Ducky Year of the Rat – You’ve NEVER Seen a Keyboard like this!
An exciting package arrived today from Ducky, and I think we should experience this one together because it’s a unique product with some very unique packaging aesthetics.
I really hope you enjoyed that unboxing experience, basically I was trying to follow in my own footsteps of the Mecha Mini keyboard which I have received previously. This new model is Ducky One 2 Mini Year of the Rat Special Edition for 2020, which has a 60% keyboard layout form factor. It’s not going to be for everyone, but man I love when companies do something like this. It is totally unique, not only in design, but literally everything else surrounding this product, including the unboxing experience and all the accessories.
The first thing we need to talk about are the number of units being made, only 2020 keyboards of this style will be shipped. They even asked me which number I would like, I gave them some options and we settled on 0007. You can see the number out of 2020 on the gold plaque at the bottom and also on the bottom right. Ducky is pretty clever to have collaborated with the graffiti artist Bounce to design this Year of the Rat Special Edition model, and I think he did a pretty fantastic job all around the keyboard. Not just the keycaps, but the body itself, and the mouse mat as well are all awesome. Literally the #1 mistake for any new mousepad owner is smelling it, because they usually smell absolutely awful. Mine has been unrolled for a few days, so it doesn’t smell as bad anymore, but oh my gosh right out of the box it was horrendous.
Build & Design
I want to do a quick physical comparison between this new model and the original Ducky ONE 2 Mini and the Mecha Mini, which are priced much lower than the $199 USD price for this special edition model. The whole team agreed that this is more of a collector’s item, something that you would might put on the shelf or frame somehow, because of just how cool it is. But of course it doesn’t stop you from using this on a daily basis and chances are you probably already own other Ducky ONE 2 Mini variations. The outer frame is plastic, which is how they are able to actually imprint this cool design at the bottom, on the sides, and even at the top of the keyboard. This type of design would be very difficult if not impossible to do on the aluminium cast frame that we saw with the Mecha Mini. I appreciate the attention to detail, like the Ducky for example, and certain other elements like the Hello Sign are slightly extruded, there is a bit of texture to them. It is not something that is part of the plastic, it almost feels like it’s been spray painted on top of it. The same thing with the Ducky font, the green around it, and the mouse designed to on top of the keyboard all look absolutely awesome.
We still have dual angle feet at the bottom with nice rubber inserts for the best stability on whatever surface you put it on. At the bottom you will of course also find those dip switches, it’s a really cool flexible tool to remap your bottom row, your Windows key, your ALT key, your CTRL key, and your function key. You can swap your Caps Lock and your function key and do a few other things. It is a handy feature, but just make sure to download the user manual so that you know what each dip switch does. The USB Type-C port is now slightly deeper into the frame, yet there is no issue with using a custom Type-C cable so that is always a plus.
And now we can review the most unique part of the keyboard and that is the colourway. First of all, the neon green keycaps are incredibly vibrant in whatever setting you put them in, they compliment the other medium grey keys very well, and they have a really unique font as well. They are using dye sublimation techniques for the keycaps, which means the green, the black, and the grey part of the keycaps are part of the actual keycap. It is not going to fade away over time. I love the custom designs on all the larger keys, and that all the arrows are in the same shape and style.
There are a few mice that are kind of hidden within each keycap, I particularly love the function one. I love the little Windows keycap that has the mouse ears and the eyes popping through the bottom right corner. I love the escape key design, and even the enter key has some mouse treatment on it as well. Of course, this will not be a special edition keyboard without a really cool spacebar. This is the only keycap that actually has a bit of purple on it, so the mouse is sitting on a spray paint can and that is firing up a really beautiful design that is super high quality. The little Ducky font in the corner is not too intrusive and it’s just overall really well done.
Two more things to keep in mind about the keycaps is that obviously they are not shining through, so the RGB illumination acts as your base layer. if you set it to purple or green you have yourself a beautiful colour synced keyboard. The other things is that because of the custom font and the keycaps design we no longer have the secondary functions built into the front of the keycap, so you kind of have to memorize which key controls your media, the arrow keys, and all other secondary functions that are normally found on a 60% body. Also the keycaps interestingly have a bit of shimmer to them, which is totally intentional to try to keep true to the artist’s form when it comes to spray painting. The slight shimmer on the PBT keycaps looks awesome and it feels great. A quick note about the extra keycaps, they are reason ABS plastic for some and they are shine through so if you want to replace one of the keys for one that will give you illumination you can use those.
Another unique item for this keyboard are the switches, because they are now hot swappable, meaning this is more of a future-proof keyboard. If you want to try something else like populate your favorites switches in here yet still keep the design. You have to love the hot swappable dedication, because even the keychain accessory that comes with it has a hot swappable base. I wouldn’t call this an Easter Egg, but once we go below the keycaps we have a dual-layer purple PCB, which looks awesome. It kind of invisibly ties the whole thing together because of minor other purple elements spread throughout the keyboard. As for stabilizers I was hoping for something a little bit less wobbly, but the stabilizers here feel pretty much the same as the ones on the Mecha Mini and the ONE 2 Mini. It’s not terrible, but for the $200 price point you are buying this for the quality of the build and design.
To conclude, I really enjoy playing around with these special edition keyboards and other colourway projects like the Razer Cyberpunk 2077 mouse, which looks absolutely stunning. Now what I would do differently with this keyboard is that I would ask Ducky to include some sort of sound dampening material at the bottom to just give it that little extra edge for the $199 USD price point. I love the design, I love the hot swap nature of the board, but sound dampening is something that I think would going to elevate this keyboard to the next level. Potentially you could probably mod this yourself, because the PCB and the dual layer shell are removable so you can pop that out and do a little mod. Otherwise it’s a pretty killer product, and if you are into 60% keyboards definitely check out this Year of the Rat Edition keyboard if you want something totally unique and different.
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