Archive for October, 2009

YouTube – Best Halloween Costume

YouTube – Best Halloween Costume.

Dave’s Pumpkin

Dave's Jack-o-lantern
Cheating? You decide.

This is my pumpkin. Or Jack-O-Lantern. Well, maybe I can’t call it that. It’s not my final one, we will be carving them, probably this weekend. But in the meantime, I figured, why not decorate it? I think I read about this idea in a magazine a few weeks ago. Can’t remember which one. But I just rummaged through our recycling bin and cut facial features from magazines, then mixed and matched them. They are glued on with rubber cement, so they will come off easily when it’s time to carve. Looking at it now, I should have put the mouth upside down. My wife felt it was cheating and said I still needed to carve it and take off the face.

President Obama In Action (Figure)

President Obama as depicted by
the creator of Ren and Stimpy.

This Halloween, I’m sure there will be lots of Obamas coming to our door for Trick-or-Treat. There will be good Obama masks and, I’m sure, very bad ones. I even saw a "Zombama" mask. Obama Zombie mask. Yes, "Zombama". It’s really called that. And yes, it’s as bad as it sounds.

But Obama action figures? Yes. There are a bunch of action figures out there of both President Obama and the first lady. Some are more flattering than others. One example is the Barack Obama Political Toy designed by John K., creator of Ren and Stimpy (shown here).

Sasha and Malia? I’d say so.

For a brief period there were even Sasha and Malia plush dolls from Beanie Baby maker Ty. That is until the First Lady understandably objected and Ty pulled them from their line (officially they were retired). Ty insisted that they did not depict the President’s daughters, but I don’t believe anyone bought that. The TY Girlz Sweet SASHA and Marvelous MALIA Obama Dolls are now available as collector’s items for as much as $1,500.00 on Amazon. I’m sure that doesn’t hurt Ty’s bottom line.

The White House’s official objection to the Ty dolls was that they were using a depiction of private citizens for profit. Certainly true.

Michelle Obama with eight
points of articulation and
three different dresses.

The president, on the other hand, can’t really do much about depictions of him because he choose to be a public figure. That doesn’t make them acceptable, however. I will not show some I’ve seen on my blog because they are not in good taste. Either that or they are just very poorly crafted.

Obama not doing much

But, the very best Obama action figure I’ve seen comes from Gamu Toys. Their website is in Japanese and the best I can get from the poor translation I was able to get is that he comes with three sets of hands, two different heads, a microphone, two ties, a watch, an American flag (with stand), and a wooden stool. His clothes are fully removable as well. I was not able to determine either the size of the action figure or the price. I also haven’t been able to find anywhere that you can actually purchase it. He’s also shown with other accessories that aren’t listed on their website, so I don’t believe he comes with guns or a light sabre. The Obama action figure is actually quite well made and certainly flatters the President. That having been said, it appears a bit like they simply used a generic body that they already manufacture and added the features and accessories (warning, doll nudity on their generic body page). If Obama’s action figure is based on this one, and if I’m understanding their website, it is 1/6 scale, so Obama would be about a foot tall.

If I find any ordering information, I will update this post. In the meantime, scroll down for some pictures of President Obama in action.

Obama pulling his gun
G.I. Obama
Samurai President
As the Gamu Toys website says (translated) "President, enjoy the winter in Japan."
All the accessories a president could want
"If you strike me down, I will become more powerfull than you could ever imagine."

New Toy Story 3 Trailer

A tough decision for Andy

Toy Story 3 hits the theaters June 18, 2010! OK, we have a little wait yet.

But, in the meantime, Pixar has a new trailer out, and it looks great!

Andy is growing up and going to college and must decide what to do with all his old toys. His decision? Donate them to a daycare. How does that work out for the toys? Check out the trailer and find out.

The best place to watch the trailer is on Apple’s Movie Trailer site. Be sure to watch it in HD if you can. It is absolutely stunning. To jump right to the preview, click here.

New to the excellent cast from the previous movies is Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Ned Beatty, Timothy Dalton, Jeff Garlin, and Bonnie Hunt. I’m not sure at this point what characters they portray. There is a new actor, Blake Clark, portraying Slinky Dog due to the death of Jim Varney.. John Morris, the child actor who originally portrayed Andy will be voicing him again. The actor is now about 24 years old and Andy is 18 in the movie, so that is very cool. Presumably, Stinky Pete will not be appearing in Toy Story 3, as he was "adopted" by a young girl in Toy Story 2.

A bad day for potato head

Can’t wait for Toy Story 3? Starting this weekend, for 2 weeks, you can see the first two Toy Story movies back-to-back in 3-D in theaters. There is even a 3-D sneak peek at Toy Story 3.

Also, be sure to visit the official Toy Story website for lots of cool things to do and to buy tickets. You can also give the gift of an alien to friends on Facebook and enter for a chance to win tickets to the Toy Story 3 premiere. Or, you can keep the alien for yourself . Each alien you gift or keep earns you a chance to win.

All Toy Story movies are rated "G".

More Piano Fun, this time in Stockholm

Can you make people healthier by making it fun? Volkswagen teamed up with ad agency DDB for an experiment they call the Fun Theory. Overnight, they transformed a subway stairway into a piano, ala the FAO Schwarz Big Piano. The results were a great video of people enjoying taking the stairs. They also claim that it increased stair usage by 66 percent. I suspect that our customers already knew this.

Dinosaurs walk the earth again (sort of)

I came across this excellent video this morning. Check it out, then scroll down for more information. Be sure to click on "HQ" for high quality and maybe full screen if your computer can handle it.

Walking with Dinosaurs T-Rex
Walking with T-Rex

I did a little research and discovered that this was an event on a live German TV show. The dinosaurs are from the BBC production of "Walking with Dinosaurs, the Arena Spectacular". This is the live action adaptation of the wonderful BBC series "Walking with Dinosaurs".

This show looks incredible. There are 15 life-size dinosaurs that roam freely on the arena floor. The largest dinosaur in the show is 72 feet from nose to tail. The T-Rex, for example took a team of 50 craftsmen and engineers a year to build. The show follows the dinosaurs evolution straight through to their demise from a comet impact. Yikes!

The dinosaurs are controlled by both puppeteers inside and maneuvering them on stage as well as off-stage puppeteers using scale model versions of the dino’s to manipulate their full-size counterpart by radio control.

I’ve complained in the past that the coolest stuff is not here in the US, but in this case, it is. Unfortunately for us, it was just in Washington DC in September and we missed it. Hopefully, it will come back to our area (they are adding new dates yet). But for those of you in other areas of the US, the show has dates listed through November.

Incidentally, they have a very nice website as well with information on all the "cast members" and very cool video from the show.

You may be wondering "how did they do this?". I know I was. Following is a "making of" video that answers some of those questions.

What will be 2009’s hottest toy?

Elmo's Tickle Hands
Elmo’s Tickle Hands

Many holiday shopping years there is a breakout toy that everyone wants and nobody seems to have. In past years it was Cabbage Patch Dolls, or Tickle Me Elmo. Obviously, toy manufacturers want to be the one who has that item and toy stores want to have them in stock. Tyco, the manufacturer of Tickle Me Elmo has tried ever since to repeat their success with various "Tickle Me" items including more and more complex Elmo’s with varying success. This year they will try again with the Elmo’s Tickle Hands.

For 2009, both Toys "R" Us and Kmart have released their list of what they believe will be the hottest toys this season. Following are their lists:

Toys "R" Us "Fabulous 15"
Bakugan Battle Brawlers New Vestroia Maxus Helios 7 in 1
ChixOs Pink Design-A-Luxury Loft
Color Me a Song
Disney Netpal
Toy Story Interactive Buddies Talking Action Figures (Buzz and Woody)
Disney Princess: Just One Kiss Princess Tiana Doll
Fast Lane JLX Over Drive RC All Terrain Vehicle from Toys "R" Us (they listed their own item, nice.)
Laugh & Learn Learning Farm
Little Mommy Baby Ah-Choo
NERF N-Strike Raider Rapid Fire CS-35
Star Wars Fan’s Choice Anniversary Edition Home One Mon Calamari Star Cruiser (Lego)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Construction Devastator
Wii Sports Resort
Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters

Kmart’s Fab 15 Toy List:
Baby Alive Whoopsie Doo
Bakugan 7-in-1 Maxus Dragnoid
Chixos Design Luxury Loft
Dora Loves Puppy (sold exclusively at Kmart…surprise!)
Handy Manny’s Repair Shop
Holiday Barbie
Laugh & Learn Learning Farm
Littlest Pet Shop Adoption Center
Liv Dolls
Moxie Artitude Airbrush Gallery
Nerf n Strike Raider
Paperoni Deluxe Studio
Sesame Street Tickle Hands Elmo
Transformers Bumblebee Helmet
Trio Kings Castle

Of course, they both have their best interests at heart when it comes to these lists. This is really just what they hope will be the hot items this year because they have them.

Zhu Zhu Pet Mr. Squiggles
Mr. Squiggles

But there is one item that may be poised to be the big breakout toy this year and it only appears on one of these lists (sorry K-Mart).

Zhu Zhu Pets (formerly called Go Go Pets) had a pre-season launch in Phoenix that sold-out. They are now gearing up for the Fall holiday season and are expecting to ship between 4 and 5 million pets. Already they are having trouble keeping up with demand.

What are Zhu Zhu Pets? They are electronic hamsters that scamper about like the real thing without that pesky feeding and poop. You can let them run around on the floor in "explore" mode and have the run of your house. Or you can put them in "loving" mode and they will be receptive to petting, making squeaks and chattering. Each hamster has it’s own unique personality and sounds. Suggested retail price for the hamsters is supposed to be $7.99 with accessories ranging from $3.99 to $19.99. However, they are already selling for far more on sites such as Amazon and eBay with hamsters in the $15.00-$30.00 range (if you can get them).

Jingle All The Way
Arnold on the hunt

Of course, there are also accessories. There are hamster balls, wheels, play houses, carriers, beds, and the Giant Hamster City Playset for around $85.00.

And there’s another wrinkle in this story. Unlike hot toys from other years, Zhu Zhu Pets are not only popular with children, but they are also being bought by college students for their dorm rooms. This may make them even harder to find in the stores.

Will you be able to find Zhu Zhu pets this holiday? Although they were on the Toys "R" Us hot list, at the time of this post they had none in stock on their website. So, if your child (or college student) wants a Zhu Zhu hamster this Christmas, you may want to rent Jingle All the Way with Arnold Schwartzenegger to get a feel for what you may have ahead of you.

Dave’s AntWorks Day 7, 8, and 9: Tunnel Vision

The tunnels are multiplying

I didn’t post over the weekend, so there has been quite a bit more progress on my ants tunnels. These ants weren’t very imaginative so far, making their tunnels along the bottom and corners of the AntWorks habitat. But now they are branching out and making some more complex tunnels. You can see the partially complete tunnel they’ve been working on today (although it doesn’t have any ants in it in this picture). It is about halfway down in the gel, sticking up from the curved tunnel toward the right of the photo. It comes off the tunnel in the back and goes forward through the gel until it hits the plastic front. After I took this picture, the ants started enlarging the end of that tunnel. There were 3 ants all working on it at the same time.

You can’t see it in the picture from the front, but they have also been tunnelling through the gel piles that they have made on the top of the "surface" So I’ve taken a photo from the top, looking down to try to show them. The surface is quite bumpy from all the holes and tunnels.

Cross Tunnels

At the bottom of the AntWorks, they have created two cross tunnels, which look like a little cavern when you look in from the front or back. I’ve tried to get a picture of it here, but it didn’t show it too well.

I think I’ve had 2 casualties. I’m pretty sure there is a dead ant encased in the gel pile in the upper right. When there are no ants on top I’ll check on it and remove whatever is there. There also seems to be a dead ant in the bottom tunnel. Hopefully, they will bring her out.

Tunnelling through the gel piles

The ants mostly seem to congregate in the bottom-most tunnel, where they are all hanging out in most of my pictures.

The instructions tell you to open the lid once every week or so. For the writing and photography of this series of posts, I’ve opened the lid much more often than that. I didn’t think it would matter, but I have noticed that the gasket around the lid has begun to get smooshed up a bit, which could cause trouble if it got worse, so we won’t be opening it up quite as much and I’ll be more careful with it when I do. I would suggest following the guidelines that came with your AntWorks and not removing the lid as often as we have.

Dave’s AntWorks Day 6: Back to work

Today our ants are tunneling again in their AntWorks home, so I’ve uploaded a video of their new tunnel. They are just about to break through. Once they do, they will create a sort-of Grand Central Station with 5 tunnels all converging in one spot. This is lit with the AntWorks Illuminator.

Dave’s AntWorks Day 5: Ants take a break

AntWorks from above
They look like ants from up here!

My ants haven’t been doing much tunneling. It’s been a bit cooler here so maybe it’s due to the temperature.

I thought there was a dead ant in the gel on the top, but when I dug down a bit into it, it was apparently just ant poop. You can see the dark spot in the picture here, just above the ant in the middle of the picture. This picture is looking down from above through the lid. There was also a bit of condensation on the lid which I wiped off. You can also see down through the tubes in this picture.

Speaking of the lid, my sister-in-law expressed concern that her cat might knock over the AntWorks and let them escape. So I thought I’d mention that the AntWorks is not glass, but plastic, and the lid fits on quite tightly. It could not be accidentally knocked off and it actually takes a bit of prying to get it off.

Since I didn’t have much to share in the way of new tunnels today, I thought I’d post a video I came across which shows what happened to someone else when their AntWorks gel pulled away from the side a bit, and two curious ants got stuck between the gel and the wall. I really don’t know how this could happen. The gel is very tight (it seems like it has been poured in as a liquid and set-up inside the container) and it would take something serious to pull it away from the side. Perhaps they dropped it. It’s a long video, but you could zoom ahead to see the outcome.

Dave’s Cool Toys Blog
We post news about new toys on our site, new toys in the market, general toy information, or stuff we just thought was cool (usually toys).

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Be sure to check out our toys at Dave's Cool Toys. We work hard to find toys you won't find at the big box stores. Now go out and play!

Dave Ference

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