Tag Archives | Toys

Toys Of The Atomic Age

Oak Ridge Associated Universities has a groovy collection of vintage “atomic toys” and games for children which referenced and/or promoted nuclear technology. Included are board games such as “Uranium Rush” and “Nuclear War” and, below, 1952’s Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came with four pieces of real uranium:

Today, it is so highly prized by collectors that a complete set can go for more than 100 times the original price. The set came with four types of uranium ore, a beta-alpha source (Pb-210), a pure beta source (Ru-106), a gamma source (Zn-65?), a spinthariscope, a cloud chamber with its own alpha source, an electroscope, a geiger counter, and a comic book (Dagwood Splits the Atom).

GilbertAtomicOpentrimmed

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Marvel Comics Lawyers Argue That Mutants Are Not Human

God Loves, Man KillsBullpen Bulletin! A “real world” conflict based on the bottom line has infringed on the civil liberties of our uncanny “fictional” heroes, who have lately made a ton of dough for their corporate creator. Grant Morrison has tread this ground in Animal Man to explore the dynamic between the creator and the creation, but sans the grand mega-corporate, economic drama. (Probably need to see Seaguy for that: I wonder if Mickey Eye is behind the actions of Marvel’s Law Defense Team!)

The folks at io9.com do a great job of explaining how the map is not the territory in this collision of “realities.” As Meredith Woerner explains (and check out the Radiolab Podcast):

Mark this up as one more blow to human-mutant equality. Marvel lawyers are putting up a fight to prove the mutants aren’t the same as humans after all. Unleash the Sentinels!

This strange piece of news comes via the Radiolab Podcast, which uncovered a weird saga of legal wrangling and tariff shenanigans.

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British Man Kills Wife For Breaking His Star Wars Toys

starwarsI usually tune people out when they complain about how the population is becoming infantilized. However, case in point  — a 30-year-old British man murdered his wife after finding she had smashed his Darth Vader action figures and then “ran sobbing to his mother who lived nearby,” reports the Mirror:

A Star Wars fan was yesterday jailed for life after murdering his wife in an alleged revenge attack for smashing up his cherished toy collection.

Rickie La-Touche, 30, told a court that his Thai wife Pornpilai Srisroy, 28, had damaged his precious Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker memorabilia. He later suffocated her during a row and then ran sobbing to his mother who lived nearby.

La-Touche later told police his wife had smashed up his Star Wars collection as part of a campaign to “make his life hell”. He also claimed he “flipped” when she threatened to leave him to go back to Thailand.

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Was A Furby Threat to National Security?

FurbyA blast from the past. CNN reported back in 1999...
Can the cute, popular toy Furby be a threat to national security? The government thinks so, and has banned it from National Security Agency premises in Maryland. Furby is embedded with a computer chip that allows it to record words. Because of that ability, NSA officials were worried "that people would take them home and they'd start talking classified," one Capitol Hill source told The Washington Post. In a warning to employees, the NSA said, "Personally owned photographic, video and audio recording equipment are prohibited items. This includes toys, such as 'Furbys,' with built-in recorders that repeat the audio with synthesized sound to mimic the original signal." "We are prohibited from introducing these items into NSA spaces. Those who have should contact their Staff Security Office for guidance," a memo said.
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Student Creates LEGO Helmet So You Can Listen To Comics

Lego-Helmet-Book-Reader

Kirstin Butler writes on i09:

A student in product design at the University of Dundee in Scotland, Robson created the toy with his own memories as inspiration. He said:

When I was young I played with LEGO a lot and all I used to read was the comic stories in LEGO Club magazines, I’d like to give something back to them as they helped me learn to read… I’ve been looking at what I enjoyed in my childhood to apply to new ideas and solutions of today.

By inserting the LEGO-brick USB into a slot in the helmet, the lucky kid wearing it can follow along with the comics, games, and puzzles in the subscription-only magazine.

Our only question is, when can we order the adult-size version?

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Casualties of War: The Most Depressive Toy Soldiers Ever

Created by Dorothy via Sad And Useless: Toy SoldierSays Dorothy: The hell of war comes home. In July 2009 Colorado Springs Gazettea published a two-part series entitled “Casualties of War”. The articles focused on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, who since returning from duty in Iraq had been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. Returning soldiers were committing murder at a rate 20 times greater than other young American males. A separate investigation into the high suicide rate among veterans published in the New York Times in October 2010 revealed that three times as many California veterans and active service members were dying soon after returning home than those being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We hear little about the personal hell soldiers live through after returning home.
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The Video Game Preservation Crisis

studio_II_layoutPerhaps they were conceived as toys for children, but video games of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s are significant artifacts of 20th-century technological, cultural, and design history. Much of that history is being lost or thrown away. Gamasutra discusses the Game Preservation Crisis:

Trash cans, landfills, and incinerators. Erasure, deletion, and obsolescence. These words could describe what has happened to the various building blocks of the video game industry in countries around the world. These building blocks consist of video game source code, the actual computer hardware used to create a particular video game, level layout diagrams, character designs, production documents, marketing material, and more.

These are just some elements of game creation that are gone — never to be seen again. These elements make up the home console, handheld, PC and arcade games we’ve played. The only remnant of a particular game may be its name, or its final published version, since the possibility exists that no other physical copy of its creation remains.

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Christmas Gift In the 1890s: Edison’s Talking “Monster” Doll

Photo: Robin & Jean Rolfs

Photo: Robin & Jean Rolfs

Via GE Reports:

While we may never know what the ‘must have’ Christmas gift was in 1890, we do know that it most assuredly wasn’t Thomas Edison’s talking doll.

Using miniature phonographs embedded inside, these “talking” baby dolls were toy manufacturers’ first attempt at using sound technology in toys. They marked a collaboration between Edison and William Jacques and Lowell Briggs, who worked to miniaturize the phonograph starting in 1878.

Unfortunately, production delays, poor recording technology, high production costs, and damages during distribution all combined to create toys that were a complete disaster, terrifying children and costing their parents nearly a month’s pay.

Edison would later refer to the dolls as his “little monsters.” The recording below is of “Little Jack Horner” and comes from one of the actual dolls, courtesy of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park.

[Continues with sound clip of recording at GE Reports]

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