The Thingmaker was the coolest toy ever

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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.

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Millennium Falcon quadcopter

Skinning drones with iconic spaceship shells is an absolute natural and I expect to see a lot more of it -- here's a salvo, Air Hogs's Millennium Falcon quadcopter, which hits stores on Sept 15 -- part of a family that includes landspeeders, TIE fighters, X-wings, and speeder bikes. Read the rest

Dissecting Sphero's Star Wars BB-8

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Sphero's Star Wars BB-8 is sure to be the Cabbage Patch Kid of this Christmas, the ungettable gift that will spur mall fistfights, eBay price gouging, and plenty of crying kids (and adults). uBreakiFix cracked one open to see how it ticks. Read the rest

Hello Kitty museum exhibit headed to Seattle in November

The massive museum exhibition "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" will land at Seattle's EMP Museum in November. Read the rest

EverBlocks are the giant Lego bricks you always wanted

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EverBlock's concept is simple: interlocking plastic bricks at a macro scale.

It's quick and easy to build nearly anything, by stacking and organizing the universal blocks in nearly any shape, pattern, or size. Anything you've constructed can be taken apart and re-assembled again, and the pieces can be re-used to build other objects, making EverBlock a unique green building method.

Wired's Liz Stinson: "with just three block versions, there are limitations to what you can build with the blocks. Don’t expect a life-size version of Lego’s architecture series just yet"

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See Metallica guitarist's killer collection of classic monster memorabilia

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If you are traveling through the San Francisco International Airport during the next four months, don't miss the exhibit Classic Monsters, featuring fantastic items from the collection of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, on view in the Terminal 2 gallery of the always-fascinating SFO Museum. The artifacts include vintage movie props, toys, and original paintings by Basil Gogos that appeared on covers Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.

Above: Vampire Armand Tesla’s head before and after it melts in The Return of the Vampire starring Bela Lugosi, 1943.

Below: Frankenstein toys and memorabilia c. 1960s–70s; Wolf Man makeup test bust made for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein starring Lon Chaney, Jr., 1948; Dracula toys and memorabilia c. 1960s–70s; Mummy painting c. 1969 Artist: Basil Gogos.

Classic Monsters: The Kirk Hammett Collection

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Airport security confiscates three year old's fart gun

The eagle-eyed aviation security humans at Dublin Airport prevented a desperate toddler from boarding a flight while in possession of a Despicable Me Fart Blaster: "We don’t make the rules but we apply the rules consistently." (via Lowering the Bar) Read the rest

A treadmill for Slinky toys, for your infinite Slinky-torturing pleasure

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It's a powerful metaphor for something or other, from the good folks at woodgears.ca, with build notes for your own Slinky-torturing pleasure. (via JWZ)

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Cecil the Lion to be immortalized as a Beanie Baby

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All profits go to the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of University of Oxford in Oxford England.

Build curvy, complicated, organic structures with ZOOB

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Most of the really great construction sets are rectangular in shape, or they obey rigid angles. Lego, Kapla Blocks, Kinnex, or Zomeworks are fabulous kits that foster open-ended creativity. But they all tend toward very rectilinear structures. ZOOB is the first construction set I’ve seen that encourages organic, free-flowing builds. There are five basic ZOOB shapes centered on a ball-and-socket connection. When you click them together you have full 180-degree freedom in how the connection is oriented, leading to creations that are curvy, complicated, or ones that repeat like vertebrate in a spine, or carbons on a chain, or even amino acids on DNA. I was surprised by how sophisticated you could make the forms; you may need a bit of patience to get complex ones to fit perfectly (note to 8-year olds). In fact the force and precision needed to assemble pieces may be beyond toddlers, but school kids should have no problem. The plastic pieces are largish, unlike lego, so the finished forms can be quite hefty.

ZOOB Ages 6 and up, 125 pieces $20 Buy a copy on Amazon

See more photos at Wink Fun. Read the rest

Why the Strange Change Machine is my favorite toy

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We all have memories of our favorite toys. Sometimes it’s hard to point at just what made them so special. This one, though, is obviously dangerous.

Wobbling 8 Ball

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If you have a pool table, or know someone who has one, you need to get one of these Wobbling 8 Balls.   Read the rest

Huge, futuristic 3D printed mech-tank

Singaporean toymaker Michael Sng made Boudicca, a T1 Training Colossus -- a 3D-printed robot tank with 400 custom parts and servos controlled by an Arduino. Read the rest

Antique toy museum, racist warts and all

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Frank Kidd, 83, is the proprietor of Kidd's Toy Museum, a private collection of 20,000 antique toys, from cars and trucks to figurines to, Kidd's favorite genre, mechanical banks like the one above. Some of the toys reveal a lot about the era they're from. Read the rest

Does this McDonald's Minions toy say "What the fuck?"

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Some parents are complaining that a Minions talking toy available at McDonald's sounds like it says "What the fuck!" Gotta love audio pareidolia. Read the rest

Crazy and amazing unofficial Barbie fashions from the 1960s

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Collectors Weekly's Ben Marks says, "Schiffer Publishing has just released 'Doll Junk: Collectible & Crazy Fashions from the ’70s & ’80s,' by Carmen Varricchio, who fills almost 200 pages with images of Barbie and Ken knockoffs and the campy fashions that manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe thought would appeal to little girls. Read the rest

Hey, kids, let's play militarized police force!

The Pentagon's 1033 program makes sure that every Barney Fife has his own rocket launcher, and Playmobil is right there with him. Read the rest

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