEM stick and Bowl may impact on these ranges, however with a full OEM set up (excluding Strang Boy gears) we would be looking at low to mid 80s. Sometimes 3rd party parts just don’t play ball as well as OEM on OEM .
I have started limiting my Everdrive testing in general as usually you can get an idea of the general reading after a few tests, however if you guys would like me to do the old school many test comparisons then do let me know!
With regard to the playtest of the gears, they were okay. In a game where there are big swinging movements, but also precision areas, these parts feel best when trying to not make minor adjustments. I almost felt a rubber band like resistance when trying to make smaller movements which did cause my hand notice strain at the end of the Any% run. I called the point with most resistance in the video the “lift-off” point, where you first start to turn a direction on the stick starting from the centre point, where the stick rests.
Levels such as Train, Surface 1, and Dam suffered due to resistance encountered during small incremental movements. I would say that the locks on all these levels all have movement that falls in the ‘lift-off- zone.
When it came to bigger, sweeping movement like on Bunker 1, Streets or Jungle…. They worked really well. I even got a gold split on Jungle using these! After the ‘lift-off’ zone is penetrated the gears worked very nicely.
Aztec overall was an unpleasant experience as it requires a mix of fine movement and sweeping action. Your brain has enough to process on this level without having to battle with inconsistency in ranges and ‘lift-off’ movement restrictions.
Test 1 score: 75/100
On the Stang Boy website, it states that the production process may cause some flashing and that some plastic removal may be necessary, so I decided to give these gears another chance. So I disassembled and saw no obvious plastic flashing on any of the parts (A sign of a quality part may I add). However, I did do some light sanding to the slot where the gear stick sits to try and loosen the stick up, make a more friendly ‘lift-off’ zone.
The result was a slight reduction in range in the x axis, but the gears felt more consistent when moving left and right. I mention how the ‘lift-off’ movement is still an issue. The stick felt very stick when moving left and right, especially when trying to do fast movement.
As a speedrunner, I do need to take care of my hands health. Pure OEM set ups are fluid, offer no resistance than what is necessary and are comfortable. With Stang Boy gears, the up and down movement felt close to OEM, but looking left and right was an issue and caused slight strain.
Saying this however, preference is everything. The gears actually are insanely consistent and this is probably the second most important thing for me. Although there was slight resistance, at least I know how to adjust accordingly when I was playing. Moving left and right felt the same in both directions; Moving up and down felt the same in both directions.
I honestly think given some time with these gears, that they could become alot better to use. In fact, a different Lube option may be better here, something more slippery than super lube as it may help the left and right movement bundles.
Test 2 score: 79/100
Final thoughts and analysis
Now these gears are interesting. They look very tidy, very high build quality and play very well. My only major gripe (and it is a major one) is the stiffness moving left and right along with the slight grindyness along with it. For me, it’s not good enough especially if I’m going to be spending hours upon hours doing repetitive movements trying to avoid repetitive strain injury.
BIG HOWEVER, these gears are so consistent when playing that they may be worth picking up. Movement felt complete and not broken up. and I think you could get used to these quickly. The price is also great for what you get and feels very justified, I would pay for these again including shipping!
In my opinion, a fair average score here would be 77. Addressing the left and right issues has the potential to significantly boost the score to the 80s or even 90s.
Test 1 score: 75/100
Test 2 score: 79/100
Average score: 77/100
Buy your parts here:
90>: Near perfect/OEM standard – Competitive Pro+
80>: Great/Near perfect – Competitive Pro
70>: Okay/Great – Starter Competitive
60>: Casual only/Okay – Causal play only
<60: Bad – Causal play but only if you hate yourself
Disclaimer: All the thoughts, pictures and opinions shared in this post and on any other post are my own. I have not received payment or any financial or benefits in exchange for providing inflated positive reviews. My reviews reflect my personal experience, and I am not accountable if your experience differs from mine. Happy gaming and go get those PBs.