Ingenuity, defined

Never let it be said that the crapgadget factories of the Pearl River Delta don't know how to recycle surplus/rejected material. Read the rest

Cubetto is a programmable robot for pre-schoolers

I had a chance to play with a Cubetto recently. It's a little, wooden, happy face robot on two wheels. You can control which way it goes by inserting colorful plastic chips on programming board (which also has a wood top). There are four kinds of chips: turn clockwise, turn counterclockwise, move forward, and call subroutine. You unfold a mat with a grid of colorful squares and illustrations and set the robot on top of it. An included booklet presents challenges to move the robot from one square on the grid to another.

My wife, 13-year-daughter, and I are not the intended users of Cubetto, but we spent a very fun hour going through the challenges in the booklet and then coming up with our own challenges. My guess is that a kindergartner or pre=schooler would love this and learn a lot from it.

The overall product design is gorgeous, too. I wish the manufacturer, Primo, made consumer technology for grown-ups.

Cubetto costs $225 and can be purchased directly from the manufacturer. Read the rest

Fun book about toys of the '50s, '60s and '70s

There are lots of books about baby boomer toys, but this fun collection is presented from the viewpoint of the kids who played with the toys and includes lots of personal memories and photographs. Sure, there are many interesting facts and histories about well-known toys and their creators. Classic toys and games that are still made today like Tonka trucks, Easy-Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Twister and Mousetrap are featured in loving color photographs and vintage ads. Their stories are well-known, too. For example, writer and artist Johnny Gruelle patented his rag doll design in 1915, the same year his daughter Marcella died after a controversial smallpox vaccination. The Rageddy Ann and Andy dolls and books helped Gruelle keep his memories of his daughter alive.

Famous fads include the '50s Davy Crocket Coonskin Hats, the '60s Troll dolls, and the '70s Pet Rock. Toys always reflect the times they’re from and this book provides plenty of cultural and historical background. Only after the heady 1960s and '70s with women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, and Black Power movement would there be an anatomically correct African American baby boy doll, Mattel’s Baby Tender Love, molded in life-like vinyl skin called Dublon.

Other less well-known toys are long gone from the toy store shelves but live on in the very personal memories (and actual childhood photographs!) featured throughout the book. Home health training specialist Lisa Crawford (b 1963) appropriately recalls the insanely dangerous metal-tipped lawn Jarts. I was delighted to find Make editor and fellow WINK contributor Gareth Branwyn’s (b 1958) recollection of using his own Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit to get an A+ on a school project (and to keep tabs on any hometown polluters!). Read the rest

GoPro modded on a Hot Wheels chassis

5MadMovieMakers revealed how they make their cool POV videos of Hot Wheels cars flying down tracks: a GoPro Hero affixed to Pharadox Hot Wheels Chassis. Read the rest

Make: jointed, hot glue-gunned cardboard toys

The Grid Kit makes a range of DIY toys that you punch out of precut cardboard sheets, glue-gun and assemble; the finished toys have working joints and can be painted or left plain. Read the rest

100% CGI versions of 80s tech and toys

Mike Campau recreated Generation Gap, a CGI series of some of the most iconic items from 1980s childhoods, each one lit with gorgeous multi-hued gradients. Read the rest

Fidget Cube: clicky, twisty cubes for "mindful fidgeting"

Kickstarter veterans Matthew and Mark McLachlan have raised nearly $1M for Fidget Cube: gadgets that you can switch, twist, click, glide, and roll when you want to do something with your hands. Read the rest

Tiny lego typewriter

Benjamin Cheh and Jeffrey Kong made this prototype Lego typewriter a couple of years ago: "a perfect example of how LEGO elements can pack so much detail in something so small. A retro creation for both the young and the young at heart – imagine this typewriter on your desk!" Their site's a treasure trove of Lego creations. [more, more] Read the rest

Funklet: drum sequences from classic tracks

Funklet is a new archive of drum patterns (not sampled loops) from classic funk songs, complete with brief histories and musical context. Each can be edited in a simple embedded sequencer and shared. [via r/InternetIsBeautiful] Read the rest

The boy who inhaled a squeaky dog toy

"How can you tell?" Read the rest

Create a fractal castle made of miniature copies of itself

Castles is a fascinating web toy by Nico Disseldorp. Left-click to add a castle to the outside of your castle—and watch as every part of the castle, including the added part, changes to reflect the form of the new whole. Right click to spin it around so you don't go mad. He's made other mind-melting recursion toys too. Read the rest

Public Enemy action figures by Ed Piskor

Boing Boing comic artist Ed Piskor, creator of the stupendous Hip Hop Family Tree, designed this set of Public Enemy Action Figures! They're sculpted by Tomohiro Yasui and stand around 4" tall. They're articulated at the neck, shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees.

Pre-order them from Presspop Toy for $60/set: PUBLIC ENEMY Action Figure Set (via Dangerous Minds)

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NES Classic Edition looks like great fun—but will it hack?

Nintendo's miniature re-release of the NES is, it seems, another one of those several-games-in-one nostalgia toys. But it's a good one, with 30 classic titles, the same great design in miniature, and compatibility with modern wireless controllers. It'll be out November 11 for $60. Read the rest

Lego's doing a 4,080-piece, $350 Cinderella's castle

No release date as yet! (Thanks, Sal!) Read the rest

Video about a cool gravity-fed marble "computer" game that beats human players

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

You think Captain America being a Nazi is bad? Try Spider-Man as a stripper

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Hot Wheels is making a Spock-leaning-on-a-64-Buick car for Comic-Con

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

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