The Key Armory: The Source For Great Nerdy Keys For My Home!

In December of 2015, The Key Armory introduced their first set of key designs through a Kickstarter campaign. Inspired by weaponry from various fandoms including Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, various video games, and animes, the first keys that were announced for the campaign were: the Hero’s Sword, King’s Blade, Kingdom Key, Star Saber, and Halfling’s Blade. Needing to raise $10,000 for their goal, there were also hopes for additional designs to be added as Stretch Goals. I joined in on the campaign in the fairly early stages and was thrilled to learn that the stretch goal key designs were actually going to be decided by the backers ourselves!

The Eye of Thundara key that I purchased as a birthday present for a friend from The Key Armory. (All photos were taken and edited by KristaG)
The Eye of Thundara key that I purchased as a birthday present for a friend from The Key Armory.
(All photos were taken and edited by KristaG)

At the end of the campaign, the number of keys being offered had been doubled! We, the backers, had voted in another five designs: the Runeblade of Ner’zhul, Eye of Thundara, Gunblade Revolver, Royal Shield (not a sword, I know, and I was a bit skeptical of it at first until I saw the finished product), and the Blade of the Direwolf. As much as I had liked the original keys, I was really excited about the Runeblade of Ner’zhul as I am a rather large fan of World of Warcraft and immediately knew what key I had to have for myself! The timing for the suspected delivery for these also happened to be perfect for a birthday gift for a geek friend of mine so I also picked up a second key, the Eye of Thundara, as a surprise. Not only was he a fan of Thundercats, but it is a bit of an inside joke between us as well.

My house key! The Runeblade of Ner'zhul! I really wish I had a camera that could do these keys justice as the detail work on them is gorgeous!
My house key! The Runeblade of Ner’zhul! I really wish I had a camera that could do these keys justice as the detail work on them is gorgeous!

I will admit, I had a few concerns about how the final product would look by the time I received it. My biggest concern was over how the details would look etched into the keys versus the cut out sections. Would the etched details be deep enough to show up? Would the different depths of the details still be visible enough from a distance to see what the sword looks like or would you have to use your imagination a bit more? I was also concerned about the actual size of the key. Obviously, these keys would be a bit bigger than your average house key, but just how big is “a bit bigger”? Would they be so gigantic that I would have to change how I keep my keys in my pocket? Should I just be considering using these as a display or novelty item instead of as a functional key to my home due to their potential size? I needn’t have worried, however! Upon their arrival, these keys have proven themselves to be sturdy, stunningly detailed with good craftsmanship, easy to get cut, a perfect fit on my keyrings (though I have enough keys to keep track of now that I no longer keep my keys in my pocket as much), and they have made some great conversation pieces!

The customer service at The Key Armory has proven to be top notch as I had several interactions with them after the campaign ended and I am looking forward to working with them again as they have launched their new Kickstarter campaign. This time they are not just introducing five more designs (the Soldier’s Sword, Sword of Foresight, Power Sword, Defender of the Universe, and Blade of Alfheim), but are also hoping to expand their offerings of keyway types to include Yale keys in addition to the Kwikset and Schlage keys that were offered in the last campaign. Personally, I’m thrilled as it means I can now pick up a few more keys as gifts for my friends overseas! As with their last campaign, there are more designs waiting to be added to the list of offerings and I can hardly wait to see what we add!

I can not recommend these keys enough. They’re fun, good quality, span numerous fandoms so that many of my geeky interests are met, the people at The Key Armory are just wonderful people to work with, and these keys are just amazingly detailed! I can honestly attest that everyone who has seen my house key has asked me either where I got it or if I will get them one too! Though a bit on the pricey side for key blanks (they go for $12 retail or $10 as part of the Kickstarter campaign), I still feel they’re worth picking up and, should you not want to use them for your home, they are something fun to simply collect and display.

Chinese New Year 2017: Our Dumpling Filled Game Session

Unfortunately, my Player 2 and I will be welcoming the Year of the Rooster by working a closing shift at the restaurant we both currently work in. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t still intend to celebrate earlier in the day. Instead of hosting a “game night,” we will be hosting more of an early afternoon gathering. With that in mind, I needed to come up with some foods that would be light enough to work as lunch time munchies, but would also work out for trying to host a game or two amongst friends. With this in mind and a quick perusal of my shelves of cookbooks, an idea quickly began to take form: DUMPLINGS!

Crazy Dumplings I and II
Crazy Dumplings I and II by Amanda Roberts. These recipes are perfect for Chinese New Year, game night, or any time you want something fun or different for mealtime!
(All photos were taken and edited by KristaG)

Early last year while perusing Kickstarter, I came across a campaign that I absolutely couldn’t ignore: a new cookbook from Amanda Roberts. Having grown up eating both the traditional and American Chinese foods that mother had learned to make while working in a Chinese restaurant in her youth, I have collected quite a few Asian cookbooks over the years, but none thus far have been as fun as this one promised to be. Jiaozi/Gyoza/pot stickers/dumplings have always been one of my favorite items so I immediately jumped on the chance to help bring Crazy Dumplings II: Even Dumplinger to life! During the campaign, I also went ahead and picked up the cookbook that started the set: The Crazy Dumplings Cookbook. Ranging from traditional recipes to those inspired by various ingredients and combinations from across the globe and even a few with a geeky twist, there is sure to be a savory or sweet dumpling recipe for everyone within the pages of these two cookbooks!

Our Sweet and Sour Chicken Dumplings! They are amazing and taste so much better than the frozen ones I get at the store due to their fresh ingredients. I can't wait to make the rest of them this weekend!
Our Sweet and Sour Chicken Dumplings! They are amazing and taste so much better than the frozen ones I get at the store due to their fresh ingredients. I can’t wait to make the rest of them this weekend!

For our gathering, we are choosing to keep it Chinese oriented (sorry Dr. Who fans, no fish and custard dumplings this time…but there is a recipe for that in the first book!) so in addition to my Player 2’s own beef filling recipe, we chose to try out Amanda Roberts’ General Tsao’s Chicken Dumplings, Sweet and Sour Chicken Dumplings, and Cola Chinese Chicken Dumplings. These will be followed up with a recipe from one of my grandmother’s cookbooks for egg custard tarts for dessert (another one of my favorites and a dessert that is not overly sweet). With this selection, we are hoping to include a little bit of sweet, some spicy, and some new flavors for our mid-day get together. Each recipe makes a dozen (12) dumplings, which I feel is the perfect amount for a meal for 2 yet also leaves room for us to use multiple recipes for game night and not overwhelming ourselves with too much food. In addition to the filling recipes themselves, there are also recipes for various dipping sauces and instructions for different dumpling folds included in both cookbooks! For anyone looking for a unique twist on a traditional food, something fun to try for Chinese New Year, or for a few new finger foods to out for game night, I would highly recommend either – or both – of the Crazy Dumplings cookbooks by Amanda Roberts! Personally, I am hoping to see Crazy Dumplings III come to fruition some time! In addition to being able to purchase these from, you can purchase them directly from Roberts’ blog: Two Americans in China.

As long as we are mindful of our sauces and dips, these should be perfect for setting up nearby as snacks for while we play. What are we playing this year, you ask? I’m introducing my game group to the new expansion for Lanterns: The Harvest Festival called Lanterns: The Emperor’s Gifts! You’re more than welcome to read my thoughts on the game and what the newest release from Renegade Game Studios adds and changes as well as learn more about how we are choosing to celebrate the Lunar New Year!