Archive for June, 2009
After a short absence, we have Thinking Putty back in stock. If you aren’t familiar with Thinking Putty, it’s similar to Silly Putty®, only cooler. Don’t get me wrong. I love Silly Putty®. But Thinking Putty not only comes in cooler colors, it also comes in Hypercolors, Glow-in-the-dark, Color-shifting, Metallic, and Super Magnetic (which is VERY cool). You also get a big chunk of putty, not just a little egg full.
In addition to the colors we had before, we’ve gotten some new colors of Thinking Putty including Lava, Hot Pink, Scarab, and Strange Attractor. Strange Attractor is very cool. It is black with slight green speckles in it. It does everything the other putties do, but when you have a strong magnet, it really begins to get fun. It will repel and attract to the magnet and even envelop it in time. (Sorry, we don’t carry magnets at this time, but watch for them in the future.)
The Glow Krypton putty is the one I’m keeping to play with myself in addition to the blue I already have. I covered my hand with it and charged it up good and freaked out my son with it the other night. His response… "you are a very strange parent". Here is a shot of my putty-covered hand. This gives you a good idea of how much you get in a tin (putty is partially covering the back of my hand too).
Thinking putty is made in the USA and is compliant with ASTM F963, EU standards EN 71 Parts 1, 2 & 3, and CPSIA. Thinking Putty is inert, non-toxic and contains no latex or wheat compounds. You should not put Thinking Putty into your mouth, but if you eat a small amount, you’ll be able to play with it again in a few days (think about it).
My younger son and I had to be contented with watching the original Transformers movie on DVD.
The first eight minutes of the new movie were filmed in June of 2008 here in our home town of Bethlehem, PA in the previous Bethlehem Steel facility. For several nights we could hear explosions and gun fire in the middle of the night while they filmed a scene that takes place, in the movie, in Japan. I went down to the location with my kids and some of their friends on two nights. The first night it rained and there wasn’t much to see. The second night we were able to watch helicopters flying low and in formation over our heads while explosions and gunfire took place at the Steel facility down the road from where we were standing. I tried to get photos, but it was dark and it all happened very fast and without warning, so most of my pictures were not very good. I’ve posted the better ones here. At one point the amazing pilots of the helicopters came out to the crowd and were warmly welcomed. I believe they were retired military pilots. And the director, Michael Bay also came out to the crowd while we were there and thanked the residents for putting up with all the noise, which was very nice of him.
Of course the Transformers are toys from our childhood, soon to be followed by GI Joe. When I was growing up, my cousin and I played with GI Joe all the time. We had lots of great Joes and accessories. Then, years later, they change Joe to a small action figure, then eventually (in 1992, I think) the 12 inch Joe came back. My younger son was a big GI Joe fan (I’m so glad he had the full size figures available by then) and still has all his toys, so we’re looking forward to the new movie.
What childhood toys will be made into movies next? Check out the very early preview of upcoming toy-based movies:
We spent the day in New York City yesterday doing touristy stuff (Circle Line Tour, The Intrepid Museum). Of course, I own a toy store, so we visited The Disney Store and FAO Schwarz. The photos here are my Wife and older son playing on the Big piano. Yes, they are the only people over the age of about 7 on the piano.
Incidentally, FAO Schwarz has been recently acquired by Toys R Us. This should mean that the classic toy store will remain in NYC in the future. Time will tell.
If you are going to be in New York City, you might want to visit FAO Schwartz and follow the signs to the Big piano (just in case).
767 5th Avenue @ 58th st.
New York, NY 10153
Sunday 11:00am – 6:00pm
Monday – Thursday 10:00am – 7:00pm
Friday & Saturday 10:00am – 8:00pm
After a long and very troubled history including rewrites, shelved plots, controversies, and bickering between Pixar and Disney, Toy Story 3 began animation in April, 2009. The director and animation team Shaved their heads at the beginning of animation and will be seeing who can go the longest without a haircut or shaving.
The plot involves Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy’s toys being dropped off at a day-care center when Andy (who is now 18) heads off to college.
All the original cast members are back onboard for this sequel including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn, Annie Potts, John Ratzenberger (of course), Estelle harris, and Jodi Benson. They are joined by Michael Keaton as Ken and Ned Beatty. Jim Varney, who was the voice of Slinky Dog passed away and will be replaced by a close friend who reportedly sounds very much like him. Joe Ranft, the voice of Wheezy also passed away. Wheezy doesn’t seem to be in this film.
Just in case you didn’t know, I said "of course" for John Ratzenberger because he is in every single Pixar feature movie ever made (sometimes briefly). If you weren’t aware of this, I will post all his characters at the end of this post. See how many you know.
The "Teaser" trailer for the movie is being shown with the current Pixar movie "Up". But you can see it now by scrolling down. To watch a better version of the trailer, visit the Apple Movie Trailer site.
Oh! Also save the date for October 2, 2009. Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be re-released as a double feature in Disney Digital 3-D in theaters. Reportedly the double feature will be for the price of one ticket.
It’s hard to believe it, but Toy Story originally came out in 1995. Coincidentally, that is the same year I started Dave’s Cool Toys. (Pixar has been slightly more successful.) Although it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, when you think about the many amazing and successfull Pixar movies that have come out in the meantime (and not one bomb among them), it suddenly becomes clear how long it’s been.
John Ratzenberger’s roles in Pixar films:
Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3 – Hamm the piggy bank
A Bug’s Life – P.T. Flea the circus leader
Monster, Inc. – The Abominable Snowman
Finding Nemo – A school of fish
The Incredibles – The Underminer supervillain
Cars (and Cars 2 due in 2011) – Mack the tractor-trailer
Ratatouille – Mustafa the waiter
Wall-E – John
Up – Tom the construction foreman
He also appears at the end of Cars as all of his previous Pixar characters in car form.
Fireworks originated in China during the Sung dynasty, from 960 to 1279, when a cook discovered that a mixture of sulphur, saltpetre, and charcoal was highly flammable (I bet that was an interesting mealtime). Today’s fireworks are made colorful by combining potassium chlorate and various metallic salts which produce may colors. Strontium burns red, copper blue, barium glows green, and sodium produces yellow. Magnesium, aluminium, and titanium give off white sparkles or a flash.
As the Fourth of July holiday comes closer, most families will go to big community fireworks displays, which are performed by professionals that take many precautions to assure safety.
Some families will have their own backyard festivities with store-bought fireworks. Unfortunately, many will not take the safety precautions that the pros do.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 2004 (latest figures available) about 9,600 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for fireworks injuries. Over half were burns and most involved the hands, eyes, and head. About half of the victims were under 15 years of age.
Small children are especially vulnerable because they are attracted to the bright colors of fireworks, but don’t understand the danger. This includes “safe” fireworks such as sparklers, which burn at between 1832º – 3632º Fahrenheit. Yikes!
In 2005 fireworks caused an estimated 1,800 structure fires and 700 vehicle fires.
Following are some fireworks safety tips to keep kids safe this holiday and all summer
- Only adults should handle fireworks. Tell children that they should leave the area immediately if their friends are using fireworks.
- Sparklers, generally considered safe for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing.
- Older children should only be permitted to use fireworks under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
- Discuss safety procedures with your children. Teach children “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch fire. Make sure they know how to call 9-1-1. Show them how to put out fireworks by using water or a fire extinguisher.
- Read labels and carefully follow directions. All fireworks must carry a warning label describing necessary safety precautions. If they don’t have the label, don’t use them.
- Never use fireworks indoors.
- Be sure spectators are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never aim or throw fireworks at another person.
- Never place your face or any other body part over fireworks (eye protection is recommended).
- Never try to re-ignite fireworks that malfunction. Throw them away.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that don’t go off.
- Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
- Check for drought conditions in your area. During those times, fireworks are usually banned completely.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws.
- Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.
- Be considerate of your neighbors and stop your celebrations by 10:00 p.m.
- Clean up all the sticks, wires, tubes, etc. that are left around after your fireworks. Put them in a bucket of water and let them soak overnight to be sure they are out.
- Many pets are terrorized by fireworks. Be sure your dogs and cats are in an area they feel secure in. Don’t take them to community fireworks displays.
- Use common sense.
- Even by following these tips, fireworks can still be quite dangerous. Use safe alternatives to fireworks such as Cap bombs, Sparklers, Party Poppers, Snappers, or Big-Bang Cannons (shameless plug).
This series of three images are from a Consumer Products Safety Commission fireworks safety demonstration using manequins illustrating a scene in an incident where a man and his nephew were killed as they removed powder from fireworks bought in New Hampshire to create larger, more powerful and illegal fireworks, in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Big Bang Cannons are the only safe substitute for fireworks. They were originally created because the inventor was concerned about the large amounts of injuries from fireworks.
Big Bang Cannons create a loud “bang” by imploding, Once the gas in the cannon ignites, it draws air back into the cannon, creating a noise as loud as fireworks. This makes them very safe because you cannot place anything in the barrel and expel it (that would only inhibit the combustion). They also do not use gunpowder or matches, instead using Bangsite as fuel. Bangsite is not combustible and cannot be ignited by fire or concussion (you can see why they are so safe). Because of these safety features, Big Bang Cannons can be fired by older children with adult supervision (follow all safety precautions). They are also quite loud and are certainly a great substitute for fireworks. Perfect for your 4th of July celebration!
Every month I sit in the waiting room of the orthodontist’s office waiting for one, or both, of my kids. In the pile of magazines on the table the first thing I look for is FamilyFun Magazine. Every month this Disney-owned magazine is full of great activities, crafts, food, tips and ideas, travel information, and much more. The craft and food ideas are easy to do and not very costly. Many of them are very simple, but extremely clever. I have to admit that several times I’ve been tempted to tear out a page and bring it home (I have not).
My boys are getting older now and FamilyFun is geared more towards families with smaller children, although some of the ideas are still good for older kids, or could be adjusted slightly for their age. It’s also a great gift idea for friends with smaller kids. Or maybe I’ll subscribe now and save the best articles for gandchildren. (Yikes! did I just say that?)
The price is right too. A 12-month (10 issue) subscription from Amazon is only $9.95. I don’t want to sound like Billy Mays, but that’s only 99 cents each! If you order before June 30, there is also an additional $3.00 discount. Worth every penny.
I’ve seen some critisizm that FamilyFun lacks some diversity in its travel destinations and activities. I suppose I would have to basically agree with that. But it doesn’t negate it’s strong points, which are clever and inspiring ideas for all families to do together.