Friday, April 16, 2010

Review > Uncarved Block > Mickey Finns


Uncarved Bloc have moved partly from resin to urethane... in our last (and also first) review on UCB shapes we were sent a sampler of what their urethane was going to feel like... we never reviewed those holds because TNT when shipping the box totally kicked it about like a football and although the holds wereok to climb on they were chipped enough to not warrant a full on review.

The outcome of us playing with those few urethane shapes was thus: please make some more.
UCB's holds have always been pretty slick but with a surprising grip, thankfully this hasn't gone away with the new medium... and on that note we give you the Mickey Finns:

as soon as we looked at these in the box it was clear that these holds were going straight on the 45, even just feeling them and seeing the smooth incuts on the holds you could tell that they were going to be hard :)

So grabbing a drill we came across the first problem with the holds, these are screw ons... which is fine... but these are some pretty deep screw ons, go and look at some of the stuff you have screwed on the wall, now look at these, they're actually more the size of bolt ons, and could easily be bolt ons (it actually begs the question... why aren't these bolt ons, or a bolt on version of these?) and then grab some screws and your driver and try to put these up. Aha! You can't can you? Your driver isn't long enough to drive the screw all the way home is it? Nope, it's not. So you're going to have to go oldskool on these holds and actually use a manual screw driver aren't you? Yes, yes you are... do you remember where you put it? Us either :PLet's talk about this point a little, we spoke to UCB about this "issue" and they sent us an image of the length of driver that they use... our driver isn't as long as theirs, we're looking at something that's about 1/3rd the length. Our longer driver is about half the length of the above and we still had to resort to a normal screw driver; overall not much of a problem as you can get the holds onto the wall without too much trouble

As Noodles was the first to grab the screw driver he set a couple of routes, the one we filmed is the one we spent the most time on... the other routes that we didn't film (on the vertical wall and the 30) ended up being cake walks whichever way you rotated the holds, like we said these holds are big, smooth and super round. On any shallow angle (to 30 degrees) these holds are easy to grab and to monkey around on, either side of anarete you feel like you're cheating even when they're in pinch mode. The clincher is when they're on the 45, these guys take the gloves off and really can kick you about and then come back and give you more of a beating... not because they're horrible to hold onto, but because they're just plain brutal. This is where we found a second little problem with the holds...

We love the inset ying yang logo, UCB really stamp their presence on their holds and on the wall.. the logo gives a nice little touch as well! Unfortunately the logo on some of the holds given their size is in a place where your thumb is going to want to rest... this means your thumb is trying to grip on basically a slick piece of plastic; its a shame as this kind of lessens the holds a little. We've got some UCB holds that have a little raised logo that doesn't intrude on your gripping pleasure and it's what these guys should really have.

Now to the 45... it's easier to watch than to explain. One route we spent a lot of time on... well, on and then off and then on and then off again :P


Anything to the 45 degree mark, go any further and you're just crazy...
These holds masquerade as nice holds on shallow angles and then go crazy on the steep stuff, they're so ergonomic and round it's sinful, they just feel nice... and then they give you a slap in the face as they're surprisingly tricky to stick

If you have an arete that needs making a little easier then look no further, these guys will let anyone haul up and around any corner... if you want to spit some people off of the bouldering wall on a problem that looks super easy... here you go... these are your boys!

We took these from flat, to 15, to 30 and then to 45 and had a blast doing so. The 45 is where they'll challenge you the most, or on a 30 when they're set as pinches things get quite interesting. There is a smaller set of these that will give you 12 holds in total which means you can set some really nice traverse / routes with them


  • Number of holds: 6
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Screw ons
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 44.65 / 6 = $7.50 AUD per hold approx $7 USD per hold
  • Color: Pastel pinky orange
  • Bolt placement: None, these are screw ons
  • Sanding: Great
  • Texture: Nice and smooth but grippy...
  • Set size: Medium
  • Versatility: Pretty good, pain in the ass to move thou
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Hells yeah :)
We've already mentioned some problems, but we'll reiterate the bad before the good:
1) You need a really long driver to screw these onto the wall, or a screw driver
2) The UCB logo isn't always in the best place on the hold
Right... color? It's not one you'll see very often that's for sure, these holds really stand out! The texture is grippy and very smooth, these holds are quite deceiving when you hold onto them... you've got it, you've got it... you're on the floor. Sanding is flat and smooth, the screw holes are deep and well placed and the overall build quality is really good, there's nothing much to complain about... these holds aren't going to chip like their old resin shapes... thank god!

These holds are so round and ergonomic it's disgusting, you're never going to get any pain from your fingers on these holds... I wonder what the smaller version are like!

Urethane, UCB runs urethane and resin holds

Perfect this time TNT played nice. All the holds were wrapped in an Australian newspaper so we were able to catch up on the news down under :P

Yeah yeah, I misread the paper that came with the holds, I called them the Tricky Finns when they're the Mickey Finns :( It's because the note was written in Australian, and because I'm an idiot sometimes.. Sorry UCB, I'll get it right next time or.. you could just rename the set because they're tricky buggers to hold onto :)

It'd probably be a good idea to rename the set anyways, do you know what a Mickey Finn is? It's a drink laced with drugs, and it was a bartender from Chicago... let's go with the bartender story

These holds everywhere but the 45 are too easy, therefore lovely to grab onto.
Put them on the 45 and then they turn into some kind of monster that wants to kill you.
I spent more time on my ass after we moved these holds from the 30 degree wall to the 45 than I have in a long time... we even switched one of the holds to make the last move easier and I still got my ass handed to me :(

I'd love for there to be a bolt on version of these holds, with the screw placements still there (so you can bolt or screw)... that'd make these holds a must have in about 5 seconds flat, right now in my book they're a bunch of fun that beginners will love and routesetter can have some hoots with because they're just-that-little-bit-harder-than-expected and they will catch people out... because of their size it'll be a lot of peoplethat'll be scratching their heads and wondering what just happened.

Did I call these holds friendlier?
Vertical wall: super tail waggly friendly
15 degree wall: hi nice to meet you my name is Mickey, Mickey Finn
30 degree wall: You're my new best friend I love you dude
45 degree wall: You said what about my mom, lets step into the ring sonny Jim and I'll teach you a lesson in manners young man... or in our case, a lesson about core strength and holding onto sloping holds. Friendlier my ass :P


Did we get a shocker on these. Although there is a nice incut on one side of the hold, the problem we set would be the last thing to touch for a warm up. Ok, so we set a little steep but still the sequence was harder than we would have expected. Due to the meatiestness of the hold, we were able to work on the problem all night. We spent a good half hour working on the loves and my fingers didn't hurt, although the same can't be said for the rest of me:)

As for the screw on debate, we all love a good controversy, I think that having screw on holds this size isn't such a bad idea. Without the screws we couldn't have put the hold on the corner of the 45. If these holds were bolt on, they would most likely spin and would most likely . Having to screw it in only forces us to put in the screws before finding out that the hold is going to spin and you can get a good work out if you install the holds by hand;)

So like you can see from the video, we spent a long time working out the sequence for this problem. We could have set an easier sequence and the set is very versatile. When you have it up one way , it has a nice shallowincut to it, but flip it around you have super sloper madness!. Luckily they are pinches and you can really get a good grip on these shapes.

We didn't have much time to play around with the holds...besides we really wanted to link the sequence...but if we could have set some more intermediate problems or even some short warm ups. There is a smaller version of this set and I could imagine that the combination of the two will get you strong. The shapes are challenging and friendly so you can set easy and muck around or try some difficult sequences without too much bother on the fingers.


  • Super ergonomic
  • Color we've not seen before
  • Very beginner friendly
  • Inset logo is sometimes in a bad place

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