Advanced parenting with a child who loves garage doors

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Artist Kiersten Essenpreis has a kid who loves garage doors and she isn't shy about encouraging their passion. Read the rest

An inventor, maker, and toy designer shares his favorite projects

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

The first thing that struck me about Make Fun!, a collection of toy and game projects from former Mattel designer Bob Knetzger, was how many of my favorite projects from the pages of Make: magazine were his. Bob has contributed to the magazine for over nine years, and this collection represents a best-of from that run (with some original projects as well). WINK’s own Mark Frauenfelder (founding editor-in-chief of Make:) also contributes the book’s introduction.

Make: Fun! features full step-by-step instructions for some 40 projects. They range from the very simple, fun, and ephemeral, such as the actuated “Ouija Be Mine” Valentine’s Day card and “Gnome Holiday Hats” to a classic “Diving Spudmarine” bathtub toy to more elaborate builds, such as constructing your own “Kitchen Floor Vacuum Former” and building a “Desktop Foundry.” Some of my favorite projects include the “Monster Candy Snatch Game” (think: Operation), the “E-Z-Make Oven” (think: Mattel’s Thingmaker), and vacuum forming your own “Tiki Masks.”

Make: did a really nice job on the production of this book. The projects are well photographed, in full color, and the instructions are well laid out and easy to follow. And there are fun little “gimmicks” that serve the playful spirit of the book (a flip-book animation on the page edges, QR-code videos for some of the projects, and colorful templates and paper project components in the back). You can see the videos, view the templates, and find out more on the book’s companion website. Read the rest

Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty Is Awesome

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Vat19 has to be my favorite online toy company of all time. They carry some of the wackiest items I’ve ever seen and the truth is – I want them all.

This week, I’ve been playing around with a few of their new items and I wanted to share.

Firstly, check out Crazy Aaron’s UV-Reactive Thinking Putty.

This is a moldable putty that takes the shape of whatever container it sits in and changes color when exposed to ultraviolet light. When unexposed, the coloring effect fades away allowing you to write and draw on it over and over again. It really is one of the most magical things I’ve messed with in a long, long time.

Like most putty, you can shape it, rip it and bounce it – but unlike any other putty, this one comes with a UV keychain (battery included).

And then there’s Crazy Aaron’s Liquid Glass Thinking Putty.

When you first open the canister you’ll think it’s empty – but it’s not!  It's a tricky putty because because not only does it take the shape of whatever is holding it - it's transparent to boot.

When you pry it out, you’ll find it has the consistency of kneeded gum.

When you wad it up, it becomes foggy and you’ll think that you’ve broken the putty – even though that doesn’t even make sense!

If you let it sit for an hour or two, it’ll flatten out and become transparent again.

Now I’m not sure what creative project I’m going to apply this to yet - but here’s a video of a guy who submerged himself in a tub of 500 lbs. Read the rest

LUCY is a magical drawing tool based on the classic camera lucida

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The LUCY is a drawing tool I wish I had in art school. The device has been around for 500 years and though it uses no electricity, it's able to project images from your environment onto your drawing pad. The LUCY will make you feel like you have special abilities by letting you look at two things at once – and have them converge in the same spot for you to draw on top of.

Essentially, the LUCY is an improved, simplified version of a camera lucida – below is a sketch and an explanation of how it works.

First - the object you want to draw sits anywhere in your environment with the LUCY angled toward it. The image of the object passes through a one-way mirror and reflects into a second mirror and then back again onto the first mirror.

When you look through the top of the device, you see not only straight through to the paper you’re drawing on, but you’ll also see the reflection of the object you want to draw.

The brighter the environment around the object, the brighter the object will be on the paper. Then it’s up to you to trace what you see.

Here’s a video that shows the LUCY in action.

By helping you quickly block in shapes for layout and proportion, your final drawings will naturally be improved - how many times have you sketched only to find your subject's body parts cut off because you miscalculated your starting position?   Read the rest

Phishers trick Mattel into transferring $3M to a Chinese bank

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Last spring, in the chaos following the firing of Mattel's CEO (who presided over a disastrous slide in Barbie sales), a Mattel finance executive got an email from his new boss, replacement CEO Christopher Sinclair, ordering the transfer of $3 million to a new Chinese supplier. Read the rest

Awesome new Disney LEGO minifigs will be available starting in May

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If you love and collect minifigs, May will be a big month for you! This via LEGO's twitter feed.

Read the rest

Kickstarting Fabulous Beasts, a tabletop game that uses smartblocks

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Fabulous Beasts is a new game from indie studio Sensible Object, which combines stacking/balancing (think Jenga) with smart, sensor-enabled blocks that talk to your mobile device as you play the game, creating fun and complex challenges. Read the rest

To do in Toronto: Create a Rey doll hackathon

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Many people have noticed that the female lead character Rey is notably underrepresented in the tsunami of Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys. Read the rest

Stretch Armstrong cartoon coming to Netflix

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Netflix ordered 26 episodes of a new Hasbro-produced cartoon starring Stretch Armstrong, the iconic 1970s action figure whose rubbery body could be pulled and stretched until its skin inevitable tore or was punctured and the gross gel filling dripped out. I hope they do battle with the evil Stretch Monster! (Original TV commercial below.)

From Variety:

The 26-episode Stretch Armstrong series, Hasbro Studios’ first original programming for Netflix, is slated to debut in 2017. The animated animated action/comedy series is about an over-scheduled teenager named Jake Armstrong and his two best friends. Then the trio are accidentally exposed to an experimental chemical, they become Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters — a team of stretchable superheroes.

Read the rest

Inflatable T-Rex costume

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You may remember this outfit from recent videos exhibiting a high internet virality coefficient. It's available for purchase at Amazon—we'll get a cut if you use that link—and at BuyCostumes. There will be many on eBay in a few weeks, but by then it will be too late.

There's a kids' size one, too. Read the rest

Howto: make your own fantastically detailed Star Trek: TOS bridge playset

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David Weiberg handed down his childhood set of Star Trek: original series action figures to his eight-year-old son, and then the two of them built a fantastically detailed, correctly scaled replica of the original Enterprise's bridge to go with them. Read the rest

Star Wars medical merch from Scarfolk, the horror-town stuck in the 1970s

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Scarfolk (previously) is the English country town that is caught in a perpetual ten-year loop from 1970-1980; in 1977, while the rest of the world was getting Kenner Star Wars toys, Scarfolk's children were treated to a line of Star Wars medical equipment from the good people at PalliativeToy. Read the rest

Copyfraud: Disney's bogus complaint over toy photo gets a fan kicked off Facebook

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Justin Kozisek, a staffer for the Star Wars Action News podcast, bought a $6.94 Rey toy at Walmart and posted a photo of it to Facebook, and he and his SWAN colleagues were surprised to get a DMCA notice from Disney/Lucasfilm claiming that they had infringed copyright by posting a photo of their toy. Read the rest

Toy demands that kids catch crickets and stuff them into an electronic car

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The Bug Racer is Mattel's $50 electronic "science" car toy that requires that you fill a sensor cavity with up to six crickets; the toy measures the crickets' movement in the cavity and uses them to guide the car's movements (though the car will reverse when it hits an obstacle, regardless of the crickets' movement). Read the rest

Make: the simplest electric car toy, a homopolar motor

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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.

Kottke explains: Read the rest

The Gravity Maze

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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

Crapgadget watch: toys of unimaginable ghastliness

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Funny or Die scoured the Web for ten genuinely awful toys that were discovered in the wild -- toys that transcend mere poor quality assurance and enter the realm of non-Euclidean ghastliness that defies all reason. Read the rest

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