Archive for the ‘Odd stuff’ Category
Legoman washed up on shore
A giant Legoman washed ashore in Siesta Key Village, Florida Tuesday. He’s about 8 feet tall and on his chest is the message "No real than you are." On his back is the name Ego Leonard and the number 8.
A google search leads to this website for Ego Leonard.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first Legoman to wash up on shores. Three years ago, one washed up in Zandvoort, Holland, and one also washed up on Brighton Beach, England. This leads to the question "were they all released into the sea at the same time and this guy has been making the transatlantic journey ever since?"
A google search of the text on his torso leads to this website for Ego Leonard, which seems to belong to a group of Dutch artists.
The information on the main page of their website says:
"I would like to introduce myself:
My name is Ego Leonard and according to you I come from the virtual world. A world that for me represents happiness, solidarity, all green and blossoming, with no rules or limitations.
Lately however, my world has been flooded with fortune-hunters and people drunk with power. And many new encounters in the virtual world have triggered my curiosity about your way of life.
I am here to discover and learn about your world and thoughts.
Show me all the beautiful things that are there to admire and experience in your world. Let’s become friends, share your story with me, take me with you on a journey through beautiful meadows, words, sounds and gestures."
Below is some video of the most recent visitor to our shores.
Margaux Lange loved Barbie as a child. As an adult with a bachelor of fine arts degree, she put that obsession to good use and began creating Barbie jewelry. But she went a few steps further than just standard Barbie jewelry. She creates hers by directly incorporating bits of discarded Barbie and Ken dolls.
The liberated Barbie pieces are imaginatively combined with sterling silver and pigmented resins to transform a mass-produced feminine icon into unique pieces of wearable art.
Her unique creations are sold at art and jewelry galleries and museum stores in the U.S. and as far away as Australia and Russia. They are also available for purchase on Etsy.
Some are quite beautiful and abstract until you look closely and realize that they are, in fact, made from pieces of dolls. Some are a bit disturbing. Some are a bit cutesy and some are quite elegant. A few are a bit provocative, using otherwise clothed sections of the dolls’ anatomy.
Barbie and Ken necklace
Turn the Other Cheek Bracelet
Victoria Cristofis with rescued "baby"
I read a news item on Gizmodo this morning that I found interesting. Police in Workshop, Nottinghamshire, received a call that a baby was left trapped in a hot locked car. They arrived on the scene and saw the baby in the car and smashed the window to get in and rescue… a doll.
The doll they rescued was a "Reborn Doll", named Sam, and was so lifelike it even has anatomically correct veins. Victoria Cristofis bought the doll for her daughter Chanel’s birthday in June and it not only looks like a real baby, it even smells like one (hmmm). This is not the first time Ms. Cristofis has had people mistake the doll for a baby. She’s been accosted by people while shopping and accused of mistreating it because she was handling it like a doll, she’s had people shout at her because she was allowing her daughter to shake her baby, and she’s had people come up to her and touch it, thinking it was real.
Original and "Reborn" doll
But this brought up a bigger question for me. What is a Reborn Doll?
Reborn dolls are realistic manufactured dolls that have been enhanced to be even more realistic. They are also known as "living dolls" or "unliving dolls" (a term which fits best for me). The hobby of enhancing dolls began around 1990 and has grown into quite an industry in recent years with finished dolls selling for as high as thousands of dollars. There’s also an extensive online community. At first doll collectors were purchasing them, but it has expanded to parents and even to women who "adopt" the dolls and treat them as infants. You can even get a doll customized to look like a particular infant.
Consumers can either buy a finished doll, or they can buy a kit to do the enhancements themselves. Manufacturers have responded by creating dolls meant just for the reborn process.
A Closeup of a reborn doll
The process of "reborning" can be quite extensive involving removing the factory paint from a doll, applying layers of paint for realistic skin appearance, replacing eyes, manicuring nails, drilling out nostrils, adding hair, weighting the body with pellets, weighting the head so the owner must support it just like a newborn, adding magnets for pacifiers, etc., implanting devices that simulate heartbeats or breathing. They can also include an umbilical cord, heat packs (so they are warm), and voice boxes, or anatomically correct genitals.
One problem with Reborning is that it runs the risk of dolls falling into the "Uncanny Valley". Meaning that they become so realistic that they become creepy. As human-like features in robots, animation and such become more lifelike we tend to like them up to a point. Once they start approaching truly lifelike features, they become creepy. Apparently for this reason department stores don’t carry the dolls.
Every year we go to Toy Fair in New York City. And every year we see dolls at Toy Fair. We don’t sell dolls at Dave’s Cool Toys for a couple of reasons. For one, there are just too many choices. Two, you can buy dolls anywhere. Three, I find most of them a bit creepy.
But none have come close to the one I found in a video the other day. The video I saw doesn’t show much of the doll and it seems like she has no bottom-half. But the second video of a very similar doll shows that she’ is lying on her stomach and kicking her feet behind her.
She wouldn’t be quite so creepy if she didn’t scream as if she was being murdered.
Creepy. Check her out.
My first thought when I saw this is "could this possibly be a real toy?" The answer is still a bit unclear.
The "Police Electric Baton Shock/Tricky Toy with Flashlight" is certainly being offered for sale and once I finally tracked down the site where it is for sale they do say that it is an adult toy and not for children or elders, although they do call it a "toy". It delivers 3.6V per shot by touching the baton to your victim’s skin and pressing the shock button at the same time. It also has a built in flashlight which you activate with a different button which is "safe to use if you don’t touch the shock button".
Just because a toy is labeled for adults only doesn’t mean that children won’t purchase or play with them. So if children play with a toy Tazer is this a problem? There are certainly plenty of toys on the market that deliver a shock. My kids had the Lightning Reaction game which shocks the players that are too slow on the draw. When I was a child, I had a shocking lighter
that I tricked friends with all the time. It was eventually stolen by a workman who picked it up and thought it was a real lighter and was made fun of by his friends.
And all these "shocking" games have a lineage that goes back to the original “Surprise Hand Buzzer” which didn’t actually deliver a shock, but which most kids probably wished that it did. Surprisingly it doesn’t seem as if anyone has actually created a true shocking hand buzzer yet.
But there’s a difference between tricking friends to pick up a shocking lighter or pen or playing a game that you know might deliver a shock and "Tazing" someone deliberately. There’s also an issue with the similarity between this toy and a real Tazer that blurs the lines for children a bit too much. But the argument could be made that it’s certainly not as bad as children having toy guns.
My opinion is that it’s just a bit too distasteful and doesnt’ feel right to jokingly taze people, even for adults. Maybe especially for adults.
The Police Electric Baton is available at Focalprice for only $3.40 with free shipping, which seems awfully cheap. Focalprice seems to be a dropshipper located in China and not really meant for consumers, although they do sell one item at a time and still offer free shipping. They mostly sell cell phone accessories and novelties.
Banana Twinkies from WalMart
I bought a box of Twinkies yesterday.
I know, "big deal". But I never buy or eat Twinkies. And these weren’t just any Twinkies. When I saw them I had to buy them.
They were Banana Twinkies.
A bit of Twinkie history for those who don’t know why Banana Twinkies are special: Twinkies were first created when a baker noticed that their baking pans for strawberry shortcake were going unused when strawberries were out of season (back when you couldn’t get fruit all year long). So he came up with a banana-filled shortcake to make in the off-season, and Twinkies were born. But during World War II bananas were rationed. So they had to switch to vanilla flavored filling. In the end, the vanilla Twinkies sold far better than the banana ones. So they never went back.
Unlike the original Twinkies, these are artificially flavored, which is a shame. So they aren’t true throwback Twinkies. But they are pretty good.
It looks like they’ve done the banana version at least once before, for a promotion with the movie King Kong. And it seems like these have been around for a bit, although they aren’t mentioned on the Hostess website.
Banana isn’t your favorite flavor? You’re in luck. Hostess will let you vote for the next Twinkie flavor. So put in your vote now! If you can’t wait for Hostess to create your flavor, you can always make your own with the Hostess Twinkies Bake Set. It’s a bit expensive at $99.00, but there’s also a generic version from Norpro that I’m sure will work just as well for around $20.00.
Twinkie Sushi. Yum.
For the true Twinkie fan, Hostess has a Twinkie cookbook. Some recipes include: Twinkie Sushi, Twinkie Burrito, Pigs in a Twinkie, and Pumpkin Twinkie Bread Pudding. I may need to try that last one.
I’ve got to squash some Twinkie urban legends:
Legend 1…Twinkies will last forever. They have a shelf life of 26 days. Twinkies only last that long because their recipe does not include milk or eggs.
Legend 2…Twinkies aren’t baked, they are "created" through chemical reactions that cause them to foam up and harden. Twinkies are baked like any other cake from standard ingredients, not a batch of chemicals. They are then injected with their filling through three holes. They do contain the usual chemicals that you’d find in most processed foods. To learn more about what’s in a Twinkie checkout Twinkie, Deconstructed, by Steve Etlinger. It will tell everything you ever wanted to know about how Twinkies are made.
Legend 3… Twinkies will survive Global Thermonuclear War. If Nuclear war occurs, don’t go searching for the Twinkie factory. Check out The T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project and click on the Radiation Test to see how Twinkies fared when exposed to microwave radiation. We don’t suggest you try this at home. It didn’t go well.
Santa won’t get past this Chimney undetected
It’s Christmas Eve and you’ve decided to catch Santa once-and-for-all. So you camp out on the sofa and wait for the jolly man. But, you doze off and when you wake up it’s Christmas morning and there are presents under the tree and your milk and cookies are nibbled and sipped. Now you have to wait another year to try again.
Well, Thomas Cane, of San Rafael California had enough of the routine and decided to do something about it.
So he invented "A children’s Christmas Stocking device useful for visually signaling the arrival of Santa Claus by illuminating an externally visible light source having a power source located within said device.
He was serious about it too. On August 19, 1994 he filed a Patent with the US Patent Office for the device. It’s patent number 5,523,741.
Here are a few tidbits from the patent:
"Modern folklore includes many mystical entities such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Etc. The most widely recognized and embraced by young children is Santa Claus—a plump, white-bearded and red-suited gentleman who delivers presents to "good" children at Christmas time."
"…there are no such prior art arrangements known to applicant which includes a light transmissive three dimensional hollow recognizable character rendition which is capable of being illuminated to signal the arrival of Santa Claus."
"This is particularly important to young children, providing reassurance that the child’s good behavior has in fact been rewarded by Santa Claus."
This is a good one…
"…the presently preferred embodiment of the children’s device… comprises a Christmas stocking having an enclosure therein to accommodate small Christmas presents/treats. The stocking includes a top portion, a heel portion and a toe portion. The stocking is preferably constructed out of a conventional cloth or synthetic material. As will be recognized by one skilled in the art, the stocking may comprise various conventional pliable materials."
Bascially, the way it works is you string ribbon across the fireplace and attach it to the stocking. When Santa arrives, he inadvertently pulls on the ribbon as he attempts to gain access to your home through the fireplace opening, which pulls on a switch, activating lights on the stockings and electronic music, if you’ve turned on that feature. An alternate version would use Santa cutouts rather than stockings which would move his arms, legs and head, doing a little dance. He has covered other holidays as well in the patent such as a version for the Easter Bunny.
Is Thomas Cane trying to catch Santa Clause? Maybe. But his invention is really meant as a product that "Santa" would purposely activate once the kids have gone to bed and the presents have "arrived", so they can check it when they get up in the morning to be sure Santa was there.
I checked online and found other similar items that are available now such as the Santa Evidence Kit. This kit has items that Santa has "left behind" as evidence to children that he was there such as a torn piece of his suit, a sleigh bell, a stencil and magic snow to create a snowy boot print, and more.
When you were a kid (or NOW, if you are a kid), what would you have given to have 1,200 Hot Wheels
Cars racing around a track all at the same time? I know!
Well, Chris Burden, an artist in California has done just that. He’s currently working on Metropolis II, an installation that will appear at the Low Angeles County Museum of Art.
Metropolis I was created in 2004 and was composed of 80 cars. Obviously he upgraded a bit for this new version.
I’m sure there’s a serious message behind this artwork, but for our purposes, it’s just way-cool. Hope it comes to the East Coast at some point in the future so I can see it in person.
A few weeks ago I posted about “Poop Up Pool” and wondered in the post whether it was a real photo or a photoshop fake.
Yesterday I got a message from a Krissi in Sweden that she’d seen this product, live and in-person in her local store. She took a photo with her cell phone and it’s posted below.
Here is what she said about it:
“This is from a Coop store, one of the major grocery chains in Sweden. It looks like the source from the first photo in your blog post was also at a Swedish Coop, since the price tag is the same. This isn’t the first time that poorly proofread Chinese import products have been on the shelves here…definitely the biggest howler though.
I tried to find this product on Amazon again and the only product that came up was “Dirty Jobs Season 4“. This says a lot about the show.
Poop Up Pool Confirmed!
Toys exposed by x-ray
Have you ever wondered what mysterious mechanisms might inhabit the depths of your favorite toy? If you recall my earlier post about the book Bears with simple images of teddy bears turned inside out to reveal their inner workings you’ll know that I have.
Modern toys often have lots of electronics, batteries, gears, and motors to discover. But even older toys had hidden mechanical workings such as dolls who’s eyes close when they lie down. I must admit I’ve always wondered how those actually work.
Scan Toys is an exhibition of x-rays taken of toys at the Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires. But it’s far more than just a collection of x-rays. It transforms common toys and their inner workings into art.
I don’t recognize some of the toys and I haven’t been able to find much explanation of each individual image. Some of the images also have non-toy items in them as well. But each one is beautiful and fascinating.
Don’t think you’ll be getting to Buenos Aires anytime soon? No problem. There is a wonderful Flickr set of at least some of the images.
Jet Service Vehicle from Playmobil
Out of curiosity, and a comment from a friend, I went looking on Amazon for the highest priced toys. What I found stunned me.
The highest priced toy I was able to find on Amazon was the Playmobil Jet Service Vehicle, priced at $100,000,000.00. That’s One Hundred Million Dollars (if I’m reading it right)!
Oh. Plus $5.99 shipping.
So what is the deal with this toy? Is it really selling for this much? I don’t know. I would have to guess it’s a typo or a publicity ploy or something. Or maybe they used the wrong photo and it’s an actual Jet Service Vehicle.
I found the same item on eBay for $13.00, so it doesn’t seem like it’s worth that much. I also found it new for $18.19.
Stephensons Brothers Rocking Horse
The next lowest toy price on Amazon was the 123 Soft Activity Book by Kaloo priced at $39,099.00. I suspect this was supposed to be $39.99.
The first legitimate item I found with a high price on Amazon was an outdoor modular play set for $21,295.00. It’s a lot of money, but it seems at least appropriate for the item.
The first item with the highest price, that’s an indoor toy, and seems legitimate, was the Stevenson Brothers’ Limited Edition Rocking Horse for $7,600.00. Each horse if custom built to customers’ specifications. This limited edition horse is made to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen of England’s Golden Jubilee.