Sunday, April 18, 2010

Designing Automata Kit available from Amazon

OK...it may be a round-about route, but it is good news in the end: the Designing Automata Kit is now available via Amazon!

From the product description:
"The New Designing Automata Kit is great value and fantastic quality. No glue or tools are required, and you will learn about simple mechanics using cams and a crank slider mechanism. Many different designs can be made, and the kit used over and over again. Produced in Thailand using chemical-free rubber wood, from sustainable sources."

Here's the link to the Designing Automata Kit.


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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Micro Mosquito 3.0 Channel R/C Helicopter

Micro Mosquito 3.0 Channel R/C Helicopter
Yet another tiny indoor helicopter. Each generation claims to be more stable and easier to fly. Mine you, I can't verify this personally. (Dear Toy Companies: Send me one of everything cool and mechanical. Thank you.)

From the product description:
The Micro Mosquito 3.0 Channel R/C Helicopter is the world's smallest, most stable, lightest indoor helicopter. Flies forward with full control as well as up, down, left and right and has a long 7-minute in-flight time on only a 35-minute charge. Two frequencies available. Comes with everything you need to be flying within minutes including a radio control transmitter, flight battery and manual. Requires 6 "C" batteries and one 9V battery, not included. Measures approximately 5".

Here Amazon's page for the Micro Mosquito 3.0 Channel R/C Helicopter


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Monday, April 12, 2010

Robots secretly living among us as stuffed animals

Robots secretly living among us as stuffed animals
I posted not long ago about an artist who refits stuffed animals with metal exoskeletons. Industrial designer Matt Kirkland has created an excellent photo set in which he uncovers the robots hidden beneath plush toy exteriors.

From Matt Kirkland's site:
I've always been curious about stuffed animals that sing, dance, light up, or talk back. There must be a fascinating robot underneath the fur and fluff, right? Surely the robot hiding in the bear's clothing, vestimentis ursum, is impressive. So: armed with my childish curiosity and the spurious excuse of 'product design research,' I set out to discover what, exactly, these creatures are hiding.

Here is a link to the photo set of the robots beneath the fluff.

[ Thanks Bob! ]


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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artist skins toys in beautifully handcrafted metals

Cathy McClure gives toys beautifully handcrafted metal skins


Artist Cathy McClure gives mass-produced toys finely crafted exoskeletons made from various metals, including silver. The toys often still work mechanically after they have been enhanced by the artist.

Here is an article on Cathy McClure’s Playthings on the Texas Tech University School of Art Alumni blog. Here is a link to some video of Cathy McClure's creations in motion.


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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book: Tinplate Toys from Schuco, Bing, & Others

Tinplate Toys from Schuco, Bing, & Other Companies
Here is what looks to be a very nice book on tinplate toys from Germany -- Nuremberg, in particular -- during the mid 1900s.

From the book description:
The chapters include 300 color photographs, information about the manufacturers (especially Schuco and Bing) and their markings, and essays on the past, present and future of this special toy industry. The mechanical figures, automobiles, trucks, trains, machines and associated buildings that are presented will remind many of the best toys of their youth.

Here is a link on Amazon.co to Tinplate Toys: From Schuco, Bing, & Other Companies


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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hanayama L'Oeuf cast metal mechanical puzzle

Hanayama L'Oeuf cast metal mechanical puzzle
From puzzle maker Hanayama is this intriguing egg-shaped cast puzzle. (L'Oeuf is French for "The egg".) The two plates each have a pin that moves within a track on the opposite plate goal is to separate the two metal pieces and then put them back together. While it may seem straightforward, the puzzle is rated at "intermediate" difficulty, so perhaps there is more to it that it might seem?

If you are interested, here is where you can get the Hanayama L'Oeuf cast metal puzzle.


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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The cutest little impaled robot pencil sharpener

For the record, I am pro-robot. As such, I am not sure how I feel about the fact that to use this pencil sharpener you need to drive the pencil straight into the chest of this cute little robot. I guess it's OK because the act of turning the pencil winds the robot up so that it can then walk a little. I suppose it's more like 'adding fuel' than 'impaling'. I can live with that, though, it still doesn't seem quite right.

Here's a link to the walking robot pencil sharpener.


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Monday, January 04, 2010

H-Racer car uses solar generated hydrogen fuel

H-Racer car and solar hydrogen fuel station
This little toy car uses a hydrogen fuel cell for power. To create hydrogen fuel for the car you just add water to the station's tank and let the solar panel do its job, converting the water to oxygen and hydrogen. No batteries. You have to love that. The H-Racer will run for about 4 minutes on a full tank of hydrogen.

Here's a link to the H-Racer & Hydrogen Fuel Station


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Friday, December 18, 2009

Solar Flier: solar-powered desktop airplane

Solar Flier - Solar-powered desktop airplane
This tiny airplane model is equipped with solar panels built into the wings. When sunlight (or any bright light) shines on the airplane, the solar cells generate electricity to turn the propeller. This causes the little plane to fly in circles around its base.

From the product description:
The Solar Flier makes a perfect gift for anyone who enjoys flight or is curious about the solar power generation process. A dynamic executive or teacher gift, you cannot go wrong with this new great invention from Fascinations.

Here's the link to the Solar Flier, solar-powered desktop model Airplane.


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Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Kuku impenetrable metal ball puzzle(s)

Kuku Impenetrable Metal Ball Puzzle
Imported from the UK, this precision aluminum puzzle is made by the same folks who make the Isis Puzzle. And, like the Isis, it is a puzzle within puzzle. If you manage to open the Kuku, inside you will find a token that can be registered online to play a game -- which itself is a puzzle requiring you to decode a picture clue to come up with a 10 digit code. Should you solve this second puzzle, you are admitted to a special vault area where you will have 5 minutes to explore and perhaps lay claim cash or other prizes. Clever idea.

Here is the link to more info on the Kuku Impenetrable Metal Ball Puzzle.


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Saturday, December 05, 2009

The world's smallest remote-control ornithopter

The World's Smallest Da Vinci Ornithopter.
Check out this tiny remote-controlled ornithopter inspired by Da Vinci's drawings. It is about the size of a hummingbird and stays aloft by flapping its little wings 40 times a second.

From the product description:
"Digital proportional flight control enables smooth turns, climbs, and dives with the dual-stick remote. The ornithopter's frame is sturdy, lightweight plastic, with tear-resistant mylar covering the wings and tail. Its rechargeable lithium polymer battery provides seven minutes of flight after a five-minute charge from the controller. For indoor use only."

Here is the link for this miniature remote control ornithopter.


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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Hanayama O'Gear cast metal brain teaser puzzle

Hanayama O'Gear  cast metal brain teaser puzzle
The object of the O'Gear Cast Brain Teaser Puzzle is to remove the 5-pronged gear from the square box, then replace the gear into box so that gear tooth with hole (not shown here) is inside the box. Rated as a 'medium' level of difficulty.

From the puzzle description
First developed in 19th century Britain, this die-cast zinc cube and key is an ancient puzzle that still baffles minds today. A prizewinner from the 2001 1st Annual World Puzzle Design competition, this puzzle was designed by the young Dutch phenomenon, Oskar, consider to be one of the world's brightest creators. The gear exhibits a unique kind of movement. Once together in its final form of beauty, the gear fixed in place in the cubic box could very well serve as a desk decoration to satisfy a kind of soothing, intellectual curiosity.

Here is a link to the Cast O'Gear Puzzle


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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Authentic, working replica of a praxinoscope

Authentic, working replica of a praxinoscope
Here is an heirloom-quality working replica of the praxinoscope -- an animation device invented in 1877.

About this praxinoscope replica:
Used to depict motion using a series of rapidly spinning images, it is considered the precursor to the modern motion picture, it was invented by French science teacher Charles-Émile Reynaud. A dodecagonal drum -- each face containing a 2 3/4" H x 1" W mirror -- sits concentrically inside a smooth, 8" diameter cylinder. A paper strip of 12 images is placed into the cylinder; when the brass finial is spun, the images are reflected in the central prism of mirrors, creating the illusion of movement. This replica comes with 14 image strips, including a galloping horse, two blacksmiths taking turns hammering a piece of iron on an anvil, and a rotund captain of industry rolling by virtue of his own girth. Beech construction.

Here is the link to The Authentic Praxinoscope.


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Monday, October 26, 2009

Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Set

Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Construction Set

The new Genius edition of Marble Mania construction set includes 500 pieces of marble track components allowing you to build five independent tracks that all lead back to one of two marble lift systems.

Here's a link with some more photos and bit more info on The Learning Journey Techno Gears Marble Mania Genius Construction Set.


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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Strong National Museum of Play - mechanical toys

Strong National Museum of Play - mechanical toys
Click your way over to the Strong National Museum of Play web site for three pages worth of mechanical toy images including banks (like the cast iron magician shown here), wind-up toys, clocks, and automata. The rest of the site is worth checking out too. If you happen to be in the Rochester, New York area...well, lucky you!

Here's the link to the Strong National Museum of Play's mechanical toys section.


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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Shooting game with flying motorized duck

Shooting game with flying motorized duck
Here's a new twist to the classic duck hunt game that brings it into 3 full dimensions. This "duck" is actually flying around the room!

From the game description:
This is the live-action shooting game that lets you hunt a flying duck with a harmless infrared gun. A 10-second charge on the barrel of the gun energizes the mechanical duck for a 30-second flight. The duck's 6" long mylar wings flap up and down nearly 500 times per minute, and it can be set to fly in an erratic left- or right-turning circle or a level, straight line. Sharp-eyed hunters take aim with the infrared gun--the first two hits merely stun the waterfowl, momentarily interrupting his flapping; the third hit downs the duck for good. The single-shot blaster has a 20' range and makes a loading sound with each pump.

Here's the link for the live-action flying duck hunt target shooting game.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Zany Wooden Toys That Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly

Zany Wooden Toys That Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly: 28 Top-Secret Projects You Can Build from the Toy Inventor's Workshop
This book looks fantastic! I just ordered it.

From the book description:
Inventive and unique, this dynamic collection of woodworking projects teaches the basic skills needed to make exciting, action-packed toys. From rapid-fire nickel launchers and ball-and-socket robots to a monkey-toss gumball machine, each project includes a color photograph, a tools and materials list, a full diagram, woodworking plans, and instructions for using the finished product. Covering all the methods necessary for creation—selecting wood, drilling and shaping, making wheels and axles, and decoration—these constructions are simple enough for children and parents to complete together, all in an afternoon's time.

Here is the link to Zany Wooden Toys That Whiz, Spin, Pop, and Fly: 28 Top-Secret Projects You Can Build from the Toy Inventor's Workshop


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Monday, August 17, 2009

Dynamo Torch Science Activity Kit

Dynamo Torch Science Activity Kit
Here is a simple generator kit that allows you to power a small LED (AKA "Torch"). Assembly will require one small screwdriver that is not supplied with the kit.

From the product description:
Turn a simple toy motor to become a generator which converts hand motion to electric energy and powers a light bulb. No battery, no pollution, just amazement. The generator could be used as an awesome energy torch. Caution : High Voltage of inspiration and fun! Contents: 1 LED Lamp with holder and wires connected 1 toy motor 2 gears 1 set dynamo torch casing accessories (assembly required) 1 transparent torch cover screws detailed instructions with fun facts.

Here is the link to the Dynamo Torch Science Activity Kit


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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit

The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit
Here is a neat combination kit featuring interesting experiments with magnets.

From the item description:
The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit is chock full of great things which will help you explore magnetism. You'll learn about magnet properties and strength. You'll build a magnetic pendulum and observe oscillations. You'll enjoy seemingly to defy gravity as you achieve magnetic equilibrium and balance magnets in weird ways. And all the while, you'll be learning about the properties and wonders of magnets. Oh, all the while, the Magnet Levitation Activity Kit will be ramping up your knowledge and experience with magnets so you can build the final project: a model maglev train.

Here is the link for the The Magnet Levitation Activity Kit.


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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Zecar - Toy Car with Mechanical Flywheel

Zecar  - Toy Car with Mechanical Flywheel
The environmentally-friendly Zecar toy car needs no batteries. The reason is that this little stainless steel car has an internal flywheel to store energy. Once in motion, the Zecar flywheel car has a fair amount of torque and can roll or climb over small obstacles.

Part of the profit from Zecar goes towards the reforestation project in Brazil. That's pretty cool.

Here's where you can get order your own Zecar Flywheel Toy Car.


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Monday, August 03, 2009

Magic Penny Magnet Kit

Magic Penny Magnet Kit
British pennies have a property US pennies don't - they are magnetic. This Magic Penny Magnet Kit come with everything you need to do some cool tricks with these magnetic coins.

From the product description:
The Magic Penny Magnet Kit has everything you need to do make pennies spin at 1,000 revolutions per minute, build rim-standing sculptures and levitating pyramids, move pennies up ramps and over bridges as if by magic, and much, much more. Over 30 projects await you.

Here is a link for more info on the Magic Penny Magnet Kit


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

OLLO - the robotic action mechanical toy

OLLO - robotic action mechanical toy
The OLLO Action Kit represents a cool new approach to construction toys. Motion and action were primary considerations in the development of this toy. The core ingredients of the OLLO action kit are its motor and pivoting rivet connectors.

From the kit description:
'Other building kits use motors, so what makes OLLO unique? you may be wondering. The difference is how OLLO pieces attach to one another. They attach with an innovative two-part rivet (one goes into the other and presses down to lock the pieces in place). And of course you can always undo the rivets (tool included) to build new and wilder things. The OLLO Action Kit is perfect for getting young minds interested in mechanics and building.

Here is the link for the OLLO - robotic action toy.


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Monday, July 20, 2009

Hovering ball target shooting game looks fun

hovering ball target shooting game
The fact that the targets are hovering in air makes this seem more appealing to me than if they were stationary targets. I'm not sure why this is so -- perhaps because I imagine the targets bouncing gently up and down or maybe because it seems like it would be particularly satisfying to blast one of the balls out of the air.

From the game description:
This unique target game uses vectored jets of air to suspend six foam ball targets in mid-air that players try to shoot using a brightly-painted six-shot plastic dart gun loaded with suction-cup tipped foam projectiles.

Here's the link for the The Hovering Target Shooting Game.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects

Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects to Make
I don't have this book myself (yet), but it looks like it could be a lot of fun. Making Moving Toys offers instructions and templates to make 30 different types of moving toys out of common materials. The projects range from spinning tops, wind-powered figures, paper airplanes, a carousel, a climbing monkey, a zoetrope, and many more. See? Fun!

Here's the link to Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects to Make.


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Monday, June 08, 2009

6-foot long remote controlled reproduction Titanic

6 foot long remote controlled reproduction Titanic
At six feet long, this must be the mother of all remote control boats. Priced at $2,500, let's just hope it stays afloat better than the original.

From the product description
This is the 6' long, remote controlled reproduction of the RMS Titanic that includes authentic period details for the most discriminating nautical enthusiast. Painstakingly reproduced at 1:150 scale and involving over 400 man-hours in its assembly, the model is constructed from over 300 individually handcrafted pieces, including sculpted cedar strips that overlay the molded fiberglass hull, white maple planks (stained to replicate the color of the originals) for the decking, and mahogany for various superstructures.

Here is the link to Hammacher Schlemmer's Authentic 6 Foot Remote Controlled RMS Titanic.



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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Galileo Gravitator with four different floating planets

Galileo Gravitator with four different floating planets
This is an attractive magnetic planet levitation device. Well...model planets, anyway. You get the idea.

From the product description
This unique, eye-catching model depicts celestial gravitation and comes complete with four spheres, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the Moon. Just place the planet of your choice directly below the gravitational source and watch it float and spin in mid-air. The Gravitator glows beautifully in the dark, creating a radiant nighttime conversation piece or a handsome nightlight, while the Antique Gold frame will embellish any desk, table or bookcase.

Here's a link to the Galileo Gravitator with four floating planets


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