This small lantern has 30 LEDs, making it very bright for its size. It runs on 3 AA cells (not included). It's got a 4.7 star rating on Amazon with over 2,600 reviews. A good deal at $10!
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The Guardian rounds up half a dozen brilliant picture books where girl characters defy stereotypes: Princess Daisy and the Dragon by Steven Lenton; The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp; The Princess and the Pony by Kate "Hark! A Vagrant!" Beaton; The Fairytale Hairdresser, by Abie Longstaff; Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood; and the forthcoming I'm a Girl!, by Yasmeen Ismail.
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Meet the SKEYE Nano Drone ($34.99), the shockingly agile and tiny flying machine, perfect for airborne stunts (like figure 8s, banking turns, flips, etc) both indoors and out. The Nano Drone provides high thrust, low weight, and has incredibly responsive controls that are complemented by advanced hardware to give the Nano Drone outstanding stability and maneuverability.
- RTF (ready to fly) technology
- 6-axis flight control system w/ adjustable gyro sensitivity
- Extreme portability
- Rotor protection guard for beginner-friendly piloting
- 3 distinct flight modes: beginner, advanced pilots, and seasoned flight veterans
- Stable & easy to fly
- Aerobatic “flip” capability
- LED lights for night flights
Irotoridori, described as a “color palette puzzle” on the box, is a sudoku board game where the numbers have been replaced with colors. It uses sturdy, plastic bird shaped paint drops and a board shaped like an artist’s palette to add a physical dimension to a brain game. It’s great for solo play or for small groups; I’ve found that while it is safe for elementary school children, it’s middle school ages and up that really enjoy the game.
Inside the Irotoridori box, you’ll find 81 birds, nine of nine colors each, a clip for picking up the birds that looks like a tube of paint, and the board itself. The birds are bright, solid plastic, and have numbers imprinted on the back, just in case you’d like to add a level of difficulty to your game. Along with these game pieces, there is a booklet with 24 puzzles and solutions.
Although the instructions are written entirely in Japanese, if you can play Sudoku (and you can) then you’ll understand this set easily enough. (For anyone who may not be familiar, sudoku is a puzzle system where the goal is to arrange groups of numbers such that there are no repeating numbers in any row, column, or square. Like many puzzles, it is easy to learn to play but becoming a master takes a lifetime.) The printed puzzle booklet uses pictures to show each layout and solution. For those who want the challenge, the Japanese printed inside the box is written at a grade school level with furigana over the kanji to aid in pronunciation and meaning!
Irotoridori is a perfect game for those grey-skied, rainy days when you or your young ones are stuck inside. Set up the board, line up the colours, and have some fun! – Joel Neff
Ages 10 and up, 1-3 players
$25 Buy a copy on Amazon
Most of the really great construction sets are rectangular in shape, or they obey rigid angles. Lego, Kapla Blocks, Kinnex, or Zomeworks are fabulous kits that foster open-ended creativity. But they all tend toward very rectilinear structures. ZOOB is the first construction set I’ve seen that encourages organic, free-flowing builds. There are five basic ZOOB shapes centered on a ball-and-socket connection. When you click them together you have full 180-degree freedom in how the connection is oriented, leading to creations that are curvy, complicated, or ones that repeat like vertebrate in a spine, or carbons on a chain, or even amino acids on DNA. I was surprised by how sophisticated you could make the forms; you may need a bit of patience to get complex ones to fit perfectly (note to 8-year olds). In fact the force and precision needed to assemble pieces may be beyond toddlers, but school kids should have no problem. The plastic pieces are largish, unlike lego, so the finished forms can be quite hefty.
Ages 6 and up, 125 pieces
$20 Buy a copy on Amazon
Over the weekend, my 12-year-old daughter and I used our Plugable USB Handheld Digital Microscope to get a close-up look some of the stuff around the house. It's an excellent microscope, especially considering the low price ($35). Another other great thing about a USB microscope is that you don't have to take turns looking at the specimen - everyone in the room can see it on the computer display at the same time. That makes it so much more fun. And you can easily take photos and movie to share with other people. The image above is a rubber clown nose.
I like this microscope so much that I talked to the folks at Plugable and asked them to become a sponsor of our Weekend of Wonder extravaganza (WoW) on September 18-20 in Southern California. The kindly agreed, and now everyone who attends is going to get one of these super cool scopes, courtesy of Plugable! We will have a gross-out contest at WoW with these scopes, so start thinking about the yuckiest thing we can look at.
Here are a few of the things we looked at:
Ball point pen (250X)
Ball point pen (50X)
Sharpie dot on paper
Comic book cover
White stuff on a tree leaf
Tiny scab on Jane's leg
Levi's denim jean fabric
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Just the mention of his name triggers a reaction. In 1965 after seeing Roth’s wild customized hot rods, Tom Wolfe spontaneously wrote an Esquire article about him in a new, wigged-out and crazy writing style, New Journalism: "There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm)…" Crazy, man! Although Rat Fink's creator died in 2001, Ed Roth lives on in the hearts and minds of a generation.
There have been a number of books written about Ed Roth, including Confessions of a Rat Fink, which he wrote himself completely in beatnik jive, but I think this book by Pat Ganahl is the best by far. You'll DROOL over the great color photos of all the cars, along with a bolt-by-bolt run down on the construction and components. And they’re all there, from Roth’s modest early '32 Ford hot rods to his later insanely asymmetrical, metal-flaked, bubble-topped show cars, to motorcycles and dragsters. It’s baroque “rolling sculpture,” baby!
Your eyes will BUG OUT over the photos from Roth's own collection of family pics, candid in-progress at-the-shop snapshots and posed publicity stills. Who else could pull off wearing a top hat and tails, or a chromed Nazi helmet, or film director’s beret, or overalls with a lumpy felt Rat Fink hillbilly hat – and always with a crazy smile?
You’ll go WILD reading the real story of working with Revell on the weirdo and custom car models, including interviews with his staff. There’s plenty from artist and Juxtapoz-creator Robert Williams, an early Roth collaborator who did the art for the T- Shirts and print ads. Custom cars and vehicles, models and toys, comics, T-shirts, decals, skateboards, trashcans – with his just-make-it approach, what didn’t Roth create?
And there are lots of great anecdotes on Roth's life. Although he was quite intimidating and took no crap from anyone (and faced down many a Hell’s Angel biker!), Roth was known to be generous, kind-hearted, and he even taught Sunday school in the Mormon Church. No FLIES on him! I think every Roth fan and fink will like this crazy book. Or as Ed Roth said: “Can ya’ dig it?” – Robert Knetzger
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth: His Life, Times, Cars and Art
by Pat Ganahl
2003, 192 pages, 10.5 x 10.5 x 0.8 inches
$28 Buy one on Amazon
I love all of the boxed postcard collections that are being published these days. There's something of a resurgence of interest in mail art, snail mail correspondence, zines, and other mail-borne art forms and these postcard boxes might be a reflection of that. The amazing font designers, House Industries, published a postcard collection of their fonts a year ago and Princeton Architectural Press has recently published the Animal Box of animal-themed postcard art from celebrated artists.
Keep Fresh Stay Rad, also from Princeton Architectural, is a collection of typography-themed cards (many hand-drawn) from Friends of Type, a loose-knit collective of New York and San Francisco artists and designers. I reviewed the group's wonderful Let's Go Letter Hunting notebook on Wink Books. These postcards make a perfect companion to that book. You could have a lot of fun re-drawing the letterforms from the Keep Fresh postcards in your Letter Hunting journal. Everything about this product is lovely, from the colorful and vibrant thick-board storage box, to the theme tabs that organize the cards (with plenty of room for your own cards), to the sweet little typography “zine” inside. And, of course, the 100 funky and fun postcards themselves. The cards in the box are divided into themes, including Salutations, Encouragement, Affection, Strong Language – there are ten themes in all.
One criticism I have of the set is that the card stock is rather thin, not traditional postcard thickness. Also, it's great that the box is roomy enough to store additional cards, but because the Keep Fresh cards are on thin stock, they are already slightly bowed, even with the cardboard spacer that comes in the box. These are minor criticisms, though, given the overall goodness that can be had here for under $18. I'm looking forward to doing some mail art using these cards as a background.
Keep Fresh Stay Rad Postcard Box
by Friends of Type
Princeton Architectural Press, 100 cards
$17 Buy one on Amazon
Singaporean toymaker Michael Sng made Boudicca, a T1 Training Colossus -- a 3D-printed robot tank with 400 custom parts and servos controlled by an Arduino.
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My daughter got a Mini OgoSport Discs set as a gift last March and we finally broke it open last week. It has quickly tied first place with bocce ball as our new favorite outdoor summer game. Like miniature portable trampolines, these 12-inch discs can send the “ball” (a rubber stringy pom) bouncing higher than a hundred feet and are perfect for a game of Ogo-style volleyball (volleying without a net or formal rules). You can also throw a disc like a Frisbee, or play it like paddle ball without the attached elastic string. Lightweight and small enough to toss into a backpack, I look forward to packing it up the next time we head for the beach.
Mini OgoSport Discs
by Ogo Sport
$28 Buy one on Amazon
Get the max bang for your buck with this robust, super-slim power bank packed with 18,000mAh of battery juice ($29.99). Charge your smartphone, tablet, or both at the same time, so you can stay charged on the road.
- Lightweight & compact
- Two USB charging stations
- Rechargeable 18,000mAh battery
- Sleek aluminum case