Adding my noob's review of the Sparrows Monstrum XXL to the mix
Today I'll be reviewing the Sparrows Monstrum XXL kit - this kit contains (AFAIK) all of the Sparrows picks so if you are looking for an individual pick, you can find it in this review too. I'll also be talking about value for money in the kit etc. I purchased mine from a site called UK Lockpickers but I'm sure there are many sources - if you're in the US, I believe you can buy from Sparrows directly. The current UK selling price for this kit is £99.99, the US price direct from sparrows is $139.
Goes nicely with the Sparrows pinning mat!:
Here it is again on a plainer background. I believe that the design of the case is somewhat random as the pattern is (I assume) printed onto large sheets and then cut from that. It looks stylish IMO, and the case feels moderately hardwearing too:
The pattern wraps around to the side and back of the case as well:
This is the view once you first open the zipper. Note that the case is somewhat springy from the middle and will tend to "pull closed" at little if it isn't held, but this is much stronger for the inner 'pages':
You can see a couple of water bottles holding these case 'pages' back - they're hella springy and will NOT stay closed! You could probably bend them back 180 degrees and pin it under a heavy book overnight or something to negate this a little:
Picks on the left hand side, underneath:
Pics on the right hand side, above:
Here's all the "front" picks laid out. You have a good selection of Hooks, Rakes, Bogota, and a half-diamond / flag:
A lateral shot using my monitor's light to illuminate the handles. They looks very textured - this is a kind of rubbery coating and makes the picks very pleasant to hold (soft and non-slip):
Close up of the metal finish. It's actually quite poor aesthetically speaking, the brass coating isn't smooth and uniform and makes them look a little "tarnished" - this may be only aesthetic though, I'm not sure if it affects usability. All of the picks look like this, to lesser or greater degrees:
The first of many, many tension wrenches included in this set. These are short and stubby "S" shaped wrenches which I assume are top-of-the-keyway. They also have those nice little serrations similar to the Peterson wrenches. There are couple of long/short end ones, one in the same style but without the serrations, and one that's "normal" at one end and has the serrations at the other:
Close up of those serrations, and the stop that keeps it from falling into the cylinder:
Moving on! Here we have 6 wrenches - 3 L shape twisted wrenches, and 3 un-serrated S shape ones. These are probably of the "windshield wiper insert / street cleaner bristle" variety. Finish, as with everything in this kit, is... acceptable. Functionally they look great:
6 more - 3 standard L wrenches and 3 which are twisted and L shaped on both ends. These ones are quite long:
Some even longer L and single-ended twisted-L wrenches:
Moving on again. Now we're looking at the picks from the rear-left of the case - a selection of hooks that grow more and more curved until two final kinda scythe-shaped picks, and then a pretty bogota/rake thingy that looks different to the rest:
Close-up of that octopus design! Seems to be laser engraved:
A close up of the finish of these picks as well as showing off the odd curved ends of those last two picks. Finish is similar to the rest of the set:
The final two picks that I hadn't yet covered - from the rear, right hand side. Just a couple of hooks:
In terms of performance, I've only just received these in the post this morning so haven't yet had time to work at length with these, but I did quickly pick my practice lock (2 standard pins) a few times and I have to say, the rubberised handles are a very nice touch - way nicer to grip than the slightly sharp GOSOs (the GOSO picks have moulding marks down both edges which are poorly finished and tend to be painful to hold). The Sparrows hooks are certainly functional and I managed to pick my practice lock with no issues. They ARE a little tight in the Yale style keyway, which makes sense as they're (I believe) US picks, so probably not the best for restrictive keyways.
I'm not sure how much use the rest of the set will get, but I almost see myself as as much a lockpick collector as a pick user or lock collector - it's fun to "catch em all" and you can be sure you always have the tool you need to hand, no matter how esoteric
. The case quality is good and I like the random pattern material.
The one area of improvement that I could immediately mention is the finish quality - however the metal itself is smooth and I haven't noticed any burrs etc so the discolouration may well simply be cosmetic.
I hope this has helped, and as and when I get any more observations with this kit I'll update this thread. Please feel free to chime in with your own observations, thoughts, pictures or questions