Earth, 2147. The legacy of the Metal Wars, where man fought machines—and machines won. Bio-Dreads — monstrous creations that hunt down human survivors... and digitize them!In 1987, before he created Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski was a writer for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, a live-action sci-fi show for kids. 24 episodes were produced. Straczynski wrote or co-wrote 14 of them, including multi-episode plot arcs. A line of interactive toys brought the battle into kids’ living rooms, and Captain Power was also one of the very first shows on television to feature computer animation in every episode. But in an attempt to appeal to both children and the adults who watched with them, the campy show included some concepts and scenes critics deemed too violent for children and lasted only a single season in syndication. The full run of the show has now been uploaded to Youtube. [more inside]
The Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection, given to Indiana University in 2006, is now online, with images and descriptions of some 24,000 puzzles, from an 18th century Japanese puzzle to nearly 300 kinds of Rubik's Cubes. [more inside]
The Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (Geiger counter sold separately) was one of many rad atomic toys available for inquisitive young minds living in the US.
Here is Jeff Sanders, who builds things with Legos. Round things. Here's his blog, featuring videos of his work. Here's a Discovery News post on Sanders, with more pictures of his work. This Oregon Live article shows more round Lego creations on his wall.
"Over the years, Lego has had five strategic initiatives aimed at girls. Some failed because they misapprehended gender differences in how kids play. Others, while modestly profitable, didn’t integrate properly with Lego’s core products. Now, after four years of research, design, and exhaustive testing, Lego believes it has a breakthrough. On Dec. 26 in the U.K. and Jan. 1 in the U.S., Lego will roll out Lego Friends, aimed at girls 5 and up.... "The Lego Friends team is aware of the paradox at the heart of its work: To break down old stereotypes about how girls play, it risks reinforcing others. “If it takes color-coding or ponies and hairdressers to get girls playing with Lego, I’ll put up with it, at least for now, because it’s just so good for little girls’ brains,” says Lise Eliot." From Businessweek (print link, above; via BoingBoing), an interesting look at Lego's new girl-oriented initiative.
"Here at GeekDad we review a lot of products — books, toys, gadgets, software — and I know it’s impossible for most parents to actually afford all of the cool stuff that gets written up... [W]hile we love telling you about all the cool stuff that’s out there, I understand that as parents we all have limited budgets and we sometimes need help narrowing down our wishlists. So to help you out, I’ve worked really hard to narrow down this list to five items that no kid should be without. All five should fit easily within any budget, and are appropriate for a wide age range so you get the most play out of each one. These are time-tested and kid-approved!"
The Seven Worst Gifts for Children! This year’s list of the worst toys is brought to you by plastics, those bright synthetic polymers that threaten to overtake the living rooms of middle-class parents.
Make Magazine has released its Ultimate Kit Guide which rates 175 DIY kits. Kits like the: 6-in-1 Solar Robot Kit, the Infrared Jammer Kit, the KaraKuri Somersault Doll kit, the Loud Objects Noise Toy Kit. But best of all you will find the astounding MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer. "The Thing-O-Matic is a breakthrough in 3D printing technology. The Thing-O-Matic prints thing after thing, it's completely automated! You hit print and the machine does all the work. Want to print 100 butterflies? Easy. Want to print an entire chess set? No problem. Buy it, assemble it, and enjoy being the first on your block to live in the cutting-edge personal manufacturing future of tomorrow!" [more inside]
Address is Approximate. "A lonely desk toy longs for escape from the dark confines of the office, so he takes a cross country road trip to the Pacific Coast in the only way he can – using a toy car and Google Maps Street View."
On the eve of the show's second season debut, My Little Ponies creative director and former showrunner Lauren Faust was kind enough to grant a retrospective interview looking back at season 1. (Previously, previously and previously.)
"Hot Wheels, Nerf Balls, Spyrograph, View Masters... Remember any of those? Well, that’s the idea behind Jellio. Think of all those times that you flashed back to something from childhood, and it put a huge grin on your face. Well we think you can surround yourself with a few of those memories on a long-term basis."
Rorschmap slices and reflects images from Google Maps, creating kaleidoscopic cartography. [more inside]
Meet Bebe Gloton, the Breastfeeding Doll who's coming to America. The NY Times opines, Facebook users can't agree on whether it's good or bad, but what does God think?
Sephiroth the World's Enemy [SLYT] A Final Fantasy stop-motion video. Also: a behind the scenes look at the toys & animation, involved.
It was bound to happen eventually. After a quarter-century, 26 Academy Awards, and an unparalleled streak of eleven artistic and commercial triumphs, Pixar's latest project, Cars 2, is Certified Rotten. Critics have assailed the film as a slick but hollow vehicle for Disney's $10 billion-dollar Cars
merchandising industry "lifestyle brand," replacing the original's serviceable tale of small-town redemption with zany spy games, hyperactive chase sequences, and even more lowbrow aww-shucks potty humor from Larry the Cable Guy. But it's not all bad news! Along with a fun new Toy Story 3 short, preceding today's (3-D) premiere showings is a first look at next year's Brave -- a darkly magical original story set in ancient Scotland featuring the studio's first female lead (and director). Evocative high-res concept art [mirror] is available at the official website, and character sketches have leaked to the web, with the apparently striking teaser trailer sure to follow. Also, be sure not to miss the sneak peak of Brave's associated short, "La Luna"!
Poppin' Fresh | My Little Pony | Kewpie | Smiley | Barbie | Gingerbread Man | Ducky | Goldfish Sashimi | Jason Freeny is a New York City artist who has fun dissecting | video of how it's done | Previously about Moist Production. [more inside]
Mattel's Hot Wheels for Real campaign documents "the existence of a testing facility 'hidden for 43 years,' where all sorts of bad-ass driving happens on huge Hot Wheels tracks." Their first real world stunt: a Guinness world record 332 ft. jump off a giant orange track at this year's Indy 500.
The best word to describe it is probably “relentless,” in that it’s relentlessly cute, relentlessly happy, and relentlessly entertaining. In its own way, it reminds me of a movie like Singin’ In The Rain, in that both properties aim to overwhelm any cynicism directed at them via sheer and utter joyfulness. It seems like it should be easy to watch either property with an ironic sneer of detachment, but both utterly wear down all defenses. - The A.V. Club. My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic (previously) is the curiously addictive cartoon accompaniment to the famous girl's toy line. It just finished it's first season, and all of the episodes can be seen on YouTube (start here) and this all encompassing torrent. While intended for girls 6 through 8, the show has spawned a surprising additional fan base of young-adult men. Calling themselves bronies, they have created a staggering amount of fan material (check the blog Equestra Daily, chan Ponychan, and image dump Ponibooru) and turned the ponies into a widely pervasive meme, all with the apparent blessing of Hasbro. [more inside]
Kids know that the best toys are the ones you make from stuff that's lying around. Arvind Gupta's been doing this for three decades. Take a look at his Turbine bottle cap, Helicopter foam cup, Drinking straw flute, The CD hovercraft, Magic Paper Fan, Funny Fountain, Drinking Straw Centrifuge Pump, Climbing Butterfly. Or check out the rest of his 1000 videos(!). Go to his website and discover an armload of books and pamphlets describing more toys (some of them classic) along with science experiments, math activities and stories. A sample: The amazing Touching Slate, a drawing toy for blind children. Hands On - Science Sense, Hands On - Ideas and activities, Toy Joy, Little Science, The Toy Bag, Toy Treasures. Little Toys , Finally you can hear Arvind in person at TED.com giving career advice, showing off a dozen toy examples, demonstrating the structure of methane; telling a Large Hadron Collider joke and finishing with the wonderful "Captain's hat" story. [more inside]
PFC Rupert Valero is a U.S. soldier stationed in Afghanistan who makes amazing custom toy robots out of recycled materials.
Some people have claimed that Barbie is really about giving girls the image of an empowered woman. There can be little doubt of empowerment when it comes to Black Moses Barbie - she fights for freedom and has all the coolest playsets and accessories.
The cyclotrope is a cycle of 18 images that is spun at a certan speed so that the frame rate of the camera filming it gives the illusion of animation. Created and animated by tim wheatley. Like a Zoetrope or Phenakistoscope but using a bicycle wheel. [more inside]
The Easy-Bake Oven has inspired some children and mutilated others en route to being immortalized in The National Toy Hall of Fame. But with 100-watt incandescent light bulbs effectively prohibited from manufacture starting in 2012, the suprisingly versatile cooking instrument is being retired in favor of an "Ultimate" model powered by a non-bulb heating element.
Adorable amigurumi toys look on as a new friend crochets itself. [SLYT]
This Valentine's Day make love, not war... An Alabama sex shop is offering a handgun- for-sex-toy promotion for Valentine's Day. [more inside]
Filed under strangely fascinating: Popin' Cookin', powdered miniature sushi that one makes oneself and eats as a candy. Wait for the salmon roe at the end. There is a type of sweet in Japan that’s sold under the category of "intellectual education candy". These are sweets you must make yourself using the ingredients contained in the box. This way, children can enjoy the process of making candy, which allows them to develop their creativity. The non-edible version, Konapun. [more inside]
You may not be familiar with the name Mel Birnkrant, but if you've played with toys in the last 45 years, you're probably familiar with his work. [more inside]
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. A toy shilling re-imagining of an 80's cartoon show for little girls. It is sexist, racist, and homophobic. Or maybe not. It seems to be finding an audience among a periphery demographic, which some people seem to find a bit odd. [more inside]
The BBC and toy company Character Options will be putting a new Doctor Who themed series of construction toys on store shelves around the world in the next few months. Just when you thought Matt Smith and Karen Gillan couldn't get any cuter...
Bram Bos, maker of easy-to-use programs for making electronic music, has released all his old software for free download. Get some free VST instruments and samples from KVR Audio and make some music, or at least download Hammerhead and make some beats!
"no holds barred, no avenue in Toytown left untraveled, no chamber in the Castle Colorforms, unexplored..."
"From 1965 to 1971, we played together, inventing one thing or another.... But, like the bride of Bluebeard, there was one door I was not allowed to enter. That was the door marked “Colorforms”. That alone was off limits. Harry had invented Colorforms, the vinyl plastic pieces that stuck to a shiny surface. And he was convinced that there was no idea or application involving Colorforms, nor could there be, that he had not thought up already.... [H]e would entertain no further discussion on the subject. The very mention of “stick-ons” was off limits. The door to Colorforms was shut and bolted. Until 6 years later, through a curious set of circumstances, I broke it down once and forever." The Colorforms Years is Mel Birnkrant's illustrated history of two decades of ups and downs working with Colorforms, the first plastic-based creative toy and one of the first toys promoted in television commercials. [more inside]
Order your 1:1 scale replica Space Shuttle model today! (Shipping not included. Replica will not fly)
The Automata Blog is packed full of interesting images, videos and information about all kinds of amazing automata, cool machines, mechanical music, orchestrions and kinetic sculptures. This month's focus is the history of vintage Japanese tin toy robots and the toy robot paintings by Steven Skollar.
I'm Remembering has pics of things that people aged 30-40 will remember from their childhood and adolescence. Who could forget Tiger Handheld games, Hypercolor shirts, Paint With Water books, Surge soda, Scholastic Book Club, Slice cola, Madballs, Ring Pops, and, last but not least, Zack Morris's cellphone?
Tin Soldiers. Lead Soldiers. Plastic Army Men. But if you like your toy soldiers not so harmful to the environment and a little more do-it-yourself, you can get paper soldiers. Here are some Print-fantry soldiers you can download for free. [more inside]
Weirdo Toys started with a mix between Superman, Green Lantern, and good old fashioned racist characterization. Along the way it's found a demon lumberjack (ok, maybe not), action figures that should probably have never happened, cake decorations, real toys that look like knock offs, and a butt flashing pee boy. My favorites though are Super Spider-Man and Disney Transformers (part 2).
In a narrow plot next to the Los Angeles River, Charles Ray Walker, 59, has created a refuge of terraced slopes from toys and trash discarded by Angelenos.
It's his home away from homelessness.
It's his home away from homelessness.
A giant lego machine which builds a small lego airplane. A 10 min video of lego building lego... I couldn't make it through without fast-forwarding, but as a lego enthusiast, I was intrigued by the way the assorted pieces were provided to the machine and moved along to the final creation.
Looking for literary superheroes? Behold the awesome powers of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne! (SLYT)
Seven artists and their twitter streams.
Jeremiah Ketnet, Colin Johnson, Jason Limon, Dan May, Julie West, Kill Taupe, and Jonathan Bergeron. (many via)
Jeremiah Ketnet, Colin Johnson, Jason Limon, Dan May, Julie West, Kill Taupe, and Jonathan Bergeron. (many via)
17 Least Appropriate Playmobil Sets For Children : Yep. A randomly numbered list on which several items are questionable. But really, whoever approved #1 for production was more than a little bit twisted.