Coleman Keychain LED 'Lantern', retail $TBA
Manufactured by Unknown for Coleman
Last updated: 11-21-12

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Are you looking for a piss-poor excuse for a flashlight?
Do you love to waste money on cutsey, useless things?
Then you'll love the Coleman Keychain Lantern.

Now I know I'm supposed to be impartial with my reviews, but with this asinine thing, there's no possible way I can be. Why Coleman would sully their good name with this "toy" is beyond me.

Anyway, this novelty lantern comes with batteries and a swivelling keyring attachment, already pre-assembled so you don't need to do anything special.


Assuming you actually went out and bought one of these, you can just tear open the pack and start "using" it right away.

To turn the light on, hold it upside down and twist the knurled base clockwise. Turn it the other way (counterclockwise) to shut it off. The base is embossed with "ON" and "OFF" plus arrows to show you which way to turn.

You don't actually need to hold it upside down to turn it on and off; I only mentioned that so as to give a reference to clockwise and counterclockwise.

[image for GP189 battery(ies) not available]
The light uses two GP189 alkaline button cells. Where I can actually buy these odd batteries remains a mystery, but I'd imagine you could go to any place with a large selection of batteries for electric wristwatches.

To change them, hold the lantern upside down and start unscrewing the knurled base. When it is about to come off, turn the lantern right side up again, and finish unscrewing. The batteries fit into a spring holder in the base. Dump the old ones, and place two new ones in the holder, flat (+) side down. Fit the base to the lantern body and screw it back on. Keep turning until the light comes on, then back it off a bit.

The LED dimmed considerably after the light was left on for approximately 15 minutes. I think the batteries have already just about had it.

Ok, so it looks cute. But that's about where its usefullness ends.

The red, 5mm LED is mounted where the mantle of a real Coleman lantern might go, and aims straight up at the top. But there's nothing there to reflect the light back, so it's all absorbed there and wasted!!
This is the epitome of horrible optical design, and is why the lantern is essentially useless. Even as a marker, it sucks. Someone really dropped the ball when they designed it. I mean, I've seen TOYS that perform much better than this. The light can be seen on your hand from only a few inches away in near total darkness, then nothing.

It might be fun for children to use on the family camping trips, as it would glow just enough to kinda sorta start to feebly light up the inside of their sleeping bags, but having such small and easily accessible batteries kind of puts a damper on that. Children and watch batteries don't mix.

As for its construction, it doesn't really look all that durable. It should survive being sat on if the chair were upholstered, but stepping on it would spell its end quite quickly. It also handles falls to no-pile carpeting just fine. The clear globe is protected somewhat by the "hood" and "tank" parts of the lantern, so it doesn't get scratched up when laid or stored on its side.
A few hard falls onto concrete will probably send it to the garbage can, or at least cause very noticeable damage.

The battery compartment is very well made. So physically, this light has some strong points and some weaker ones too.

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What could you do with such a feeble red glow?

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Well, it is flushable...
This is what $4 or $5 whirling down a commode might look like.

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But would I really do that to such a cute and loveable little lantern?

Its light is too feeble to be useful, but it's too cute to flush
down the toilet or throw it away. Guess I'm stuck with it. :)

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this lantern.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this lantern; newest (03-25-12) spectrometer software settings used.

Spectrographic plot
Spectrographic analysis of the LED in this lantern; spectrometer's response narrowed to a band between 620nm and 660nm to pinpoint peak wavelength, which is 638.770nm.

USB2000 spectrometer graciously donated by P.L.


Product has been seen in the camping & sporting goods section of my local Fred Meyer.

Test unit was obtained sometime around October 2001.

Product is not flushable. Do not attempt to dispose of in toilet. Humorous photograph above was taken using a non-functioning, decorative commode; see picture below.

Any updates related to this review will be posted as they happen.

UPDATE 10-28-03:
It was suggested on Candlepower Forums that this lantern be used as a Christmas decoration. It could indeed be hung on a Christmas tree and used as an ornament, if you have no other use for the lantern but you don't want to throw the cute and loveable little thing away.
In about a month and a half, I'll know how it looks on my tree, and may even post a picture of the lantern used that way. :-)

As I understand, the cells this light requires can be found anywhere they stock cells for scientific calculators. I believe that GP189 and LR54 cells are interchangeable - they should be the same size and voltage as one another.

UPDATE 01-03-04:
As I indicated in late October of last year, I did hang the Coleman novelty lantern on my Christmas tree. It does make a good, if not somewhat small ornament, if I have anything nice to say about the lantern. I'll try to get a picture of it before I take the tree down, and post it here when I do.

UPDATE 01-04-04:
And here is the picture I promised. See? It really is good for something.

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This shot shows the Coleman novelty lantern hung on the upper portion of a phoney Christmas tree. The tree might be phoney, but I assure you the reasoning behind putting it up is genuine.
The lantern was turned on for this photograph, and was quite handily drowned out by LED Christmas lights nearby. :-P

UPDATE 03-29-04:
I have been contacted by Coleman regarding this page, and they DO have a brighter model now available, and they offered a sample of it and four other Coleman LED products for evaluation. The rating at the bottom of this page will probably not be changed, and the new lantern and other Coleman products will receive their own web pages and their own ratings.

UPDATE 02-25-07:
I received an email from a user of this product today, here it is in it's entirety:

"Hi Craig,

Thanks for a very entertaining review of the Coleman novelty LED lantern.

A few years ago, I received one of these from a friend who said that they use it as a tent nightlight. They said, while it doesn't appear very bright, when tent camping in the dead of night out in the woods, it gets so dark that this little lantern makes just enough light to see what you're doing in a tent.

I tried it a few times like that, but was disappointed. While the light was enough to see what I was doing, but nowhere near enough to read or do anything practical, the LED's red light made everything look strange to the point of distraction (Ack! What the hell is that? Oh, it's just a sock).

I have since pimped it out, with (seemingly) higher capacity batteries (Radio Shack #386), a "white" LED, and a reflector (circular section of a metalized plastic bag used for static sensitive electronic parts) to help make some use of the wasted light shining straight up into the lantern top.

Now, in this nearly useful state, it hangs inside my 2 man tent at the peak, right next to a nearly useful zipper-pull thermometer (yes, it's bright enough and near enough that I can read the wildly inaccurate thermometer). Now, when I need a little light in my tent to do something (like look for my flashlight, heh), I can reach right up and turn this baby on. It certainly doesn't make enough light to read a book by, but it does function nicely as a tent nightlight. That is, it's bright enough to see stuff, but not so bright that it will likely wake a tent mate.

UPDATE 02-27-07:
From a PM I received on Candlepower Forums a short time ago today comes this:

I have the model...and its previous model that uses a tiny incandescent bulb

bought it about 3+ years ago from Home Depot for $10 a pair, you mentioned GP189 as the battery type. I've replaced the cells in mine many times, I use Energizers LR54 for replacement...rated at 1.5v 50 mah each. GP189 is also known as Maxell LR1130 or AG10

It's cute to look at.
Might be fun for older kids, or for collectors of Coleman merchandise.

Utterly useless as far as light output goes.
Easily broken if sat or stepped on.
Hard to find batteries (have you ever heard of GP189 cells?).

          MANUFACTURER: Unknown, licensed to Coleman
          PRODUCT TYPE: Novelty keychain light
          LAMP TYPE: LED, 5mm, red
          No. OF LAMPS: 1
          BEAM TYPE: 360, negligible beyond several inches
          SWITCH TYPE: Rotary on/off
          BEZEL: Transparent plastic globe
          BATTERY: 2 GP189 watch batteries
          CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Not yet measured
          WATER RESISTANT: Yes (splash-resistant at minimum)
          ACCESSORIES: Swivel hook with split ring, batteries
          WARRANTY: Unknown/to be determined


Coleman novelty LED lantern *

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