Eser Dominoes are an interesting proof of concept that won a juried award at the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival.
Blocks is a tiny synth system that fits in a laptop bag but looks like a ton of fun, with various modules that click together, weird touch- and pressure-sensitive rubbery keys and pads, and various "control" blocks for looping, recording, sequencing, and MIDI/USB connections to other gear.
Roli Blocks [Amazon]
Taking a break from painting portraits on peanuts, artist Steve Casino has created a wooden toy that literally made me laugh out loud when I saw it in his Instagram feed. He calls it a Pocket Pollock and it's fashioned after abstract painter Jackson Pollock. Like its namesake, the toy also makes abstract paintings. How? Well, just watch the video.
My quest for an inflatable tardigrade is yet to yield results, but they say the journey is the destination and I have discovered a plethora of inflatable unicorns along the way. This one is the best. It's quite expensive, at $43 shipped, but you can't cut corners when it comes to quality inflatables.
P.S. The inflatable unicorn wall head is just incredibly nasty, thanks to the uncannily realistic horse photo printed on it. Unless you're putting it in someone's bed as a warning, avoid.
Here is delightful factory footage from 1965 of Matchbox car manufacturing in the London Borough of Hackney. From Wikipedia:
The Matchbox name originated in 1953 as a brand name of the British die-casting company, Lesney Products, whose reputation would be moulded by John W. "Jack" Odell (1920–2007), Leslie Charles Smith (1918–2005), and Rodney Smith (hence the name Lesney, a portmanteau of Leslie and Rodney Smith's first names). Their first major sales success was the popular model of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation coach, which sold more than a million models. Shortly thereafter, Lesney co-owner Jack Odell created a toy that effectively paved the way for the company's future success. It was designed for his daughter: her school only allowed children to bring toys that could fit inside a matchbox, so Odell crafted a scaled-down version of the Lesney green and red road roller. This toy ultimately became the first of the 1-75 miniature range. A dump truck and a cement mixer completed the original three-model release that marked the starting point for the mass-market success of the Matchbox series. As a result of the inspiration for the toys' size, the idea was born to sell the models in replica matchboxes — thus yielding the name of the series. It also resulted in the description of the models' scales being "1:box" (as opposed to more mathematical scales such as 1:87, 1:64, or 1:43).
(via Laughing Squid)
Fox News reports that a girl in Texas nearly choked on a fidget spinner that she had put in her mouth. Her mom looked over to see the child red-faced and drooling, and had to rush her to hospital to get the quarter-sized toy removed from her esophagus.
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“From this I wish to offer some word of caution to parents,” Joniec posted. “Fidget spinners are the current craze so they are widely distributed. Kids of all ages may be getting them, but not all spinners come with age-appropriate warnings. The bushings pop out easily, so if you have young kids (under 8 yr old) keep in mind that these present a potential choking hazard.”
The Loop-a-Lot is described by this YouTuber as a "crummy toy." Is it really crummy? Well, it probably didn't keep kids amused for more that 45 seconds. So, it probably is crummy.
The purpose of the toy is to balance pennies on points inside cutouts of a paddle while you spin it around your finger. You could make one out of a piece of cardboard in a couple of minutes.
The manufacturers knew this toy would be a hard sell, so they resorted to the desperate ploy of incorporating a suit-wearing, roller skating monkey into the commercial. Read the rest
Oskar Stalberg (previously) made Brick Block, a fun online 3D toy that lets you design surreal blocky houses. You can spin the scene to any degree and have it generate random houses. It's like the level editor for a Victorian-themed version of the classic cyberpunk game Syndicate.
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Red Lava Toys is a Detroit-based startup that make super cool, low-cost custom Minecraft figs at a local makerspace: they CNC-milled their own injection molds for the body and joints, and have precision die-cut vinyl stickers that they print to order with long-lasting ink and cover with a clear adhesive coat, then place them on the body of the toy. Read the rest
Midge is a semi-disavowed character in the Barbieverse, created in 1963 to counter claims that Barbie was oversexualized; weirdly, in 1982, Mattel made the decision to release a version of the doll, who appeared to be a young teen, as a pregnant lady, with a detachable bump containing an articulated foetus. Read the rest
The Canada Science and Technology Museum had the best worst idea of all time: they stripped the fur off a Tickle Me Elmo to show kids how it works.
Bonus video: a classic of the little robot demon afire:
Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, "Is this an object of commerce?" and "If so, where does one buy it?" (via Kottke) Read the rest