Playmobil's political incorrectness

Tanya Schevitz on how Playmobil’s bold stereotyping can be a teachable moment with her 5-year-old, or not.

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Cyberpocalypse: the cyberpunk Lego city


In 2013, a group of Lego masters unveiled Cyberpocalypse, a spectacularly detailed, moody, neon-lit cyberpunk city. It's a triumph of EL wire and science fiction aesthetics, a kind of bricky Burning Man theme-camp in miniature.

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History of Colorforms

ColorformsStrong1

Over at Collectors Weekly, our pal Ben Marks talks to the co-inventor of the wonderful classic toy Colorforms, simply a pack of die-cut vinyl shapes and a board to stick them on, invented in 1951 and available to this day:

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Unboxing a Makie doll

I just spent ten delightful minutes watching this vlog in which Pixie Blossom unboxes her new, custom, 3D printed Makie doll. She ordered one of the last, limited run of green-skinned dolls, and specified that it be only lightly decorated so that she could give it a total makeover. The result, presented with contagious glee in the final act, is a great testament to her creativity and the idea of giving people toys that are intended to be remade by their owners.

The video was a hit in our household because my wife, Alice Taylor, is the CEO and founder of Makielab, where the Makie dolls come from.

LEGO minifigs are satanic (or at least grumpy)

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Slawomir Kostrzewa, a priest in Wolsztyn, Poland, is concerned that certain LEGO minifigs are "about darkness and the world of death" and could "destroy (children's) souls and lead them to the dark side." More interesting is that Kostrzewa attempts to back up his argument with research by University of Canterbury professor Christoph Bartneck suggesting that the faces of LEGO figures have become angrier over the years. Kostrzewa's claim is on the heels of his revelation last year that My Little Pony is a "carrier of death."

"Lego the building blocks of Satan, warns priest citing NZ study" (New Zealand Herald)

Professor Bartneck's response to the matter is here: "LEGO is not a tool of Satan"

Unusual cat toy

Furreal Kitty is available on Amazon. [via]

Blobfish plush


Thinkgeek bills their $40 Blobfish Plush as a "Grumpy Cat of the sea." While its true that the "world's ugliest animal" is actually pretty unremarkable looking when it is compressed by the awesome high-pressure environment of the sea, there's no denying that it looks like a newspaper caricature of a sad, downtrodden shlub when brought to the surface, which makes it the perfect gift...for that someone special in your life.

Blobfish Plush

New old-timey Twilight Zone action figures announced


Zack sez, "Submitted for your approval -- Bif Bang Pow! has a new line of action figures inspired by the classic TV series done in the scale and style of such 1980s figure lines as Star Wars. Personal favorites include the Invader from 'The Invaders' and Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis in 'Time Enough at Last,' who is getting a permanent space on my bookshelf where he can finally enjoy some good literature without worrying about breaking his glasses."

These are in addition to the existing line of Bif Bam Pow Twilight Zone toys which include some real standouts like the Mystic Seer bobble-head and the Eye of the Beholder Nurse.

Bif Bang Pow! Enters a New Dimension (Thanks, Zack!)

Jim Henson and Raymond Scott's "Wheels That Go" (1967)

"Wheels That Go," a gorgeous 1967 short film by Jim Henson, starring his son Brian, with music by pioneering jazz and electronic music composer Raymond Scott. You'd recognize Scott's big band music from hundreds of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. Many of those familiar tunes are available on the compilation Reckless Nights & Turkish Twilights. Scott's experimental electronic pieces, like the one in this film, can be heard on the collections Manhattan Research Inc. and the Soothing Sounds For Baby series. (via Experimental Music on Children's TV)

AT-AT rocking horse


Jen from Cake Wrecks made this amazing AT-AT rocking-horse, documenting the build online (she's promised plans to follow). It will be auctioned for charity at Megacon by the Florida chapter of the 501st Legion.

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Nerf Rebelle: girl-marketed action toys that are cool and work well


Nerf's Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow (part of the wider Rebelle line of action toys marketed to girls) gets pretty high marks from its owners, and promises a dart-range of 75 feet. I confess that I'm conflicted about this -- there's nothing inherently masculine or feminine about Nerf toys, their gendering is already a synthetic creation of the company's marketing strategy.

That said, there are unquestionably girls who feel like action toys are not for them because of normative gender pressure (to which Nerf is a contributor, of course), and the existence of toys that are intended to allow them the space for imaginative play without worrying about appropriate gender norms is a good thing. Especially since the Rebelle toys are not just "girly" -- they're also cool, as well-built and well-designed as the "boy" versions, the perfect imaginative accessory for your little Hunger Games fan.

Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Bow (via Super Punch)

Applications open for 10th Plush You show for plush artists

Heather sez, "Schmancy is having their 10th annual Plush You show this year, and applications are now open. Plus You is one of the only (if not THE only) juried shows for plush artists, so this is kind of a big deal for those of us who make our living selling our handmade dolls, toys and 'other.'"

Cuddly giant isopod toy!


There's nothing quite so cuddly as a giant isopod plush toy. It has been encutified to make it even more adorable than the real-life version, with big, round, loving eyes. As the product description notes, these are "passionately loved" by some in Japan and are regarded as "mysterious and cute" -- one in Toba Aquarium has (allegedly) eaten no food for over 4 years.

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A history of Easy-Bake Ovens

An Easy-Bake Oven from the late 1960s, featuring Betty Crocker branding, faux-wood paneling, and the kitchen color du jour, avocado green. (Courtesy of Todd Coopee)

Ben Marks of Collector's Weekly says:

Our very own Lisa Hix just interviewed Todd Coupee, who is a collector of Easy-Bake Ovens and wrote the definitive work on the subject, Light Bulb Baking. In her article, Lisa recounts how she and her kid brother destroyed her childhood Easy-Bake Oven (they tried to cook a green plastic steak from a Mattel Tuff Stuff play set, which melted under the incandescent bulb's 350-degree heat), and explains how Kenner ignored the gender politics of the day by marketing the oven to both boys and girls (to have done otherwise would have excluded 50 percent of the toy's potential audience, so the reasons were purely financial).

Easy-Bake Evolution: 50 Years of Cakes, Cookies, and Gender Politics

Seven year old girl tells Lego off for gender stereotyping in toys: "make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!"


Charlotte, who is seven, wrote this devastating letter to the Lego company over the way that girl characters and boy characters are handled in its increasingly gendered toys: "All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks."

She calls on Lego "to make more Lego girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun ok!?!"

That's a pretty unassailable request. Thank you, Charlotte, for putting it so well.

7yo Charlotte writes an adorable and strongly worded letter to LEGO regarding the lack of adventures for girls.