Put round magnets on either end of a AA battery and set it down on a sheet of tinfoil and watch it spin! It's a homopolar motor, a simple electric motor that relies on the Lorentz effect to set it in motion.
I buy an awful lot of toys under the guise of sharing them with my niece and nephew. The truth is, of course, that I’d get them even if I weren’t an uncle. In particular, I love modular puzzle games that make you think in strange ways—and I’m especially fond of the award winning Gravity Maze. Read the rest
The Hong Kong-based toymaker/crapgadget purveyor didn't even know it had been breached until journalists from Vice asked why data from its millions of customers and their families were in the hands of a hacker, and then the company tried to downplay the breach and delayed telling its customers about it. Read the rest
Those bowtie-shaped "motorized self-balancing two-wheeled scooters" you see in the windows of strip-mall cellphone repair shops and in mall-kiosks roared out of nowhere and are now everywhere, despite being so new that we don't even know what they're called. Read the rest
Vtech is a ubiquitous Hong Kong-based electronic toy company whose kiddy tablets and other devices are designed to work with its cloud service, which requires parents to set up accounts for their kids. 4.8 million of those accounts just breached, leaking a huge amount of potentially compromising information, from kids' birthdays and home addresses to parents passwords and password hints. Read the rest
Mattel's Hello Barbie has a microphone and a wifi interface, and it transmits the phrases it hears to a central server in order to parse them and formulate a response. Mattel claims that the data isn't being retained or harvested for marketing purposes, and assures parents that they can make Barbie stopping eavesdropping on them at will. But does it work? Read the rest
Even when action-figure head sculpts are great, the paintjobs can be pretty indifferent, with eyelashes on foreheads. Ibentmyman-thing has, through trial-and-error, come up with a method for priming and painting heads, with gorgeous results. Read the rest
Yoga Joes started life as a wonderful, weird Kickstarter to produce a set of nine "Green Army Men" in yoga poses; having raised over $100K in direct sales at $20/set ($10 for military personnel) Brogamats is now selling them in retail channels at a $28 premium, for all nine: "headstand, meditation pose, cobra pose, warrior one, warrior two, child's pose, tree pose, crow pose, and downward-facing dog." (via Canopy) Read the rest
In its luminous, rainbow-hued absurdity, the Nox is so delightful that it seems like a dog toy, perhaps, or a wedge of playdoh colors that one's child has only just rolled together.
But it is, in fact, an enormous silicone dragon penis! Read the rest
The DC SuperHero Girls line is aimed at 6-year-olds and the look great. Mattel designer Christine Kim says the action figures are were designed by women for girls, not by men for boys. Read the rest
Ida Lockett of Sacramento, CA was helping her 5-year-old son put together a Playmobil pirate ship kit he'd been given for his birthday when she saw that the instructions told her to put a shackle around the neck of a dark-skinned figurine in torn clothing. Read the rest
In the charming, compulsively playable Japanese iOS game Nekoatsume (aka Cat Collector), you spend a lot of time acquiring virtual toys to attract a coterie of virtual cats to your virtual backyard. But now it seems that there are actual Nekoastume toys for corporeal humans as well, and there's a way to buy them—even if you live outside of Japan.
Hubbyte Toys and Collectibles, a vendor based in the Philippines, posted on Facebook today that it is taking preorders for what appears to be a Nekoatsume playset, complete with a pop-up yard, cats (Manzoku-san, Hoiiro-san and Akage-san specifically), a blue food dish and yes, yes! A yellow ball.
The price is listed at what I believe is 1500 Philippine pesos, which is approximately $32 in U.S. dollars. You've spent so much time giving imaginary toys to imaginary cats. Why not give the gift of real toys based on imaginary cats to yourself? Read the rest
One of my favorite toys as a kid was Creepy Crawlers. Introduced in 1964 by Mattel, it was a kit that let you make rubber insects, spiders, snakes, lizards etc. It came with a set of metal molds, squeeze bottles of liquid plastic called Plastigoop, and an electrically-powered, 390 degrees Fahrenheit open-face hot plate called the Thingmaker to cure the Plastigoop. It's the kind of toy that would be deemed to dangerous today because of the high heat and shocking hazard (the kit came with a mold cooling tray that you filled with water and placed next to the Thingmaker).
I may have gotten a couple of first-degree burns using Creepy Crawlers, but I never regretted it. It would occupy my friends and me for hours at a time. My kids would have loved the Thingmaker as much as I did.
The Fright Factory was an especially cool Thingmaker toy. It was a kit that let you make macabre prosthetics: scars, long fingernails, a third eye, a diseased tongue, fangs, etc.
Nightflight's Bryan Thomas has a good article about the history of the Thingmaker line of toys, with lots of images. And Bob Knetzger wrote a terrific article about Mattel's line of DIY Toys for MAKE.