Boing Boing 

Boochie - a zany twist to the classic bocce ball yard game

Let the games begin! The zany games, that is. You'll find it with Boochie. Boochie is similar to bocce, but has many interactive and challenging elements. Instead of just tossing a ball toward the target, players must throw items in a variety of ways, such as under their legs, with their eyes closed, or lying on their side. And, the challenge is determined via a cool “wrist tracker.”

The game includes four sets, a different color for each player. Each set consists of a hoop, ball and wrist tracker. The game also includes a 12-sided Boochie ball. To start, everyone tosses their hoop and ball toward the Boochie ball. The player with the closest object to the Boochie ball earns two points; whoever has the second closest object receives one point. But wait, there’s more! Players read the top of the Boochie ball to see if they’ve earned bonus points, such as for a hoop being farthest away. For every point, players move the dial on their wrist tracker a notch, and on their next turn, must toss accordingly. The challenge might be anything from throwing their items while standing backwards to shouting a sound effect while tossing their hoop. Whoever scores 11 points first wins!

We love teaching this game to guests at our outdoor parties, and it’s always fun to not only play, but to watch everyone twist and turn, jump and, invariably, giggle. – Mia Geiger

by Gamewright
Ages 8 and up, 2-4 players
$30 Buy one on Amazon

See more photos at Wink Fun.

Roll-up floating pool-pad that supports up to 1300lbs

The largest-sized Aqua Lily Pad weighs 57lbs and unrolls to 20' long, and will support up to 1300lbs of sun-loungers, coolers, and people.

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Utility knife in a zipper-pull

Gerber's GDC Zip Blade measures 1.7" when closed and is intended to be used as a zipper-pull (it has a quick-release) -- the 0.68" blade locks open for a total length of 1.7" (there's also a multidriver and hexkey version) (via Canopy)

New York from space towel

From Schönstaub, who make the amazing sized-to-order celestial rugs, comes the NYC from space beach-towel.

Black Pearl Ship laser cut model kit

While this charming laser cut pirate ship isn’t technically a puzzle, it still provides enough of a challenge for puzzle lovers. Those 3D foam puzzles of famous landmarks have nothing on this Black Pearl model. First of all, I love that it doesn’t require any glue or tools like some other toy models do, although I found it much easier to bend the little tabs that hold everything together with a pair of jewelry pliers. Secondly, the end result is a metal pirate ship that is beautiful. The glistening sails and beautifully etched details make for a phenomenal home-made pirate ship without the builder needing to have painting skills, which I certainly don’t. A little bit of artistry is needed to get the right curve to the body and sails, but even a novice like me can handle it.

At first, I thought the metal pieces were going to be too fragile for my shaky, inexperienced hands, but they held up beautifully and were easy enough to put together that I only broke two pieces (by not reading the instructions and having to back track, bending them the wrong way too many times. Totally my fault). The package even comes with extras of the little tiny pieces in case they get lost during construction, which is rather thoughtful on the part of the manufacturer. My two broken pieces are hardly noticeable, and had I glued them back on, the model would have been perfect. I didn’t glue them, though, because it didn’t seem necessary – I’ll bet you can’t even see my mistakes unless someone points them out to you.

The detail and quality on this model is breathtaking. Just look at all those little windows, and the figurehead at the front of the ship! There’s even a little Black Pearl display stand (which I put together inside-out, then left it that way since I didn’t want to bend it too much) for holding the ship upright. All said and done, I’m incredibly pleased with both the building experience, which was just challenging enough to hold my interest without being frustrating, and the end result, which is now my favorite bookshelf adornment. I look forward to trying more Metal Earth models in the future! – Kitty Lusby

Metal Earth 3D Laser Cut Model: Black Pearl Ship
by Fascinations
Ages 14 and up, no solder or glue needed
$9 Buy one on Amazon

Upcycling with comics fabric makes for great nerdy women's wear

Hana from Unplugged Studio upcycles new and vintage clothes mixed with comics-themed prints to make great, nerdy women's wear: Wonder Woman lace thong, Captain America partially-lined tee, vintage Levi's TMNT shorts, vintage Marvel Wrangler shorts. (via Geeky Merch)

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Fire-pistons: start fires by compressing air

The Survival School Fire Piston is a gadget that uses a hand-pumped piston to compress air, creating enough heat to spark a bit of tinder.

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Can't You Stack Tama and Friends – a popular stacking and balance game in Japan

Can't You Stack Tama & Friends (or Tama and Friends Stackable Figurines) is a popular stacking and balance game in Japan. It consists of ten cute figures based on the ten main animal characters from the Tama & Friends comic and cartoon series. Although the instructions and packaging are all in Japanese, no knowledge of the language or of the characters' stories or history is needed to enjoy this set.

Tama is a cat. He's got yellow ears, a black spot over his left eye, and a huge crush on Momo. The rest of his friends are (from left to right and top to bottom as in the top photo above) Pochi, Gon, Kuro, Beh, Tama, Tora, Nora, Momo, Koma, and, finally, Buru the Bulldog. They are a bunch of lovable scamps who get into all kinds of mischief. Now that you know their names, you're ready to play.

Truthfully, there isn't much in the way of rules for this game. Basically, set one character down on a flat surface, then try really hard to balance another character atop the first. If you can do that, try another. And so on. The back of the box gives a few pictures as examples or challenges and for that, knowing the characters' names can be helpful, but there is no required order of stacking. However, don't let the simplicity of the set fool you. This is a real challenge.

The figures are made of high quality, durable plastic molded into a variety of sitting positions. The level of detail is quite striking, with eyes, mouths, paw pads, and collars or body markings clearly painted and visible on all sides of the figures. The paintwork itself makes the set exceptional. My set has been handled and used for several years no with no visible fading. Also, branding is kept to an absolute minimum and consists of a single mark on the back of the heads that must be felt more than seen.

But back to the gameplay – although sold as a game (in Japan at least), if this were a digital product it would be listed as a sandbox game. The rules just aren't that important. I've watched kids use the figures as action figures and I've seen them spend hours working out the best combinations to stack as many as possible as high as possible. In other words, use the rules or make up your own, either way, this set of figures is a lot of fun. – Joel Neff

Tama and Friends Stackable Figurines
Ages 6 and up, includes 10 figures
$30 Buy one on Amazon

A very dark, sumptuous, tripped-out take on the classic tale of Pinocchio

A dark noir rendering of the classic Italian children's novel, this tripped-out reimagining of Pinocchio comes from the fevered mind and hand of Winshluss. Pen name for Vincent Parannaud, Winshluss is the award-winning French artist and filmmaker perhaps best known for the animated feature, Persepolis, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes and was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Cannes' Palm d'Or, among others.

It's hard to express just how beautiful Pinocchio is. And how dark. Using pen and ink, watercolor and paint, and brilliantly style-checking Georges Méliès, Windsor McCay, Walt Kelly, Walt Disney, Zap! and decades of underground comic artists, Winshluss uses the basic tropes of Pinocchio (artificial boy, characters inside a whale, and Jiminy, here a cockroach) to frame and interweave several dark, often disturbing, tales. As the moods and motives of the narrative shift, so do the styles and colors of the art. Throughout, everything feels overcast, bone-damp, sooty, and rusted shut. This is a world overwhelmed with desperation and decay, death and naked human immorality.

In this telling of the tale, Pinocchio is not a puppet who becomes a boy, but a toy soldier built by Geppetto for servitude. And war. He and the book (with some exception) are speechless, and like a hapless Mr. Bill or Chauncey Gardner in Being There, Pinocchio becomes a sort of dumb foil for the dramas and characters interwoven throughout the book, at once comical and tragic. And unlike the original novel by Carlo Collodi, the main characters basically never interact, although Jiminy Cockroach lives inside of Pinocchio's hollow head and their interweaving stories impact each other (e.g. when Pinocchio gets “fired” from an assembly-line job for not producing enough toys and thrown into a furnace, Jiminy feels the heat). Perverse takes on Snow White, the Seven Dwarves, Bambi, and other Disney staples also make appearances.

I have reviewed several very post-modern comics on Wink, like Big Questions and Beautiful Darkness, that employ similar thematic and artist strategies (dark noir, referencing/coopting different artists, stories, and styles, exploring social issues through surreal, often wordless storytelling). But Winshluss' Pinocchio feels the most cinematic and affecting of them all. And have I mentioned how ridiculously beautiful this book is? One reviewer likened the “performance” of it to high opera. I can't think of a better allusion. Or bigger artistic compliment.

A very dark, sumptuous, tripped-out take on the classic tale of Pinocchio

by Winshluss
Last Gasp
2011, 192 pages, 10 x 12 x 1.2 inches
$31 Buy a copy on Amazon

3D printed steel Sonic Screwdriver pendant

In the style of the 11th Doctor, $26 from Niquegeek, whom we've featured here for their 3D printed Weighted Companion Cube dice. (via Geeky Merch)

Etch-a-sketch-ish pop-culture prints

Adam Lister's prints capture classic moments from fine art and popular culture, rendered in colored, overlapping rectangles.

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Last Man 2: epic French manga gets even better

In March 2015, Firstsecond books published its English translation of the first volume of Lastman, the spectacularly successful French martial arts comic; they're bringing out the rest of the books on an aggressive schedule, with Book 2: The Royal Cup coming out today.Read the rest

Aurora Monster Scenes: The Most Controversial Toys of a Generation

They had me at Aurora. Nothing so perfectly captures the secret origin of my imagination than the Aurora line of snap-tite models from the 1970s, especially the Prehistoric Scenes and monster models, with optional glow in dark parts. It was the lurid Monster Scene sets, however, that pried open my weird third eye (along with Creature Double Feature on my local UHF station and Famous Monsters of Filmland). These delightfully ghastly models included: Dr. Deadly, the igor-esque mad scientist; The Victim, a busty young woman whose only purpose is to be abducted and experimented on; Frankenstein, the misnamed monster to do Dr. Deadly’s bidding; Vampirella, the might-as-well-be-naked vampire whose role in all this is ambiguous; Gruesome Goodies, a laboratory of Tesla-like machinery, workbench, lab equipment and the requisite skull; The Pain Parlor, which includes an operating table, a skeleton, and inscrutable “pain” machine; The Pendulum, for slicing the Victim in half; and The Hanging Cage, a room of torture that even has hot coals and a tiny pincer. Later sets would include Dracula and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

I was too young to recognize anything here that might have been exploitive or inappropriate for a kid’s model set. Looking back, it’s hard to believe they were ever allowed on the shelves of a toy store. It’s no surprise then that the development of the toys was one part “Let’s do the craziest things we can think of...” and one part “but let’s not get parents upset.” To this end, Aurora worked out a smart business arrangement with James Warren of Warren Publishing who was an expert on how to market monsters to young people while staying away from controversy. Nevertheless, negative press, parent groups, and an unhappy parent company (Nabisco) led the quick shuttering of the line.

The book Aurora Monster Scenes is a loving and candid history of Aurora, the impetus and creative burst that went into designing these models, and the sad controversy that ensued. The book is lavishly illustrated with a remarkable collection of original design sketches, advertisements, photographs, and of course, images of the models themselves. The creatives at Aurora had nothing but the spirit of fun and a wink-and-nod to the burgeoning monster-craze that surrounded them at the time, but try as they might, there was very little they could do that would assuage parents’ fears of their kids putting the helpless female victim in the hanging cage and pretending to burn her with hot coals in preparation for the dissection in the Pain Parlor. But boy oh boy, did I love those tiny plastic test tubes.

Aurora Monster Scenes: The Most Controversial Toys of a Generation
by Dennis L. Prince and Andrew P. Yanchus
StarComm Publications
2014, 256 pages, 8.4 x 10.9 x 0.5 inches (paperback)
$29 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The Girl With the Parrot on Her Head

Daisy Hirst's picture book about friendship, loneliness and self-reliance is shot through with delightful absurdity and illustrated with enormous wit.

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Ultimate t-shirt for trolling science fiction fans

$20-26 from Offworld Designs. (via Diane Duane)

Flux Capacitor USB Car Charger

The $25 Back to the Future Flux Capacitor car-charger has two USB ports and does a fantastically bright light-show (which, thankfully, you can switch off).

Doctoral dissertation in graphic novel form

Columbia University awarded a doctorate in education to Nick Sousanis for Unflattening, a graphic novel about the relationship between words and pictures in literature.

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