Every item scanned as "Mr Potato Head" in glitch at department stores

Yesterday, five large department stores in the towns of Lindsay and Whitby, Ontario, Canada had to temporarily stop ringing up customers because every item scanned at the register showed up as Mr. Potato Head.

"A point of sale downloading error caused item names to appear incorrectly," said Cathy Kurzbock, manager of external communications for department store chain Canadian Tire. "It has since been corrected and the stores are operating normally."

Apparently, they don't suspect this was a prank but, well, I wouldn't be so sure.

(MyKwartha.com) Read the rest

Traintrackr is a light-up circuit-board map of the London Underground or Boston Metro

Traintrackr is a powered circuit board showing a map of the London Underground, lighting up in real time to show train positions on 333 stations on all 12 main lines. It connects to the tube's API for live location data every second. The board is 400mm x 300mm and sells for £249. (There's also the Boston Metro) Read the rest

Updating Hemingway's saddest shortest story for the pandemic age

Top image: JD Hancock / Flickr (CC 2.0) Read the rest

Why this sliding tile puzzle arrangement is impossible

You are probably familiar with these little tile slide puzzles with 15 tiles that slide around in a 4 x 4 grid. The object is to slide the tiles around so that the tiles marked 1 through 15 are arranged in numerical order. The card that comes with the puzzle shows a number of different ways to arrange the numbers, including arranging the tiles in reverse numerical order. In this episode of Numberphile we learned why this particular arrangement is impossible.

: YouTube Read the rest

The wonderful history of Troll Dolls

To mark last week's release of the new Trolls World Tour movie, Smithsonian's Michelle Delgado tells the origin story of Troll Dolls, from their birth following World War II their modern day big screen revival. The tale begins in Gjøl, Denmark, home to baker Thomas Dam (1915-1989) who could no longer work when the local flour factory went out of business. From Smithsonian:

Dam would sit near the fireplace, carving bits of wood while he thought. He often carved funny creatures to entertain his children, and eventually, his wife persuaded him to try selling the figurines. Dam packed up as many as he could carry and traveled to Aalborg, the nearest city, where he planned to knock on doors. He came home empty-handed, having successfully sold them all.

As Dam’s figurines found fans in Aalborg, customers began commissioning bigger projects. Before long, Dam became a working sculptor whose reputation eventually exceeded Denmark’s borders. In 1956, a Swedish department store hired him to create a large sculpture of Santa Claus, kicking off the chain of events that nudged Dam to fully embrace toy making.

When he finished installing the Santa Claus sculpture, Dam realized that it wasn’t completely visible from the street. He proposed an accompanying window display with a clever design. First, he sculpted tiny figures of Christmas elves—designed in a similar style to his soon-to-be-famous troll dolls—and dismantled a mattress, hiding a spring in each figurine’s body. Next, Dam built a display with a mechanism that lifted and dropped a long piece of wood.

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Art Director dice

The Pocket Art Director II offers even better advice than the 2014 original, "conveying a fresh perspective to accurately address the context and vigor of today’s commercial arts professional." In a world where there are too many options and too many things to worry about, this makes life simple. And right now, no-one has to know you're consulting! [via @doctorow]

See also the Pocket Dev and the Pocket Founder. Read the rest

A prototype toy line for the X-rated epic film disaster Caligula (1979)... April Fool's!

(Yes, this is an April Fool's joke.)

In 1979, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione produced a big budget feature film about the Roman emperor Caligula starring Maclolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole, and John Gielgud. Scripted by Gore Vidal and filled with graphic sex and violence, it was a critical and box office disaster but has garnered cult acclaim over the years. (Original trailer below.) Now, archivist Thomas Negovan and Shadow of the Vampire director E. Elias Merhig have located all of the original footage and are recutting the film into a 40th anniversary edition titled Caligula MMXX. Over the course of their research, they found this bizarre TV commercial produced for a line of Caligula action figures that, of course, never made it into production. Negovan tells Dangerous Minds:

A company named Cinco Toys pitched Guccione, who never met a deal he didn’t like, on them getting a license to do a line of action figures. Star Wars action figures were making millions and apparently they pitched him pretty hard for this. Caligula‘s budget was twice that of Star Wars. They made a handful of prototypes for action figures. They even went so far as to make a spec TV commercial to woo Guccione to let them do this, which is extra insane. They made it like he (Guccione) would be (star) in the commercial himself and had someone do a VO as if they were Bob. And there it was on the shelf with the various drafts of the script.

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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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