Lego's new green-minded effort to collect and redistribute old bricks

Today, Lego announced Replay, an initiative to collect, clean, and redistribute old bricks through organizations like Teach For America and the Boys and Girls Club of Boston. Basically, you toss your old Legos in a box and ship them off with a prepaid label provided by logistics company Give Back Box. From Wired:

The biggest challenge in the process, says Give Back Box founder Monika Wiela, will be sorting and cleaning all the pieces. Her company will collect the bricks at its facility in Alabama, where workers will then separate out the broken bricks and machine wash the rest. The goal is to make the donated toys seem like new, as opposed to grimy hand-me-downs.

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Halloween mask of Sloth from The Goonies deemed inaccurate

Trumpetcake spotted a remarkable item on Amazon being sold as "The Goonies Sloth Mask", perfect for Halloween. The sole customer review awards it 5 stars, but people on Twitter seem unimpressed with its versimilitude.

P.S. You can buy Babe Ruth bars on Amazon by the crate. Read the rest

LEGO Star Wars Ski Speeder with Poe Dameron minifig

Relive the glorious moment when the First Order almost ended the Resistance! This lovely model of the rinky-dink Crait Ski Speeder will take you there.

The kit comes with a Poe Dameron minfig as well as some Admiral named Ematt, a 'resistance trooper' and 2 First Order snowtroopers. Pretty sure the resistance guy dies easy.

You may engage in futile attacks on the Mobile Big Laser used by the FI to smash the resistance's big barn door!

LEGO Star Wars: The Last Jedi Defense of Crait 75202 Building Kit (746 Piece) via Amazon Read the rest

Electronic "sand toy" features LEDs that shift as if affected by gravity

There's a detailed guide to building the LED Matrix Sand Toy at Adafruit:

These LEDs interact with motion and looks like they’re affect by gravity. An Adafruit LED matrix displays the LEDs as little grains of sand which are driven by sampling an accelerometer with Raspberry Pi Zero!

The 3D Printed handles make it easy to hold the 64x64 LED Matrix and the two buttons make it easy to switch modes or reset simulations!

The code, written by Phillip Burgess, simulates physics by calculating collisions and terminal velocity.

It looks particularly beautiful in the dark:

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Mattel launches line of "gender inclusive" dolls

Mattel, makers of Barbie and many other toys, has launched "Creatable World," a line of $30 customizable dolls with "extensive wardrobe options, accessories and wigs allow kids to style the doll with short or long hair, or in a skirt, pants, or both."

“Toys are a reflection of culture and as the world continues to celebrate the positive impact of inclusivity, we felt it was time to create a doll line free of labels,” Kim Culmone, Senior Vice President of Mattel Fashion Doll Design, said in a statement. “Through research, we heard that kids don’t want their toys dictated by gender norms. This line allows all kids to express themselves freely which is why it resonates so strongly with them. We’re hopeful Creatable World will encourage people to think more broadly about how all kids can benefit from doll play.”

Creatable World dolls (Amazon)

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Nerf unveils "DRM for darts"

Hasbro's got a new foam dart gun, the $50 Nerf Ultra One blaster, and to make sure that owners of this toy arrange their affairs to the benefit of Hasbro's shareholders, the company has engineered a digital rights management system that detects and refuses to fire third-party darts, which sell by the hundreds for just a few bucks (the official darts are $10 for 20), which means that party organizers running Nerf wars will have to scale back their ambitions or shell out like crazy. Read the rest

Fantastic fingerboard trick video from 1999

These days, my 13-year-old son and his friends are all about playing with their Tech Deck fingerboards during lunch at school. This 1999 video "Fingers of Fury!" is from 1999 yet two decades later, kids (and adults) are still fanatic about fingerboarding. From Consumer Time Capsule:

Famous fingerboarders Darin Langhorst, Damien Bernadet and Tony Pauthex showcase their skills on a variety of obstacles, such as a mini railing, a wooden box and, well, more railings and boxes.

After a two minute and thirty second compilation including all three athletes' arsenal, we're treated to a feature dubbed, "learning how to do what you want your fingers to do," featuring Darin Langhorst. In this section, Darin explains the succession of tricks that you should learn, each supported with slow motion illustrations. After covering the basics, Langhorst describes the importance of ollies: a lifting of the board, using the "g-forces" exerted by your fingers.

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Mattel designed a Barbie doll honoring Eleni Antoniadou's accomplishments, but what are they?

Eleni Antoniadou's reported accomplishments were so impressive that Mattel designed a Barbie doll based on her as part of its International Women’s Day celebration.

But those "accomplishments" might all be nonexistent. Here's a partial list from the BBC as to suspicions raised:

Claim: She worked on the world's first artificial trachea that was successfully transplanted to a patient.

Counterclaim: She was a postgraduate student at UCL and was remotely involved with the surgery. The transplant ended with one of the biggest scandals in modern medicine, covered here by the BBC. The patient died after his body did not accept the transplant. Long after his death, Ms Antoniadou gave interviews in Greece saying how she had saved the patient's life and how the patient was living a normal life.

Claim: She has been working for a number of years as a researcher at Nasa.

Counterclaim: She attended a 10-week summer school there and took a lot of pictures around the US space agency's facilities wearing clothes with the Nasa logo. Nasa has denied she works directly for the agency, but has not excluded the possibility that she may be working as a sub-contractor.

The Telegraph is also investigating:

The NASA-ESA Outstanding Researcher Award does not appear to exist and Ms Antoniadou's name is not included in Nasa's record of its award winners.

(Via Ben Collins.) Read the rest

A lovely film of spinning tops by Charles and Ray Eames

In 1969, visionary designers Charles and Ray Eames directed this cinematic ballet of more than 100 spinning tops from around the world. The score is by famed Hollywood composer Elmer Bernstein (The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, Airplane!, etc.). From the Eames Office:

Tops had its genesis in an earlier film produced for the Stars of Jazz television program in 1957. The Eameses decided to make a longer, color version in 1966, which they worked on in spare moments between other projects.

The film is a celebration of the ancient art and craft of top-making and spinning. One hundred and twenty-three tops spin to the accompaniment of a score by Elmer Bernstein. Using close-up, live-action photography, the film shows tops, old and new, from various countries, including China, Japan, India, the United States, France, and England.

Charles’s fascination with spinning tops went back to his childhood; in this film he found a perfect vehicle for demonstrating their beauty in motion and for making visual points about the universality of tops, the physics of motion (MIT physics professor, Philip Morrison, often showed the film to students and colleagues), and the intimate relationship between toys and science.

(via Aeon) Read the rest

The Slinky was invented by accident

Today is National Slinky Day. As Rachael Lallensack writes in Smithsonian, a spring, a spring, this marvelous thing was invented by accident:

In 1943, mechanical engineer Richard James was designing a device that the Navy could use to secure equipment and shipments on ships while they rocked at sea. As the story goes, he dropped the coiled wires he was tinkering with on the ground and watched them tumble end-over-end across the floor.

After dropping the coil, he could have gotten up, frustrated, and chased after it without a second thought. But he—as inventors often do—had a second thought: perhaps this would make a good toy.

As Jonathon Schifman reported for Popular Mechanics, Richard James went home and told his wife, Betty James, about his idea. In 1944, she scoured the dictionary for a fitting name, landing on “slinky,” which means “sleek and sinuous in movement or outline.” Together, with a $500 loan, they co-founded James Industries in 1945, the year the Slinky hit store shelves...

Seventy-two years ago, Richard James received a patent for the Slinky, describing “a helical spring toy which will walk on an amusement platform such as an inclined plane or set of steps from a starting point to successive lower landing points without application of external force beyond the starting force and the action of gravity.” He had worked out the ideal dimensions for the spring, 80-feet of wire into a two-inch spiral. (You can find an exact mathematical equation for the slinky in his patent materials.) It was Betty that masterminded the toy’s success.

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Ponyhenge is a place where toy rocking horses go to die

Or live on, depending on who you talk to.

Ponyhenge started when a toy rocking horse was discarded in a field. It had been part of a headless horseman decoration from a nearby, shuttered haunted house. Soon, other toy horses joined it, lined up in a circle.

The herd mysteriously multiplies, moves around, and gets decorated seasonally. Roadtrippers reports:

The herd has not only grown in the last nine years, but the horses have been known to change positions unexpectedly. Like a less-labor-intensive crop circle, no one is quite sure who moves the residents of Ponyhenge, but every so often they are rearranged into a new formation...

For the Kentucky Derby, that the horses were moved into lines, waiting for a starting gunshot that presumably never came. After Labor Day… the horses were arranged in rows as if they were in school. They’re draped in lights at Christmas, and sometimes they’re buried completely by snow during the harsh New England winters.

The Rocking Horse Graveyard, as it's also called, has been a roadside attraction since 2010.

Want to see it for yourself? Head to 47 Old Sudbury Road in Lincoln, Massachusetts and look by the side of the road. It's on private property, so be respectful.

(RED, Nag on the Lake)

screenshot via Erin Essex Read the rest

Trade war: Hasbro is shifting manufacturing to Vietnam and India, drawing down production in China

Thanks to Trump's tariffs and saber-rattling, Hasbro is investing in factories in Vietnam and India, de-emphasizing its China operations: the world's biggest toymaker insists that the initiative -- which will cut China's share of its manufacturing from two-thirds to one-half -- is about "spreading our footprint and adding new geographies for production." Read the rest

Mattel announces "David Bowie" Barbie doll

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," Mattel has announced a "David Bowie" Barbie doll. On Amazon, it's priced at $50. From the New York Times:

It’s a notably androgynous look for a doll that epitomized the stereotypes of feminine appearance in its earlier iterations. In more recent years, however, male celebrity depictions have not just been reserved for Ken. Over the past decade, Barbie has dressed like Andy Warhol, Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

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Miniature bear trap for your finger

This miniature recreation of a cruel device designed to trap animals is just adorable!

BrainfooTV:

Despite its looks this miniature pocket bear trap is not dangerous. The teeth are unsharpened and the spring is kept to a sensible limit. This build took me a while to get right. It took 4 or 5 revisions to this keychain trap toy to be fun, safe, and easy to build. It has roughly the same power as a clothes peg used for hanging out washing. Having said that use common sense should be used to keep them away from very small children or pets.

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"They Live": action figures for our present moment

I've often said that science fiction doesn't tell you much about the future, but it sure tells you a lot about the present: the fact that we're still citing Frankenstein and the Terminator tells you that we're worried about being carried away by our technology, the fact that we're still citing The Matrix tells you that we fear that the world is being secretly run by a conspiracy (and not without cause). Read the rest

Cool mixtape of Japanese toy commercials from 1990s-2000s

This ten-minute video of Japanese toy car, robot, and spacecraft TV commercials bears repeated viewing. The special effects (including stop-motion animation) are fantastic. My favorite is this one for Voltes V toys. Here are photos of the toys from that commercial. As you might guess, these toys sell for a fortune on eBay. Read the rest

I'm just a bowl cut and a sit and spin away from happiness

I spun til I was dizzy as fuck on that exact same Sit and Spin!

Rockin' out. Read the rest

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