Is Caesars Man Worth Big Bucks On Ebay?

Well, it's happening again. Instead of using their heads and basing their pricing of a discontinued masculine frag on the rate of inflation, merchants are pulling insane prices straight out of their asses. I saw this thread on basenotes, which rightly asks why prices for Caesars Man cologne have skyrocketed, and once again, I have no answers.

When a cheap and readily available frag is discontinued, merchants ought to follow a simple formula for post-market pricing. Instead of basing the price on what it was last sold for, you base it on its price when first released, and adjust for inflation. This is how you find a fair price. Let's assume Caesars Man was sold for $25 back in 1988. It's a resort brand, a popular casino, and thus a relatively specialized release. For the time, $25 would be considered pricy, but not "luxe." I think it's a reasonable guess that they wanted at least this much for 4 ounces of it.

Now adjust for inflation. Twenty-five dollars in 1988 adjusts to $54 in 2018. There's your discontinued Caesars Man price. Bottles ought to now sell for $54.48, to be precise. So why am I seeing them on eBay for $229? Why are they pricing this cheapie at Creed price points? Where are these numbers coming from? The average merchant wants $145 on eBay, and some are asking $150 and $170. At least one wants an insane $238, with shipping. Is this fragrance even remotely worth this sort of coin? Of course not.

I've only ever sampled it at discount stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx, and I can tell you it's a blatant clone of Drakkar Noir. It's nice stuff, but nothing original. It's a cheap, old-school fougère. We should refrain from entertaining eBay fantasies about it being worth anything more than $60. It's just not original enough for big bucks. Not to mention it smells pretty synthetic. This isn't a "natural" version of Drakkar Noir. It's just another synthetic green fougère that guys have been buying for $9 at Marshalls for years.

In comparison, 3.3 oz bottles of Francesco Smalto Pour Homme are selling for $79 to $129, and that one is far more natural and distinctive. Also, it's been discontinued for much longer, and it was released a year before Caesars Man. I'm fairly sure FSPH was priced around $30 for the large bottle in 1987, which makes its inflation value $68 today. You can get a 1.7 oz bottle for less than that ($54), which is a little high, but not ridiculous - I would think that size would have sold for half that much back in the day.

Lomani Pour Homme, which is a decent alternative, is still available for $8 on several sites. It's a perfectly reasonable fougère in the Drakkar Noir style, with perky green top notes and a shave-creamy mid, but it dries down to a hollow and overly simple moss note, and thus isn't something I kept in my collection. And of course, you can still buy Drakkar Noir for around $40, and get the original scent without any embellishment, so why even bother with cheap clones?

If there's one thing that makes no sense in the fragrance world, it's seeking out cheap clones of a scent that's cheap to begin with. Looking to make crazy bank on something like Caesars Man suggests people are using customer ignorance for cost calibration, and I find that practice despicable.


A Tale of Two Bay Rums

Guess which one sucks.

I recently bought a bottle of Lucky Tiger Bay Rum, and tried it out. I can safely say that Lucky Tiger is currently being run by those useless Millennials I mentioned a few months ago in my Old Spice post. How do I know this, you might ask? Because Lucky Tiger Bay Rum smells absolutely nothing like bay rum. It smells crisp, and powdery, and "fresh," but has no discernible notes of bay or rum in its formula. It's basically a generic aftershave with a hint of powder in the drydown, and some vague green floral note that I can't make out.

This prompted me to sigh in frustration, and pull out my bottle of Clubman Virgin Island Bay Rum, which I consider a "reference bay rum" of sorts, due to the clarity of its notes, which are rendered in a traditional fashion. VIBR also has the advantage of about an hour of longevity on a temperate day (a bit more or less depending on the season), so it's a perfect measuring stick for other bay rums. I compared it to Lucky Tiger, and it's night and day. Where LT smells watery and only the slightest bit piquant, VIBR is bursting with cinnamon, clove, sweet rum, and heady bay notes.

Perhaps the most offensive thing about Lucky Tiger's aftershave is its pedigree; the brand dates back almost a hundred years, and its bay rum is supposed to be a robust throwback to the 1950s, when this particular style enjoyed a Rennaissance. Instead it smells like a 30 yr-old doof had no clue what bay rum is, and created a brief sometime in the 2000s that was equal parts puzzling and easy to fill. It smells like someone mixed a few drops of "green" with a few drops of "powder," and called it a day. It's like they bottled the smell of laziness.

For your own reference, consider VIBR a "can't go wrong" bay rum that can be had for less than $10, and which always works, regardless of the weather or circumstances. If you need something similar but much weaker, you can try Royall Bay Rum, or Lustray Bay Rum Compound, which literally lasts a minute before vanishing (your girlfriend might get a faint whiff when she comes in for a kiss, but otherwise forget it). If Lucky Tiger is on your radar, just know that it's not a bad smell, and it works fine as an aftershave, but it sure ain't no bay rum.


Irisch Moos Eau de Toilette (Mäurer & Wirtz)

This is a tricky fragrance. I've been wearing it for a week now, and have come to the conclusion that there's two ways to think about it. I could be super picky, parse through all the notes, break down accords piece by piece, and focus on the quality of the aroma chemicals that were used, and if I do it that way, I'll wind up with a review similar to the one I posted on Fragrantica. When I obsess over every stage and every accord, it kind of smells like a leather chypre that morphs into a green floral, before finally settling into a drugstore oriental, not unlike Old Spice.

But the other way to approach Irisch Moos is to appreciate the forest for the trees, and just shift my mental gears away from the question, "How is this barbershop?" Because when I first smelled this fragrance, its structure felt very eclectic as a "barbershop" scent, with too many notes and disparate olfactory concepts clashing. A couple days ago I wore it again, and this time it clicked in my brain: Irisch Moos is not a barbershop scent. It's supposed to be. It uses Irish visuals and the color green to imbue the buyer with a sense that he's purchasing an old-school "moss scent" aftershave from the sixties, back when brands like English Leather and Skin Bracer were releasing "moss" aftershaves of their own. Hey, Irisch Moos was just Germany joining the trend, right?

Wrong, totally, totally wrong. It has nothing to do with that old barbershop trope. When I shift gears and get very literal with what I smell, Irisch Moos reveals itself to be Mitsouko done on the cheap. This is an old-fashioned French chypre in the Guerlain mode - a massive slug of bergamot up top that pervades the entire drydown, a pine-like dusting of cistus labdanum soon after, which settles into a hefty wallop of synthetic oakmoss (actually a somewhat competent reconstruction) in the base, with a generous array of floral notes buttressing everything. It actually resembles the much dryer and "manlier" Aramis in the first ten minutes of wear, but rapidly softens into a feminine variation of the fruity chypre theme popularized by Guerlain in the 1900s.

When it hit me, I thought, "Holy shit, they've been selling this thing to guys for decades, and it's a Katherine Hepburn-in-Herringbone chypre." Then I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne, and realized that the great barbershop fragrances of a bygone era were feminines in disguise. Let's face it, Old Spice was a tweaking of Tabu, and English Leather was merely another sweet chypre that would have gone to the girls at any other price. So yeah, Irisch Moos smells pretty good, but also smells cheap, and the spicy clove and carnation in the dry down haven't won me over yet.

Lastly, the name is wrong. This isn't about Ireland. This type of scent is one hundred percent French. It should be called "French Mousse." But whatever.