Boing Boing 

Build a top quality kinetic Rhinoceros Mini-Beest from a kit

Dutch engineer and artist Theo Jansen has created the most amazing kinematic sculptures, which he refers to as life forms. The incredibly ingenious mechanical linkages are powered by compressed air, harvested from the wind. They are made of PVC pipe, recycled bottles, and scrounged wood from shipping pallets. From a pile of junk, Jansen creates articulated multi-legged beasts which run free on the beaches of Holland. (Okay, amazing is a word that is thrown around a lot, but here is your proof.)

The astounding and huge creature that you see at 5:00 into the video is the inspiration for this excellent book/kit sold by EDU-TOYS. This combination assembly kit and booklet includes the plastic parts engineered by the Japanese educational product producer Gakken and a new 24-page English language booklet. You’ll get fascinating photos of Jansen and his various creations in their natural environment as well as well-written and illustrated instructions. And you’ll need them! The kit has over 130 parts, which at first seems a little intimidating. However, simply follow the clear line drawings for each step of assembly and the sequence and logic to the parts become clear.

The engineering and molding is top quality with polished molds and flash-free parts. No glue or tools are needed. All the press fittings are snug, the snap junctions crisp, and the gears mesh perfectly with seemingly no friction. You’ll appreciate all the attention to detail when you finish the build: place the Mini Rhino on a flat surface and gently blow on the squirrel cage fan. The beest comes to life and walks across the table! The multi-link legs are driven by a central camshaft as the drive gears spin smoothly. WOW! What’s also nice is because it’s a kit you assemble yourself, you’ll have a feeling of accomplishment and a full understanding of how the clever design works (not something you’d get by simply buying an assembled version).

Rhinoceros Mini-Beest Science Kit
by Elenco
Ages 8 and up, over 130 parts, includes 24-page science booklet
$25 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages at Wink.

Exotic polyhedra: RPG dice made from carbon fiber, marble, bourbon barrels


Beyond wolly mammoth ivory dice, a whole multiverse of polyhedra cast and carved from exotic woods, metals and stranger substances still, from Artisan Dice.

There's carbon fiber dice, white marble, gator jawbones (combined with resin for added resilience); bourbon barrel staves and more.

But they don't have my favorite high-ticket D20: the one made from sky-metal.

Just remember: if you don't shame your dice, they'll never learn.

Drool-worthy dice for discerning rollers [Michael Franco/Cnet]

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Fury Road badge-set


These 1.25" Fury Road badges are $11.36 for a set of 7 (also available as magnets!) (via Geeky Merch)

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Bionic Bird: a cat-foolin', smartphone-controlled ornithopter

Kyosho's $150 Bionic Bird is a smartphone-controlled ornithopter that is birdlike enough to fool a cat (or at least, the cat is pretending to be fooled).

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Star Wars Storyboards – see what changed between conception and the screen

Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy gives you a peek behind the curtain into the making of three movies set long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. This beautifully printed book takes the reader from the very first shot of a Star Destroyer coming directly overhead to the very last shot of a celebration on the Forest Moon of Endor. In between, there are rescues, space battles, Jedi training, Jabba the Hutt, speeder bike chases, and lightsaber battles. This is, in other words, Star Wars shot by shot, frame by frame.

Fans will recognize the story beats, of course, but one of the joys of a book like this is seeing what changed between conception and the screen. Certain characters, like Chewbacca and C-3PO, underwent radical revisions even in the course of storyboarding a single movie, while others, like Darth Vader, went through fewer, yet still noticeable changes over the course of a few pages. Likewise, seeing deleted scenes and certain scenes laid out differently from the edited sequence of the finished films bring a sense of joy and re-discovery to fans who have seen these films countless times over the years.

One of the most striking aspects of the book is the sheer variety of pen and ink art styles contained in the storyboards. Color is used sparingly, but stunningly on a few pieces. The storyboards are presented unaltered with stains, notes, re-dos, and all. Commentary from the original artists provides insights and anecdotes of the creative processes that went into creating the movies. Altogether, the book is a veritable course on filmmaking that will be of interest to Star Wars fans, artists, film-makers, and book-lovers alike. – Joel Neff

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy
by J.W. Rinzler (editor)
Harry N. Abrams
2014, 352 pages, 9.5 x 12.2 x 1.2 inches
$30 Buy one on Amazon

Scalzi's latest Old Man's War novel hits shelves today!

It's called The End of All Things, and it's book six in the series (here's my review of book one); he's touring it all over the USA.

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Cthulhu pint glasses


Jeffery Woods is a glassmaker who sells his custom-etched/painted glassware on Etsy, including these Cthulhu-inpsired tentacle pint glasses, $65 for four.

War Boy bandanas


Matthew "Gianteye" Borgatti, creator of the Guy Fawkes bandana and dangly lockpick earrings, has done it again with the $20 War Boy Bandana: "YOU WILL RIDE INTO VALHALLA SHINY AND CHROME!"

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Girl Sex 101: "for EVERYone who wants to bone down with chicks, regardless of your gender/orientation."


Oh Joy Sex Toy reviews Girl Sex 101, "an indispensable resource for EVERYone who wants to bone down with chicks, regardless of your gender/orientation."

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Felicia Day's "You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)"

Felicia Day's memoir You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) starts off as a cute, snarky story about how a quirky upbringing turned Day into a nerd superhero; by the end, it's become an illuminating, frank look at the commercial realities, injustices and insecurities that everyone trying to earn a living online must confront.Read the rest

Olympians Zeus, Athena, Hera, Poseidon, Hades and Aphrodite are each featured in this beautiful 6-volume boxed set

When I was a teen, I really wanted to like Greek mythology, but the complexity of the pantheon and some of the absurdities of the stories lost me rather than sucked me in. I quickly became confused and bored. Over the years, I've gained a greater appreciation and understanding of classical mythology, but I haven't gone back to try and relearn everything I couldn't retain in school. Until now, thanks to George O'Conner's impressive Olympians box set.

The set contains six volumes, Zeus (King of the Gods), Athena (Warrior Goddess), Hera (Goddess of the Air, Sky, and Heavens), Poseidon (God of the Sea), Hades (Lord of the Dead), and Aphrodite (Goddess of Love). Each one runs 85 pages, and besides the origin story (and a few other key tales) for each god, there are also author notes, a summary of the key characters in each book, a recommended reading list, and even a series of discussion questions. The author and publisher definitely designed these books to be taught to young people and I would definitely recommend them to teachers, home schoolers, and students who want to learn of the “august residents of Mount Olympus” (as the back cover puts it) in a fun and resonant way. These books are really beautifully illustrated and produced. Most of the book covers include spot foil stamping. The Zeus cover is seriously cool, with the silver lightning in his hands actually flashing dramatically as you move the cover to catch the light. I dare you to hold this book in your hands and not want to move it around and make thunder sounds like a ten year old (OK, maybe that's just me).

The six volumes come in a handsome slipcase, which also includes a large full-color poster of the pantheon on one side and an extensive Olympian family tree on the other. Although these books are in comic book form, with spare dialog, they still manage to pack in a lot of story and paint a fairly complete portrait of each god. I wish I'd had these books when I was a kid.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Olympians Boxed Set
by George O'Connor
First: Second
2014, 480 pages, 7.6 x 10.2 x 1.6 inches (paperback)
$36 Buy one on Amazon

Gorgeous nerdy textiles


Detroit's Cyberoptix make hundreds of beautiful, nerdy textiles: linen library due-date scarves (also available as silk ties); bandana print neckties; chemical warfare ties; civil defense med-kit scarves; notebook-paper silk pocket squares (also scarves) and felted wool neckties -- all made to order in a wide variety of colors!

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The Princess and the Pony, from Kate "Hark a Vagrant" Beaton

It was a safe bet that Kate "Hark! A Vagrant! Beaton's first kids' picture book would be amazing, but The Princess and the Pony is incredible.

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This small intelligent orb guesses what object you are thinking of in 20 questions

This tennis ball-size orb knows what you are thinking. Most of the time it will guess what you have in mind after asking you twenty yes/no questions. It is eerily smart, and slightly addictive. The toy is remarkable. Because it is so small, so autonomous, its intelligence is shocking to the unprepared. Most children can’t stump it, and if you stick to objects it will stump smart adults about 80% of the time with 20 questions and most of the time with an additional 5 questions. I love to watch people’s reactions when they think of a “hard” thing, and after a seemingly irrational set of questions you are convinced are dumb, the sly ball tells you what you had in mind. (For instance, it can correctly guess “flying squirrel” without asking “does it fly?”) People who play chess machines won’t be surprised, but just about everyone else will be tickled. It feels like the future. But right now, for fourteen bucks, you can get an amazing little artificial intelligence, about as smart as an insect — but an insect which specializes in guessing what object you are thinking of. And in that part of the brain, it’s smarter than you are.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

20Q Deluxe
by Techno Source
Ages 7 and up
$14 Buy a copy on Amazon This link is for 20Q Deluxe, a newer version from the photos above

Robert Charles Wilson's The Affinities: when science changes everything

Amara's Law states, "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run" -- Robert Charles Wilson's gripping conspiracy novel The Affinities brings the experience of that process to life.Read the rest

Crossbow pistol – a powerful weapon that is great fun for target practice

I bought this crossbow pistol because my family’s favorite character on The Walking Dead, Daryl Dixon, uses a crossbow to take out zombies, and we thought it would be fun for target practice. It was only about $25, and I didn’t expect it to be very powerful, but I was wrong. A bolt shot from this thing could kill someone. It easily penetrates plywood. I’m not sure if a bolt could go through someone’s skull, but it would definitely lodge itself in a leg, arm, abdomen, or neck.

If you buy this, give it the same respect you would a firearm. It’s not a toy, but it sure is fun. That said, I don't think anyone under the age of 18 should use it without adult supervision.

It doesn’t require a lot of effort to cock it, but a smaller kid would not be able to figure out how to do it. The safety automatically engages when you cock it, thankfully. The crossbow comes with three aluminum (very sharp) bolts. You can buy a pack of 36 additional bolts for $12.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

80lb Draw Crossbow Pistol
By Ace Martial Arts
$26 Buy one on Amazon