Matt Parker is a "standup mathematician." In this entertaining video, he demonstrates a 1960s plastic toy that plays the game of Nim against a human opponent. Interestingly, Dr. Nim is an ingenious mechanism that uses plastic levers to control the number of marbles it chooses to drop. If you go first, Dr. Nim will always win. In the video, Matt shows you how to play and win Nim every time, including a cheat that lets you win even if you go first. Read the rest
The classic photo of Leonard Nimoy in Spock costume leaning on the 64 Buick Riviera he bought with his Star Trek earnings will be immortalized in dinkycar, thanks to the good offices of the Hot Wheels Corporation. Read the rest
This toy seems too perfect to be real, mangling Alien so thoroughly that it turns unseen 7'2" actor Bolaji Bodejo into the star and, completely accidentally, radically improves upon the high concept of Alien 4. [via Mike Drucker]
Alien Man completes an existential trio of Engrish knockoff toys that already includes Robert Cop and Feddy Kruger:
Police in Indonesia investigating reports of an "angel" in a remote village discovered not a supernatural avatar of God's will but a blow-up doll. A fisherman found it floating around after a rare solar eclipse and, well, it's a mistake anyone could make: "The timing of the discovery led some to believe the doll had a divine provenance. They have no internet, they don't know what a sex toy is," the AFP quoted a local police chief as saying. Read the rest
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
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
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
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
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