Our friends at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories recently made a high quality reproduction of the Digi-Comp II, a binary digital rolling-ball mechanical computer from the 1960s. (Cory wrote about it here.) Today on their blog, the Evil Mad Scientists posted about Dr. Nim, a game from the creator of the original Digi-Comp II.
Dr. NIM was designed by the same engineer, John Godfrey, who designed the Digi-Comp II, and it was manufactured in the mid-1960′s by the same company, E.S.R. Inc. It is even described in the same patent as the Digi-Comp II and works in the same manner, using mechanical flip-flops triggered by marbles. Only, to play the ancient game of Nim instead of doing binary calculations.
“How can pieces of plastic be a computer?”
See also: A Do-It-Yourself Paper Digital Computer, 1959
Here's a downright inspirational video from Goldie Blox, who make "engineering toys for girls" and depicts young girls taking over the horrible girl-toy pink-aisle at a big toy-store.
Little Girls Engineer Their Own Toys to Take Over the Pink Aisle In This Goldie Blox Ad [VIDEO]
Buzzfeed's Hunter Schwarz revisits 1998's "Scholastic Beanie Baby Handbook," which predicted values of Beanie Babies in 2008, and compares them to the current-day eBay clearing price for these same speculative items. For example, the Stripes the Dark Tiger doll, which retailed for $5 and traded for $250 in 1998 was predicted to rise to $1,000. Today it can be had on eBay for $9.95. And the $4,000-$5,000 estimated 2008 value for the Violet Teddy was also way off, though Violet is today a $700 item ($700 was also what it traded for in 1998).
How Much Beanie Babies Were Predicted To Be Worth Vs. How Much They’re Really Worth
John sez, "The Falvey Library at Villanova University has just digitized a turn of the century guide to mechanical toys and small automata. They've been digitizing a lot of very interesting material--see more here."
How to make magic toys : containing full directions for making magic toys and devices of many kinds / by A. Anderson
The good people at London's Nobrow Press have done an 8" vinyl toy for the outstanding kids' comic Hilda, created by Luke Pearson (reviews: Book 0, Book 1; Book 2). The Hilda toy is grownup-collector-expensive, but it's also a very nice piece -- I saw one in person last night when I brought my daughter and her friend to the Nobrow store on the way to our weekly daddy-daughter pizza dinner.
Writing in The Atlantic, Amy Schiller documents how Mattel has spent the past 15 years transforming the expensive, highly detailed American Girl dolls from a source of radical inspiration that signposted moments in the history of the struggles for justice and equality in the US, into posh upper-middle-class girls who raise money for bake sales. As Lenore Skenazy points out, the original American Girls were children who had wild adventures without adult oversight; the new crop are helicopter-parented and sheltered, and their idea of high adventure is a closely supervised day in the snow.
Saige is white and upper-middle-class, just like McKenna the gymnast and Lanie the amateur gardener and butterfly enthusiast, both previous Girls of the Year. Even in their attempt to encourage spunky and active girlhoods, their approaches to problem solving are highly local—one has a bake sale to help save the arts program in a local school, another scores a victory for the organic food movement when she persuades a neighbor to stop using pesticides.
By contrast, the original dolls confronted some of the most heated issues of their respective times. In the book A Lesson for Samantha, she wins an essay contest at her elite academy with a pro-manufacturing message, but after conversations with Nellie, her best friend from a destitute background who has younger siblings working in brutal factory jobs, Samantha reverses course and ends us giving a speech against child labor in factories at the award ceremony. Given the class divide, Samantha's speech presumably takes place in front of the very industrial barons responsible for those factory conditions. The book is a bravura effort at teaching young girls about class privilege, speaking truth to power, and engaging with controversial social policy, all based on empathetic encounters with people whose life experiences differ from her own.
American Girls Aren't Radical Anymore
(via Free Range Kids)
Kaitan modded his 3D printed Makie doll into a spectacular intergalactic jewel-thief, complete with accessories.
She was dyed using a mixture of green and yellow iDye poly. Her face up/ body up (?) was done with Perfect pearls iridescent powders, pastels, fine glitter and acrylic paint. The scaly pattern covers her arms,legs and torso as well as her head. She was going to have bright red hair, but I decided I like her bald! smile
Sorry she's a bit “fur coat and no knickers” at the moment - I haven't gotten around to making her other clothes yet smile
Her shoes are painted Makielab black wedges with additional jewels. And of course she gets her own fabulous personalised gun
Lock up your valuables, Higi is about!
(Disclosure: My wife is the founder of MakieLab, who manufacture Makie dolls)
The forthcoming Bioshock board-game (!) has some pretty wicked-cool miniatures that look like they'd be fun to play with, separate of any virtue they have as tokens for their game.
BioShock Infinite: The Siege of Columbia PRE-ORDER [Plaid Hat Games]
A look at the miniatures from the Bioshock Infinite board game [Super Punch]
Gabriele Galimberti photographed children around the world posed with their favorite toys and possessions. At top, Pavel (Kiev, Ucraina). Above, Maudy (Kalulushi, Zambia) and Noel (Dallas, Texas). "Toy Stories"
The latest issue of Make: has a great profile of my wife, Alice Taylor, and the 3D printed toy-company she founded. They're going great guns, too -- just won one of the top prizes at the SXSW Accelerator!
Makies are manufactured using a 3D printing technology called selective laser sintering (SLS), in which a laser fuses together particles of nylon powder to form the individual parts. The process can produce items with very high fidelity and strength, compared with the more common fused deposition modelling process (FDM), often used in desktop 3D printers, where a filament of plastic is extruded to build up a model in layers.
The downside of this process is price, with SLS machines costing an order of magnitude more than their FDM cousins. Nevertheless, SLS technology could be described as just-about-affordable, and Makies are a perfect application for consumer-quality 3D printing. Digitally designed, and each one unique, Makies are a sign today of a much-talked-about future trend in manufacturing: mass-customisation.
“We set out to make consumer-facing goods using 3D printing. The original vision was: virtual goods would produce physical goods; the physical goods you would be able to modify, and that would feed back into the virtual world. That would create a kind of loop between digital and physical. The only way you can do that is with a digital thing that also lives as a physical thing, connected with an identity. The traditional technology for manufacturing toys makes it hard. 3D printing technology makes it possible.”
So 3D printing makes personalised dolls possible. And personalisation is what makes a Makie special.
MAKE | Alice Taylor: Inventing the Future of Toys [Make/Andrew Sleigh]
MakieLab, the 3D-printed toy company my wife Alice founded, has just shipped its first tablet-based doll-builder: the Makies Doll Factory!
We think designing Makies with fingers feels really cool, like proper making. And, we've revamped the pricing for real-life Makies, so you can order only the hair, accessories and clothes you want with your doll - which makes most Makies a bit cheaper too! App users get this first (we re-jigged the shop along with the app, to make this possible), and we'll be rolling it out to www.makie.me later this week.
MAKIES iPAD APP
Like I mentioned in the Blooming Flower post, I'm headed home with a suitcase full of dirty laundry and toys for my five year old. Another awesome score from this trip is the Hello Kitty Reversible 8" Plush: Hamburger, a plush Hello Kitty toy that inverts and forms a Hello Kitty hamburger. It's a thing, then it's another thing! (And there's a turkey version, too).
This thing is pretty spectacular in person. I bought it on recommendation of a nice sales clerk at Austin, TX's Toy Joy, where you can buy bats by the scoopful marvel at the Spider Duck.
If you're headed to SXSW, you should really get all your friends in a taxi and ride out to Toy Joy and then eat some of the spectacular barbecue at Ruby's BBQ, kitty-corner from the shop. It's pretty much the perfect outing, and at least as cool (if not cooler) than anything you'll actually see presented on the conference floor.
As I get ready to (finally) return home from a month-long tour, I'm taking stock of the gifts I scored for my daughter Poesy on the road. First up is this Toysmith Blooming Flower an incredibly clever little papercraft toy. It consists of a complex of folded and cut tissue paper, sandwiched between two plastic rods. When you open out these rods, the tissue paper fans out to make a lovely paper flower.
But that's just for starters. If you give the flower a shake, it "blooms," as other paper fans, in contrasting colors, emerge from the insides of the first-order flower. Each shake or sharp tap creates a new structure, each more lovely than the last. It's difficult to explain, but itsmecharlee posted the above YouTube video in which a charming little girl masterfully demonstrates.
This is the second time I've brought these home (I discovered them thanks to a tip from Bettina Neuefeind, who sent me to the amazing Black Ink, near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass). The first one lasted for more than a month, which is pretty good for a mess of fragile, glued-together tissue paper in the hands of a then-four-year-old. They're only $4, and the kid is five now, so this time I'm bringing home two. They're really lovely and cool.
Blooming Flower from Toysmith
Canadian artist Ian Baxter's "Animal Preserve" series from 1999 featured hundreds of stuffed animals "preserved" in liquid-filled jars neatly organized on shelves. (via FP)
Etsy seller Rockets and Rainbows makes clever jewelry out of Star Wars and My Little Pony toys, including the Snow Speeder ring shown here. But you can't buy that one, because I just bought it as a surprise for my wife. Don't tell her, OK?
(via The Mary Sue)