The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

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Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. Read the rest

Boing Boing Gift Guide 2016

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Here's this year's complete Boing Boing Gift Guide: more than a hundred great ideas for prezzies: technology, toys, books and more. Scroll down and buy things, mutants! Many of the items use Amazon Affiliate links that help us make ends meet at Boing Boing, the world's greatest neurozine.

Gadgets / Books / Toys and Trivia Read the rest

The Swagger is my favorite new toy

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The company that invented the Swagway hover-board came out with an electric scooter called The Swagger and I love it.  This zippy, carbon fiber toy weighs only 15 lbs, is easily carried and has a small form factor when collapsed.

I work in a large, carpeted office and we use the Swagger to blow off steam after long meetings.   I've been riding around on it for a few weeks now and there is so much cool about this thing.

THE PROS

The Swagger is UL 2272 compliant, which means it’ll never burst into flames!The Swagger has a backlit digital display with an odometer, speedometer, 3 speeds and cruise control.  Why I’d need cruise control on this is beyond me but I’m glad it’s there!The factory set top speed of the Swagger is 15MPH and though is may not sound fast enough…it is. There’s even a way to lower the top speed if you'd like.The Swagger has a blindingly bright headlamp for night riding and the package as a whole looks and feels solid.The manufacturer, claims that a 1.5 hour charge will take you between 10-15 miles. I’m actually experiencing 5-7 but I think it's because I'm normally riding in the top gear at full throttle.

 

THE CONS

The $399.00 price tag is pretty steep for an office toy.   But if you live in a flat area and your commute to work is short, you should check it out.The Swagger doesn't go up hills very well.

But to me the pros far outweigh the cons and I’ll probably buy a second so that I can ride around with my wife.  Read the rest

One man's million dollar Hot Wheels collection

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Bruce Pascal's Hot Wheels collection is worth an estimated $1 million. Fifteen percent of the value though is in one car: a pink VW Beach Bomb Rear-Loader. (Barcroft TV)

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Ingenuity, defined

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Never let it be said that the crapgadget factories of the Pearl River Delta don't know how to recycle surplus/rejected material. Read the rest

Cubetto is a programmable robot for pre-schoolers

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I had a chance to play with a Cubetto recently. It's a little, wooden, happy face robot on two wheels. You can control which way it goes by inserting colorful plastic chips on programming board (which also has a wood top). There are four kinds of chips: turn clockwise, turn counterclockwise, move forward, and call subroutine. You unfold a mat with a grid of colorful squares and illustrations and set the robot on top of it. An included booklet presents challenges to move the robot from one square on the grid to another.

My wife, 13-year-daughter, and I are not the intended users of Cubetto, but we spent a very fun hour going through the challenges in the booklet and then coming up with our own challenges. My guess is that a kindergartner or pre=schooler would love this and learn a lot from it.

The overall product design is gorgeous, too. I wish the manufacturer, Primo, made consumer technology for grown-ups.

Cubetto costs $225 and can be purchased directly from the manufacturer. Read the rest

Fun book about toys of the '50s, '60s and '70s

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There are lots of books about baby boomer toys, but this fun collection is presented from the viewpoint of the kids who played with the toys and includes lots of personal memories and photographs. Sure, there are many interesting facts and histories about well-known toys and their creators. Classic toys and games that are still made today like Tonka trucks, Easy-Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Twister and Mousetrap are featured in loving color photographs and vintage ads. Their stories are well-known, too. For example, writer and artist Johnny Gruelle patented his rag doll design in 1915, the same year his daughter Marcella died after a controversial smallpox vaccination. The Rageddy Ann and Andy dolls and books helped Gruelle keep his memories of his daughter alive.

Famous fads include the '50s Davy Crocket Coonskin Hats, the '60s Troll dolls, and the '70s Pet Rock. Toys always reflect the times they’re from and this book provides plenty of cultural and historical background. Only after the heady 1960s and '70s with women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, and Black Power movement would there be an anatomically correct African American baby boy doll, Mattel’s Baby Tender Love, molded in life-like vinyl skin called Dublon.

Other less well-known toys are long gone from the toy store shelves but live on in the very personal memories (and actual childhood photographs!) featured throughout the book. Home health training specialist Lisa Crawford (b 1963) appropriately recalls the insanely dangerous metal-tipped lawn Jarts. I was delighted to find Make editor and fellow WINK contributor Gareth Branwyn’s (b 1958) recollection of using his own Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit to get an A+ on a school project (and to keep tabs on any hometown polluters!). Read the rest

GoPro modded on a Hot Wheels chassis

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5MadMovieMakers revealed how they make their cool POV videos of Hot Wheels cars flying down tracks: a GoPro Hero affixed to Pharadox Hot Wheels Chassis. Read the rest

Make: jointed, hot glue-gunned cardboard toys

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The Grid Kit makes a range of DIY toys that you punch out of precut cardboard sheets, glue-gun and assemble; the finished toys have working joints and can be painted or left plain. Read the rest

100% CGI versions of 80s tech and toys

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Mike Campau recreated Generation Gap, a CGI series of some of the most iconic items from 1980s childhoods, each one lit with gorgeous multi-hued gradients. Read the rest

Fidget Cube: clicky, twisty cubes for "mindful fidgeting"

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Kickstarter veterans Matthew and Mark McLachlan have raised nearly $1M for Fidget Cube: gadgets that you can switch, twist, click, glide, and roll when you want to do something with your hands. Read the rest

Tiny lego typewriter

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Benjamin Cheh and Jeffrey Kong made this prototype Lego typewriter a couple of years ago: "a perfect example of how LEGO elements can pack so much detail in something so small. A retro creation for both the young and the young at heart – imagine this typewriter on your desk!" Their site's a treasure trove of Lego creations. [more, more] Read the rest

Funklet: drum sequences from classic tracks

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Funklet is a new archive of drum patterns (not sampled loops) from classic funk songs, complete with brief histories and musical context. Each can be edited in a simple embedded sequencer and shared. [via r/InternetIsBeautiful] Read the rest

The boy who inhaled a squeaky dog toy

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"How can you tell?" Read the rest

Create a fractal castle made of miniature copies of itself

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Castles is a fascinating web toy by Nico Disseldorp. Left-click to add a castle to the outside of your castle—and watch as every part of the castle, including the added part, changes to reflect the form of the new whole. Right click to spin it around so you don't go mad. He's made other mind-melting recursion toys too. Read the rest

Public Enemy action figures by Ed Piskor

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Boing Boing comic artist Ed Piskor, creator of the stupendous Hip Hop Family Tree, designed this set of Public Enemy Action Figures! They're sculpted by Tomohiro Yasui and stand around 4" tall. They're articulated at the neck, shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees.

Pre-order them from Presspop Toy for $60/set: PUBLIC ENEMY Action Figure Set (via Dangerous Minds)

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NES Classic Edition looks like great fun—but will it hack?

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Nintendo's miniature re-release of the NES is, it seems, another one of those several-games-in-one nostalgia toys. But it's a good one, with 30 classic titles, the same great design in miniature, and compatibility with modern wireless controllers. It'll be out November 11 for $60. Read the rest

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