Tag Archives | Toys

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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Mexican Island Inhabited by Creepy Dolls

Delana at Web Urbanist reports on Mexico’s Island of Misfit Toys:


On a dark and creepy island in the canals of Xochimico near Mexico City sits what might be the world’s strangest and scariest tourist attraction ever. However, this sad island was never meant to be a stop on tourists’ holiday itineraries. The Island of the Dolls was dedicated to the lost soul of a poor little girl who met her fate too soon.

The Island of the Dolls (Isla de las Munecas) sits in the canals south of Mexico City and is the current home of hundreds of terrifying, mutilated dolls. Their severed limbs, decapitated heads, and blank eyes adorn trees, fences and nearly every available surface. The dolls appear menacing even in the bright light of midday, but in the dark they are particularly haunting.

Not surprisingly, the island’s origins lie in tragedy. The story goes that the island’s only inhabitant, Don Julian Santana, found the body of a drowned child in the canal some 50 years ago.

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1 In 3 Adults In Britain Take A Teddy To Bed

Photo: Waugsberg (GNU)

Photo: Waugsberg (GNU)

Is it just a British thing? From the Telegraph:

More than a third of adults still hug a childhood soft toy while falling asleep, according to a new survey. More than half of Britons still have a teddy bear from childhood and the average teddy bear is 27 years old, the poll found.

Travelodge, the hotel chain, surveyed 6,000 British adults and found that respondents said sleeping with a teddy a “comforting and calming” way to end the day.

The survey also found that 25 per cent of men said they even took their teddy away with them on business because it reminded them of home.

Travelodge said that in the past year staff have reunited more than 75,000 teddies and their owners.

Spokesman Shakila Ahmed said: “Interestingly the owners have not just been children, we have had a large number of frantic businessmen and women call us regarding their forgotten teddy bear.”

Corrine Sweet, a psychologist, said cuddling a teddy bear was an ‘important part of our national psyche’…

[continues in the Telegraph]

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Lego Is The Most Popular Toy Ever – But Has Lost Its Patent

Would you have guessed Lego, the Danish phenomenon that has intrigued generations of kids and adults alike? Maybe, but can Lego hold that Number 1 spot now that its patent has expired? Report from Fast Company:
If you grew up thinking Lego was the bomb, better than any other toy in your collection, turns out you're not alone: A new broad-ranging survey of over 3,000 folks has revealed it's the most popular toy ever manufactured, even more so than Barbie, Game Boys and a dozen other pretenders. Firebox.com, an online toy and...
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One Third Of Children’s Toys In The U.S. Are Toxic

AFP reports that you may be giving your kids a stocking full o’ cancer and developmental defects this Christmas:

A third of the most popular children’s toys in the United States this year contain harmful chemicals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury, a US consumer group said Wednesday.

The Ecology Center tested nearly 700 toys ahead of the Christmas shopping season and found that 32 percent contained one or more toxic chemical.

Lead levels in toys varied, with seven percent containing more than 40 parts per million (ppm), the highest level recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2007. Another three percent of the products tested had levels exceeding 300 ppm, the federally-mandated limit.

Among the toys with detectable lead levels were the Barbie Bike Flair Accessory Kit, the Dora the Explorer Activity Tote and the Kid’s Poncho sold by Wal-Mart stores.

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