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Top Of The Best Tabletop Scenes Reviewed In 2018

Last Updated March 1, 2019
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Adrian HoffmanHi! My name is Reginald Meyer. After putting in 50+ hours of research and testing, I made a list of the best Tabletop Scenes of 2018 and explained their differences and advantages.

In this article, I will be categorizing the items according to their functions and most typical features. I hope that my Top 10 list will provide you great options in buying the right fit for you.



Feel free to explore the podium, click on the pictures to find out more.



How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the Tabletop Scenes by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – Stunning Lighted Wood Knot Manger Tabletop Christmas Nativity Scene

Stunning Lighted Wood Knot Manger Tabletop Christmas Nativity Scene
Add a natural touch to your Christmas decor with this truly unique lighted nativity scene, which swaps the manger for a knot of wood, resembling a cave.
Figures are positioned in classical, dramatic pose, centered around Jesus. Really captures the wonder of the Christmas story, in a style reminiscent of Renaissance paintings!


№2 – Christmas Nativity Set – Full 10 inch Real Life Nativity Set

Christmas Nativity Set - Full 10 inch Real Life Nativity Set
Joseph stands 9 inches tall, Mary sits 6 inches high; the manger is 2 1/2 inches high and Jesus is 2 3/4 inches long.
Standing Shepherd 9 1/2 inches tall, kneeling shepherd 6 1/2 inches high and Angel stands 9 1/2 inches tall.
Melchior (gold): 9 1/2″ tall, Balthazar (frankincense): 10 1/4″ tall, Caspar (myrrh): 7 1/4″ kneeling, Christmas Star: 12 5/8″ tall


№3 – Christmas Tree Nativity Scene LED Light Up 10.5 Inch Ceramic Cone Tabletop Figurine

Christmas Tree Nativity Scene LED Light Up 10.5 Inch Ceramic Cone Tabletop Figurine
Beautiful depiction of the nativity scene with a cone-shape Christmas tree structure; Emits a soft glow when illuminated
Made of glazed ceramic; Measures approximately 10.5 inches tall
Requires three (3) AAA batteries- not included; Manuel on/off switch for easy use and display


Siphon Coffee Brewer Basics

Siphon coffee brewers, also commonly called vacuum brewers, are among the earliest “automatic” coffee brewers.  They combine the advantages of immersion brewing and filter brewers to deliver strong, smooth flavor with rich body and no grittiness. Siphon brewers appeared at about the same time in Germany, France and Scotland. They were among the first coffee brewing appliances designed as much for appearance as for excellent brew quality and quickly became fixtures at Austrian court functions, in French salons and on well-appointed English country sideboards. If you want to know more about the history of siphon brewers, you can check out our guest post at Coffee Brew Guides.

Siphon brewers rely on the simple physics of heating and cooling to brew coffee at the right temperature and, with a little assist from you, for the right amount of time. You put water in the lower chamber and ground coffee in the upper chamber, then apply heat. As the air in the lower chamber gets hotter, it expands, taking up more room in the bottom pot. That forces the water up into the upper chamber, where it mixes with the coffee grounds. After it has brewed for your desired amount of time, you remove the heat source, either by turning off the burner or by removing the brewer from the heat. As the air in the lower chamber cools, it contracts, drawing the brewed coffee back down into the lower pot with a showy gurgling whoosh.


Some of the earliest siphon brewers were made of brass or other metal, but the most popular, like Mme. Vassieux were made of blown glass. Needless to say, that made them rather fragile. When the siphon brewer crossed the Atlantic, it met up with the good folks at Corning Glassworks, who had developed heat resistant Pyrex glassware. Most of the siphon brewers made in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century were made of Pyrex — so much so, in fact, that it was commonly known as a Pyrex coffee maker. Today, the best siphon coffee brewers, including the Hario Next and the other siphon brewers we carry, are made of laboratory grade borosilicate glass, which is heat resistant and fairly sturdy. It won’t generally withstand a fall from your countertop, but most coffee siphons made of high-quality borosilicate will stand up fairly well to everyday use.

In addition to the glass vessels, tabletop siphon brewers come with a stand of some sort to suspend the brewer over the burner. The materials for those include wood, plastic, metal – or, as in the case of the Hario Next, silicon, which stays cooler than any of the traditional handle materials. Some, like the Yama Tabletop Siphon, also include a base to hold the burner safely.

Siphon Coffee Filters

Typically, siphon coffee brewers used cloth coffee filters, which remove nearly all the fines and a lot of the oils that give coffee its body. Cloth coffee filters are also high-maintenance. If they’re not rinsed well and dried immediately after use, they tend to mildew and get musty. The Hario Next comes with a custom perforated stainless steel filter, which makes for a richer cup of coffee and much easier cleaning.

Do your research!

Like with any decent-sized purchase, make sure to do your research. Things like multiyear warranties are pretty standard on legit vapes these days, but always check the fine print! Also, make sure to check shipping and handling fees. They can definitely add up.


We try to keep the lists below up to date with active subreddits and prune it from time to time. For a complete list please see this /r/RPG Wiki page. Dead subreddit? Let the /r/RPG mods know.

WIKI TOOLS recent wiki revisions wiki page list

PC games

You won’t find many boxed copies of PC games these days, but thankfully Steam and other platforms allow digital gifting. These five games are some of our PC favorites from 2016.

Catch up on Polygon’s mice choices with this story we did earlier this year.

Catch up on Polygon’s headphone choices with this story we did late last year.

The take-off

Find a jump that you’re comfortable with and then roll in at a comfortable speed out of the saddle.

Keep your weight central, over both wheels, and lower your chest.

Start to compress and feel the force of the lip against your tyres.

Compress into the lip

Treat each wheel as separate — deal with the front and then the back — not both together.

Slowly start to transfer your weight from your hands to your feet — the idea is that by the time the front wheel reaches the lip there’s no weight pushing through it.

Now it’s time to transfer your weight from your hands to your feet

Pressing down and then releasing your weight through each wheel when jumping is the same as when you bunnyhop.

In this case, the lip of a jump will provide all the lift your wheel will need to follow the trajectory of the jump.

This means that jumping is a less explosive movement than a bunnyhop — the idea is to keep your head and core following a smooth arc by using your elbows, knees and ankles to do the pushing.

Weight transfer timings

The point at which you transfer your weight from your hands to your feet is very important.

Imagine a line just past halfway up the lip of the jump — this is the point at which you need to change from pushing with your arms to pushing fully from your feet.

Make sure you aren’t still pushing into the lip once you get to this line

If you’re still pushing into the lip through your arms when you get to this line, you’ll end up getting bucked forwards and over the bars.

As the jumps get bigger, or your bike’s suspension increases, this line moves further back.

Once you’re in the air you can relax, the hardest part is done.

Spot your landing and use your arms and legs to absorb the impact.

Free Google Play

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a fun, free and fair digital collectible card game that you won’t be able to stop playing. Playing as one of the great heroes (or villains) of the Warcraft universe — such as Thrall, Jaina Proudmoore or Gul’dan — you’ll fight epic duels and summon allies and minions to your side. The easy-to-learn rules work cross-platform among PC, iPad and Android players. You can earn gold that can be spent on booster packs. Plus, in the Arena mode you can play in a special, “sealed draft” format that rewards canny deck building and smart play.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Assemble a team of costumed heroes and take down nefarious supervillains in Sentinels of the Multiverse, the mobile port of the hit cooperative card game. Players choose from decks of cards representing different heroes and pit them against any of four villain decks and a location to do battle in. All that results in numerous possible game combinations. A tutorial helps players starting out, and the app takes advantage of the digital format by automatically doing the math and calculating damage and other combos for the players. Sentinels’ interface itself is a visual treat, with page flips and text bubbles evocative of its comic book inspirations. Numerous expansions provide additional heroes, villains and environments to do battle in, and a multiplayer mode lets you team up with other heroes online.

Minos Strategos

Defend the temples of the gods from marauding monsters in Minos Strategos, an abstract card-driven boardgame that requires you to take careful advantage of formations and special abilities to win. Intelligent, calculated play is the name of the game, since each turn only allows players to place or move one soldier token and play one special ability card as monsters swarm with everything they’ve got. Tense, tactical, and strategic, Minos Strategos is hard to put down.

Burgle Bros

For something a bit more evocative in its stealth game mechanics, check out Burgle Bros, the mobile port of the board game of the same name. Players engage in Ocean’s 11-style heists and shenanigans, recruiting a team of specialists to sneak in past alarms and guards in order to crack safes and get out with the loot with no one the wiser. Of course, the building hasn’t been cased, so you’re going in blind, balancing speed and caution while trying to evade (or deliberately manipulate) the movements of each floor’s guards, and outwit obstacles like alarms.


Build a name for yourself as a master gem-cutter and compete for the attentions of wealthy nobles in the mobile port of the award-winning board game Splendor. Each turn, players can collect colored gems or use them to collect cards which can permanently add to your chip pool or provide you with prestige points. Amass a large enough collection, and players can even win the favor of lords and ladies, scoring large amounts of prestige. The Splendor app lets you play against the AI or in pass-and-play hotseat games with two to four players. A neat addition is a challenge mode composed of preset scenarios with set-piece objectives that reward patience and planning.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is the mobile port of the beloved board game that sees players connecting cities with train lines in an attempt to score the most points. The mobile app supports solo play against AI bots and online play against mobile and desktop players, but it also shines with its pass-and-play multiplayer support, which works particularly well on the big screen of a tablet. Ticket to Ride features easy-to-teach rules and challenging multiplayer gameplay, which make it a board game that translates quite well to mobile.


City-building tile game Suburbia is a visual treat, with deep, abstract gameplay mated to a slick UI that’s all bright colors and sharp edges. As city planners, players take turns laying down tiles that represent various residential, commercial, industrial and public districts, seeking to balance income, cash on hand, population and city reputation. You’ll also need to disrupt other players’ plans. A detailed tutorial and challenging single-player campaign offer a good introduction to the game, while more experienced players can test their wits against a variety of AI opponents.

Twilight Struggle

GMT Games’ Twilight Struggle is a modern board game classic that has players leading the USA and USSR through the tumultuous years of the Cold War. Each player plays cards representing key events and personalities of the Cold War, jockeying for influence or waging war across countries worldwide, while carefully making sure that they don’t raise the DEFCON level to 1, which will trigger thermonuclear armageddon. Playdek’s mobile port of this strategy board game keeps a clean and readable interface that looks great on a tablet screen, while providing a decent tutorial, an AI to play against, and support for asynchronous online multiplayer games.

A classic product photograph for women shoes.

If you do want to make your way into the product photography game, most of your clients will expect you to photograph things as they are. For the most part, they are not interested in the artistic vision of the photographer.

Recommended Equipment

I usually use an old, fully manual, Olympus Zuiko OM 50mm f/1.and the Sigma ART 30mm and 60mm lenses, both f/2.8: super sharp and cheap. Note that I use those lenses on an m4camera, with a crop factor for the sensor of 2x, meaning that those lenses are equivalent to a 100mm, 60mm and 120mm lens for full frame cameras.

Yashica-MAT LM TLR 6Xmedium format camera.

A more complex setup for this low key scene showing my Yashica-MAT LM TLR medium format film camera from 1950 (still in working condition, by the way). The props used to fill the scene were a used roll of 120 film on the right and my favourite hat. I also made sure the Figosa leather strap was clearly visible.

Note that you do not need to be in a pitch black environment to do this kind of low key image: actually, you can even do them in broad daylight, as long as you are ok with using very narrow apertures.

Ideally, take a shot without flash to get a black image of the scene (e.g. using very fast shutter speeds, lowest ISO settings and narrow apertures) and then connect the flash and take the real photo. The scene will be illuminated by the flash only, regardless of the amount of ambient light. Remember, you can out power the Sun with a flashgun.

This kind of setup is great if you want to reveal textures and make your shot moody, like I did for the used red Camper Peu leather shoes shown in the photo below.

Fill Light

In the photo above, you can see my small, double sided silver/white circular reflector (33cm in diameter) from Lastoline.

I use it to soften the shadows by bouncing back some of the light into the scene. The photo below shows a comparison between a scene photographed with (on the right) and without (on the left) a reflector.

The effect of using a reflector to fill in the shadows.

As you can see, the shadows in the right image are softer when the reflector is used and the scene is more pleasant.


The narrative has been told many times over, but in case you need a refresher—in 2013, Detroit filed for bankruptcy, making it the largest U.S. city to do so. Detroit’s recovery has often been glamorized, its cheap real estate and dwindling population being the perfect mixture for a cultural renaissance. While the hype can often be excessive and often problematic, a thriving art scene has always been central to Detroit. The College for Creative Studies and Cranbrook Academy of Art, along world-renowned institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and the Detroit Institute of Arts, keep the creative juices flowing in the city. In response, Detroit’s gallery scene is bubbling with possibilities—from postgraduates looking to start non-commercial project spaces, to former residents moving back to reinvigorate their hometown. Below are eight spaces working to make Detroit a not-to-miss art destination.


Cutting her teeth at various commercial galleries, including New York’s Marlborough Chelsea, Terese Reyes moved to Detroit to be a part of something new. Reyes opened her new gallery just last month in Birmingham, Michigan—a 25-minute drive from the city proper. The inaugural group show, Undercover Boss, features fun and colorful works from well-known brothers Scott and Tyson Reeder, artist-turned-model Jane Moseley, and artist-skateboarder Tony Cox. The true surprise comes from the delightfully kitschy wind chimes made by up-and-comer Jonathan Rajewski, which were also a standout at Reyes’ Dallas Art Fair booth. Backed by a dearth of experience coupled with an excitement for the adventure ahead makes Reyes Projects, without a doubt, one to watch.

The new home of Bahamas Biennale

Ultra Violet Production House, Have A Cord Problem And a Spare Half Hour? Try Using Some of That Excess Length To Liven The Room With a Scene From Your Favorite Planet Earth Episode Including The Commercials That Aired During It, 201Image courtesy of Bahamas Biennale.

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HGA’s eShop 

The advice in this article will be purely my opinion, based on information that I have gathered in buying and using looms, helping my students buy looms, and seeing their reactions to the decisions they made. Ultimately, choosing a loom is a very personal decision, because intangible factors enter into the equation. Consider, for example, ergonometrics: what may be a comfortable weaving position for a tall weaver, may not be a comfortable position for a short one. Some weavers care about the aesthetics of the loom because of where it will be placed in the home. Others are interested only in the mechanics and not in the type of wood used in manufacturing.

In my classes, I give students the guidelines discussed below. Since there are exceptions to every point, we also have the opportunity to discuss these guidelines and we talk about loom possibilities when one becomes available, or when the time comes to commit. I have even made “loom house calls” with my loom-doctor husband Terry Dwyer, who built my first loom nearly twenty-five years ago (still happily in use), and who maintains the looms at the weaving studio of Chimneyville Crafts where I teach weekly classes.

Ideally, every weaver has a trusted teacher, mentor, or friend who can help in the decision process. Trying a loom before buying is very important. If a guild is not available to help with that service, HGA’s Convergence® and other conferences are a great place to comparison shop.

My philosophy for a first loom is that it should be as easy as possible to use — “bells and whistles” can come with a future loom. Weaving is a slow process, and it is composed of many steps, each of which requires different skills. This can be daunting to a beginner working alone. It is far better to get a good, versatile loom without extras so the weaver can get started and proceed easily. I have seen too many looms purchased by beginners not ready for them. The loom then sits idle because a little something went wrong, or something a bit more complicated was required to proceed something that would seem pretty trivial to a more experienced weaver. If there is too much uncertainty to a step — for example, changing the tie-up in a countermarch loom — the weaver wants to wait for when there is more time, when she is not so tired, when he can get help from a friend…. That time never seems to come.

All of my recommendations arise from this philosophy: buy a good, versatile loom, start weaving, experiment, get lots of experience, put lots of warps on, and try different techniques, different fibers, and different structures. Do not be stifled by the loom. Preferences will become apparent and will determine what loom to buy next. Most of all, do not think of this first loom as the ultimate dream loom. Doing so will only frustrate you and paralyze the process. For any weaver who weaves long enough, there usually is a second loom, which may come as a replacement for the first, or as an addition to it, depending on the weaver’s space, finances and personal circumstances.


I personally do not know of any unreliable companies in the weaving business. So the choices may come down to cost, aesthetics, and service. In considering cost, make sure that the comparisons are fair. For example, if the number of heddles is different, add the cost of adding the extra heddles to the loom before evaluating. (See Things You Need to Start Weaving for a good comparison.)

Aesthetics are purely personal. Some loom companies work with only one or two kinds of woods, while others can accommodate special requests. Some loom companies deal directly with customers; others have local dealers. Some companies expect the weaver to assemble the loom, others rely on the local dealer, and still others deliver the loom assembled. Isolated weavers may not have a dealer nearby. If buying from a dealer, find out what the company expects the dealer to do and respect that agreement. For example, if the loom is shipped directly to the weaver, but the company expects the dealer to assemble that loom, make sure that the dealer does assemble it, so the weaver is not responsible for malfunctions. (I speak from experience — the dealer is no longer in business, but that did not help the weaver with her loom at that time!) Alternatively, make arrangements directly with the company to assemble your own loom.

A loom is a working piece of equipment. With time some pieces may require replacement. The Craftmen’s Guild’s teaching and weaving studio has working looms over half a century old. It is still possible to get replacement parts. For this reason, I recommend to students that they buy a commercial loom, rather than a home-made one, unless a close family member is the woodworker. I say this even with my personal experience of the loom made by my husband.

How to practice the EMS response to an MCI

Regularly reviewing and practicing MCI skills will make sure EMS personnel are ready to act when a major incident happens

This article by Rom Duckworth is an update and expansion of the 201article, Practicing the MCI response plan by Jim Augustine.

The multiple casualty incident (MCI) plan for EMS is only ever as strong as the weakest link. There are a lot of links in the chain, so it is critical that every member of the EMS organization develop skills to manage his/her role in a major incident.

Jump into “Triage Tuesday”

Some agencies have developed a routine practice of triage skill practicing and testing, often coordinated with surrounding EMS agencies and destination hospitals. This process is affectionately called “Triage Tuesday” in many communities.

The goals of Triage Tuesday are several-fold. First, it allows EMS providers to become confident in the location and use of the basic tools of MCI management, such as triage tags. Second, Triage Tuesday gives providers the opportunity to discuss their patient evaluation skills with their officers, and importantly, the nurses and physicians at the emergency department. Third, Triage Tuesday helps EMS field providers, supervisors, regional coordinators and hospital staff work together to identify problems and opportunities to improve the local MCI response process before a major incident like a mass shooting, terrorism incident or building collapse.

triage lessons learned from the Boston Marathon Bombing

Regular and routine triage practice

So how can EMS agencies develop a regular and routine practice of triage skill testing? First, use a defined period for use of process and real-world tools or props like triage tags, pediatric triage reference tapes and cards and patient tracking and incident management boards. While there is some cost to use disposable triage supplies, the benefit in real and tangible preparation is well worth the cost of a few tags.

Second, work with receiving hospitals and their clinicians. Collaborate during planning to set mutual goals, such as, “we are testing and updating processes to prepare for MCIs in our response area, for the mutual benefit of the patient.”

Third, establish a routine practice to communicate the results of Triage Tuesday in each direction, as in “we are identifying areas of opportunity in our practice only by accepting suggestions and concerns from your personnel and hope your agency will do the same.” EMS providers will appreciate feedback on alignment of the triage decision with the patient’s disposition and are more likely to continue participation if hospital personnel find the triage information valuable to patient care.

In the simplest Triage Tuesday models, the agency’s triage tags are applied to each patient who is transported on a given day of the week or month before arrival at the hospital. Triage practice can be done on any day of the week. Picking days other than Tuesday might allow more personnel — EMS and hospital — to participate. The tag may or may not be used for simple documentation, in addition to the routine patient care report.

The emergency department personnel, advised about the triage practice process, accept the patient and confirm the accuracy of the patient triage classification, providing simple and immediate feedback to the EMS crew.

Emergency department personnel may take advantage of the opportunity to test their own triage skills, become familiar with triage tagging systems used by different EMS agencies and use the emergency department’s disaster patient tracking system.

There are more opportunities to expand the training or add elements once a month to enhance the experience. More props can be utilized, including incident management vests, caps, signage, management boards and technology enhancements such as smartphone triage apps, barcode scanners, automatic blood pressure cuffs or RFID tags.

When agencies are using new tools for MCIs, like barcode devices or smartphone apps, practicing monthly allows more EMS providers to develop the skills in using the technology, in the field and in the ED.

An important element of these designated triage practice days is to rehearse the communication scripts. The EMS providers will be asked to use the MCI props, and also to communicate with the patient, family or emergency department personnel what the props would accomplish in a major incident.

For example: “Mr. Jones, we take care of people every day, and expand those principles when we have big incidents or multiple patients. This is one of the tools we use for big incidents, and we are using it today on all of our patients.”

Some services will also have their field supervisors respond to non-critical incidents and add some elements that will still allow providers additional MCI management practice. At each incident the supervisor may inject additional information that would turn the non-critical patient into a critical one or add a virtual patient encounter to manage. The field supervisor might test the providers on what they would do if this patient encounter was part of a common or likely MCI. That way a simple patient encounter can be made more challenging and effective for the providers to manage.

Simple and technology enhancements for MCI training 

Triage Tuesday allows for the development of MCI skills without moulage, fake or simulated patients and contrived scenarios. The skills of MCI management are developed, like any cognitive or kinesthetic task, through regular practice and repetition. Expand on real patient encounters by adding simulated patients with simple patient descriptor cards. This allows the EMS providers to triage multiple patients.

Triage Tuesday is also a perfect time to practice the use of emergency technology. Some EMS systems and emergency departments have new IT applications that are being utilized, sometimes with new equipment, communication processes and software.

These high-tech tools require regular practice, especially at the time of implementation. Regular MCI drills allow practice using the hardware and software tools. Practice, before an actual incident, also helps define shortcomings and bottlenecks. It is likely to greatly benefit the staff of the EMS providers and the emergency department.

Additional MCI training

EMS training officers and educators can easily create opportunities for additional triage and MCI response training. A small tabletop exercise can clarify how the incident management system functions, and the roles and responsibilities of EMS positions in triage, treatment and transport during MCI response.

A tabletop exercise can also show EMS personnel how triage, treatment and transport come together to move MCI patients constantly forward — away from the incident which is causing harm to or generating patients — and towards the destination hospitals providing definitive care. Here is a method to create a simple to use, low tech and reusable tabletop exercise with envelopes and index cards.

These materials can be reused to run the tabletop exercise for different combinations of personnel. After triage is complete discuss the providers’ reasons for assigning patients to different categories, the interventions applied during triage and likely additional treatments for each patient. The transportation destination, based on the patient’s problem and local hospital capabilities can also be discussed. 

A tabletop exercise is another good time to review the tools of MCI management. All providers need to know where supplies are kept and how they work. During the exercise communicate on real radios — on private talk-around channels — to practice the communication discipline that is necessary to properly coordinate a complex MCI scene which involves moving patients to ambulances and those patients to the best-available receiving facilities.

Practice with a likely real-world MCI scenario, such as a mass shooting or school bus rollover. Avoid highly unlikely though theoretically possible scenarios like a “hurricane causes a multiple school bus collision with haz-mat release.”

Straight forward scenarios allow providers to build their confidence in how the incident management system works, how effective triage helps move the right patients forward or from the scene first, and their role in MCI response and management. Seeing how real patients, providers, gear and vehicles interact emphasizes the importance of incident management before clinical care in a multiple casualty incident.

Lesley Stockton

A stand mixer is a great way to take your baking game to the next level, and for the third year running we’ve found that the 5-quart KitchenAid Artisan is the best mixer for the home baker. Not only did it cream butter and sugar for cookies and whip up a genoise cake batter more effectively than nearly every other model we tried, but it also effortlessly kneaded whole-wheat bread dough without straining or walking around on the countertop (a common issue with other mixers). For this update we looked for new models that could compete with the Artisan, but ultimately we found that it’s still the absolute best for its performance, versatility, and price.

In an earlier version of this guide, we said KitchenAid offered an S-shaped hook for the Artisan mixer. This was a mistake. The S-hook, or the PowerKnead Spiral Dough Hook, is available only for our runner-up pick, the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series, and other bowl-lift models.

Although we weren’t completely surprised to see a KitchenAid mixer come out on top, we did think the competition would fare a little better. But after going through more than 1hours of research, consulting mixing experts, performing 30 hours of side-by-side testing on six stand mixers and two hand mixers, and doing two years of long-term testing, we can definitively say that the brand that rolled out the first tabletop mixer in 191is still the best. Sometimes you really can’t beat a classic.

Why you should trust me

I have worked with stand mixers during the course of my 18-year career in restaurants, catering kitchens, and test kitchens. Even though large Hobart mixers are common in commercial kitchens, many kitchens also use a countertop mixer for smaller jobs. Restaurants and catering kitchens commonly use a KitchenAid for grinding meat, rolling pasta, or mixing test batches of dough for recipe development. I’ve used mixers in every condition—from brand-new to on its last legs—and I’ve even had to work with one that would shock you if your hands were the least bit moist.

Pull Quote

For the right person, a good mixer can be a total game changer in the kitchen.

A good stand mixer will make your baking (and cooking) life a lot easier. If you bake regularly and have been struggling with a low-grade stand mixer, an aging hand-me-down from a relative, or a hand mixer, you might want to consider upgrading. For the right person, a good mixer can be a total game changer in the kitchen. A well-made stand mixer can turn out loaves of rustic bread, moist cake layers, and dozens upon dozens of cookies. It can make quick work of whipping egg whites into meringue and heavy cream into an airy dessert topping. Great mixers have power hubs for extra accessories that can roll out pasta dough, grind meat, and even churn ice cream.

If you’re going to invest in one of these babies, you should be looking to use it two or three times a week, but that shouldn’t be difficult given how versatile a good mixer can be. A stand mixer also frees up time in the kitchen because you can turn it on and step away to prep for the next step in your recipe.

For bigger batches

With a bigger mixing bowl and footprint, this mixer is best left on the countertop. It isn’t as good as the Artisan at smaller jobs, but it is excellent at mixing heavy doughs and batters.

Although we think the Artisan is the best mixer for home use, the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer is a formidable appliance, particularly if you bake hearty batches of bread. A big mixer with a big footprint, it’s significantly louder than our top pick, and it’s the kind of machine that permanently lives on the countertop.

I’ve used this mixer for more than 1years in restaurant and test kitchens, and it’s a taskmaster designed to tackle big jobs. The bowl clips into the sides and back and lifts into the head attachment instead of twisting into the base as with the other models. The heavy-duty motor easily made quick work of almost all the test batches we put this model through, but the larger bowl proved to be a liability on our test with a single egg white, where the whip didn’t even make contact. But this mixer isn’t for whipping one egg white—it’s best for large batches of dough. The spacious 6-quart bowl yields more loaves per batch, and the S-shaped PowerKnead hook is better at keeping dough in the bowl and not up around the gear and spring.

I will say the biggest fault of the Professional 600 Series is the noise. I’ve been working with this model for years, and I never realized how loud it was until I used it in the quiet serenity of my own home. Consumer Reports docked it for excessive noise, and until I used it I couldn’t understand why. It was by far and away the loudest, highest-pitched mixer in the testing lineup, so much so that my cat stood up and took notice. That being said, this machine is a beast, in a good way. If you’re making lots of bread and thick doughs, say, four or five times a week, get this thing. If not, it’s too much mixer for you.

The competition

In 2016, KitchenAid unveiled the Artisan Mini stand mixer. We tested this smaller version of the classic Artisan and found its size restrictive. The Mini’s 3½-quart bowl was too small for us to finish a batch of Kitchen Sink Cookies. The bowl also doesn’t have a handle, so tasks like scooping cookie dough, or dividing cake batter between pans (if you can make enough batter for more than one layer) are precarious. Although the Mini is about 20 percent smaller than the full-size Artisan, it didn’t save a significant amount of space on our counter. The Mini Artisan measures 11¾ by 7⅜ by 1inches (deep, wide, tall). By contrast, the classic Artisan mixer measures 13¼ by 8⅜ by 13¾ inches.

The Artisan Mini is super cute, and the aesthetic appeal isn’t lost on us. If looks are important to you, and you don’t mind the limitations of the bowl, get this teacup version of the popular Artisan. But if you have a small kitchen and need to do some serious baking from time to time, we suggest clearing some space for a regular Artisan or just getting a powerful hand mixer.

We found the 3½-quart bowl on the Artisan Mini (left) restrictive. It doesn’t hold a full batch of cookies, like the the 5-quart handled bowl on the regular Artisan (right) does.

The Artisan Mini (bottom) is about 20 percent smaller than the full-size Artisan (top). But we didn’t find it saved a significant amount of countertop space.

The 3½-quart bowl couldn’t accommodate the cookie recipe we used to test all the mixers in this guide.

With no handle to grip, I had to hold the bowl close to my body, which resulted in cookie dough on my shirt.

The Cuisinart SM-55½-Quart Stand Mixer held its own with the bread test and made a lofty cake and cups of fluffy white frosting. What it couldn’t handle was the thick, chunky cookie dough. Once we added the mix-ins, the paddle pushed all the dough up the sides. Since the splash guard snaps in, instead of the rogue dough spinning the plastic disc around as with other models, the dough lodged itself in the hole of the pouring guide. The small handles attached to the lip of the bowl aren’t ideal either. While the placement makes for a snug fit in a double boiler (and the thin, tapered bowl makes for easy whisking), the handles are pretty much useless when you’re pouring cake batter or scooping cookie dough. A high note for this mixer, though, is that it was the only mixer in the lineup, aside from our pick, the Artisan, that whipped one egg white and ½ cup of cream. It has three power hubs for extra accessories and a built-in timer, which is nice.

I really wanted the Kenmore Elite Stand Mixer to be better than it turned out to be. It looked so good on paper! It has two bowls, a 3-quart and a 5-quart, plus all of the usual attachments. It comes with a five-year warranty, and its power hub accepts KitchenAid accessories. But the automatic head-locking mechanism drove me batty because raising and lowering the head took two hands. Even worse, this model strained and rocked back and forth while kneading bread, and when it tried to turn thick cookie dough, the paddle pushed the dough up the sides, sending the splash guard spinning around the bowl.

The KitchenAid Architect Series 9-Speed Hand Mixer was in the running as our occasional-use option. It surpassed my admittedly low expectations while making bread dough, and it turned thick cookie dough fairly well. But its weak spot is whipping: The genoise cake sank in the middle, and the frosting recipe that was supposed to yield cups yielded only 4.

Yamaha FS1R

A great example of a mass–produced synth that really pushes it to the limit, the FS1R is the first FM synth that Yamaha built after taking a few years off from milking that cash cow. Yamaha knew it was effectively competing with its own DXthat it produced in massive numbers, so the company stepped its game up with this 199synth by including its own Formant Shaping Synthesis.

Typically, formant synthesis is used to emulate the vowel sounds in human speech. And sure, you can do that with the FS1R, but the bigger appeal is that you can combine the FSS and FM synthesis techniques to make some truly out there sounds. This is Yamaha delivering on the promise that digital’s natural value is that it can really sound like nothing else.

Kurzweil K2500RS

Founded by Stevie Wonder and public intellectual and futurist Raymond Kurzweil, the Kurzweil Musical Systems company has often been an outlet for next–generation performance keyboards. Often, this has translated to really good emulations of grand pianos — both in terms of feel and sound — but it also meant an audacious run of synths back in the ‘90s.

Those efforts would culminate with the K2600, but the K2500 is the purest distillation of the company’s vision for synths. It features the proprietary VAST synthesis that does everything from acoustic modelling to analog–style subtractive synthesis to totally bonkers digital sounds well. It also features microtuning, which pretty rare for any synth, period the end.

Kawai K1M

Following up one of the most expensive and least obtainable synths with a baffling amount of power in existence is one of the least expensive and most obtainable synths with a baffling amount of power in existence. The Kawai K1M is a beautiful synth whose low bitrate makes for a digital synth with warm, gritty sound that scratches the same itch for many as analog circuitry.

Yamaha TG33

While we’re talking about total tabletop steals, the TG3is another exquisite digital synth from the ‘90s that often sells in the low– to mid–hundreds on the used market. This uses a pretty similar wave sampling technique as the Kawai K1M, but also employs Yamaha’s signature FM synthesis.

Like any of Yamaha’s other FM options, it’s not all that easy to program using the button interface that comes native to the machine, but it has a joystick that makes transforming the preset tones a snap. If you’re thinking about buying Korg’s Volca FM, consider saving your pennies for Yamaha FM perfected, featuring 3voices of polyphony over the Volca’s 3.

Cease and Desist

Thomas Valenty was the first Thingiverse user to upload printable figures designed to be played as a Warhammer 40K miniature—a tank and a two-legged mech. Unsurprisingly, he promptly became the first Thingiverse user to receive a cease & desist order from Games Workshop and both models were removed from the service.

But even if Games Workshop can keep getting copies of Warhammer units removed from Thingiverse (and that’s a big if—you can currently find at least one reproduction Warhammer miniature on the site), it can’t keep miniatures off altogether. Even a cursory search of the service shows tons of original miniatures already uploaded, though their photographs reveal that 3D printing is still several years off from the resolution needed to match the detail on Finecast models. Larger, more geometric or more abstract figures currently look best (see for instance Irrational Designs’ Shapeways store), but those technical hurdles will only protect Games Workshop’s business model for so long.

Indeed, the biggest danger presented to Games Workshop by 3D printing may not be some sort of real-stuff Napster scenario, but rather the extent to which it lowers the barrier to entry for creating your own miniature game. With 3D printing, you can create a new game with nothing more than a good idea and some 3D modeling software. Already, Ill Gotten Games is making small, tile-based games available Thingiverse, including Desktop Tactics, Pocket Dungeon and Breach. Though none of the games created so far are quite on the same level as traditional miniatures wargames, it’s only a matter of time.

So I don’t think Games Workshop and other miniatures manufacturers have as much to fear from piracy as they do from democracy. Miniature gamers know that they’re a very niche audience, and that widespread miniature copying would almost immediately put the local game stores (where they likely play) out of business. However, when one of those same gamers has an idea for the best strategy game of all time, there’s not going to be anything to stop them from getting it out to everyone who wants to play. Once 3D printing becomes more ubiquitous, it’s only going to take one ambitious project—maybe backed by Kickstarter, maybe an open source communal effort—to turn everything upside down.

Tame warped lumber

Common sense tells you to choose flat boards and avoid the pretzels. Unfortunately, flat roughsawn boards are sometimes hard to find.Lots of boards end up warped as a result of the drying process.

In lumber lingo,warp is defined as any deflection from a flat, planar surface.Warped boards can be cupped, bowed, crooked or twisted. A single board can contain a combination of warps.

Luckily,most warped boards can be flattened, if the deflection isn’t too cupped. Cupping, which occurs mainly in plainsawn lumber, affects a board’s finished thickness.

Rich Blues

Lalique’s new crystal collection, Midnight Blue Fusion, features a deep, rich blue that when the light hits it just right showcases varying shades adding playfulness to each piece. Royal Limoges is now offering its White Star dinnerware pattern in a cobalt blue, called Blue Star.

Foret from Herend

Herend has always been known for its elegant patterns and this market introduced Foret, a tea set that is a more modern take in elegance. The bird pattern is set against a white backdrop and features gold accents. The handles on the cup and creamer are in the shape of a string of gold pearls.Who would have thought that melamine could be opulent? Q Squared’s Pembroke is an elegant pattern in a pale seafoam with gold accents.

White dinnerware continues to remain strong. Royal Crown Derby took their best-selling shapes—Surrey and Duesbury—and is now offering them in white. The dinnerware is every bit as elegant sans pattern and color. The simplicity of the collections allows for the customer to play with more ornate accent plates to create their own table setting. A trend that Josephine Dillon of Richard Ginori says has been gaining more and more popularity. And speaking of Ginori, the company is now under the Gucci brand and this market turned to its archives re-introducing several patterns. Expect to see more in January in Paris at Maison & Objet.

Portmeirion’s new Ambiance collection is a full entertaining collection that includes dinnerware and serveware. The serveware is available in ceramic, wood and glass.

Michael Aram’s Forest Leaf pattern is a bisque porcelain pattern that features a relief pattern of leaves in white.

Gold & Platinum

More and more vendors are combining these two precious metals in their designs. Michael Wainwright’s La Rochelle Glass is inspired by the 14th century port town in southwestern France. The Hotel de Ville there features gothic fluted pillars which are reflected in the collection. Each piece is hand decorated with 24-kt. gold and platinum. The Wellfleet Glass line was inspired by walking on the beaches in Cape Cod. This glass drinkware collection is also decorated in 24-kt. gold and platinum. Wedgwood also featured a platinum and gold pattern from Vera Wang.

Manufacturers also played with varying shades of gold this market. Lenox introduced a flatware collection in rose gold and Waterford offered a matte gold flatware line from Vera Wang.


Lynxmotion is famous for its very complete Erector Set line of brackets, servos and accessories that enable any hobbyist to custom design a humanoid, quadruped or hexapod. Lynxmotion sells a simple biped kit, the BRAT, for the entry level hobbyist. Using the SSC-3servo sequencer with software provided by Lynxmotion, you can quickly learn to program the BRAT to walk on a desktop, tethered to your PC. Where you take your project from there is only up to your imagination. This system generates both Basic Atom and Basic Stamp code, so the sky is the limitand if you want to progress up the learning curve in increments, this may be the path for you. Shown is a full humanoid that can be created using Lynxmotion parts.





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Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your Tabletop Scenes wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of Tabletop Scenes



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