The new LEGO Star Wars Mandalorian Battle Pack!

The LEGO Mandalorian Battle Pack comes with 4 Mandalorian shock trooper minifigs!

The speeder bike is cool, but 4 Mando minifigs for this price is a steal.

LEGO Star Wars Mandalorian Battle Pack 75267 Mandalorian Shock Troopers and Speeder Bike Building Kit; Great Gift Idea for Any Fan of Star Wars: The Mandalorian TV Series, New 2020 (102 Pieces) via Amazon Read the rest

Pusheenicorn

Behold! The Pushineenicorn [Amazon], product of a union betwixt pusheen and unicorn.

PUSHEEN + UNICORN = PUSHEENICORN: This 13" plush brings the bright and beautiful Pusheenicorn to life! Features a colorful rainbow mane and tail as well as a sparkly unicorn horn. SOFT & HUGGABLE: Made from a soft, huggable material

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New Etch A Sketch lets you draw curves

Spotted at the New York Fair - a new Etch A Sketch, called The Revolution, that lets you draw curves and circles.

From Gizmodo:

The Etch a Sketch Revolution is a tad smaller than your typical Etch a Sketch, but it does feature the two signature knobs at the bottom. The main difference is it features a spinning screen that makes drawing circles magnitudes easier. As in, all you have to do is manipulate the knobs on the spinning rim, and that’s it. It’s simple, but pretty neat when you consider just how torturous trying to draw anything circular, rounded, or curvy on a traditional Etch a Sketch is.

[via Core 77]

(Image: Lizzie Erwood , CC-BY 2.0) Read the rest

Kapibara-san, Capybara plush toys from Japan

Japan is increasingly obsessed with capybaras, the best rodent and very likely the best animal of all time. Accordingly, there's a plush toy craze to go with it: behold Kapibara-san.

No animal is complete without its own cute character in Japan—and capybaras have Kapibara-san (link in Japanese). By one estimate, over 5,000 items (link in Japanese) now bear the face of the character, which was launched in 2005. According to Kapibara-san’s owner, toy giant Bandai, capybaras are known for their ”happy, natural, and easygoing lifestyle” and loved for their healing effect on humans.

The photo above was posted by Tryworks. Kapibara-San are available on Amazon, but eBay has better deals.

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Amazon item description includes "Shipped from Amazon Warehouse in US, Free from Virus"

My young son has an inordinate fondness of trucks, and while acquiring trucks yesterday I noticed that this Mercedes-Benz 1/20-scale Dump Truck includes the text "Shipped from Amazon Warehouse in US, Free from Virus."

This fascinating statement suggests a consumer fear that seems absurd -- that one can contract coronavirus from toy trucks shipped directly from the Chinese factory.

Note that the statement isn't in the actual product description text, but is embedded into a product photograph. This might be a way of evading detection or circumventing Amazon rules on product descriptions. I haven't seen anything else like it on other products or stores, but it's an excellent inception point for irrational consumer behavior.

However, this CNN story says other coronaviruses can live for at least nine days on inanimate surfaces such as plastic. So caveat truckor.

DOUBLE E Remote Control Dump Truck 1/20 Mercedes-Benz Licensed 8 Channel RC Construction Vehicles with Lights and Sounds [coronavirus-free Amazon link] Read the rest

Wooden toy train stunts

The literature promises "sick drifts and flips on the Island of Sodor" and that's exactly what you get. Read the rest

Hot Wheels Camaro valued at the same price as four real Camaros

Esteemed toy collector Joel Magee of Pawn Stars fame has acquired a prototype of an original Hot Wheels Camaro that was part of the 1968 "Sweet 16" series of the first Hot Wheels cars. Magee says the Camaro is valued at US$100,000 although, in reality, it is only worth whatever someone will pay for it. Apparently the white enamel paint indicates that it was a prototype. From Carscoops:

Only a “few” prototypes are known to have been mistakenly sent to retailers and most buyers would have been clueless. That appears to be what happened to the Camaro as it was found among a set of several other Hot Wheels cars. Joel examined the collection and consulted a Hot Wheels expert to determine that the “lone white Camaro was, in fact, the rarest of rare.”

Magee says the Camaro is the third rarest Hot Wheels car and the only one of its kind believed to exist. That puts it in rare company as “The Beach Bomb and the Olds 442 are the only other rare Hot Wheels on the level of the white enamel Hong Kong Camaro.”

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Meet the rocket scientist who invented the Super Soaker

Lonnie Johnson, age 70, was always a maker. As a child, his experiments with rocket fuel nearly burned down his house. While in high school, Johnson was the only black student to enter the Alabama science fair; his entry, a pneumatic robot named Linex, took first prize. Johnson went on to earn engineering degrees from Tuskegee University, worked on the stealth bomber for the US Air Force, developed nuclear power systems for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and has since founded two tech companies -- one that develops solid state batteries and the other focused on thermo-electrochemical converters with green energy applications.

Oh yeah, he also invented the Super Soaker.

From William Broad's 2001 New York Times profile of Johnson :

On his day job in 1982, Lonnie G. Johnson, a 32-year-old aerospace engineer, was preparing an interplanetary spacecraft for its atomic battery. But he dreamed of inventing something that would change life on earth.

He often worked at home as his wife and children slept. One weekend, while tinkering in his bathroom, Mr. Johnson hooked up to the sink a prototype cooling device.

Meant to run on water, it bore at one end a length of vinyl tubing and a homemade metal nozzle. The rest, as they say, is history.

''I turned and shot into the bathtub,'' he recalled. The blast was so powerful that the whoosh of accompanying air set the bathroom curtains flying. ''I said to myself, 'Jeez, this would make a great water gun.' ''

(via The Kid Should See This) Read the rest

Teddy Ruxpin participates in Trump's impeachment trial

And if you don't know...

From Wikipedia:

Teddy Ruxpin is an animatronic children's toy in the form of a talking Illiop, which looks like a bear. The creature's mouth and eyes move while "reading" stories played on an audio tape cassette deck built into its back. It was created by Ken Forsse with later assistance by Larry Larsen and John Davies,and the first version of the toy was designed by the firm RKS Design. Later versions used a digital cartridge in place of a cassette. At the peak of its popularity, Teddy Ruxpin became the best-selling toy of 1985 and 1986, and the 2006 version was awarded the 2006 Animated Interactive Plush Toy of the Year award by Creative Child Magazine. A cartoon based on the characters debuted in 1986.

And from the Muppet Wiki:

Little Boppers were a line of toys made by Worlds of Wonder in 1987. The toys were sound-activated plush dolls that would "dance" to music. The toys featured plush covered plastic "feet" which were articulated at the "hips" and propelled the toys forward and side to side.

Versions of Baby Piggy and Baby Kermit were produced, along with a line of Disney figures (Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy), comical versions of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolf Man, and Worlds of Wonder's own Teddy Ruxpin.

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New Lego International Space Station model kit

Lego fan Christophe Ruge's design for an International Space Station model was selected for production in celebration of the Lego IDEAS site's tenth anniversary. The 864-piece set also includes a NASA space shuttle, three cargo spacecraft, and two astronaut minifigures. It's $69.99 and will be available next month. From the press release:

The realistic set features a posable Canadarm2 and two rotating joints that coincide with eight adjustable solar panels, to replicate the out-of-this-world complexity of the real space station that orbits the Earth sixteen times a day!

Measuring over 7” (20cm) high, 12” (31cm) long and 19” (49cm) wide, the LEGO Ideas International Space Station makes an eye-catching display model that will perfectly compliment any LEGO brick space collection.

The set comes complete with a 148-page illustrated instruction booklet, packed with interesting facts and information about the International Space Station itself and the LEGO fan who created the original design for the set.

Lego International Space Station (Lego.com)

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The inventor of the ball pit was inspired by a jar of pickled onions

More than 40 years ago, Eric McMillan, a renowned designer of children's play areas, and his team created the ball pit, those troughs of brightly-colored plastic balls that children swim around in. (Ball pits also may be a giant petri dish of pathogens but, hell, the kids love 'em.) Apparently, McMillan--who went on to be known as the "father of soft play" for his numerous playful innovations like the "punch bag forest"--found his inspiration for the ball pit in his kitchen. From the BBC:

McMillan and his team came up with the idea for the ball pit in San Diego more than 40 years ago, when inspiration struck after looking at a container of pickled onions in the kitchen. “There was a jar of onions, and we were sort of saying: ‘wow, how about if you could crawl through those? And then – ding – we decided we’d try it,” he says.

The first ball pit, filled with 40,000 balls, opened soon after their epiphany. “People just went crazy about it. Thank God for those onions.”

More in this BBC podcast: "Pickled onions inspired me to design the ball pit"

image: "Children in ball pit in Nachshonit" by יעקב (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Patent for a toy turtle operated by houseflies

In 1926, Oscar Williams of San Diego, California was granted a patent on a toy turtle operated by houseflies buzzing around inside. From patent number US1591905A, "Artificial Animal":

My invention relates to artificial animals with movable limbs and members operated by natural animals or insects and the objects of my invention are: First, to provide an animal of this class which in appearance resembles a natural animal and in which the limbs or members are movable substantially as those of the natural animal; second, to provide an animal of this class in which the limbs and members are pivotally, reliably and reciprocally mounted in the body thereof to obtain a variety of motion of said limbs and members; third, to provide an animal of this class in which the interior of the body portion or the parts containing movable members are made hollow so as to provide ample space for the movement and operation of the natural animals or insects placed within said hollow portion; fourth, to provide an animal of this class in which means are provided to keep the natural animal or insect in the interior thereof in motion and thus provide continuous movement of the said limbs or members; fifth, to provide an animal of this class with a convenient and novel means of entrance and exit of said natural animals or insects; sixth, to provide an animal of this class which is .novelly constructed and seventh, to provide an animal of this class which is very simple and economical of construction, durable, and which will not readily deteriorate or get out of order.

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The game Operation was born as a test of desert survival skills

We all know the game Operation in which the player must conduct surgery on a curious character named Cavity Sam. As the commercial goes, "It takes a very steady hand." But as sci-tech historian Allison Marsh writes in IEEE Spectrum, Operation evolved from a very different electrified game called Death Valley that was invented in the early 1960s by a University of Illinois industrial design student named John Spinello. From IEEE Spectrum:

Spinello’s game, called Death Valley, didn’t feature a patient, but rather a character lost in the desert. His canteen drained by a bullet hole, he wanders through ridiculous hazards in search of water. Players moved around the board, inserting their game piece—a metal probe—into holes of various sizes. The probe had to go in cleanly without touching the sides; otherwise it would complete a circuit and sound a buzzer. Spinello’s professor gave him an A....

Spinello sold the idea to Marvin Glass and Associates, a Chicago-based toy design company, for US $500, his name on the U.S. patent (3,333,846), and the promise of a job, which never materialized.

Mel Taft, a game designer at Milton Bradley, saw a prototype of Death Valley and thought it had potential. His team tinkered with the idea but decided it would be more interesting if the players had to remove an object rather than insert a probe. They created a surgery-themed game, and Operation was born.

BUTTAFINGAS!

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Nemesis Prime Transformer has a G-Shock wristwatch in its chest

Casio G-Shock and Transformers are releasing a Nemesis Prime action figure that contains a G-Shock wristwatch in its chest. More than meets the eye, the Optimus Prime also transforms into a fancy pedestal for the watch when it's not on your wrist. The ¥30,000 JPY (US$275) set will only be available in Japan.

G-SHOCK DW-5600TF19-SET (Hypebeast)

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How wallpaper cleaner became one of the most popular toys ever

During the early 20th century, Kutol Products was the world's biggest manufacturer of wallpaper cleaning products. But once coal heating in homes was replaced with oil, gas, and electricity, dirty wallpaper became less of a problem and Kutol was in trouble. So in 1956, they pivoted. From Smithsonian:

Joseph McVicker was trying to turn around the struggling company when his sister-in-law read an article about how wallpaper cleaner could be used for modeling projects. Sister-in-law Kay Zufall, a nursery school teacher, tested the nontoxic material with children, who loved molding it into all kinds of shapes. She told McVicker of her discovery and even suggested a new name: Play-Doh...

Originally available in white only in 1956, Play-Doh soon expanded to include basic colors red, blue and yellow. It is now sold in a panoply of hues, including Rose Red, Purple Paradise, Garden Green and Blue Lagoon. The Putty line includes metallic and glittery tints. The recipe has gone through minor modifications over time. At one point, the amount of salt was reduced so the product would not dry out so quickly. But, for the most part, the mixture has remained the same.

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Custom action figure art show featuring Bloodsport, Death Becomes Her, and more

Gallery 1988's latest show features multiple artists, including Dano Brown's custom action figures.  Even Funko and Super 7 haven't gotten around to movie icons of yesteryear like Nurse Ratched, Billy Sole, and D-Fens:

Brown's contributions to the show include other style toys:

You can buy these and more at Gallery 1988. Read the rest

Minnesota county museum's impressive collection of creepy antique dolls

Olmsted County, Minnesota's History Center are sharing portraits of the creepiest dolls in their antiques collection. Folks can vote online for their favorite and the winner will be on display next week for Halloween. From MPR News:

"The doll I disdain handling is the one with human hair,” said curator Dan Nowakowski as he holds up a doll from the 1800s with an impressive braid and a dead-eye stare...

One creepshow contender was made with cloth for the head and limbs. "And then it was painted with a facial tone color, but the paint has chipped away,” Nowakowski said. “And now, unfortunately with the paint chipping, it looks like a mummy."

Nowakowski said that for a lot of the collection's dolls, the unsettling freakiness is all in the eyes.

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