The Koosh ball is a toy ball made of rubber filaments (strings) attached to a soft rubber core. It was developed in 1986 by Scott Stillinger to be easy for his 5-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son to hold and throw, and was named after the sound it made when it landed. The following year, he started OddzOn Products Inc. with his brother-in-law, Mark Button, who had previously been a marketing manager for Mattel. The Koosh ball was one of 1988’s hot Christmas toys.
The company later expanded their product line to include keyrings, baseball sets, yo-yos, and currently, foam disc guns. The number of Koosh balls sold is estimated to be in the millions. The ball consists of about 2,000 natural rubber filaments, and has been released in a variety of color combinations. Koosh balls are often used with tennis exercises to help children develop motor skills. They are currently manufactured by Hasbro.
A pool noodle (also known as a water log or woggle in the UK) is a cylindrical piece of polyethylene foam, sometimes hollow. They are useful when learning to swim, for floating, for rescue reaching, in various forms of water play, and for aquatic exercise. Pool noodles are particularly useful to support amateur snorkelers. The most common dimensions are about 160 cm (5’3″) in length and 7 cm (2.5″) in diameter. The purpose of the hole in some noodles is unclear. Children often use this hole to blow water into the unsuspecting faces of their peers.
A pool noodle connector is a piece of pipe made out of foam, slightly larger than a pool noodle so that it can connect two pool noodles by encasing the end of each. This allows larger structures to be built from pool noodles. ‘Noodleskin’ is a custom cover that is placed over a foam pool noodle which allows 2 pool noodles to be made into a floating seat.
Super Soaker is a brand of recreational water gun, first sold in 1990 by Larami and now produced by Hasbro under the Nerf brand. Invented by engineer Lonnie Johnson in 1982, the first Super Soaker went on sale in 1989. The Super Soaker 50, was originally called the Power Drencher. Rebranding the name to Super Soaker occurred in 1991 together with a series of TV advertisements. The first Super Soaker blasters utilized manually pressurized air to shoot water with greater power, range, and accuracy than conventional squirt pistols.
Super Soakers were popular for many years – so popular, in fact, that the term super soaker is sometimes used generically, to refer to any type of toy pressurized water gun. The brand was further popularized in the 1990s by Michael Jackson, who cited it as one of his favorite toys.
Qee [kee] are a collection of designer toys created by Hong Kong-based company Toy2R, which was founded by Raymond Choy in 1995. Qee figures vary in their design. The original Qee has a body that resembles an extremely simplified human form, somewhat similar in appearance to Playmobil or LEGO figures, though distinctively round and squat. Depending on its theme, a figure may have the head of a bear with asymmetrical ears called a ‘BearBearQ’; a cat called ‘KitCatQ’; a dog called ‘DoggyQ’; a monkey called ‘MonQ’; or a rabbit called ‘Bunee.’ The Toyer Qee has the same body type as the original, but a head that resembles a cartoon skull. The Knuckle Bear Qee was created by Japanese character designer Touma, and resembles a graffiti-style caricature of an anthropomorphized bear. The Qee Egg simply resembles an anthropomorphized egg. The standard size is 2.5″ high, and these figures are packaged with an optional keychain attachment. There are also 1.5″, 8″, 16″, “36”, and 60″ Qees. Additionally, Toy2R produces Blank Platform DIY; these figures may be of any Qee design, but are packaged unpainted.
The casual observer may note similarities between Qees and the Kubrick and Be@rbrick figures created by Japanese toy company MediCom. However, closer observation reveals that Qees differ not only in size, but in their overall aesthetic. Relative to MediCom, Toy2R releases very few licensed designs, such as figures based on characters from films, comic books, or other intellectual properties. Exceptions to this are Qees created for Adidas, Benetton, BenQ, BMW, Christian Lacroix, Dark Horse Comics, Devo, DKNY, Mitsubishi, MTV, Nokia, SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, Starbucks, Swatch, Target, V.S.O.P. and Xbox 360, as well as a figure created in conjunction with tokidoki for LeSportsac, in which the figure is a design element of a women’s travel bag. There are currently five series of Qees, and an anticipated total of 1500 2.5″ figures. Notable Qees include those by Tim Biskup, Shepard Fairey, Doze Green, Frank Kozik, Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO, and Jason Freeny.
Urban vinyl is a type of designer toy, featuring action figures in particular which are usually made of vinyl. Although the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term designer toy, it is more accurately used as a modifier: not all designer toys can be considered urban vinyl, while urban vinyl figures are necessarily designer toys, by virtue of the way in which they are produced. Like designer toys in general, urban vinyl figures feature original designs, small production numbers, and are marketed to collectors, predominantly adults. The urban vinyl trend was initiated by artist Michael Lau, who first created urban vinyl figures in Hong Kong in the late 1990s. Other creators of urban vinyl figures are Japanese artist and designer Takashi Murakami, Australian designer Nathan Jurevicius’s ‘Scarygirl,’ based on characters from his comic of the same name, and produced in conjunction with Hong Kong company Flyingcat, and former graffiti artist KAWS.
Urban vinyl figures are designed primarily by illustrators, graffiti artists, musicians and DJs from urban areas in Asia (especially Japan and Hong Kong), though designers are also growing in prominence in Europe and the US. An offshoot of hip hop and youth-oriented popular culture, urban vinyl often depicts real-life figures from Asian and American culture, particularly artists who perform in a hip-hop or related styles. Two examples are Lau’s depiction of the LMF rappers from Hong Kong, and figures based on the members of the virtual electronic band Gorillaz, produced by Jamie Hewlett and made by Kidrobot. Urban vinyl is commonly designated as either ‘Eastern Vinyl,’ including anything designed and produced in Asia or Australia, or ‘Western Vinyl,’ encompassing pieces which are designed and produced in North America, South America, or Europe. Urban vinyl figures have become collectible items. Rare pieces may sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
neurowear is a gadget project organization in Japan founded on the concept of the ‘Augumented Human Body.’ The group’s first project, known as necomimi (‘cat ears’) is a headband with a brain wave sensor and motorized cat shaped ears programmed to turn up or down based on the wearer’s thoughts. neurowear collaborated with Qosmo and Daito Manabe on ‘unboxxx’ exhibition in 2012 at Gallery KATA Ebisu in Tokyo. The necomimi headband has a MindWave brain wave sensor manufactured by NeuroSky. It runs for 4 hours on 4 AAA batteries and has interchangeable Cat, Dog, and Devil Horn ears. ‘Brain Disco’ is a collaboration between neurowear and Qosmo that measures audience ‘attention.’ The DJ must hold the audience’s ‘attention’ or get ejected. The first Brain Disco experiment was held in July 2012 at Gallery KATA Ebisu.
neurowear demonstrated their new prototype Shippo (‘tail’) at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2012. Shippo was developed with Kiluck Inc. Kiluck failed to fund a similar tail ‘Tailly’ on Kickstarter but is trying again on Indiegogo. The tail wags like a dog based on the user’s mood communicated from the headset wirelessly via Bluetooth. neurowear also showed an iPhone app that uploads the user’s mood to social media complete with geotagging. neurowear presented ‘Neuro Turntable’ in late 2012.
Game Boy Micro is a handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was first released in 2005. The system is the last console of the Game Boy line. The Game Boy Micro is the size of a typical Nintendo Entertainment System controller and a typical Famicom controller. The console retains some of the functionality of the Game Boy Advance SP, but with an updated form factor. It is unable to play original Game Boy and Game Boy Color games due to design changes. Even though it still has the required Z80 processor and graphics hardware necessary to run the old games, it is missing other circuitry necessary to be compatible with the old Game Boy cartridges. It is officially incompatible with the Nintendo e-Reader and some other peripherals due to design issues. Additionally, it features a backlit screen with the ability to adjust the brightness so as to adapt to lighting. The Game Boy Micro features a removable face plate that allows consumers to purchase alternative designs. This device can play MP3 and digital video files from SD cards. The system retailed for US$99, compared to US$79 for the Game Boy Advance SP. Generally, the Game Boy Micro did not sell well, and failed to reach the company’s aim of units sold.
Hippy Sippy was a candy introduced in the late 1960s. It derived its name from its packaging: small multi-colored pellets contained in a toy package syringe. The intent was to mimick drug usage in the hippie culture, primarily through the toy syringe being a reminder of heroin, and secondarily through the multi-colored candy being a reminder of uppers and downers. Included was a button with the phrase ‘Hippy Sippy says I’ll try anything!’ printed on it. Hippy Sippy was immediately controversial, and outraged many people. It was promptly removed from the market, but is still remembered due to its cultural shock value. The name was adopted by saxophonist Hank Mobley for his song ‘Hippy Sippy Blues.’
Candy cigarettes are a candy introduced in the early 20th century made out of chalky sugar, bubblegum, or chocolate, wrapped in paper as to resemble cigarettes. Their place on the market has long been controversial because many critics believe the candy desensitizes children, leading them to become smokers later in life. Because of this, the selling of candy cigarettes has been banned in several countries such as Finland, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. In Canada, federal law prohibits candy cigarette branding that resembles real cigarettes. The US state of North Dakota enacted a ban on candy cigarettes from 1953 until 1967. The Family Smoking and Prevention Control Act was misquoted as banning candy cigarettes in the US. However, the act bans any form of added flavoring in tobacco cigarettes other than menthol. It does not regulate the candy industry.
Candy cigarettes continue to be manufactured and consumed in many parts of the world. However, many manufacturers now describe their products as candy sticks, bubble gum, or candy. Popeye Cigarettes marketed using the Popeye character were sold for a while and had red tips (to look like a lit cigarette) before being renamed candy sticks and being manufactured without the red tip.
A bubble pipe is a toy shaped like a tobacco pipe, intended to be used for blowing soap bubbles. Most bubble pipes are made of plastic and therefore cannot be used for actual smoking. They are usually brightly colored, and sometimes feature fanciful designs including multiple bowls. Like candy cigarettes, bubble pipes allow children to imitate adult smokers. As concern over the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and the marketing of smoking products to children has risen, both have become considerably less popular.
Euler’s Disk [oi-ler] is a scientific educational toy, used to illustrate and study the dynamic system of a spinning disk on a flat surface (such as a spinning coin), and has been the subject of a number of scientific papers. This phenomenon has been studied since Swiss physicist Leonard Euler in the 18th century, hence the name. It is manufactured and distributed by the Toysmith Group of the Damert Company. It was invented by Joe Bendik, and was originally marketed by the Tangent Toy Company. The toy consists of a heavy, thick chrome plated steel disk, a slightly concave, mirrored base, and holographic magnetic stickers which can be placed on the disk. The disk, when spun on the mirror, exhibits a spinning/rolling motion (or ‘spolling,’ a blend of ‘spin’ and ‘roll’), slowly moving through different rates and types of motion. A spinning/rolling disk ultimately comes to rest; and it does so quite abruptly, the final stage of motion being accompanied by a whirring sound of rapidly increasing frequency.
On several occasions during the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike Conan O’Brien would spin his wedding ring on his desk, trying to spin the ring for as long as possible. The quest to achieve longer and longer spin times led him to invite MIT professor Peter Fisher on to the show to experiment with the problem. Ring spinning in a vacuum had no identifiable effect while a Teflon spinning surface gave a record time of 51 seconds, corroborating the claim that rolling friction is the primary mechanism for kinetic energy dissipation.
Kinect is a motion sensing input device released by Microsoft in 2010 for the Xbox 360 game console, and in 2012 for Windows PC. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral, it enables users to control and interact with software without the need to touch a game controller (through a natural user interface using gestures and spoken commands).
The project is aimed at broadening the Xbox 360’s audience beyond its typical gamer base. Kinect competes with the Wii Remote Plus and PlayStation Move with PlayStation Eye motion controllers for the Wii and PlayStation 3 home consoles, respectively. After selling a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days, the Kinect holds the Guinness World Record of being the ‘fastest selling consumer electronics device.’read more »