Archive for February, 2010

An old video made by me and a friend

Below is a movie my friend, Rich, and I made a long time ago. A very long time ago.

I apologize for the quality of this movie. The original film is lost forever. This was made by videotaping it with an ancient black-and-white video camera from a projection screen. The video is also very old and I just found it and transferred it to a Quicktime movie today.

New Toy Story 3 Preview

Here’s a new Toy Story 3 Trailer. Be sure to watch in HD if you can. Enjoy!

Toy Fair 2010, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

TV Hat
TV Hat being worn by one of the girls in their booth at Toy Fair

We made our annual trek to New York City this past Sunday to attend Toy Fair. We saw lots of very cool things, many toys that are not a good fit for Dave’s Cool Toys, some toys that I don’t quite get, and some that never should have seen the light of day. I also saw some "must have’s", which we’ll be carrying in the near future.

One item we saw that I think fits into the "really?" category is the "TV Hat". Also, apparently, called the "As Seen On TV Hat". This is a visor that you wear. You put your iPod Touch, or iPhone into the far end of the huge visor, turn it on, put the TV Hat on your head, and watch movies through the Magnification Lens positioned in front of the iPod.

OK. As I see it, there are several problems with this device. The first and most obvious is you look like a dork wearing it. The second, is it doesn’t seem to stay on your head right. Third, the magnifying lens didn’t seem to work very well. Fourth, why do you need it? It’s not like watching an iPod is that much work. And the visor covers your field of view, so you can’t really do anything while you’re watching it. As you can see in the picture of the girl selling them at Toy Fair, she is supporting it while simultaneously holding the part around her head taut, indicating that it really doesn’t even fit right. It also seems a little too difficult to get set up and get your iPod or iPhone back out to use it.

TV Hat
The inside workings of the TV Hat showing
the Magnifying Lens.

The instruction sheet for the TV Had says "Do not use this viewing device if you are subject to claustrophobia, panic in tight spaces, have spinal or neck injuries, or with heavy phones". It also warns "Do no use while driving, bicycling, running, or in motion". "…discontinue use if you experience neck fatigue, blurry vision, or any discomfort". "Prolonged use may cause fatigue".

The TV Hat retails for $19.95, so at least you won’t go broke buying one.

The TV Hat did have one suggested use that might be worth it. It might be useful for video producers for use with a video camera monitor in bright sunlight when you can’t see the camera viewer. I’m not sure how you would use your iPod for that, but if you can get it to work, it might be useful for that.

Shhh. How this top works is “Top Secret”

Many, many years ago I had a great little toy. It was a small top that you spun on a black base. It didn’t float like the Levitron. But it had a great trick of it’s own. It would spin for days! My friends thought it was the coolest thing when they would see it in my room (yes, we were dorks). But it WAS amazing. The top didn’t just sit there spinning it bopped around on the base and sometimes it would spiral around toward the center.

Many years later, when I started Dave’s Cool Toys, this cool little top was on my list of toys I wanted to carry, but I couldn’t find it. But recently, one of our suppliers began to offer it and we recently added Top Secret to our line of cool toys. Of course, the minute they came in, I took one for myself and it’s been spinning on-an-off ever since. My kids love it.

HOW IT WORKS: No, it’s not perpetual motion. It cheats by using a hidden battery and circuitry.

This is how the manufacturer explains it on their website:
"Top Secret" consists of a spinning top with a radially oriented magnetic field and an associated base that houses a conductive coil. When the top spins past the center of the base, its changing magnetic field induces a current in the coil which momentarily opens the switch to the battery resulting in powering up the electromagnet. The electromagnet then delivers enough torque to the spinning top to allow it to speed up and spin away from the center. Since the electromagnet is only engaged when the top crosses near the center of the base, one 9 volt battery can last for over a week of continual use!

I do not know too much about electronics, and my eyes sort-of glazed over when I read this. But, here’s the way I understand it. There’s an electromagnet in the base run by a 9 volt battery and a magnet in the top. The base is concave, so it slopes down in the middle. The electromagnet turns on when the top gets near the center (when it’s slowing down). This turns on the electromagnet, which spins the top faster and sends it on it’s way until the next time.

My friend Richard added "it’s exactly like a brushless DC motor where the armature is free to roam about." Yes, Richard was one of those dorky friends. Still is.

More importantly, it’s a very cool toy. Check it out here.

And check out a short video I made of it below.

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).

We welcome your feedback and comments.

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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